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Charlie Lee of the Litecoin Foundation – Cointelegraph Magazine

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“It was kind of crazy to leave Google.”

Charlie Lee was a software engineer for YouTube, which had become part of the world’s dominant technology company. He loved the start-up feel. “You get to work on really cool, new stuff, except that it’s a start-up that’s guaranteed to succeed.” Anything Google launches, he explains, gets millions of users on day one.

The Google campus was just a five-minute drive from Lee’s home, and the company offered a phenomenal salary, top-notch benefits, and a hefty stock incentive scheme to round out the compensation package.

But the possibilities of joining a young crypto exchange in San Francisco caught Lee’s interest. It was more than an hour commute one-way, with a salary and benefits nowhere close to matching what Google offered. Despite this, Lee decided that after six years of working for the massive company, it was time to try something new.

“I decided to do it because I was excited about working on crypto full-time.”

Getting in at the top

While he has since gained some notoriety for selling his Litecoin holdings at the peak of the 2017 crypto market frenzy, Lee had first-hand experience of buying at the top. He caught the crypto bug when he encountered Bitcoin and its characteristic volatility in 2011. Lee purchased some Bitcoins at the then-peak price of $30 and worked at learning everything he could about crypto. 

Soon after his initial investment, he watched the price plummet to just two dollars, but he persisted with his newfound passion. 

While working at Google, Lee spent much of his spare time on Bitcoin forums exploring crypto. Tinkering with the technology, he helped develop an altcoin dubbed Fairbrix. The tech was based on Tenebrix, a cryptocurrency which used the Scrypt algorithm for mining with a CPU. Powerful GPUs had rendered CPU mining of Bitcoin unprofitable, so Tenebrix became an attractive alternative for miners.

But Tenebrix had an all-too-familiar problem. Seven million coins were pre-mined and held by its anonymous creator, whose explanation for the pre-mine was that the coins would essentially serve as a money-laundering tool. 

“You would send him coins and then he would send you clean coins from those seven million clean coins. It was supposed to be a service to clean your coins, but who knows if that’s what’s going to happen. He basically had seven million coins he could just dump on the market and exit scam whenever he felt like it.”

The justification for the pre-mine is preserved for posterity on the Bitcointalk forum.

Lee pushed to relaunch Tenebrix with no pre-mine, calling the new solution Fairbrix. It was based on a complicated fork with numerous bugs and tons of issues at launch, he says. “Fairbrix sputtered out of the gate and didn’t do well.”

Following the failure of Fairbrix, Lee decided to create another coin, but to “do it the right way.” He branched off the proven Bitcoin codebase instead, aspiring to keep everything as close to Bitcoin as possible.

The newly launched Litecoin changed a few parameters, improving functionality and speed along with adding in Scrypt mining.

It wasn’t clear that the new coin would succeed, Lee says, as it was just one among dozens of new coins. But the “silver to Bitcoin’s gold” tagline resonated strongly with the community. The fact that it was CPU-mineable helped kickstart the network. Just about anyone could get involved with CPU mining, he says, which bolstered initial adoption.

When Bitcoin ASICs later emerged as the preferred mining tool for the dominant network, the timing was again fortuitous for Litecoin, Lee says. Just as miners were switching to using ASICs for Bitcoin, “all the GPUs that were previously mining Bitcoin switched to Litecoin.” Thus, many former Bitcoin miners migrated over to the alternative network. “It was in the right place at the right time.”

By 2013, Lee found himself fully immersed in crypto, shifting from what was once merely an open-source passion project to building solutions in a rapidly growing industry. “So, I decided to try to figure out what I wanted to do in the crypto space.”

Lee wrote a letter to Coinbase asking if they would support the growing Litecoin network. The company replied with an insistence that the focus would remain on Bitcoin for the time being, with possible support for Litecoin in the future. The conversation was fruitful nonetheless, as they expressed a need for engineers and soon hired Lee.

And crazy as it may have been, Lee left Google for something… more interesting.

Always on the move

Lee’s willingness to “go with the flow” seems to stem from events he experienced at a young age. An unstable political situation in the Ivory Coast compelled his parents to send Charlie, thirteen years old at the time, and his brother Bobby (now also an active member of the crypto community) to boarding school in America.

At the time he left, Lee was well ahead of his classmates. In his first day of grade one mathematics, his teacher sent him to the second grade, deeming him too advanced for first grade. He then spent one day in second grade, after which the teacher sent him on to third grade. 

