Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘cryptocurrency’ Category

Facebook Introduces Crypto Play

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Facebook introduced its new plan around cryptocurrency earlier today, including Libra, a new cryptocurrency, and Calibra, a new Facebook subsidiary that will oversee Libra financial services.

It was a crypto shot hear ‘round the world.

More details from The New York Times:

The effort, announced with 27 partners as diverse as Mastercard and Uber, could face immediate skepticism from people who question the usefulness of cryptocurrencies and others who are wary of the power already accumulated by the social media company.

The cryptocurrency, called Libra, will also have to overcome concern that Facebook does not effectively protect the private information of its users — a fundamental task for a bank or anyone handling financial transactions.

But if the project, which Facebook hopes to begin next year with 100 partners, should come together, it would be the most far-reaching attempt by a mainstream company to jump into the world of cryptocurrencies, which is best known for speculative investments through digital tokens like Bitcoin and outside-the-law e-commerce, like buying drugs online.

If Facebook treats our money the way they’ve treated our personal information, buying drugs online will very well appear a viable option.

All kidding aside, the move is already sending shockwaves through nation states and federal banks around the globe.

According to a report in Bloomberg, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Libra shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for traditional currencies, that “it is out of the question” that Libra “become a sovereign currency. It can’t and it must not happen.”

A German member of the European Parliament, Markus Ferber, said that “Multinational corporations such as Facebook must not be allowed to operate in a regulatory nirvana when introducing virtual currencies.”

So where should we land on this?  We’ve seen all manner of cryptocurrency plays come and go, Mt. Gox crash and burn, etc.  

I think we should all take a deep breath and remember we’re not talking about some upstart ICO. We’re talking about the world’s biggest social network with the largest number of users introducing a form of digital currency that could upend traditional banking and fiat currency as we know it.

Potentially.

But only if its user base, and the vendors who participate, trust in the new system and, ultimately, in the currency (and, hence, in blockchain).

And trust is not something Facebook has exactly had an overabundance of the past couple of years.

Facebook tries to offer reassurances. Back to the Times: “Your financial data will never be used to target ads on Facebook,” said Kevin Weil, vice president of product for Calibra. 

The currency itself is being built so that any software developer in the world can build a digital wallet or other services on top of it, similar to the way that Bitcoin can be sent between people.

The structure of the new Libra currency is based on the blockchain technology made famous by Bitcoin.

The blockchain concept makes it possible to hold and move digital currencies almost instantly, usually with low transaction fees. Because blockchains are shared databases, they can function without any central operator like the central banks that have historically governed currencies. This structure will allow Libra to be overseen by many companies.

Customers will be able to hold and spend their Libra with businesses that accept the currency, and there will be services that quickly convert Libra into traditional currencies and send the money to traditional bank accounts, according to project documents released on Tuesday.

And the most important graph:

Initially, the Calibra subsidiary will offer little more than a wallet to hold and spend Libra. When Libra is released next year, the plan is to make the wallet available to the billions of people who have accounts with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

If Facebook can create a viable, useful form of currency on platforms with the scale of Messenger and WhatsApp — as Tencent has done with WeChat in China — well, it could literally break the bank.

All of them.

Written by turbotodd

June 18, 2019 at 10:39 am

Facebook Coin

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Happy Friday.

For you golf fans, this year’s U.S. Open is off to a walloping good start, and, even better, if you’re a Tiger Woods fan, he’s in the hunt (-1 in the first round).

Justin Rose seems to have put together quite the round, tying the record 65 (-6) that Tiger himself set at Pebble Beach back in 2000. We’ll see if the wind starts whipping and the greens start firming up in round 2. Or perhaps the marine layer will blow, and nobody will be able to see anything, including the golfers.

While the golfers do their thing, Facebook’s long-not-very-well-kept secret blockchain/cryptocurrency payment project, "Project Libra," is getting some big named backers, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, and Uber have all backed the new cryptocurrency, and each will invest around $10 million in a consortium that will govern the digital coin, the "Libra."

According to the Journal, that money would be used to fund the creation of the coin, one which will be pegged to a basket of government-issued currencies to avoid the wild swings witnessed by other cryptocurrencies.

