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Archive for the ‘blockchain’ tag

Aug 7, 2019

Spending Bitcoin in person is easy (What happens in background is elegant)

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics

Today, I was co-host of an online cryptocurrency symposium—taking questions from hundreds of visitors. A common question goes something like this:

Can Bitcoin be used in person—or
is it just for internet commerce?

Our panel had a moderator, and also an off-screen video director. As I cleared my throat in preparation to offer a response, a voice in my ear reminded me that it was not my turn. The director explained that another panelist would reply. It was a highly regarded analyst and educator in Australia. Realizing that that she was calling the shots, I deferred.

I was shocked as I listened to a far off colleague suggest that Bitcoin is not useful for in-person payments. I wonder how he explains this to the grocers, tailors, lawyers, theme parks and thousands of retailers who save millions of dollars each year by accepting bitcoin—all without risk of volatility and even if they demand to instantly convert sales revenue into Fiat currency.*

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Jul 14, 2019

About the Fuss: Is Bitcoin really important?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics

This afternoon, an automated bot at Quora suggested that I answer a reader question. Quora is essentially an “Ask the expert” web site. It is the world’s largest, cataloged and indexed Q&A repository.

This is the question I was asked to answer:

Some pundits believe Bitcoin is a fad, while others seem to feel that it is better than sliced bread. I like sliced bread.* Is Bitcoin really that cool? —Or is it just a lot of Geeky hype?

One other columnist answered before me. Normally, I pass on an invitation, if a question has already been answered. But in this case, the individual answering the question has yet to see the light. He has wandered into the Church of the Blockchain, but he just didn’t realize that the man sweeping the floor is the prophet.

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Jun 10, 2019

Blockchain, Bitcoin, and Law: A Distributed Disruption

Posted by in category: bitcoin

The future of the legal industry is being reshaped by a number of rapidly advancing technologies and the disruptive ideas they enable. Today’s lawyers are being advised to learn to code, develop an artificial intelligence (AI) application, and outsource discovery to machines. Of the many new technological drivers impacting law firms is the secure information exchange platform known as blockchain. Some see it as a the basis for the reinvention of economies while others simply see it as means of secure and incorruptible information exchange between counterparties. This cloud-based distributed ledger technology provides a source of irrefutable record of every transaction. In legal it is enabling fully automated self-executing smart contracts, and has the potential to help attorneys provide new services and create new value for clients and law firms. Blockchain is known as the structure underlying Bitcoin and other digital currencies, but its applications in the legal sector are still evolving. This article provides an overview of the technology, highlights example applications and case studies, and presents a possible timeline of future developments over the next decade or so.

Overview: Blockchain and Bitcoin

Blockchain and Bitcoin have gained notoriety lately as a potential solution to an outdated and burdensome system for managing financial transactions between counterparties. Today most financial transactions between counterparties are settled via financial intermediaries which adds time and cost to the settlement process. Blockchain offers a distributed ledger model whereby the parties settle directly with each other, the transactions are recorded, secure, and immutable, and the counterparty identities remain anonymous. The goal is to enable a simplified and trustworthy financial ecosystem- but these digital peer-to-peer networks, also challenge the authority of institutions (banks, regulators, and governments) and are thus creating disruption.

According to its advocates, the decentralized nature of blockchain and Bitcoin will cause much-needed disruption, with reverberations far beyond the financial realm. There is an element of social revolution in blockchain, thus it is often portrayed as a conduit for challenging the status quo. Though Bitcoin, a digital currency, is an explicitly financial innovation (i.e., for payments, transfer of funds) blockchain is far less specific. Blockchain serves a critical role in the administration of Bitcoin, and that of other digital currencies, but it can actually be used to complete other objectives and track the movement, transfer, and ownership of all sorts of things besides money (examples include luxury goods, education credits, property titles, and patents, to name a few). Though blockchain is structured like a traditional accounting tool—it’s fundamentally a ledger that tracks deposits in and payments out, and maintains a running balance—its uses go far beyond counting coins.

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Apr 1, 2019

Acknowledging Risks in Institutional “Stablecoin” Cryptocurrencies and Fractional Reserve Banking

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, business, cybercrime/malcode

(Originally posted March 7, 2019, on the Crowdfunding Professional Association’s website.)

The purpose of this memo is two-fold:

  • To highlight the possibility of risks to banking and finance sectors arising from new financial instruments based on blockchain technology; primarily from novel financial accounting methods and products called “stablecoins,” digital tokens, and cryptocurrencies.
  • To encourage regulators and policymakers to engage blockchain thought leaders, product developers and the community in general to better understand the economic and policy implications of public, private and permissioned blockchains; their application to banking and finance regulations; and how innovation may be encouraged in a safe, sound and responsible manner.

Like any technology, blockchain can and may be used to improve a variety of operational, identity, security and technology challenges that the future of digital banking, business and society face. Blockchain technology is also poised to create new and increasingly clever methods and economies for value, commodities, assets, securities and a slew of yet-to-be discovered financial instruments and products. However, no leap in technology and finance is ever made without risk. As policymakers and stewards of the current and future digital economy and ecosystem, we have an obligation to our constituents and the global banking and finance community to guide the growth and adoption of emerging fintech technology in a safe and sound manner.

To that end, three areas that have the potential for regulatory and compliance issues as companies such as JP Morgan Chase, embrace and develop blockchain technologies to leverage digital tokens, cryptocurrencies and novel accounting systems such as the so called “JPMCoin,” are highlighted:

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Jan 18, 2019

Blockchain — Why remodeling your own house is stupid.