“I basically jumped two grades in math. So a really small first-grader was taking math class with third graders. It must have looked really weird.” By seventh grade, Lee had exhausted the available curriculum.

Starting in New Jersey as an eighth grade student, Lee acknowledges, was “a big shock. My brother was there, so that helped a little bit, but still I was kinda by myself, separated from my parents.” 

During this period, Lee learned a great deal about controlling his own finances. His parents sent him an allowance enabling him to get used to budgeting and financial planning at a relatively young age. “As a thirteen year old, I learned to save for things in the future.”

He first learned about the value of sound money from his grandfather, who left China with gold bars sewn into his clothes. “It was the only way he was able to take his wealth out of China to Hong Kong.” This understanding of money enabled Lee to make a connection between gold and Bitcoin when he first encountered it.

It’s a natural progression, Lee explains. Before crypto technology’s inception, gold was the best form of money. “It’s sound money. It’s inflation-proof. Governments can’t just create more gold out of thin air like they do with fiat.”

“With crypto, people call Bitcoin digital gold and Litecoin digital silver because of the fact that it’s very similar to gold and silver in terms of its monetary properties. But it’s better than gold and silver because it’s digital. There’s no or low cost for storage compared to gold and low cost for transport. It’s next to impossible to move a lot of gold cross-country. But with Bitcoin, Litecoin, and cryptocurrencies, you can.”

Dot.com is hiring

After completing his studies at MIT in computer software and electrical engineering, Lee graduated at the peak of the dot.com boom. He was a hot commodity. “Companies were hiring like crazy back then… Offers were pretty incredible for college grads.”

Lee soon decided to join a startup, Kana, a company pegged at a “crazy” valuation of $4 billion, Lee says. “The offer was kind of incredible. If the stock price had stayed the same, the stock value that they gave would be worth a million dollars, a million and a half.” But a year later, internet companies were plummeting. Many companies fell in value by 90% or collapsed entirely. “I got in at the top, so to speak,” Lee laughs.

Kana sputtered along after the crash while a number of Lee’s colleagues started Guidewire, an automated insurance software company. Lee joined them for three years before opting for Google.

Exploring Litecoin

Following his departure from Google and subsequent stint at Coinbase as Director of Engineering, Lee returned to exploring possibilities with Litecoin. The enthusiastic community was delighted with the news. At first easing back on his hours at Coinbase, he eventually shifted to focusing full-time on his brainchild, eventually leaving the exchange to dedicate himself to the activation of the controversial SegWit scaling solution. “There was a lot of FUD around SegWit. My theory is that it came from Jihan Wu and miners trying to block SegWit because it hurt their income.”

Many in the community were unsure of the technology’s implementation, but Lee felt Litecoin was the perfect network for testing its efficacy and security. 

“No one’s going to attack a testnet because even if you succeed you can’t make money from it. You need real value to test the game theory.” 

Lee realized that if they could activate SegWit successfully on Litecoin, they could show the legitimacy of the scaling solution. “In reality, SegWit was actually very good technology that would help Bitcoin… with very little downside.”

It wasn’t easy, Lee says, but eventually he convinced Litecoin miners to activate SegWit in April of 2017, to great success. He believes this innovation led to SegWit’s eventual implementation on Bitcoin. “It made it clear-cut that there was nothing wrong with it and they should just activate it.”

About selling Litecoin at the peak…

The 2017 market peak put Lee in a no-win situation. His Twitter follower count had exploded during the market surge, and his tweets appeared to exert considerable influence on the value of Litecoin. 

Lee explained that a simple “announcement of an announcement” à la Justin Sun could cause prices to spike. “I didn’t want to have incentives to do that, to just care about the price and pump the price.”

The conflict of interest troubled Lee and he decided it would be best to divest himself of his holdings in Litecoin, much to the bitter disappointment (and vocal criticism) of the community, who questioned his commitment to the cause and wondered if he contributed to the subsequent price crash. He explains that he did not have a lot of coins to begin with, certainly not enough to crash the market, unlike some other creators who held on to pre-mined large sums of their own created coins. “I bought and mined the coins just like everyone else. The only difference is that I was early.” 

“There were thousands of people there at the beginning, probably thousands who owned more coins than I did. But being the creator and central figure of Litecoin, I figured not owning coins and still pushing for adoption, still working on it, was the better way of doing things.”

