The Crypto Valley Of Zug, Why Switzerland Is The Place To Be For Bitcoin, Ethereum And Blockchain Initiatives

CCN

Coming to a city near you…

At first glance it might seem an unusual choice for the hottest tech location in Europe, if not EMEA, but Zug, named for its fishing rights is both a town and canton in Switzerland and home to a little under 30,000 residents. It is an affluent area, a low tax region and a base for several multinational companies. In 2001, it first sparked to international recognition when a disgruntled gunman shot 15 people, including himself, in the Zug Cantonal Parliament in what became known as the Zug Massacre.

This year, Zug was very much back in the news for quite different reasons. In January 2017 a not for profit organisation was formed: the Crypto Valley Association (CVA) headquartered in Zug and formed for the express purpose of attracting and supporting blockchain companies and organisations to Switzerland. Prior to the formal establishment of CVA, the Crypto Valley in Zug had been the brain child of Johann Grevers who based his cryptofinance startup Monetas in Zug in 2013. He outlined all sorts of positive reasons why Switzerland was attractive for blockchain companies and soon attracted broad support from numerous individuals, startups, corporates, service providers, industry associations, educational institutions, governments and regulators.

Grever’s own particular career has been recently mired by his own success. Tezos, which aimed to build a new digital commonwealth, used Grever’s ICO foundation company through which to raise money. They were successful, very successful with $232 million raised (and now worth twice that with inflation), but Grevers and the founders of Tezos are locked in a bitter infight. Sometimes the price of success is too high.

Zug itself carried on as a leading light for crypto companies. Ethereum incorporated in Zug in 2014 and the first bitcoin ATMs were installed. In 2015, Shapeshift located in Zug and in the same year the Swiss Federal council issued a report that bitcoins were regarded as a virtual currency and no further regulations were required.

The following year the Zug tax authority issued guidelines for the accounting and tax treatment of bitcoin and the city of Zug became the first government in the world to officially accept bitcoin payments.

Oliver Bussman, as President of the CVA, is overseeing a membership which is growing at an exponential rate. Since its foundation in January membership has grown to in excess of 500 members and that figure is growing at 30 new members per month. Membership fees are denominated in Swiss Francs (CHF) costing 100 CHF for an individual member and CHF 300 for a corporate.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Bussmann explained that unlike other ecosystems, such as Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs can expect to find every possible resource necessary for a successful token launch within a 30-mile radius of Crypto Valley.

“We have advisors helping with value proposition and token economy, seasoned legal experts, tax experts, accounting experts, people specialized in global marketing and global communications PR, secure ICO launch platforms, independent audit firms, smart contract audits, KYC, AML utilities and a community of investors looking to support the product.”

Switzerland has a lot of historic features which lends itself to the decentralised view of the world. Its own political system is based on a citizen-controlled ethos and boasts century’s old culture of individual rights. Coupled with Swiss neutrality, business-friendly environment and privacy-friendly financial and legal infrastructures, it is very successfully marketing itself as a hub for crypto friendly companies.

Last month, the CVA announced its first strategic partner in KPMG Switzerland. KPMG will be an active member and chair two working groups; one on Tax, Accounting and Structuring and the other on Cyber Security. But it is not just corporations that want in; a local hotel and restaurant, the Swiss Chalet Merlischachen, is now accepting bitcoin and ethereum as payment for its food and hospitality. It claims to be the first hospitality company in Zug to accept alt currency.

Zug and the Crypto Valley would seem a powerful advocate for all things blockchain. Their example is catching. Just a week ago, Ireland stepped up to the plate and announced its own crypto centre. Called Crypto Coast and headed up by blockchain veteran Reuben Godfrey, the Irish hub is seeking to do the same as Crypto Valley. However, where Switzerland and Zug may offer traditional financial expertise, Ireland’s Crypto Coast has based its foundation on a wealth of blockchain professionals and positive government support.

In conclusion, it’s not really a question of the Crypto Valley being in competition with the Crypto Coast and more a question of how soon the rest of the world will follow suit

Dashing Over Bitcoin, Why Dash Gained 40% In Value, Fernando Gutierrez Explains

Original post on CryptoCoin.News

Last week the cancellation of the Hard Fork in Bitcoin had the markets jumping and in particular the altcoins gained a lot of ground (60% in some cases) before things levelled off. Dash was one of the alt coins to be so positively affected and while it jumped all over the place it settled back to a comfortable gain of a net 40% to lie at the $430 mark. Given its gain in value since the start of the month this might be argued to be a function of more than just the cancellation of the SegWit2x or at least the head of legal at Dash, Fernando Gutierrez would argue as such.

Based in Spain, Gutierrez has been involved with Dash for three years. The first non-developer to be appointed to the board, Gutierrez is genuinely cryto-curious, a specialisation from general curiosity before.

‘My wife is relieved,’ laughs Gutierrez. ‘Previously my curiosity led me to online learning constantly. I was doing all-nighters taking online courses on everything from sociology to physics. Now I am just concentrating on cryptocurrency.’

Gutierrez is self-deprecating as he is also a fully-qualified lawyer, economist and owner of a number of successful business across gaming, video and health service – a true renaissance man.

Gutierrez argues that while the hard fork naturally impacting the markets, the surge in price for Dash was inexorable. ‘The same weekend we begun trading on Asian exchanges which pushed our price,’ he says on the phone from Spain. ‘And coupled with the release of new software, Version 12.2, we had a lot of good things to talk about, not least the fact that the very schism that divided Bitcoin was being addressed by our upgrades; notably the extension of the size of our Block to 2Mg. It was a natural flight to our coin.’

The argument of Dash being a safe haven must be tempered by its somewhat unruly past and in particular it’s first launch day where 2 million coins were mined creating a dubious instamine. The founder claims that the community did not wish to see a relaunch and mining has continued at a more sedate pace where on average 3k coins are mined daily. Despite this start, Dash has set up to tackle the payments industry and operates a number of separate technologies which separates and arguably improves on the core Bitcoin structure.

Most notable is the two tier structure. Miners mine new blocks and are paid a percentage (originally at 80% and now to 45%), while Masternodes are used for payments  – Private Send, InstantSend and governance of the eco system. To become a Masternode requires the holding of 1000 Dash coins, an expensive business at today’s prices, and anyone cashing in and going below that volume automatically loses their vote. Skin in the game is the rationale behind that. 10% of fees go back into Dash to pay for full time developers. This is key according to Gutierrez.

‘We can afford to pay developers and that is another reason to favour Dash over Bitcoin and other coins,’ he says.

Gutierrez feels that the cancellation of 2x signals strongly that Bitcoin is abandoning the payment model. ‘Slowed transactions and higher fees can only mean one thing – Bitcoin is going full-on for the storied value model,’ he argues. ‘They are not properly addressing the horrible user experience. The Lighting Network is being touted as a solution but that is not in place as yet.  In the short term, Bitcoin cannot compete in its current form as a payments carrier.’

The crisis of the size of the Bitcoin blockchain has ironically already been addressed by Dash – it has already increased its blocksize to that of 2Mgs and promised faster, cheaper transactions as a result.

Gutierrez is pretty confident about the future of Dash. V 12.2 has brought a lot of new features to the market – ‘We don’t do fake news,’ he says, ‘we only announce when we have features locked down,’ – and Evolution is planned for mid 2018.

‘We are very excited about Evolution,’ he says. ‘We have a number of key features that are going to make Dash very engaging – DAPI and DashDrive in particular. DAPI or Distributed APIs mean we can connect randomly to any cluster of servers. This will increase speed and security. While DashDrive means we can simplify the process of payments, work outside the blockchain and swap in usernames for long private keys. Having a username on the DashDrive means we can also offer password recovery.

‘And we are launching a HD Wallet on DashDrive making it easier again,’ says Gutierrez. ‘We know that the average Dash or alt coin holder is not a deep techie. They don’t want to be bothered by security and keys and keeping everything up to date. They want to use their digital wallet in much the same way as their physical one. We are building that on user experience to simplify, speed up and lower the costs of using Dash.’

All up Gutierrez’s argument that Dash’s appreciation of value is less to do with the cancellation of the hard fork and more to do with their concerted development seems to hold water. ‘We can’t ignore Bitcoin, when it rallies, alt coins surge in its slipstream,’ he says. ‘But we are doing things for ourselves. We are building value for ourselves as well and we’re not just piggy-backing on a trend.’

Hashgraph – can it give Blockchain a run for its money?

Ken Anderson, admin of the official Hashgraph Telegram Dev Group as well as CTO for Irish ICO Mingo, believes that Hashgraph has the potential to either eliminate or upgrade the many issues facing the Blockchain.

‘It makes sense that the next step is not another public Blockchain, but a new distributed ledger technology,’ he says. ‘Development is all about improving technology, not getting a piggy back just for the sake of it.’

Maybe it is his background as an ex-Military Intelligence Specialist in the US Army that makes Anderson somewhat fearless when it comes to evaluating new technology. ‘I’m committed to vetting Hashgraph,’ he says.

Anderson and his developers in Mingo have been given permission to go inside the technology but it will be several months before he will commit to his final verdict on the new distributed ledger.

So what is Hashgraph and why might it have the potential to overthrow Blockchain?  Firstly, it should be noted that the Hashgraph platform, which is a distributed ledger developed by Swirlds, is currently a private ledger, does not have an ICO planned nor does it have a cryptocurrency.

It does however, take some pretty big swipes at the problematic issues facing Blockchain.

‘If you asked me to say why Hashgraph is looking so good, I’d have to say it is because it addresses issues such as speed, size and fairness before we even look at the core elements of Hashgraph which is also provable, Byzantine, ACID compliant, efficient, inexpensive, timestamped, DoS resistant, and optionally non-permissioned,’ says Anderson.

Hashgraph claims it is much faster than Bitcoin. Bitcoin can only handle 7 transactions per second compared with Visa which can handle 100,000 transactions. Theoretically Hashgraph can handle 250,000 in the same time and maybe more if the bandwidth is sufficiently wide. Bandwidth is the defining factor unlike Blockchain which needs to increase its size to increase transactions which only adds complexity.

Then there is the issue of Proof of Work (POW) in Blockchain. Originally conceived as a consensual and fair way of allocating rewards to miners there are difficulties.  In Bitcoin, miners can control the order of transactions – often on arbitrary terms. Given that Bitcoin can never 100% guarantee confirm a transaction, despite the more blocks moving towards consensus, this creates an inherent, albeit random, bias in the system. It also one of the main reasons mining is so expensive.

Hashgraph on the other hand operates a consensus time stamp approach which means no miner can sideline another and all blocks are accepted in the chain, purely on a timed basis.

In Hashgraph once an event happens everyone on the network knows this. In addition, since there is full disclosure on the network then old blocks can be consigned to history and discarded if wanted. This shrinks the amount of storage from Bitcoin’s current 60GB to a fraction of a single gigabyte. That would even fit on a typical smartphone.

Much of the problems in Blockchain development and future direction also lies in the difficulty by which consensus is achieved – it is not a given but only a growing probability which can lend itself to hard forks and slow reactions to changes.

Hashgraph on the other hand uses the Byzantine fault tolerant protocol. This means no one individual can stop a decision, nor can a decision be reversed by an individual. To maintain this progress Hashgraph also uses Gossip about Gossip protocol. This protocol is well known in the programming community where nodes exchange information to every other node randomly, no one is left hanging and every bit of information – or gossip – is shared on the chain.  Therefore how each node will vote is known in the chain as well as what each node knows and when it got that information is time stamped. If there is an affair in the village then everyone knows about it. This is one village not to plan adultery if you want to stay married.

Currently Hashgraph is a private distributed ledger so it will take people like Anderson to evaluate its claims. If they are right – and it is faster, safer, fairer, cheaper and better as claimed – then it looks likely Hashgraph will give Blockchain a run for its money.