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Bitcoin, de 1 céntimo a 20.000 dólares

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Desde sus orígenes como experimento informático en un pequeño foro de criptógrafos hasta su reciente estreno en Wall Street, pocos fenómenos en este siglo resultan tan controvertidos a nivel institucional y académico como incomprendidos por el gran público. ¿Es un proyecto anti-sistema, con tintes anarco-capitalistas, herramienta de hackers y delincuentes o, sin embargo, es un salto evolutivo que va a hacer replantearnos la manera en la que nos relacionamos, creamos y usamos el dinero en el siglo XXI?

Convendría intentar recopilar una serie de hechos y datos que nos van a ayudar a desterrar multitud de leyendas urbanas y prejuicios adquiridos, incluso desinformaciones deliberadas, que dificultan un análisis más profundo.

Bitcoin es una moneda electrónica que cumple todas las propiedades que comúnmente se asocian a cualquier tipo de dinero: se puede guardar, enviar para pagar bienes o servicios, no se estropea con el tiempo, es escasa, y es divisible (un bitcoin usa hasta ocho decimales)

Pero, además, incorpora lo que sus creadores pensaron que le faltaba al dinero actual: soberanía (nadie puede controlar quién tiene bitcoins ni dónde), autonomía (puede ser enviado a cualquier parte, cualquier cantidad, en minutos) y disciplina monetaria (nadie puede crear más bitcoins arbitrariamente y el sistema de generación de bitcoins está consensuado por todos sus usuarios)

¿Quién inventó entonces bitcoin?

La estructura original del protocolo informático fue presentada por una persona o un grupo de trabajo que firmaban bajo el seudónimo de Satoshi Nakamoto en el 2008, publicándose un documento llamado Bitcoin: Un sistema electrónico de dinero en efectivo sin intermediarios.

El dinero digital ya existía hace décadas. En juegos online como Ultima Online (1997) o Second Life (2004) ya se pagaban miles de dólares por monedas virtuales con las que podías conseguir bienes o servicios dentro del juego. Sin embargo, el avance fundamental que trae bitcoin, que sintetiza proyectos más pioneros como HashCash o BitGold (años 90), es la definición y puesta en marcha de Blockchain.

Como su propio nombre indica, es una”cadena de bloques” donde todas las transacciones y apuntes contables quedan escritas y verificadas por los propios miembros del sistema. Los intermediarios desaparecen (bancos centrales, bancos locales, mercados de cambio de divisas, autoridades reguladoras… ) El registro, o “ledger” en inglés, es inmutable e infalsificable, pues cada bloque queda vinculado al anterior y hace que sea económicamente inviable modificarlo a posteriori.

Un “minero” es, simplemente, un verificador de la red de bitcoin. Resolviendo unos cálculos matemáticos, dedican una gran cantidad de capacidad de proceso informático para verificar las transacciones generadas por la red y lanzar el siguiente bloque de la cadena. Los primeros años, cuando se creaban los primeros bitcoin, y la dificultad de estos cálculos era menor, cualquiera desde un ordenador de sobremesa podía contribuir a la red. Ahora hay grandes centros de minado en zonas geográficas concretas, con baja temperatura y coste bajo de electricidad, donde empresas especializadas invierten una inmensa capacidad de computación para competir por la generación de los menos de 5 millones de bitcoin que quedan por minar.

Los mineros ganan bitcoins al verificar los bloques de dos modos: por el algoritmo de creación de bitcoin, que de manera gradual va generando el resto de bitcoins que quedan hasta la cantidad fija final de 21 millones, y con las comisiones que los usuarios pagan por enviar bitcoins de una dirección de monedero a otra.

Últimamente se oye mucho un argumento crítico contra este sistema: “La energía que consume al año bitcoin es superior a la que usa un país como Dinamarca“. Se critica su viabilidad y sostenibilidad a largo plazo. La refutación de esto es sencilla, pero no para este artículo; baste con señalar que el consumo de energía de bitcoin es diez veces inferior al de, por ejemplo, toda la industria de la extracción y refinería del oro.

Se dice que el bitcoin es anónimo, que se usa para comprar drogas, armas o cosas peores. ¿Qué opina el Ministerio de Economía? ¿Y el de Hacienda? Es cierto que los primeros años, al carecer de unas estructuras mínimas y dotar de un relativo anonimato a sus poseedores, se usaba como sustitutivo del dinero negro para actividades delictivas.

Pero según han ido pasando los años diversos estados han ido dando pasos para regular la actividad de las empresas que comercian con bitcoins o los usan de algún modo. Al pedir más datos del cliente para cumplir las regulaciones, el mercado se ha limpiado de la mayoría de estos elementos indeseables. Se pueden realizar las mismas actividades delictivas con bitcoins que con dinero en efectivo; es una herramienta más que, por supuesto, puede ser mal utilizada.

Aún así, es importante entender que pisamos terreno inexplorado; literalmente las agencias reguladoras financieras van improvisando sobre la marcha. Muchos países como Suiza, Japón, Dubai o Estonia, y en varios estados de EEUU, como Delaware, en una inusual muestra de respeto por la libertad individual, están poniendo en marcha políticas tolerantes y flexibles para los usuarios de bitcoin, ya que está bastante claro que es mucho más factible regularlo que prohibirlo.

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Champion Shave to Launch Champion Coin ICO with Usain Bolt, Ronaldinho and Dominique Wilkins

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Champion Shave to Launch Champion Coin in an ICO in 2019 Q2

Champion Shave, a superstar-owned shaving company, has outlined its intentions to launch its own cryptocurrency token. The company was established in 2016 by 100m world record holder, Fusain Bolt, soccer legend, Ronaldinho, and NBA legend, Dominique Wilkins.

Since its inception, the company has sold over 10 million razor products. The products are available in 17 countries across the world. According to Manny Bains, the CEO of Champion Shave, the firm is revolutionizing the men’s grooming sector that is valued at $47 billion. They intend to further this transformation by adopting a blockchain-based solution for their supply chain and customer data management.

Manny states that Champion Shave will use blockchain technology to track the entirety of the supply chain. This would reduce expenses and enhance efficiency by offering a transparent, unalterable and decentralized ledger for tracking movement of freight. Moreover, Champion Shave will conduct an ICO where it will issue its cryptocurrency token, called Champion Coin.

The objective of the Champion Coin and Champion Shave blockchain ecosystem is to eliminate intermediaries and charges in cross-border transactions. In addition to increased efficiency, Champion coin users will get rewards and discounts for shaving products.

Champion Coin ICO

The presale phase of the Champion Coin ICO is expected to start on October 29. The event will be backed by a specially curated marketing campaign meant to appeal to sports fans as well as crypto hobbyists. The main token sale is expected to go live in Q2 2019.

David Trezeguet, a former football star, will represent tie Champion Coin ICO during the Malta Blockchain Summit scheduled for November 1. Trezeguet said that he was excited by the launch of the token, adding that it would be useful to all members of the Champion Shave fraternity.

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Debating Satoshi Nakamoto’s Original Vision Between Blockchain Ledgers or Tokens

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According to Adam Krellenstein, co-founder and CTO at Symbiont.io, says that ten years after the anniversary of Bitcoin’s creation, the community is in a crisis. Symbiont.io is a fintech company that focuses on traditional financial markets and blockchain technology.

Mr Krellenstein says that he has been working during the last decade in order to produce new blockchain protocols that go beyond Satoshi’s original proposal. However, it seems that the industry is still struggling to answer important questions related to the nature of this technology and how it should improve society.

The author explains the struggle to understand the relationship between Bitcoin and distributed ledger technology (DLT). For him, there are some blockchains that want to create smart contracts, while others aim at creating tokens. Additionally, there is a debate on whether blockchain networks should be permissioned or not. Krellenstein believes that token systems are more useful than smart contracts when they are based on a public blockchain consensus protocol.

He mentions that Satoshi Nakamoto was right about the best use of blockchain technology. In this way, he created a payment system and a virtual currency (Bitcoin) that is nowadays the most popular and, perhaps, one of the most resilient in the market.

However, Krellenstein says that he spent a lot of time thinking about this issue and that he analyzed it very well when he created the cryptocurrency Counterparty and Symbiont. He goes on describing how Counter-party and Symbiont work and how they were created.

On the matter, he explained:

“Counterparty is a public blockchain smart contracts platform, albeit one focused on token issuance and trading, while Symbiont is a fintech company that develops and licenses its permissioned blockchain-based smart contracts system to improve the infrastructure of traditional financial markets.”

He said that while working on Counterparty and watching Ethereum – one of the largest virtual currencies and blockchain networks in the market – he saw that although both systems were built to support smart contracts, they were primarily used to create and transfer tokens.

Moreover, he explains that their vision was to create a trustless network of decentralized finance, and in order to do so, they implemented smart contracts for token balances, prediction markets, transparent elections and many other features. Nonetheless, those using Counterparty were focusing around its token rather than on other applications.

Krellenstein says that Ethereum makes it difficult to create real applications using the Solidity language. For him, one of the most advanced Ethereum smart contracts is related to CryptoKitties, something that is very similar to other games launched on Counterparty before. Although both platforms, Counterparty and Ethereum, were created to perform many other powerful things, they are exclusively used for tracing tokens.

This is why he thinks that smart contract systems for the general public are not a good idea. Additionally, he says that efficiency is sometimes more important than universality and that interaction among individuals is not yet as complex enough to justify a not efficient decentralized computer program.

Permissioned blockchains could work properly for some participants such as insitutions, governments or corporations. With these blockchains, it is possible to improve consistency and correctness of the current infrastructure.

This is something that some companies such as JP Morgan are already implementing and something that they properly understood.Quorum is the network that has been developed by the recognised bank and that is being used by different institutions and parties.

Krellenstein explains that blockchain can be valuable when replacing a consistent centralized system with a consistent decentralized one. He concludes saying that blockchain technology could become valuable as well when turning an inconsistent decentralized system into a consistent decentralized system.

“The conclusion that I’ve come to is that, just as was originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto, the greatest use of a public blockchain is in fact as a digital currency and payment system,” he says. “Generalizations of Satoshi’s innovations in the time since he launched bitcoin, manifest partly in the enterprise DLT space, are not competitive with bitcoin.”

Perhaps, instead of replacing fiat currencies, blockchain technology could be used to build new databases that support workflows that are un-amenable to management within traditional client-server frameworks.

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Coinbase Adds Circle’s USD Coin (USDC) Stablecoin, Doubles Down on Digital Dollar Doubts

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Coinbase Adds Circle’s USD Coin (USDC) Stablecoin

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency giant Coinbase just announced that it has added support for USD Coin (USDC), a stablecoin designed by competing crypto exchange Circle, the owner of Poloniex.

One USDC is a 1:1 representation of a US dollar on the Ethereum blockchain. Each USDC is 100% collateralized by a corresponding USD held in accounts subject to regular public reporting of reserves. The underlying technology behind the USDC was developed collaboratively between Coinbase and Circle.

“Coinbase and Circle share a common vision of an open global financial system built on crypto rails and blockchain infrastructure, and realizing this vision requires industry leaders to collaborate to build interoperable protocols and standards,” Circle co-founders Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville said

Distinctly, USD Coin will be the first stablecoin supported by Coinbase. Circle was the first issuer of the coin in September. The consortium, called Centre, will serve as a platform for users to make deposits from traditional bank accounts, convert fiat currency into tokens issued by members to facilitate transactions and provide the ability to shift back to the greenback.

Use cases of USDC

To start off with, two Ethereum wallets can quickly send and receive any amount of USDC at any time of day. Large transfers for business purposes become as easy as small e-commerce payments. Consumers can use the Coinbase app to send USDC to someone while remaining confident the value is stable.

There is a burgeoning ecosystem of crypto dApps, exchanges, and blockchain-based games. A USDC follows the ERC20 standard, which means it can be used with any app that accepts tokens based on that standard. The USDC can thus be used as a stable digital dollar to buy items in the crypto ecosystem, from Cryptokitties to tickets for blockchain-based games.

Additionally, for developers and fintech companies, a digital dollar like USDC is easier to program with. For example, given the private keys for USDC, a program can easily send and receive them back and forth using the public Ethereum blockchain.

Final Take

Recently, there has been a large amount of new issuance of stable coins recently as industry enthusiasts try to find more uses for crypto. Tether is the largest of the bunch but is plagued by doubters amid concern as the company has refused to be audited and won’t disclose its banks. Critics of Tether have called into question whether that cryptocurrency is truly backed by the equivalent amount of U.S. dollars.

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