All posts by Alan B. Zibluk

Bitcoin Price Breached $2,000, Pundits Coin-Flip What Comes Next

Bitcoin Price Breached $2,000, Pundits Coin-Flip What Comes Next

  

Bitcoin price finally breached the much anticipated $2,000 line,

sending excitement throughout the burgeoning global cryptocurrency community. As early as five a.m. GMT+2 on Saturday, CoinMarketCap listed the pacesetter of digital currency for $2014 with almost $34 mln Market Cap. The $2,000 lane has been expected for some time now but it intensified three days ago when Satoshi Nakamoto's brainchild stabilized at the $1,800 range. On Friday it made it to the $1,900s further increasing the $2,000 price obsession. As much as it is good news for the whole community, what does this mean for all of us? What is in it for the ecosystem? Experts and community members differ on what’s ahead.

Lingham: not healthy

Bitcoin Price Pundit Vinny Lingham is not excited about the current price trend and sees it as very deleterious for space. "Not healthy in my opinion, but clearly everyone else knows best," he noted. "I'll just wait and see."

Malcolm Macleod: problems remain

More so, Gulden Wallet Developer, Malcolm Macleod's concern is that the price has been pushed too high, without the fundamentals to back it up and ultimately it is damaging to the ecosystem. He cites particularly the ongoing transaction queue problems. "These things are always a mixed bag, so probably some good and some bad things come from it," Malcolm stated.

More flow from fiat

But Alexandro Colorado of Bitcoin Mexico believes otherwise. For him, even though Bitcoin certainly has the availability issue but the rally has merits. "It makes sense as there is more money coming into the system," Alexandro explained to Cointelegraph. The Chief Cat Herder of Cryptopulco, the annual cryptocurrency conference in Acapulco, Mexico, Nathan T. Freeman had this to say:

"BTC increases in value relative to USD because people are willing to give up more fiat currency in exchange for Bitcoin. If you try to explain why they are willing, you are projecting a motive for their subjective value, and you're most likely full of shit. Even if the motive you ascribe is correct, you can't prove it. It's just an unfalsifiable claim in a sea of individual choices. It's all good."

Bitcoin Bubble to burst in 2019?

Though the network is growing impressively, hitting pass $2,000 seems like an impending doom for some experts. Whilst others point to some nagging fundamentals, many are optimistic it will keep growing without any blemish.

Alexandro Colorado says:

"A bubble is some sort of manipulation but actual growth is another thing. Companies grow billions in months, why crypto shouldn't? The Mexico-based Bitcoin enthusiast pointed out that a lot of the world still don't know or trust crypto but it doesn't mean we are heading into a bubble.”

When Cointelegraph asked Vinny Lingham if there is an impending bubble,

this was his answer:

"Yes, but people who called the bubble in 2011 were wrong. It took two years to burst."

Coin-flipper

Malcolm MacLeod is unsure if there is going to be a burst, but it is unclear to him what fundamentals if there are any behind the latest price growth. "I think there is a high chance that it is a bubble of some kind but I hope to be wrong," he indicated. Absorbingly, this is Nathan T. Freeman's take on whether it is a bubble and

Will it burst soon:

“There's only one major event in Bitcoin itself that could shape the future, and that's the outcome of the block size debate. All other factors are outside the purview of Bitcoin itself and therefore could shape out. Anyway, you're talking about predicting the simultaneous global effect of huge political shifts.”

"Predicting a bubble is a dice roll, and anyone who claims to know those outcomes is a coin-flipper," he added.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Price Hits $2,087, Trading in Japan, South Korea for $2,350

Bitcoin Price Hits $2,087, Trading in Japan, South Korea for $2,350

  

Bitcoin price established its new all-time high at $2,087 earlier today

after surging past its previous all-time high set at $2,050, with demand toward Bitcoin rising from institutional investors in the US, Japan, and South Korea. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is being traded in Japan and South Korea, the second and third largest Bitcoin exchange markets in the world, at around $2,350, at an 11 percent premium relative to the global average Bitcoin price and the price listed by US-based Bitcoin exchanges. Analysts including Charles Hayter, the CEO of CryptoCompare, explained that the Japanese and South Korean Bitcoin exchange markets played a key role as the driving factor of Bitcoin’s recent price surge. In an interview with CNBC, Hayter stated:

"Arbitrage between the fiat pairs drags markets up or down in line with leading markets. At present, volumes on the KRW and JPY pairs dominate trading with a combined 48 percent market share.”

Cointelegraph previously emphasized the importance of the Japanese and South Korean exchange markets on the global Bitcoin market. The two markets hold over 48.6 percent of the global bBtcoin exchange market share and represent the vast majority of institutional investors within Asia.

Japan, in particular, has experienced an explosive growth in demand for Bitcoin as some of the country’s most influential conglomerates announced the launch of their independent digital currency exchanges, with the vision of facilitating fiat-to-digital currency trading securely and transparently, with low fees.

Forever blowing bubbles

Cointelegraph reported that a significant number of investors have started to fuel an altcoin bubble concentrated around Ripple and NEM. IndieSquare co-founder and Japan-based researcher Koji Higashi stated that the legalization of digital currency and the tax exemption of Bitcoin convinced beginner and casual cryptocurrency traders that every other cryptocurrency is legitimate and well-based. However, Higashi noted that most investors are investing in cryptocurrencies apart from Bitcoin with relatively shallow knowledge and understanding of digital currencies.

Higashi explained:

“I think I know the answer now. Newly entering Japanese investors are driving this great altcoin bubble and not-so-smart money is flowing into the space especially into some altcoins at a rather concerning rate. Another thing to note about this new trend is that the general lack of understanding or appreciation of the technology by many of new users.”

What happens next

In the next few months, as Bitcoin maintains its momentum and upward trend, it is likely that the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange market will demonstrate some stability and see a decline in interest over alternative cryptocurrencies or altcoins. If so, the demand for Bitcoin will likely increase over time. Currently, analysts and researchers at mainstream media outlets such as CNBC and Bloomberg are attributing Bitcoin’s recent upward momentum to the economic uncertainty and instability of the US. This is a rational conclusion considering that the US replaced the Japanese Bitcoin exchange market for the first time in the past 12 months to become the largest Bitcoin exchange market.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Palestine Considers Launching Its Own Bitcoin, But Why Reinventing Wheel?

Palestine Considers Launching Its Own Bitcoin, But Why Reinventing Wheel?

  

In a bid to free its economy,

Palestine is considering a digital national currency. But with Bitcoin around, is it worth reinventing the wheel?

