Welcome Peter Wilson: Blockchain’s new VP of Engineering

Today I am thrilled to welcome Peter Wilson to Blockchain as our first VP of Engineering. His record of leadership and innovation at some of the fastest growing companies in the world will help us build a more transparent, secure, and open financial future.

Over the course of a 20-year career as an engineering executive at Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, Peter has helped build the technology that powers much of our lives today. He led the development of key advertising, talk, video, and maps products at Google. While at Facebook, he oversaw the development of advertising tools and APIs. If you’ve used Microsoft tools, it’s likely you’ve seen Peter’s work — his teams worked on the company’s developer tools and operating systems.

Peter’s talent as an engineer is matched only by his ability to build and manage great teams. As Blockchain prepares for a new year, acquiring and leading world-class talent will be a core focus. Peter is an expert in scaling organizations and will be instrumental to these efforts. He served as the Site Director for Google’s Kirkland engineering center as well as Facebook’s Seattle office, after the startup he co-founded was acquired by Facebook while under his leadership. Engineering organizations have burgeoned under his leadership from where we are today to hundreds of engineers multiple times across his career. I’m looking forward to seeing him do the same here.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Peter to Blockchain to lead our engineering efforts. His experience and insight after decades at top software companies is invaluable as we scale our team and deliver new products and services to our users,” said Peter Smith, CEO and Co-Founder of Blockchain.

“Throughout my career I have been fortunate to build products and teams that level the playing field and empower users through software,” said Peter Wilson. “I’m beyond excited to join Blockchain and build an engineering organization in pursuit of a better financial future for all.”

I am honored to have Peter join us on our journey of making the world a better place, and delighted to share the news with users who make what we do everyday possible.

If you’re interested in joining Blockchain and contributing to our mission, visit https://www.blockchain.com/careers.

Welcome Marco Santori: Blockchain’s new President and Chief Legal Officer

Today we’re thrilled to announce that Marco Santori is joining Blockchain as our President & Chief Legal Officer. Previously, Marco was a partner at the law firm Cooley LLP, where he led the global financial technology practice and built the most acclaimed digital assets-focused legal practice in the industry.

Marco has an impressive legal background and has a roster of world-class clients. He has worked with investors, companies of all sizes, regulators and public institutions to build our industry and shape the future of finance. Notably, Marco is an advisor to the International Monetary Fund, and the Blockchain Ambassador for the State of Delaware. He is most recently known as an author of the “Simple Agreement for Future Tokens” (SAFT) Project Whitepaper, which has set the standard for mitigating investor and consumer risks associated with Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

“Marco has a breadth and depth of knowledge that is unmatched and I couldn’t think of a better person to focus entirely on our expansion efforts and strategy as we continue to serve our millions of users globally,” said Peter Smith, CEO and Co-Founder of Blockchain.  

Blockchain experienced a record year of growth in 2017 and we’re focused on scaling our company and leadership team to support the global business we run today.  As President and Chief Legal Officer, Marco will focus on building our compliance, legal and corporate development teams as well as leading the charge to bring new products to market alongside the rest of our team.  

“I’m honored and thrilled to join Blockchain, the leading provider for digital asset software,” said Marco Santori. “It’s a compelling opportunity to contribute to a company that is not only achieving unparalleled business success, but also delivering on a powerful mission to create an inclusive financial system from which everyone can benefit.”

Marco will assume the role of President from Co-Founder Nicolas Cary. As Vice Chairman for the company, Nic will continue to be instrumental in day-to-day operations as well as Blockchain’s public affairs and external relations. “Marco will be a great asset for Blockchain and I look forward to dedicating more of my time on building our brand in key regions like India, hiring the brightest talent, and educating more people on the benefits of digital assets,” said Nic Cary, Co-Founder, Board Member, and Vice Chairman of Blockchain.

More on Marco:

Marco joins Blockchain from Cooley LLP where he was the head of the firm’s Financial Technology practice group. Marco Santori is an authority in the law of blockchain technology, and has been called “The Dean of Digital Currency Lawyers” by American Banker. He is the author of the transformative Simple Agreements for Future Tokens (SAFT) Project Whitepaper, a standard-setting self-regulatory effort that mitigates investor and consumer risks associated with Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Additionally, he is the Legal Ambassador for the Delaware Blockchain initiative and an advisor to the International Monetary Fund. He has frequented stages around the world to share his insights, including the Cato Institute’s Cryptocurrency Conference, the American Bar Association Summit, North American Bitcoin Conference, and the Consensus Conference and has been profiled by the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg, Reuters among others.