The Verge also reported on the development, and addressed how the new "stablecoin" might be used:

As well as allowing users to send money over Facebook’s messaging products like WhatsApp and Messenger, Facebook hopes that its partnerships with e-commerce firms will allow users to spend the currency online. The company is reportedly also looking into developing ATM-like physical terminals for people to convert their money into Libra.

The Block reports that Facebook has also posted additional blockchain jobs this week, just ahead of the release of a whitepaper next week formally announcing Project Libra.

Be interesting to see whether or not the value of a bitcoin changes one way or the other over the course of the next week.

Written by turbotodd

June 14, 2019 at 10:00 am

IBM’s Banking Blockchain

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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

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Clouds and Coins

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Couple of interesting acquisitions on this rainy Austin Tuesday.

Cryptocurrency firm Coinbase is looking to add more cryptocurrencies to its exchange through its acquisition of blockchain intelligence startup, Neutrino.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but here’s the skinny on Neutrino according to a story from TechCrunch:

Based in Italy, Neutrino helps map blockchain networks, and in particular crypto token transactions, to pull in information and insight. With the rise of thefts, that includes a major focus on services for law enforcement agencies to track stolen digital assets while it also includes tracking ransomware and analyzing ‘darknets.’ Other solutions include tracking services for investment and finance companies to help find rising tokens and assets, an area Coinbase could clearly capitalize on as it goes after security token offerings.

Coinbase engineering director Varun Srinivasan wrote in a blog post that “By analyzing data on public blockchains, Neutrino will help us prevent theft of funds from peoples’ accounts, investigate ransomware attacks, and identify bad actors.” 

So, the picks, shovels, and locks plays continue to abound in the blockchain realm.

And the other big deal today, Google announced it was acquiring cloud start-up Alooma.

Alooma helps companies migrate their data from multiple sources to one data warehouse.

Terms also not disclosed, but a CNBC report cited Crunchbase when indicating Alooma had raised $15M from multiple investors.

From Google’s blog post on the announcement:

Leading companies across every industry and around the world are moving to the cloud to be more agile, secure and scalable. As organizations modernize their infrastructure to digitally transform themselves, migrating mission critical systems and the data that powers their business success can be daunting. No matter where your data is stored—on premises, in our cloud, or multiple clouds—we want to make that information accessible, valuable, and actionable.

That’s why today we’re announcing our intent to acquire Alooma, a leader in data migration. Alooma helps enterprise companies streamline database migration in the cloud with an innovative data pipeline tool that enables them to move their data from multiple sources to a single data warehouse.

Written by turbotodd

February 19, 2019 at 11:33 am

A Crypto Kinda Friday

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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

State of Blockchain Q1 2018 Report

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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 Kilowatt for A Bitcoin!

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Happy Friday.

If you’re looking for cheap energy to do your Bitcoin mining, don’t head for Plattsburgh, New York. 

Its city council last evening unanimously voted to impose an 18-month moratorium on Bitcoin mining in the city.

Motherboard reports that the moratorium was proposed by Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read earlier this month after residents began reporting wildly inflated electricity bills in January (some up to $100 or $200 more than average).

And this in a place that advertises itself as having the “cheapest electricity in the world” because of its proximity to a hydroelectric dam on the St. Lawrence river.

Meanwhile, following up on my post yesterday about the cyber escapades in Saudi Arabia, the plot thickens.

According to a report from Reuters, the Trump Administration yesterday blamed the Russian government for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid. That’s the first time the U.S. has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure.

The attempts started in/around March 2016, with the Russian government hackers seeking to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing.  

You know, pretty much everything to keep a modern industrialized society’s wheels turning!

And if you’re looking for some lighter fare, Facebook Lite will soon be coming to Canada, Australia, the U.K. and U.S. 

Facebook Lite is Facebook’s pared down version of its app that had originally been designed for people in developing countries with limited data plans, but hey, we’re rapidly becoming a third world country here in the U.S., so bring on the Lite Facebook…err, the Facebook Lite. 

How about some new old ad slogans for the newest Lite?

You can call me Ray, and you can call me Jay!

Great taste, less filling!

If you’ve got the time…we’ve got the social network?!  No?

The app will only be available for Android for today’s release, I guess suggesting that we iOS users aren’t in need of such bandwidth relief??!

Written by turbotodd

March 16, 2018 at 9:40 am

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