Live Blogging From Consensus 2016: Hackathon Day 2, May 1, 2016


I decided I may as well check out the hackathon before the actual conference, since I have the time, and wanted to meet up with Bryan Bishop, one of the Bitcoin Core developers I’ve been working with to get Bitcoin Core’s new communications team and efforts off the ground.

The hackathon is hosted by Microsoft at their swanky tech center in Times Square. I don’t think I’m supposed to be able to get in, but I explained to the security folks that I’m here as media, and that they haven’t issued me pass yet. She was cooperative thankfully.

Bryan took the time to answer some questions I had about the Lightning Network, which helped me understand it better, and will hopefully let me explain it better to others in the future.

Currently, the hackers are doing practice presentations where they get the chance to test their planned presentations and get feedback from panelists. Seems like a cool way for them to get better at presenting.

The first presentation I caught partially, but they are using the Bitcoin blockchain. The next 3 have all been based on Ethereum, including one that sounds a lot like he invented money for farmers :/

I noticed Dan Anderson, AKA Droplister, from the podcast Unconfirmed Transactions is here, programming away, so I gave him a quick hello. Check out his anarcho-millinerist stylings on SoundCloud when you get chance!


As Bryan looked over my shoulders while typing, he private-messaged the following link to me:

LOL, yes, I’m horrible at typing, never formally trained. Maybe I’ll take the time to practice with that website in the future…


The practice presentations are over, and in 30min everyone will begin their official presentations.

Lunch was provided, and Bryan, Dan, and myself had a great conversation about Blockstream’s Liquid and the dynamics of how arbitrage might work when fully implemented. This led to someone overhearing our conversation and asking about how DAOs, might be relevant. It was an odd interjection from a man that, to my conspiracy-loving nature, looked and sounded much like a government rep or consultant to government interests. He informed us that he works as a consultant and is researching the viability of various blockchain solutions versus existing database options. His company is called InfoRev, if I heard him correctly.

Deloitte is walking around giving out branded t-shirts that say “Make the blockchain real” and setting up their promo banners, etc.


Here’s a list of the upcoming presentations:

1    Proof of Phone    A
2    CyberSecurity Insurance     B
3    FarmShare    A
4    Aira Virtual Economy    B
5    Decentralized Energy Utility    A
6    SharingChain    B
7    Object Chain    A
6    Solidity to Go    B
9    Black Ops Messaging    A
8    SmartAirBnB    B
11    Bidding Wars    A
10    Community Relief Fund    B
11    Vote HQ    A
12    Andre    B
13    Riot    A
14    Instant Tutors    B
15    DNA Samples    A
16    Clearporter    B
17    Lead Market    A
18    Infinity    B
19    P-to-P markets    A
20    Micro-Sass    B
21    Distributed Lab    A
22    UnionD    B
23    Healthchain    A


The presentations are beginning now. Judges have been introduced, time to discover the next “killer app”! Contestants had about 24 hours to create and will be judged on “uniqueness, market-readiness, quality of presentation, and tech complexity.” Each project gets 3 minutes to present and 1 minute of Q&A with the judges.

Proof of Phone – KYC oracle on ethereum platform linking phone # to Ethereum wallet. Helps to allow ‘sovereign identity’ (expect to hear that buzzword more often). The app works with SMS to authenticate account creation.

CyberSecurity Insurance – Trying to solve the problem of not knowing a party’s actual cybersecurity. Uses oracles and smart contracts on Ethereum as well as bitcoin. I didn’t quite understand it, partly because I had to move across the room due to alternating presentation podiums. He wrote it as an Ethereum smart contract from what I understand, so I’m not sure if judges found the static demo sufficient. Sounds like it somehow assesses security of a firewall.

FarmShare  – “Agriculture platform for 21st century”. Tokenizes products and tasks related to farmers such as delivery. Sounds like you must participate to get farmshares. Mentioned ability to track full provenance of product from the labor to the seed to the farmer’s market, etc. Utilizes Ethercamp and Angular.

Aira Virtual Economy – Integrate games with Ethereum smart contracts, giving community tools for trading on virtual marketplace. Judge didn’t really see how smart contracts are used.

Decentralized Energy Utility – Solve high cost, inefficiency and corruption of energy. Assumes house has smart meter that settles to system with smart contracts. Built with HyperLedger. Judge asked how network might talk back to lighting, and whether people would lose power were their blockchain to go offline.