A New Look for Bitcoin Cash Addresses

Until earlier this month, bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash addresses used the same format, making it difficult to ensure you were transacting using the correct currency’s address. In order to simplify the process for transacting with both bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash for our users, Blockchain wallets are now using an a new format (CashAddr) for Bitcoin Cash addresses.

Q: Why do my Bitcoin Cash addresses look different?

A: Bitcoin Cash developers have proposed a new format for addresses to help differentiate between bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash addresses, called CashAddr. This updated format only changes how your Bitcoin Cash addresses are displayed, not the underlying private and public keys.

Q: Why has Blockchain implemented this change for users’ wallets?

A: We want to continue improving the user experience for both bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash within users’ wallets. Ultimately, having a different address format for each will help you distinguish which currency you’re transacting with, allowing you to use BTC and BCH more easily.

Q: What is the difference between the address formats?

A: Bitcoin Cash addresses now look like this: qp3wjpa3tjlj042z2wv7hahsldgwhwy0rq9sywjpyy. They can also have a prefix (bitcoincash:qp3wjpa3tjlj042z2wv7hahsldgwhwy0rq9sywjpyy). Each Bitcoin Cash address also has a “legacy address”, which is it’s corresponding bitcoin address. You can find the legacy address for each BCH address on Blockchair. Take a look here to see an example of the difference between legacy and CashAddr addresses.

Q: What do I need to do?

A: Nothing, we’re taking care of it for you! Your wallet will now only show Bitcoin Cash addresses in this new format. The only thing we encourage you to do is to start sending and receiving using the updated address type.

Q: Can I still send to the original ‘legacy’ address?

A: Technically yes, but it would benefit both you and the community to begin using the new version. Don’t worry, if you have a legacy address that is currently being used, it will continue to work. If you continue transacting with your legacy addresses, they will be displayed in your transaction feed as the BCH CashAddr address equivalent.

Q: Is this a protocol change, soft-fork, or hard-fork?

A: Nope.

Q: Where can I dive into more technical details?

A: You can find more details on this update here.

The Wait is Over! Buy & Sell is Coming to America

Earlier today, we announced a partnership with SFOX that lays the groundwork for our users in the US to seamlessly buy and sell digital assets with greater reliability and without compromising user security or control.

At Blockchain, we are on a mission to build an open, accessible, and fair financial future, one piece of software at a time. This announcement brings us one step closer to realizing that mission by making the exchange of digital assets fast, easy, and inexpensive for millions of users across the US.

Starting today, users in 22 states will have the option to sell bitcoin quickly and easily.

 

A product shot of Blockchain's new integration that allows users in America to sell bitcoin.

 

And this is just the beginning; in the coming weeks, users will also be able to buy bitcoin, and buy and sell other assets like ether and Bitcoin Cash. As always, we’ll keep you posted while we roll out these features. In the meantime, we welcome your thoughts on how we can continue to improve.

Not in the US? Users in Europe and India are already able to buy and sell bitcoin. As we continue to expand to new countries, we’ll keep you in the loop here and on Twitter.

Don’t have a Blockchain wallet? Sign up to get started with bitcoin and other digital currencies today!

Building Cryptocurrency Agnostic Components in My-Wallet-V3 and My-Wallet-V3-Frontend

At Blockchain, we’re striving to write reusable, extendable, and flexible code. This practice has become even more important with the recent addition of Bitcoin Cash and ether to our wallet application. For our users, adhering to writing agnostic components makes project delivery speeds faster and more consistent. For our developers, it makes the code fun to work with and less buggy.

A few months ago, we added ether to the Blockchain wallet along with a crypto-to-crypto exchange integration. This feature was the first we’ve built that supports multiple cryptocurrencies (instead of just bitcoin to fiat or vice versa). In our efforts to build reusable, extendable, and flexible code we built it to support any digital currency our wallet currently offers or will offer in the future.

The components that make up our exchange integration are completely agnostic to the currencies the user wishes to shift. Any digital currency can be plugged into the integration as long as it’s “API” in the My-Wallet-V3 core supports a few basic functions. Let’s walk through how this works a little bit.

