Mike Hearn and Gavin Andresen have launched Bitcoin XT, /r/bitcoin moderators have decided to ban all posts regarding the controversial alternative implementation, new research has found that marketplaces on the dark web frequently process more bitcoin transactions than BitPay, and more top stories for August 17.

Bitcoin XT Released, Reddit Mods Accused of Censorship

After much ado, Mike Hearn and Gavin Andresen launched Bitcoin XT this weekend. The alternative Bitcoin implementation, designed to force a hard fork in order to allow for bigger blocks once enough miners agree, is a controversial step by Hearn and Andresen meant to further increase the scalability of Bitcoin. Due to the controversial nature of Bitcoin XT, /r/bitcoin moderators have decided to ban all posts regarding Bitcoin XT, which in turn caused a major uproar within the Bitcoin community.

Dark Web Markets 'Processed more Bitcoin than BitPay in 2014'

New research by Kyle Soska and Nicolas Christin from Carnegie Mellon University has found that marketplaces on the dark web frequently processed more bitcoin transactions than BitPay last year.

Their report reads:

“In the short four years since the development of the original Silk Road, total volumes have reached up to US$650,000 daily (averaged over 30-day windows) and are generally stable around US$300,000–$500,000 a day, far exceeding what had been previously reported.”

BitPay's self-reported annual total, US$158.8 million, would produce a daily average of around US$435,000.

Edward Snowden on Bitcoin: 'Bitcoin by Itself is Flawed'

In an interview at The Internet Engineering Task Force 93, former CIA employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden spoke about Bitcoin and its flaws and weaknesses. Snowden briefly introduced the 51% attack, and stated that the Bitcoin network could be vulnerable to attacks and manipulation if a pool has over 50% of the computing power to demonstrate adequate proof of work to add entries to the blockchain ledger.

Snowden commented:

“Obviously, Bitcoin by itself is flawed. The protocol has a lot of weaknesses and transaction sides and a lot of weaknesses that structurally make it vulnerable to people who are trying to own 50 percent of the network and so on and so forth.”

Edward Snowden on Bitcoin: 'Bitcoin by Itself is Flawed'

UBS Launches Future of Finance Challenge for Fintech Entrepreneurs and Startups

Swiss global financial services company UBS, which is investigating blockchain technology at an innovation lab based in London, has launched a call for ideas to the financial technology community.

UBS Group CIO Oliver Bussmann wrote on LinkedIn's Pulse:

“Today is a very exciting day for UBS […] We have launched the UBS Future of Finance Challenge, a competition which is open to entrepreneurs and startups around the world with potentially disruptive technological ideas and solutions to support the transformation of the banking industry.”

Entries can be submitted by entrepreneurs and startups with revenues of less than US$3 million, which have received less than US$10 million in funding and were incorporated on or after January 1, 2010.

Windows 10 A Serious Threat to Bitcoin Privacy

Windows 10 users have discovered a big problem with the operating system – privacy. The operating system can legally access all personal data, emails, and files to provide to law enforcement or government agencies. The highly anticipated operating system has turned into a massive NSA spying tool, which could obtain data from Bitcoin wallets and systems. Non-browser based Bitcoin wallets installed on Windows 10 could fall victim to Microsoft's privacy agreement, if the details of transactions, IDs, codes and history get passed onto government agencies or law enforcement.

Windows 10 A Serious Threat to Bitcoin Privacy

Gyft Announces Coin Month: 5% On All Gift Cards With Bitcoin

This month, gift card company Gyft will be upping the amount they discount for bitcoin purchases from the typical 3% in the form of reward points to a limited-time offer of 5%.

Vinny Lingham, Gyft’s co-founder and CEO, said:

“Using Bitcoin has never been safer or easier […] With the growing awareness and acceptance of Bitcoin by our users, we wanted to demonstrate our support. Moreover, during August, everyone can now earn more Gyft Points than ever before.”

Gift offers gift cards for over 200 retailers that range from major retailers like Amazon, eBay and iTunes, to other popular brands like Foot Locker, CVS/pharmacy, Nike, and much more.

European Payment Processor Coinify Acquires Competitor Coinzone

Denmark based payment processor Coinify will be taking over the operations of Dutch competitor Coinzone. Coinify says that Coinzone will bring development and volume to the table, and hopes this new partnership will result in a number of new opportunities for customers of both platforms.

Coinify CEO Mark Højgaard said:

“We welcome aboard Coinzone’s merchants and partners to Coinify, and will make sure that we continue the good work of Coinzone […] Coinzone has done a remarkable job, especially considering its short time in the market.”

Nick Szabo: Block Size Increase a ‘Huge Security Risk’

Cryptographer and digital currency researcher Nick Szabo, who many believe to be the real identity behind Satoshi Nakamoto, has stated that a rapid block size increase is “a huge security risk” and “a reckless act to be performing on a US$4 billion system.” Szabo made the remarks as part of the ongoing debate over the Bitcoin block size, which continues to draw in major players from across the community.

Nick Szabo: Block Size Increase a ‘Huge Security Risk’