A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND
Satoshi Nakamoto: the anonymous programmer behind the Cypherpunk community 🕵
Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym adopted by the creator of bitcoin, whose true identity remains shrouded in mystery.
It is said that Nakamoto began working on bitcoin in May 2007. He registered the domain name Bitcoin.org in August 2008 and in October of the same year released a white paper describing the protocol behind bitcoin. Shortly afterwards, Nakamoto released the first bitcoin software.
In the mid-2010s, Wikipedia decided to delete the bitcoin page from its website, considering it an irrelevance. This sparked a virtual discussion between Nakamoto and other mysterious figures on how to modify the page to stop Wikipedia from deleting it. Nakamoto suggested the following definition: “Bitcoin is an implementation of Wei Dai’s b-money proposal on Cypherpunks in 1998 and Nick Szabo’s bitgold proposal.”
Over the years, both Wei Dai and Nick Szabo have been suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto.
How much bitcoin does Elon Musk have?
The serial entrepreneur and tech billionaire Elon Musk recently posted a number of tweets in which he revealed that he owns 0.25 BTC, having been gifted the currency by a friend. However, Musk also added that he couldn’t remember where he had stored them!
NOT ALL CORNERS OF THE WORLD
Countries where bitcoin is mined 🌎
The production of bitcoin – better known as bitcoin mining – tends to be concentrated in countries where the cost of electricity is relatively low. Bitcoin mining occurs when computers verify existing bitcoin transactions by solving complex mathematical problems, and then receive bitcoin as a reward.
Bitcoin mining also has positive effects on the economy of a country. It’s a fact that bitcoin mining creates jobs in cities suffering from economic depression. Moreover, in China’s Sichuan Province, mining is helping to use up surplus hydroelectric energy.
The majority of bitcoin mining takes place in China, Georgia, Sweden, Canada and the USA. Iceland is also becoming a force in crypto-mining, while Switzerland – with its wealth of hydroelectric energy – already boasts a crypto-friendly area known as Crypto Valley, in the Zug region.
The signs suggest that Iceland may soon use more electricity for bitcoin mining that it does for domestic demand.
Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson from Icelandic energy company HS Orka told the BBC that the amount of energy used for bitcoin mining is growing exponentially, with data centres set to use more energy that all the residences in the country in 2018.
On paper, bitcoin can only prosper in Iceland thanks to the low cost of energy and the country’s lightning-fast internet connections, which use super-quick fibre-optic technology.
Moreover, the particularly cold climate in the region plays a crucial role in preventing crypto-utilities from overheating. The hardware used for mining emits a great deal of heat, meaning that Iceland’s year-round cold climate avoids additional costs relating to cooling or temperature control.
China’s Bitmain: the biggest bitcoin producer 🏅
A secretive Chinese bitcoin start-up may have made billion in 2017.
Do you know how much Bitmain – the largest bitcoin mining company in the world – made in profits last year?
If we take the most conservative estimates, you’re looking at between $3 and $4 billion.
The Chinese start-up was founded in Beijing in 2014 by two Chinese developers. Part of their success stems from the way they incorporate mining costs into the prize of bitcoin. This includes an operation known as mining pool, which allows miners to team up to cut costs.
Facebook, Twitter and Google ban ads
Facebook has banned all ads that promote cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, in an effort to prevent people from advertising what the company is calling “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”
Google has announced the same decision. Also Twitter recently began blocking crypto ads.
Recommended reading: Books on Bitcoin
Andrew Courey, an 11-year old middle school student in Massachusetts and son of a tech investor, recently published a 57-page book on bitcoin “Early Bird Gets The Bitcoin: The Ultimate Guide To Everything About Bitcoin” which he self-published for the Amazon Kindle in January. The e-book sells for $2.99, and the paper copy, just released, costs $9.99. He did the research when he wasn’t in school, playing sports or working on mobile apps.
|HE WHO LIVES BY DIGITAL, DIES BY DIGITAL
Kodak crypto currency and the mining machine 📷
You press the button, we do the rest
Kodak – the sacrificial lamb of the digital revolution – announced in January that it will be launching its own branded cryptocurrency, together with a blockchain-based platform, all oriented towards the world of photography. Their aim? To help photographers and agencies to have greater control over how they manage image rights.