Using foreign currencies

There are many countries that do not have a national currency and instead use another country’s currency in daily lives. For example, East Timor, British Virgin Islands, Palau and Zimbabwe use the US dollar. Similarly, Montenegro, San Marino and Kosovo use the Euro. The case of Palestine is an interesting one as it uses multiple currencies like the US dollar, Jordanian Dinar and the Israeli Shekel. Now, it has emerged that the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) is planning its own digital currency, something of a Palestinian Bitcoin.

Enter the Palestinian Pound

There are a number of digital currencies already in circulation. Bitcoin, of course, is the most popular and widely used of them all. These currencies are not issued by a central monetary authority like a central bank. However, inspired by them some central banks have been mulling the idea of launching national cryptocurrencies as well. We reported that Senegal was introducing a national cryptocurrency as an example. Similar plans have also been discussed with regards to Sweden and China.

A Palestinian currency thus would not be the first or unique in this respect but it does bring to fore an interesting use case: countries that have trouble printing their own currencies due to one reason or another can explore a digital currency alternative. The proposed digital currency would be called the Palestine Pound.

Skirting Israeli curbs

The proposed digital currency can help Palestinians skirt around Israeli curbs that have been imposed and the need for obtaining clearance from them.

Azzam Shawwa, Governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority was quoted by Reuters as saying:

“If we print currency, to get it into the country you would always need clearance from the Israelis and that could be an obstacle, So that is why we don't want to go into it.”

The digital currency would largely eliminate that problem for the Palestinians. According to Reuters another problem that PMA might encounter is the 1994 Paris Protocol, which gives PMA the legitimacy of a central bank but does not allow it to issue currency. The Paris Protocol suggests that the Palestinians use the Israeli currency – The Shekel instead.

Five-year strategy

According to what the PMA governor told Reuters, the Palestine Pound is a part of the bank’s ‘five-year strategy’, which will be published before the end of 2017. The governor also revealed that the digital currency route is a preferred alternative. It would be interesting to see if the Palestinians could pull off a national cryptocurrency in the short to medium term.

However, the governor seems to realize the scope of the wider challenge that awaits him. He revealed to Reuters:

“But it's not only the currency, you have to see the economy also. Issuing (a currency) is something, but you also need the backbone of the currency; reserves, gold, oil and that is part of the business plan.”

Bitcoin to help oppressed

While a national currency for Palestine may or may not happen, countries that do not have their own currencies can always use Bitcoin as an alternative.

As Max Keiser wrote way back in 2013 in RT:

“Bitcoin, like the spiritual leaders who have come before it in the Middle-Eastern desert, is a miraculous gift capable of transforming an oppressed, forgotten people. The Palestinian economy is a multi-billion dollar economy that unfortunately benefits mostly outsiders. But if Bitcoin were adopted as the official currency, Palestinians would be able to shape their own economic destiny and in so doing their sovereign destiny.”

If economic independence is the stated aim of the PMA, then it should probably explore what already exists instead of reinventing the wheel.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Top 10 Reshuffles On CoinMarketCap: Ethereum vs. Ripple, Nem vs. Litecoin & More

Top 10 Reshuffles On CoinMarketCap: Ethereum vs. Ripple,
Nem vs. Litecoin & More

  

As Bitcoin continues to grow,

some altcoins are not being left behind either. Last week there was an intense competition on the Top 10 of CoinMarketCap with some casualties being posted. It was so engrossing to see some old cryptocurrencies uprooted from their longstanding positions. This registered the fact that no entity has a monopoly over a particular position.

Ethereum lost to Ripple

Smart Contract king, Ethereum in a very surprising circumstance lost its long-held number two spot to snowballing Bank Transfer giant Ripple. Fascinatingly, within the week it doubled its value and it was near twice the value of Ethereum. Rising almost 40 percent, its market cap was over $15 bln. It has now lost almost $2 bln and Ethereum is now closing the gap. Actually, it was the second best-performing cryptocurrency on the top 10 last week.

Yet still, Ripple leads Ether with almost $2 bln in Market Cap. Some analysts in the space are strongly convinced it is likely that it will recover and take back the number two position it nearly monopolized for a couple of years. It remained to be seen since Ripple keeps making deals with banks around the world expanding its portfolios. Anyway, Ethereum with no doubt as well has become a popular smart contract platform.

NEM pushed Litecoin

In a related development, on Thursday fast-growing NEM also pushed SegWit trailblazer, Litecoin to the fifth rank and became the world's fourth most valuable digital currency. This was when the Ethereum Token rose a towering 50 percent in growth rate. It became one of the notorious astonishments associated with altcoins rise since Litecoin, the silver of crypto has been performing awesomely in the market since choosing the SegWit path. Well in this space nothing is no more a bewilderment. NEM now holds more than $2 bln in Market Capitalization. Significantly New Economic Movement (NEM) was the best performing crypto in the week and continues to lead in altcoin growth in 2017. It seems to be attracting more investors to its fold.

Stellar Lumen vs. Monero

Another interesting raging battle is between the radioactivity of Ripple as a result of a misunderstanding, Stellar Lumen, and steadily declining Monero. On Thursday XLM dislodged Monero from the eighth rank but the latter fought back gallantly to take it back on Friday. Alas! This did not last long and the Microfinance Blockchain once again took over on Saturday. At the time of filing this report, the difference in Market Cap between the two was $20 mln. If Monero remains the way it is tanking, the likelihood of gaining back the position is slim. Moreover, Stellar Lumen so far has given all indications it has come to the top 10 to stay.

ByteCoin bites Steem

Among the other things, last week witnessed a newcomer in the ranks of the elites when Bytecoin crashed the gates of the top 10 sending Steem stumbling down below. For four days now Bytecoin has held the tenth position firmly. It is up to them to prove to the community if they have come to stay or not. Meanwhile, Siacoin is barking fiercely to gain entrance to the top as it is now at the eleventh spot. Cointelegraph anticipates a hot week ahead.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Untraceable Coins Storming Into Top 10 Cryptocurrencies – Bytecoin Surge

Untraceable Coins Storming Into Top 10 Cryptocurrencies – Bytecoin Surge

Bytecoin, an untraceable privacy-preserving cryptocurrency,

has just seen an astronomical triple-digit percent surge in price. The cryptocurrency soared to the all time high market capitacapitalization44,000,000, before calming down to around $300,000,000 and establishing itself at the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization at the time of writing (according to CoinMarketCap). A symbolic turning point for one of the first untraceable cryptocurrencies launched in 2012.

