Want to invest in a blockchain startup? Finles Capital has just the ICO for you

Boutique Dutch fund management house Finles Capital is looking to raise EUR100 million through an Initial Coin Offering for its next private equity fund, which will invest in blockchain startups as well as in more stable equity assets.

Finles is using its own cryptocurrency, called FundCoin, for the ICO, which it will invest in its Lowestoft Private Equity fund. The fund is targeting a speculative Internal Rate of Return of 25%, driven mainly by anticipated growth in the blockchain industry.Finles claims to have received enthusiastic backing for the ICO from investment groups in New York, Singapore, Moscow, Bratislava, London and Newark.

Larry Jones of Michaelson Capital Partners in New York believes the structure of the fund offers investors a safer harbour in an unpredictable market. “The cryptocurrency market is seen as an exciting one, but the extreme volatility means that it’s one for experienced and educated investors, » he says. « By investing in the blockchain market in combination with traditional private equity, investors have the best of both worlds. »

The booming ICO market is drawing the attention of regulatory bodies across the globe, with the FCA yesterday warning consumers of the high risks involved and the SEC hinting at future oversight restrictions. China authorities, meanwhile, have banned the practice all together. But the bubble continues to grow, with the Finextra mailbox receiving four separate announcements about forthcoming ICOs just this morning as new figures from TechCrunch reveal that ICO funding hit a record of $800 million in Q2 2017.

Source: Want to invest in a blockchain startup? Finles Capital has just the ICO for you

NO2X: Breaking Bitcoin Shows No Love for the SegWit2x Hard Fork in Paris


“There’s no such thing as a safe hard fork,” Electrum lead developer Thomas Voegtlin corrected an audience member at the Breaking Bitcoin conference in Paris last weekend. “I would recommend to have replay protection, of course,” he added.

Community support for SegWit2x, the Bitcoin scaling proposal spearheaded by Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group, was virtually absent in Paris. Whenever the “2x” part of the New York Agreement was discussed in the French capital, speakers and visitors overwhelmingly considered it a risk to defend against — not a proposal to help succeed.

Electrum users, for example, will not blindly follow hash power in case of a chain-split, Voegtlin explained throughout his talk; instead, they’ll be able to choose which side of such a split they want to be on. And importantly, the lightweight wallet will implement security measures to prevent users from accidentally spending funds on both chains: “replay protection” that seems unlikely to be implemented on a protocol level if SegWit2x does fork off.

“We are ready,” Voegtlin said. “If [SegWit2x] doesn’t include replay protection, the fork detection we have in Electrum will be useful.”

Breaking Bitcoin

Inspired by the successful Scaling Bitcoin conference format, the French Bitcoin community hosted the first edition of Breaking Bitcoin two blocks from the Eiffel Tower last weekend. Bitcoin developers, academics and other technical-minded Bitcoiners gathered for a diverse program, but with the common denominator being Bitcoin’s security.

“For the past two years, the Bitcoin community has been obsessing with scale and scalability,” Kevin Loaec, managing director at Chainsmiths and co-organizer of the event, told Bitcoin Magazine. “But I’m not so worried about scale, I’m worried about mining centralization, a lack of privacy and fungibility … these kinds of things. As an industry we need to recognize there are more challenges than just scalability; hopefully this conference reflects that.”

Whereas the first Scaling Bitcoin conference two years ago was a very specific reaction to a looming block size limit increase hard fork — then put forth by Bitcoin XT — this wasn’t necessarily the motivation behind Breaking Bitcoin. Yet, once again, a controversial hard fork is looming on the horizon. This time imbedded in the BTC1 implementation developed by Bloq co-founder Jeff Garzik, the New York Agreement’s SegWit2x is scheduled to increase Bitcoin’s “base block size limit” to two megabytes by November — an incompatible protocol change that could split the Bitcoin network in two.

And it did not take much to recognize how unpopular the proposal was in Paris. Perhaps most vividly, Milan-based blockchainlab BHB led a protest campaign by distributing NO2X stickers; the Twitter hashtag was proudly added as a piece of flair to the by now well-known Make Bitcoin Great Again and UASF hats. And voices critical of the project — like Voegtlin and his call for replay protection — could consistently count on rounds of applause. From a technical perspective, the proposal is often considered — quite frankly — to be reckless.

“Unfortunately, SegWit2x […] was designed to effectively be as disruptive to the minority chain,” MyRig engineer and BIP91 author James Hilliard said on stage during the miner panel.