Solidity to Go – Full editor for Solifity for Eclipse. Adding more Go to it, converts Ethereum smart contracts to HyperLedger.

(I’m not a coder, dear audience, so please forgive me if my understanding of these pitches is limited or inaccurate!)

Object Chain – Publice registry of physical objects on Bitcoin blockchain (using Tierion). Android and iOS app. Example: Car dealer tracks history of car VIN, mileage, etc. Judge questions use of Bitcoin blockchain instead of smart contract, due to bitcoin requiring transfer of value and Ethereum not (I think?). Answer was to not take on counterparty risk of Ethereum.

FleetChain – Solving high cost of short-term rental of large equipment. Requires a device. Allows owners to increase utilization of their equipment by renting. HyperLedger project. Their implementation was nonfunctioning to unreliability of the service! Judge asked them to consider using Ethereum…

Black Ops Messaging – Distributed ledger to control and store intelligence. HyperLedger project. Example included “trusted spy” as a user. “Secrets” can be destroyed afterward. Spy adds block to blockchain with payload. Lots of referring to “The Blockchain” without specifying which blockchain… Annoying to hear all this “The Blockchain” talk when not referring to Bitcoin.

SmartAirBnB – Going to the bathroom, sorry, I think we can guess this one 😉

Bidding Wars – Sorry, missed this one too! It was getting hot, found cooler area of room by the door.

DAO Community Relief Fund – Adding transparency to charity funds using ‘the blockchain’, Ethereum, I assume? Seems like requests can be made and then people can vote whether to disperse money.

Vote HQ – Uses BlockApps, SMS, and Ethereum to allow voting processes via ‘the blockchain’. Authenticates, tallies and totals, etc. Judge points out that SMS is a point of failure.

Andre – Video game inspired by Super Monkey Ball, incorporating Bitcoin betting and transparent leader boards, etc.’the blockchain’.

RIoT – Retail Internet of Things, addressing inventory accuracy between retailers and supply chain uing RFID and bar code scans via .

Instant Tutors -Connects students with tutors using smart contracts. Includes reputation and price of tutors. Ethereum.

Lead Market – Uses Tierion’s hashing to the Bitcoin blockchain to allow a market for selling fresh sales leads. Uses Bitcoin! One of the few presentations to demo full working software. Judge says “Y’know there’s a company that gets paid millions of dollars a year to do what you made in a few hours.” The only complimentary comment I’ve heard so far. Good job, Dan!

DNA Samples -MIA

Clearporter – Shipping system supply chain with complete transparency for shipping industry, including granular pricing/bonuses for early delivery.

Infinity – Social investment network.

P2P markets – Secondary auction market for loans for any blockchain. Receiving, appraisal, and custody escrow. All this guy had was a slide.

Micro-Sass –  Aggregates APIs to allow companies and users to call services at transactional level. Free them from per-user/per-month model and independence from vendors. Private Azure blockchain.

Distributed Lab – Some sort o whitepaper presentation suggesting standards for how blockchains should be stacked, I think…

dOTT -Paywall for digital content, movies in this case. Utilizes Ethereum Serenity smart contracts. Not clear why smart contracts are needed for this…

UnionD – Union as a service on Ethereum blockchain. Portability of data, reliability, reduced turnover. A “virtual negotiation table” for workes and businesses. DAO.

Healthchain – Securing prescriptions on the blockchain. Their slides seem well-designed for 24 hours, good job. Serves doctors & patients.


Of note, some judges consider private blockchains ‘scalable’ opposed to others. This was apparent in several comments throughout the day. There is definitely a bias in the room about which type of blockchains are appropriate for what. I’m not totally clear if that means Bitcoin-reliant projects will be less likely to win, but I doubt that’s an issue considering one judge builds on Bitcoin (via Tierion).


Time to announce the winners!

Deloitte on stage, they announce Fleetchain as their winner! Their prize is a a day and dinner at their “innovation lab” with their blockchain gurus to help them launch their company.

Microsoft and Consensus up next. They announced a partnership where they will have a virtual hackathon for a month this summer. Proof of Phone wins! and DAO Community Relief wins! They didn’t remind us what the prizes here are, sorry!

Microsoft has a surprise prize $150/mo free Azure credit and product licenses, awarded to Micro-Sass!

EtherCamp on stage presenting their award to three winners: Infinity!

IBM prizes up next, presenting a huge clown check to Black Ops, for  GoPro cameras and some advertising. Their main winner is Decentralized Energy Utility, sorry I couldn’t see the amount on the clown check from my seat!