 

 

Lee admits that, in hindsight, the timing created bad optics. But, he points out, he was already financially secure by this time in his career. “I was early in Bitcoin so I was already very well off. Being relatively early at Google, Guidewire and also Bitcoin, it’s not like I needed the money.” Now, Lee says, he only cares about the price of Litecoin because he cares about its adoption.

Lee warned of the cyclical nature of the crypto market well before his sell-off, he adds. Even before selling, he tweeted that the market was very volatile and warned that prices could easily drop 90%. 

New people come in and buy near the top during hype phases, Lee says, but they’re not ready for the crashes. These same people will sell when prices plummet. “They’ll be buying high and selling low, which is quite unfortunate. If I could help it, I’d rather the price not pump that much because the fall would be devastating for most people.”

It’s hard whenever people are critical toward Lee on social media, he admits, “I probably shouldn’t engage…” He figures the best thing to do is to put his head down and just keep working on Litecoin.

Why does privacy matter if you’re not doing anything bad?

Bitcoin, Lee says, is the best form of money that humans have ever seen. “It’s gold, but better than gold.” But one property of sound money that Bitcoin is not good at, he explains, is fungibility.

Lee explains fungibility and privacy are key priorities for cryptocurrency development. For many, the issue of privacy seems irrelevant. Why, some might ask, does privacy matter if you’re not doing anything illegal? 

He offers an example to illustrate the problem:

Someone buys 20 bitcoins on an exchange and withdraws the funds to a wallet. The next time they use Bitcoin for something from that address, the original 20 Bitcoin input remains visible. “You could see on a block explorer that I sent, whatever, 0.1 BTC to someone and it came from an input that has 20 Bitcoins. So the guy who received it saw that I have 20 Bitcoins. They can go back and look at my transactions and try to figure out exactly how many I have and it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out…” 

This lack of privacy is not good for money, he explains. “You want money to be fungible. You don’t want to give someone twenty dollars and for the merchant to know you have $100,000 in your bank account. Or that your paycheck was whatever amount.” Financial privacy is important, he says, “even if you’re not doing anything bad.”

More fungibility, Lee says, is always good for money.

Lee is on a mission to make transactions more private with MimbleWimble. The technology is not perfect, he says, but it’s “good enough.” The key characteristic, Lee says, is that it is scalable, an important consideration for blockchains. 

MimbleWimble will be implemented on Litecoin using extension blocks, like a sidechain that is attached to the main chain. Every block has an extension block that holds MimbleWimble transactions. Users can move coins between the two chains with everything remaining private on the sidechain. The funds can then be withdrawn back to the main chain where transparent transactions take place.

Unlike SegWit, Lee is doubtful that MimbleWimble technology will ever come to Bitcoin. Unless it works perfectly on Litecoin and shows that it is, indeed, the future. “I don’t think it will come to Bitcoin in that form, but we’ll see. It’s good to be able to experiment on it.”  

Lee plans to continue working on Litecoin, but says he will eventually step away when the time is right. Having him around is both good and bad for Litecoin, he says. Being a central influence for the cause of the Litecoin network, Lee can push to get things done more easily and efficiently than the more decentralized Bitcoin development community could ever do. But this also makes Litecoin more vulnerable.

“Let’s say the government wanted influence on Litecoin, they can put pressure on me. Or if I start doing something bad, I can really hurt Litecoin. Eventually, when Litecoin doesn’t need me anymore, when it’s more mature and decentralized, it will be best for me to step away, but until then I’ll do whatever I can to help it succeed.”

The king of crypto

Bitcoin is still the king of crypto, Lee insists:

“I try to help Bitcoin when I can.” 

The next big thing for Bitcoin? An ETF, Lee says. “You need to make it easy for anyone to have exposure to Bitcoin… There’s a lot of money out there that can’t get exposure to Bitcoin because there’s no easy way.” Lee figures it’s only a matter of time. “Even the gold ETF took a while. It will take some time, but it will happen eventually… We just need more history and more, bigger exchanges you can trust.”

Even with the mass adoption of Bitcoin, Lee believes there’s still plenty of space in the market for Litecoin. It offers cheap, fast transactions, Lightning Network compatibility, and the ability to perform atomic swaps between Litecoin and Bitcoin.

“In the future, I think people will use money without even knowing what the underlying technology is. Whether it’s the Bitcoin network, whether it’s Lightning, whether it’s Liquid, whether it’s the Litecoin network or anything else. In the end, that’s going to be abstracted away from the user. All they care about is sending value.”

