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Trending Bitcoin News and Market Sentiment February 17th, 2020: In Defence of DeFi, Influencer Negligence, Not Centralized Control is to Blame for Flash Loan Hack, Binance Widens Presence in Crypto Singapore

Bitcoin

  • Bitcoin steps down from USD 10,000 resistance but stays within striking distance from a pullback unable to overcome support at USD 9,600
  • Tensions are high over the DeFi loan flash hack but investment expert Eric Wall cautions against knee-jerk reactions, blaming instead negligence by “Ethereum influencers”
  • Binance is making more steps towards tapping into Singapore’s growing crypto market

 

Bitcoin has taken a breather after a strong showing above USD 10,000, falling back beneath this critical psychological resistance point, but not straying too far from it. The good news for bulls also is that this current pullback, much like those before it, is happening only at very low volumes and stopping at support near USD 9,600, with a daily low of USD 9,587 (CoinDesk).

We are at a juncture now where Bitcoin markets should reclaim and retain levels closer to USD 10,000 in order to avoid a reversal of trends that will probably mean several more weeks below this key five-digit US dollar valuation.

There is no apparent reason for prices slipping right now, but some clues are pointing to the recent Decentralized Finance (DeFi) platform hack on bZx that resulted in the loss of USD 350,000 in a matter of seconds. That is happened during the ETHDenver conference during bZx’s presentation probably was not only a slap in the face for the platform, but for DeFi in general, a sector that is seeing a lot of attention focused on it this year.

The bZx Fulcrum protocol, which was at fault, was shut down immediately, and its vulnerability had been identified as the pricing Oracle, which which was later shut down by the company as a response to the hack. The pricing Oracle of bZx was the vulnerability that the hacker used to extract the cash from the protocol, pointing to a severe vulnerability in the flash loan system that the hacker exploited.

This is why I don’t believe in DeFi. It’s the worst of both worlds. Most DeFi can be shut down by a centralized party, so it’s just decentralization theatre. And yet no one can undo a hack or exploit unless we add more centralization.

So how is this better than what we have now? https://t.co/F1HMSeqb6q

— Charlie Lee [LTC⚡] (@SatoshiLite) February 16, 2020

Some like Litecoin founder Charlie Lee have taken to Twitter to decry the shortcomings of DeFi, saying:

“This is why I don’t believe in DeFi. It’s the worst of both worlds. Most DeFi can be shut down by a centralized party, so it’s just a decentralization theatre. And yet no one can undo a hack or exploit unless we add more centralization. So how is this better than what we have now?”

Tweets like “DeFi apps are no different than centralized exchanges because all the contracts have admin keys” is the cheap, boring fast-track to “CT wokeness” these days, forcing me to take the devil’s advocate and point out why that’s sometimes wrong. Warranted retort:

— Eric Wall IS RIGHT (@ercwl) February 17, 2020

Others, however, like Arcane Investments Chief Investment Officer Eric Wall, have jumped to the defence of DeFi, saying that Lee’s “CT (Crypto Twitter) wokeness” arguments are a dismissive way of comparing DeFi solutions to centralized exchanges. He instead says that it is developer or coder negligence that is responsible:

“The problem is that many Ethereum influencers have been asleep at the wheel when it comes to realizing the level of centralized control most DeFi apps are under, making them equally useless (but more harmful) as the sometimes dimwitted Bitcoin maximalists who critize (sic) them.”

In any case, with such a new sector, such things can be expected to be overlooked, and BitcoinNews.com firmly believes new technology and new innovation should always be robustly tested and used for it to mature.

Speaking of centralized exchanges, one of the world’s largest by Bitcoin trading volume, Binance, is widening the open door in Singapore’s crypto market.

Recently, we reported on the new Payment Services Act that went into effect, placing crypto under the jurisdiction of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. This meant that Singapore now regulated digital asset payments and trade using the same guidelines that today already govern traditional fiat payment services. As such, this meant that any parties — including exchanges — that wanted to do business would need to apply for the proper licensing, including standard payment institution, money-changing, and major payment institution licenses.

Bloomberg now says that Binance has gone ahead to do just that, ensuring that regulatory compliance is part of its strategy in Asia. CEO Changpeng Zhao said:

“We submitted the application pretty fast. Binance’s Singapore entity has been in close touch with the local regulators, and they have always been open-minded.”

Welcome to Singapore, crypto.

 

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Trending Bitcoin News and Market Sentiment February 9th, 2020: Bitcoin Breaks $10,000 for First Time in 2020, Digital Gold En Route

Bitcoin

  • Bitcoin price punches through the psychological USD 10,000 barrier for the first time in three months, with many crypto analysts now believing that the bull run is not only imminent, but arrived.
  • Bitcoin is nearing the much-vaunted future of it becoming digital gold, according to Coinbase, one of the world’s earliest blockchain firms and crypto exchanges

 

Whatever the news that comes out today, the biggest one for Sunday and for the year so far is that Bitcoin has punched through the USD 10,000 barrier, and in a fashion it rarely has done: slowly and patiently.

