Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘blockchain’ Category

Coin of the Facebook Realm

leave a comment »

And you thought you had a bad week.

Actually, my week was pretty good, but there were some that weren’t so lucky.

Like Tumblr. 

Remember them?  No?

The all-things-blogging-and-sharing site that Yahoo paid a cool $1.1B for in 2013, and which was later subsumed into the Oath/Verizon Media Group.

And which is now for sell, and which brings with it some 400M blogs but which Yahoo wrote down by $230M in 2016 before the sell to Verizon.

Speaking of Verizon, Can you hear me now?  I’m leaving you, Verizon. I was going to go to Google Fi, but I had one of the worst customer service experiences *ever* with them the other day.

The whole point of Google Fi (and other MVNOs) is to limit my interaction with humans on the phone.

But due to a billing situation when trying to order my Google Fi sim card, I was forced to call Google’s customer support, which made any trek I’ve ever had to the State of Texas Department of Motor Vehicles outlet feel like an excursion to Six Flags.

Never again, Google.  Keep to the algos, you’re clearly worst in class with the call centers.

So, instead, I’m moving to Tracfone…Don’t call me unless it’s really, really necessary.

If you’re having trouble giving your money to someone, check this out: Facebook’s apparently moving in to the crypto payments world, big time.

According to a report from TheBlockCrypto, Facebook’s “Project Libra” puts Facebook’s stablecoin at the center of a brand new payments network.

Summary:

  1. Facebook is planning to launch a full payments network (rather than just remittances) and in discussions with payment networks Visa and Mastercard, payments processors such as giant First Data as well as large e-commerce merchants to support the launch.
  2. Facebook is seeking up to $1 billion in investments collectively from these firms in order to act as collateral to bolster and back a stablecoin that will be associated with the payments network.
  3. A stablecoin will exist as the currency of the payments system in order to eliminate credit card fees for . merchants as well as to avoid the volatility of other cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether.
  4. The company is considering tying the coin to Facebook’s core ads engine, rewarding users for viewing ads and then purchasing goods, similar to how loyalty points rewards work.

Why do I think this is potentially a very big deal?

Facebook conquered its first couple a billion people by linking identity and demography, putting faces (sorry) to names on the Interwebs.

Now they’re going to possibly enable all those people to start trading in transactions with one another using cryptocurrency, in (again, possible) partnership with major payment processors and networks (Visa, MC, First Data), and with large e-commerce merchants.

And, they’re going to tie all that with their advertising network, which could flip the switch on the Facebook value exchange, whereby users could be paid to watch ads, early loyalty awards with their purchases, etc.?

People, we’re already WAY behind China when it comes to using mobile apps for simple things like payments for, well, pretty much everything!

Someone has to take on this e-payment capability sometime, and the Apple Pays and Venmos of the world aren’t moving the needle.  You say you don’t trust Facebook? But might you trust them partnering with Visa, MC, and other vendors you already *do* trust?

The Facebook Coin, if it proves out, could be the biggest tech news of the year.

Now, show me the money.

Written by turbotodd

May 3, 2019 at 9:59 am

Posted in 2019, blockchain, facebook

Tagged with , ,

Floating Unicorns and Robert Mueller

leave a comment »

This is a big news day. Too much to keep up with.

Yes, the long awaited Mueller investigation report has been made public, and we mere mortals can finally read about what did or didn’t happen in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. I got my copy from the "failing" New York Times.

But there’s also big news in Tech. Pinterest and Zoom went public today, and Zoom shares are already zooming up some 75%. Pinterest began trading up 25%. Will these unicorns continue to prosper? Stay tuned.

I’ve got bad news for those of you who were excited about the coming Samsung Galaxy Foldable phones. The Verge (and other reviewers) have indicated the Folds have started to…well…uh…fold. Actually, the pictures they’ve shared show more of a crease, bu The Verge author indicated whatever you call it that "its just enough to slightly distort the screen."

Here’s more:

It’s a distressing thing to discover just two days after receiving my review unit. More distressing is that the bulge eventually pressed sharply enough into the screen to break it. You can see the telltale lines of a broken OLED converging on the spot where the bulge is.

FYI, the list price for the Fold is $1,980, and is expected to be available next week. Could we soon see a repeat of earlier Samsung recalls?

Me, personally, I’m find with my perfectly flat iPhone 7 plus for the time being, and I’m not an Android (although some might argue otherwise).

If you’re looking for a place to invest, you might want to look towards the future of crypto. Not necessarily just the currency, but also the pick and shovel plays that plan on putting the blockchain to work for business.

