Jamie Dimon Says He Takes No Pleasure in Bitcoin Decline

The CEO of JP Morgan Chase has once again spoken about Bitcoin (BTC). Jamie Dimon, who once called the digital currency a “fraud” and later backtracked on his comments has now said that he takes no pleasure in seeing prices take a short-term crash as he stated they would.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland with CNBC’s Squawk Box, the CEO also lamented his preference for blockchain technology over Bitcoin.
Jamie Dimon Finds No Satisfaction in Seeing Bitcoin Prices Slide
Despite having previously vowed to never discuss Bitcoin again, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase has once again commented on the subject. This time it was to state that he was not the kind of self-indulgent sadist to take pleasure in the losses of those who had invested in the technological innovation late in 2017 or throughout 2018.
The CNBC Squawk Box reporter asked Dimon directly if he took satisfaction about being proved right (in the short-term at least) about BTC prices. He answered simply that he “didn’t take any.”
Dimon has commented on his distaste for Bitcoin many times previously. Perhaps his most famous outburst was last September when the CEO slammed Bitcoin as a “fraud” and that those who bought it deserved to “pay the price one day.” He also stated that he would fire any of his employees found to be trading it.
Amusingly enough, JP Morgan was later accused of market manipulation since it emerged that the bank was one of the largest buyers of a BTC tracker fund called Bitcoin XBT. Nothing really became of this allegation and the next time Dimon hit the news in connection with Bitcoin was to state that he regretted saying that it was a fraud since that was all people wanted to talk to him about. From then on, he vowed to not mention the world’s first viable decentralised currency again.
Jamie Dimon has a history of talking Bitcoin, despite seemingly not wanting to.
Of course, it was not long before Jamie was breaking his own promise to tell the world that he really “didn’t give a s**t about Bitcoin” and that he did not want to be a spokesperson against the digital currency. This seems in line with his latest comments on the subject that he wishes no ill will on those who had lost money on Bitcoin or that had made investments that had not paid off yet.
Dimon Continues to Favour Blockchain Over Bitcoin
Dimon’s comments on Bitcoin at Davos were short. Instead, he favoured discussion about another closely related B-word – blockchain.
JP Morgan has been interested in the technology underlying Bitcoin for some time now. In 2017, the bank began exploring ways in which distributed ledger technology could remove trust for various transactions and increase the efficiency of financial services. Since then, the Royal Bank of Canada, as well as the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group have become partners in the project.
Speaking to CNBC, Dimon stated of blockchain technology:
“Blockchain is a real technology — it’s just a database we can all access that’s kept up-to-date.”
When put like that, blockchain technology sounds incredibly dull and unremarkable. These are the very reasons people like Dimon favour blockchain over Bitcoin. Blockchain is safe, manageable, and ultimately uninspiring. Bitcoin is potentially disruptive, world-changing, and a threat to the very existence of the likes of Dimon et. al.
Related Reading: ECB Latest Institution to Use “Blockchain Not Bitcoin” Narrative
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Bitcoin Philanthropy: Indian School Girl Receives Loaded Ledger Wallet

With the explosion of Bitcoin’s price over the last few years, a lot of early believers suddenly found themselves with more money than they knew what to do with. This has often resulted in tremendous acts of charity from the community.
The latest involves a pseudonymous Twitter user who was the winner of a Binance Academy competition. The prize was a custom Ledger Nano hardware wallet, which the receiver has loaded up with various cryptos and gifted to a young girl from India.
Binance CEO Commends Bitcoin Donation and the Education it Brings
The news of the charitable act broke via a Tweet by the winner of the prize. Unfortunately, the Tweet does not disclose how the donation’s recipient was selected. All that can be inferred from the responses is that she is from India and is evidently of primary school age, given the photograph included:

"Catch them when they are young".I gifted her a @binance branded @LedgerHQ filled with a mix of #crypto worth 1 BTC. Will be interesting to see how many survive when she grows up.@cz_binance @justinsuntron $BNB $TRX $ETH $XRP @rallyqt @APompliano @tradingroomapp pic.twitter.com/ZCUVD5ePab
— CryptoPinapple (@nibupraju) January 23, 2019

According to the above Tweet and replies, the total amount of cryptocurrency donated to the girl is 1 Bitcoin, split up into various coins. The distribution of cryptocurrencies is as follows: 20% BTC, 20% ETH, 10% TRX, 10% XLM, 10% BTCABC.
This distribution was questioned by some who felt that a donation purely in Bitcoin would likely reap the largest gains in the future. To this, the competition winner replied:
“I have selected projects which I feel have a long term lifespan. Let’s see how it goes.”
Further down in the comments on the Tweet, the issue of security of such a donation was raised. One poster stated that the girl would probably lose the Ledger, rendering the act of kindness obsolete. To this, CryptoPineapple responded that it would remain in a locked safe until she was 18. Choosing to not disclose too much about the girl was also likely an effort to help protect the donation and its receiver.
The news of the philanthropic act was picked up by Binance’s CEO, CZ. He opined that the value of the educational opportunity presented to the young crypto recipient far outweighed the $3,600 (ish) donation as it is valued at the time of writing.

The 1 btc is nice, but I believe the invaluable part to her is the early education. Big impact in life! https://t.co/on2okkBUxU
— CZ Binance (@cz_binance) January 23, 2019

CZ is, of course, no stranger to philanthropy himself. The CEO elected to donate 100% of new coin listing fees on his exchange to various concerns in October of last year, as well as setting up a charitable wing of his firm.
Certainly Not the First Crypto Philanthropy
For those readers who follow the digital currency space closely, the name CryptoPineapple might spark a memory of another recent act of kindness from a pseudonymous member of the cryptocurrency community. In December 2017, as a wild bout of speculative mania was just about to reach its devastating climax, The Pineapple fund project was set up.
The fund involved the giving of 5,057 BTC to over 60 different charities. Those in receipt of donations included organisations dedicated to conservation, human rights, and psychedelic drug therapy.
The Pineapple Fund was announced via a Reddit post on December 14, 2017. The user referred to themselves simply as “Pine” and stated:
“My aims, goals, and motivations in life have nothing to do with … being the mega rich. So I’m doing something else: donating the majority of my bitcoins to charitable causes.”
By the time the BTC was donated the value had dropped from $86 million to $55 million, owing to the start of the spectacular and ongoing bear market surrounding digital assets.
As far as we are aware, the name similarity between the Bitcoin Pineapple Fund and CryptoPineapple’s loaded Ledger are purely coincidental.
Related Reading: Unicef Australia Creates In-Browser Crypto Mining Website
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Power Ledger Blockchain Firm Signs Deal with Japanese Green Energy Supplier