Whereas rallies have tended to be fast and furious in terms of pace and velocity, today’s achievement has rather been on the back on periods of consolidation and slow momentum, with price actually not looking like it will retract for a full 24 hours.

This is the first time in three months that we are looking at a five-digit US dollar valuation, and while it took a while longer than we first thought on Friday, the fact that it has happened during Asian trading hours and carried on over to the European time zone suggests that buyers are ready to fight off selling pressure for a while more.

The daily high so far is at USD 10,176 (CoinDesk), a level last seen on 26 October 2019, and represents a “mere” 3% gain on a 24-hour basis. This time, the gains are also happening alongside on-chain fundamentals that we covered in previous analyses such as a milestone 500 million transaction mark, all time hash power records and all-time daily transactions. This positivism is definitely making a lot of waves in the cryptosphere.

Some, like Adaptive Capital partner Willy Woo, are already waxing lyrical and joining many others who already believe that the next massive bull run is indeed here. Woo said fundamentals made this move look like “the real deal” when he said:

This breakout is the real deal. Fundamental investment activity is backing this $10k breakout. pic.twitter.com/IDWmhXX2Mj

— Willy Woo (@woonomic) February 9, 2020

“This breakout is the real deal. Fundamental investment activity is backing this $10k breakout.”

This is definitely shaping up to be a good year for speculators who decided to get into Bitcoin on New Year’s Day, with the annual gains to date over 41% and a market capitalization surging above USD 183 million. Is this a textbook bull move? Steady rises peppered with retracements that are confidently and consistently overcome? It certainly looks like it.

And the altcoin rally that has accompanied previous bull runs also look like they’re happening, with the majority of altcoins also outperforming Bitcoin and causing BTC dominance to fall to 64% according to CoinMarketCap, it’s lowest since July 2019. The biggest altcoin by market capitalization, Ethereum, will certainly be enjoying current prices at USD 230, which means a 78% gains since 31 December 2019.

Meanwhile, with price looking up and just three months or so due to the halving of Bitcoin block rewards, crypto exchange Coinbase has been noticed to be pushing even more aggressively the narrative of Bitcoin as digital gold.

In May 2020, #Bitcoin will experience its third “Halving.” Bitcoin is a digital asset with a fixed & predictable supply, unlike dollars. Bitcoin is designed to be scarce, like gold. Here’s what that means and why it matters in historical context: https://t.co/CLXp7Okb04

— Coinbase (@coinbase) February 7, 2020

Accompanying its company blog post yesterday, a Tweet storm has erupted, outlining all the reasons the American firm believes that halving and scarcity factors with reduced supply will further solidify that link of Bitcoin as digital gold.

In summary, it reminds how, after removing the gold standard in 1972, the US dollar has declined in value every year since while gold has risen over 4,000%. The key reason gold has done this, Coinbase believes, is because it is more scarce and more difficult to acquire than other precious metals.

Bitcoin mirrors this difficulty and scarcity, since only Proof of Work process of computerized calculations can result in the participation of the network. It does, however, have the advantage over gold in that it is digital and can be transferred far more easily.

Coinbase wrote:

“Ten years ago, curious internet citizens visiting that forum, called Bitcointalk, would answer such questions with wild and thoughtful speculation. Ten years later, the answer is proving itself in a way that only the most fervent believers would have ever imagined… Armed with a myriad of technological advantages, accelerating development, and maturing global market, Bitcoin is a store of value to rival gold in the digital age.”

BitcoinNews.com has been covering developments since the last bull run, and based on all that has happened since then, we can only be inclined to agree.

 

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Trending Bitcoin News and Market Sentiment February 8th, 2020:

Bitcoin

  • A failed attempt to crash bounced back Bitcoin price to a daily high so far of USD 9,872 as it inches ever closer to USD 10,000
  • Binance futures for BNB to launch next week
  • Bitcoin DeFi on the horizon with RSK launch of Ethereum bridge

 

Bitcoin did look like it was going to punch through USD 10,000 yesterday, but while the bulls were insistent on keeping their gains, at least the sellers did their best too, but all they managed to do was bring Bitcoin down to a daily low of USD 9,660 — and that was almost immediately bounced back upwards to current levels of USD 9,850, close to the daily high so far of USD 9,872 (CoinDesk).

Bitcoin is going from strength to strength and piling on the gains in such exciting fashion too, meaning to say that it has almost shrugged off most of the ground lost in the second half of 2019 in a matter of three weeks.

Corporate crypto companies are definitely enjoying this crypto rally, with one of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges, Binance, launching futures trading for its native crypto Binance Coin (BNB), set to start next week. It is apparently going to be the 17th token to be made available on its futures platform and will come with 50x leverage, to be paired against the Tether (USDT) stablecoin.