 



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Who takes gold in the crypto and blockchain Olympics? – Cointelegraph Magazine

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Every four years (usually), the world comes together in a celebration of sport and competition at the Olympic Games. In the spirit of Tokyo 2020, let’s look at countries that are deserving of gold medals across different spheres of the cryptocurrency and blockchain space.

The variety of sports featured at the Olympics have changed over the years, and the current summer Olympics in Japan features a total of 33 different sports. Exciting competitions like skateboarding and surfing were added for Japan as the global showpiece continues to evolve and adopt different sports.

The cryptocurrency and blockchain space is similar in this regard. Many different working parts make for a colorful community both united and divided by their preferences of cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms.

Let’s take a look at which countries and institutions take home gold medals in their respective crypto and blockchain codes.

Gold for Bitcoin adoption goes to… El Salvador

Sports often have fans cheering for the underdog and El Salvador has emerged as one of those lesser-known players that have burst onto the global stage in 2021. The Central American country grabbed headlines this year as it officially became the first in the world to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender

Without delving too deep into the specifics, El Salvador’s congress voted to pass President Nayib Bukele’s Bitcoin Law which recognizes Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender alongside the United States dollar, with 62 of a total 84 votes in agreement with the new legislation.

 

 

The law allows citizens to pay for goods and services in Bitcoin, and Bukele also stated that the Salvadoran government will guarantee the convertibility of BTC into USD at the time of any given transaction. The government plans to airdrop $30 worth of BTC to every citizen later this year.

There have been critics of the law change both locally and abroad, but the overall sentiment seems positive for the adoption of Bitcoin and a change of perception toward the preeminent cryptocurrency. 

Nevertheless, there are a few final hurdles that lie ahead for the country. Firstly, the International Monetary Fund has issued its own warning about the potential downsides of countries adopting Bitcoin that currently have unstable inflation rates. 

Secondly, some citizens of El Salvador have also expressed their skepticism of the move. A survey undertaken at the beginning of July involving 1,233 citizens revealed that nearly half of the respondents knew nothing about Bitcoin. Of the poll takers, 20% agreed with the move, highlighting the need for an educational campaign to complement the progressive move to make BTC a legal tender in the country.

Change is often met with uncertainty and resistance, but in terms of progression and adoption, El Salvador takes the gold medal in this first category.

Switzerland takes silver in the category, thanks to its crypto-friendly laws that have boosted the use of cryptocurrencies and companies working in the space. The USA clinches the bronze medal thanks to the efforts of Miami’s Bitcoin-friendly mayor Francis Suarez, who’s been driving various initiatives to promote the use of BTC.

China leads the CBDC race, but anti-crypto policies lead to disqualification

China has been a powerhouse at the Olympics over the past two decades with its sporting program producing a fine pedigree of Olympic weightlifters, gymnasts, divers, shooters and martial artists. In the world of cryptocurrencies, the story is quite different.

China has taken a stern stance toward cryptocurrencies and has continued this policy in 2021, with its outright ban of mining completely rebalancing the Bitcoin mining ecosystem as a result. 

Interestingly enough, the nation is far ahead of the world when it comes to the race to develop a fully-fledged central bank digital currency, or CBDC. Over the past 18 months, China has piloted and rolled out significant testing of its Digital Currency Electronic Payment, or DCEP. 

 

 

Colloquially known as the digital yuan, citizens began testing the facility through lotteries that award a small number of participants in various cities with digital yuan, which they could use through a mobile app to pay for goods and services at thousands of participating vendors.

There is no denying that China has blazed the trail for the development, testing and roll-out of its CBDC. In the same breath, the DCEP is a government-controlled program, and the specifics of the technology and systems powering the digital yuan are shrouded in mystery.

However, China’s recent ban on mining in different regions and its zero tolerance of cryptocurrency exchanges means that despite its well-developed CBDC program, it falls out of the reckoning for a medal. Luckily, a number of other countries have also made significant strides in developing their own CBDCs. 

In the world of sports, fans often get behind the underdog, and this is certainly the case with the Bahamas and its Sand Dollar CBDC. The country has made significant strides with the development and testing of its very own CBDC and became the first country to go live in October 2020.

The Sand Dollar ecosystem continues to onboard more local banks and financial institutions, paving the way for widespread adoption of the CBDC and a fully digital payment environment. The Bahamas is the deserving recipient of the gold medal in this category.

