Crypto Currency

HTC’s new, cheaper blockchain phone will run a full Bitcoin node

HTC is doubling down on its blockchain phone idea.  The company has announced a new blockchain phone called the Exodus 1s. Compared to its predecessor, the $699 Exodus 1, the Exodus 1s is a cheaper phone, but it also brings an important feature that was promised from the get-go: full Bitcoin node capability.  SEE ALSO:…


HTC is doubling down on its blockchain phone idea. 

The company has announced a new blockchain phone called the Exodus 1s. Compared to its predecessor, the $699 Exodus 1, the Exodus 1s is a cheaper phone, but it also brings an important feature that was promised from the get-go: full Bitcoin node capability. 

Launched on Saturday by HTC’s Decentralized Chief Officer Phil Chen (I just love that title) in New York, the HTC Exodus 1s will cost around $250 to $300 when it launches in the third quarter of 2019. 

No specs were revealed, but the important news is that every Exodus 1s phone will have full Bitcoin node capabilities. This may sound somewhat arcane even for cryptocurrency users, the vast majority of whom don’t run a full node, but it has important implications for the Bitcoin ecosystem. 

“Full nodes are the most important ingredient in the resilience of the Bitcoin network and we have lowered the barrier to entry for any person to run a node, which is simply a computer, mobile in our case, participating in a global bitcoin network that propagates transactions and blocks everywhere, which is the foundation and fundamental definition of a peer-to-peer cash system,” Chen said in a statement. 

HTC's first blockchain phone, Exodus 1, had a beautiful see-through design on the back. Hopefully, the Exodus 1s will follow suit.

HTC’s first bl

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Crypto Currency

With all eyes on Libra, Bitcoin drops deep below $10,000

During the first day of Facebook’s congressional hearing on Libra, the topic was largely Facebook itself, with cryptocurrencies and blockchain being a distant second.  And yet, most popular cryptocurrencies have been losing value as if the U.S. Senators have somehow been grilling them and not Facebook’s David Marcus, who’s about to spend some more unpleasant…


During the first day of Facebook’s congressional hearing on Libra, the topic was largely Facebook itself, with cryptocurrencies and blockchain being a distant second. 

And yet, most popular cryptocurrencies have been losing value as if the U.S. Senators have somehow been grilling them and not Facebook’s David Marcus, who’s about to spend some more unpleasant time at Congress today. 

Bitcoin dived sharply below $10,000 on Tuesday, reaching a low of $9,214 on cryptocurrency exchange Binance. Other coins followed suit: Ethereum, XRP, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin have all dived to monthly lows, bringing the total market cap of all cryptocurrencies to less than $250 billion. 

The prices have stabilized somewhat on Wednesday, with Bitcoin trading at $9,593 at press time according to CoinMarketCap. But overall, the sentiment in the cryptocurrency world has quickly turned from bullish to bearish — or, at best, very cautiously optimistic. 

In a way, the pullback was expected, since Bitcoin rose from about $3,400 in February to just under $14,000 in June without a stronger correction. Since then, it’s been a rollercoaster, with price sharply rising an

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Crypto Currency

Trump dunks on Facebook’s Libra in cryptocurrency tweetstorm

It’s official: Donald Trump does not like Bitcoin.  Or, for that matter, any cryptocurrency — including Facebook’s proposed Libra. He made that much clear in a Thursday evening tweetstorm dunking on the latest proposed entrant in the digital currency world.  “I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and…


It’s official: Donald Trump does not like Bitcoin. 

Or, for that matter,anycryptocurrency — including Facebook’s proposed Libra. He made that much clear in a Thursday evening tweetstorm dunking on the latest proposed entrant in the digital currency world. 

“I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air,” tweeted the President. “Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity….”

He continued that “Facebook Libra’s ‘virtual currency’ will have little standing or dependability. If Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations, just like other Banks […]”

Facebook’s Libra has faced pushback since it was officially announced in June,

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Crypto Currency

It’s on: The U.S. wants to ban big tech from issuing digital money

In June, weighing in on Facebook’s upcoming cryptocurrency Libra, Tendermint Labs core dev Sunny Aggarwal told me that the advent of cryptocurrencies has pushed big tech, the crypto space, and nation-state governments into a gridlock that will be the “big battle of the next decade.” Judging by a new draft proposal, currently circulating among the…


In June, weighing in on Facebook’s upcoming cryptocurrency Libra, Tendermint Labs core dev Sunny Aggarwal told me that the advent of cryptocurrencies has pushed big tech, the crypto space, and nation-state governments into a gridlock that will be the “big battle of the next decade.”

Judging by a new draft proposal, currently circulating among the Democratic majority that leads the U.S. House Financial Services Committee according to Reuters, this battle has begun. 

The bill, bluntly named “Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance Act,” aims to “prohibit large platform utilities from being a financial institution or being affiliated with a person that is a financial institution.”

Make no mistake, this is about Facebook

While the bill speaks in general terms, it’s quite clearly aimed at Facebook and Libra. The “large platform utility” is defined as a technology company with “an annual global revenue of $25,000,000,000 or more” and one that is “predominately engaged in the business of offering to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties.”

