Last week saw continuing uncertainty over the future of Bitcoin, with the threat of a hard fork still looming. The bullish performance of many important altcoins suggests that investors may be looking at diversifying away from Bitcoin dominance. However, Bitcoin has still been cruising above the $1000 dollar mark all week. Meanwhile, venture capital has continued to pour into blockchain research & development.
Slock.it, the ambitious start-up whose DAO was catastrophically hacked last year, are continuing development. COO Stephan Tual told Coindesk a new anonymous investor has put up the funds to develop a ‘Universal Sharing Network’ to allow people to rent goods such as vehicles and houses over Ethereum.
On March 29-30, the price of Litecoin spiked 70 percent in a 24-hour period. The reasons for this are unknown, but rumors of an approaching Bitcoin hard fork may be shaking confidence in Bitcoin, which makes Litecoin look more appealing.
There was an even more dramatic surge in the price of Bitcoin Plus, which on March 27 jumped 2620 percent in a 12-hour period, from $5 to $131. It has since adjusted to about $40. As the coin is small, with a market capitalization of around $4 million, this erratic valuation is likely due to the actions of a single investor.
Ripple, a cryptocurrency used by banks to make international transfers, more than doubled its price on March 31, becoming the third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. This leap in value came after Ripple announced that Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, the third-largest bank in the world, would be joining its steering committee.
In another sign of bullishness in the altcoin world, Austrian cryptocurrency exchange BitPanda announced they would allow customers to buy Dash directly for euro.
The debate between the two leading proposals for scaling Bitcoin, Segregated Witness and Bitcoin Unlimited, rages on. As of April 2, 39.9 percent of Bitcoin miners are signalling support for Bitcoin Unlimited, 30.6 percent for Segregated Witness, and 4.9 percent for increasing the blocksize to 8MB.
Coindesk reports that Emirates NBD are partnering with the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates to bring a blockchain-based verification layer to paper check transactions. Emirates NBD had previously explored using blockchain technology for international transactions, making a test transfer to Indian bank ICICI last October.
The Bahrain Economic Development Board has signed a deal with Singapore Fintech Consortium, a Singapore-based fintech incubator, and Trucial Investment Partners, an advisory and asset management firm based in Dubai. The deal is part of a plan to turn the Kingdom of Bahrain into a fintech center for the Middle East.
A report by the RAND corporation assesses the impact of cryptocurrencies on the balance of power between states and non-state actors. The authors fear that sinister non-state actors will use cryptocurrencies to conduct economic transactions without a nation-state, and discusses how nation-states might stop that. The report was published in 2015, so this isn’t news strictly speaking, but it seems worth attention in view of today’s geopolitical situation.
Jameson Lopp, an engineer at BitGo, has announced a new tool to make it easier for users to configure Bitcoin Core nodes. His open-source software provides a web interface that generates a config file, making it easier for people running nodes to configure their software.