When the wallet initializes the exchange checkout process it passes the destination and origin wallets to the shift-create component from the shapeShiftCheckout controller:

My-Wallet-V3-Frontend/assets/js/controllers/shapeshift/shapeShiftCheckout.controller.js

...
this.wallets = Wallet.accounts().concat(Ethereum.defaultAccount);
...

And in My-Wallet-V3-Frontend/app/partials/shapeshift/checkout.pug

...
shift-create(wallets="vm.wallets")
...

Note: There are more attributes passed to the shift-create component, but for simplicity I’ve removed them.

The line in shapeShiftCheckout.controller.js (`this.wallets = Wallet.accounts().concat(Ethereum.defaultAccount);`) was for shifting between bitcoin and ether when we initially launched the ether integration. What it does is concatenate all the bitcoin wallets in your Blockchain wallet with the ether default wallet. In checkout.pug, we tell shift-create to load these wallets as possible origins and destinations in an exchange.

A few months later, we added full support of Bitcoin Cash to our wallet. We wanted to give users the ability to exchange their Bitcoin Cash to and from bitcoin and ether. Here is the commit that added Bitcoin Cash to our exchange integration: https://github.com/blockchain/My-Wallet-V3-Frontend/commit/0c44b5bca7951a9a298d5599d5fd872b0eff5de5.

-this.wallets = Wallet.accounts().concat(Ethereum.defaultAccount);
+this.wallets = Wallet.accounts().concat(Ethereum.defaultAccount).concat(MyWallet.wallet.bch.accounts);

Adding Bitcoin Cash was as easy as changing one line of code because we built cryptocurrency agnostic components for exchanging bitcoin <-> ether from the beginning.

If you check the shift-create component where the wallets are passed, you won’t find any reference towards a specific cryptocurrency itself: (https://github.com/blockchain/My-Wallet-V3-Frontend/blob/master/assets/js/components/shapeshift/shift-create.component.js). You’ll only see functions called on the wallets that the API in My-Wallet-V3 core requires them to have.

  1. `getAvailableBalance` -> How the component calculates the total amount the outgoing wallet has available to send/exchange. Below are the functions for each cryptocurrency:
    1. bitcoin: https://github.com/blockchain/My-Wallet-V3/blob/master/src/hd-account.js#L311
    2. ether: https://github.com/blockchain/My-Wallet-V3/blob/master/src/eth/eth-account.js#L138
    3. Bitcoin Cash: https://github.com/blockchain/My-Wallet-V3/blob/master/src/bch/bch-account.js#L68
  2. coinCode -> The wallet’s coinCode to be used later in the cryptoCurrencyMap.
    1. bitcoin: ‘btc’
    2. ether: ‘eth’
    3. Bitcoin Cash: ‘bch’
  3. Balance -> Used to check for balance updates in the wallet. If a user’s balance changes, the component calls getAvailableBalance.
  4. cryptoCurrencyMap -> Used to calculate conversions between each digital currency and their fiat values.

When everything comes together, the final result looks like this:

Screenshot of initial Blockchain exchange integration using agnostic components

Despite the ease of adding new currencies, we wanted to continue improving the exchange experience for our users.

In version 1 of our exchange integration, there was no loading state to tell users that the component was working on getting a quote. Under good network conditions requests like these can seem instantaneous and a loading state might even seem a little jarring. However, because of the high traffic on digital currency networks, requests can take up to 5 seconds to resolve. Bitcoin, ether, Bitcoin Cash, and other digital currencies are handling more transactions than they ever have before. Record high transaction volumes are leading to network congestion, in turn leading to slow loading times from services like ShapeShift.

Depending on how long a request took to make, it could look like the component was frozen or that something broke and no error was returned. In reality, a request was being made and we weren’t correctly indicating that to the user. We decided to add a loading state to the component as you can see in version 1 vs version 2 below.

GIF showing Blockchain's initial exchange integration using agnostic components with a loading screen
Version 2
GIF showing Blockchain's initial exchange integration using agnostic components without a loading screen
Version 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Users were relieved to see an indication of the app working to get a quote after the launch of version 2. Our transaction volume increased by 10% the week after we rolled out these changes, ~30% over the 2 weeks after, and 75% over the following month. Seemingly small improvements like this make a big difference to users.

