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Announcing the new MultiChain wallet

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An important step forwards for performance and scalability

After two months of intensive development and testing, we’re proud to release the latest alpha of MultiChain, with a completely rewritten in-node wallet. This new wallet transforms the performance and scalability of creating, receiving and storing transactions in MultiChain.

Before we get into the details, let me provide some context. When we began developing MultiChain, we made the decision to use Bitcoin Core, the standard node for the public bitcoin network, as a starting point. In programming terms, this means that MultiChain is a “fork” of the bitcoin software. Our primary reasoning was that bitcoin was (and continues to be) the highest valued and most battle-tested cryptocurrency ecosystem, by quite some way.

On the plus side, this decision helped us get to market quickly, compared to coding up a blockchain node from scratch. Despite the many differences between public and private blockchains, they share a large amount of technical common ground, including the peer-to-peer protocol, transaction and block structure, digital signature creation and verification, consensus rules, key management, and the need for a node API. Forking from Bitcoin Core allowed us to leverage its maturity and focus on what MultiChain adds to blockchains – configurability, permissioning and native asset support. As a result, we were able to release the first alpha in June 2015, just 6 months after starting development.

However, alongside these benefits, we also had to accept the fact that some aspects of Bitcoin Core are poorly architected. While they work just fine at small scales, their performance degrades dramatically as usage grows. With the public bitcoin network still restricted to a few transactions per second, this won’t be an issue for most Bitcoin Core users for a long time. But with private blockchains aiming for hundreds or thousands of transactions per second, we knew that, sooner or later, these bottlenecks would need to be removed.

Bitcoin Core’s wallet

The “wallet” within Bitcoin Core was always the most crucial of these pain points. Its job is to store the transactions which are of particular relevance to the node, because they involve a blockchain address which it owns or a “watch-only” address whose activity it is tracking. For example, every transaction which sends funds to or from a node must be stored in that node’s wallet. And every time a node creates a transaction, it must search for one or more “unspent outputs” of previous wallet transactions which the new transaction will spend.

So what’s wrong with the wallet we inherited from Bitcoin Core? Actually, three things:

  • All wallet transactions are held in memory. This causes slow startup times and rapidly increasing memory usage.
  • Many operations perform an inefficient “full scan” of every transaction in the wallet, whether old or new.
  • Every transaction in the wallet is stored in full, including any arbitrary “metadata” which has no meaning from the node’s perspective and is already stored in the blockchain on disk. This is very wasteful.

The consequence is that, with around 20,000 transactions stored, Bitcoin Core’s wallet slows down significantly. After 200,000 or so, it practically grinds to a halt. Even worse, since a MultiChain blockchain allows up to 8 MB of metadata per transaction (compared to bitcoin’s 80 bytes), the wallet’s memory requirements can balloon rapidly even with a small number of transactions.

It’s important to clarify that these shortcomings apply only to Bitcoin Core’s wallet, rather than its general transaction processing capacity. In other words, it can comfortably process and store millions (or even billions) of transactions which don’t relate to its own addresses, since these are held on disk rather than in memory. For example, many popular bitcoin exchanges and wallets use Bitcoin Core as-is, but store their own transactions externally rather than inside the node.

MultiChain’s new wallet

We could have made the same demand of MultiChain users, to store their own transactions outside of the node. However this didn’t feel like the right solution because it would greatly complicate the setup and maintenance for each of a chain’s participants. So instead, we bit the bullet and rewrote the wallet from the ground up.

How does the new wallet differ? If you have any experience with databases, the answers may be obvious:

  • Rather than keeping the wallet transactions in memory, they are stored on disk in a suitable format, with transactions of interest retrieved when necessary.
  • Instead of performing full wallet scans, the transactions are “indexed” in various ways to enable those which fulfill particular criteria to be rapidly located.
  • Any piece of transaction metadata which is larger than 256 bytes is not stored in the wallet. Instead, the wallet contains a pointer to that metadata’s position in the blockchain itself.

In other words, we’ve rebuilt the in-node wallet to be properly database-driven (using LevelDB), rather than relying on a naïve in-memory structure that can’t be searched efficiently. Unsurprisingly, the difference (as measured on a 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7) is rather dramatic:

MultiChain wallet transaction throughput

Memory Usage

The graphs show that, once the old wallet contains 250,000 transactions, its send rate drops to 3 tx/sec and it adds 600 MB to the node’s memory usage. By contrast, the new wallet sustains over 100 tx/sec and only adds 90 MB. We stopped testing the old wallet at this point, but even with 6-8 million stored transactions, the new wallet continues to send over 100 tx/sec, and it tops out at around 250 MB of RAM used (due to database caching).