SegWit2x: The Arguments

Arguments against the 2x hard fork are diverse.

Perhaps its biggest problem, SegWit2x currently lacks basic safety measures to prevent unsuspecting users from losing funds. This includes, most importantly, the aforementioned replay protection, but a new address format would be similarly helpful.

Additionally, the three-month lead time for this specific hard fork is considered extremely short — assuming the goal is to prevent a chain-split in the first place. “If you ask any of the developers, they will typically want to see 18 months or two years lead time, for something with as wide an impact on all the software and hardware out there as a hard fork,” Blockstream co-founder and Hashcash inventor Dr. Adam Back noted during a Q&A session.

And if the chain does split into different networks and currencies — one following the current Bitcoin protocol and one adopting the hard fork — the question becomes which of the two gets to use the name “Bitcoin.” So far, proponents of the SegWit2x hard fork have shown no willingness to pick a new name.

This branding issue, Bitcoin Core contributor and Ciphrex co-founder Eric Lombrozo pointed out, provides yet another point of controversy.

“My personal opinion is that whomever is proposing the change, the onus is on them to demonstrate widespread support,” Lombrozo said during his talk on protocol changes. “The people that want to keep status quo don’t need to show anything. It’s the people who want to change the stuff that actually need to demonstrate there is widespread support.”

And for now, not everyone is convinced that SegWit2x does indeed have this level of support — or anything close to it. While several large mining pools, as well as a significant number of companies, have signed on to the New York Agreement, this agreement was itself drafted without any feedback from Bitcoin’s technical community nor — even more important — a reliable gauge of user sentiment.

And while some Bitcoin companies claim to represent their customers, this is — once again — not taken for granted by everyone.

“One debate I want to draw attention to,” venture capitalist Alyse Killeen pointed out, “is the debate whether businesses speak for their users. I think this is probably a debate you would only see now in this space because it’s pretty well established that businesses outside of this space do not speak for users, but it’s a debate we still have in our community. Of course they don’t.”


If Breaking Bitcoin in Paris can be considered at all representative of SegWit2x’s community support — which, it should be noted, is not necessarily the case — the proposal will face an uphill battle to be widely accepted in November.

Indeed, some signatories of the agreement are not so sure about the hard fork anymore: Bitwala and F2Pool have publicly backed out of the agreement. And, during a mining panel in Paris, Bitfury CIO Alex Petrov ever so slightly opened the door to potentially withdrawing support as well, if both the original and the 2x chain manage to survive.

In fact, it’s not just that contentious hard forks are considered a threat to be defended against by Bitcoin’s technical community. It goes beyond that.

In the words of Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song, at the conclusion of his opening talk of the event:

“What doesn’t kill Bitcoin makes it stronger. And conferences like this prove that we’re getting better at this. We’re getting immunized to all these hard forks, and it’s creating a better Bitcoin as a result, and that’s a very good thing. We’re securing against a lot of these attacks, and figuring out ways to mitigate these threats.”

Image courtesy of Federico Tenga

The post NO2X: Breaking Bitcoin Shows No Love for the SegWit2x Hard Fork in Paris appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Source: NO2X: Breaking Bitcoin Shows No Love for the SegWit2x Hard Fork in Paris

New technologies and business standards

At the occasion of the
2017 Standards Forum
to be held at Sibos in Toronto, Canada from 16 to 19 October, I interviewed a number of SWIFT standards experts about the content of this year’s programme. During the coming weeks, my posts will offer readers a sneak-preview of what
people can expect to hear about in Toronto.

During recent Standards Forums in London and New York, there has been a lot of talk about the advent of new technologies and how ISO 20022 is suited to support these. Today, I talked to
Jan Noppen, Head of Tools and Methodology, and Kris Ketels, Lead Standards Architect, about this.

Paul Miserez: Jan, can you explain our readers in simple terms what these new technologies are and how they relate to the message standards (MT, MX) people have grown familiar with?

Jan Noppen: The main technologies that are emerging in the financial services industry are Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).

APIs are not new in IT communication. They are frequently used when functionality offered to end-users by websites is needed by other applications. So typically, user-to-application (U2A) communication is evolving to application-to-application (A2A) communication.
APIs captured the interest of financial services through implementation requirements of global initiatives, such as the EU’s Payment Services Directive PSD 2, that recommend using APIs to open up markets to new types of participants whilst encouraging technological

DLT has evolved and adapted to the requirements of the financial services industry. DLT-based solutions provide an authentication and data distribution framework to participants, as well as a shared data model and workflow by using so-called ‘smart contracts’.