The price hike happens upon the flourishing investor interest in cryptocurrency markets, and in particular upon the growing public appreciation of untraceable cryptocurrencies that contain privacy mechanisms (other examples are Monero, Dash and Zcash, which have also experienced an increase in value in the recent months). The Bytecoin surge may also be attributed to the announcement of the new features, which include allegedly never-before-implemented untraceable tokens – also known as “digital assets” or “colored coins”.

Bug discovery

Amid the Bytecoin price rise, a cryptocurrency Monero has released a statement disclosing a vulnerability in the CryptoNote protocol, that underlies both Monero and Bytecoin cryptocurrencies. As written in the statement, the bug “allows for the creation of an unlimited number of coins in a way that is undetectable to an observer unless they know about the fatal flaw and can search for it.” The statement does not list Bytecoin as one of the currencies that have updated the protocol following the detection of the bug.

According to the official response from the Bytecoin, its development team has been aware of the vulnerability in April 2017, when during software testing it has discovered that several malicious transactions creating 504 million Bytecoins had appeared in the network – which accounts for 0.2% of the total 183 billion Bytecoin supply.

Questions remain

The development team states that it patched the bug and worked with the mining services to update their software (that validates the transactions in the network), as soon as the bug was found. According to Minergate, the major Bytecoin mining pool, it was contacted by the Bytecoin team in the mid April and “the fix to the mining software has been implemented by adding more checks for the transactions consistency” shortly thereafter.

The updated version prevented blocks with malicious transactions to be mined and thus no extra coins could be created. The questions still remain about the cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets, who are supposedly “safe to stick with the previous version of software”, according to the Bytecoin statement, but “encouraged to update the protocol”.

The rise of token untraceability

In spite of this bug discovery and patching, the CryptoNote-based cryptocurrency markets, including Monero and Bytecoin, has been positive, keeping them among the top 10 by capitalisation. Whether it is because the coin holders are not well-informed of the protocol issues or they are confident of the development teams’ ability to manage these issues, the fact remains that Monero’s and Bytecoin’s capitalizations jointly amount to $750,000,000 at the time of writing, and as a result many early adopters have gone from rags to riches.

With the ICO phenomenon coming into place this may not be all, as new cryptocurrency teams emerge stating their intention to adopt the privacy-preserving CryptoNote protocol. In fact, if the concept of untraceable tokens (untraceable digital assets) becomes a reality this year as promised in the Bytecoin roadmap, the major trends of the crypto world could in theory converge: the booming ICO phenomenon, the increasing capitalisation of tokens created on top of various blockchain platforms, and the growing market interest in untraceability and privacy. We are here to observe and see.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Price Breaks $2,000 in Historic All-Time High

Bitcoin Price Breaks $2,000 in Historic All-Time High

Bitcoin Price Breaks $2,000 in Historic All-Time High

 

Bitcoin price has, for the first time in its history, reached $2,000 and beyond during trading on Saturday.

The world’s most prominent cryptocurrency began trading in 2017 at $1,000 per coin, with today’s new all-time high representing a doubling of value for bitcoin. On an average, bitcoin price climbed to $2,040.88 in global trading markets. On the Bitstamp Price Index (BPI), price struck a high of $2,020.

Trading leading into Saturday saw global average prices climb to $1,968.48. A steady period of trading during the day saw prices climb throughout before crossing the symbolic $2,000 milestone at 18:00 (UTC) on Saturday.

“Nearly seven years ago to the day, the first real-world Bitcoin transaction was completed in Florida, when two pizzas were bought for 10,000 bitcoins,” reminded eToro senior markets analyst Mati Greenspan in conversation with CCN. “If you’d invested $100 in bitcoin that day and left it there, you’d be sitting on over $20 million right now.”

He added: “The $2,000 mark is a historical moment for Bitcoin”.
 

Intriguingly, trading over the last 24 hours was led by US markets followed by Japan, the inverse of recent trading trends of the past few months. Bitfinex, GDAX and Bitstamp led the way in the US marketplace, altogether leading to over 35% of trading in the past 24 hours. Trading markets in Japan, China and South Korea combined for over 45% of trading volumes.

Bitcoin prices have gained 50% in May alone, a month that saw bitcoin in the headlines for being abused by ransomware extortionists behind the global WannaCry cyberattack.

“One might have expected that the WannaCry cyberattack – in which hackers asked for payment in Bitcoin – would have had a negative effect on price, but it seems like not even a ransomware attack can prevent the rise of Bitcoin,” Greenspan added.

The analyst also revealed that bitcoin’s soaring gains hasn’t put off existing investors from continuing to invest in the cryptocurrency. “Bitcoin is gaining some serious momentum among investors on our platform, with 88% of Bitcoin traders still buying the asset.”

Bitcoin’s flourish comes during a time of marked gains for the wider cryptocurrency ecosystem, led by the likes of Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple.

After hitting an unprecedented $100 for the first time on Thursday, Ethereum’s ether token is now trading above $125.

Altogether, the entire cryptocurrency market cap is now valued above $70 billion, up from less than $30 billion a little over a month ago.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

Author:Samburaj Das

 

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Can Applications Communicate Over Blockchains?

Can Applications Communicate Over Blockchains?

  

The author Benedikt Herudek pushes the frontiers of decentralized systems in describing how Turing Machines can communicate over Blockchains.

We will suggest introducing Turing Blockchain Machines, using Blockchains as a Turing Tape. Turing Machines are a simplified yet powerful Model for Computability and the every-day life programs we design and use. We introduce them as a ‘Gedankenexperiment’ on an abstraction of Blockchains as Turing Tapes with specific features to try to answer the question, if applications could communicate over the Blockchain.

This endeavor is connected to the question, how far we can push Software Decentralization and with them human relations and society organized by them? Decentralization is a promise because the Implications of using Technology in the way Bitcoin does, suggest it is possible to defeat large cartel-like organizations, which sit right and accepted in the middle of society.

Technology does have a liberating power if designed right: kicking out ‘middle-’ or ‘highwaymen’ is one of them.

The question raised here (we are not ready to give an answer) is a connected precursor to the vision to endow Blockchains with a ‘Turing Complete Language’. Such Blockchains, foremostly Ethereum aim to have ‘programmable money’ and want to allow decentralizing any application logic, (not ‘just’ money). The approach suggested here aims to have any kind of signal (not ‘just’ money) exchanged via Blockchains, such that it is clear ‘what it means’. Both approaches have in common to attempt to generalize Bitcoin‘s Blockchain approach.