According to a report from Reuters, VC investments in crypto and blockchain startups this year have surpassed $850M, and reached $2.4B over 117 investments last year. Blockchain may be struggling to find a place it can call home, but that’s not keeping away the angel wolves willing to throw it a few million Bitcoins its way!

And whoopsie, I almost forgot: Facebook had another privacy breach. This time, they "unintentionally uploaded" 1.5 million people’s email contacts without their consent.

Writes Business Insider:

Since May 2016, the social-networking company has collected the contact lists of 1.5 million users new to the social network, Business Insider can reveal. The Silicon Valley company said the contact data was "unintentionally uploaded to Facebook," and it is now deleting them.

The more things change…

Written by turbotodd

April 18, 2019 at 11:27 am

IBM’s Banking Blockchain

leave a comment »

Happy Tuesday.

If you’ve been watching the continuing decline of the price of Bitcoin, you may be keep your eye on the wrong ball…err, wrong side of the coin.

Coindesk reported Monday that IBM is taking its banking clients “a step closer to cryptocurrency,” with six of its international banking clients having signed letters of intent to issue stablecoins (tokens backed by fiat currency) on World Wire, an IBM payment network that uses the Stellar public blockchain.

The network promises to let regulated institutions move value across borders – remittances or foreign exchange – more quickly and cheaply than the legacy correspondent banking system.

The network went live yesterday, and already has one stablecoin running on World Wire, a U.S. dollar-backed token created by San Francisco startup, Stronghold.

But the article points out this is much broader than a cryptocurrency play, and that IBM is doing “a lot of other stuff in the private permissioned space….code for enterprise blockchain.”

You can learn more about IBM’s blockchain efforts here, and developers can learn more about IBM Developer blockchain and hyperledger solutions here.

Written by turbotodd

March 19, 2019 at 9:29 am

Posted in 2019, blockchain, cryptocurrency

Tagged with ,

A Crypto Kinda Friday

leave a comment »

It’s a crypto kinda Friday.

Engadget’s reporting on an interesting blockchain story, one which has ticket broker Ticketmaster fighting bogus ticket sales by acquiring Upgraded.

Upgraded is a company that combine’s the distributed trust of blockchain with encrypted barcodes to minimize the fraud sometimes seen with paper-based or PDF tickets.

The Engadget story claims with the new one solution one would “have a clearer sense of when a concert pass is legitimate, while even holders will have more of a grip on where their tickets are going.” But Ticketmaster told Engadget it didn’t have a definitive time frame for integrating the Upgraded’s solution.

…While U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase made a recently developed automated security scaling tool available to the public. 

In a report from Coindesk, it was said Coinbase released a program called “Salus” which can automatically choose to run and configure different security scanners and issue a report on the results.”

Salus was available as an open-source tool via GitHub starting yesterday, and is said to “offer the advantage of being able to centrally coordinate security scans across a large number of software storage repositories, avoiding having to configure a scanner for each project.”

And finally, if you’re worried about those crypto assets, U.K-based security firm G4S announced a new service for protecting them.

According to a story from Cointelgraph, the company is offering high-security offline vault storage for crypto assets, a new capability which builds on the company’s existing expertise, which is running prisons and detention centers.

What’s fascinating about the offering is the how. G2S explained in a press release that the company not only take crypto assets offline, but it breaks them up into fragments so that they are independently without value, and then stored in the company’s security vaults.

Access to these sites is heavily restricted with multiple layers of security and robust protocols, and only when all the fragments are combined with specific technology can they unlock access to the value stored within.”

“It has been a justified cliche to describe the cryptocurrency space as a Wild West. Working with our clients, our innovative vault storage concept offers the highest protection to keep people and their assets secure and bring order to the frontier.

So how long until we see a cold storage Bitcoin heist flick on the big screen?  Maybe not until Bitcoin gets back over $10K?!

Written by turbotodd

October 19, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Walmart’s Leafy Green Blockchain

leave a comment »

TechCrunch recently reported on an initiative in which Walmart has been working with IBM on a food safety blockchain, and that Walmart would be requiring all suppliers of leafy green vegetables for Sam’s and Walmart upload their data to the blockchain by September 2019.

TechCrunch’s story notes that “most supply chains are bogged down in manual processes,” making it difficult to track down food safety issues like E. coli romain lettuce. But “by placing a supply chain on the blockchain, it makes the process more traceable, transparent and fully digital.

Each node on the blockchain could represent an entity that has handled the food on the way to the store, making it much easier and faster to see if one of the affected farms sold infected supply to a particular location with much greater precision.