Final sponsor prize from Tieron next, Lead Market is the winnerof 1 BTC!

Final overall prizes: UnionD gets Honorable Mention. Runner-up Community Relief team. And the winner of the $5000 clown check is …

Decentralized Energy Utility!

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Coin Center Releases PSA: How to Evaluate Satoshi Nakamoto Claims

Adam Back, Gavin Andresen, Hal Finney, Craig S Wright, Satoshi Nakamoto

For the past month, maybe longer, there has been chatter from various corners of the Bitcoin world that Satoshi Nakamoto might be revealing himself soon. I heard theories it was a hoax, and/or that it was Craig S. Wright that might be ready to provide evidence he is Satoshi himself.

I mostly dismissed these rumors, well, because that’s what one should do with rumors initially. But lately, the chatter seems to be reaching a fever pitch. We’re seeing articles like this and this.

Clearly something is up, and people are speculating this is the weekend we’ll learn what.

As this weekend drew near, I observed a few media outlets asking for help and clarification on various historical details surrounding Satoshi’s accounts and keys, in preparation:

The result is a Google Doc providing guidelines for evaluating any claims that someone might be Nakamoto:

Here is a PDF version for anyone that doesn’t want to deal with Google Docs.

We could probably go on and on about the ramifications of the real Satoshi Nakamoto revealing himself, but this blogger will remain extremely skeptical of any claim. This could all be some sort of ploy from the media, or Mr. Wright, or whomever, to gain attention and exploit uninitiated readers. In my opinion, Bitcoin has moved on from its progenitor and is probably better off without him resurfacing.

In the meantime, I miss the old Satoshi.

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I Miss The Old Satoshi


I miss the old Satoshi, straight from the node Satoshi
Sail the Silk Road Satoshi, don’t fork the code Satoshi
I hate the new Satoshi, the absentee Satoshi
The SPV Satoshi, blockchain all the things Satoshi
I miss the real Satoshi, holographic sealed Satoshi
I gotta say, at that time I’d have revealed Satoshi
Before there was one Satoshi, it wasn’t any Satoshis
And now I look and look around and there’s so many Satoshis
I used to love Satoshi, I used to love Satoshi
I even learned to hodl, I thought I was Satoshi
What if Satoshi made a song, about Satoshi?
Called “I Miss The Old Satoshi,” man that would be so Satoshi
That’s all it was Satoshi, we still love Satoshi
And I love Satoshi like everyone loves Satoshi

(For those that aren’t into pop culture, this is a riff off of Kanye West’s song,
I Love Kanye” on the album, Life of Pablo. The original lyrics are pure genius,
but I hope you find this version entertaining too!)

Droplister does his rendition here. Thanks, Dan!

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Bitcoin Core Unveils New Sponsorship Program, Interview with Eric Lombrozo

Bitcoin CoreThis week, Bitcoin Core announced their new Bitcoin Core Sponsorship Programme. The program gives larger organizations a more formalized way to support and donate services to Bitcoin Core by matching Core developers & volunteers with sponsors and appropriate projects.

The program details a number of needs beyond Bitcoin Core development projects, including internship programs, documentation, infrastructure and various communication necessities.

Eric Lombrozo, Bitcoin Core Contributor, took the time to answer some of my questions about this new program. You can also find more at the Sponsorship Programme FAQ.

The new program sounds like a great step for Bitcoin Core. How is it possible to offer a sponsorship program without being formalized organization?

“Bitcoin Core is an amorphous software project, not a formal organization. Companies have been wanting to make greater contributions and have greater participation, but until now there hasn’t really been an effective way for them to do so. This program opens that door for them.”

I can see how it might be difficult to interface with a “non-entity”. You’ve got this cooperative effort from the developers, and then the rest of the world that wants to help but doesn’t know how.

“That’s why we created the website and a Slack in addition to our regular IRC channels and mailing list. It gives the general public something that’s more easily accessible. It provides a path for new sponsors and contributors by directly inviting them to participate.  

Open-source software projects always have a nucleus of developers, the main contributors. Then, you normally get a community of users around a project that do the things these developers are usually not as interested in doing, like communications, media, websites, and documentation.

Bitcoin Core never really had that before, so our new Slack chat rooms and website are there to help interface with the greater community and to invite it to form around the Bitcoin Core software project. You see this with a lot of other open source projects.”

Does Core see this as a way to help decentralize itself, by breaking off autonomous project managers into groups with sponsors, allowing any outside team to interface with Core?

“The Sponsorship Programme allows contributors to get resources for projects. Sponsors can propose potential projects to see if they make sense conceptually and are aligned with the general goals of Bitcoin Core. Alternatively, sponsors can choose among existing proposals made by contributors seeking sponsorship.

Project managers directly allocate resources and are responsible for recruiting and building their own teams. Existing companies and organizations can also get sponsored to do projects.

For coding projects, if a project does decent R&D, the code is well-written, and the pull request holds up to rigorous code review, then it will likely get merged.”  

The program seems to offer a lot of different ways that people can help, are there any needs that are more pressing for Core currently?

“The most pressing need for Core is more help with testing and code review. The biggest development bottleneck is code review. We need more qualified experts familiar with the codebase.”

So something like the developer internship program mentioned on your Sponsorship page would be a great and timely way to help Core?

“Yes. We also really need help with documentation, communications, and infrastructure.”

It’s great that you’ve opened the door to new categories of sponsors. You’re looking for help with things like education materials, graphic design, and project management. Do you think we’ll see new types of sponsors step in to fill those needs?

“Yes. Core already has a number of companies that want to participate, but we’re always looking for more help with the education and outreach. We’d like the website to feature better developer and company bios, video, and audio clips. These really help people connect and put a face to the developers.”

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Counterparty Eats Ethereum’s Lunch – XCP Moons, ETH Goes Bearish

Earlier today, published an article [note]The article has since been removed from, but you can view a cached version here, and a screenshot here.[/note] announcing Counterparty’s intention to bring Ethereum smart contracts to Bitcoin by leveraging the Ethereum Virtual Machine. Counterparty noted that it spent the past year polishing this software on a test network, but that they are now ready to go live with Ethereum-style smart contract support on the main Bitcoin network.

The news immediately caused a sharp spike in the price of XCP, the token used within Counterparty’s system, seeing it rally more than 370% at its peak of 0.0095 BTC per token.

This news comes at a bad time for Ethereum and the ETH market value. The ETH bubble seems to have finally popped, forming a “diamond top” pattern, and this news of Counterparty eating Ethereum’s lunch could bring further capitulation.

However, the following tweet caused some to doubt as to whether the Counterparty announcement was genuine:

The screenshot [note]Archived here.[/note] within the tweet shows a chat conversation with Robby Dermody, Co-Founder of Counterparty, denying the information in the article. The article has since been removed from, but you can view a cached version here, and a screenshot here.

In another twist, my own source, Chris DeRose, also of Counterparty, indicated that the news is, in fact, true.

Quote from Chris DeRose, used with permission.

While we don’t know exactly when these new Counterparty features will drop onto the main Bitcoin network, it sounds like the bulk of the work is done, and Bitcoin smart contracts are ready for production.

This development in the blockchain ecosystem brings an important reminder to light:

You can try to privatize your projects, centralize parts and develop toward your own agenda, but once you meet the responsibility of having your code open-sourced and subject to the approval and scrutiny of the public, you also present your code to be re-purposed for Bitcoin. That’s why I love the altcoin ecosystem & the “blockchain” movement! The industry is trying as hard as it can to find the edges of this new paradigm, all at the expense of centralized interests.

UPDATE: The freelance writer involved with the premature news release provided the following clarification:


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CoinDesk Promotes London Bitcoin Forum Scam, Sweeps Under Rug

London Bitcoin Forum is probably a big scam...

A little over a week ago, CoinDesk posted a press release [note]Original press release link is here, but CoinDesk has deleted the content.[/note] for The London Bitcoin Forum [note] Original website here. Archived version is here, just in case[/note], a previously unheard of gathering of “more than 60 expert speakers and 20+ media partners for a prestigious two-day event featuring powerful keynote talks, plenty of networking opportunities, demos and panels”.

It seemed odd to me that a conference would only announce itself one month in advance of the event. I wondered if maybe they had already secured speakers and content in private, and this was merely the first promotion to sell tickets. However, the website did not list any speakers at all and the sponsors seemed to be a mix of heavy hitters and bitcoin gambling website links.


Very suspicious! So I contacted CoinDesk:

They did not respond, but I noticed the next day that they had removed the press release and deleted their original tweet promoting it. [note]Tweet is archived here for now.[/note]

The original press release content is still available as posted by some other Bitcoin news websites, like The Merkle, here. [note]Full text archived here: “On March 23 & 24 2016, taking place at the QEII Centre, in the heart of London, The London Bitcoin Forum is bringing together 900 attendees, more than 60 expert speakers and 20+ media partners for a prestigious two-day event featuring powerful keynote talks, plenty of networking opportunities, demos and panels about upcoming challenges and opportunities provided by Bitcoin and the Blockchain Technology in this new emerging reality where collaboration is the key.

Attendees that participate will have the opportunity to meet those at the forefront of the Bitcoin & Blockchain community and gain new insights from important talks like: Public vs Private Blockchains, Financial Smart Contracts, Distributed Ledger Technology. Unlike many other events, the London Bitcoin forum will feature an important debate on Scaling Issues, Blocksize Limit, Forks and also a panel on Global and UK Regulation & Compliance. New Speakers are welcomed to register until March 5th.

With a large select audience of experts, financial executives, entrepreneurs, fund managers, journalists and an impressive speaker line-up, The London Bitcoin Forum offers a unique opportunity for sponsors to showcase companies, product innovations or services to those that really matter, get in touch with investors or use it as a recruiting platform in the – Career Opportunities with Blockchain Companies – section. In this section companies looking to expand their teams are invited to present their Bitcoin related job offers, internships and career opportunities. Anyone passionate about Bitcoin & Blockchain interested in helping build the future is also invited to take part in this section for career insights and maybe find their new employer.

The forum will feature a panel dedicated to Bitcoin Casinos and Gambling websites focusing on talks about how Bitcoin can reshape the online gambling industry and showcase some of the best online casinos which accept Bitcoin.

Early bird tickets for the forum are now live at The early bird rate (£115 for a Full 2-Day Pass) will apply until March 5th. Students have the opportunity to purchase a ticket for just £75.

For more information on the London Bitcoin Forum, please visit

Primary Contact:
Sponsorship & Exhibitions:
Press Office:
Phone: +442071172612
Fax: +442071172613

If you liked this article follow us on twitter @themerklenews and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest bitcoin and altcoin price analysis and the latest cryptocurrency news.

NOTE: This is a press release, any product / service mentioned is not endorsed by The Merkle.”[/note]

A representative from the QEII Centre said the event does not exist, and that the London Bitcoin Forum website is “very convincing.” They are trying to contact the company responsible. The scam at hand appears to be to sell tickets online via CoinKite’s [note]They have been notified as well.[/note] checkout service, and presumably have people show up to be told there is no Bitcoin event at all that day.

CoinDesk has not made any effort to warn its readers as a public service. Alistair Milne, of Altana Digital Currency Fund, was duped into signing on as a speaker, and now has his name is unwittingly attached to what is most likely a scam.

“We bought tickets after viewing the conference on Coin Desk. We paid 230 GBP for 2 tickets. This is messed up. How could Coin Desk not even retract their press article???” [note]Source.[/note]

“We were approached and had sponsored the conference after the conference after the Coin Desk article. I do not want to state our company. We paid 600 GBP to post our logo on the website and be be part of the gift package.” [note]Source.[/note]

“I totally bought tickets for this event. Fuck!!! It really was a convincing site!” [note]Source.[/note]

“coindesk article proved the authenticity of the event from our point of view, and we got sucked in for a sponsorship… 3btc down the drain :(” [note]Source, also the payment tx[/note]

According to their Submit a Press Release page, anyone can “Post your news on CoinDesk for only $99”, and “appear in our daily email which is sent to 21,000+ subscribers.”

Will CoinDesk publicly address its poor oversight of its pay-to-play services?

Will they change policy in how they inform on potential scams?

We’ll see…

UPDATES: CoinDesk has just published following tweet:

CORRECTIONS: This article was updated at the request of CoinDesk, to remove insinuations that they may be selling email lists to advertisers as part of their Press Release service. CoinDesk said that it does not offer such service.

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Bitcoin Politics & Creative Legal Interpretations (Open Response to Friedberg, Riddell Williams)

This morning, I came across a blog post by Daniel Friedberg from the law firm, Riddell Williams. In the post, he attempts to show how certain laws and regulations could be applied to various actors within the industry, were they to create or facilitate the adoption of a hard fork of the Bitcoin blockchain and software.

I would be interested to know whether Friedberg developed these interpretations while pursuing client work, or if he and his firm are just really into Bitcoin. I have to assume the former, since I am hearing rumors that some of the competing Bitcoin development teams are attempting to use lawyers to stop, or at least chill, the actions of others.