Ingredients of decentralization

If you purchase a good or a service from someone, who doesn’t happen to be your neighbor or a family member, you typically need these three ingredients.

  1. ‘Money’ and an accepted way to pay, like cash or electronic payment
  2. A common nomenclature as a basis for agreeing what you buy and the seller sells
  3. A governance framework to ensure you get what you ordered, you pay what you received and can dispute if appropriate

One form of trade trading over the Internet, private-public key cryptography and browsers are practically indispensable but taken as a given here. When you want to decentralize trade in this sense you need

Regarding (1):
Bitcoin. Bitcoin solves the double spending problem with a distributed System and a ‘hardened’ Ledger based on the proof of work mechanism

Regarding (2):
We can solve this problem if we can prove that Turing Machines can teach each other languages over a Blockchain. This is the focus here.

Regarding (3):
Turing Complete Blockchains, e.g. Ethereum. If we can establish

Smart contracts which are distributed, verifiable and ‘unstoppable’ we have a good chance to digitalize and decentralize important and relevant parts of governance Above listed ‘smart contracts’ realm is sometimes referred to as ‘Internet of law’ as opposed to ‘Internet of money’ referring to Bitcoin and other digital currencies. In the digital realm you can easily imagine one get music files delivered, based on cryptocurrency payment was done or certain conditions (amount of clicks on your post) are fulfilled. Where conditions and delivery lap over into the real world (like delivering a book after you successfully ran a marathon) currently it takes a bit more imagination (and IoT, sensors and maybe even Artificial Intelligence) to imagine the general working of such smart contracts.

Note that questions like ‘Can Machines teach languages’ or ‘Can Machines understand each other’ are rather ‘fuzzy’ questions. They can easily lead astray into questions like ‘Can Machines Think?’ With Chomsky and others, it is important to realize that these questions are ultimately questions as to which metaphor one wants to choose. A better way is to reuse Alan Turing’s approach and try to formalize the question such, that it can be answered.

Half way decentralization

Imagine you ‘don’t mind’ a translation layer as described above in (2). You only mind (1) the decentralized payment and (2) a Turing complete language as part of the Blockchain. Then, you set out to build a new kind of marketplace, a ‘decentralized eBay’ on top of it. Your infrastructure and your payment are decentralized, still, you will end up with a ‘large monolithic application’.

Even on decentralized platforms, for applications, some kind of organization has to define the rules, e.g. how to offer and purchase goods, which data formats they need to use and so on.

Everyone will have to abide the rules that ‘decentralizes eBay’ set up. Even if the founders have best intentions to not monopolize the process, centralization will have to happen because of the basic architecture of the System. A typical answer to this centralization on the Turing complete Blockchain is the so-called ‘Decentralized Autonomous Organization. The idea is essentially the organization defining all rules needed to run the applications, is itself democratic and decentralized.

But however well intended and efficient a Decentralized Autonomous Organization would be, it is still an institution to force parties into agreements on how applications should be set up. The more successful a DAO is the less an individual voice will count, the less autonomy there will be and the more centralized the DAO will look to the individual.

Seeking Decentralization in rich applications on top of a decentralized turing complete platform will lead to centralization on the Blockchain. The ‘trick’ to avoid this ‘successful DAO dilemma’ is to not place entire Applications on an immutable Blockchain. Rather, only the transactions that concern Communication between two parties should go to the Blockchain and only on those (but not on the entire Application Logic) should parties have to agree. To allow innovation you need to give autonomy to their applications and force them under agreements on the shared Blockchain, only where absolutely necessary. You want to keep your network dumb, allow autonomous edges to run innovation.

With ‘decentralization’ we foremostly target towards certain effects on power and social relations we would like to see in the real world, like e.g. making banks unnecessary for payment traffic and central banks obsolete for monetary (specifically inflationary) policies. Technology is an enabler only and technically, decentralization these days is typically implemented by a Distributed System with a consensus system, to ensure there is just one truth in spite of many copies of the shared database. If you stress values like ‘autonomy’, ‘resilience’ or ‘simplicity’ in your system you could with some right also claim that paradigms like ‘Service Oriented Architecture’ or ‘Micro-Architectures’ should be seen as part of the Decentralization Paradigm. Those are architecture patterns, describing how Systems can communicate while being decoupled. They are typically mentioned in an enterprise context and do not have the privilege of carrying the sub-service odor of Bitcoin but they certainly are architectures carrying the possibility to not build ‘huge monolith blocks’, which is really just another expression for ‘not Centralizing’. Some describe Microservice as Service Oriented Architecture without the so-called ‘Enterprise Service Bus’. This is the Integration Layer, which tends to take over a lot of logic like routing and translating different nomenclature. How ‘smart’ you want to design your network and how much logic you want to put into it, is a recurring theme in designing Systems and can have surprising effects, what power relations Systems can implicate.

Of course, there are legitimate usages of a turing complete Blockchain, e.g. for the Internet of Things. Nothing stops one (e.g. if one prefers DAO’s over conventional companies and that does hold a lot of promises) to rewrite known applications on a turing complete Blockchain. However, for the context we are looking at it, turing complete Blockchains main usage would be to – one fine day-(semi-) automate governance with smart contracts.

Automating Translation

Here is why you should care about (2), the translation layer: Your main reason, why Amazon or Ebay has a website you go to, is that it allows you get in touch with the creator or owner of something you would like to have. It allows you to pay (1) and when you paid, it gives you a governance framework (3) to ensure the process (like shipping) works for you because there are legal frameworks behind both the platform and the vendors offering their goods. Somewhat hidden is the fact that the platform delivers a significant (2) ‘translation exercise’ for you. That would be obvious if a Spanish person offers a good offered over eBay by a Chinese person and both only speak English. The platform just sets a common standard (English), how these people can interact. But that would be just the UI surface, the platform itself sets all kinds of standards that enable interaction: The vendor has to accept a certain User Interface and with that, a certain data format prescribing, how the article pictures and descriptions are rendered. That Data format to offer goods then works perfectly with the data format prescribed by eBay to purchase goods, which is the format working ‘under the hood’ when you press the order button. Ebay, in fact, acts as your translator, you have to pay for that. This might be more obvious if we think through this situation in a B2B context where companies would offer and order good via message Systems, automated and without a User Interface. The messages to offer goods would need to be matched with the messages wanting to buy goods. Someone needs to translate these messages into each other.