BNB itself has been doing very well, hitching a ride on Bitcoin’s success, much like most of the altcoins in the Top 50 by market capitalization. Its rally has taken on a few US dollars, reaching a price of USD 22 today. At least one analyst and trader, Keith Wareing, predicts that BNB asset will be looking at increasing demand, which would follow the futures open interest trend observed with Bitcoin. He said:

“Looking at trading volumes on Binance, it’s clear they don’t have to sell any of their s***coin for revenue… As such, during the forthcoming bull run, their position as one as one of the most trusted and secure exchanges in the space guarantees to add demand to the BNB token, so I expect it to outperform all other top 10 assets if the Bitcoin bull run continues.”

BNB has been popular but critics have pointed out that BNB has been getting a lot of centralized pushing, with various competitions and promotions on Binance pushing up its demand and value. The firm behind BNB has been collecting millions of profit from the token that basically gives discounted fees on Binance when using it to settle commissions on trades.

Anybody else like $BNB?

— The Crypto Dog📈 (@TheCryptoDog) February 7, 2020

The split views on BNB is apparent from the feed of Crypto Dog, another crypto influencer who has asked on his Twitter:  “Anybody else like BNB?”, and the response from there has been roughly equal on both sides of the divide.

Say what you want about BNB but so-called decentralized finance (DeFi) is booming also, so corporate moves may not be a bad thing for crypto. In other news, Rootstock (RSK) has announced an interoperability protocol between the Bitcoin-pegged sidechain and Ethereum, called Token Bridge, which could bear important implications on the booming DeFi ecosystem.

RSK, a Bitcoin smart contract platform attached as a sidechain to the BTC blockchain, allows user to acquire a native wrapped Bitcoin called rBTC, by depositing Bitcoin into RSK’s bridge wallet, acting as a two-way peg.

And now you can do the same with ETH blockchain via this new bridge. Theoretically, ETH users can now transact with “wrapped representations of RSK’s rBTC and RIF tokens, thus gaining indirect exposure to the Bitcoin ecosystem”.

RSK Strategist at parent company IOVLabs Adrian Eidelman explained that the system is yet to be fully decentralized since right now, a federation of “well-known and respected community members” will oversee the process of pegging. He explains how an example using Ethereum would work:

“The original tokens will now be locked on the Ethereum chain, and an “event” is created. At this point, the federation initiates the bridge and sends the information to the RSK chain. Once 50% or more of the federates have voted for the same transaction — the bridge on the RSK chain creates RRC20 tokens for the same amount locked on Ethereum.”

Does this mean a Bitcoin-based DeFi could be close at hand? Who knows? And maybe this one based on the ETH blockchain could be the starting point.

 

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Bitcoin Cross Border Remittance Cut Costs for African Migrants

Bitcoin Cross-Border Remittance Cuts Costs for African Migrants

Bitcoin Cross Border Remittance Cut Costs for African Migrants

When it comes to cross-border remittance, factions on both sides of fintech innovations and traditional financial institutions can attest to the fact that the blockchain has so much potential in changing how global payments are conducted. This premise has prompted many financial institutions to reassess their money transfer infrastructures and develop in-house solutions to augment their current banking protocols.

However, while the world waits for these banks and traditional payment processors to catch up with Bitcoin and many of the payment-based altcoins out there, these emerging technologies are playing banks, and are allowing money transfer seem effortless.

The peer-to-peer remittance design should be considered one of the most fundamental and yet astounding financial innovations to date, and we have Bitcoin to thank for that. The areas where cross-border payments through cryptocurrencies best the traditional systems include speed of transactions, relatively cheap fees in sending money via peer-to-peer systems and processors, and the convenience of having to transact in the simplest and easiest financial frameworks possible – buy digital currency from an exchange, get beneficiaries crypto wallet address, send to the other party, and in a matter of minutes or more, the transaction is confirmed on the blockchain, and viola – payment is done. The protocols in the conventional banking system require too many hoops to jump, and more financial entities which are rather unnecessary, hence the punitive cost.

Many poor migrants must pay exorbitant fees to send money home to their families. It is time to drive these costs down https://t.co/yHHT1R6lEk

— The Economist (@TheEconomist) April 27, 2019

Bitcoin, along with a host of other payment-based cryptocurrencies, is striving to make a difference in the financial world and cross border payments has proven to be a sufficient use case so far. This is because the blockchain and all of its properties make it easy to transact in ways the current traditional banking system falls short, although there’s a catch – further discussed in this article.

Cross-Border Payments in Developing Countries

Earlier this year, the World Bank reported significantly high remittance transactions borne to low- and middle-income countries reaching USD 529 billion in 2018, this was a 9% increase from the previous year. In the report, it was further stated that:

“Remittance costs across many African corridors and small islands in the Pacific remain above 10 percent… Banks were the most expensive remittance channels, charging an average fee of 11 percent in the first quarter of 2019.”

