While the altcoin markets may still be suffering from the volume doldrums of the summer and fall, that doesn't mean that work hasn't continued in the meantime – far from it, according to recent developments.
Though the news isn't 100% positive on the alt front, the space continues to push ahead as it always has, for better or for worse. Read on for some of the recent happenings that have come across the All Things Alt desk.
Amagi Metals announces altcoin integration
The move represents one of the most high-profile altcoin integrations to date. In recent months, GoCoin also inked a partnership with PayPal and Shopify to facilitate digital currency payments for dogecoin and litecoin, in addition to bitcoin.
According to the 18th December announcement, Amagi will begin accepting litecoin and dogecoin on top of its existing bitcoin acceptance policy. The company has already thrown its support behind digital currency, which includes a plan to phase out fiat payments by the end of 2016.
In a statement, Amagi CEO Stephen Macaskill said that the intention has always been to explore wider adoption of digital currency payments. Macaskill has previously said that he expects bitcoin to replace the US dollar within his lifetime.
"We'd been waiting for a payment processor that could see the larger picture beyond bitcoin payments alone. The GoCoin platform is uniquely designed to accommodate emerging cryptocurrencies, which was a critical factor in our decision."
GoCoin CEO Steve Beauregard said in a separate statement that Amagi's move puts them in a position to begin "embracing the larger ecosystem of cryptocurrencies".
Viacoin integrates CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY
The viacoin project is integrating CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY, an opcode proposed for bitcoin by core developer Peter Todd that opens the door to trustless escrow, hub-and-spoke micropayment networks and other potential applications.
Todd's proposal, which has drawn support from other core developers and is currently undergoing peer review, builds on an existing script, nLockTime, which in essence allows the user to designate when a transaction becomes valid. CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY takes it one step further by assigning a point in time (based on block height) when an output can be spent.
In conversation with CoinDesk, both Todd and viacoin developer BTCDrak suggested that the altcoin's network is a worthwhile testing ground for the opcode.
"There's lots of issues you just don't find until you use things, and some of those issues you just don't find unless you use things for financially valuable uses," he said.
Todd explained that by putting CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY into an existing and functioning blockchain, more data can be collected on its effectiveness – or faults – thereby providing more information for the ongoing peer review process. By implementing the opcode into viacoin, he added, insights can be gleaned that will ultimately support bitcoin as well.
As part of the implementation, viacoin has also shifted to auxiliary proof-of-work, known also as merge mining. Merge mining allows miners to process blocks if they are mining on a scrypt network with a higher hashrate than the viacoin network and reduces potential security issues that can occur when a network hashrate declines.
Archcoin community launches crowdfunding platform
A new crowdfunding platform called BlockTrust has launched from the archcoin community that utilizes the ClearingHouse protocol to notarize project certifications on the viacoin blockchain.
BlockTrust, which launched on 18th December, is being pitched as a secure solution for those looking to crowdfund new altcoin projects and potential investors looking to support these initiatives. According to the announcement, BlockTrust will act as escrow service for projects that use the platform and institute staged fund releases over time.
The platform is offering both certification as well as crowdfunding support for potential projects, which are required to pay fees for services rendered. These certifications are then time-stamped on the viacoin blockchain as part of the ClearingHouse protocol's notary mechanism.
While there are currently no projects listed on the main page, according to the announcement, BlockTrust will host a crowdsale for SendChat, a crypto messaging app with its own altcoin, in early January.
CoinDesk spoke to archcoin developer Edgar Soares, who said that BlockTrust can help reduce the risk for investors who are interested in crowdsales but are concerned about projects that lose value or prove to be fraudulent.
"The problem is not in the blockchain itself but in the lack of trustworthy and secure platforms and tools for those that do not have experience with this new tech. I'm hoping to introduce some self sustaining mechanisms to minimize investor losses from these bad actors and in this way bring some confidence and capital back to cryptocurrency startups."
Opalcoin suffers wallet malware attack
Earlier this week, the opalcoin project ran into some trouble after what appears to be a serial malware attack targeting altcoin wallet data files.
According to Bitcoin Talk, the opalcoin development team announced on 15th December that someone posting under the ID "diabanhxeo" successfully distributed malicious wallet software that, in turn, facilitated the theft of wallet.dat files from the computers of those affected. As much as 2.5m opalcoins were stolen in the attack, accoring to that project's development team.
That user's post history points to a broad effort to distribute software through the altcoin community, including threads for ultracoin, viorcoin and others.
The hack led to a debate among opalcoin's stakeholders on whether or not to initiate a blockchain rollback, an action which would effectively undo the history of transactions following the hack. In July, similar action was taken by the vericoin team after the loss of roughly 8m vericoins.
A vote to conduct a rollback was held, with those involved weighing in favor of one. However, subsequent negotiations led to the return of 1.6m opalcoins and as a result, the rollback was canceled.
"Thanks to 65% of the coins being returned, the Opal Team believes this danger has been averted and a rollback would have set a bad precedent, and thus is not justifiable," the team announced on 16th December.
In an interview with CoinTelegraph, one of the lead developers for opalcoin explained that the opalcoin team wanted to avoid damaging the viability of the altcoin's blockchain, and that in the future more stringent controls will be put in place when new wallets are distributed.
Strange alt of the week
What's in a name? For cryptocurrency developers, the name of a coin can be the deciding factor in whether or not the altcoin project even takes off, let alone appeals to traders, miners and, in rare cases, the others who will actually use the coin.
We've covered a fair share of strangely-named alts here on All Things Alt, but money – yes, 'money' – may hold the candle as one of the most bizarrely named coins to date for the mundaneness of the choice.
As stated in its Bitcoin Talk thread, money (sign: $$$) is pitched as "the next generation of digital money". With the slogan "in money we trust", money utilizes the scrypt mining algorithm and sports a max coin supply of roughly 265m coins.
Active development of the coin appears to have ceased. In mid-November, according to Bitcoin Talk, a debate grew between supporters and a representative of the development team regarding a planned 6% premine. At the time, the representative warned that production of wallets would be hampered if the premine was reduced.
Ultimately, a 2% premine was chosen and a pair of developers reportedly exited the project soon after.
Have a tip about a notable happening in the altcoin world? Email CoinDesk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosure: This reporter owns 11,000 archcoins purchased during the initial crowdsale. This reporter has received no payment for this article and has no affiliation with the archcoin project.
Disclaimer: This article should not be viewed as an endorsement. Please do your own extensive research before you consider investing in the altcoin space.