Both API and DLT introduce a paradigm shift from traditional messaging in the sense that more of the data definition moves to the common space that is shared by the financial industry. When designing API calls (in- or outside of a DLT-based solution), they
are usually more precise and concise than traditional MT or MX messages. The reason for this is, rather than carrying the entire business content in each message, APIs and DLTs can rely on an existing central resource state to allow for more concise specifications.

Miserez: What are the benefits of standardisation in the context of these new technologies?

Noppen: As I just mentioned, having APIs access a centralised application introduces a paradigm shift. A shared data model can easily be standardised. Application providers with APIs in the same business domain will typically have a common
user community. Designing these applications with a common standard like ISO20022 in mind will lead to a more harmonised set of APIs. This is to the benefit of the entire financial industry.

Miserez: What makes the ISO 20022 business standard suitable to support these new technologies?

Noppen: First and foremost ISO20022 is a business standard. This means it analyses the business processes independently of the solution that will be used to implement these processes. As a next step we will determine how these business processes
should be implemented; by using APIs, traditional peer-to-peer messaging, DLT, etc. Re-using the same semantic components in various implementations decreases implementation and maintenance cost.

Miserez: Is there any truth in the claims of some solution developers who say that the ISO 20022 process is too complex to be applicable to new technologies?

Noppen: Well, I would say to them that the benefits that apply to solutions development also apply to technology. Even more, using ISO 20022 can give these technologies a boost because they will benefit from a widely agreed framework of
underlying business concepts and data definitions right from the start. Not to mention the ease of integration the technologies will enjoy.

Miserez: Kris, let me turn to you now. ISO 20022 was built for the future, « to easily accommodate new features without having to change the core principles of standards design ». How important are business standards – a core component of
ISO 20022 – for technology standards?

Kris Ketels: Business standards define the financial service landscape, independently of how these financial services are implemented. These business standards are the building blocks for any kind of architectural solution: peer-to-peer-messaging,
hub and spoke market infrastructures, DLT, web services using XML or JSON. Consequently they can be used for any new technology standard around the block. They are therefore key for all current and future technology standards.

Miserez: How important is technology for the financial community?

Ketels: During the last decade, technology has caught up with business and even surpassed it in terms of innovation. There are now no or very few technical constraints that impede innovation. But, as business is the driver for innovation,
we have entered into a rapidly changing financial landscape where new types of services emerge around the clock at a very fast pace. We are especially seeing this in consumer-facing services that extend the payments domain, such as frictionless payments, mobile
and web payments, wallets, cryptocurrencies. I do believe that DLT, whether or not in the shape it was initially conceived, can become a powerful technology in any financial domain.

Please also read the other 2017 Sibos Standards Forum interviews:

Highlights and approach of the 2017 Sibos Standards Forum

ISO 20022 as innovation enabler

Source: New technologies and business standards

Bitcoin Drops Below $4,000 as Market Mood Turns Uncertain

After mounting a modest recovery in the wake of rumored regulatory scrutiny, the price of bitcoin is back below $4,000.

The average price of bitcoin across global exchanges fell below $4,000 at roughly 3:15 UTC today, hitting a low not observed since September 10. The movement followed a period in which the bitcoin price repeatedly tested $4,000, but succeeded in staying above the barrier.

All in all, the move comes during an uncertain time for the cryptocurrency market, which has seen a period of sideways trading following a torrid first half in 2017.

With the recent decline, the price of bitcoin is up just 1.7 percent over the last month, though it has still appreciated nearly 300% this year. Likewise, the broader cryptocurrency markets have seen similar activity, rising 3.4% over the last 30 days, but declining more than 17 percent from its highest point during the period, according to CoinMarketCap.

As for the current sentiment, continued rumors that China could move to close domestic order-book exchanges have no doubt concerned more casual investors (while providing opportunities for profit-taking from long-term bulls).

Fanning the flames have been statements from notable community figures that appear to attest to the accuracy of the claims, though details on the primary sources for that information have not been forthcoming.

China-based exchanges continue to operate normally at press time, indicating they have yet to be notified of any operational changes.

Pipe dripping via Shutterstock

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Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency.

Source: Bitcoin Drops Below $4,000 as Market Mood Turns Uncertain