These tests were performed under realistic conditions, with multiple addresses and assets (and therefore many unspent transaction outputs) in the node’s wallet. In an idealized scenario (one address, one asset, few UTXOs), the sustained send rate was over 400 tx/s. Either way, as part of this rewrite, we have also properly abstracted all of the wallet’s functionality behind a clean internal interface. This will make it easy to support other database engines in future, for even greater robustness and speed.

To reiterate, all of these numbers refer to the rate at which a node can create, send and store transactions in its local wallet, rather than its throughput in terms of processing transactions created by others. For general network throughput, MultiChain can currently process 200 to 800 tx/sec, depending on the hardware it’s running on. (Be skeptical of any blockchain software promising numbers like 100,000 tx/sec on regular hardware, because the bottleneck is digital signature verification, which takes real time to perform. If nodes are not verifying individual transaction signatures, a blockchain cannot possibly be used across trust boundaries, making it no better than a regular distributed database.)

To finish, I’d like to mention the next major feature coming to MultiChain, which required this wallet rewrite. This feature, called streams, provides a high-level abstraction and API for general purpose data storage on a blockchain. You can think of a stream as a time-series or key-value database, with the added blockchain-related benefits of decentralization, digital signatures, timestamping and immutability. We know of many blockchain use cases that could use this functionality, and we’re already hard at work on building it. Watch this space.

Please post any comments on LinkedIn.

Technical addendum

Starting in MultiChain alpha 22, you can verify which version of the wallet is currently running by examining the walletdbversion field of the getinfo or getwalletinfo API calls. A value of 1 means the original Bitcoin Core wallet, and 2 means the new MultiChain wallet.

If you run the new version of MultiChain on an existing chain, it will not immediately switch to the new wallet. You can upgrade the wallet by stopping the node and then re-running multichaind with the parameters -walletdbversion=2 –rescan. You can downgrade similarly using –walletdbversion=1 –rescan.

By default, when you start a node on a new chain, it will automatically use the new wallet. You can change this by running multichaind for the first time with the parameter –walletdbversion=1.

With the new wallet, all MultiChain APIs work exactly the same way as before, with the exception of the old transaction querying APIs getreceivedbyaddress, listreceivedbyaddress and listtransactions (use listwallettransactions or listaddresstransactions instead). In addition, the new wallet does not support API calls and parameters relating to Bitcoin Core’s poorly implemented and soon-to-be-deprecated “accounts” mechanism, which was never properly supported by MultiChain. These calls are safely disabled with an error message.

Source: https://www.multichain.com/blog/2016/07/announcing-the-new-multichain-wallet/

Blockchain

Eyeing EU Banks, Hex Trust Teams With SIA on Crypto Custody

A multinational payments firm is partnering with cryptocurrency custodian Hex Trust to help its European banking clients hold digital assets.

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Multinational payments firm Sia is partnering with cryptocurrency custodian Hex Trust to help its European banking clients hold digital assets.

“When you have one bitcoin, it’s not a big problem, but when you start adding 10, 20 or 100, you have a treasury and you have to decide where to store this,” said Daniele Savarè, SIA’s innovation and business solutions director. “We are discussing digital custody needs with banks in Europe.” 

The firm is also helping banks manage and safekeep security tokens and central bank digital currencies, he added.

Through SIA, Hex Trust plans to offer European banks the software to custody digital assets on behalf of their customers. Hex Trust will also act as a sub-custodian for banks that don’t want to directly offer the service, said Hex Trust CEO Alessio Quaglini. 

Currently, Hex Trust works with three banks – Mason Privatbank Liechtenstein AG and two unnamed Asian banks. Quaglini said Hex Trust has 10 other banks that are exploring the custodian’s products.

Going forward, SIA will be the primary distribution partner for Hex Trust to offer digital-asset services to banks in Europe, Quaglini said. 

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/hex-trust-sia-crypto-custody-eu-banks

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Blockchain

Collider Labs Raises $1M to Invest in Blockchain Startups

The venture builder is seeking to invest in early-stage startups with a focus on transparency, privacy and “fairness.”

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Collider Labs has raised $1 million to be invested in early-stage blockchain and cryptocurrency startups.

In an announcement Thursday, the venture builder said the raise had brought on board several notable limited partners including Efficient Frontier CTO Alon Elmaliah and Follow [the] Seed Founding Partner Andrey Shirben.

