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In Effort to Differentiate, Litecoin Makes a Move to Privacy

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Litecoin (LTC), a nine-year-old cryptocurrency whose price returns have chronically underperformed the bigger and better-known bitcoin in recent years, is hitching its wagon to a new star: privacy.

The blockchain industry subsector of “privacy coins” – cryptocurrencies with embedded technology that shields identifying information from public view – is becoming one of this year’s hottest buys. One of the biggest privacy coins, zcash (ZEC), which offers “shielded transaction” capabilities, has nearly tripled so far in 2020, while monero (XMR), which uses a technique called “ring signatures” to obscure sender and receiver data, has doubled. 

Litecoin founder Charlie Lee told CoinDesk in an interview the project is now looking to adopt key privacy-enhancing features, which he sees as increasingly attractive to cryptocurrency users. The enhancements are already being tested, and an upgrade to the main network is scheduled for next year.  

If the effort succeeds, it might inject a jolt of enthusiasm into a project that has suffered from a lack of momentum and enthusiasm in digital-asset markets. Litecoin is up 21% this year after a 38% gain in 2019, which pales in comparison to bitcoin’s 59% year-to-date gain and a 94% increase last year.  

“I want to make it so that users don’t have to worry about giving up their financial privacy by using litecoin,” Lee said. “Even if you’re not doing anything illegal, you don’t want people to know how much money you have or what your paycheck is.”

Read more: Monero Leads Rally in Privacy Coins, Rising to Two-Year Highs

A innate feature of blockchain technology is that transfers of cryptocurrency across the computer networks are typically visible to anyone with Internet access, making it easy to track and monitor specific wallet addresses – and sometimes trace those addresses back to identifiable entities.

So digital-asset developers have been working for years to invent new ways to preserve the advantages of blockchain – the ease and speed of money transfers without the need for banks as intermediaries – without the glaring transparency. 

Such features are becoming even more desirable as regulators and law-enforcement agencies ramp up scrutiny of cryptocurrency trading and compliance with tax and anti-money laundering rules. 

Lee, a former Google and Coinbase software engineer who spearheads litecoin, is a closely watched entrepreneur partly because his experience dates back to the early years of cryptocurrencies, following bitcoin’s launch in 2009.   

Litecoin is often referred to as the silver to bitcoin’s gold, and it’s been used over its history as a grounds for testing technologies that later became a mainstay of bigger blockchain networks, including bitcoin’s. The network processes new data blocks four times faster than the Bitcoin system, but its smaller size makes it less secure. 

The new privacy features are designed to operate in accordance with cryptocurrency exchanges’ increasingly stringent compliance with global regulators. 

Litecoin is relying on a technology called mimblewimble, which reduces the amount of data that’s publicly visible on the main blockchain network, through the use of “extension blocks” that help to hide inputs and outputs.

“The analogy I like to use is it’s similar to wrapping and unwrapping the coin,” Lee told CoinDesk. 

Read more: The Web Wasn’t Built for Privacy, but It Could Be

It’s not yet clear whether regulators will move to curtail the use of privacy features, which potentially could be used to conceal transfers of illicit funds or shelter money from tax authorities. 

Both zcash and monero, which include privacy directly on their protocols, have faced regulatory pressure. Europol, a European Union law enforcement agency, recently declared privacy technologies, including privacy-focused coins, a “top threat” in an assessment of Internet-based organized crime. In 2019 the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase delisted zcash for trading in the U.K. without giving a reason, but speculation immediately centered on the digital token’s identity-shielding features.     

For litecoin, it might be another chance for differentiation from bitcoin, which has captured the attention of many cryptocurrency traders as a hedge against inflation.

“I don’t think bitcoin will follow this path of what we’re doing, because it’s a bit drastic,” Lee told CoinDesk in a video chat. 

Put another way, litecoin has more to prove.



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Yearn Merges With Cover, DeFi Protocol’s 4th Deal in a Week

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Yearn is “joining forces” with market coverage provider Cover, capping a busy week for the decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol.,



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What Janet Yellen Means for Bitcoin and Markets

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NLW looks at price action in crypto, the ETH 2.0 Beacon chain launching Dec 1, the Dow at 30,000 and Janet Yellen’s nomination as Treasury secretary.

On this edition of The Breakdown weekly recap, NLW looks at what was an absolutely action-packed holiday week, discussing:



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2020 Black Friday Online Shopping to Hit Record Sales as Shoppers Skip Stores

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The stricter social distancing norms and COVID-19 restrictions have pushed shoppers to turn online this holiday season. Adobe is expecting the biggest single-day sales ever in history during Cyber Monday.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed consumer behavior and online retailers have benefitted the most from it. The latest data from Adobe Analytics shows that the 2020 Black Friday online sales will hit record highs this year. Shoppers have been avoiding store visits amid the rising COVID-19 cases.

The Adobe data shows that online sales can see a jump anywhere between 20-29% compared to the previous year. The total amount clocked by online purchases on Black Friday 2020 could be anywhere between $8.9 billion to $9.6 billion. Nearly, 42% of the total online sales by 4 PM on Friday came through smartphones. As per Adobe, US consumers spent around $6.2 million per minute during the 2020 holiday sales.

Adobe data shows that online sales also hit a record high a day before the 2020 Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 26. The sales jumped nearly 21.5% hitting a record high of $5.1 billion. Adobe gathered this data by tracking website transactions from 80 of the top 100 US online retailers. The analytics firm also noted that companies who offered faster delivery alternatives had 31% higher chances of traffic conversion on the website.

Interestingly, Adobe also anticipates that Cyber Monday shall be the largest online sales day in history. The company estimates online sales to touch anywhere between $11.2 billion and $13 billion, a whopping 19-38% jump year-over-year. Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights said:

“While yesterday was a record-breaking Thanksgiving Day with over $5 billion spent online, it didn’t come with the kind of aggressive growth rate we’ve seen with the start of the pandemic. Heavy discounts and aggressive promotions starting in early November succeeded in getting consumers to open their wallets earlier. While COVID-19, the elections and uncertainty around stimulus packages and made this an unprecedented year in e-commerce”.

Black Friday 2020: Brick and Mortar Stores Turn Online

The physical brick-and-mortar stores have faced the massive heat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government lockdowns. The store footfalls and business have hit a multi-year low. Adobe notes that 9% of all sales generated this week are though “net new customers as traditional brick-and-mortar shoppers turn online to complete transactions in light of shop closures and efforts to avoid virus transmission through in-person contact.”

Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify which tracks activity across one million merchants shared interesting statistics. It noted that the global average cart price was $86.80, and it reached $90.40 in the US specifically.

The surge in the COVID-19 cases with the second wave hitting has pushed Americans to stay indoors. There are even more restrictions concerning social distancing as people prefer to stay at home. Schreiner said:

“Families have many traditions during the holidays. Travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders and fear of spreading the virus are, however, preventing Americans from enjoying so many of them. Shopping online is one festive habit that can be maintained online and sales figures are showcasing that gifting remains a much beloved tradition this year.”

Adobe noted that toys and personal care products remained the top shopping category during the holiday season. The toys category recorded a 294% surge in online shopping while the personal care products registered 278%.

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Bhushan is a FinTech enthusiast and holds a good flair in understanding financial markets. His interest in economics and finance draw his attention towards the new emerging Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency markets. He is continuously in a learning process and keeps himself motivated by sharing his acquired knowledge. In free time he reads thriller fictions novels and sometimes explore his culinary skills.



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