From the World Bank’s report, sending USD 500 across the border could leave the sender parting with more than they are willing, in this case, as much as USD 55 if they were to go through banks. An alternative would be to go through online payment processors such as PayPal, however, it’s been discovered that Bitcoin can cut through PayPal international transaction fees by as much as 30 times. Although, there may be discrepancies to such claims when viewed circumspectly, as far as ‘transfers’ go Bitcoin may appear to be in the lead.

Transfering abroad $100,000 in $BTC through the Blockchain: fees of $5-50.

Transfering abroad $100,000 of value through Paypal: fees of $1,500-4,000 + PayPal is able to lock the amount for some period

I mean, no brainer. #CRYPTO #BITCOIN $BTC

— Crypto Michaël (@CryptoMichNL) May 4, 2019

The Emerging Trends

Crypto-based payment processors are taking on the spotlight as they facilitate the payments done through cryptocurrencies. An example of growing usage of Bitcoin payments can be observed in their numbers as Africans and Asians now turn to cryptocurrencies to receive funds from their loved one overseas. BitPesa, a Bitcoin transfer service provider had at one time recorded an increase in its user base to as much as 60% as Bitcoins are transferred to say Kenya or Ghana. And this service is provided for a flat fee of 3%.

To make it even better, digital currency payments are increasingly being preferred by internet-based freelancers who normally through traditional payment processors would have to wait days or weeks before payments arrive, and this is without factoring in huge fees levied on users. Some have had it worse as they have been denied their earnings countless times as a result of chargebacks. Therefore, in a huge way, crypto is shutting out middlemen and streamlining payment processes.

Still A Long Way for Bitcoin

There appears to be a ton of roadblocks towards achieving a reality solely dependent on Bitcoin as a seamless payment infrastructure. This includes volatility and regulation, the two dreadful opponents to world-scale adoption of cryptocurrencies. Many believe that once these obstacles no longer exist, cryptocurrencies will eventually replace the current financial systems. It’s gradually happening, there are already crypto-based financial instruments, and many startups are currently racing towards providing suitable custody solutions to a growing number of forward-thinking institutions.

Another problem that seems to beset the cryptocurrency industry is the issue of scalability. In late 2017, Bitcoin transaction costs were seen to have skyrocketed as the load on the network was overwhelming. The repercussion was high volatility in the Bitcoin market, as Bitcoin price hit astronomical highs in just a short time.

This TPS problem stems from the native structure of the Bitcoin blockchain which allows it to process only 7 transactions per second. Apparently, a far cry from Visa’s network which handles about 1,736 transactions per second. However, layering with the Lightning Network has made it much easier to use the Bitcoin blockchain.

At least, if digital currencies don’t take over the world, they would have paved a way for traditional financial instructions to evolve and still it would perhaps be a win-win. This should be a non-negotiable mission for any institution that seeks to live through the current age as the world settles for an economic era built on the industry 4.0.

 

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Bitcoin ATMs, Making Bitcoin Adoption A Reality

Bitcoin ATM, Making Bitcoin Adoption A Reality

Almost six years since the first of Bitcoin ATM (BTM) was installed at a coffee shop in Vancouver, reports now have BTMs numbering a few thousand across the globe. BitcoinNews.com explores the inconspicuous growth in both the adoption of Bitcoin and its related accessories and pursues an angle in the opportunities as well as risks in the emerging BTM industry.

With over 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs (BTM) now installed in about 90 countries across the globe, the subject of Bitcoin adoption can now be viewed from a different light. BTMs are now available even in convenient stores in the countries where they are installed, giving residents access to both awareness, and the spending of Bitcoin.

In terms of everyday use, one might be tempted to think Bitcoin lags in its ultimate purpose as a peer-to-peer digital payment system, considering how 10 years on and not every store in the world may have a boldly printed ‘Bitcoin accepted here’ over their counter. Farcical or not, certain segments of the media continue to describe Bitcoin as purely speculative and having no currency value. Meanwhile, the daily exchange of Bitcoin for services and goods continue to take place, and no, not only on the dark web. The major scare here is the volatility of the Bitcoin market on crypto exchanges which seem to stall merchant adoption, not helped at all my developments of various regulatory frameworks.

Notwithstanding, the companies that make these BTM machines, along with service providers, continue to explore new opportunities where these machines can be installed. The inevitable logical conclusion here seems rather obvious – Bitcoin isn’t going anywhere, not anytime soon at least, not when massive capital investment is involved.