Building components that are resilient to cryptocurrency’s rapid growth and constant change is just one of the many ways we ensure our users are getting a best-in-class experience on our platform. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about our process and look forward to continuing to deliver new and innovative solutions in our effort to create an open, fair, and accessible financial future.

Sound exciting? Check out our open positions available to join our incredible UX development team.

Product Update: Q4 2017

Amidst holiday festivities and New Year’s preparations, we want to quickly revisit the assortment of great new features that made their way into the Blockchain wallet during Q4. Grab a fresh mug of hot cocoa (and maybe that sugar cookie you’ve been eyeing) and we’ll get into all the exciting Q4 product update details.

Read more “Product Update: Q4 2017”

A Look Back: Blockchain’s 2017 Year in Review

There’s no doubt that we will look back on 2017 was one of the most exciting and important years for the digital assets ecosystem. Together we made significant progress and are even closer to a fairer financial future.

We want to thank all of our customers, our team, and the industry for making 2017 such a memorable one. Blockchain wouldn’t be where it is today without all of you and we look forward to continuing to serve you in the years ahead!

Introducing Our First Dedicated Open Source Developer

It’s a great joy to welcome (back) Sjors to the family. Sjors joined our team as one of our earliest engineers and was at the center of rewriting and scaling our web wallet for three years. After some time off for exploring, Sjors has decided to focus on open source protocol development. I know he’ll bring a valuable perspective from his time working on our platform.

Sjors has been passionate about contributing to open source for a long-time. In fact, that’s how we met him – he made a pull request on an early version of our iOS wallet. He’s already contributing to Bitcoin Core and has previously run some really fun smart contract experiments on Ethereum.

We want to make sure Sjors is independent, so we’ve been clear that:

  1. Sjors is sponsored for the work and is an independent from our main engineering team
  2. Sjors can work on any protocol that we’re currently supporting on our wallet
  3. Everything Sjors does under the sponsorship is open sourced

Sjors has already had a tremendous impact on the way millions of people use digital currencies, but I’m excited to see him continue making that impact, across an even greater user base by shifting his focus to the protocols themselves. To the OS community, you should know you’re getting one of the best – a person I don’t always agree with, but a person whose opinion I’ve always found to be of the highest quality, and whose integrity is without a doubt.  

5 Holiday Tips for Bitcoin Enthusiasts (or How to Get Your Family Excited About Bitcoin)

Market value isn’t the only reason digital assets like bitcoin stand out, but it’s certainly a newsworthy conversation starter. As you catch up with family over the holidays, bitcoin’s epic 2017 price increase will likely be a hot topic. To entertain their curiosity, we’ve got the following holiday tips to get your loved ones as excited about bitcoin and digital assets as you are.

Read more “5 Holiday Tips for Bitcoin Enthusiasts (or How to Get Your Family Excited About Bitcoin)”

Cash in on Bitcoin Cash

At Blockchain, we’re always looking for ways to empower our users to interact with the digital economy in new, meaningful ways. In November, we revealed our plan to deliver on the growing demand we’ve seen for Bitcoin Cash. Starting today, we’re supporting Bitcoin Cash with full functionality through the same web wallet users know and love.

With Bitcoin Cash joining our existing lineup of digital currencies, users now have a full suite of options and can easily toggle between digital currencies to send and request funds, safely manage balances, and monitor market prices – all from one central place.

If you had bitcoin in your Blockchain wallet prior to August 1st, get excited because you’ll see an equal amount of Bitcoin Cash in your wallet now! New to Bitcoin Cash? Users can get started by simply trading bitcoin and ether for Bitcoin Cash using our exchange integration.

Just like with bitcoin and ether, users hold their Bitcoin Cash private keys, meaning they always have full, exclusive access to their funds with their backup phrase.

Not on web? Don’t fret. We’ll be rolling out full support for Bitcoin Cash on mobile by the end of Q1 2018. We’ll keep you in the loop here and on Twitter as we continue to build on this new addition to our wallet. Still have questions about how Bitcoin Cash works in your Blockchain wallet? Visit our Support Center.

Don’t have a Blockchain wallet? Sign up to get started with Bitcoin Cash and other digital currencies today!