Čvn 14

Visa, Paypal Say They’ll Pay $10 Million to Run ‘Facebook Coin’ – Report

Big companies like Visa and PayPal are reportedly willing to pay millions for the privilege of running a node on the Facebook cryptocurrency network.


Facebook’s foray into crypto has been met with mixed reaction. Some are hailing it as the next step in a global financial revolution, while others have expressed concerns over the company’s shady past record when it comes to security, privacy and data abuses.

Nevertheless, U.S. tech and finance giants clearly want a slice of the Facebook crypto pie. According to the Wall Street Journal, a number of financial and e-commerce companies, venture capitalists and telecommunications corporations have already pledged to back the new project.

Big Names Want In On ‘GlobalCoin’

The report added that over a dozen firms, which include Mastercard Inc, Visa Inc, PayPal Holdings Inc, Stripe Inc, Booking.com, and Uber Technologies Inc, have formed a consortium and agreed to pledge $10 million each to secure governance over the new crypto coin.

It was reported last month that the social media giant was recruiting backers and aimed to raise $1 billion for the crypto project.

Fearing Bitcoin, VISA and Mastercard Reclassify Crypto Purchases as 'Cash Advances'

The currency dubbed ‘Libra’ or ‘Global Coin’ is expected to be officially announced next week. The stablecoin will be pegged to a basket of government-issued currencies — similar to the IMF’s SDR (special drawing rights) basket of fiat currencies — to avoid the volatility of cryptocurrencies.

The report was not very complimentary of bitcoin stating,

It has been a decade since bitcoin was born, yet consumers hardly use it—or the hundreds of other cryptocurrencies—to pay for things. Facebook is betting it can change that with a crypto-based payments system built around its giant social network and its billions of users.

The usual regulatory concerns have been raised as governments get anxious about the potential for money laundering. According to the WSJ, Facebook won’t exactly control the new coin, neither will the individual members of the consortium, which is known as the Libra Association.

Citing people familiar with the situation, it added that some could serve as nodes for blockchain transaction validation.

Facebook is still the direct developer of the greatly guarded technology so its influence over the coin is likely to be as strong as it has over the data on the social media platform. Just like Google, Facebook has a highly secretive algorithm that determines what users can and cannot see in its news feed.

‘Facebook Coin’ Will Boost Bitcoin

Co-founder and partner at Morgan Creek Digital Anthony ‘Pomp’ Pompliano said that the move was especially bullish for Bitcoin adoption considering two of the backers are Visa and Mastercard.

Participating in the Libra project allows companies like PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard to exert some level of control over the new ‘cryptocurrency’ and its centralized governance. This makes the new coin unlike Bitcoin that’s an open-access cryptocurrency allowing anyone to download the software and run a node.

Therefore, ‘Facebook Coin’ is unlike to pose any real threat to the future of decentralized peer-to-peer finance. Instead, it already looks to be more like a competitor to banks or even Starbucks Rewards than P2P ‘digital gold.’

Will Facebook crypto be a threat to bitcoin? Add your thoughts below.


Images via Shutterstock

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Kvě 12

‘Facebook Coin’ Will Be More Like Bitcoin Than Starbucks Rewards, Says Analyst

Speculations about the purpose of Facebook’s planned digital coin are getting wilder. Ignoring key features like independence and decentralization, one analyst predicts that ‘Facebook Coin’ would look more like Bitcoin or Ethereum than your Starbucks reward points.


Facebook Coin Might Encourage Viewing Ads

With growing interest, many are trying to envision Facebook’s planned ‘FaceCoin.’ Lacking specifics from Facebook, speculations abound about everything from the coin’s name to what it will be used for.

Under the code name “Project Libra,” tech journalists say, Facebook, Telegram, and Signal are devising their own digital token, which would allow their billions of users to exchange money across the Internet, through their payment systems.

Others argue that Facebook’s coin will be more like one of the major cryptocurrencies. In effect, one analyst, Lisa Ellis, a MoffettNathanson partner, predicts:

The Facebook (FB) coin (Facecoin, perhaps?) would actually look more like one of the large public cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum and less like the internal-payment or loyalty systems that companies like Starbucks(SBUX) use.

She adds that FBCoin will likely be a more-public coin that’s governed by an independent board such as Ethereum and its foundation.

