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12.7% of Amazon Customers Call For Crypto Products or Services

amazon, cryptocurrency, bitcoin

A recent survey shows that 12.7% of Amazon customers would like to see the marketplace selling cryptocurrency products or services.

The report conducted by Global financial portal Investing.com had surveyed over 1000 of the multinational e-commerce company’s clients in an attempt to analyze Amazon’s consumption rate, with a view of expanding its services to offer more products.

The results revealed that most respondents, being allowed to choose multiple products, voted mostly in favor of an Amazon-backed computer offering (72.9%), followed by local coupons and deals (51.7%), prescription drugs (36.7%), home security (31%) and even medical marijuana (29.5).

13.7% of Amazon clients unsurprisingly voted for listing cryptocurrency products, especially given calls from the industry to drive cryptocurrency adoption through the huge e-commerce market. Although Amazon has been somewhat reticent, there were indications in November 2017 when Bitcoin was at its hiatus and looked to be stratosphere bound, that internet e-commerce giant had likely acquired digital currency-related domain names.

As for using crypto online for purchasing goods and services, exchange giant Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao has said in the past that he sees Amazon eventually accepting cryptocurrencies, suggesting that they are ideally suited for use on the platform. He commented:

“For any internet (non-physical) based business, I don’t understand why anyone would not accept crypto for payments. It is easier, faster and cheaper to integration than traditional payment gateways. Less paperwork. And reaches more diverse demographic and geography.”

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Ethereum Foundation Awards $5 Million Grant to Parity Technologies for Ethereum 2.0

Ethereum Foundation Awards  Million Grant to Parity Technologies for Ethereum 2.0

In a blog post by the Ethereum Foundation yesterday, the non-profit arm of the Ethereum development network announced a grant of USD 5 million awarded to UK-based Parity Technologies.

It would seem the grant was given to Parity Technologies to fund developments of Ethereum 2.0 in the areas of scalability, usability, and security. Specific areas of interest highlighted included Parity’s efforts on Casper, sharding, lightweight clients and other development activities.

According to the blog post, Parity Technologies had contributed immensely to the furtherance of the Ethereum network by being a major technical contributor. More so, the Foundation considers them as an “invaluable member” in terms of “leadership in core development efforts”.

Parity is famous for its Ethereum software client used by exchanges, miners, Dapp developers, and service providers to facilitate infrastructural processing on the Ethereum network.

Some of its notable efforts include development strategizing towards a more scalable and usable Ethereum network. They have been described as a committed team with “pinpointed focus on the next generation advancements like proof-of-stake, sharding, and WebAssembly“.

The Foundation has informed that the grant will be released in parts according to milestone achievements, such as the completion of eWasm compatibility work, shipping a light wallet for mainnet, and the successful completion of Phase 0 and Phase 1 of sharding.

The Foundation’s past is filled with the trail of such types of funds called DEVGRANTS, although comparatively lower, they also concerned the funding of public works which facilitate the development of the Ethereum ecosystem. Such development includes MetaMask DApp support in standard browsers, Snappy Ubuntu Core, Syng Ethereum for mobile devices, and EthEmbedded Ethereum for embedded devices.

Binance also announced last December that it would be hosting its first SAFU hackathon in Singapore during the Binance Blockchain Week slated for 19 – 20 January 2019. The aim of the hackathon is to explore security concerns in crypto.

 

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Apple Loses Near Equivalent of Bitcoin’s Entire Market Cap in One Day

Apple Loses Near Equivalent of Bitcoin's Entire Market Cap in One Day

Apple’s recent hit in valuation due to the recent slowdown in China’s juggernaut economy illustrated to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency followers just how far the industry needs to develop to become a household name itself.

Falling revenues at the company are unprecedented in recent times with shares trading at their lowest since July 2017, and the hit it took last week was one of the worst since January 2013.

Given that Apple is just one company, albeit, one with total global recognition, it was nonetheless able to wipe $65 billion of its evaluation last week, roughly Bitcoin’s total market cap, and continue in business. At the time of writing Bitcoin’s market cap stands at $66,903,300,377 with its value at USD3,830.48 according to CoinMarketCap.

The cryptocurrency environment is still attempting to recover from its hammering of December 2017, with 2018 showing a $700 billion loss from its market cap and cryptocurrencies shedding 85% of their worth. However, tech giants appear to be having their own unique problems too as the world’s 5 household names in tech, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google, may have lost over $1 trillion from their all-time high.

Market Analyst, eToro guru Mati Greenspan comments that this slump could well be in Bitcoin’s favor suggesting that “A correlation of <0.1 is considered weak. If the stocks keep sliding and bitcoin rising, that grey line could plummet. Then Bitcoin might be seen as a safe haven.”

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook suggested that China, Hong Kong and Taiwan account for almost 20 percent of the company’s revenue, so that any slump in those regions is sure to impact company profits as a whole, adding, “While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China.”

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Coinbase Banning Services to Social Media Group Stirs Up Twitter Again

Coinbase Banning Services to Social Media Group Stirs Twitter Again

Cryptocurrency exchange giant Coinbase has caused a stir on Twitter after excluding social media site Gab and its founder from services.

This is not the first time Coinbase has chosen to single out social network site Gab, having targeted the site in June 2018, closing its account with the San Francisco based company.

Gab launched in August 2016 as a response to censorship controversies involving major social media companies. Founder and CEO Andrew Torba referred to such companies at the time as “the entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly.”

Although Coinbase gave no explanation for the Gab shutout last June, social commentator Kevin Pham, suggested it might have been in response to a Gab tweet that “crony capitalism” was behind last year’s SEC announcement that Ethereum was not a security.

At the time, Gab’s response to the first ban was “Centralized crypto exchanges/wallets are cancer and contradictory to everything crypto stands for.”

The new ban comes hours after a Gab tweet attacking exchange censorship and extolling the virtues of decentralization. The social network has gained a reputation for allowing expression of views which are controversial with some referring to the social network as “haven for white supremacists”.

I will be withdrawing whatever funds I have left in Coinbase and never using them again.

— ₿itcoin Maximus (@MaximusBitcoin) January 4, 2019

Coinbase has made no comment on its actions against the social media company or its CEO, leaving commentators speculating as to the reason it may have had to penalize a customer, and considering if a curb on freedom of expression is within the remit of a cryptocurrency exchange

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Samsung Files for UK Crypto Trading Wallet Patent

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Electronics giant Samsung appears to be turning its direction towards cryptocurrencies as it continues to develop the next generation of phones.

This time it is targeting the UK market, with an application already filed with the U.K. Intellectual Property Office for its ‘Samsung Crypto Wallet’. The suggestion is that Samsung is planning to begin building cryptocurrency facilities into its popular range of phones which retail at around $750 in the US.

The trademark application states that Samsung is to develop: “Computer software for use as a cryptocurrency wallet; Computer software for cryptocurrency transfer and payment using blockchain technology; Computer application software for smartphones, namely, software to allow users to transfer cryptocurrency based on blockchain technology and pay via 3rd party’s application software.”

Speculations have been circulating for some time about whether the South Korean giant plans to take the cryptocurrency route, particularly since its filing of three EU trademark applications for blockchain- and cryptocurrency related software in December of this year.

The area of blockchain is one as yet which has been little explored by major phone developers and manufacturers. The first move into the sector was made by Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC recently when the company developed a decentralized bowser called Brave on its HTC Exodus phone calling it the “the first native blockchain phone.” The Exodus provides support for Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) networks.

Also in November of this year, Sirin Labs’ developed its new smartphone, Finney. The smartphone will compete with the likes of HTC’s Exodus DLT phone and other non-blockchain phones for a market share of the trillion-dollar-plus smartphone industry.

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Coinbase CEO: Virtual Reality and Crypto Next Big Combo

Coinbase CEO: Virtual Reality and Crypto Next Big Combo

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has said that cryptocurrency has the potential to turn Virtual Reality into a full-time job.

Armstrong suggests that virtual spaces could create their own currencies or even make use of existing ones such as Bitcoin or Ethereum by integrating the means for users to spend crypto in the same way as they are currently using fiat.

Developers would see more time spent on such games, according to the Coinbase boss, taking it much further into the realms of Sci-fi by suggesting that players could use the virtual world to support themselves in the real world, cashing in their accrued gaming funds for “real” use, such as paying rent. He speculates:

“Perhaps we’ll see virtual bank buildings with pillars, virtual bank vaults that spin when you open them, and virtual tellers with glasses.” The exchange magnate, clearly a follower of the gaming and VR world added, “Ready Player One had a great visual of coins being collected in the game, and spilling out of characters when they were killed (leaving a big pile of loot on the ground).”

Clearly, Armstrong has seen the potential of turning VR ownership into the real thing via some of his own exchange-listed cryptocurrencies. But in reality, there’s still a long way to go – crossing the bridge from virtual into reality.

Armstrong appears to be in touch with the man on the street, if not through gaming and VR, then certainly in terms of what reality actually means for many of the world’s “have-nots” these days. This was shown by his recent personal $1 million giveaway through his charity project called GiveCrypto.

The project is a global enterprise which will give out cryptocurrency donations to worthy recipients, who will then be able to make personal choices in whether to keep their donations as cryptocurrency or exchange them for fiat. GiveCrypto wants to raise USD 10 million by the end of 2018 and grow to a fund of USD 1 billion over two years. Donations will hopefully come from wealthy donors who have amassed wealth through cryptocurrency, passing on their good fortunes to those in need of financial help. Suggested cryptocurrencies for donations are Bitcoin, Ripple, and Zcash.

Ripple’s co-founder Chris Larsen has already put in an undisclosed donation into the Armstrong charity hat. This may not be all that Ripple will be putting into Coinbase’s coffers if recent news that Coinbase plans to list XRP on its exchange becomes reality…. that’s not a virtual one by the way!

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Sierra Leone President Welcomes New UN-Supported Blockchain ID Project

The small West African nation of Sierra Leone is to get support from the United Nations to help a non-profit startup launch a blockchain-based identification system for use in the country.

The country of some 7 million has had a difficult past and is currently trying to rebuild its economy after a decade-long civil war erupted in 1991. The war ended in 2001 after UN intervention, leaving 50,000 dead. This was more recently followed by a severe Ebola outbreak in 2014, which according to World Health Organization figures caused 3,000 deaths and recorded 10,000 cases.

A non-profit tech startup, Kiva, is to launch the blockchain ID program in Sierra Leone ahead of 85 other countries after research showed that the country only had one credit bureau covering 2,000 people, less than 1% of the population. Also, only 20% of the population were banked.

Sierra Leone’s President Maada Bio has expressed that he wants his nation to become less dependent for support on international benefactors and overseas aid. For this to happen he has asked for homemade answers to some of the nation’s problems through “visionary and innovative” solutions.

According to the UN’s Capital Development Fund executive secretary Xavier Michon, this may boost the country ahead of others in creating a better banking system for Sierra Leoneans, suggesting:

“Through this implementation, Sierra Leone is setting out to build one of the most advanced, secure credit bureaus. It could serve as a model for both developing and developed nations in the future and has the potential to radically change the landscape of financial inclusion.”

The project is aimed at providing Sierra Leoneans with personal identification tools including a personal digital wallet which will outline their entire credit history, eliminating paper, and making personal banking far more accessible to all. This will also make it far quicker for lenders to assess customers before offering credit, by being able to instantly check their credit rating.

The system is expected to roll out in the country in 2019.

 

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South Korea Looks to Blockchain With Samsung Tech to Improve Customs Service

Electronics giant Samsung is to develop a blockchain powered platform for use by the Korean Customs Services.

The IT arm of Samsung, Samsung SDS is basing the platform on Nexledger, currently used by businesses as a way of reducing expenses in managing financial transactions and data exchange.

Along with some other 48 organizations, including shipping and insurance companies, the South Korean Customs Service has signed up for the platform in order to streamline and track exported goods passing through customs. The blockchain platform will also aid the customs service in detecting forged documentation.

Samsung is not new to the blockchain industry and appears to be on a drive towards research and development in the new technology. It is currently committed to several new projects in the industry. Samsung is joining a number of other companies in exploring the idea of using blockchain logistics to streamline global supply chains. It is reported that the tech giant has already begun developing a distributed ledger system to monitor international shipments.

The blockchain is set to help shippers, ports, customs offices and many other parties in the global supply chain by replacing paperwork with irrefutable digital records. Blockchain could provide proof of provenance for goods by tracking them globally from the point of origin, manufacture, until the retail store shelf. Import details, fees, and taxes could all be programmed into smart contracts that release payments automatically once the conditions were met.

Recently, Samsung developed Cell 3.0, a platform which combines AI tech with company knowhow, and Banksign, a blockchain-based certification system. The adoption of this new platform is an indication that Samsung may envisage blockchain having a major role to play in the future of the company.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has announced that it will be testing a new blockchain shipment tracking system by combining a newly developed application, Legacy, and other system developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Also, in the past month, IBM linked with Danish logistics company Maersk to launch its own blockchain shipping project, “TradeLens” involving 95 other organizations.

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Dapps Usage Sees Sharp Decline

According to a study by crypto research publication diar, the usage of decentralized apps (Dapps) on Ethereum has been declining sharply, with users declining 56% from January 2018 to July 2018.

There are Dapps built on other platforms, but this study focuses on Ethereum Dapps, which is the most widely used platform for launching them.

Ethereum is the original blockchain and cryptocurrency used to develop Dapps and is the second cryptocurrency by rank with a market cap near USD 28 billion versus the Bitcoin market cap of USD 109 billion. Ethereum has complex and efficient smart contract technology, which is why it’s so conducive for Dapp development. However, the numbers show that they are not maintaining their user base and shriveling up over time.

