Blockchain Bites: Binance vs. Ethereum, MicroBT vs. Bitmain, Libra vs. the World

Binance unveiled plans for a new smart contract blockchain, which could compete with Ethereum, while MicroBT looks to beat rival Bitmain to market.

AccessTimeIconApr 17, 2020 at 4:50 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. UTC

Today, Binance unveiled plans for a smart contract blockchain competing with Ethereum, Bitcoin miner manufacturer MicroBT looks to beat Bitmain to market, and the road ahead for stablecoins looks bumpy.

"The industry needs more high-performance infrastructures, not just one single blockchain," a Binance spokesperson said, adding the two networks would complement one another in growing the blockchain ecosystem. Here's the story:

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Top Shelf

Binance's Base Layer
Binance released a white paper detailing a new smart contract blockchain that might compete with Ethereum. The new Binance Smart Chain (BSC) would work as a smart contract layer running parallel to its existing Binance Chain, and incorporate a matching engine capable of fast trade executions and a new consensus mechanism designed to combine fast confirmation times with strong on-chain governance.

Mining Wars
Shenzhen-based MicroBT is rolling out three new energy-efficient bitcoin miners amid heated competition with industry giant Bitmain ahead of the network's halving event in less than 30 days. MicroBT has slowly chipped away at Bitmain’s market dominance, and now looks to push out its latest models ahead of the halving and Bitmain’s updated machines expected in May.



  • Four months after Circle pivoted to stablecoins, the startup’s new business model has received an unexpected boost from the global coronavirus crisis. “Over the past several weeks, we have seen explosive interest and growth in USDC,” co-founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire said, referring to the stablecoin Circle issues in partnership with Coinbase. “There is clearly very significant global demand for digital dollars, and the use of digital dollars as a new payment medium.”
  • According to CoinMetrics, over the past six weeks, the Paxos Standard (PAX) grew 22 percent, from $198 million to $258 million; tether (USDT) grew 36 percent from $4.6 billion to $6.3 billion and the Gemini dollar (GUSD) grew from $3.9 million to $6.2 million, or up 6 percent. The Binance dollar (BUSD) issued with Paxos saw the fastest growth, from $68 million to nearly $200 million, or up a whopping 194 percent.


  • Despite scaling back the vision of the Libra project to essentially be a PayPal clone, at least one U.S. lawmaker is still turned off by Facebook’s tarnished brand. "There are simply too many questions left unanswered regarding why Facebook is even developing a cryptocurrency and how it will affect the global economy and consumers," Rep. Sylvia Garcia, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, said Thursday.

Digital Dollars

  • Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Pramila Jayapal introduced a proposal to have the federal government issue $2,000 per month issued to residents in digital dollar account wallets. The stimulus would be financed by minting a pair of $1 trillion coins and using these to back the payments. “No later than January 1, 2021, the Secretary shall offer all recipients of BOOST payments the option to receive their payments in digital dollar wallets,” Thursday’s bill read.
  • J. Christopher Giancarlo, former chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, thinks the ongoing discussion around a digital dollar project during the COVID-19 crisis is premature. “Something as complex and worthy of the U.S. dollar’s global importance should not be cobbled together in a crisis. Getting it right will take time. Nevertheless, now is the right time to get started,” he writes in a CoinDesk op-ed.
Christoper Giancarlo image via CoinDesk archives
Christoper Giancarlo image via CoinDesk archives

Purse Closed
Bitcoin startup Purse will shut down after six years in the space, according to an email sent to customers Thursday. Purse will continue to facilitate services until June 26 but signups will cease Thursday. Additionally, the startup’s “Shop and Earn” functionality will be disabled next week on April 23 and open orders that have not been matched will be canceled, the email states.

Privacy Protocol
BTCPay, a popular open source tool for accepting bitcoin payments, is incorporating PayJoin to preserve the privacy of those transactions. PayJoin has been around since 2018, and may offer greater privacy than existing solutions like CoinJoin, but few services have added support for it yet. 

Security Concerns

  • Russian citizens are trolling a government-released mobile contact tracing app that is designed to help stop COVID-19 contagion. Smartphone users in Russia are giving it low ratings and leaving bad reviews in the Android and iOS app stores. Some are reporting the government-backed app to Google and Apple in the hopes of getting it removed, an action usually taken for copyright infringement or inappropriate content.
  • The Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) consortium developing privacy protocols for a contact tracing app has quietly removed mention of a decentralized standard from its website. It’s unclear what a PEPP-PT protocol might look like, but a centralized approach would have more privacy risks, as well as the potential for the re-appropriation of data for other purposes, like state surveillance. 
  • Spanish researchers are developing a smartphone app that leverages blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to help stem the coronavirus pandemic, and preserve the privacy of “digital identities.”