Except That It Won’t…

But regardless of the type and number of predictions put forward, one thing is sure. Facebook’s digital coin won’t be anything like Bitcoin.

It will be issued, developed and controlled by a centralized authority. Its ledger will not be immutable, and access will likely require your Facebook account.

The social media giant has not explicitly denied or acknowledged any of these speculations too. The latest statement on the subject from the company was issued to Barron’s on May 10, 2019,

[Facebook is] exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share.

Visa, Mastercard Would Welcome a ‘FaceCoin’

But while Ellis didn’t mention any specifics, Ellis believes Facebook’s coin probably will end up being a tool to encourage users to watch ads.

This is something Brave has been attempting with its browser and native BAT token though some haven’t been impressed and are working on a more bitcoin-friendly version.

Meanwhile, Ellis had also earlier warned clients that cryptocurrencies could pose an existential threat to Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal. In contrast, she argues that Facebook’s coin would actually benefit these payment giants. Ellis wrote,

If Facebook(FB) launches an open digital wallet and checkout button, the company will need to collaborate with Visa and Mastercard(MA) to enable a variety of card-based funding methods in its wallet (similar to Apple Pay, PayPal(PYPL), or Google Pay).

So how will it be like Bitcoin again?

Will Facebook’s digital currency be anything like Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!


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Úno 02

My Bank App is Better Than Bitcoin for Payments (And That’s Fine)

The cryptocurrencies are faster and cheaper narrative has fizzled out as banks have embraced digital payments in recent years, improving customer experience and usability. Sure, buying a beer with a QR-code may give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it isn’t the problem Bitcoin solves. It is much more than that.


Banks Go Digital

An all-too-common narrative a few years back was that Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) would outcompete the likes of Visa and Mastercard with speed and cheaper transactions.

“Won’t somebody think of the merchants” was an often-repeated argument in 2014-215 because credit card companies typically charge around 3 percent service fee to process payments.

Fast forward a few years and merchants haven’t budged. Nor are they jumping on payment-focused coins either like Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash etc. So why didn’t they stick it to Visa and switch to ‘crypto’?

Digital fiat payments have actually become not only more ubiquitous but also much easier and cheaper. Though the latter is partially due to costs being offset by selling customer info to advertisers (which is a topic for another article).

Banks have indeed upped their game as far as user-friendliness goes with mobile apps, contactless payments, in-app integration, you name it. In fact, it’s never been easier to part ways with your money than it is today.

contactless payment nfc pay to swipe card

My Bank Card Beats Your Favorite Coin

My card, given to me by my bank, is tied to an app on my phone so I can check my balance and track all my balance and transaction history. I was impressed when BTC wallets did this six years ago. But banks have caught up fast and are beating cryptocurrencies in this arena.

The card/app work seamlessly together enabling contactless payments in the store, on public transport, and pretty much anywhere Visa/Mastercard are accepted, which is literally everywhere.

Sure, discussing Bitcoin is fun and all. But sometimes I just want a quick coffee without proselytizing Bitcoin to a barista who obviously doesn’t care about censorship-resistance and decentralized consensus protocols.

I should also mention that my bank has excellent customer support. It knows who I am and will block anyone else from using my account with the press of a button on my smartphone. My bank will refund me any money lost due to fraud – which is very reassuring unlike that uneasy feeling of possibly sending BTC to the wrong address by mistake.

What’s more, I can send money instantly to my friends for absolutely zero fees. And why wouldn’t it be zero? My bank is using a good old database after all – not your blockchain that takes minutes to confirm.

In other words, big blocks, small blocks, medium-sized blocks – none of this can compete when it comes to the speed and efficiency of a centralized database for payments.

My bank app even has a QR-code option for in-person payments if I’m feeling extra Bitcoin-ish.

The Problem That Bitcoin Solves

Bitcoin, however, wasn’t meant to compete with Visa or Paypal. Digital payments were already gaining traction when Bitcoin spawned from the 2008 financial crisis.

Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model.

– Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin Whitepaper

Bitcoin was instead designed as an alternative to the central banking system that has historically abused the public’s trust. One hyperinflationary episode is all it takes and the money becomes worth less than the paper it’s printed on.

Bitcoin’s monetary policy, on the other hand, is completely transparent, its supply and inflation rate is known, and it’s the hardest form of money to ever exist. Yes, even more than gold because mathematical scarcity beats perceived scarcity. 