This may be why Ethereum’s price has dropped to USD 270 from a high of over USD 1,300 in January 2018, combined with a strong bear market. Ethereum is declining much faster than Bitcoin, indicating that declining users account for the rest of the price drop. The more users, the more Ether is purchased to interact with Dapps, so Ethereum’s price is directly influenced by the number of people using them.

The top Dapps are actually ponzi scheme scams called Fomo3D and PoWH 3D, which have nearly 100,000 users versus the total of 325,000 users in July 2018. The study didn’t include these ponzi schemes in its data, probably because they could be considered illegal activity. If including the ponzis  then total users has only declined 38% since January.

The top 3 Dapps are decentralized exchanges, like IDEX, Fork Delta and Bancor. The userbase for these exchanges hit a peak and then dropped off sharply, perhaps showing a preference for more user-friendly centralized exchanges.

Games are another top category on Ethereum. CryptoKitties, for example, became a sensation in the crypto space when it had over 14,000 users and raised USD 12 million. Today, it only has 510 users which is a 96% drop. Decentraland has seen a similar user drop of 86%.

The drop in Dapps usage paints a bearish long-term outlook for Ethereum. However, when the next crypto rally happens, perhaps usage will rally as well. There is probably a solid connection between the state of the crypto markets and interest in Dapps.

 

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Andreas Brekken’s Experience Running the Biggest Lightning Node

Andreas Brekken, the operator of shitcoin.com, decided to review the Bitcoin Lightning Network by creating the largest node on the network. The Bitcoin Lightning Network is supposed to be a scaling solution for Bitcoin since it facilitates instant payments with very low fees. Andreas Brekken wanted to find out first hand how practical it is to use the Lightning Network instead of using the Bitcoin blockchain.

First Andreas Brekken, set up a Lightning Network node, which required setting up a full Bitcoin Core node. This process is very complex and quite difficult for inexperienced users. There is software available to make it easier to use the  Lightning Network, but since the Lightning Network is still somewhat in a beta even relatively easier software requires technical knowledge. Setting up the Lightning Network node required further effort that was just as complex.

The Lightning Network had a capacity of 20 Bitcoins (USD 130,000), when Andreas Brekken started his experiment. He then deposited a large amount of Bitcoin and became the largest Lightning Network node. Soon his node exceeded 40 Bitcoin capacity with 250 active channels. There were some centralization fears from his experiment, but he ran the node responsibly and there were no problems. Running the node required lots of work and constant checking, and there were some errors which took him many hours to figure out.

Lightning Network nodes get paid for their services; Andreas Brekken did the math and found he got USD 0.001 for each transaction. This illustrates how Lightning Network has very low fees compared to Bitcoin, which often has fees of USD 1 or more during high traffic times. However, it also illustrates how there is little incentive to run a Lightning Network node. During his entire experiment, Andreas Brekken profited less than 1 USD from transaction fees despite being the biggest node and having over USD 100,000 locked up in his Lightning Network node.

While Andreas Brekken was running his node he experimented with buying things using the Lightning Network. Practically everything he tried to buy resulted in errors along the way. He tried to buy a hoodie with the Lightning Network, and despite having the biggest node there was apparently no way to route to the store selling the hoodie. He tried a different Lightning Network wallet and that didn’t work, and he gave up. Bitcoin works 100% of the time when connected to the internet and paying a proper transaction fee, while Lightning Network seems to fail most of the time even for someone with good technical knowledge.

Andreas Brekken had enough of the experiment since there were more costs to run the node then profits from maintaining the network, and he shut his node down. This indicates that the Lightning Network could have a hard time gaining widespread adoption since there’s no incentive for big players to run a node. Shutting down the node was somewhat difficult, since there were hundreds of channels connected to his node which he had to individually shut down. Some of these channels had people who were offline, so he couldn’t shut them down quickly. If one side of a channel is offline and the node closes down, then the node has to wait a period of time before they get their Bitcoins back as a safety measure. This waiting time can be up to 2 weeks, meaning the node operator won’t get their money back for 2 weeks. For someone like Andreas Brekken who has a large sum of money this might not be a big deal, but for a normal person, it could really cause them trouble.

Overall, Andreas Brekken’s experiment seems to have illustrated how Bitcoin’s Lightning Network is in beta and needs plenty of improvement before it can be implemented as a scalability solution. There is a team of developers working with the Lightning Network though, and eventually, it should be a real scalability solution. Things are not that urgent now anyways regarding Bitcoin scalability since SegWit has increased block size and is acting as a temporary Bitcoin scalability solution. Hopefully, by the time Bitcoin scalability becomes a serious problem again the Lightning Network will be ready.

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