Western Australian blockchain startup Power Ledger will partner with Japanese renewable energy firm Sharing Energy. The deal will see he solar panel provider team utilise Power Ledger’s distributed ledger to track consumption of clean energy.
The initial pilot will focus on just 100 customers of the Japan-based green energy firm. This, according to Power Ledger, is expected to grow to an impressive 55,000 customers within the next two years.
Power Ledger Partnership to Democratise Energy Use Using Blockchain
According to a report in Business News Western Australia, blockchain energy startup Power Ledger will be working alongside the Japanese solar energy firm Sharing Energy to monetise solar energy production for customers. The chair and co-founder of Power Ledger, Dr. Jemma Green, stated of the partnership:
“This partnership is an exciting example of how our blockchain technology can make visions of implementing scalable, renewable energy solutions a reality for partners and communities worldwide.”
The partnership will originally pilot the installation of rooftop solar panels for 100 buildings. The idea is to eventually extend this to a massive 55,000 by the end of 2020. This is part of a wider move in Japan to utilise the sun’s clean energy over that of fossil fuels.
The Power Ledger platform originally made the news in September 2017 by supposedly becoming the very first initial coin offering to come out of Australia. After raising $27 million in funding from the public, the Perth-based startup has since sought partnerships in just about every corner of the globe.
Mere months after its launch, the blockchain firm partnered with Thai government-backed renewable energy BCPG. This was followed later by a deal with American not-for-profit organisation Helpanswers. Later still, the firm announced a deal with Silicon Valley Power to track the renewable energy use of electric vehicles in the technology hub.
Power Ledger aims to install solar panels across the roof tops of Japan.
It has certainly been a busy 18 months for those behind the Power Ledger platform. In fact, the partnership with Sharing Energy is not the first that the blockchain startup has forged with a Japanese firm in its short existence. It already works with the nation’s largest privately-owned electricity retailer, Kansai Electric Power Company. The idea behind this partnership is to provide efficient distribution of surplus solar power.
The premise behind Power Ledger is to allow for energy to be clean, affordable, and reliable no matter where in the world a customer lives. The system uses blockchain technology to track energy usage, as well as to monetise its distribution from producer to consumer. Evidently, with so many different energy companies from around the world signing up to work with the firm, the idea of using blockchain technology to both track and help redistribute energy to where its most needed is really starting to take off.
Related Reading: Power Ledger to Trial Blockchain Based Energy Trading in Japan
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Why Bitcoin Won’t Fail the “Tests of Financial Services” Forever

In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier, the senior adviser to the governor of the Bank of England weighed in about the threat posed to the current financial status quo by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Huw van Steenis largely dismissed the blockchain-backed fintech innovation on the grounds that Bitcoin had not yet achieved the kind of traction that more traditional forms of value storage or mediums of exchange had.
Van Steenis stated that he did not see Bitcoin as being capable to pass the “fundamental tests of financial services”. However, what he seems to be missing in his rudimentary analysis is that Bitcoin has emerged in a post-internet world meaning that all it will take mass adoption is a solid track record of greater utility and enough information reaching the global public to dissuade them away from ascribing value in government-issued fiat currency.
Technological Adoption Occurs Faster than Ever Today, Why Will Bitcoin be Different?
The main reason Van Steenis cites for his stated lack of concern over Bitcoin’s ability to threaten his very raison d’être is that it does not serve as a means of exchange and does not hold value well. Presumably, although not mentioned explicitly in the interview, the Bank of England adviser prefers government-issued fiat currency over Bitcoin in terms of its ability to serve these monetary functions.
However, if we look closely at how fiat currency works, we see many more issues with both the premise that it serves as a good store of value and that it is a suitable medium of exchange. Firstly, the idea fiat currency is a solid store of value is questionable at best. Think about your own life. How much have you seen basic commodities increased in price over the years?
The alpine town of Davos, Switzerland, where the WEF is held each year.
Banks print money both directly and indirectly through lending, enriching themselves at the expense of the population. That is Van Steenis’s institution’s entire business model. The purchasing power of the pound, dollar, or yuan is perpetually decreasing. It may go up slightly from month to month but over a long-term chart, the trajectory is always downwards. How again is this to be considered a store of value?
Compare this to Bitcoin’s sound monetary policy. It requires much more than a banker authorising the printing of currency or to make loans with money the bank never had to create additional Bitcoins. In terms of a basis for a store of value, this is far superior to anything we as a species have known before. There is nothing in the world that people can categorically say how many there will ever be with reasonable certainty – apart from Bitcoin.
Of course, the purchasing power of Bitcoin swings wildly at the moment. This is to be expected since people are still coming to terms with the technology and perpetually questioning whether something so new and innovative could really replace fiat currency. The more people learn about Bitcoin and the longer it successfully serves its purpose as a peer-to-peer, decentralised value transfer system, the greater faith will be generated in it. Taken on face value, it is far easier to trust open-source code that anyone can verify than it is a global network of shadowy banking elites making deals us mere mortals will likely never know about.
Thanks to the internet, there has never been as much information that directly challenges the status quo either. This is encouraging the formation of a society that is much more equipped to question those things taken as norms – one of these is money itself.
However, it is not just in terms of a potential future store of value and sound money that Bitcoin outperforms fiat currency. Even as a medium of exchange, the financial innovation trumps government-issued money. Of course, you cannot send funds from one side of the planet to the other in minutes using the current legacy financial systems. Even when it appears you have done just that, in reality you are relying on a massive network of trust. One bank allows you to access the money sent before it is really there because they trust where it is coming from.
With Bitcoin, many people complain that it does not allow instant value transfer. Yet, if you are willing to exercise the amount of trust that banks do every day, it is as close to instant as is feasible using today’s technology. Think how long it takes to see that an “unconfirmed transaction” has appeared in your Bitcoin wallet- just seconds.
If you trust the sender, zero confirmations might be enough for you to be happy you have indeed received funds. Alternatively, if you lack trust in the party sending the money, you can elect to wait for as many confirmations as you like. Even if you were to wait for hundreds of confirmations, the BTC would have still arrived in your wallet much faster than a fiat currency could ever move from bank to bank.
However, fiat currency can also be used in a peer-to-peer fashion (for now) in the form of cash. People will say that Bitcoin can never travel as fast as when you had someone ten bucks in a bar or shop. However, in reality, it already serves this purpose far better than paper money can. People blindly trust most peer-to-peer cash transactions. Do you spend any time checking a bank note that you receive from a supermarket in your change? Of course you do not. However, there are many fraudulent notes in existence, perhaps if we were to receive a pile of high value notes, we would be more careful but for small value transactions, people take convenience over security and get on with their day without rigorously checking their money for authenticity.
With Bitcoin, we are at the beginnings of a massive experiment in decentralised cash. Given market price discovery dynamics it would be frankly ridiculous and immensely reckless for enough value to have swamped into the market to make prices as stable as the dollar, pound, or yuan. That is not to say that it will never. As discussed, the fundamentals of Bitcoin are sufficiently strong to make it a real threat to the current financial status quo, whether Van Steenis has realised this (or cares to admit it) or not.
Related Reading: Messari CEO: Killer Use Case For Bitcoin Is Still Money, Digital Gold
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Is Apollo (APL) a Scam? Evidence Mounts to Suggest So