Typically this just happens via the man in the middle setting a standard. This is the common way these days to establish common terminology allowing applications to talk: per definition. In a typical enterprise, if you want two applications to talk to each other, you make a design, where both parties agree with which messages eg in formats like JSON or XML they will communicate. Whoever went through this, knows this can be a painful process and doesn’t make your projects ‘exactly agile’. On a broader scale, you will have entire bodies with the goal to set standards, like eg the World Wide Web Consortium. Many have good intentions, but the necessary effort and time for meetings and achieving agreements is not a healthy environment for fast innovation. Worse, there are ‘information-cartels’, whose business model eventually depend on establishing and dominating standards allowing people to connect. Ebay and amazon would dominate, even if we would all pay with Bitcoin and even if they were rebuilt on ethereum and ran as a DAO. But all they do is make sure technically people get in touch with each other.

Establishing a common nomenclature per definition is not only stifling innovation it also opens up the backdoor for monopolists and decentralization.

A different way of establishing communication could be to use an approach similar to how we translate natural languages with machines like google translate, essentially we just have a look at how so far parties communicated and draw our conclusion for the future. One could easily imagine building a general machine translation ‘google translate for apps’: all kinds of messages connecting different Systems would be fed in, working translations (typically initiated by humans via above described ‘definition’ approach) would be used to bootstrap the engine and then a self-learning ‘google translate for apps’ would be set up to translate message formats into each other. With the size and clumsiness of the Application Integration Business, it is a surprise, enterprises didn’t use Neural Networks to widely automate this part of the Application Integration Business, just as a decade ago cloud computing started automating (in the sense of ‘hiding from the client’) hardware setup.

Even more so because you don’t have to come up with fancy neural networks to predict, how some Systems will communicate. You could just say if two applications are part of the same industry, they probably use standard XYZ, if they are from the same vendor they probably use standard ABC, if similar Systems have used message formats 123 before for similar cases these two fellows might need just the same, maybe you can parse an XML and reassemble it with some other names and the target system will ‘eat it’. Sometimes a ‘nice & long if then statement’ is just about right.

But doing trade predicting future terminology based on the past just isn’t good enough in many circumstances. Sending Bitcoin over the Blockchain and establishing smart contracts on platforms like ethereum is a binding agreement, which absolutely cannot or should not be changeable: immutability leaving no room for disputes is the cornerstone of such use cases. If you inject now a level of uncertainty as to what your terminology was really supposed to mean, you open the backdoor for irrefutable disputes Imagine Application A sends a message, B takes the translation from an Integration layer, reasoning (‘messages XYZ usually mean in other contexts ABC for applications like me’) and delivers an expensive good. Now, A can always claim ‘well, you misunderstood me. The fact that in cases before the message XYZ translates into ABC doesn’t hold here. I want my money back.’

Predicting future translations based on past successful translations isn’t good enough for Blockchains and the level of trust and binding agreements to base smart contracts on them.

Another way of thinking of this is the following thought experiment. Imagine, a Mars-UFO lands in Amsterdam, Central Station. It’s an unmanned ship, but there is a pretty smart Computer inside. We want to communicate with this device. Connect it to the best and super-trained machine Language Integration layer. It will deliver no results, because saying that our ‘earth-machines’ communicate in ways XYZ, doesn’t mean anything for ‘mars-machine’. Even if we think we ‘understand’ the machine (with an assumption as ‘there are only so many ways how digital systems can operate’), we never really know, if we understand the machine correctly. Now, if ‘setting standards’ stifles innovation, fosters centralization and ‘predicting based on the past’ isn’t a safe enough bet, one way out of the deadlock could be machines teach each other the language, unambiguously and retraceable over an immutable Blockchain, with which they will transact.

Talking Turing Machines

A ‘Blockchain Turing Machine’ is a conventional Turing Machine with the following specifics:

  1. The Blockchain is the shared Turing Tape. There is one machine sending, while the receiving machine is attempting to detect the state machine table of the sending machine
  2. More general, in a Blockchain Turing Band, we will have several participants talking to each other. For our purposes, we will just consider one pair of sender and receiver
  3. Machines can never erase fields, that is for one direction when they move they can only read but not write. This is reflecting the Blockchain immutability feature.

State Machines would be any Applications behind an address, which write transactions onto the Blockchain to communicate with other Applications. There would be no Turing Complete Language, the endpoints, however, could have any Turing Complete Language and any rich features they like. The logical translation and communication layer would be connected to layers for payment and governance, the latter potentially turing complete.

Here is a simple example, Bit Inversion.

The Sender holds a State Machine with the Following State Table. So we write a 1 and move the tape right by one square. The symbol being read is now 1, so we write a 0 and move the tape right by one square Similarly, the symbol read is a 1, so we repeat the same instructions. If, in any case, the Receiver can ‘figure out’ the state table of the sending Turing Machine only if the Sender presents ‘all he got’ (operations, symbols) within a fixed time limit. With that in mind, our question is:

Can we describe a Blockchain Turing Receiver Machine, that is capable of noting down any Blockchain Turing Machine Sender state table unambiguously while watching all the Senders operations and symbols on a shared Blockchain Tape?

If this is the correct question, then one way of investigating is going over the numerous theorems proven over Turing Machine to see what they can contribute. Some other interesting questions to investigate could be:

  1. Are Blockchain Turing Machines (no erase possible) useful
  2. Do we need to restrict the language types (e.g. along the Chomsky hierarchy) sending Machines can use to make translation for the receiver possible
  3. Are there languages or certain statements that can in principle not be translated unambiguously?

We will not discuss those but ask, how we could interpret a ‘yes’ to the question we ask. My conjecture: It means ‘quite a bit’. Take a Computer Program that essentially ‘figured out’ what another Application does, of which it ‘just sees’ some messages. It means this program ‘knows’ what these signals mean and can, therefore, initiate appropriate action. Now, it’s a quite a leap from the Turing Machine sparse notation towards a full Web or Enterprise Applications sending JSON or XML message (‘Clients want a uber- ride Berlin Brandenburger Tor to Tiergarten right now’). But that’s the beauty of Turing Machines, they are simple but can simulate essentially ‘anything’ you need in the digital world. Note also that Applications absolutely do not need to know everything about each other, lots of the typical application logic (how the app works to order an Uber ride, what internal states are saved, how the UI works) is entirely irrelevant to the trading partner (the individuals offering the ride application): Only the transactions counts and that is often much simpler than the entire application producing the message.

Having such a Blockchain Turing Machine Translation Mechanism (transforming a Blockchain into a ‘Babel-chain’ if you will), would have considerable advantages over the above-listed Mechanism to connect Application. The Mechanism wouldn’t offer any ‘wiggle – room’ and no room undue transaction fees. Take the approach, where we assume Application ABC ‘probably meant that’ because similar applications ‘meant that’ in ‘similar cases’. You can’t base important transaction on that unless a human checked it. Because whoever ordered, could always argue there was a misunderstanding, and in this case, the machines cannot just conclude from the past to the future. If you involve humans to review Machine translations or simply set standards for communication from the beginning, you will have all the disadvantages that ‘middlemen’ bring along, best studied with the example of Banks: They will want a share of your transaction, even though they add little value other than facilitating a transaction. They tend to inflate their importance beyond their due position.

If you can automate the translation between Machines and run this over a public and immutable Blockchain, you leave no room for misunderstandings no backdoors as to what ‘was meant’. Everyone can check the ‘understanding handshake’ and the language the two machines agreed upon for their transaction. There is no place for humans or organizations taking an undue tax on your producers and consumers transactions.

After the terminology is agreed, the transaction itself goes into an immutable and verifiable Blockchain, payments and governance can be processed. If we can’t make turing machines teach their language we need to revert to one of the two other ways to make machines talk. Agreements can work, the internet, for example, is widely build on accepted standards like http and smtp – it works, but it is hard to imagine how you could get monopolists agree to standards today. Making a prediction based on past experience can take us far but also only so far as to the binding character we would like to see on Blockchains. A hybrid approach could be another interesting option, where you agree for example on an algorithm to generate translations based on past working translations. And the agreement is that whatever a certain algorithms spits out, will be the agreed message format.

Request for Comment

Decentralization is the task of relieving us of the ‘middle-man’ tax. Gain and fame should be with the producers of goods and much less with cartels dominating trade – just like banks should have a serving, not a dominating role in the economy. Technology allowing true peer2peer transactions with no room for centralisation can play a liberating role. Avoiding centralisation in Networks implies placing the rich application in autonomous endpoints of the network. Doing this requires making ‘Applications talk’ such that there is no human intervention required and certainty over common nomenclature. Asking the question, if Turing Machines can communicate over Blockchains is a way of trying to push the frontiers of Decentralised Systems.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Trust Your Oracle? Cornell Launches Tool for Confidential Blockchain Queries

  

Smart contracts are touted as having the potential

 to do all kinds amazing things. But, to fulfill their promise, they need a way to communicate with the outside world. That is not so easily done. Due of the nature of a blockchain (all nodes need to agree on any change in state of the database), smart contracts cannot simply fetch data on their own. So, instead, they rely on 'oracles'. A key part of the smart contract ecosystem, oracles allow smart contracts to access information, like a commodity, currency, derivative pricing and more, from websites, and then use that data to implement the terms of a smart contract. But oracles come with their own set of challenges.

For example, an oracle needs to be able to provide a tamper-proof source of information. So, if your smart contract offers insurance against flight cancellations, you want to make sure that the data you are getting on flights is accurate, and has not been altered at any point after being scraped from the website. Confidential queries are another issue. Say, a smart contract needs information on a personal bank statement or a medical record. A query from the oracle to the website would need to contain login, password or other private information. And you don't want anyone seeing that.

Sealed in a box

To that end, researchers at Cornell's Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3) have launched an oracle service that allows ethereum smart contracts to obtain trustworthy information and to securely send confidential queries to websites. Unlike other oracles, Town Crier, as the service is called, gets its added security from Intel's Software Guard eXtensions (SGX). IC3 has already implemented SGX on Teechan, a proposed off-chain payment solution for bitcoin, though not without some measure of debate. But Town Crier is officially IC3's first published and first deployed SGX-based tool.

If you are wondering how SGX works, it essentially lets you run code inside an enclave, or a type of black box environment, which provides extra protection against tampering. Not even a computer's own operating system can see the data inside the enclave. Another feature SGX offers are 'remote attestation'. That means those using the service will be able to validate Town Crier code is, in fact, running in a secure SGX environment. Ari Juels, a professor at Cornell Tech working on the project,

told CoinDesk:

"Assuming that you trust SGX, data delivered by Town Crier from a website is guaranteed to be free from tampering. This authenticity property means that to trust Town Crier's data, you only need to trust Intel's implementation of SGX and the target website."

While Town Crier runs its core code on a server with an SGX chip, the solution also has a front end that consists of a smart contract running on the ethereum blockchain. According to Juels, Town Crier will also be instrumental for permissioned blockchains, in which fewer, trusted participants exchange data.

He said:

"Even if banks trust one another to source data correctly, they are not going to trust one another to handle data on business plans or trades, so confidentiality features of a system like this are also very important in a permissioned setting."

Other solutions

Still, IC3 is not alone in seeking to provide assistance on oracles. Other oracles that have been proposed in the past include Augur and Gnosis, which are both prediction markets that rely on the 'wisdom of the crowd'. Another service is Oraclize, which relies on a TLSNotary – a service that allows an auditor to verify if a specific web page was accurately retrieved. Still, Town Crier has framed as unique in that it relies on a specific type of hardware for its security. Right now, although fully functional, Town Crier is still officially in alpha, nd supports only query types for flight data, stock tickers, UPS tracking and weather data. The project has also partnered with SmartContracts.com, so anyone wanting to spin up a Town Crier oracle and experiment with coin price queries, and easily do so.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Blockchain technology could help poor people around the world

Blockchain technology could help poor people around the world

  

Big Wall Street companies are using a complicated technology called “blockchain”

to further increase the already lightning-fast speed of international finance. But it’s not just the upper crust of high finance that can benefit from this new technology. Most simply, a blockchain is an inexpensive and transparent way to record transactions. People who don’t know each other — and therefore may not trust each other — can securely exchange money without fear of fraud or theft. Major aid agencies, nonprofits, and startup companies are working to extend blockchain systems across the developing world to help poor people around the globe get easier access to banks for loans or to protect their savings.

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Listening to scholars of business and technology focusing on the impact of blockchain and other modern technologies such as cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things on poor people, there are four main ways blockchain systems are already beginning to connect some of the world’s poorest people with the global economy.

How does a blockchain work?

A blockchain is a fancy word for a transaction-recording computer database that’s stored in lots of different places at once. The best-known example of blockchain technology is the electronic cryptocurrency called bitcoin, but the concept can be applied in lots of different ways. One way to think about a blockchain is a public bulletin board to which anyone can post a transaction record. Those posts have to be digitally signed in a particular way, and once posted, a record can never be changed or deleted. The data are stored on many different computers around the internet and even around the world.