Charged With Fraud
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has charged a self-claimed Florida financial adviser and his company with fraud for allegedly duping investors in his algorithmically charged “Compcoin” token out of $1.6 million. 

Libel Updates
Decrypt’s Tim Copeland gives the current state of Craig Wright’s five libel suits, which the nChain scientist filed last year. 

Craig Wright. Credit: Flickr
Craig Wright. Credit: Flickr

Tightening Controls

  • As banks in emerging economies are imposing tighter currency controls amid the coronavirus-led financial downturn, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of "The Black Swan” and “Fooled By Randomness,” is urging citizens turn to cryptocurrencies. (Decrypt)
  • South African regulators have proposed a strict cryptocurrency framework, in what could become the nation’s first comprehensive crypto laws. They recommend cryptocurrency “remain without legal tender status.” 

Salesforce Backed
Australian fintech unicorn and RippleNet member, Airwallex, raised $160 million in a fundraising round led by the investment arms of Australian ‘big four’ bank, ANZ, and San Francisco-based cloud software company, Salesforce. (Coin Telegraph)

Weekend Read: Climate Change

Blockchain’s often hyped attributes are a natural fit for governments seeking to mitigate global climate change. This effort necessarily requires diverse sets of governments and agencies to coordinate and account for their actions. Cryptocurrencies are evolving in ways that can incorporate automated internal governance of common resources and encourage collaboration among communities. 

“How can financial and non-financial value be incorporated into digital currencies that promote, not simply the sustainable production, but the sustainable consumption patterns that are consistent with the decarbonized or net-zero lifestyle?” asks Tom Baumann, co-chair of the Climate Action group at the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA). “It’s about being able to empower individuals to be more effective decision-makers.”

Blockchains can keep track of scarce digital units of value, which can be aligned in micro-economic systems to achieve common goals and favorable outcomes for communities. This could be as small as rewarding users of greener forms of public transport or developing a global carbon budget. “People are concerned about the truthfulness or credibility of sustainability claims. If blockchain can provide irrefutable transparent accountability then that will encourage people to have greater faith and willingness,” Baumann said.



CoinDesk Live: Lockdown Edition continues its popular twice-weekly chats with Consensus speakers via Zoom and Twitter. Here you'll get a preview of what’s to come in Consensus: Distributed, our first fully virtual - and fully free - big-tent conference May 11-15. 

On the show, we'll chat with developers from the most exciting crypto projects, unpack the basics - and not so basics - of the industry and hear from entrepreneurs disrupting traditional industries. Then we’ll open the floor for you to ask questions directly to our guests.

Register to join our second session Tuesday, April 21, with Foundations speakers Priyanka Desai and Aaron Wright from The Lao to discuss for-profit DAOs.

Market Intel

Bitcoin Derivatives

  • Open interest in bitcoin futures listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has recovered significantly from the March lows, indicating a resurgence in institutions that want to buy the cryptocurrency. As of Wednesday, open interest, or the number of futures contracts outstanding, was $181 million, a 70 percent increase from $106 million recorded on March 22. 
  • Activity in the bitcoin options market picked up pace on Thursday, as bitcoin’s price jumped above $7,000 and opened the doors for stronger gains ahead of the next month’s reward halving. Daily trading volume in bitcoin options listed on major exchanges rose to $86.4 million on Thursday, the highest since March 16.

Stablecoin Surge
New data shows the outstanding value of dollar-linked tokens, the de facto form of cash on chain, is amassing on cryptocurrency exchanges. In the past month, the outstanding value of the top six dollar-linked tokens has surged by more than 25 percent to about $8 billion, according to CoinDesk Research. This insight comes from First Mover, CoinDesk's daily markets newsletter. You can subscribe here.


Halving Webinar
Join CoinDesk’s Noelle Acheson and Christine Kim for a chat about the upcoming bitcoin halving. They’ll talk about their recent report which explains what it is, why it matters and what its impact on the sector and the bitcoin price could be. We attempt to reconcile the various models and theses around the potential bitcoin price reaction as the adjustment approaches, and look at metrics that will shed light on the technological impact.

The Breakdown

Libra v. Digital Yuan
On the latest episode of The Breakdown, NLW breaks down Libra’s new fiat-pegged model, DCEP’s trial app and China’s Blockchain Service Network. 


Who Won #CryptoTwitter?


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