Liquid Network Expands With New Memberships and Integrations

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Blockstream’s Liquid Network has expanded to include 14 new members. With these additions, Liquid’s client base now boasts 35 institutions.

The company also announced that Liquid is now available on Bitfinex and RenrenBit, a crypto finance app. Essentially, it means that users of these platforms can now access Liquid Bitcoin withdrawals and deposits.

In addition, the news heralds some of the network’s future projects, including the launch of Tether (USDT) and Stably (USDS), two dollar-backed stablecoins on the network.

In a statement, Bitfinex Chief Technical Officer Paolo Ardoino claimed that the expansion “makes a lot of sense” so that institutions can issue digital assets under a single blockchain platform.

He added, “It reduces the integration burden for an exchange like ourselves, and traders can manage all their assets from a single wallet application. We’re excited to be finally active on the Liquid Network and looking forward to seeing how it develops.”

Samson Mow, Blockstream’s chief strategy officer, also commented on the move, adding that Liquid’s features, including quick settlements, will help speed up asset transfers for both safekeeping and trading purposes.

He added, “Transaction details on Liquid are hidden by default thanks to Liquid’s privacy technology, so traders no longer have to worry about front-running on large trades either.”

Developed by Blockstream, the Liquid Network is a federated sidechain on Bitcoin’s blockchain which functions as a settlement and payment processing network for investors and institutions across the global crypto market.

The network, which was launched in 2018, allows its users to transfer funds to various destination without having to establish channels ahead of time.

Liquid is Blockstream’s answer to the Lightning Network. However, while Lightning works for micropayments, Liquid is described by its creators as a tool for facilitating “fast and reliable high-value transfers.” The platform promises quick and secure asset transfers to members within the network, as well as the prospect of conducting transactions over a system that doesn’t fail.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitfinex Releases White Paper for LEO Token Sale

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Bitfinex is forging forward despite its ongoing row with the authorities, and it’s looking for investors to support its efforts.

Today, May 8, 2019, iFinex, the operator and parent company of the popular cryptocurrency exchange, released a private token sale white paper, putting to rest rumors of its Initial Exchange Offering (IEO). Bitfinex is launching the token sale in a bid to compensate clients whose funds disappeared as part of the $850 million loss the exchange incurred at the hand of its payment processor Crypto Capital. Funds raised will also go toward refunding users affected by an August 2016 hack of 119,756 bitcoin.

In addition, “[p]roceeds may be used for working capital and general business purposes, including capital expenditures, operating expenses,” as well as “repayment of indebtedness and other recapitalization activities.”

According to the white paper, iFinex will issue up to 1 billion LEO tokens, with each token pegged to controversial stablecoin tether (USDT), a currency which shares personnel and ownership structures with iFinex.

The exchange will kick off with a private token sale, while a public sale might come after, if it fails to sell off the total amount of available tokens. These tokens will give holders discounts and rebates on trading, deposit and withdrawal fees and other benefits based on the portion of LEO owned; for example, Bitfinex will permit anyone holding greater than 50 million LEO to withdraw $2 million without any added fees.

iFinex will purchase and burn LEO from holders each month at a minimum rate of 27 percent of its gross revenue (consisting most notably of Bitfinex and Tether, this includes revenue from all of iFinex’s subsidiaries excluding Ethfinex).

“iFinex and its subsidiaries will use an amount equal to 95% of the recovered net funds from Crypto Capital (described above) to redeem and burn a corresponding amount of outstanding LEO tokens. Net recoveries will be calculated by iFinex in good faith and will be net of legal costs, operational and recovery costs, governmental charges, and reserves for contingent costs,” the white paper states.

The exchange also revealed that it is working toward the launch of a derivatives trading in the coming months, and it will be using tether as collateral as well.

“From its expected June 2019 launch, qualified Bitfinex account holders will be able to trade a new hedging product through a derivatives wallet. The product will have USDT-based collateral (unavailable in the rest of the market), up to 100x leverage and isolated margin for individualized risk level,” the document confirms.

Bitfinex is in the middle of a legal battle, after it was accused of fraud by the New York Attorney General for tapping into Tether’s reserves to cover up $850 million in losses in customer funds to its primary payment processor Crypto Capital. The New York Attorney General has requested that the Supreme Court of New York freeze the $900 million line of revolving credit Bitfinex established with Tether to cover the lost funds, while Bitfinex continues to rebut the legal action and move for the court to dismiss the attorney general’s requests.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

BlueWallet Brings Lightning Network to Apple Smartwatch With New App

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Popular Bitcoin and Lightning Network wallet BlueWallet has released a smartwatch-compatible version of their wallet app, the first attempt to bring Lightning support to the Apple hardware.