Together, these features — openness to writing and inspection, authentication through computerized cryptography and redundant storage — provide a mechanism for the secure exchange of funds. They can even involve what are called “smart contracts” — transactions that happen only if certain conditions are met — such as a life insurance policy that sends money to the beneficiary only if a specific doctor submits a digitally signed death certificate to the blockchain. Right now, these sorts of services are available — even in the developed world — only because nations have strong regulations protecting the money people deposit in banks and clear laws about obeying the terms of formal contracts.

In the developing world, these rules often don’t exist at all — so the services that depend on them don’t either or are so expensive that most people can’t use them. For instance, to open a checking account in some parts of Africa, banks require enormous minimum deposits, sometimes more money than an average person earns in a year. A blockchain system, though, inherently enforces rules about authentication and transaction security. That makes it safe and affordable for a person to store any amount of money securely and confidently. While that’s still in the future, blockchain-based systems are already helping people in the developing world in very real ways.

Sending money internationally

In 2016, emigrants working abroad sent an estimated $442 billion to their families in their home countries. This global flow of cash is a significant factor in the financial well-being of families and societies in developing nations. But the process of sending money can be extremely expensive. Using MoneyGram, for example, a worker in the U.S. with $50 to send to Ghana might have to pay $10 in fees, meaning the family would receive only $40. In 2015, transaction costs and commission rates averaged 10.96 percent for remittances sent from banks and 6.36 percent for sending money through money transfer operators. Companies justify their costs by saying they reflect the price of providing reliable and convenient services.

By contrast, Hong Kong’s blockchain-enabled Bitspark has transaction costs so low it charges a flat rate of about $2 for remittances of less than $150 and 1 percent for larger amounts. Using the secure digital connections of a blockchain system lets the company bypass existing banking networks and traditional remittance systems. Similar services helping people send money to the Philippines, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Rwanda also charge a fraction of the current banking rates.

Insurance

Most people in the developing world lack health and life insurance, primarily because it’s so expensive compared to income. Some of that is because of high administrative costs: For every dollar of insurance premium collected, administrative costs amounted to $0.28 in Brazil, $0.54 in Costa Rica, $0.47 in Mexico and $1.80 in the Philippines. And many people who live on less than a dollar a day have neither the ability to afford any insurance nor any company offering them services.

In India, for example, only 15 percent of the population has health insurance. Even those people pay higher relative premiums than in developed countries. As a result, people in South Asia pay a much greater share of their health care costs out of their own pockets than do people in high-income industrialized countries. Because blockchain systems are online and involve verification of transactions, they can deter (and expose) fraud, dramatically cutting costs for insurers. Consuelo is a blockchain-based microinsurance service backed by Mexican mobile payments company Saldo.mx. Customers can pay small amounts for health and life insurance, with claims verified electronically and paid quickly.

Helping small businesses

Blockchain systems also can help very small businesses, which are often short of cash and also find it expensive — if not impossible — to borrow money. For instance, after delivering medicine to hospitals, small drug retailers in China often wait up to 90 days to get paid. But to stay afloat, these companies need cash. They rely on intermediaries that pay immediately but don’t pay in full. A $100 invoice to a hospital might be worth $90 right away — and the intermediary could collect the $100 when it was finally paid.

Banks aren’t willing to lend money in places where fraudulent invoices are common, or where manufacturers and their customers might have inconsistent and error-ridden records. A blockchain system reduces those concerns because these records must be authenticated before being added to the books and because they can’t be changed. Those Chinese pharmaceutical companies are getting help from Yijan, a blockchain that is a joint effort of IBM and Chinese supply management company Hejia. Electronics, auto manufacturing and clothing companies facing similar difficulties are the test markets for Chained Finance, a blockchain platform backed by financial services company Dianrong and FnConn, the Chinese subsidiary of Foxconn.

Humanitarian aid

Blockchain technology also can improve humanitarian assistance. Fraud, corruption, discrimination and mismanagement block some money intended to reduce poverty and improve education and health care from actually helping people. In early 2017 the U.N. World Food Program launched the first stage of what it calls “Building Block” — giving food and cash assistance to needy families in Pakistan’s Sindh province. An internet-connected smartphone authenticated and recorded payments from the U.N. agency to food vendors, ensuring the recipients got help, the merchants got paid and the agency didn’t lose track of its money.

The agency expects using a blockchain system will reduce its overhead costs from 3.5 percent to less than 1 percent. And it can speed aid to remote or disaster-struck areas, where ATMs may not exist or banks are not functioning normally. In urgent situations, blockchain currency can even take the place of scarce local cash, allowing aid organizations, residents and merchants to exchange money electronically. Blockchains can even help individuals contribute to aid efforts overseas. Usizo is a South Africa-based blockchain platform that lets anyone help pay electricity bills for community schools. Donors can track how much electricity a school is using, calculate how much power their donation will buy and transfer the credit directly using bitcoin.

Future potential

In the future, blockchain-based projects can help people and governments in other ways, too. As many as 1.5 billion people — 20 percent of the world’s population — don’t have any documents that can verify their identity. That limits their ability to use banks but also can bar their way when trying to access basic human rights like voting, getting health care, going to school and traveling.

Several companies are launching blockchain-powered digital identity programs that can help create and validate individuals’ identities. Using only an internet-connected smartphone, a person is photographed and recorded on video making particular facial expressions and speaking, reading an on-screen text. The data are recorded on a blockchain and can be accessed later by anyone who needs to check that person’s identity. Without email, phones, passports or even birth certificates, a blockchain could be the only way many poor people have to prove who they are. That could really make their lives better and expand their opportunities.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

How Blockchain Could Help Emerging Markets Leap Ahead

How Blockchain Could Help
Emerging Markets Leap Ahead

  

Much has been made of the potential for blockchain technologies

to open up new vistas for business and society. But is there a way for this revolutionary technology to empower the rich and poor alike? We argue that, like previous revolutionary ideas, blockchain has the potential to help developing nations leapfrog more developed economies.

Leapfrogging — using the lack of existing infrastructure as an opportunity to adopt the most advanced methods — has been a highly effective strategy for developing nations over the last few decades. The most visible example of leapfrogging today is in nations like Kenya and South Africa, which have rolled out near-universal telephone access using 3G networks instead of laying down copper cables, and provided internet access by smartphone rather than with desktop PCs. But it’s not just physical infrastructure that can be leapfrogged.