Collider provides funding and liquidity and actively participates in building up startups alongside their communities and founders, according to the firm’s founding partner, Avishay Ovadia.

The company is actively seeking to invest in early-stage blockchain and crypto startups globally, with a focus transparency, privacy and “fairness.”

Collider “is a venture builder that somewhat resembles an accelerator” Ovadia said. With some “key characteristics” that differentiate it from a typical accelerator.

Venture builders, also known as startup studios, pair with early-stage startups and utilize their own ideas and resources to, if all goes according to plan, construct viable enterprises.

According to Ovadia, Collider forms partnerships with founders, invests in teams and works alongside them as what he calls “Investors in Residence.”

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/collider-labs-raises-1m-to-invest-in-blockchain-startups

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Voyager Agrees to Buy LGO Markets and Merge 2 Firms’ Tokens

Two cryptocurrency trading firms are merging, and in a rare twist, so are their tokens.

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Two cryptocurrency trading firms are merging, and in a rare twist, so are their tokens.

Voyager Digital, a publicly traded digital asset brokerage with offices in New York, has agreed to buy LGO, a French crypto exchange primarily serving institutional investors, as the company expands to Europe.

The transaction requires regulatory approval, which the parties said they expect to receive by the end of this year, along with the token swap. The value of the deal will depend on the value of Voyager’s shares, and the firms’ tokens, at closing; at current prices, it would be in the low seven figures.

As such, this deal is dwarfed by this year’s blockbuster crypto M&A deals such as Binance’s acquisition of CoinMarketCap, estimated to be worth $400 million, and FTX’s $150 million deal to acquire Blockfolio.

Read More: ‘They Have the Users’: Binance CEO Explains Why He Bought CoinMarketCap

What makes this deal unusual is that the two companies’ utility tokens, VGX and LGO, will be swapped into newly minted tokens featuring decentralized finance (DeFi) functions such as community governance and staking at an initial interest rate of 7%.

“We think this is really taking the old-school mergers and acquisitions to the token world, which hasn’t been done before,” Steve Enrlich, Voyager’s co-founder and chief executive officer, told CoinDesk.

Upon completion, Voyager, which is publicly listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, will issue one million shares for the acquisition and operate in the European retail market with LGO’s Virtual Asset Service Provider registration with the French Financial Markets regulator (AMF). All activities will be conducted under the Voyager brand and LGO will discontinue its institutional services on Oct. 31. Shares of Voyager closed at C$0.67 ($0.51) on Wednesday. 

Read More: Voyager to Pay Interest on DeFi Tokens to Gain Brokerage Clients

Hugo Renaudin, co-founder and chief executive officer of LGO, told CoinDesk that the French company made the deal after it decided to shift its focus from institutional clients to increasing value for its token holders.

“The key decision-maker is what will bring the most value to our tokens,” Renaudin said. “So we have this token. We have token holders and they’re mostly retail [clients].”

LGO launched an initial coin offering (ICO) in February 2018, according to its website, which raised 3,600 bitcoin (worth about $36 million at the time). The company’s white paper shows that 60% of the tokens were distributed through a pre-sale process, while 20% of the supply went to LGO’s founders and advisors.

At its peak in April 2018, the LGO token’s market cap was nearly $40 million, according to data from CoinMarketCap. On Wednesday, that value was calculated to be $1.5 million. 

Renaudin told CoinDesk that the company’s other option would have been focusing on better serving its institutional clients, which means its spot exchange would have to provide new and exotic derivatives products. After consideration, he said that the team had decided to change its focus to retail customers instead.

The merger comes during a time of regulatory crackdown on crypto derivatives trading around the globe. Popular crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX was charged by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with facilitating unregistered trading activities, while in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has banned crypto derivatives for retail consumers.

This is not the first acquisition by Voyager, which went public in early 2019 in a reverse merger with the shell of a Canadian mineral exploration company. Previously, it acquired wallet startup Ethos.io for about $4 million.

Read More: Voyager CEO Says Revenue Growth Accelerates 8-Fold as DeFi Trading Surges

Voyage’s revenue in the most-recent fiscal quarter, which ended Sept. 30, surged to about $2 million, compared with $1.1 million during the fiscal year ending in June.

“We are becoming the financial service firm of the future, which means I will look at acquisitions that can add products, customer assets to the platform, or tokens and other communities that can be accretive to what we are trying to do,” Enrlich said. “And adding these pieces together we are going to either do it organically or through more acquisitions.”

Disclosure

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/voyager-acquires-lgo-token-merger

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