The developers announced this new app on Twitter, briefly describing some of its functionality. Giving users the same utility as BlueWallet’s mobile iteration, the new app packs plenty of use on such a small device.

I’m living in the Future 😎

Takes 5-10 seconds to prepare a lightning invoice on my watch

Immensely cool work from @bluewalletio @nvcoelho pic.twitter.com/4ftOVL7dKD

— JP [ ₿ ⚡️] (@jpthor__) May 6, 2019

Originally only a wallet for bitcoin itself, BlueWallet expanded into full functionality for the Lightning Network in late December 2018. Since then, it has been a popular option for mobile wallet access, with versions for both Android and iOS. Seeing as Android does not currently manufacture a smartwatch, however, this Lightning app is currently only available on the Apple Watch.

In addition to also clarifying that the watch app can be noncustodial, the team from BlueWallet has also described a more in-depth list of features that the app currently provides. Alongside features such as full encryption, the ability to use multiple wallets, support for 20 languages and more, BlueWallet’s app seems to have many of the same features that any other conventional wallet platform would hold. Ideally, this will serve as a litmus test for the possibility of greater smartwatch adoption in the crypto space.

In a bid to improve transaction speed and mitigate on-chain fees, the Lightning Network has been heralded as a game changer for Bitcoin’s technical development. Allowing users to send microtransactions over channels funded by both senders and receivers, it has the potential to greatly alleviate the problems of scalability and latency issues that have plagued the world of bitcoin.

Already a variety of prominent companies have begun adopting the Lightning Network in addition to new companies springing up to fill niches in the space. Bitrefill, for example, launched functionality for Lightning in January 2019 and made further improvements in April. Zap released a point-of-ale smartphone app to enable vendors to accept payments using the Lightning Network, and Twitter wallet and miscrotipping service Tippin.me has seen substantial growth since its launch in December 2018. Lightning Network development company, Lightning Labs, released the alpha of its own long-awaited desktop app in April as well.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

U.S. Citizens Can Now Accept Their Federal or State Tax Refund in Bitcoin

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Federal tax season just passed in the United States, but if you’re one to leave responsibility to the wayside and had to apply for an extension, that might just pay off.

It’ll give you the opportunity to become one of the inaugural users of a new joint-endeavor by crypto payment processor BitPay and tax services company Refundo. The new program called CoinRT gives Refundo users the opportunity to take their federal and state income tax refunds in bitcoin.

“We believe that as more and more people understand the benefits of Bitcoin, they’ll gravitate to it. With the option to set aside all or part of their refund in a seamless manner, it allows those on the sidelines to jump right in,” Refundo CEO Roger Chinchilla told Bitcoin Magazine.

Tax filers using Refundo’s system who opt into the program will include a routing and account number linked to BitPay’s Payouts. Once the refund hits this account, BitPay converts the cash to sats and sends it to whatever wallet address the user provided upon sign-up (this sign-up, as one would expect, includes KYC).

A press release shared with Bitcoin Magazine highlights that the move is in line with Refundo’s wider focus on lower income and poorly banked populations. For this purpose, bitcoin offers a low friction refund option for those who don’t have access to reliable banking, Refundo CEO Roger Chinchilla claims.

“We’re always looking at low-cost and convenient methods to disburse our clients’ refunds. As bitcoin adoption steadily grows, Refundo believes we can serve as an innovative payout process for our clients. Refundo’s focus has been on serving the underbanked, which is at the core of bitcoin’s rise, so it’s a natural fit. More than that, it gives taxpayers an incentive to save. Instead of splurging when your refund arrives (this is typically the case in low-income communities), CoinRT can act as a saving mechanism and ensure taxpayers are more fiscally responsible,” he told Bitcoin Magazine.

Head of Business Solutions at BitPay Rolf Haag told us that the partnership answers “customer demand in multiple verticals for Bitcoin Payouts. It also signals that the “global marketplace” for payouts in bitcoin is growing.

“Recipients want choice, especially for high cost alternatives like bank wire receipts or pre-loaded debit cards. Recipients are tired of paying to receive, and senders want to make their recipients happier without incurring additional costs,” he concluded.

At any rate, the partnership adds bulk to a growing trend of bitcoin’s burgeoning role in taxation. Canadian town Innisfil made history early this year as the first North American municipality to permit its citizens to pay local taxes in bitcoin. For Canada’s southern neighbor, Ohio opened up a bitcoin payment option to its corporations at the tail end 2018, and, in May of the same year, Seminole County Florida enabled the option for things like property tax.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.