They Come in all Shapes and Sizes

Friends are nearby. Connected #Delaware, if anything ♥ ️#cryptoATM #ATM #bitcoinATM pic.twitter.com/Sw3MZXicjb

— Nano Bank (@NanoBank) September 2, 2019

BTMs are physical and as far as awareness goes, they can hardly go unnoticed and can easily pass as a regular ATM, but upon approach, the features do seem a little bit different. And now, the startled new user becomes curious if they aren’t familiar with such technology or if they had only just read about them on the internet – they can now physically interact with this disruptive money system. See where this is heading?

So far, BTMs as an important component of the Bitcoin ecosystem is the most expressive and relatable aspect – arguably second to mining; as well as a better understanding of the function of Bitcoin and how to use it. To the dabbler, everything else about Bitcoin and cryptographic consensus may appear as gibberish!

Opportunities in the BTM Industry

Is investing in a BTM worth it? Good question. The fuss about digital currencies and the antagonistic nature of stalling regulations should make a person wonder why anyone would consider an investment in BTM. In late June, leading international convenience chain store Circle K, had 20 BTMs installed in its US stores thanks to its partnership with DigitalMint. Are BTMs the new rave? Or are Bitcoins gaining unprecedented attention and no one sees it?

BitcoinNews.com had earlier reported the number of BTMs worldwide reached 5,000 for the first time, noting a total of 150 installations at an average rate of 6 per day for the month. And now, in just over two months, about 489 new installations have brought the current sum to about 5,495 Bitcoin ATMs worldwide.

Taking the least cost to purchase a General Byte two one-way Bitcoin ATM which goes for around USD 2,800 (do note that costs could go as high as USD 11,000); a rough estimate puts the global valuation of existing BTMs at about USD 15.3 million. Well, yes, this may be a far cry from the Bitcoin valuation which is around USD 176.8 billion, but the point is in the growth potential in the BTM industry.

Source: https://coinatmradar.com/charts/top-operators/

According to ATM Radar, the top 10 BTM operators currently run 2,162 machines across the globe which account for 39.3% of the population, while the remaining 60.7% equivalent to 3,333 BTMs are controlled by 541 operators – not well decentralized, eh? But the picture is rather clear here: the BTM industry is on the fast lane and as interest in operation grows continuously, perhaps down the line of world-scale adoption, there might be one at every street in major cities. And that would be a dream come true for Chris Yim, CEO of LibertyX who described their more than 1,000 operational BTMs as a natural evolution. In pursuing the future ambition of creating street-level access to Bitcoin through user’s debit cards, he said:

“Our goal is to make Bitcoin available on every block in America.”

How do Bitcoin ATMs work?

Bitcoin is designed to be a private cryptocurrency, and helps with privacy issues. Users without a bank account can buy Bitcoins on some of the BTMs with the 2-way designs. As far as operating these machines go, they are quite easy to use and with just a few steps, anyone can begin to transact using Bitcoin. BTMs, unlike the conventional ATM, allow users to purchase Bitcoins in exchange for fiat/paper currency.

The general steps involved in a BTM transaction include identity verification. It is not applicable to all BTMs, however, due to regulatory concerns, it’s becoming a prevalent option for most providers. The next step is to provide a BTC address where the Bitcoins will be sent to once purchased. This is easily done by scanning a barcode from a mobile wallet or a printed paper wallet. Alternatively, some providers provide wallet addresses for users and all they do is allow the user to print a paper wallet from the BTM similar to how ATMs issue receipts when transactions are completed.

Security and Risks in the Bitcoin ATM Revolution

The threat against Bitcoin ATMs and their users are quite real and, as mentioned earlier, Bitcoin is designed to be private, hence, to the financial regulator, this spells red flags all over it. So the first concern is how the government treats Bitcoin, and that has spilled over to its accessories – both in the mining industry and BTM industry as well – with recent developments in Nevada seeing a request for BTM licensing.

Although some operators such as Coinsource already have a New York Bitlicense which allows them to legally offer cryptocurrency exchange and custody services, however, this license is hard to obtain and still limited per jurisdiction. And in jurisdictions such as India were extreme measures have been taken against cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin ATMs, and operators were not spared.

More so, there are issues, from simple gimmicks to complex ATM frauds, and at times, glitches in the encryption framework can make BTMs extremely generous, that question the security measures adopted by BTM manufacturers. Though nothing peculiar, as worse scenarios have been observed with regular ATMs, however, these situations tend to compound the problem for BTM operators and users.

The Future

If we must speculate on the future industry of BTMs, it has to be done by looking through the current facts; the rise in Bitcoin ATMs, the installation at convenience stores, and the legal frameworks to provide for more anti-money laundering watch. Clarity seems to set in as people demand more secure and faster means of transacting. Be it at the coffee shop, the grocery store, or while refiling a tank at the gas station, merchant adoption of Bitcoins and BTMs are real. Though slow, it’s an eventual process set to transform the use case model of cryptocurrencies.

 

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Can Bitcoin replace Gold?