According to a lengthy Reddit post from earlier today, Apollo (APL) has all the hallmarks of a massive scam to enrich its creators. The allegations, coming from Reddit user RossyRoffle, state that there are many red flags with the project, suggesting that the “all-in one cryptocurrency” is nothing more than vaporware dressed up as ground-breaking tech.
The major points of contention in today’s post focus around the lack of development towards grandiose ambitions, an former alleged scam artist being behind the cryptocurrency project, a slew of fake news being sold to followers as fact, and a harsh policy of censorship in community groups for anyone discussing the claims made by those behind Apollo.
Apollo (APL) Comes Under Fire on a Variety of Fronts
Seemingly exasperated by the reported censorship experienced on Apollo’s community platforms, a Reddit user known as RossyRoffle has attacked the cryptocurrency for several reasons. The post from earlier today states that despite the grandiose Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP-killing claims of those behind Apollo, the project offers very little of substance.
On Apollo’s own website, visitors are presented with a slick video stating that Apollo is optimised for a variety of applications – be it token creation, private transfers, smart contract use, file sharing, multi-signature support, and a host of others. Basically, if you have ever heard of a cryptocurrency project claiming to have created something innovative, Apollo can do it – apparently.
RossyRoffle refutes all of this in their post. They state that Apollo is nothing more than a fork of NXT with a lower block time. There are some other “insignificant” code changes too but apparently these barely extend past name changes for existing functions of the more established NXT chain. The poster even goes on to highlight that the website itself was built using Wix – hinting at the lack of experience of those behind the alleged scam.
That’s not all, however. RossyRoffle states that the founders of APL are attempting to aggressively pump the price up to enrich themselves. Claims are cited that the platform will render XRP and ETH entirely obsolete. In addition, the poster provides some addresses to show how much APL the founders are dumping on the market as the price rises due to the “fear of missing out” created by those behind the operation.
“Here are some APL Founder-held addresses if you’d like to watch them get rich in real-time: APL-4BUY-KK5W-B3KC-DMHBM and APL-NZKH-MZRE-2CTT-98NPZ.”
Along with the grandiose claims of the project itself, fuelling this so-called “FOMO” is allegedly a programme of fake news and harsh censorship. The poster highlights completely unsubstantiated claims that the team has secured thousands of real-world buying locations. Those who question this on the official Telegram channel (and other platforms) are immediately banned.
This aggressive censorship apparently extends to other questions that seem to be genuinely seeking a better understanding of the APL technology, including:

“Isn’t the privacy of this coin exactly the same as NXT? Can someone explain how it is any better?”
“Why do you keep banning people for asking legitimate questions?”
“How do you plan to implement sharding in Q1 when their is no code in the Github for it yet?”
“You guys think the privacy of this coin is really better than Monero?”

The Reddit poster goes on to challenge their readers to join the Telegram group and ask a question. I tried and did not even get the opportunity to put anything to the team – presumably a result of a slew of requests to join the group following the original post:

Another of the issues highlighted in the post that creates an air of doubt around the project is the founder’s past. According to RossyRoffle, Steve McCullah previously launched a fake Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary in South America in search of undiscovered dinosaur species. They go on to allege that McCullah disappeared after raising just sort of $30,000.
Of course, cryptocurrency scams like those alleged above are nothing new and pump-and-dump schemes have become an industry norm for smaller cap coins. However, the major difference with this effort according to RossyRoffle is that everything about the project is fraudulent and the entire thing serves only as a vehicle to enrich its founders, rather than an orchestrated effort from a third-party group to pump up a tiny cap coin to make a quick buck.
Related Reading: Crypto Pump and Dump Schemes Encourage Traders to Play Digital Chicken
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Crypto Developer Quits Haven Protocol (XHV), Is it Dead?

Privacy-focused, stable-coin-of-sorts crypto, the Haven Protocol (XHV), appears to have been disbanded. According to Tweets from those involved in the project, one of the lead developers has disappeared with the only access to the code repository, halting development for months.
The news broke via the project’s Discord channel, with the announcement that one of the marketing team, known as @News.Cutter, was leaving the project owing to the lack of communication and prolonged silence from an anonymous developer known on Twitter as @Havendev. However, the only other cited developer on the Haven Protocol website, @Donjor, has since taken to Twitter to state that the resignation is premature, they still expect to receive access to the repo to continue development.
Haven Dev Silent for Months, Despite Updates to Crypto Road
Earlier today, a member of the marketing team for niche privacy-and-stability-focused crypto, Haven Protocol, announced the so-called death of the project and their own departure from it. You can see the full post to the Haven Protocol Discord channel in the Tweet below:

Looks like $XHV exit scammed, stay safe guys pic.twitter.com/DYxy02xyuE
— UZI (@LilUziVertcoin) January 21, 2019