One of the 20th century’s most celebrated examples of leapfrogging happened in Japan, when the country recovered from the ravages of World War II by embracing sophisticated new manufacturing techniques. Quality control revolutionized Japanese manufacturing in the 1960s and 1970s, even though the concept could not find a foothold in American manufacturing (although it was originally developed by an American, W. Edwards Deming). Quality control became a cornerstone of industry in Japan, reshaping the country’s national brand around companies known for manufacturing excellence, such as Toyota, Canon, and Nikon. European and American companies had to play catch-up for decades.

How Blockchain Works

One of today’s most celebrated examples of leapfrogging is the M-Pesa mobile payment system in Kenya and Tanzania, which lets people bank in their national currency using only their phones, leapfrogging traditional banking practices and creating a mobile banking revolution. This, in turn, boosted development by allowing relatively poor farmers to reliably send and receive payments at affordable rates, fostering economic growth by lowering transaction costs. Research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has found that mobile money services have lifted 194,000 Kenyans out of poverty, with a particularly large impact in female-headed households.

Simply copying the banking systems of the West, which have been built up over centuries, would not have been as easy or as effective for the people of Kenya and Tanzania. An added benefit is that mobile money services such as M-Pesa are more advanced and sophisticated than those found in many developed economies. It simply made more sense to leapfrog the financial infrastructure of the developed world, rather than support outdated legacy systems.

Where are the opportunities for developing economies to leapfrog now?

India’s Aadhaar biometric ID card system is a great example. It secures transactions by “anchoring” people’s identities, thus facilitating trade. The system assigns a unique 12-digit number to all Indian residents, which is stored in a central database along with biometrics such as fingerprints and iris scans. If someone wants to perform a transaction, such as opening a bank account, they present the card and have their fingerprint or iris scanned. This helps to prove their identity, cutting down on fraud and creating market efficiencies. The system currently serves a billion people. This is by far the largest and most comprehensive adoption of biometrics technology by any government in the world; transactional security is a priority in India. Aadhaar can be used to sign up for new mobile phone service, a process that still requires paper ID in many countries and is frequently subject to fraud.

Transactional security extends beyond biometrics, which only secures the last link in a financial transaction; blockchain could secure the entire transactional process. For developing economies, this security is vital for ordinary people who want to trade. Even better, blockchains can spur local high-tech innovation. The natural decentralization of blockchain means that distance to infrastructure like data centers doesn’t matter. Developing nations can build their own technology hubs, and any code created there would be as secure as services created anywhere else in the world. Everywhere is the same to the blockchain, which could support home-grown technology industries in many developing countries.

Blockchains can also address the most pressing needs of developing-world governments: the modernization and digitization of government functions. The current world leader in blockchain adoption is Dubai, and there is much in Dubai’s approach that could be adopted by developing world nations. The Dubai Blockchain Strategy (disclosure: Vinay is the designer) envisions moving all government documents — more than 100 million documents per year — onto a blockchain by 2020, creating a new platform for innovation and huge cost savings.

The approach Dubai is taking to blockchain adoption, with the central government providing services on the blockchain as a way to spur innovation, could be an example for developing countries looking to kick their economic growth into a higher gear by establishing standards of integrity in fundamental systems of trade — particularly where exports require strong evidence about the origins of goods, like coffee or timber. The Internet of Agreements is our technology vision for trade facilitation, building on core concepts in the blockchain space. We believe that any agreement or transaction can be supported by technology, and our vision is simple: global trade, local regulation, and computers handle the red tape.

Global trade, with local regulation facilitated by technology, works because technology makes the transaction costs manageable. We don’t necessarily need huge unifying platform agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or even the European Economic Area to reduce the paperwork associated with trade and borders — if we have the right technologies. Blockchains default to being open data, which would allow governments and companies to rapidly learn from, test, and evolve new, more efficient best practices for conducting and facilitating trade. In such a future, the transaction costs of the economic activity are drastically reduced in much the same way that the internet reduced the transaction costs of publishing and communication, resulting in the explosion of ideas we associate with it today. The usefulness of blockchain has similar promise. Just getting the costs of regulation and compliance down would open world markets and create wealth, but that doesn’t have to mean changing local regulations.

Blockchain has already drawn the attention of the economist Hernando de Soto, who has worked for decades on improving access to the formal economy for the world’s poor. He has commented that the reason poor people don’t have more access to the formal economy is twofold: (1) the record-keeping systems in their developing world countries are unreliable and (2) they won’t give up information about themselves and their transactions because they don’t trust the people they’d be giving it to (i.e., their own governments). “They don’t want to be vulnerable to something that can be used against them,” says de Soto. “And that’s what’s interesting about the tamper-proof blockchain — if you can get the right message about it out there, [people will see] that it’s worthwhile recording you.”

Because it was explicitly designed to function in an environment where participants cannot necessarily trust each other, blockchain technology is extremely secure. Records held on a blockchain database are immune to being tampered with by third parties, and can thus be authoritative. Smart contracts can provide automatic and predictable execution, again removing the ability for third parties to subvert agreed-upon processes. The benefits for a developing economy are clear: There’s less potential for fraud and corruption, trade becomes more efficient and less costly, government becomes more effective, and local technology hubs can form to build out the infrastructure and export the knowledge gained.

If M-Pesa and similar services could lift tens of thousands of people out of poverty, imagine what a full-scale transformation built on blockchain might do. It could create a hyper efficient government with provably trustworthy infrastructure; new markets and opportunities for citizens to access the formal economy on equal terms; efficiencies of operations that lower prices and improve the quality of goods for all consumers; and a kickstart to high-tech innovation around the world. All the goods flowing in and out of developing world countries could be tagged. For example, safe medication, protected from fraud, could flow in, while properly harvested wood and safely manufactured goods flow out. Educational records, business histories, health care information and edit ratings could all be made usable the world over, helping those who want to trade or travel to prove their credentials. Anybody who has ever paid too much for a college transcript or tried to clear a shadow on their credit score can see how systems like this would be helpful in our daily lives.

Nations that already have somewhat efficient systems might lack the incentive to adopt blockchain technologies at this time, but the rest of the world may well see an opportunity to innovate on internet time. If they do, the many ways they might leapfrog developed nations are limited only by the imagination of billions of people whose first real access to governance and trade infrastructure will look entirely 21st-century. Those are big dreams, and we should not be surprised if some of the world’s next leading megabrands and global platforms are born far away from the traditional centers of technology development. The future is global and so is blockchain innovation.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member