Walmart has been working with IBM for over a year on using the IBM Food Trust Solution use case in this scenario.

Most notable is the time compression involved. The story notes that before moving the process to the blockchain, it typically took approximately 7 days to trace the source of food. With the blockchain, that has been reduced to 2.2 seconds, which means that also “substantially reduces the likelihood that infected food will reach the consumer.”

You can learn more about the IBM Food Trust blockchain solution here.

Written by turbotodd

September 26, 2018 at 11:16 am

State of Blockchain Q1 2018 Report

with one comment

As the CoinDesk Consensus 2018 cryptocurrency and blockchain event kicks off this morning in NYC, CoinDesk released its “Q1 2018 State of Blockchain Report.”

Peter Ryan with Disqus detailed some of the top 6 takeaways that defined Q1 2018:

  1. It’s a bear market for crypto. Following its peak of $20K, bitcoin suffered a 51 percent decline in the first quarter. However, 79 percent of respondents to the CoinDesk Sentiment Survey said they thought this bear market would be short-lived.
  2. Crypto market is maturing. Bitcoin futures markets were introduced in Q417, and there’s been steady growth in this activity through Q118. But the shorts outpaced the longs, 5,000 to 3,000, which has likely led to the slumping price, along with a fall in demand in the spot bitcoin market.
  3. Miners stay long. The amount of processing power devoted to securing the bitcoin network diverged from the market cap, with the hash rate (a measure bitcoin mining) growing 47 percent over the quarter. Miners take the long view.
  4. Taxes are coming into the picture. Cryptocurrencies generated an estimated $70 billion in global tax revenue for 2017. But the tax parameters around crypto remain confusing to survey respondents, both about the legal and tax status of the entire asset class.
  5. ICOs continue to boom. ICO raised $6.3 billion in Q1, and the average raise has almost doubled from $16 million to $31 million.
  6. Fees decline. Transaction fees on the bitcoin network dropped from an average of $40 in Q417 to around $9.49 per transaction in Q118.

As for the broader opportunity for the blockchain, SiliconAngle’s James Kobielus writes that today’s blockchain startups “will need to show that they have staying power and can ride a ‘land-and-expand’ strategy to greater success.” 

And he asserts that to be considered to be mature enough for broad enterprise deployment, a commercial blockchain platform would need to meet several criteria:

  • Blockchain solutions should be general-purpose in their ability to be deployed into a wide range of industries, business functions and other application domains.
  • They should be deployable into private clouds, public clouds and various multicloud deployments of a hybrid, B2B and community-wide nature.
  • They should be able integrate seamless with enterprise investments in other data, transaction, security and other platforms.
  • They should be standardized within a dominant open-source community with wide representation.

He also writes that:

Of the principal blockchain projects, only the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric is likely to become the standardized foundation for truly enterprise-grade open-source blockchains. Contributed by IBM Corp. and Digital Asset, Hyperledger, now in version 1.0, boasts more than 185 collaborating enterprises across finance, banking, the “internet of things,” supply chain, manufacturing and technology.

You can read more in Kobelius’ post here.

Written by turbotodd

May 14, 2018 at 10:36 am

A Bit More Blockchain

leave a comment »

Happy Thursday.

According to a story from Fortune (who were reporting a story from The Times of London), Twiter CEO Jack Dorsey is on the record saying that Bitcoin (despite the recent bubble) will come to replace all currencies.

“The world ultimately will have a single currency, the Internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be Bitcoin.” But the timeline will be “probably over ten years, but it could go faster.”

Miners, start your computers (but watch that electricity bill!)

Meanwhile, also across the pond, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, was expected to announce a government “crypto assets task force,” along with a host of other fintech initiatives earlier today, according to a report in CoinDesk.

The initiative, part of the government’s larger Fintech Sector Strategy, “will help the U.K. to manage the risks around Cryptoassets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology,” he said in the statement.

Back here in the U.S., Blockchain Capital, which is an investor in fintech companies like Coinbase and Ripple, has raised $150 million for its fourth fund. 

According to a story from Axios, this new fund appears to be the largest venture capital fund raised to focus exclusively on blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies.

So my logical question: Was the new round raised in Bitcoin or cash??!!

Inquiring minds want to know.

For those more interested in the crypto pick and shovel play, IBM Think this week in Vegas had a number of sessions focused on blockchain.  

If interested, check out this replay of IBM’s Jerry Cuomo, who lays out a number of actual blockchain use cases that do everything from save energy to cut food waste.

Written by turbotodd

March 22, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Posted in 2018, bitcoin, blockchain, ibm

Tagged with ,

%d bloggers like this: