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You Can Now Send Bitcoin Tips Over Lightning on Twitter

When “liking” your favorite tweet isn’t enough, you can now send small bitcoin transactions.

Announced Saturday, the beta app Tippin has released a new Chrome Extension available to Google browser users. Over Twitter, app users can send bitcoin payments via the Lightning Network, considered a way to make bitcoin transactions feasible at a large scale for the first time.

With the extension enabled, a little lightning bolt symbol pops up inside every tweet next to the more familiar “like” and “retweet” buttons.

Video from Tippin

It builds off an old idea that small payments are one of bitcoin’s selling points. (Bitcoin app ChangeTip was once a popular way to send payments over social media, but it died out in 2016.)

Tippin engineer Sergio Abril told CoinDesk:

“In my opinion, tipping is going to be incredibly popular with lightning network; It’s the first time we can send small amounts almost at no cost, and we can do it incredibly fast.”

All a user needs is a Twitter account and to install Tippin to receive tips. As such, Tippin hopes to capitalize on crypto Twitter power users to drive growth.

“Tippin started as a personal side project a couple of months ago, so I could understand lightning network a bit more, and of course help push adoption, but it’s starting to get big,” Abril said.

Abril has ideas for expanding the app into the future, including adding support on other social media platforms. Also, for now, the app is custodial, meaning users don’t have complete control over their funds, because, according to Abril, the app is much easier to use this way.

But he has plans to look into non-custodial options as well.

Abril added:

“Of course, lightning network itself is still in beta, so we have time to make this happen until it’s fully ready.”

Twitter image via Shutterstock

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ConsenSys-Backed Rhombus Reveals New Products for Ethereum Developers

Rhombus has released new products designed to help further connect decentralized, ethereum-based blockchain applications to real-world data, the startup announced this weekend.

Revealed at the ongoing ethereum conference ETHDenver, the blockchain-based “oracle” service will now support currency pairs, asset pricing and blockchain network data. These products can be used for free by developers competing in the annual ETHDenver hackathon.

Co-founder and COO of Rhombus Jeff Rosen explained to CoinDesk:

“For smart contracts [on ethereum] to do most of the interesting things we want them to do, they have to have some connection to the real world. Blockchains in and of themselves don’t have that connection. Oracles are a way to securely bring real world data to the blockchain.”

CEO Rhombus Doug von Kohorn said the oracles can convert US dollar exchange rates into British pound, euro and Japanese yen rates. In addition, hourly updated stock prices for major companies such as Amazon and Tesla were also featured, among a host of other new releases.

Expecting developers at ETHDenver to request new and custom-built oracles throughout the conference, both Rosen and von Kohorn said they are excited to help facilitate the projects that will be created this weekend.

At the same time, Rhombus also released three decentralized applications that leverage their oracle technology.

One of these applications enables a recurring ethereum payment pegged to the US dollar, another allows users to purchase per-minute subscriptions to live video streams and a third application leverages gold price quotes to facilitate asset trading.

“Subscriptions will be killer [decentralized] apps … Why should [people] be waiting for a paycheck every two weeks when they can have their payment dripped every second over two weeks?” posited Rosen.

Rhombus is backed by ethereum venture capital studio Consensys who – along with companies such as MakerDAO, Status.IM and POA Network – are major sponsors of this weekend’s hackathon event.

Doug von Kohorn image by Christine Kim

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Rethink, Renew: ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees to Rebrand Crypto Exchange

Cryptocurrency exchange startup ShapeShift is planning a major rebrand this year.

Announced at ETHDenver, an ethereum developer conference being held in Colorado this weekend, ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees said that starting Monday the company will be opening up a closed beta period for selected users so they can try a new version of the cryptocurrency exchange platform focused on simplifying the user experience.

Featuring greater interoperability with ShapeShift’s cryptocurrency hardware wallet KeepKey, CMO of ShapeShift Emily Coleman told CoinDesk that the revitalized platform aims to bring together all of the company’s disparate products, including cryptocurrency pricing tracker CoinCap.

Voorhees was joined by co-founder of cryptocurrency micropayments service Earn.com Lily Liu, CSO of ethereum venture capital studio ConsenSys Sam Cassatt, and co-founder of decentralized application platform Holochain Arthur Brock on a panel this Saturday about leadership “in times of ambiguity.”

All holding (or having held) positions of executive-level leadership, each panelist was asked to cite one of the hardest decisions they’ve had to make with their respective crypto businesses.

“If you’re going to be a company in the crypto industry, you’re attached to the severe market cycles of the industry. That’s full of good and bad,” said Voorhees.

Voorhees admitted that one of the hardest decisions of his career was the decision last September to introduce know-your-customer (KYC) precautions to cryptocurrency exchange platform, ShapeShift.

“I felt like I had to do something morally wrong to allow the company to persist…It’s a really awful position to be in,” said Voorhees.

Explaining that he remained “ethically opposed” to requiring users of the trading platform to relinquish personal information about themselves, Voorhees conceded the decision to introduce KYC came down to figuring out “what fights we want to fight” and thinking about “the long-term.”

To this, Voorhees has not given up any hopes for a new future where “any two people freely and without censorship” can easily participate in monetary transactions, saying:

“Society is comfortable about this idea that people should be able to talk freely with each other … the fact that money is treated differently is a huge injustice. I hope that crypto breaks that discrepancy.”

ShapeShift recently saw a third of its staff laid off as a result of the continued market downturn.

‘A refocusing of priorities’

Other companies that have had to make difficult decisions in crypto winter were also represented, including venture capital studio ConsenSys, which announced a 13 percent staff cut in early December. Still, both Voorhees and CSO of ConsenSys Sam Cassatt remain adamant that the industry as a whole – outside of market fluctuations – is booming.

“Pretty much all indicators except the wildly fluctuating crypto prices are great. We have more ethereum developers than ever. We have more government and big business taking us seriously than ever before… Except for that one number, everything’s great,” said Cassatt.

Indeed, ConsenSys is by no means staying idle with their investments. Announced Friday during ETHDenver’s opening ceremonies, founder of the company Joseph Lubin revealed ConsenSys plans to invest $150,000 in the cryptocurrency DAI to blockchain-based employment service Opolis.

This in addition to opening the ConsenSys Grants Program to new applicants, Lubin highlighted exciting plans for the new year saying that people should “expect several token launches in 2019.” All this being encompassed in “a refocusing of priorities,” Lubin put in a former interview with CoinDesk that the next iteration of Consensys – Consensys 2.0 – is focussing on business viability and success “in a real business ecosystem.”

Leveraging multiple ShapeShift products, the revitalized platform will boast added functionality for users to not only covert one cryptocurrency to another but store and manage their assets all on the same non-custodial exchange.

“The goal is to create fluidity between products,” said Coleman to CoinDesk.

Erik Voorhees image via CoinDesk archives 

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Bitcoin Is… Bitcoin Just Is What?

Bitcoin just is.

Edited by Iris Fraser-Gudrunas

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Decentralized Finance Emerges as Banner Topic at Ethereum Denver Conference

“We always needs to ask, ‘Who are we building for?’”

Kicking off the annual ethereum hackathon ETHDenver, Aave CEO Stani Kulechov shared an opening address on on “leaping decentralized finance [into the] mainstream.”

Aave is a Swiss-based blockchain technology company that officially launched in September of last year. Acting as the parent company to ETHLend – a decentralized financial marketplace for asset-backed loans – Kulechov explained that cross-application coordination and cooperation is key to seeing mainstream adoption.

“We need to approach adoption from an ecosystem perspective,” said Kulechov. “You might be building a project that relates to decentralized finance. Each has a use case but if you can connect all these defi [decentralized finance] applications … we form an ecosystem where we are bringing together more users.”

However, highlighting that mainstream adoption isn’t the be all and end all of application development, Kulechov added that “decentralization is a choice” and that to some developers “it might be a good idea to focus on the segment of decentralized users that are privacy-concerned.”

As highlighted by Josh Stark – head of operations at blockchain consulting firm Ledger Labs – in a blog post, a new wave of decentralized applications (dapps) are growing in both number and popularity on the ethereum blockchain.

Called “decentralized finance” or “defi” applications, these dapps on ethereum give users new tools to manage and use ethereum-based money or assets, Stark explains in his post.

As such, today’s talk by Kulechov is actually one of several centered around the topic of finance.

Defi-related talks expected to be held later today at ETHDenver include an address by CTO Alex Bazhanau from cryptocurrency lending platform Bloqboard, as well as an address by Tom Beam, a co-founder of decentralized lending protocol bZx.

Tomorrow, the defi narrative continues with a panel discussion on the roadmap for many of these finance-focused application on ethereum with a panel discussion between several defi startups including bZx, Set Protocol, Zerion and Wyre.

Stani Kulechov image taken by Christine Kim.