Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'll be closing ClearCoin to new transactions...

I've been struggling recently to keep ClearCoin moving forward while I also try to keep core bitcoin on track, and with all the demands on my time I can't spend the time on ClearCoin to make it a project that I'm really proud of.

So in the next day or two I'll stop allowing the creation of new escrow transactions. Existing transactions will be unaffected, and I'll keep ClearCoin running for at least two months after the last active transaction has expired.

ClearCoin may re-open in the future; stay tuned!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Charity Escrow changes

I've been contacted by a charity who is not happy that they were listed as a donation option for ClearCoin charity escrows.

I made the mistake of assuming that charities would appreciate the extra bitcoins; it never occurred to me that ClearCoin customers might contact a charity and ask THEM for their (supposedly-donated) coins back. Charities can't be expected to resolve ClearCoin disputes.

To fix the problem, I have disabled all charities for new escrow accounts except one: the Bitcoin Faucet. I will be writing to any charities that received ClearCoin donations from already-created escrow transactions to make them aware of the situation and will ask them to forward any ClearCoin-related issues to me.

Friday, June 3, 2011

ClearCoin was broken, but is fixed now

ClearWing Software is still a one-person company, so I (Gavin) am the only person able to fix things when they fail. So, of course, a major failure occurred right before I started a long airplane ride (I just got back from a trip to France), resulting in about a 14-hour timespan when ClearCoin was broken.

Nobody's bitcoins were ever in danger of being lost, but I apologize for the mistake. Over the next several months I'll be working on growing the business, and will be finding solutions that make ClearCoin more reliable without compromising security.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Simplified fee structure

I've been working on making the ClearCoin escrow service's fee structure simpler; here's the new structure, which will "go live" in the next day or two:

ClearCoin costs 0.5% (one half of one percent) of released coins. For example, if you are paying for something worth 100 bitcoins the cost will be 0.5 BTC.

Fees are paid only on released coins; no fees are charged on coins donated to charity or refunded to you.

Coins in escrow will never be taken or held if you have unpaid fees; if you do not pay your ClearCoin fees within 30 days we may prevent you from creating new escrow transactions but will never prevent you from releasing coins from existing escrow accounts. However, given how quickly the value of bitcoins has been increasing recently, it is better for you to pay your ClearCoin fees quickly.

Any month you accumulate more than a trivial amount of fees ClearCoin will email you an invoice with a detailed list and a bitcoin address to which you can send payment. You can also pay at any time by sending bitcoins to an address on the ClearCoin website.

All of these changes were prompted because I think it was confusing to pay fees directly from the bitcoins being used for the transactions-- if you were paying for something that cost 159.95 BTC, calculating how much to send to pay for the cost AND ClearCoin fees was complicated. This should also be much easier for anybody creating a lot of ClearCoin transactions via the new ClearCoin API.

As always, feedback, complaints, and suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

ClearCoin API

The ClearCoin API is now up and running on the testnet ClearCoin:


Python code that makes it easy to interact with ClearCoin is up on github. It does double-duty as a command-line tool to try out API commands; for example:

$ escrow_list
{u'current': [u'XYDnDXTGDrfRJdsXNNXtoF'], u'expired': []}

$ escrow_read XYDnDXTGDrfRJdsXNNXtoF
{u'escrow_id': u'XYDnDXTGDrfRJdsXNNXtoF', u'release_address': u'miGuMc6qtVEKS6Pf1jKddaa81DeHjMzkpB', u'expires': 1306133393, u'amount_available': 20.0, u'amount_pending_confirmation': 0, u'amount_released': 30.0, u'state': u'active', u'fund_address': u'mvnpMSHDVQy1hQGgmdjFfv3PxQYgzRCz6Q'}

API functionality will be enabled on production ClearCoin within the next week or so; I have a little bit more work to do to make sure the API can't be used to attempt denial-of-service attacks (by creating thousands of escrow accounts, for example).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Name your transactions, and other improvements

I've been improving the ClearCoin user interface over the last couple of weeks; here's what I've been up to:

First, you can now give your transactions a short, descriptive name when you create them; that makes the transaction list much friendlier. The name isn't shown to your trading partner, it is just for your own use.

Second, I made several improvements to the receiver's transaction status page (the one you show to your trading partner to prove you've deposited the right number of coins). It will now show unconfirmed coins as soon as ClearCoin gets them, and if a release request was made, will report the date of the request.

I also changed the charity escrow logic so that you never pay ClearCoin fees on unreleased bitcoins. If you create a charity escrow, deposit more than 100 Bitcoins, and the transaction goes bad (so the coins are donated to charity), any bitcoins that you would have paid in ClearCoin fees will be refunded to you. So, for example, if you deposit 201 BTC (200 for the receiver, 1 BTC for the ClearCoin fee) and the transaction expires before the coins are released, 200 BTC will go to the charity and 1 bitcoin will be refunded to your refund address.

Finally, I've been working on a JSON-RPC api for ClearCoin; I still have a little more work to do on it, and I need to create a testnet version of ClearCoin so you can test your applications using funny money, but it should be ready in another week or so.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome to the ClearCoin Blog

We will be using this blog to talk about new features for the ClearCoin bitcoin escrow service, and let you know what we're working on.

As always, we welcome your feedback and comments!