Home Coins Libra (LIBRA) Blockchain Bites: Ethereum 2.0 Beacon Chain Ships, Libra Rebrands, 'Bitcoin' Google Searches...

Blockchain Bites: Ethereum 2.0 Beacon Chain Ships, Libra Rebrands, ‘Bitcoin’ Google Searches Up

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Ethereum 2.0 hit a major milestone as its “Beacon Chain” went live. Libra “seizes the day” and rebrands to Diem. Google searches for “bitcoin” have doubled since last month. 

Top shelf

Coinbase <> MicroStrategy
MicroStrategy has revealed Coinbase as the platform that executed its $425 million BTC buy that thrust MicroStrategy into the spotlight of the bitcoin community.  Announced Tuesday, Coinbase revealed MicroStrategy’s initial $250 million investment, which occurred over a five-day period in August, came via Coinbase Prime, the exchange’s crypto brokerage arm formed following the acquisition of Tagomi in May. That was followed in September by a further $175 million investment. MicroStrategy is regarded as the first publicly listed firm to convert a portion of its cash reserves into crypto.

Retail interest?
Google searches for “bitcoin,” an imperfect measurement of popular interest in crypto, are at its highest level since June 2019. Google Trends data shows searches are twice the value from last month. Bitcoin set a new record high of $19,850 on Monday, having narrowly missed the previous lifetime high of $19,783 last week. The cryptocurrency surged over 40% in November to register its biggest monthly gain since May 2019. However, the market is far from being in a state of retail frenzy seen in December 2017, when the google search for the term “bitcoin price” peaked. The data may validate analysts who say this year’s rally is mainly driven by increased institutional participation.

Identity acquired
An identity management provider backed by PayPal (PYPL), Foxconn and others has been acquired, for an undisclosed sum, by Nevada-based holding company Blockchains LLC. Announced Tuesday, the acquisition precedes the release of an un-hosted wallet expected in April, said Blockchains Executive Vice President Lee Weiss. “We reached out to Cambridge and had discussions with them, and it was clear that we shared a common ethos,” said Weiss. “We ended up making a deal and the transaction closed last week.” Cambridge Blockchain principals Matthew Commons, Alex Oberhauser, Muthu Arumugam and the firm’s software developers will join Blockchains’ digital identity team.

Bitcoin rewards
BlockFi will launch a bitcoin credit card for users to spend fiat and be rewarded in crypto, in Q1 2021, according to CEO Zac Prince. In a market saturated with bitcoin reward debit cards, BlockFi’s option allows people to earn yield on their bitcoin holdings through consumer spending, without having to spend their crypto. Visa is acting as the card-issuing network, Evolve Bank & Trust provides the Bank Identification Number (BIN) that allows BlockFi to connect to the payments network and Deserve is managing the payments flow technology. The rewards back are 1.5% of fiat purchases, and the bitcoin users receive is deposited into their BlockFi accounts. The annual fee for the card is $200.

Seize the Diem
The Libra Association, a 27-member organization shepherding development of a global stablecoin that could launch yesterday, is rebranding to Diem. The effort is seemingly an attempt to distance itself from the original Facebook-led Libra project, which promised a multiple-asset backed stablecoin but was pilloried by financial regulators the world over. Diem has also shaped its leadership team, and reaffirmed that a pared-back version of libra, now diem dollar, will meet the approval of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). Diem CEO Stuart Levey said the blockchain-based project is ready to launch at a technical level.

Quick bites

  • ‘TIS THE SEASON: “Bitcoin Tuesday,” a play on Giving Tuesday, is spearheaded by crypto charity platform The Giving Block, with over 100 possible charities accepting crypto donations.
  • FROM LVMH: Ledger scooped up a luxury brand legend to lead its consumer business expansion.
  • LEVELING UP: Bitcoin exchange LVL, backed by Anthony Pompliano, Jimmy Song and Willy Woo, has removed trading fees to contend with giants including Coinbase and Gemini.
  • FEARING FEES? Brady Dale breaks down what you need to know about bitcoin trading fees on PayPal, Robinhood, Cash App and Coinbase.
  • CARBON COPY: Stablecoin pioneer Uphold claims to have launched the first tradable retail carbon token, which represents a certified measure of carbon dioxide.
  • JAIL TIME: The top operators of the 14.8 billion yuan ($2.25 billion) PlusToken scam are heading to prison for up to 11 years after being found guilty of defrauding investors.

Market intel

Mining revenues
Shareholders of publicly traded bitcoin mining companies enjoyed record monthly gains as the leading cryptocurrency reached a new all-time high Monday morning. Riot Blockchain (RIOT) ended November with a 160% gain trading at $8.45 per share. Marathon Patent Group (MARA) soared over 190% in November, the firm’s largest monthly percentage gain, up over 600% year to date. Miner manufacturer Canaan (CAN) ended November with a record monthly gain of nearly 140%, with its American depositary receipts trading at $4.99 by Monday close.

At stake

Eth 2.0
The development of Ethereum 2.0 passed a major milestone today, as the proof-of-stake blockchain’s skeletal system rises. At 12:00 UTC Tuesday, the Beacon Chain, the backbone of an entirely new scalable blockchain, went live.

Ethereum 2.0 intends to solve the intractable problems of scalability that plagued the first generation general purpose blockchain, now worth some $70 billion.

By shifting to proof-of-stake consensus, rather than proof-of-work pioneered by Bitcoin, and introducing a host of other cryptographic solutions, Ethereum 2.0 aims to outcompete payments networks like PayPal and Visa, CoinDesk’s Will Foxley reports.

The multi-year Ethereum upgrade began in 2015, though went full throttle this year. Today’s launch concludes “phase 0,” of Ethereum’s consensus mechanism transition.

Despite chronic throughput issues and high fees, Ethereum’s call to become “the world computer” has already attracted the most amount of committed blockchain developers. Eth 2.0 is seemingly no different in terms of community involvement. 

“The launch of the #Eth2 Beacon Chain is characteristic of the emergent, open-source ethos that attracts so many to Ethereum in the first place. More than 27,000 validators from around the globe are now participating in the new #Eth2 consensus model,” founder of the Ethereum incubator, ConsenSys’ Joseph Lubin, tweeted.

“The launch of the Beacon Chain is a huge accomplishment and lays the foundation for Ethereum’s more scalable, secure, and sustainable home,” Ethereum Foundation researcher Danny Ryan told Foxley in an email. “There is still much work to do, but today we celebrate.”

As Ryan noted, development is far from over. Chief among the technical challenges Eth 2.0 devs must mount is breaking the PoS Ethereum blockchain into multiple datasets called “shards” and adopting Rollups, a throughput solution for decentralized applications.

Who won #CryptoTwitter?

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