At a panel hosted this week at fintech conference Moneyconf, executives from Ledger, Blockchain.info, and VC firms Mosaic Ventures and FuturePerfect Ventures discussed if and why decentralized systems are truly necessary.
Crypto Wallet CEOs Speak at Moneyconf 2018
Moderator Joon Ian Wong referred the panelists to a survey indicating that given the hypothetical choice to have a paid version of Facebook that doesn’t harvest data or display ads, the majority of people would opt to use the free version and trade their data instead.
Wong put it to the panel that perhaps people don’t really want decentralized platforms after all. The panelists all had a lot to say, with founding partner Jalak Jobanputra of VC capital firm FuturePerfect Ventures citing lack of public understanding as the reason for the lack of mainstream interest, referring to election fraud and identity theft as major problems stemming from centralized data systems.
“I have a fund invested in several companies that are building decentralized identity platforms and once that becomes the norm we’ll wonder why we gave all our data away for free and allowed ourselves to be exposed in such ways.”
Toby Coppel of Mosaic Ventures pointed out that the inability of centralized leadership to arbitrarily change rules and alter agreements made decentralized platforms hugely attractive to investors.
Éric Larchevêque, Ledger CEO, pointed out that censorship was a major use case for decentralized platforms while Blockchain CEO Nick Cary said that opaque business practices, trade manipulation, and corruption were all factors in supporting decentralization.
Why Decentralization Matters
While the panel each had a different answer ready to go for that question, the next one left them all a bit stumped: how will decentralized systems make money?
There was a big pause from the panel over this question, with no one seeming to want to take it on first. The investors seemed to agree that at this time the jury’s still out on how exactly these platforms will generate revenue, although they did refer to the fat protocol theory as well as layering solutions that could work for revenue generation as well as advertising, etc.
Larchevêque boldly stated that speculation was currently the method used by decentralized projects to generate revenue.“The biggest investment model of decentralization right now is speculation. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it’s very early. A lot of the money is done by mining and an ICO is the objective… for that to work, you need infrastructure and then you have a few business models which are really working.”
“I think it may be a while before we see the real business model of the use cases for the platforms that are being built now,” he added.
Nick Cary of Blockchain agreed, saying that the ability to invest in project tokens, as well as the businesses themselves, was a valuable aspect of the crowdfunding market, although he did have some choice words to say about ICOs.“Just because you do an ICO tomorrow and raise a tonne of money does not mean you will inevitably have some sort of incredible business. In fact, it may misalign your incentives to grind through the challenges in the early days.”
Cary went on to clarify that building infrastructure and hiring talented people costs money and that the model allowing people to invest in tokens and businesses was an interesting and useful one, agreeing with Larchevêque that the final business model allowing for decentralized revenue generation may be as of yet undecided, saying that the decentralized platforms pose a huge threat to their centralized platform.
“If I were to try to kill Facebook, what I would do is launch a social network with tokens that would allow all people that participate to earn income from the ad sales,” he concluded. “There’s some clever entrepreneur out there that’s going to figure this out.”
After a Tumultuous 2018 for Crypto and the Birth of Stablecoins, Here is what to Expect in 2019
2018 was the year of the bear run and the stablecoin. So what does 2019 hold for the crypto world? While it is impossible to tell what exactly will happen in 2019, one can make a good guess. Here are the five likely scenarios that will play out in 2019 for crypto:
Tether Will Lose Traction
For years, there have been issues raised about how legit Tether is. Despite this, it has remained a popular stablecoin in the crypto world.
However, rival stablecoins such as Coinbase, Circle, and Gemini could offer a challenge. This will erode the monopoly that it has enjoyed in the past. Even if Tether does not shutter as Basis did at the end of 2018, it will most likely not be as dominant.
Facebook Will Mint The WhatsApp Crypto
Facebook has been interested in creating a payments platform for years. The effort started in 2014 when it poached David Marcus of PayPal.
Marcus became the head of messaging products at the company. However, he was picked to head the company’s blockchain project in 2018, which is still shrouded in mystery. Recent reports indicate that he might launch a WhatsApp-based remittance service in India. After a rough period in 2018, the company could use a win in 2019.
The Regulators Will Go After Big Fish
The SEC will take on the major players in crypto in 2019. For instance, it might decide that XRP is unregistered security.
If that happens, Ripple could be hit with huge fines. It might also decide to shut down an exchange for not adhering to anti-money laundering laws. Besides that, celebrities who have used their star power to pump ICs might be in trouble.
The Bitcoin ETF Gets Approved
As the crypto world evolves, it could help the stage for a BTC traded fund also called an ETF. After the bubble burst, investors that are more reasonable are joining the crypto world.
Right now, a firm called Bakkt, created by those behind the NYSE wants to launch a BTC futures market. This could help to improve liquidity in the crypto world. Thus far, it is known that an SEC commission is seeking to have the BTC ETF approved. Before that, a VanEck might or might not be approved next month. It is worth noting how that works out.
The Bear Run Persists
The crypto world has been in a bear run since they reached a high in 2017. Right now, various factors such as volatility in the equity market, a possible economic recession, and global geopolitics might reduce appetite for crypto assets for now.
However, there is a bit of disagreement on this. Some experts believe that prices might bounce back soon. Others believe that crypto prices have not hit their low yet.
There is a lot of agreement and disagreement over whether these predictions will happen. However, there is quite good evidence to support them if you look at the crypto world right now. It is also worth noting that this is a young industry and anything is possible.
Dan Hedl: Satoshi’s Bitcoin Vision was a Viable Banking Alternative, not a New Visa for Payments
The former Blockchain executive and a cryptocurrency veteran, Dan Hedl, has said that Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin, wanted bitcoin to be an “alternative to banks”, and not a “new visa.”
In a series of tweets on January 14, Hedl took up an argument with other cryptocurrencyenthusiasts who believe that the idea of Bitcoin was to be a currency for payments.
1/ Satoshi’s Vision™ is a silly endeavor, as it doesn’t matter what it was, we are where we are now. However, those pushing the “Bitcoin was first made for payments” narrative insist on cherry-picking sentences from the white paper and forum posts to champion their perspective.
— Dan Hedl (@danheld) January 14, 2019
He argued that those who have this mere belief haven’t quite understood bitcoin’s full implications from Satoshi’s vision, which is clearly shown in Bitcoin Whitepaper. In his main tweet, he said that:
“Satoshi’s Vision™ is a silly endeavor, as it doesn’t matter what it was, we are where we are now. However, those pushing the “Bitcoin was first made for payments” narrative insist on cherry-picking sentences from the white paper and forum posts to champion their perspective.”
World Needed An Alternative Bank, Not Another Visa
In 2008 when bitcoin whitepaper was published, it happened that there was a financial crisis the same year. During that time, many had lost their trust in Banks, so it was perfect timing for bitcoin to be popularized. According to Hedl, Nakamoto has cleverly planted a seed at the right timing.
Hedl also noted that:
“How do we determine Satoshi’s intention? We need to look at his ideology, description of functionality/architecture, timing, and audience. Let’s start with how Satoshi describes the problem Bitcoin solves. In his first public comms after the whitepaper, in the first paragraph: ‘The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust.’”
Hedl believes that bitcoin is largely a store of value and not an alternative to payment networks such as MasterCard and Visa.
In a tweet, Hedl noted that:
“The world didn’t need a new VISA; they needed an alternative to banks.”
When it comes to capacity, though, bitcoin will outdo payment processing networks like MasterCard and Visa, especially through the Lightning Network, which allow transactions to be processed off-chain.
Ford and LG to Use IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain to Track Supply Chains to End Child Labor
IBM will be working in order to improve the supply chain in the metals industry using the Hyperledger Fabric as a blockchain platform. The intention is to track cobalt that is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo until it reaches a car maker plant. Another project will also be tracking metals from Mexico until they reach the Ford Motor Company plant.
The first project will start with a 1.5 ton of cobalt that will be mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After it, it will be transported to China, where it will be refined. In Korea, it will be used to create a battery and it will be used in the United States as a battery for an electric car. However, everything will be tracked using IBM’s blockchain.
With this pilot, each company will be checking that the material has been treated with the standards followed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The information was shared by IBM’s general manager for global industrial products, Manish Chawla.
On the matter, Chawla commented:
“Blockchain is the most effective technology to provide real-time access to all the due diligence processes, provide visibility to the supply chain from the miners to the market. Our role in IBM is that we are bringing people together for this project and developing the platform.”
Although the intention is to improve the supply chain and have better control over the products handled there is still going to be needed human intervention. There will be inspectors controlling that the mines work properly and following international standards.
Currently, if there are workers that are working in bad conditions, the employee will be recording this on the system and the RCS Global headquarters will be alerted. In this way, they can inform the mine that the batch that they will deliver does not meet the international guidelines.
If everything goes as expected, the employee will just print a code bar that allows other companies and parties in the supply chain to confirm that this batch was mined according to international regulations.
Using blockchain technology the process will be easier. The initial monitoring will take place at the mining site. RCS employees will not have to be there full-time. Instead, everything will be auditing information provided by the management of the mine. Barcode tags will be used for assets on the blockchain and audits and other reports will be stored using an IBM server.
Each of the participants will be working as validators having their own nodes. As more companies join this pilot and program, the will have the possibility to have their node supported by IBM.
At the same time, using Hyperledger technology, customers will be able to protect their information. Companies will be able to share the information they have with third-party partners such as NGOs. In the future, and if the project succeeds, other companies could join such as automakers or electronics manufacturers.
IBM is also working with other companies such as the Canadian startup called MIneHUb Technologies, Goldcorp, Wheaton Precios Metals and many others, including ING Bank.
Back in 2018, IBM and other mining companies and refiners started to work together to leverage blockchain technology and improve the mining industry in different countries in Africa.