Many people paint a mental picture in their heads of crony capitalism as a room full of old rich guys, smoking cigars, watching the ticker, and counting piles of money freshly squeezed from peasant folk. In reality, crony capitalism is more about the government wielding their monopoly of unquestionable force to choose which private businesses are winners, and which ones are losers. Some might compare crony capitalism to fascist style control over the private sector. Mega corporations and unions have very deep pockets and can buy favors such as subsidies or favorable regulation that can give them an almost monopolistic advantage over small businesses. Governments should instead be championing small businesses and all the real economic benefits they bring to the country, because without a fair and level playing field, many of these small enterprises will fail.
Cryptocurrency can play a role in ending this cycle, helping free markets thrive once again.
Within the industry, there is a divide in opinion as to whether or not it is a good idea to use web wallets. The lack of trust toward governments and financial institutions, as well as losses suffered due to some unscrupulous exchange operators and other scams, has left a bitter mark on a lot of people. This group believes that everyone should hold onto their own cryptocurrencies. What many of them fail to consider are the obstacles mass adoption faces if the only option people have is to store their funds on a downloaded desktop or mobile wallet.
Downloading a wallet, whether it is for bitcoin or another digital currency, has been a tough sell with the mainstream public. Whether it is because they erroneously feel you need a great deal of technology knowledge, distrust and fear downloading anything, or they simply suffer from sheer cryptocurrency bewilderment, it is clear there needs to be some sort of bridge that makes it both easier to get started and has a degree of familiarity people can relate to.
The island nation, Bermuda, receives interest from financial giants, boosting potential operations and investment. R3, a tech company, wanted to hit home how important distributed ledger technology could be to island operations and business.
Thinking about the Bitcoin industry and attracting new users, there are three aspects to the experience. Buying bitcoin, using Bitcoin, converting Bitcoin to local currency. For most people that are likely to use Bitcoin itself, these are the three main activities that need to work for them. Advances have been made, but Bitcoin is still struggling with providing a complete user friendly experience for that first point of contact with the industry, buying Bitcoin. However, a new payment structure offered by a partnership with Blockchain and payment startup Coinify hopes to change this by allowing direct funding of a Blockchain wallet using a credit or debit card.
Hiroshi Nakaso, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan, reveals directed efforts to include Fintech and blockchain technology into the Japanese banking system. Nakaso also shot down rumors that Japan had plans to repeal current currency in exchange for a digital version.
The various applications of blockchain have been the driving force behind the growing interest in the digital currency industry, and its stature in terms of attracting investment and talent. While we have seen many innovations in blockchain use over the last few years, a new one seems to appear every month, and this is no exception. By using a combination of a tamper proof seal equipped with a near field communication chip loaded with identification data about a package, and registering that data onto a blockchain for immutable verification, Chronicled have created a system that tracks and verifies valuable cargo in one operation. Cryptoseal offers visible proof of tampering along with digital verification the parcels integrity.
Blockchain is the technology of the moment, not a week goes by without a new way of harnessing the abilities of blockchain appearing, which is great for the industry. However, with a growing number of projects all using different blockchains, some bespoke private solutions, some tailored public ones, some piggybacking onto existing blockchain networks, there is a danger of increased fragmentation that could cause issues long term. That is the problem that a new paper published by Parity Technologies Ltd.’s Gavin Wood is looking to solve, with the new Polkadot network that will allow transaction data exchange between different blockchains.
Widening the user base, raising awareness about digital currencies and simply getting the cryptocurrency industry noticed and legitimized around the world are challenges that have existed since the launch of Bitcoin seven years ago. While many people have good ideas regarding the path to take to achieve this, a trend is forming with increased use in areas where there is turmoil in the fiat monetary system itself. Are the problems in India and Zimbabwe a clue as to where the answer for digital currency adoption will be found?
WINGS, a DAO management, creation and partnering platform has joined with Airbitz, a mobile bitcoin wallet. This will provide ease of management, and security to crowd funding and other ventures involving the blockchain.
If there is one area where the fiat system has always struggled, it is cross border remittance. Relatively high costs, slow and heavily bureaucratic, the remittance system has been a hindrance to the growing army of global workers who rely on cross border payments. From freelance designers and programmers to web design and writing, these things are done by people all over the world, for client’s in every continent. To streamline this process between Korea and China, and possibly transform remittance forever, Shinhan Bank is launching a new remittance service that uses Bitcoin as the intermediary funding.
Bitcoin has grown at an astonishing rate over the last few years, and this has been welcome for the currency itself and the wider cryptocurrency industry, however it has also brought new challenges as well. Processing the level of transaction volume that is generated by so many users is becoming an issue, and finding ways to increase the scalability of Bitcoin has been a priority for the industry for a while. A new paper from the Swiss federal Institute of Technology has offered a potential solution in the form of ByzCoin. This new protocol could be integrated into Bitcoin while retaining backward compatibility, and offer over 100 transactions per second with a 1MB block size, and huge throughout to rival major financial sites such as PayPal with a 4MB blocksize.
A financial derivative is a contract which derives its value from an underlying asset, and almost every asset in the world now has some form of one attached to it. They are purportedly used for hedging risk, and do perform this function in a small number of instances, but the majority of them increase the risk exponentially in search of greater reward. The riskier the bet, the larger the potential payoff. Quite often when the casino (bank) loses on these risky bets, the working class taxpayers end up footing the bill, as we witnessed in the 2008 derivative-driven financial crisis.
There is no money for a bailout when the derivative market unravels again, it’s time we explore new options.
Blockchain and its increasingly deep relationship with money and the financial industry were at the forefront on the first day of the conference.
We have seen many different applications of the Bitcoin blockchain technology in recent times, with the cryptocurrency industry expanding rapidly on the investment such projects have produced. However, a successful use of blockchain by Medicinal Genomics is possibly the most unusual yet. They register new strains of medical marijuana on the blockchain for growers, to both provide a legal record of the strain ownership, but to also provide a standardized framework for naming that could benefit the medical marijuana industry as it matures.
Finding new solutions to old problems, bringing new efficiency and saving costs are just a few of the reasons that so much funding has found its way to projects that utilize the technology underpinning digital currencies, blockchain. Japanese investment banking brokerage, Daiwa Securities Group, have just announced through the financial publication Nikkei, that they are in negotiations for another new application of blockchain in Myanmar. This new project would see the blockchain based solution used as a platform for secure, reliable payments between the Yangon Stock Exchange and brokers around the country. Robust enough to cope with the less than ideal infrastructure, the system has already proved itself in trials.
No longer are we relegated to a single medium of exchange, and if a certain currency is under-performing or subject to heavy manipulation, we the people now have an opportunity to choose one that better suits our needs. New forms of payment such as decentralized digital currencies also force people to examine the facts, think about where their existing money comes from, and who has benefited the most from the creation of new wealth. Prosperity has a trickle down effect, with the vast majority of it staying with the wealthy and their financial institutions.
Competition is healthy and ensures the consumer is not being held hostage by a monopoly, or being gouged by colluding institutions or businesses. With the advent of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, people can choose a currency that suits their needs, whether it be one that caters to gamers, one that is favored by businesses, or a macroeconomic monolith that will one day drive the world’s economy.
Being able to purchase Bitcoins simply and easily in convenient locations is a proven way of getting more people to try the digital currency. The Swiss national railway, Schweizerische Bundesbahnen must agree, as they have just announced a new program that begins in November. From then, select automatic ticket machines will also allow the purchase of Bitcoins. Over the next two years, the entire network of payment machines, over 1000 situated right across the country, will be adapted to include digital currency purchases alongside tickets.
When you think about data backup software, you most likely think about Acronis, they have been a leader in the field for almost as long as it has existed. Now Acronis are looking to blockchain to enhance their storage solutions with a new, security focused online storage product known as Acronis Storage. The new product uses blockchain to provide the security and verification of each document stored on the system. The distributed ledger providing a constant reference to ensure any changes to documents are logged to provide clear accountability.
There have been many suggested applications of blockchain technology over the last few years, especially within the financial industry. However, a recently published patent by AT&T is perhaps the most relevant yet for the broader public and help raise awareness of the technology to new levels. The new patent proposes a subscriber home server, that is, a home content delivery device that both verifies subscriptions and delivers content, like a cable box, using the distributed node network model. The blockchain powered entertainment delivery is designed to add security and stability over existing systems.
It is now seven years since bitcoin launched and we first saw the possibilities of a digital currency. Since then much has been written about both Bitcoin itself and the cryptocurrency industry and how it could make inroads into a wider user base. There has been progress over that time, making it easier to buy Bitcoins has seen many more people take a look at digital currency, but there has not been the widespread growth many hoped for. Is this it, or is Bitcoin on the verge of becoming a global currency for all?