These attributes make it a money technology that has never existed before – and more importantly, removes the need to trust any intermediary.

In an article titled The Problem That Bitcoin solves, economist and The Bitcoin Standard author, Saifedean Ammous, explains:

[Paul Krugman] seems, mistakenly, to assume bitcoin is competing with consumer payment networks like Visa or PayPal….that is not what bitcoin is best suited for. Rather, bitcoin is an international settlement network, one that competes with the central bank settlement systems that are the foundation upon which networks like Visa or PayPal depend.

Therefore, the ‘payments for coffee on the blockchain’ narrative is dying because paying for stuff and accepting digital payments today isn’t a problem for people.

However, the public is also slowly realizing why Bitcoin isn’t going away. Particularly as publications like Time magazine release articles titled ‘Why Bitcoin Matters for Freedom’ and places like Venezuela are demonstrating how Bitcoin is literally saving lives.

That’s not to say that payments aren’t important. This and other use-cases will be built as ‘apps’ harnessing the trustless Bitcoin blockchain (e.g. Lightning Network). But they’re secondary to what’s really at stake here in an increasingly authoritarian and cashless fiat system: financial sovereignty.

Do you agree that Bitcoin’s primary role is to preserve financial sovereignty? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Čvc 21

Bitcoin is ‘Not an Investment … It’s a Trade,’ Says Billionaire Howard Marks

Howard Marks, co-founder and co-chairman of Los Angeles-based distressed debt investor Oaktree Capital Management, slammed Bitcoin for not having any substance — while saying investors are merely speculating on its price without being able to judge its intrinsic value. 


‘It’s Not an Investment’

Marks took part in CNBC’s eighth annual conference for institutional investors – Delivering Alpha — which was held in New York, where he expressed his rather negative sentiment towards the first and foremost cryptocurrency.

Marks noted that Bitcoin (BTC) 00, which has a market capitalization upwards of $126 billion, fails to fulfill the definition of an investment, stating:

It’s not an investment … it’s a trade.

He went on to imply that any and all long-term investors are merely speculating on its price, stating that those who buy Bitcoin do so “Not because they can specify its intrinsic benefits. Not because they can judge the intrinsic value. But only because they think it’s going up.”

The billionaire investor also made reference to the “Greater Fool Theory” — a popular argument which defines the price of an asset not by its intrinsic value but rather by the expectations of the market participants.

Marks also expressed his bearish stance on the future of Bitcoin, stating:

In the long run, I think it will be shown not to have any substance.

It goes without saying that Bitcoin has its fair share of speculative traders. However, can’t this be said for other asset classes as well? Marks has already once acknowledged that he doesn’t know what’s behind Bitcoin, yet this hasn’t kept him from bashing it and everyone who believes in its value.

Meanwhile, one of the world’s largest financial services providers, MasterCard, won a patent which purports to pave the way for crypto-based credit card payments — essentially hinting that the company believes cryptocurrencies are here to stay.

‘Unfounded Fad’

It’s worth noting that Marks’ latest talks are fairly lighthearted compared to his previous outbursts on Bitcoin.

In one of his memos of 2017, he slams cryptocurrencies as an “unfounded fad”:

In my view, digital currencies are nothing but an unfounded fad (or perhaps even a pyramid scheme) based on a willingness to ascribe value to something that has little or none beyond what people will pay for it.

His remarks greatly resemble ones from another prominent figure in the financial world – JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon — who also believes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a fraud. However, Dimon has since taken a U-turn on his statements, publically acknowledging that he regrets making them.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Marks once also admitted that his views on Bitcoin were mistaken and that he had been looking at the cryptocurrency the wrong way.

Do you think Bitcoin has no intrinsic value? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of the Bitcoinist Archives, Shutterstock.

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Dub 16

Samsung Delves Deeper into Crypto Exploring Blockchain for Its Logistics

· April 16, 2018 · 5:00 pm

Samsung Electronics Co. is the latest big name to show a keen interest in the powers of blockchain technology, specifically, how it can be incorporated into their supply chain management processes.


Even though cryptocurrencies may still be getting critiqued, it’s supporting technology is being more readily adopted. The advantages of blockchain such as security and immutability, are major drawcards for companies that rely heavily on record keeping, such as healthcare, finance, and even art.