The launch of the photography cryptocurrency saw the value of company shares on the New York Stock exchange nearly double.
At CES in Las Vegas, Kodak also unveiled KashMiner, a Kodak-branded machine for bitcoin mining created by a company called Spotlite.
THROW YOUR HAT INTO THE RING
Merchants that use blockchain and/or accept cryptocurrencies 🍗🍔🌯🚀💍🏫
KFC Canada and the bitcoin 🍗
KFC Canada is one of the brands that have decided to accept payments in cryptocurrency, albeit for a limited period of time and only on a specially created product: the Bitcoin Bucket. The Bitcoin Bucket contains several pieces of chicken and is sold for a cost of 20 Canadian dollars.
Naturally, the ten minutes necessary to complete a transaction – according to Coin Central – is not exactly ideal for the fast-food industry. It’s therefore probable that KFC’s move was little more than a marketing strategy designed to get people talking. And it’s fair to say that the strategy worked, seeing as the story soon went viral all over the world.
Subway franchises in Buenos Aires recently accept Bitcoin for payments at the restaurants for their “Eat Fresh” products.
Virgin Galactic 🚀
Virgin Galactic – the company set up by tycoon Richard Branson to offer suborbital space flights to the commercial market – has been accepting payments in Bitcoin since 2013.
Burger King Russia jumps aboard the cryptocurrency bandwagon with pilot scheme in Moscow 🍔
The Russian division of Burger King has launched its own cryptocurrency – Whoppercoin – as part of a brand-new loyalty scheme.
For every Whopper Burger bought, Russian customers will receive one Whoppercoin.
Hosted on Waves, a platform where users swap blockchain tokens of a determined value, Whoppercoins are each worth one ruble and stored in a digital wallet. After 1,700 Whoppercoins (equal to about $30) customers get a free burger. While the coins’ wider use is unclear, some reports suggest that the Whoppercoin will be accepted as payment at Burger Kings across Russia. Whoppercoin has the trappings of a PR stunt, but Waves Business Development Director Maxim Pertsovskiy’s comments say otherwise. “We are confident that this decision will promote the popularization of blockchain technology in Russia,” he said in a statement. Burger King also announced plans for a Whoppercoin app.
One of the advantages of blockchain is that it can increase transparency – even in the food sector.
Every year, contaminated food is responsible for the deaths of over 400,000 people. The lack of traceability from producer to cupboard makes it very difficult for companies to identify the source of the problem and, as a consequence, resolve it.
By applying blockchain technology to a case of pineapples, for example, Walmart is able to trace its origin in just two seconds. The same task would take weeks of work if it were done using more traditional methods.
The world’s largest retailer will use IBM’s Blockchain Platform to track food throughout the entire supply chain to ensure quality in an efficient manner. Similarly, the two companies formed a consortium with several other major players in the grocery and consumer packaged goods (CPG) spaces—Unilever, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Kroger, Dole, Driscoll’s, McLane, McCormick and Golden State Foods—to identify areas of improvement and ultimately make the food supply chain safer.
De Beers 💍
The need for greater transparency is also relevant in the diamonds industry, which is considered responsible for endless violence and the perpetuation of slavery in African countries.
In 2002, the United Nations General Assembly pioneered a process to authenticate diamonds and declare them conflict-free. Along those lines, De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producer, just announced plans for the first industry-wide blockchain to track gems from the moment they’re excavated. The technology can verify a diamond’s purity in a secure way, while also ensuring it didn’t originate in conflict zones.
Never one to be behind the times, Amazon announced the Amazon Web Services Blockchain Partners Portal just before Christmas. The ecommerce juggernaut proves it also believes in blockchain’s potential in marketing, supporting the integration of blockchain solutions with systems built on AWS.
At school in New York 🏫
According to BBC sources, a number of schools in New York – including the Montessori schools in Flatiron and Soho – have started to accept payments in bitcoin on the request of parents. Curiously, Montessori schools do not allow credit card payments.