If one had to define Facebook in two sentences, those two would work perfectly. Note the bit that says the “large platform utilities” can’t even be “affiliated with” a person that is a financial institution. Libra (both the blockchain and the digital coin) is governed and owned by the Switzerland-based Libra Foundation, where Facebook is just one of founding members, but this bill appears to prohibit such a venture, too. 

Furthermore, the proposal speci

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Crypto Currency

The Hard-Luck Texas Town That Bet on Bitcoin—and Lost

Bitmain, a Chinese company that makes specialized computers for “mining” cryptocurrency, said it would invest $500 million in what was to be the world’s largest bitcoin-mining facility at the closed Alcoa smelter, which, crucially, was still connected to massive electrical lines. The large buildings where aluminum was made, called potrooms, would be filled with shipping…

Bitmain, a Chinese company that makes specialized computers for “mining” cryptocurrency, said it would invest $500 million in what was to be the world’s largest bitcoin-mining facility at the closed Alcoa smelter, which, crucially, was still connected to massive electrical lines. The large buildings where aluminum was made, called potrooms, would be filled with shipping containers stocked with 325,000 mining machines. Most important for Milam County, Bitmain promised to create between 400 and 600 jobs. New industry would replace the old.

In August, James Kyle, Bitmain’s vice president of North American business development, appeared in front of county officials considering a tax abatement. Seeking to make Bitmain feel at home, Steve Young invited Kyle to his 1,300-acre ranch that night. “We’ll feed you and water you,” he promised. Young, 67, had won the Republican primary for county judge-executive and was weeks away from an election that, in a red county, was considered a formality.

Young picked up brisket from Thorndale Meat Market, a barbecue joint lauded byTexas Monthly, and stocked his stainless steel refrigerator with Shiner beer. Some 40 guests, including Kyle, the sheriff, and the district attorney milled about on a long patio overlooking a pasture where cattle gnawed on Bermuda grass. Towering silver transmission lines cut across the property, connecting to the former Alcoa site and future Bitmain home. Observing the scene, Kara Clore, the executive director of Rockdale’s Municipal Development District, thought of theSaturday Evening Postarticle. “I was like, ‘This looks exactly like that picture,’” Clore says. “Just like 50 years later or 60 years later.”

As Kyle sipped Shiner, Young remembers him talking about how Bitmain’s facility could someday feature more than mining. Kyle said Bitmain may later invest in the development of artificial intelligence for self-driving cars.

“They had a lot of great ideas,” says Young, a tall, sturdy man who often sports a cowboy hat over his curly white hair. “And I think, ‘Shit, if they do half of what they’re talking about, it will put Milam County on the cutting edge of technology.’”

Instead, Milam County and other communities have learned a real-life lesson about the elusive promise of virtual currency.

Lynn Young (left) and Judge Steve Young (right) at their home on Young’s family ranch in Milam County, Texas.
Jesse Rieser

Power Draw

Bitcoin mining conjures the image of a college sophomore pecking at a laptop while taking rips from a bong. But that hasn’t been the case for a while. At least not for anyone who wants to make a profit.

Successful crypto miners use custom machines that solve the puzzles required to build a blockchain and unlock the limited supply of bitcoins that become available roughly every 10 minutes. The more mining machines you have, the better the odds of winning. (Operators sometimes combine into profit-sharing collectives known as pools.)

The process consumes enormous amounts of energy, and cheap electricity is a must. One of the most popular machines, Bitmain’s AntMiner S15, draws about 1,600 watts of power. That’s about equal to the energy consumption of a microwave oven. But mining machines aren’t used on occasion. To optimize the chance of earning coins, the top mining operators run hundreds or thousands of miners 24/7. Imagine your electricity bill if you were constantly zapping instant oatmeal in hundreds of microwaves all day, every day. In Rockdale, Bitmain’s planned facility was supposed to consume 500 megawatts, enough to power more than 400,000 average US homes.

Rockdale was hardly the only, or first, place that caught the bitcoin bug, as its value soared 20-fold in 2017, to $20,000 that December. Central Washington, with its cheap hydropower, was a natural draw; by 2018, there were more than 50 mining operations in the region. Dennis Bolz, a commissioner for the Chelan County Public Utility District, recalls a Japanese businessman flying in on a private jet and announcing he wanted energy on the spot. “It was like a gold rush,” Bolz says.

Upstate New York, also home to cheap hydropower, was another landing spot. In March 2018, the city council in Plattsburgh, New York, enacted the first crypto-mining moratorium in the US after heavy electricity use by miners caused residents’ rates to skyrocket. Several communities in Washington followed Plattsburgh’s lead. In Lake Placid, New York, before crypto-mining had even taken hold, local officials called for a moratorium in May 2018. Speaking to the Lake Placid village board, one resident said of bitcoin miners, according to the AdirondackDaily Enterprise, “I don’t mean to sound sharp, but I think they would come here and rape our electric department.”

Opponents of crypto-mining questioned whether communities received enough benefits for the electricity that was devoured. Anyone who understood mining realized the potential for employment was minimal. The machines run on their own and require minimal support. But as bitcoin’s value rose along with concerns about energy consumption, companies started promising massive investments and job creation.

In Massena, New York, Blockchain Industries proposed a $600 million facility that would create 500 jobs—if it could get subsidized hydropower. The plan was scuttled in March 2018 when the New York Power Authority, concerned about whether mining operations would create enough jobs, imposed its own moratorium on bitcoin miners. A c

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