Could Bitcoin Potentially Replace Gold?

Can Bitcoin replace Gold?

The comparison between Gold and Bitcoin has now been done for quite a long time by market observers. The primary basis for this comparison is the fact that both of these assets hold a large value. Both can be considered as speculative investments, which require due diligence by the investors for them to benefit. However, key differences such as the very nature of these assets, that is, Bitcoin being digital and gold being tangible, has led to many economic activists predict that Bitcoin could possibly replace gold. It is important to note that the relation between gold and Bitcoin values has been fairly inverse. However, the existence of any causation is fairly subjective.

Bitcoin and Gold – More related than we think

The most significant line of parallelism that can be drawn between the two is the fact that both Bitcoin and Gold are safe-haven investments and can fetch large amounts of profits if invested smartly. Gold is a precious metal extracted by mining and its value is decided by the supply and demand. Much like gold, Bitcoin is also mined and the more it is mined the harder the process becomes and the value is decided by the supply and demand. The mining of gold, however, is a physical process.

It is interesting to note that the prices of gold and Bitcoin have been in an inverse relation since a long time now. However, it is worth noting that the inverse relationship does not imply that the two are interrelated. The fluctuation in Bitcoin value depends on factors such as the volume of transactions while Gold’s price changes with other factors such as interest rates and so on. That being said, the inverse relation does attract attention and increase in the value of Gold could mean a bearish trend of Bitcoin.

Where Bitcoin beats Gold

Firstly, the fact Bitcoin is based on a digital platform which allows the currency to be sent across at the speed of information, without the requirement of any intermediary, and is convenient. This directly supersedes the physical nature of Gold. In an era where digitization is thriving, Bitcoin can certainly get an edge over the tangible currencies. Bitcoin fills the criterion of being durable to any threats of hacking, has a unique identity which makes it verifiable and most importantly is far more portable than gold. Scarcity also makes it a great store of value.

Probably the most important line of distinction between the two is the fact that Bitcoin is decentralized while Gold’s sustainability as a commodity is subject to the fragility in the economic sector. This means that the possession of Bitcoin is absolute. On the other hand, Gold’s acquisition is not always absolute, which means that one might own something on paper, but it might not necessarily mean that they have it in their hands. Apart from this, the process of Bitcoin mining, unlike Gold, is a virtual one. This means that the amount of bitcoin being mined is a piece of open-source information.

Moreover, the availability of information is more in the case of Bitcoin. A person can always obtain information regarding how much bitcoins have been mined and the maximum supply can also be known, which stands at 21 million bitcoins. However the volume and abundance/ scarcity of gold is not known. This makes its value subject to drastic changes in the future.

The Perfect time

Bitcoin, of late, has had a major role in revolutionizing the global economy. Its store of value feature has attracted various investors which has been greatly facilitated by the ever digitizing world. Therefore, this becomes the perfect time when Bitcoin can be utilized on a larger scale. It has the potential to disrupt and enter the markets with the most value. A shift from traditional and conventional currency towards digital currency could potentially take place on a larger scale.

The investments of the current generation are more inclined towards digital currencies. A recent survey conducted by Bitcoin Survey Fall stated that about 30% of all millenials would rather invest their money in USD 1000 worth of Bitcoin than USD 1000 worth of government bonds. The progression of generations is increasing the role of Bitcoin in people’s lives. An apt example for the widespread adoption and spread of cryptocurrency is seen by the fact that over one hundred thousand shopkeepers have started accepting Bitcoin as a form of currency.

Maybe all of this seems too ambitious, but the fact that Bitcoin replacing one of the most prevalent safe haven asset seems less fictitious and more realistic is an indicator of its widespread adoption and the role it could possibly play in the global economy.

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University Crypto Courses Gaining Prominence

University Crypto Courses Gain Prominence

In the most recent years of cryptocurrency growth, one particular trend observed in academia is the uptick in blockchain-related courses and increased student participation in crypto activities.

It can be described as perhaps an improvement when it comes to crypto adoption, with Coinbase recently publishing a report of a survey carried out by Qriously which partly assessed the overall crypto sentiment among university students. And not surprisingly, the developing trends in cryptocurrency adoption – in whichever form – be it economics, political, social or even in technical aspects, have grown on students and rallied an unwavering enthusiasm towards crypto learning. The survey reports:

“Among students, distrust in the current financial system is feeding an increasing curiosity around crypto, and it cuts across disciplines.”

Being a center for knowledge seekers, the university grounds provides an unlimited opportunity for like minds to brace forward-thinking concepts, and launch towards the expanding frontiers of innovation. And luckily, most universities are not elusive to the intellectual escapade of blockchain technology despite numerous uncertainties within the industry such as regulation. In fact, such uncertainties have proven to spark curiosity in the first place.