According to those involved with the project, the lead developer, known as @Havendev, has enjoyed unique access to the Haven Protocol’s code repository for months. The developer has been silent both on Twitter and in terms of direct communication with community members since November last year. This has brought the integrity of the developer and wider project into question.
Since the above Discord message has circulated on social media channels, many have opined that the project is indeed bound for the scrap heap.
One Reddit user called Cryptonote-Social  stated:
“Yup, this thing is dead. stick a fork in it.”
Another responded with:
“Crazy if you think about it that the team hadn’t heard back from the dev in 3 months but continued anyway like it was business as usual.”
Curiously, the privacy-focused crypto had received fairly extensive amendments to its planned road map as recently as mid-December. In an update posted to Medium, security and centralisation issues were mentioned as the reasoning behind the delays to the main net release of the cryptocurrency.
All Might Not be Lost for “Abandoned” Cryptocurrency
Despite how damning the announcement by @News.Cutter looks for the Haven Protocol, the other cited lead developer has not given up all hope. They posted the following to the group’s Discord channel in response to the disgruntled crypto developer’s resignation post:

— Donjor (@donjordev) January 21, 2019

In one Tweet, Donjor appears to confirm that the aloof crypto developer in possession of the code repo is now back in contact with the team, after immense pressure. However, the wording is suitably ambiguous to make confirming or denying this difficult at this point.

The pressure from the community after @CutterNews's post has been extreme and @haven_dev has stated that he will share the code with us. And we can have control over the governance fee. Pretty hectic way of going about this but hopefully will be good for $XHV long term.
— Donjor (@donjordev) January 21, 2019

For now, it remains unclear exactly why @Havendev has withheld the code repos. There seems to be no financial incentive to do so, despite the use of the term “exit scam” in the above Tweet. Since the development team remains anonymous, a myriad of scenarios (both nefarious and innocent) could have occurred that would delay communication between members. However, if there does turn out to be a reasonable explanation behind the prolonged silence, confidence in the project going forward will be incredibly difficult to muster once again, particularly given how rife with scams the cryptocurrency space is.
Update: Havendev has since responded in the team’s Discord channel, stating:
“Haven development has been ongoing… in light of the insane amount of FUD…I will prepare [the code] and hand it all to the team so that they can hire new devs to work on it.”
This was followed by a pledge to continue development on Haven Protocol where possible. Havendev also stated that they would prepare the handover by the end of this week.
Related Reading: About Half of 2017’s ICOs Have Failed Already
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Are VeriBlock Transactions on the Bitcoin Network Helping or Harming BTC?

According to reports from Bitcoin (BTC) developers, a startling amount of block space is being wasted on the Bitcoin network to secure the blockchains of other cryptos. A company called VeriBlock has been “borrowing” the hashing power of the Bitcoin network to increase security on vulnerable altcoin chains and filling up BTC block space in the process.
VeriBlock works on a process known of “proof-of-proof” whereby the latter “proof” is arrived at using the hash power of the Bitcoin network. According to Forbes, perhaps the most notable contributor to the VeriBlock project is former Bitcoin Core developer Jeff Garzik.
Only a Matter of Time Before VeriBlock’s Impact on Bitcoin Fees is No Longer Trivial
As was highlighted just this week by the Ethereum Classic (ETC) debacle, the risk of 51% attack on altcoins is far greater than it is on the BTC network. This is because there is much less hashing power securing these smaller networks. With less computing power enforcing them, attackers need to command far less computing power themselves to subvert the network’s rules.
A 51% attack allows those behind it to wreak havoc with a cryptocurrency and enrich themselves. This can involve double spending units of the currency – essentially creating money for nothing for the attacker.
To help altcoins with their failing security requirements, a startup called VeriBlock has devised a way to use Bitcoin’s immense hash power to help secure the blockchains of smaller projects. This involves the use of OP_Return transactions added to the Bitcoin blockchain.
VeriBlock is not even fully live on the main net yet but already it is already having an impact on the Bitcoin network. Chief Technology Officer of CasaHODL and long-time Bitcoin developer Jameson Lopp highlighted a few days ago that the startup was currently responsible for 20% of all transactions on the network:

Source of the now-highest volume of OP_RETURN outputs has been identified as @VeriBlock "proof of proof" miners. They are creating around 20% of all BTC transactions now. Seems inefficient to me; will be interesting to see if the incentives work long term. https://t.co/LpjyhGKg2b
— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) January 5, 2019

Whilst there is nothing anyone can do to stop VeriBlock from using the Bitcoin blockchain in such a way, its doing so certainly reduces the utility of the network. With 20% of every block being filled with transactions that support networks that divert both economic and literal human interest away from Bitcoin, VeriBlock could be incredibly detrimental for the success of an entire space, largely tied to the current number one digital asset.
VeriBlock will already be having an undesirable impact on the price of transactions on the network. If a large surge in utility occurs on the network again, there may be another “race to the top” situation within transaction fee markets. Last time this occurred, $40 being spent in Bitcoin fees was not uncommon. Such a fee is difficult to swallow when it is caused directly by economic activity benefiting Bitcoin. When it is caused by a group of altcoins supporting essentially zero economic activity and supposedly in direct competition with Bitcoin, most users would find it grossly unacceptable.
Poaching BTC’s hash rate in the way that VeriBlock is doing and filling blocks with data that benefits dying blockchains only serves to delay the inevitable, whilst limiting Bitcoin’s chances of success.
The massive proliferation of cash-grab altcoins and the continued profitability of scams in the space has made digital currency difficult to take seriously for anyone outside of the industry. Many of these altcoins, particularly those needing support from VeriBlock, need to die off entirely before this can change.
It is hard, after all, to imagine a less noble existence than failing to survive off hash power from miners incentivised to secure the network through mining rewards and instead continuing to exist at the expense of potential Bitcoin adoption whilst continuing to give “get-rich-quick”-type investors hope of an impending moon shoot.
Related Reading: Coinbase Forced to Suspend Ethereum Classic Trading After 51% Attack
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Analyst: 2019 Will be the Year of 2nd Layer Ethereum Scaling

According to an Ethereum (ETH) network and community analyst, this year’s major trend for the decentralised smart contract platform will be layer two scaling technologies. Proposed upgrades to the network include Plasma and the Raiden Network, amongst others.
It seems that the Ethereum Foundation are aware of the pressing need to scale the network using second layer techniques too. To aid the development of such upgrades, it has granted one of the most active groups of Ethereum developers, Parity Technologies, with $5 million.
It’s No Secret That Ethereum Needs to Scale Fast
Eric Conner, the host of the “Into the Ether” podcast and founder of Ethereum information portal, EthHub.io, Tweeted a prediction for ETH’s 2019 yesterday:

2019 is going to be the year of layer 2 scaling for Ethereum.
— Eric Conner (@econoar) January 6, 2019

Even more so than the Bitcoin network, the number two cryptocurrency by market capitalisation is in dire need of a workable scaling solution. This was highlighted perfectly in 2017 when the decentralised collectable game CryptoKitties received a sudden influx of users, causing the underlying network to almost grind to a halt.
The goal for the Ethereum network has always been to host decentralised applications that would have the potential to revolutionise just about every industry you can think of. However, its efficacy in doing so is severely limited by the fact that the network cannot even take a few thousand people trading images of digital cats on it.
Clearly, the Ethereum Foundation is well-aware of the need to scale the blockchain sooner rather than later. The few people willing to experiment with decentralised applications at present are migrating over to rival smart contract platform EOS at a startling rate. This shift to a more advanced platform will likely continue too, unless adequate solutions are created fast.
In an effort to push those working on scaling techniques harder, the Ethereum Foundation has just awarded a research grant. According to a blog post by the group, Parity Technologies will receive $5 million to aid their continued experimentation towards scaling and other upgrades to the network.
The post outlined why Parity Technologies had been chosen to be the recipient of the “scalability, usability and security grant”:
“For several years, Parity Technologies has been an invaluable member of the Ethereum ecosystem for their leadership in core development efforts, their Parity Ethereum client and more… By all metrics, Parity is a major technical contributor to the Ethereum project, and they’ve notably done so as a self-financed and open-sourced effort since their founding.”
The Ethereum Foundation went on to list the areas of research it is hoping will be benefited from by the injection of cash. These include: developing Casper, sharding, light clients, developer tools, audits, and infrastructure improvements.
There are big upgrades already planned for 2019 for Ethereum. These include the much-anticipated Constantinople hard fork scheduled later this month.
Related Reading: Parity Hack and the Impact on the Ethereum Blockchain
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What Can We Learn From Bitcoin’s Birthday Bank Run?

As most of you will probably know, yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the mining of Bitcoin’s genesis block. Many Bitcoin proponents mark this as the birthday of the digital asset itself.
To celebrate the occasion, long-time Bitcoin advocate and successful investor Trace Mayer proposed that the community start an annual tradition of a crypto bank run on exchanges – to be known as Proof-of-Keys. The idea was to get as many cryptocurrency users and investors to withdraw all funds from wallets that they did not hold the private key to.
What is Proof-of-Keys?
For many of its earliest advocates, drawn by the promise of sovereign control over wealth, the idea of storing coins on an cryptocurrency exchange is the absolute antithesis of Bitcoin. These original community members have weathered every bear and bull market, every regulatory rumble, and most importantly, every exchange hack.
Trace Mayer forms part of this crowd, having advocated buying and holding BTC since the price was less than a dollar. Part educational mission, part show of force to the exchanges, Trace has spent the last few weeks encouraging his Twitter followers, his podcast listeners, and the audiences of countless crypto-focused YouTube channels he has appeared as a guest on to withdraw all their cryptocurrency from exchanges.
The tradition, according to Trace, would serve two main purposes. Firstly, it would encourage Bitcoin users to exercise the monetary sovereignty made possible by the protocol – the hope being that those not knowing how to securely store Bitcoin would learn. Meanwhile, those that do know could teach.
The second part of Proof-of-Keys supposedly serves to test the trustworthiness of the exchanges. If every single user requested every single coin on the same day, would the exchange be able to pay them all? If it turned out they could not then the platform in question would be not only guilty of deceiving its users but also guilty of artificially inflated the total supply of the currency.
Was Proof-of-Keys a Success?
One of the metrics Trace has used to measure the success of Bitcoin’s first annual Proof-of-Keys event is transaction fees. The billionaire early-Bitcoiner Tweeted yesterday that the mempool was slightly busier than usual, highlighting increased transaction activity on the network:

Happy birthday #Bitcoin! 10 years & crazy magic Internet money experiment still going stronger than ever.#ProofOfKeys is slightly impacting the network. But fees have not gone crazy. No CTO heart attacks. No CFO suicides. World has not ended. Next year will be even bigger! pic.twitter.com/AkUsCV22al
— Trace Mayer [Jan/3➞₿∎] (@TraceMayer) January 3, 2019

Today, Trace posted a survey for his followers, asking what they had done as part of the Proof-of-Keys event. Although still to conclude, at the time of writing 64% of the 2,707 respondents stated that they already had their coins secure.
This comes as little surprise since Trace’s long-time followers will have been bombarded by the importance of monetary sovereignty on numerous previous occasions. Meanwhile, the figures for “withdrew all crypto”, “withdrew most crypto”, and “was stupid and reckless” currently stand at 9, 14, and 13 percent respectively.
Although not hugely impressive, several of Trace’s followers replied that they had indeed managed to use the event to spread awareness about the importance of holding your own private keys. Somewhat disturbingly, one even Tweeted that many who he had tried to pass the message on to had no idea what a private key even was:

I learnt a scary number of crypto holders have never heard of private keys
— Alex Saunders (@AlexSaundersAU) January 4, 2019

Issues with Proof-of-Keys?
Throughout yesterday, a few reports on Twitter did emerge of users struggling to make withdrawals from their chosen platforms:

Added a Failures section to https://t.co/7i8F58PS38#failures
So far, reported failures at: @hitBTC, @PurseIO, @bitfinex, @Poloniex & @coinbase.
Anyone else encountered any unusual issues or problems with #ProofOfKeys withdrawals?
Please post screenshot proof. Thanks! pic.twitter.com/npSaV3C1A2
— Trace Mayer [Jan/3➞₿∎] (@TraceMayer) January 3, 2019

Bitfinex openly admitted that they were having difficulties. However, as the Twitter user who reported the below Tweet to Trace facetiously speculated, this could have actually been a coincidence.