Microsoft and Steam change their minds
Microsoft and Steam, the popular gaming service owned by developer Valve, have suspended bitcoin transactions as a result of the cryptocurrency’s instability and elevated transaction fees.
A NATION OF SHOPKEEPERS
Bitcoin acceptance in Japan 👹🎌🏯
In Japan, it is already possible to use bitcoin to buy dinner in sushi restaurants, make purchases in electronics stores and even pay the gas bill – thanks to pioneering legislation in the country. In April 2017, Japan introduced the world’s first law recognising bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a legitimate form of payment. Japanese companies and users welcomed the introduction of cryptocurrency with enthusiasm.
According to the Financial Services Agency, Japan is home to 16 crypto-exchange operators, with the Tokyo-based bitFlyer one of the world’s largest.
“Effectively, Japan is the first and only country that has a proper legal system regulating cryptocurrency trading.”
THE SONG IS NO LONGER THE SAME IN FINANCE
The cryptocurrency girl band 🎤🎼 👯👯👯👯
The bitcoin phenomenon has turned the grey world of economics upside down and is now busy conquering the multi-colour universe that is entertainment.
The cryptocurrency boom has given rise to a young new girl band named Kasotsuka Shojo, which means Virtual Currency Girls in Japanese.
Yes, you heard us. The latest pop craze in the Far East is a band dedicated entirely to the world of cryptocurrencies.
In addition to the name of the band, each of the eight members represents a different cryptocurrency and wears extravagant costumes and masks decorated accordingly.
For example, 18-year-old Naruse Rara – the undisputed band leader – dresses up as Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Hinano Shirahama – who is 16 – represents bitcoin (BTC). Ami Amo is Ethereum (ETH), bitcoin’s greatest competitor, while Cardano, MonaCoin (Japan’s first cryptocurrency), Neo, Nem and Ripple are all represented too.
But the parallels with the world of crypto don’t stop there.
The eight young performers – who have just made their live debut in Tokyo – also reference the world of crypto in lyrics of their songs. Kasotsuka Shojo’s aim is to educate people about the world of cryptocurrency and digital finance. To achieve this, they’ve put some of the principles at the heart of crypto to music.
Keen for a few examples?
When they opened their big concert in Tokyo, the eight singers “warmed up” up the crowd by introducing the advantages and risks connected with cryptocurrencies, plus there were plenty of musical tutorials during the show. “The Moon and Virtual Currencies and Me” – the group’s first single, which launched the eight-piece into the musical spotlight – urges people to “not underestimate the market”, “buy at the right price” and “never used the same password twice”.
In effect, the songs serve as a manual for people interested in cryptocurrencies.
And as we wait to see whether this rhyming manifesto really will prove music to our ears, the eight girls are busy enjoying great success: singing, dancing, appearing on television and starring in adverts.
Their success seems to be unstoppable and the band will soon be embarking on an ambitious tour.
However, if you’re thinking of going to see them, be aware the tickets can only be bought using cryptocurrency from the girl band’s website!
Surprised? We’re certainly not!
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD
Other cryptocurrencies 🏦
It was the second most-searched word in the world in 2017, after Hurricane Irma.
It sparked panic amongst experts in the world of finance and other sectors, making the front pages of newspapers all over the world.
We’ve all heard of the gold rush – but we are now living in the age of the Bitcoin rush.
Despite that, there is still no widespread understanding of bitcoin. The majority of people unfamiliar with the finance sector don’t know exactly what a bitcoin is at all.
For example, many people ignore the fact that Bitcoin isn’t a synonym of cryptocurrency – but actually represents just one example of a cryptocurrency.
And although bitcoin has always been a big name in the world of crypto, people overlook the hundreds of other cryptocurrencies that have been launched at increasingly dizzying rates over the years.
Cryptocurrencies like Neo and Cardano, which put together are worth nearly $30 billion.