According to the report: “Stanford Law students taking ‘Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies: Law, Economics, Business, and Policy’ study legal and regulatory structures with a particular emphasis on ‘securities regulation’… Sociology undergrads at Stanford are exploring the potential for blockchain to create a fairer economic system in a class called ‘Justice + Poverty Innovation’.”

And even though the “blockchain fad”, as many anti-crypto factions would casually dismiss, appears to be overly hyped or speculative at best, the unraveling potentials far outweigh what most academicians have seen in a long time. As Dawn Song, a computer science professor at the University of California Berkeley, puts it:

“The blockchain domain’s interdisciplinary nature makes it very different from any traditional field.”

Compared to Coinbase’s inaugural 2018 report on higher education, a 14% rise in the adoption of crypto-related subjects among the top 50 universities in the world does prove that the concepts of blockchain technology continue to spread like wildfire and can only draw more attention from the masses.

Many of these blockchain initiatives within universities have rallied support from across the globe. The good thing about most of these educative initiatives is that one doesn’t need to be physically present to take a blockchain or crypto-related course as most of these courses are offered online. Oftentimes, some of these initiatives come with amazing scholarships, as have been seen in the University of Malta and the Fudan University in China, among many others who aim to support blockchain education.

A forward-looking approach to the uptick in crypto-related education can as well impact job creation in the nascent field, as more competent and well-versed developers, crypto-economics strategists, specialized legal officers can help chart a better course into the uncharted territories of blockchain enterprise.

 

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Identity Management on Decentralized Ledgers: Thumb Print of the Digital Era

identity management

Decentralized ledgers employed by blockchain technology have opened the possibilities for a multitude of new applications and functions. But few of them are as groundbreaking and potent as the idea of identity and personal information management.

Blockchain identity management is a concept that uses a digital verification and authentication based on the decentralized ledger technology. Blockchain identity management tools leverage the user’s device to store and encrypt data rather than in a central database and uses encryption to connect data blocks across multiple virtual networks. This ensures that every information block stores a complete and accurate copy of all records, which cannot be altered or misused without being noticed by the entire network.

The use of digital media for data transmission, especially in the domain of user identification, has increased dramatically in recent years. And naturally so has the need for decentralized information solutions that protect sensitive information from any unauthorized access and cyber-attacks. The global business scene has seen digital media platforms’ service-based models capture a notable market share in the blockchain identity management market. Similarly, government regulations like the NDB scheme in Australia, the European Union’s GDPR, and cybersecurity requirements of New York State financial services companies have also iterated on the pressing need for identity management in the context of business and personal users. 

Some of the key players in the blockchain-based identity management arena include the likes of Civic Technologies, Inc, EVERNYM INC, Cambridge Blockchain, LLC, IBM Corporation, Netki, SelfKey Foundation, NewBanking, Oracle, UniquID, Inc, PeerMountain, and uPort, among many others.

Now the question beckons, how does the decentralized identity operate in the digital world? Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) is essentially a new type of identifier for verifiable digital identity that could also be seen as a “self-sovereign” entity. What this implies is that DIDs are fully controlled by the DID subject, which is independent of any centralized point of control, registry, identity provider, or certificate authority. This also means that the DID subjects have complete control over their own identity and usage. These systems of decentralization have been the subject of attention and research from several large corporations, such as IBM, Microsoft, and the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) working group.

The integrity and completeness of such a system can be ensured by implementing a collaborative approach that involves data claimers, verifiers, attesters, and many other types of middlemen that facilitate the management processes. The introduction of the “human intervention” into the previously automated system makes it a fully-decentralized system. 

This also increases the significance of the middleman’s role to ensure a functional and convenient environment for each stakeholder. A company called Kilt Protocol has been working in such a position within the decentralized identity management field for quite some time now.

As data would create business value using their own data, failure to adhere to the protocols would lead to hefty penalties, with data collectors working as middlemen and moderators in this case. To dilute the power and influence of data collectors roles such as primary validators and secondary validators (i.e., validators of validators) can be established to establish a balancing triangle of power while maintaining the relationship between all relevant stakeholders.

If this system is implemented in a hypothetical world, everyone in the system would have complete ownership of the mountains of data produced each day. Individuals can claim the rights to the record of every purchase and every communication that would be stored on the common ledger. If the users have a change of monetizing an individual’s data, they must get approval and share the proceeds from all stakeholders. Thus the userbase is mainly divided into two groups: people who would like to monetize their personal data, and the second those who block all personal data to be used in any further applications.

Even if we assume that only 50% of the population decides to deal with the risks and opportunities of sharing their data, the profits and opportunities are endless. 

Bodies like DIF and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have established standards for simplifying the data management processes. But obviously due to the very nature of decentralization, not everyone can enforce these rules, and some individuals who are the owners of their data may find a particular standard too inconvenient or pricey to manage, while someone else might prefer another, more compatible standard, resulting in the coexistence of multiple regulations and implementations.

