ERC-20-Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) Launches on Ethereum Network

Colin Muller

The Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) network has gone live, and at time of writing 65 bitcoin have been “wrapped” into Ethereum ERC-20 tokens.

WBTC is simply a method of representing bitcoin as an ERC-20 token, so that it may be more easily manipulated within the Ethereum ecosystem. Each WBTC is backed one-to-one with an equivalent amount of bitcoin.

One of the main selling points of WBTC is that it incorporates tradeable bitcoin into Ethereum decentralized exchanges (DEXs) such as IDEX.

How Does It Work?

In practice, the function of WBTC will be perhaps less laissez faire than it initially sounds. Rather than being a free function that users can employ to wrap their own bitcoin, a complicated supply chain has been set up by some big crypto entities to deliver the tokens - complete with Know-Your-Customer and Anti-Money-Laundering checks (KYC/AML).

Users wanting to wrap their bitcoin will have to approach “Merchants,” offering the bitcoin asset and completing KYC/AML through them. The whitepaper states that “Merchants are required to hold the identity information of the user securely.”

wbtc1.png(source: WBTC whitepaper)

But the Merchants themselves do not mint tokens. Only “Custodians” can actually mint WBTC coins, and only when requested to do so by designated Merchants - and at this point the sole Custodian is BitGo.

The whitepaper states that “[i]n some sense custodians are trusted in the wrapped framework, as assets could be stolen or they might not honour the one-to-one backing.” Custodians posses the private release keys for WBTC tokens which they issue, and only they can disburse bitcoin back to Merchants upon request.

wbtc2.png(source: WBTC whitepaper)

"Third parties" will conduct quarterly audits of all WBTC to ensure the corresponding bitcoin asset are stored by the Custodians, according to the whitepaper. All Custodians and Merchants are holders of multisignature keys, which are required to manipulate WBTC contracts on sidechains.

All of this is to say that: Not just anybody can wrap their bitcoin into WBTC. Rather, the function within WBTC’s process is highly curated. While BitGo is currently the only Custodian, there are currently eight Merchant members of the network.

Senate Banking Hearing on Facebook’s Libra; 0.25% of Algorand Tokens Sell for $60 Million

The top daily news from the cryptocurrency and blockchain space:

  • The Senate Banking Committee books hearing on Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency.
  • Bitcoin developers to get 50 bitcoin (BTC) in funding.
  • 0.25% of Algorand's ALGO tokens sell for $60 million.

At the time of writing, bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) are trading at $9,294.1 (+1.5%) and $269.5 (+0.6%), respectively. As for the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index, it is currently tracking at 4,314.6 (-0.2%).

 

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Senate Banking Committee Books Hearing on Facebook

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee announced it will hold a hearing on July 16 in order to question witnesses over Facebook’s new cryptocurrency and blockchain project, Libra. As of press time, it has not yet been publicly disclosed which individuals will testify before the Committee.

The hearing – entitled ‘Examining Facebook’s Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations’ – was scheduled just days after the social media giant officially revealed its plans regarding Libra and its new Calibra subsidiary.

Fund to Support Bitcoin Developers with 50 BTC

Primitive Ventures’ Dovey Wan has gathered 50 BTC – roughly $450,000 – on behalf of non-profit organization Hard Core Fund in an effort to sustainably fund Bitcoin developers.

When discussing why she decided to pursue the initiative, Wan told CoinDesk, “right now, you wouldn’t believe it, there are less than 10 full-time bitcoin developers... We want to fund full-time independent bitcoin developers.”

Established in 2018, the Hard Core Fund is managed by Pan Zhibiao, a former Bitmain employee. Wan – who serves as the executive director for the fund – is the only other team member listed on its website.

0.25% of Algorand’s ALGO Tokens Sell for $60 Million

Algorand – a scalable, secure and decentralized digital currency and transactions platform – closed its first Dutch auction with a clearing price of $2.40 per Algo (ALGO) token, the native token of the Algorand blockchain platform.

The auction was administered by the Algorand Foundation, which, in a blog post on Wednesday, said that it now stands as “the first organization to conduct a fully transparent global auction on its own blockchain.”

In total, a paltry 0.25 percent of ALGO’s total supply was sold to successful bidders for $60.4 million. Notably, the Algorand Foundation will – in exactly one year’s time – offer redemptions on tokens at 90 percent of the $2.40 clearing price.

The completion of the inaugural ALGO auction signalled the mainnet launch of the Algorand, also. It was first unveiled by MIT professor and Turing Award winner, Silvio Micali, in early 2017.