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, business, cryptocurrencies

I love hearing the enthusiasm and joy in the voices of first time home buyers who are going to save money, bond and remodel their house together. Brand new doctors, seasoned lawyers, accountants, project managers, the boldest of GenX and Millennials who grew up swinging VR joystick in lieu of hammers. But they’ve watched Property Brothers and Love It or List and have the best database of YouTube videos for home remodeling in their entire subdivision or building. They even park in the “Pro” section at Home Depot and have their very own monogrammed Leatherman construction gloves.

You can remodel your own home. Even “just” your kitchen or “just” your bathroom. You can read and have all the resources at your disposal. But don’t. Don’t even fucking think about it. Remember how you tried to cook Thanksgiving dinner last year and ended up burning up your kitchen, which is why you need to replace it? Those were simple enough directions too, right?

But what does this have to do with blockchain and more importantly your business?

Glad you asked. Well, your business is like your house. Blockchain is like a remodel. You can do it yourself. You’re after all a pro at your business. But your business isn’t blockchain. Your business is shipping, consulting, farming, logistics, banking, money exchange, insurance, lending, maybe even selling pizzas. Your business is a business. Your business isn’t a way of doing business or a business tool like blockchain. Your business is a way of generating you income to provide for your family, workers, community, financial security and future. It ain’t a way to decentralize any of those, unless you want to find out what a “decentralized” retirement looks like. (Hint, think working poor at 75 years old. #GigEconomy).

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Dec 31, 2018

Virtual Currencies Are As Old As Favors

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, disruptive technology, economics, finance

I owe Jack Shaw a favor. It’s one of those, “This one time in Cambodia…” type of favors. We won’t speak of it beyond perhaps a nod and wink. It’s not written down anywhere; the details of such are so vague as to be almost non existent, while encompassing the known universe. It expires upon death, of the sun; and can be redeemed whenever and by another person who need only walk up to me and say, “Jack Shaw sent me. He says to tell you ________”. And tada, that favor has been redeemed for value.

Jack would call this favor a “marker.” It’s more valuable than your house, the Empire State Building & 100k Bitcoins combined. It can even be redeemed for something even more precious, my time or an opportunity or access to my network. You know, those things that money can’t buy. Well, you can lease my time from time to time.

Favors, markers and promises are humanities’ first virtual currencies.

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Nov 1, 2018

Will we all be using a blockchain currency some day?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, government

At Quora.com, I respond to quetions on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency. Today, a reader asked “Will we all be using a blockchain-based currency some day?”.

This is an easy question to answer, but not for usual Geeky reasons: A capped supply, redundant bookkeeping, privacy & liberty or blind passion. No, these are all tangential reasons. But first, let’s be clear about the answer:

Yes, Virginia. We are all destined to move,
eventually, to a blockchain based currency.

I am confident of this because of one enormous benefit that trumps all other considerations. Also, because of flawed arguments behind perceived negatives.

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Oct 25, 2018

You don’t understand Bitcoin because you think money is real

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, government, internet

Maria Bustillos is founder of the blockchain supported publication, Popula. I stole the title of this post from her essay at Medium.com (linked below).* I hope that Maria considers it a tribute rather than title-plagiarism. Her article is blocked by a pay wall, so allow me to explain a concept that confounds even a Nobel Prize winning economist. My take on the issue is somewhat different than Ms. Bustillos.

The difficulty understanding or appreciating Bitcoin boils down to a misconception that the dollar is backed by something more tangible, such as gold, guns or the promise of redemption. Not only is this an illusion, but Bitcoin is backed by something far more tangible, intrinsic and durable.

The illusion that “real” value emanates from government coupled with a robust consumer economy has been woven into our DNA for millennia. But, the value we attribute to a Dollar, Euro, or Yuan is a result of conditioning rather than any intrinsic value. That same conditioning has led us to believe that there is something sane and inherent in a nation that controls its money supply and its monetary policy.

Most public works projects—power generation, space ships, or the telephone network—were controlled by government in the past. If not, they were regulated as a licensed monopoly. This creates a choke point, a lack of competition, and a gaping opportunity for inefficiency, mismanagement or graft. It defies a free market economy and it concentrates power in the hands of politicians. But, at one time, it seemed necessary.

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Sep 25, 2018

Disruption Experience Nails It

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, education, finance, innovation, internet, policy, robotics/AI

The Disruption Experience this Friday in Singapore is a blockchain event with a difference. With apologies to the Buick commercial, this is not your grandfather’s conference

I know a few things about blockchain conferences. I produced and hosted the first Bitcoin Event in New York. My organization develops cryptocurrency standards and practices. We help banks and governments create policy and services. And as public speaker for a standards organization, I have delivered keynote presentations at conferences and Expos in Dubai, Gujarat India, Montreal and Tampa, New York and Boston.

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Aug 4, 2018

How will Bitcoin Work When Mining Rewards Run Out?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, internet

Let us frame the question, by reviewing what miners really do…

Miners play a critical role in the Bitcoin network. Their activity (searching for a nonce) results in assembling an immutable string of blocks that corroborate and log the universal transaction record. They are the distributed bookkeepers that replace old-school banks in recording and vouching for everyone’s purchase or savings.

From the perspective of a miner, there is no obvious connection between their activity and the worldwide network of bitcoin transactions and record keeping. They are simply playing an online game and competing against thousands of other miners in an effort to solve a complex and ongoing math problem. As they arrive at answers to small pieces of the problem, they are rewarded with bitcoin, which can be easily translated into any currency.

What is the Problem?

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