EB68 – Kamikaze Attack, Block Halving And The Perils Of Proof-Of-Work

EB68 – Kamikaze Attack, Block Halving And The Perils Of Proof-Of-Work

Is Bitcoin secure from attacks that could destroy the currency? To a large part, this is determined by how expensive it is to carry out an attack and by the potential profits the attacker could generate. Ideally, an attack is so expensive to carry out that no profit-driven attacker would engage in it.

But in this episode, Brian argues that the cost of attacking Bitcoin will likely decrease in the future and the ability to short Bitcoin and thus benefit from an attack will increase dramatically. We take an in-depth look at the anatomy of such an attack including:
– How an attacker would need to go about shorting bitcoin
– How the kamikaze mining pool could be used to bribe miners to join the attacker
– Why all profit-driven miners will have an incentive to join the attack, whether or not they believe it will succeed
– Why the block halving in 2016 could be an exceptionally dangerous time for Bitcoin, since an attack would be cheap to execute and likely to succeed
– How a gradual decrease of the block reward, instead of the 4-year halving rhythm would reduce risk

EB67 – Brian Hoffman: OpenBazaar, Peer-To-Peer Commerce, Third-Party Arbitration, Ricardian Contracts

EB67 – Brian Hoffman: Openbazaar, Peer-To-Peer Commerce, Third-Party Arbitration, Ricardian Contracts

What Bitcoin did for money, OpenBazaar is trying to achieve for commerce. Born as a fork of the Dark Market project, OpenBazaar aims to facilitate online trade by removing unneeded middlemen. Built as an open source protocol, users simply install the application on their computer to gain access to marketplaces available on the network. From the app, they may also place items or services for sale by creating “Ricardian contracts”, which get propagated to the network and made accessible to everyone to see. The protocol, which uses Bitcoin as a means of payments, utilises multi-signature transactions. This makes it possible for transacting parties to include third-party arbitrators, who may intervene in the event of a dispute. We talked to Brian Hoffman, the project’s Lead Developer, about this paradigm-shifting project and the potential it has to disrupt person-to-person marketplaces such as eBay. Currently in beta, OpenBazaar is due for a full release in Q1-Q2 of 2015.

Topics we discussed:

– History and current status of the project
– Mechanics of a simple transaction on OpenBazaar
– Ricardian contracts
– OpenBazaar’s proposed arbitration model
– Reputation and the important role it plays in peer-to-peer trading
– Business models that may be threatened by this technology

EB66 – Levin Keller: Coyno, Bitcoin Bookkeeping, Filing Taxes, Building a Bitcoin Startup in Europe

EB66 – Levin Keller: Coyno, Bitcoin Bookkeeping, Filing Taxes, Building a Bitcoin Startup in Europe

Levin Keller is known to many in Berlin as the man who warned everyone about the dark scenario where buying Bitcoins in Europe would be subject to VAT. As with the VAT issue, Levin was also concerned with the complexity of filing tax returns. For merchants and companies dealing in Bitcoin, keeping track of gains and losses makes proper accounting a messy ordeal.

His startup, Coyno, hopes to solve that by providing standalone, read-only bookkeeping for your existing wallets. Coyno allows you to import the public seed from your HD wallet and keeps track of transactions. The service, currently in beta, reads your wallets’ public addresses and stores bookkeeping information whenever a transaction occurs. By recording the exchange rate at the time of transaction, Coyno can generate reports of taxable events, allowing users to more easily file their taxes. By allowing Coyno to read all your wallets, it’s able to differentiate incoming and outgoing transaction from funds being moved within your organization, a feature lacking from other reporting tools.

Levin also talks about his journey of being incubated at the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator in Berlin. He also weighs in on some of the challenges of building a Bitcoin startup and attracting investors in Europe.

EB65 – Adam Back & Greg Maxwell: Sidechains Unchained

EB65 – Adam Back & Greg Maxwell: Sidechains Unchained

Backbone to the financial system? Powering decentralized technology? The first true world currency? There is probably who hasn’t dreamt of a world ten years from now when Bitcoin would be all those things. The promise of cryptocurrencies are enormous, but will Bitcoin really emerge as the winner? And how can we reconcile this grand vision for Bitcoin with an ecosystem where projects launch new coins and blockchains every day?

The one project that rekindles those Bitcoin dreams and paints a potential path to Bitcoin’s ultimate success are sidechains. Developed by Adam Back, Greg Maxwell and several other Bitcoin core developers, sidechains aims to allow the permissionless, rapid innovation of alt chains, but using the established monetary base and network of Bitcoin.

It’s a complex project, but with Blockstream founders and sidechains visionaries Adam Back and Greg Maxwell we couldn’t have had better companions on our journey into understanding the coming Bitcoin-Sidechains-Macrocosm. Topics included:

– The motivation behind sidechains
– The concept of digital scarcity
– Concerns about the security of sidechains
– Different stages of sidechains from federated pegs to merged mining to block extension

EB64 – Adam B. Levine: Let’s Talk Bitcoin Network, LTBCoin, Monetizing Content & Crowdfunding

EB64 – Adam B. Levine: Let’s Talk Bitcoin Network, LTBCoin, Monetizing Content & Crowdfunding

Adam B. Levine, the “Spiritual Grandfather” of Epicenter Bitcoin and Editor-in-Chief of Let’s Talk Bitcoin, joins us to share is “crazy” passion for information and cryptocurrency. Never shy when it comes to talking about complicated subjects, Adam divulges his ideas about the next iteration of the experimental Let’s Talk Bitcoin Network and his newly launched standalone token vending machine, SwapBot. Adam also opens up about his role as the Chief Visionary Officer of CoinPowers and why it ultimately failed as a project. We also get Adam’s take on the future of crowdfunding and what role he sees himself playing within the crypto community moving forward.

We covered a many of topics on this episode:

  • The integral part Adam played in the creation of Epicenter Bitcoin
  • How the Let’s Talk Bitcoin podcast show and network were born
  • The Tokenly Platform
  • The recent discontinuation of certain LTB Network shows
  • LTBCoin and the problems it aims to solve
  • Tokens Vs. cryptocurrencies
  • Content monetization and crowdfunding

EB63 – Tim Swanson: The Bitcoin Hype Buster

EB63 – Tim Swanson: The Bitcoin Hype Buster

When it comes to Bitcoin, Tim Swanson is known to many as the man who sees the glass half empty. Whether or not that’s true, it’s fair to say that Tim has critical opinions about Bitcoin and questions many of the assumptions held by those who wish to see it succeed. A researcher and educator, he is the author of several books including “Great Wall of Numbers: Business Opportunities and Challenges in China” and “Great Chain of Numbers: A Guide to Smart Contracts, Smart Property and Trustless Asset Management”. He also blogs about Bitcoin, economics and various other topics at OfNumbers.com. He currently serves as an advisor to Hyperledger and is Head of Business Development at Melotic.

We covered a lot of topics on this episode:

  • True cost of Bitcoin transactions
  • Bitcoin as a niche technology Vs. 
  • Consensus-as-a-service and semi-trusted networks
  • Hyperledger, a decentralised ledger platform
  • Melotic, a digital asset exchange
  • Bitcoin’s adoption as a payment system
  • Trusted transparency in mining
  • Remittances

EB62 – Preston Byrne & Siân Jones: Eris Industries, The Distributed Application Software Stack

EB62 – Preston Byrne & Siân Jones: Eris Industries, The Distributed Application Software Stack

Eris Industries spawned when three people got together to come up with a solution to Olivier Janssens’ £100K bounty to replace the Bitcoin Foundation with software. Their proposal, initially called Project Douglas and built on top of Ethereum, was designed to replicate the functions of a trade association on a blockchain. Today, Eris has evolved into a Distributed Application Software Stack, with which developers can rapidly deploy distributed applications that are flexible, legally compliant and secure. Interestingly, Eris allows organisations and companies to adopt blockchain technology without being fully decentralised.

We’re joined by one of the Founders and COO of Eris Industries, Preston Byrne, who explains how Eris works and talks about some of the practical use cases which may arise. Siân Jones is also here to weigh in on some of the innovative aspects of this exciting open-source project.

EB61 – Garrick Hileman: CoinDesk’s State of Bitcoin 2015, Ecosystem Grows Despite Price Decline

EB61 – Garrick Hileman: CoinDesk’s State of Bitcoin 2015, Ecosystem Grows Despite Price Decline

Every quarter, CoinDesk releases its excellent State of Bitcoin Report proving an accurate benchmark of where the Bitcoin ecosystem stands. We were very fortunate to be joined by the man who compiles the State of Bitcoin Report, Garrick Hileman. As an economic historian at the London School of Economics and a frequent contributor to CoinDesk, Garrick is best know as an expert on Bitcoin and other currencies.

The topics we covered included:
– The recent $5m hack on Bitstamp
– Startup activity and VC investments
– The continually slumping Bitcoin price
– Merchant and user adoption
– What we should look forward to in 2015

We would like to pay our respects to the 17 innocent people who lost their lives in the recent terror attacks in Paris. Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones. Je suis Charlie!

EB60 – Robert Sams: Bitcoin, Volatility and the Search for a Stable Cryptocurrency

EB60 – Robert Sams: Bitcoin, Volatility and the Search for a Stable Cryptocurrency

That the bitcoin price is highly volatile is no secret. Opinions differ on whether that is just an inevitable roadblock to be passed on the way to world domination or whether it represents a fundamental flaw that will prevent Bitcoin from ever achieving widespread use as a medium-of-exchange. Seasoned hedge fund trader and monetary systems expert Robert Sams, is of the latter view and has been among the leaders in conceptualizing what a stable cryptocurrency should look like. It’s an issue that is at the very heart of how the cryptocurrency ecosystem will develop.

Topics covered included:

  • Why volatility is an obstacle to cryptocurrency adoption
  • The two big problems of creating a stable cryptocurrency
  • His proposal for a stable cryptocurrency: Seignorage Shares
  • How finance professionals perceive Bitcoin

EB59 – Fireside Chat: A Fascinating Year in Retrospect and Exciting Times Ahead

EB59 – Fireside Chat: A Fascinating Year in Retrospect and Exciting Times Ahead

As we wrap up 2014, Brian and Sebastien have a fireside chat and look back on some of the areas of Bitcoin they thought were the most defining. They also look out to 2015 and give their thoughts about what to expect in the coming year. This episode also marks the show’s 1-year anniversary, so celebratory drinks are in order. No guests or scripts for this one, just a candid conversation between the Epicenter Bitcoin founders.