Let me start by saying how horrible of an approach this is. Lawyers are not going to solve Bitcoin consensus issues, they will only make them more expensive. For as long as Bitcoin remains truly decentralized, no one party can be held responsible for anything related to adoption or implementation of new Bitcoin software or forks. That said, I do think there could be liabilities for certain actors, like exchanges, who may fumble the transition to a new Bitcoin, but not in the context Friedberg is concerned with.

I’ll do this in footnote style. Friedberg’s original post is in italics below. All of my responses are in the superscript footnotes throughout. They are also listed in full at the bottom of this post.

Requirement for Creators to Register with FinCEN

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) … has issued numerous guidance and interpretations of the applicability of regulations implementing the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) to persons creating virtual currencies. [note]That guidance is primarily here, and in some response letters to specific businesses. If I missed something relevant, please help out by linking![/note]

Bitcoin Classic and BitcoinXT (meaning in this case the new resulting currency itself rather than the software [note]This distinction is important, as I think Friedberg loses sight of it at will.[/note]) would likely be considered by FinCEN to be a new convertible virtual currency. FinCEN has made it clear that a creator of such convertible virtual currency, who issues such currency in order to sell those units for either real currency or its equivalent (including presumably an exchange with current bitcoin [note]Yes, exchanges are regulated by FinCEN, on that we can agree. However, creators are not. Bitcoin has no issuer, unless you want to get creative and call miners issuers, but they have already been specifically excluded from FinCEN obligations.[/note]), is deemed to be a money transmitter. [note]This is incorrect, FinCEN does not actually address any entity resembling a “creator” or “issuer”. FinCEN does not regulate what it defines as “Users” of virtual currency, nor does it distinguish between any form of creating units of them, to quote FinCEN: “How a person engages in “obtaining” a virtual currency may be described using any number of other terms, such as “earning,” “harvesting,” “mining,” “creating,” “auto-generating,” “manufacturing,” or “purchasing,” depending on the details of the specific virtual currency model involved. For purposes of this guidance, the label applied to a particular process of obtaining a virtual currency is not material to the legal characterization under the BSA of the process or of the person engaging in the process.”[/note] … The Bitcoin Classic development team is also publicly named. Under this approach, the creators of Bitcoin Classic or BitcoinXT would need to register with FinCEN as a Money Service Business (“MSB”). [note]As my prior note details, this perspective is obviously absurd. Being that none of these developers are distributing/exchanging/selling units of currency, they are under no regulations applicable by FinCEN.[/note]

Requirement to Include AML Protocols in Bitcoin Classic or BitcoinXT [note]Developers are not MSBs, therefore they are under no obligation to conduct AML actions. How exactly is one to launder money within the Bitcoin protocol in the first place?! Money is laundered when it is exchanged. This section is mostly useless unless you needed a reminder that MSBs/exchanges must have AML in place.[/note]

In addition to the registration requirements, an MSB is required to maintain effective anti-money laundering (AML) programs …

These requirements will require the replacement Bitcoin protocol to maintain the personal identifying information of its users. [note]This is a pretty huge leap, and a rather loaded comment. AML is only required by those exchanging/selling currency units, simple as that. This applies only to centralized business actors. FinCEN does note regulate software.[/note] This can presumably be done through the software code … [note] No, it can’t. If the government wants to develop and maintain a web-based identity protocol, then maybe we can start to have that conversation…[/note]

The adherence to such requirements will be a large deviation from the current Bitcoin protocol which does not maintain personally identifiable information about its users. The inclusion of such information would make Bitcoin Classic and BitcoinXT much more accepted by financial institutions [note] To my knowledge, neither of these protocols ever had any intent to implement identity features into their software, but sure, if a virtual currency had such features a bank would be more keen to get involved. But that isn’t Bitcoin, that’s something R3CEV and friends will attempt instead.[/note], but runs counter to the essence of bitcoin. Bitcoin’s creator designed bitcoin to allow peer-to-peer financial exchange without the use of financial intermediaries and all the complexities involved with such intermediaries, such as identifying the users. [note]Exactly! So why contradict yourself?[/note]

Issues for Exchanges and Wallets

… The implementation of a “hard fork” would require exchanges to differentiate between bitcoin and “Bitcoin Classic” or “BitcoinXT” bitcoin, as its customers would inherently have rights to either one or the other. [note]Incorrect, they have rights to both. The new chain is a copy, not a replacement.[/note] Exchanges could not mix or intermingle the two, as each has its own rights. [note]While this is true, an exchange can maintain both versions and allow customers to withdraw both types of units. However, the exchange can freely decide whether to offer fiat exchange services for either, neither, or both versions within its own decision process for profitability.[/note] …

The “hard fork” would hurt the liquidity of bitcoin, and impair exchanges ability to legally operate. [note] It’s odd for Friedberg to make this comment without backing it up. How does a hard fork newly impair an exchange’s ability to legally operate? It makes it more expensive, sure, but less legal, how?[/note]

Potential Liability for Miners who Adopt New Protocol

Miners who unilaterally adopt the new replacement software could face liability under either tortious or statutory claims. A tort is a wrongful act or an infringement of a right leading to civil legal liability.[note] WOW, just WOW! What “rights” are you even referring to? Bitcoin is not legal tender. A miner is not a MSB, nor is it under any obligation to provide hashing service with/without discrimination.[/note] A trespass to chattels is a tort whereby a party intentionally interferes with another person’s personal property. To the extent that a recipient of bitcoin expects normal bitcoin but instead receives “Bitcoin Classic” or “BitcoinXT” virtual currency due to the actions of a miner, that recipient could argue that the actions of the miner resulted in a dispossession. [note] No miner has the ability to take your version of Bitcoin away, or replace it.[/note] To the extent that the market value of the two types of virtual currency differ, damages would be easy to prove. [note]Friedberg does not understand that no one loses any coins or ability to own coins after a hard fork. They simply now own coins on both networks. Miners are under no obligation to apply their hashpower to any specific fork or virtual currency, get real man.[/note]

There are also numerous state statutes prohibiting computer crimes which could be applied to miners who unilaterally convert bitcoin into a new type of virtual currency. [note]Again, there is no conversion in the forking process. It is a duplication where the new copy has new software properties. Every actor has free ability to choose which fork to support and service.[/note] Bitcoin users have a business expectation that their Bitcoin transactions will be processed by miners using the established Bitcoin protocol, and miners should be cautious about interfering with this expectation. [note]This is an outright misinterpretation of the roles in place. Miners provide hashpower at will, to service whichever purpose/coin/fork their business determines to be most prudent or profitable. Bitcoin holders have no expectation of service from any one miner, only an expectation that the protocol will execute with all compatible and participating actors. Miners have no ability to interfere, in this context at least.[/note]


The current proposed “hard fork” replacement software seems at first blush to be a reasonable way to solve Bitcoin’s growth issues. However, due to the lack of consensus of applicable Bitcoin network participants, the enactment would create serious legal consequences for the creators of the new replacement software [note]This is where the author should have realized his mistakes, he places “legal consequences” on “software”.[/note], unless the creators [note] Again, FinCEN specifically notes that creators are not under their regulatory requirements.[/note] adhere to the rules of MSB registration and compliance. In addition, the “hard fork” would create serious operational issues for exchanges and wallet operators [note]Sure, but an “operational” issue is only a legal issue if they fuck up and try to make decisions for their customers. If they provide parallel ability to withdraw, they should be fine.[/note], the risk of liability for participating miners, and unnecessary confusion in the marketplace.


In summary, I believe I have fully refuted all of Friedberg’s perspectives on these matters. It’s sad that the legal world is so behind when it comes to Bitcoin. I have experienced this first hand, and I was reminded again today by Mr. Friedberg.

UPDATE: Someone shared this post with me, from Dan Friedberg three years ago, on behalf of the Bitcoin Foundation. Interesting to see what has and has not changed in today’s version. Also interesting to note the connection to Jon Matonis’ organization. I am putting the full original article in this last footnote for posterity, since I have no faith in their website being up for more than a year from now. [note]Original post link:

“Guest Post: FinCEN Guidance Validates Bitcoin Industry but Targets Satoshi

Below is a guest post from Dan Friedberg, an attorney and friend of the Foundation. Dan and I were having a drink and discussing the implications of FinCEN’s latest guidelines and, as usual, Dan hit on some interesting points. So, I asked that he write them up to share with you all here. All thoughts and opinions, brilliant or otherwise, are his own.

*FinCEN Guidance Validates Bitcoin Industry but Targets Satoshi
By Dan Friedberg *

A week ago, a bureau of the US Treasury Department issued guidance on the application of money transmitter rules, which significantly impacts the Bitcoin industry. Although the guidance imposes obligations on certain industry participants, it is a positive first step towards regulatory acceptance, and, at least so far, the volatile bitcoin trading market has treated it as such.