We are aware of some issues on our platform and are working quickly to resolve. Please be assured all funds are safe. We appreciate your patience.
— Bitfinex (@bitfinex) January 3, 2019

However, many refuted Trace’s list of suspicious exchanges in the comments. Some argued that they themselves had used the exchanges in question to make withdrawals. Meanwhile, in response to the immense negative press surrounding HitBTC’s Proof-of-Keys accusations, the platform Tweeted:

Got it. We believe it's worth to publish an article, which will explain how these presses actually confirm that it's safe to use our platform. Stay tuned for updates in our blog.
— HitBTC (@hitbtc) January 2, 2019

It is quite possible that many of the incidents with exchanges made public on January 3 are indeed coincidental since the reports of issues seem to be the exception, not the rule. However, if anecdotal tales of sudden withdrawal limits imposed and suspicious downtime from the likes of Bitfinex are indeed backed by malice towards the event, this should indeed be cause for concern.
All told, the Proof-of-Keys event is a great way to check the power of exchanges, expose bad ones, and to spread awareness about some of the all-too-often overlooked qualities of Bitcoin. Here’s hoping next year’s is even bigger!
Related Reading: Happy Tenth Birthday, Bitcoin: BitMEX, Crypto Community Celebrate
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Analyst Suggests Usage of Crypto Tokens on DApps is Minimal, Raising Concerns

According to research conducted by Digital Asset Research, the very raison d’être of many crypto coins and tokens may be in question. In a report circulated with paid members of the group, the usage of the ZRX token on the 0x decentralized exchange platform was examined.
Quite remarkably, despite the primary purpose of the ZRX token being to pay for the exchange of various ERC-20 tokens, the investigation highlighted that only a tiny percentage of the total transaction fees paid during the platform’s existence were made using the designated token. This forces the question: Do decentralised applications even need their own token?
Is ZRX’s Lack of Use Reflective of All Crypto “Payment Tokens”?
During the ICO boom of 2017, many startups launched their own platforms and generated immense stacks of various digital assets (mostly Ethereum) from investors hoping to get in early on the next big thing. These projects, although disparate in announced intentions, all had one thing in common – a token.
Many of companies behind these projects stated that the tokens sold to the earliest backers would one day be used to power the applications themselves. Thus, it figured that if a project was popular enough, the value of all the tokens in circulation would soar since demand outpaced supply.
Many commentators (particularly those of a Bitcoin maximalist persuasion) have long held this to be unnecessary and saw through these token launches as a way for a brand new startup to generate millions of dollars without pandering to regulation. Without much data, their protestations against the ICO craze and the idea that literally everything would one day be tokenised were difficult to support using hard evidence.
However, the necessary data looks to be finally emerging and the first interesting observation drawn from it does not paint a good picture of the blockchain “payment token” space.
In a report for paid members, Digital Asset Research has disclosed that of a massive $447 million in exchanged value on the 0x platform, just $2,000 of ZRX has been used to pay for transaction fees.
A digital asset researcher for The Spartan Group, BlockCrunch, and Deloitte, Jason Choi, Tweeted:

Crazy to see it put into numbers. Less than $2,000 has been paid in tx fees via $ZRX since inception. pic.twitter.com/FDFWwN3VCy
— Jason Choi (@mrjasonchoi) January 4, 2019

In response to this, one of Choi’s followers asked how much ETH had been spent on transactions fees in the place of ZRX tokens to which he replied: “too much…”
With the 0x platform being one of the few projects in the crypto space with a sizeable user base, the number revealed by Digital Assets Research should concern all those who have bought into coins and token expecting them to be used uniquely on a given platform to pay for the service they are accessing.
According to a Tweet from another crypto researcher known as Hasu, the Digital Asset Research data about the 0x blockchain is highly damning for much of the ERC-20 token economy, as well as those tokens existing on similar blockchain platforms:

This gotta be the nail in the coffin for payment tokens. 0x is one of the few protocols with users to begin with, and now we have the data to back up what we long assumed: the market circumvents the token any way it can. https://t.co/iHlXi2Kbwx
— Hasu (@hasufl) January 4, 2019

As part of a response to one of the replies to the above Tweet, Hasu stated:
“I don’t see how forcing a token in there can ever benefit the consumer side.”
All that said, some users were keen to remind the two mentioned crypto researchers that the purpose of the ZRX token is not only to pay for exchange fees. It also serves to power the platform’s governance model. However, since this is still under development, just how valuable this function can make the tokens remains to be seen.
Also, whilst ZRX tokens do apparently serve a dual purpose, the same cannot be said for many of the less popular projects out there that also state that their designated tokens sold at ICO would be used exclusively with the platform in question.
Related Reading: About Half of 2017’s ICOs Have Failed Already
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Bitcoin Investors Still Bullish: Data Indicates Almost 80% Remain Long on BTC

According to data from DailyFX, almost four out of five Bitcoin (BTC) investors remain long on the number one digital asset by market capitalisation. This analysis runs contrary to the price performance of Bitcoin over the last twelve months.
The ratio of those investors who remain long on Bitcoin versus those short on the asset is currently at its highest point since November 2018. However, this does not mean we are entering properly bullish territory just yet.
Bitcoin Holders Continue to Hold On
The data by DailyFX was reported by MarketWatch earlier today. Research analyst Fan Xu, of the Forex trading news publication, commented on the findings:
“Bitcoin: Retail trader data shows 77.5% of traders are net long with the ratio of traders long to short at 3.44 to 1… The number of traders net long is 0.4% lower than yesterday and 6.2% higher from last week, while the number of traders net short is 2.7% lower than yesterday and 6.4% lower from last week.”
As mentioned, it was in November of last year that data suggested such strong optimism about the future price performance of Bitcoin amongst the community. At the time, the price of a single Bitcoin was trading around $5,500. It is difficult to say whether the price has followed the crowd’s bullish sentiment. It initially continued its drop coming out of November, reaching a low of just under $3,200 before bouncing to over $4,200. It has since retraced down to its current price of $3,800 at the time of writing.
The MarketWatch piece goes on to speculate that the “sudden turnaround” in sentiment has been caused by a recent altcoin surge. The likes of Ethereum, Litecoin, and the recently forked Bitcoin Cash have all rallied by over 50% since mid-December 2018. Ether, the native digital asset on the Ethereum blockchain, has enjoyed a particularly great end of 2018, posting 85% gains in just 18 days. MarketWatch stated:
“In the past, market watchers have noted altcoins tend to lead rather than lag behind and outperform in crypto rallies, while underperforming in selloffs.”
This view runs contrary to that of controversial yet often-proved-correct YouTube technical analyst Tone Vays. The former Wall Street trader has repeated many times that he does not see the BTC market becoming legitimately bullish until it stops moving in tandem with altcoins (or shit coins, as he refers to all cryptos other than Bitcoin as). Until Bitcoin begins to move out of sync with the rest of the altcoin space, he still believes that much lower prices are coming. He does, however, remain bullish long term:

UPDATE for 2019: I still think we go under $3k10% – Falls Under $1k as eventual low40% – Low in $1-2k range20% – Low in $2-3k range30% – #Bitcoin has Bottomed!—–When New ALL TIME HIGH—–10% – in 201940% – in 202045% – in 20214% – After 20211% – Never pic.twitter.com/USPvRdK3Yt
— Tone Vays [@Bitcoin] (@ToneVays) December 31, 2018

Similarly, the DailyFX team do not think that the community’s optimism for the most popular digital asset serves as an indicator of impending price rises. In fact, Xu stated that it is more likely to have the opposite effect:
“We typically take a contrarian view to crowd sentiment, and the fact traders are net-long suggests bitcoin prices may continue to fall.”
Related Reading: Institutions Still Bullish On Crypto: Grayscale Owns 1% of All Bitcoin
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BitTorrent to Launch Own Cryptocurrency on the Tron Network

The popular peer-to-peer file sharing platform BitTorrent has announced that it will be creating its own cryptocurrency using the Tron network. Amongst other use cases, the token will be used by users to pay for higher file download speeds on the firm’s Windows-based uTorrent client.
In potentially cryptocurrency-related news, the company’s former CEO, Rogelio Choy, has decided to part ways with BitTorrent. The departure comes just six month after Tron founder Justin Sun acquired the firm, prompting speculation that Choy disagreed with BitTorrent’s new focus on blockchain technology.
Justin Sun Bringing Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Tech to File Sharing
Justin Sun commented on the decision to launch a specific digital token for uTorrent users in a blog post:
“BitTorrent token is the first in a series of steps to support a decentralized internet… In one giant leap, the BitTorrent client can introduce blockchain to hundreds of millions of users around the world and empower a new generation of content creators with the tools to distribute their content directly to others on the web.”
The post goes on to detail that the token will be first available to non-US investors via Binance’s designated token sale platform, the Binance Launchpad. It will simply be called the BitTorrent Token and will trade under the ticker BTT.
The official whitepaper for the BTT token states that a total of 990 billion BTT will be created. It will follow the TRC-10 specification (much like the more common ERC-20 tokens created using the Ethereum network).
The timing of the longstanding company executive’s decision to leave BitTorrent certainly supports the theory that he found the firm’s decision to focus on cryptocurrency contentious. According to a report in Variety, the publication claims to have spoken to an insider at the company who stated that there was disagreement with the direction BitTorrent was taking. There has been no official word from Choy about this, however.
Choy’s departure was later confirmed by a BitTorrent spokesperson earlier today. Without giving too much information, they simply stated that he had “decided to pursue other opportunities.”
Choy had served as BitTorrent’s chief operating officer between the years of 2012 and 2015. He later rejoined the company in 2017, becoming its chief executive officer. This position was held under Sun acquired the company in the summer of 2018. Following this, Choy served as the general manager of the Tron platform’s storage business.
The decision by BitTorrent to launch BTT comes just months after the company announced the formation of Project Atlas. The idea behind it is to incentivise users of the platform to continue to share files after they have finished downloading them. Under the Project Atlas model, users will be rewarded using the newly created BTT tokens for keeping files available for others to download.
Following the news that BitTorrent will use the Tron network for the BTT token, the price of TRX increased by just over 2.3% in a day that has mostly seen similar sized price declines in the other leading digital assets by market capitalisation. By comparison, the likes of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the recently forked Bitcoin Cash all dropped by 1.31, 2.26, and 2.32 percent respectively.
Related Reading: Tron’s Justin Sun Acquires P2P File-Sharing Network BitTorrent
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Saudi Customs Pilots Shipment Tracking on the Blockchain

According to a report in RTT News, Saudi Customs is currently currently experimenting with tracking shipments on the blockchain. The project will link the Saudi customs officials’ existing shipment tracking platform, known as Fasah, to a blockchain-based one, powered by TradeLens.
Aiding the pilot will be the Saudi Arabian customs IT partner, Tabadul. The Riyadh-based firm has helped to integrate the Fasah platform with TradeLens.
Can Blockchain Technology Increase Customs’ Efficiency?
The TradeLens platform is expected to save thousands in overall costs for those customs agencies that choose to use it. The huge Danish logistics firm Maersk and IBM created the blockchain shipment tracker solution with the aim of moving the world’s global supply chain to the blockchain. TradeLens itself was announced last August.
The Saudi pilot involves the integration of Fasah with the TradeLens platform. Fasah is a preexisting platform connecting all those involved in the nation’s cross border trade. This includes both government and private entities.
There is hope that the use of blockchain technology will lead to greater efficiency in several different areas of the shipment tracking process. The TradeLens integration with Fasah will reportedly bring greater traceability and reduced auditability. This is expected to lead to large savings for Saudi Customs. In fact, it is said to be capable of reducing shipping time by a massive 40 percent.
According to the report in RTT News, Saudi Arabia hopes to position itself as a logistics hub through its early use of blockchain in supply chain tracking.
Although the only customs agency in the Middle East working towards integrating blockchain technology with the tracking of shipments, Saudi Customs is just one of more than 90 organisations from around the world experimenting with the TradeLens platform. Evidently, interest in exploring the benefits of the tech is great – particularly given that the platform is not even commercially available yet.
TradeLens currently comprises of over 20 port and terminal operators. These represent over 230 marine gateways or seaports from all corners of the globe. Also making up the platform are customs authorities, freight forwarders, shippers, third-party logistics providers, and shipping lines.
Continued Enthusiasm for Blockchain in Logistics
The TradeLens platform launched last August is thought to bring huge savings in terms of both time and money to those integrating it with existing customs procedures. However, it is not just greater efficiency that has the logistics industry excited about the implications of the cutting-edge technology.
Last year, NewsBTC reported on the British Food Standards Agency’s own pilot to track beef using a distributed ledger. The idea here is to be able to track each cut of meat from pasture to eventual plate. Along with greater efficiency, this would help reduce instances of fraud in which meat is passed off as being of better origin and thus worthy of a higher price at market.
Similarly, NewsBTC also reported on one of the planet’s largest manufacturers of luxury goods and its plans to track precious metals and diamonds using a blockchain. Richemont believes that the technology will help its customers be assured that the company’s products and the materials they are created from are authentic.
Related Reading: Porsche Uses Blockchain Platform to Close $170 Million Loan
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Gateway Partners CEO: “We are for Biscuits, Not Bitcoins”

The CEO of successful investment house Galaxy Partners has stated that he sees Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency as a highly risky investment. It is for these reasons that Viswanathan Shankar will not be allocating any of his fund to the emerging technological and financial innovation.
Instead, Shankar prefers to invest in Africa and Asia-based companies that provide for the needs of the normal people.
Shankar Warns Against BAT – Bitcoin, Argentina, and Tesla
According to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review, Viswanathan Shankar, CEO of Gateway Partners, remains opposed to investing in digital currencies. He had originally warned against investing in the space in 2017. Despite how much lower prices are than their all-time highs achieved that year, Shankar remains reluctant to allocate his fund’s capital to Bitcoin and other cryptos.
In a recent interview with the publication, Shankar said:
“We are for biscuits, not Bitcoins.”
This statement alludes to the asset manager’s stance that Gateway Partners should favour investments in companies providing goods and services that the everyday person needs in both Africa and Asia instead of risky technological investments.
Shankar’s investing policy seems to echo that of Berkshire Hathaway’s legendary anti-Bitcoiner, Warren Buffet. Like Buffet, who famously called Bitcoin “rat poison squared” last year, Shankar does not like to invest in what he deems to be fads. Instead, he favours investments based around basic amenities, with a focus on the middle classes.
Shankar is eyeing a rate of return of 20-25% for Gateway Partners in 2019. It not only aims to avoid speculative tech investments but will evade the fallout from the ongoing trade war between China and the US by focusing on other areas of Asia and Africa. Shankar also hopes that focusing on such emerging economies will create even greater opportunities down the line:
“South-South trade may increase further in the long run… It will create new global supply chains, global markets, new trade routes and investments.”
Along with Bitcoin, Shankar identified two other no-go areas for him in terms of allocating his fund’s capital in 2017. These were Argentina and Tesla. Confusingly for many, Shankar advised investors to “stay away from BAT”. Of course, us cryptocurrency enthusiasts will immediately think of the altcoin recently listed by Coinbase Pro – Basic Attention Token. Meanwhile, Asian investors could also mistake the acronym for three of the largest Chinese internet companies – Baidu, Alibaba Group, and Tencent Holdings.
Shankar stated in the recent interview:
“I think I have been proven right on all three.”
Bitcoin, of course, is currently valued at a fraction of the price it was in late 2017, Argentina is on the precipice of a financial crisis, and Tesla is struggling thanks to its CEO’s questionable style of leadership.
Before taking his role at Gateway Partners in 2015, Viswanathan Shankar was on the board at Standard Chartered and also served as CEO for the company in almost all corners of the globe.
Related Reading: Institutional Investor: Crypto Will be Worth Trillions, Launches Hedge Fund
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Bitcoin on Facebook? Lite.IM Adds BTC Support for Leading Social Networks

Cryptocurrency adoption pioneers Lite.IM have just announced that the platform will now support Bitcoin (BTC) payments. This means, users of Facebook, Telegram, and even plain old SMS will now be able to send BTC to one another via their chosen social application.
Such moves bridge the gap between the now enormously adopted mobile phone and social media networks and the still niche Bitcoin.
Lite.IM Brings Bitcoin Payments to the Masses
Users of various popular social messaging applications and even SMS will now be able to send Bitcoin to their contacts using the Lite.IM application. Zulu Republic, the developer of the software, announced the addition of Bitcoin to its list of supported cryptos late last week via a Tweet and their Medium channel.

Ready for one more holiday gift?
Now you can use Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and SMS to send, receive and manage…BITCOIN!
Get started with $BTC $LTC $ETH and $ZTX now
Telegram: https://t.co/wgMtDKEfl5 FB Messenger: https://t.co/NXJdKlhagY SMS (US/CN): 760-548–3460 pic.twitter.com/UbJpdUgmPS
— Lite.IM (@liteim_official) December 28, 2018

The Lite.IM platform was developed by Zulu Republic with the aim of aiding the proliferation of cryptocurrency use. It already supports payments across all aforementioned platforms using Litecoin (LTC), Ether (ETH), and the company’s own token, ZTX.
Zulu Republic had the following to say about the recent decision to include Bitcoin as part of the Lite.IM platform:
“With each new update, Lite.IM becomes more and more of a user-friendly cryptocurrency powerhouse, moving us closer and closer to widespread adoption. We’re proud to be bringing the world’s most popular cryptocurrency to the combined 2.5 billion users of Facebook and Telegram, not to mention all those who lack dependable internet access that can now manage Bitcoin via SMS messaging.”
The Lite.IM platform could do a lot for cryptocurrency adoption. By adding the sending function to a service an absolute novice is already familiar with, the barrier to entry is lowered somewhat. However, users need to nurture this adoption themselves. Expecting someone to suddenly buy Bitcoin to use with Lite.IM just because they can is futile. However, offering to send someone a few bucks in Bitcoin over the service will certainly yield different, more favourable results.
Social Media Giants Already Eyeing Crypto
The Lite.IM is a layer that works above the application itself, it is, of course, not an endorsement by any of the aforementioned social media networks for Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. For the likes of Facebook and Telegram, such an endorsement may be counterproductive based on their own current ambitions with digital currencies.
Facebook has recently been rumoured to be launching their own stable coin to use on the mammoth social network. The company has been assembling an impressive roster of blockchain specialists, which includes former PayPal execs. According to one anonymous insider, the plan is to launch a USD-pegged digital currency to use on the WhatsApp social messeging application.
Elsewhere, Telegram, the cross-platform messaging service is also pursuing similar ends. It had originally planned to launch an ICO in spring of this year. However, the company raised $1.8 billion through private investors and the token sale was not needed. This money will be used to fund a network to rival Ethereum. According to recent reports, it is around 70% complete.
Related Reading: Binance CEO: About Time Facebook Launches Its Own Crypto, Bolsters Adoption
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