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Saturday the 20th of July saw the first meetup for UK based cryptocurrency, Feathercoin, at the Oxford Blue pub in Oxford. CoinDesk was in attendance and took the pulse of what's happening with the altcurrency.

Feathercoin's 51% Attack Explained

Peter Bushnell, Feathercoin's creator, expanded on the technical details of how last month's 51% attack was dealt with, and explained a new checkpointing system which is going to be released. "Feathercoin's upcoming Advanced checkpointing will be used to stop attackers from orphaning genuine blocks. Checkpoints are used to make sure that clients connect to the correct blockchain which makes the network resistant to blocks being orphaned by attackers. The current approach requires the client to be compiled anew and reissued. This is cumbersome and slow so is not suitable to prevent attacks."

"Advanced checkpointing allows checkpoints in the block chain to be created automatically from the latest genuine block. Clients will pick up this checkpoint and will ignore attackers' blocks during attacks."

"During the attack someone, presumably the attacker, tried to reverse a Feathercoin deposit to Cryptsy. This works by sending Feathercoin to the exchange, selling them and then trying to replace the blocks in the block chain where the coins were sent. Cryptsy's systems detected the Feathercoin deposit reversal and ceased trading of FTC/BTC.

"I was happy to hear that their systems spotted this and prevented any major damage from being done. This should be reassuring to all users of Cryptsy that they do have a system in place to protect the coins held there. Cryptsy is an exchange that has many coins much smaller in size than Feathercoin, so have put thought into how to protect themselves."

SMS and point of sale payment systems

WP_20130720_015Developer and Feathercoin community member, Mark Leck, demonstrated SMS Address, an SMS-driven payment system for Feathercoin. The site is still in development, but will allow users to sign up by sending a text.

SMS Address works by generating an account key that's associated with the user's phone number. When an SMS is sent, it is encrypted by the SMS provider.

Currently, the SMS to be sent can be generated by the SMS Address website – one needs to enter an account key, receiving address and amount to send. When the users' phone scans the generated QR code, they have the required text to send to the SMS Address service. When the message is received the SMS Address server will then transmit the details of the transactions to the Feathercoin network.

WP_20130720_018An exciting aspect of the service which was previewed at the Oxford meetup was a merchant interface. Although not quite ready to go live yet, this system presented a QR code that could be scanned by the Feathercoin wallet app for Android. I can personally verify that this worked, as I bought a cup of tea using this system and my Android phone.

It is hoped in the future that merchants might be able to input the transaction amount into a till machine, which would be pre-programmed with account key and Feathercoin address which would then print or display a QR code for the customer to scan.

I was told by Ruth Bushnell, the event organiser, that the Oxford Blue's landlord has expressed an interest in using this system when it is ready. Also according to Ruth, the Oxford Blue took around 2000 FTC (approximately £100) during the meetup, via the experimental merchant interface developed by Mark.

View the event

The event was streamed live to the web and can be played back anytime. Head over to Trollbox TV to see it.

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