FinCEN, the Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, issued guidance on March 18, 2013 available at HYPERLINK “” that addresses the legal treatment of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.

For the uninitiated, FinCEN is a law enforcement bureau with the mission of safeguarding the financial system from illicit use, combating money laundering, and promoting national security through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of financial intelligence and strategic use of financial authorities.

FinCEN clarified that in the eyes of the US Treasury, “virtual currency” is different from “real currency”. “Real currency” includes the United States dollar or money or other legal tender. “Virtual currency” like Bitcoin is not “real currency”. However, FinCEN indicated that certain “virtual currency” industry participants are money service businesses subject to registration requirements as well as a range of anti-money laundering and reporting responsibilities.

The guidance pulled no punches with respect to a “creator” of a de-centralized virtual currency. The creator of Bitcoin, known as Satoshi Nakamoto, falls squarely within these rules to the extent he is “a person that creates units of convertible virtual currency and sells those units to another person for real currency”.

Is a “miner” of bitcoin, a person who receives “new” bitcoin in exchange for his computing efforts, considered a “creator” under the guidance? A person who obtains bitcoin by his own manufacturing effort is not differentiated from an ordinary “user” under the guidance, and informal communications from regulatory sources indicate that it is unlikely the guidance intended to consider every “miner” a “creator”. This is confusing because in the bitcoin community, a successful miner might be thought of as creating new coin.

Also “exchangers” and “administrators”, including certain persons “engaged as a business” in “virtual currency” transactions are subject to money transmitter limitations and may be subject to licensure requirements.

One very positive aspect of the guidance is that it opens the door for the largest licensed money transmitters to accept and deal in bitcoin transactions, albeit subject to significant limitations, including BSA/AML requirements which would make bitcoin transactions much more transparent, in contrast to the anonymity of the current regime.

The FinCEN guidance has a significant impact on participants in the bitcoin industry. Market participants should retain qualified counsel to assess their business strategies, risks and compliance programs in light of this guidance.

About the Author

Dan Friedberg of Graham & Dunn PC is a business lawyer specializing in complex transactions and regulatory compliance, including digital currency. Dan works with many different members of the bitcoin community. Graham & Dunn PC is a Seattle business law firm founded in 1890 with an established non-banking payments, virtual currency and e-commerce practice.“[/note]

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Interview with Bitcoin Core Developer, Jonas Schnelli

The folks over at Stakepool invited me to co-host[note]@MrHodl, @Aztek_btc, @MrChrisEllis, @wonkytonky, and Swapman were also asking questions, props[/note] a live interview with Jonas Schnelli, a Bitcoin Core Developer.

It was great to hear his perspectives on things like block size, segregated witness, forks, and some of the politics involved. It was also reassuring to speak with a developer that’s sober and down-to-earth about these issues.

Have a listen!

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What it Means to Be a Bitcoin Conservative

As Bitcoin grows into the world, we see an increasing quantity of people and organizations attempt to define how Bitcoin should work and what its role in our society should/will be. The common thread among them is that they have designs for Bitcoin and how it might make money for them or the people they represent. That, or they fear how it might make them lose money as a competitor.

Thankfully, we have enough sensible developers, miners, purists, and pundits to make things really difficult for those people.

In my eyes, all attempts to manipulate Bitcoin in any way, however direct or abstract they may be, are best considered as attacks by an enemy actor. This abstract concept is what defines what I’ll call “Bitcoin Conservatism”. Bitcoin is our decentralized solution to the faults of our current money as a tool. It is a black hole born to absorb the Ponzi ways of inflationary currency and protect us from ourselves and our inclinations to place our trust in centralized powers that inevitably fail us.

To me, this means that the primary role of a Bitcoin “Core” Developer is to protect it when attacked, and fix it when it is broken. The moment you decide that you want to add a feature to Bitcoin Core, or even tweak a parameter, you have essentially challenged Bitcoin to battle. When you lose this battle, it is not a failing of Bitcoin to adapt, it is you failing to bend it to your will.

Bitcoin Conservatives see its resilience as a feature, not a failure. We place long-term value in Bitcoin, both figuratively and financially, and we don’t want anyone fucking it up unless they can invoke the powers required to make Bitcoin and all of its guardians submit.

It is no one’s calling to change Bitcoin or add features to it. It will tell you what to do when it is time.

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