Ethereum is another example. Bitcoin’s great competitor has reached market capitalisation of nearly $140 million, establishing itself not just as a cryptocurrency but as a platform for producing “smart contracts”. Which are? Put simply, they’re contracts of the future which will eliminate middlemen, bureaucracy and delays, harnessing the power of the internet while using the security provided by encryption.
And while some cryptocurrencies are designed to win over the market and boost sales, others are dreamt up for nothing more than a laugh, only to be seized upon by the crazy world of digital.
This was the case for Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency launched in 2013 as a parody of bitcoin, complete with a cartoon logo. Yet things got serious pretty quickly for Dogecoin, with the price skyrocketing to see the company now worth $2 billion.
Of the 1500 or so cryptocurrencies that have so far earned an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), other stand-out names include Sexcoin, PutinCoin and InsaneCoin. They might seem crazy – and perhaps they are – but, spurred on by the crypto craze, all have achieved dizzying economic success.
Clearly, the cryptocurrency market is becoming more and more diverse.
There really is a cryptocurrency to suit any need.
Monero is the prefect cryptocurrency for anyone looking for privacy and wanting to do as much as possible to conceal information on the sender and the amount involved. Thanks to technological innovation, this cryptocurrency makes it possible to keep a range of information invisible. However, there is a dark side: many people believe that this cryptocurrency fuels the black market.
The chosen one of the big financial institutions, meanwhile, is Ripple, a system supported by software capable of moving large sums of money between the international markets. Yet the cryptocurrency has seen huge volatility: after signing agreements with over 100 banks, its value dropped by 80% from $150 billion in just one month, with the eyewatering figure of around $5 billion wiped out in just 24 hours.
And then there’s Stellar. Known as the social cryptocurrency, it works in a similar way to Ripple, but has a different target market.
While Ripple works with the financial colossuses, Stellar aims to simplify the exchange of money between people.
So what are the advantages of Stellar? Transactions are immediate and fees are extremely low, with the reduced costs meaning small payments can be managed in a sustainable manner and making it possible to fund social enterprises. Moreover, it means that world’s “the unbanked”– of which there are over two billion – will be able to open an account. Clearly, this cryptocurrency is aiming high.
So, can brands afford to just sit and watch this happen?
Of course not.
Besides Kodak, the well-known instant messaging platform Telegram – the great competitor of WhatsApp – has announced the arrival of its own cryptocurrency, named GRAM. It’ll mainly be used for making payments via chats.
And all the while, in the distance, Facebook is on the march.
AS SAFE AS HOUSES
Bitcoin bunker in Switzerland 🤐🌲⛰
Hidden in the mountains of Switzerland is an old, disused military bunker now run by Xapo, a company that rents out private suites that can be customised to incorporate cutting-edge security measures and technology and then used to store those precious bitcoin.
The exact location of the bunker is top secret, with access limited by security that would cause even Rambo or 007 a few problems.
930m2 – the size of the data centre housed in the bunker
320m – the depth of the bunker
1947 – the year in which the Swiss army built the bunker
It is rather strange to think that a virtual currency needs to be stored in an impregnable bunker, yet like all things of value, even cryptocurrencies need a physical storage place. Technically, what’s being stored is the private cryptographic keys.
These keys form a pair with public-facing keys and provide access to the balance of coins stored on the bitcoin network. Gaining unauthorized access to someone’s private key is akin to stealing their gold bar. The security protocol in the bunker is designed to ward off attacks from “well-funded terrorist groups or hackers.”
Stories of hackers finding their way through even the best-secured bitcoin accounts are legion, and—given that bitcoin was designed to make banks obsolete—it’s ironic that bank-like methods have to be used to keep cryptocurrencies safe.
If someone gets hold of your private key, there’s no way to claw the funds back or demand a refund. That’s why firms that store bitcoin like this one, called Xapo, are a juicy target—and why the bunker requires paranoiac levels of security.
Who runs the bunker? 🤑
The founder of Xapo is Argentine entrepreneur Wences Casares. It seems that he was the person who gave the first bitcoins to tech luminaries such as Bill Gates and Reid Hoffman. Casares is also on the board of PayPal.