Sweden has begun its first trial of pilot testing the e-krona CBDC with a couple of local banks and external participants. As it continues testing its system with local financial institutions, Sweden earns the silver medal in this category.

Cambodia and Ukraine have been credited for their own CBDC development programs by a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, sharing the bronze medal in this category.

North America in the race for gold in Bitcoin mining

China was undoubtedly the gold medal incumbent of Bitcoin mining but this is quickly changing in 2021. Recent estimates saw China account for more than 70% of the global hash rate before various mining operations were forced to shutter in June.

Those firms that were able to quickly look for greener pastures would welcome their mining equipment. While various countries in Asia would be the closest locale to relocate to, North America is quickly becoming the new hub of cryptocurrency mining.

Research from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance shows that the hash rate of American-based miners has steadily been on the rise over the past year and the latest regulatory move in China has only accelerated that point.

The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index world map has yet to fully reflect the data from China’s regional mining bans in June, in order to get a better understanding of how the Bitcoin mining hash rate’s geo-distribution has changed. The latest map shows the distribution as of March 2021.

 

 

 

Nevertheless, from August 2019 to March 2021, the U.S. saw an increase in its contribution to the global hash rate from 4% to 16%, making it second to only China in terms of hash rate. This is largely due to a concerted effort from major mining operators in America steadily increasing their hash rate by acquiring new equipment during this period.

Kazakhstan has also opened its doors to relocate Bitcoin miners from China and has seen its share of the Bitcoin hash rate climb to around 8% of the global rate, according to Cambridge’s recent report.

China’s share of the global hash rate has dropped below 50%, while the United States’ has climbed. This picture, however, has still not factored in the major relocation of mining operations out of China.

It might be too early to give the U.S. the gold medal for Bitcoin mining, but the country seems to be on track to take over in the leaderboards if it continues at the same pace. China’s mining clampdown results in a disqualification, so the U.S. becomes the new gold medallist in this category.

Kazakhstan swoops in to take silver with its 8% contribution to the global hash rate, while Iran grabs the bronze medal with its 4.6% share. Canada and Malaysia just miss out on the podium in the category.

The regulatory race goes down to a photo finish

When it comes to progressive regulation that is driving cryptocurrency adoption and use, there are a number of countries that are vying for a crypto gold medal and can boast to have developed regulatory parameters that are helping the industry thrive in their locales. 

Malta has positioned itself as the blockchain island for a few years now and has attracted a number of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges and other crypto service providers. The country’s regulatory package is attractive, as crypto holders do not have to pay capital gains, wealth, or inheritance tax on their holdings, but trading is subject to income tax. 

Singapore is another country that has established comprehensive laws that have made it clear what cryptocurrency firms and service providers need to do in order to operate in the country. Singapore is also among a handful of countries that has zero capital gains tax on cryptocurrency income. 

South Korea has long been a country with an avid cryptocurrency user base and often sees Bitcoin trading at prices far higher than the rest of the world. The country has since developed strict regulatory frameworks but has also driven a number of initiatives to foster various services powered by blockchain technology.

 

 

 

 

Switzerland is another strong contender in this category, given its progressive attitude toward the cryptocurrency and blockchain space. Earlier in 2021, the Canton of Zug finally rolled out its facility for residents to pay taxes in BTC and Ethereum (ETH).

Canada is featured prominently in this race, having become the first country to approve a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). The launch of the first Bitcoin ETF in February 2021 was a huge success, with the Toronto Stock Exchange’s Purpose Bitcoin ETF seeing nearly $100 million in trade volume on its first day. 

All in all, Canada has been hailed for its progressive regulatory environment for cryptocurrency use. Cryptocurrencies are classed as commodities, and their usage for goods or services is treated as barter transactions. 

These five countries, therefore, end the crypto and blockchain regulatory race in a photo finish that’s hard to call. As we bring up the slow-motion replay, we can confirm that Canada can take the gold in this category for its broad range of crypto-friendly regulations, from ETFs to clear tax laws and favorable mining tariffs.

Malta takes silver, as its status as the “Blockchain Island” has waned somewhat due to a change in governmental leadership that had initially championed this cause. Singapore and South Korea share bronze in this category.

The U.S. takes gold for institutional adoption

The modern-day United States optimizes a capitalist society, and the disruptive nature of cryptocurrency has led some forward-thinking individuals, companies and institutions to move quickly to leverage the potential of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Enter MicroStrategy, a global leader in business intelligence services, which in 2020, pioneered a move to convert its fiat-based treasury holdings to Bitcoin. The company’s CEO, Michael Saylor, is a fierce Bitcoin proponent and has relentlessly acquired BTC since the firm’s decision to bank on the preeminent cryptocurrency in August last year.

MicroStrategy’s move is widely credited for influencing electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla and its founder Elon Musk to decide to begin investing in Bitcoin and, even at one point, accepting the cryptocurrency as a means of payment for its vehicles. 

Cryptocurrencies have been touted as a disruptive force in the payments industry, and American firm PayPal looked to gain first-mover advantage by announcing that it would roll out cryptocurrency custody and payment services on its widely used platform.

 

 

American investment firms have also led the way in allowing a wider audience various ways to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies. None more so than Grayscale Investments, which has a number of cryptocurrency trusts that are valued at over $33 billion to date. Its flagship Bitcoin Trust is currently valued at over $24 billion alone.

These factors are more than enough to hand America another gold medal in the Crypto Olympics in the race for institutional adoption.

Canada takes silver in this category due to its crypto-friendly regulation and its progressive ETF laws that have seen it overtake its North American neighbor in that regard. Thailand walks away with a bronze medal here, as its oldest banking institution, Siam Commercial Bank, has committed $110 million to invest into the decentralized finance sector through its venture capital arm SCB 10X.

DNFs

A number of countries fall into the disqualification category for their varying stances on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

In February 2021, Nigerians were caught off guard as the country’s central bank effectively barred local banks from servicing cryptocurrency exchanges. For a country that still ranks as number one for Google’s search of Bitcoin, the move was criticized both locally and abroad. Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission had been developing crypto regulatory plans which were suspended as a result.

India is another country that has a checkered past when it comes to its attitude toward the cryptocurrency space. The country’s government has long been threatening an outright ban on the use of Bitcoin, but this is slowly changing with talk of asset classification providing proper regulatory frameworks and oversight for the burgeoning industry. 

India’s banking sector is still at odds with the cryptocurrency movement, with some of the largest institutions reportedly cautioning customers about acquiring and using cryptocurrencies. It’s clear that mixed messages from India’s government and central bank in recent years have created a swathe of uncertainty that can only be addressed by proper education about the sector.

China’s recent ban on cryptocurrency mining in different regions of the country also sees it feature in this disqualification category, as the move caused major disruptions in the mining ecosystem, forcing operators to close up shop and look for greener pastures abroad.

The Chinese government also issued directives to local banks not to service businesses involved in the cryptocurrency industry, which is cause for greater concern. Cutting off integration with the traditional finance sector means that citizens in the country are robbed of the ability to access and use cryptocurrencies to their full potential.

 

 

 



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Newly found Monero bug may impact transaction privacy, developers warn

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Developers of privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Monero (XMR) have identified a bug that could potentially impact users’ transaction privacy.

On Monday, the official Monero Twitter account warned users of a “rather significant bug” that has been spotted in Monero’s decoy selection algorithm, a system designed to hide real output transactions among 10 decoys in a ring.

First identified by software developer Justin Berman, the bug causes a sufficient probability that users’ output transactions can be identified as the true spend among decoys if users spend funds immediately following lock time in the first two blocks, or 20 minutes after receiving funds.

The developers emphasized that the bug does not pose a risk to any information about addresses or transaction amount but rather only allows to trace the occurrence of an XMR transaction. “Funds are never at risk of being stolen. This bug persists in the official wallet code today,” Monero developers noted.

According to an XMR contributor on Reddit, the newly discovered bug impacts transactions that are from the past. To mitigate the potential privacy risks, Monero developers recommended waiting one hour or longer before spending newly received XMR until the community rolls out a fix in a future wallet software update to mitigate the potential privacy risks. A full network upgrade, or a hard fork, is not required to address this issue, the developers noted.

Related: Privacy coin Monero pumps 31% amid US taxation plans

Launched in 2014, XMR is a major privacy-focused cryptocurrency designed to support secure, private and untraceable transactions, using a special type of cryptography to ensure that all its transactions remain 100% untrackable and unlinkable. Monero is the 29th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and is the biggest privacy-centric digital currency by value. At the time of writing, XMR is trading at $222, down 3.8% over the past 24 hours, according to data from CoinGecko.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, multiple global financial regulators have attempted to crack Monero’s privacy. Last year, the United States Internal Revenue Service offered a bounty of up to $625,000 to anyone who can trace Monero transactions.