Although living in an ever-changing world of technological advancement, the field of decentralized data is still relatively new and unchartered. Thus, the further evolution and unearthing of the unique characteristics of public blockchain protocols still remain to be discovered and will be subject to fierce innovation and debate for many years to come.

 

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Blockchain-Based Energy Trading: Can They Compete with Centralized Markets?

Blockchain Based Energy Trading Could Compete with Centralized Markets

The energy market is highly centralized, with people not having control over their consumption and production of electricity. All key decisions regarding electricity such as its pricing, utilization of excess electricity and other aspects of power supply are taken over by monopolies.

Today, many problems pertaining to the electrical sector are affecting the world. Amid an increasing need to migrate to renewable energy, there are consumers who want to undertake the paradigm shift but, more often than not, can’t do so due to cost concerns. At the same time, the ones who produce excess electricity have to provide it to a monopolistic public utility. The integration and utilization of blockchain technology in the electric sector solve many of these problems and have several other applications.

Blockchain technology has proven to be a great alternative to add value to the electricity market. The emerging technology has been embraced for various power utility applications such as credit management, green energy promotion, prepaid smart meters and asset optimization. A lot of startups have adopted blockchain as a foundational technology to meet the various utility needs such as bill settlements, charging and authentication of electric vehicles. Moreover, the technology has time and again established viability by delivering quality services to support utility business models.

Peer-to-peer energy trading

Possibly the biggest application of blockchain in the electricity sector is giving customers the ability to choose what they want to do with their power supply. Blockchain startups and projects are working towards coming up with a way in which the consumers get to control their power supply, which will simultaneously promote the use of renewable energy. The premise of blockchain technology, that is, its decentralized nature and the transparency it provides in terms of transaction data, will allow consumers to sell and buy renewable energy among each other without the need of an intermediary, as was the case before with public utilities. The reason behind not allowing consumers to buy and sell electricity was the surge of natural monopolies due to the intricate infrastructural nature of the electricity sector, which prevented new companies from entering it. However, in recent times, due to technological advancement, this ceases to be the case.

Blockchain technology allows consumers to buy renewable energy from their solar-powered neighbors. The growing portfolio of the transparent blockchain-based models is going a long way to make large scale peer-to-peer trading a reality. Decentralized ledger technology (DLT) would be used to securely record the buying and selling transaction data.  This has a two-fold effect. First, that the producers of excess renewable energy get the income due to them. Secondly, the people who cannot afford solar power can still get access. A blockchain-based smart grid would be used to compare energy providers and allow consumers to buy directly from them. Furthermore, smart contracts could also be used to instantaneously execute the transaction as soon as the action (in this case, the transfer of energy) is done.

Existing companies vested in the electrical market

Power Ledger – Being from one of the nations with ideal environmental conditions for renewable energy, this Australian-based startup has grabbed onto the opportunity to enhance the country’s renewable energy sector while attracting consumers with cheap prices. Power Ledger allows its consumers to trade excess energy among each other and pay for it in the real world. Consumers can also store the power in a battery which would fetch them more profits by selling it at their peak. The main function of Power Ledger is that it gives the customers assurance by storing all the transaction data in the decentralized ledger. The technology keeps the trade of environmental commodities more transparent, secure and efficient, and allows consumers to track any transactions. Furthermore, it incentivizes people to shift towards consumption of renewable energy with its renewable asset ownership model to boost the production of renewable energy.

WePower – WePower is an Estonia-based startup that uses a blockchain-based smart grid system to allow consumers to track and monitor energy prices. They are striving towards a democratic energy sector where the power lies with the people, by allowing small-scale producers and consumers to enter into the market. WePower uses smart contracts and the concept of energy tokenization that allows corporate buyers to directly obtain their energy from the generators. The positive results in Estonia have pushed WePower to consider global expansion, starting with Australia.

Clearway Energy Group – In June 2019, US-based firm Clearway Energy Group initiated a pilot program for renewable energy trading using blockchain technology, as reported by BitcoinNews.com.

As reported earlier, the companies Shell, Equinor and BP took to blockchain technology for energy trading with an expectancy of a massive 40% drop in costs with the implementation. Last year, South Korea’s largest energy provider, KEPCO, sought a modification of its energy infrastructure by integrating blockchain as a solution. More recently, the energy sector in the Middle East took to blockchain to push forth renewable energy.

Conclusion

Apart from providing customers with a greater sense of choice, the integration of blockchain technology in the electrical sector facilitates the sustainability of the environment by incentivizing people to shift towards renewable sources. All the existing startups are working steadily towards the betterment of the future, ultimately vesting more power in consumers’ hands. The unequivocal choice over power supply is surely indicating a revolutionary change in the electrical sector. This also endorses the perks of blockchain technology which has a major role to play in the everyday lives of the common man.

 

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