Blockchain to aid in shipping

However, it is also a viable option for supply chain management, an option that massive electronics corporation, Samsung, is ready to explore. According to Bloomberg Quint, the company’s logistical and information and technology branch, Samsung SDS CO., could use a blockchain ledger to monitor their billion-dollar global shipments sector.

Song Kwang-woo, the blockchain chief at SDS, touched on how the technology could revolutionize other businesses:

It will have an enormous impact on the supply chains of manufacturing industries. Blockchain is a core platform to fuel our digital transformation.

A cost-effective way of working

A part of this digital transformation is working towards a paperless way of doing business. Not only are physical documents annoying, they’re expensive too. In fact, according to International Business Machines Corp., the documentation costs for container shipments is more than double that of other modes of transportation.

When it comes to Samsung shipments, this equals a substantial amount of money. For this year alone, SDS projects that the company will transport 488,000 tons of air cargo and one million 20-foot-equivalent (TEU) shipping units. The SDS has said that by implementing blockchain technology, the company could save as much as 20% in shipping fees.

It’s not just about saving money though. Blockchain technology could actually impact on overall customer satisfaction. This is because efficiency associated with this technology could mean a shorter time span between product launches and product shipment. Not only will that keep Samsung customers smiling, it will also give the company a competitive edge over their industry rivals.

Cheong Tae-su, who is a professor of industrial engineering at Korea University, explained a bit further:

“It cuts overhead and eliminates bottlenecks. It’s about maximizing supply efficiency and visibility, which translates into greater consumer confidence.”

What’s more, Samsung appears to be going all-in into cryptocurrencies in general as it recently announced manufacturing mining chips. This move that puts them in direct competition with the Taiwan-based company, TSMC, a preferred ASIC chip supplier to Bitmain.

Samsung joins an ever-growing list

Samsung isn’t the only global company big on blockchain. Mastercard recently announced that they will soon be hiring blockchain experts to help drive innovation with regard to payment solutions.

Governments are also realizing its benefits, with China financially contributing towards blockchain-based startups. In addition, the European Union has launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, which aims to foster blockchain promotion.

The blockchain business is definitely booming. The US-based research company, Gartner, has predicted that the technology will add $176 billion USD worth of value to businesses by 2025. This number is set to increase to over $3 trillion by 2030.

What do you think of yet another big corporation using blockchain technology? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bttcoinist archives

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Říj 22

Mastercard Blockchain Now Open for Payment Processing

· October 21, 2017 · 8:30 pm

Mastercard has opened up their own blockchain to allow payment transactions to be carried out between selected banks and merchants, but this process uses fiat currency and not Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.


Quite a few companies have taken a keen interest in what blockchain technology has to offer, and one of these corporate entities is Mastercard, the massive credit card provider. Mastercard has spent the last few years developing its own blockchain, and now the Mastercard blockchain has been opened up as an alternative method of paying for goods and services. The major difference found in the Mastercard blockchain is that it does not use its own cryptocurrency. Instead, it uses real world money.

Mastercard Blockchain Open for Business

The Mastercard blockchain is now open for specific banks and retailers to use as a payment processing system. So far, participation in this blockchain is by invitation only. The last week has been a busy one for Fortune 500 companies and blockchain technology. IMB opened up their own blockchain earlier in the week. Probably the most intriguing aspect of the Mastercard blockchain is that it does not use its own cryptocurrency, which is something that even the IBM blockchain does.

Justin Pinkham, a senior vice president at Mastercard Labs, says:

We are not using a cryptocurrency, and we are not introducing a new cryptocurrency, because that introduces other challenges—regulatory, legal challenges. If you do a payment, then what we can do is move those funds in the way that we do today in fiat currency.

Why the Mastercard Blockchain Could be Very Successful

Some people may look at the Mastercard blockchain and shrug, but there are some factors in why it could be very successful. The first such reason is that Mastercard is lord and master of a vast financial empire, so to speak. It has a settlement network that counts 22,000 banks and financial institutions from all over the world. Few other entities have such a global reach. Another important factor is that the Mastercard blockchain only uses fiat currency, which reduces costs as there’s no need to convert one form of cryptocurrency into another and then, eventually, cash.

This reduction in cost is also amplified by reducing fees for cross-border payments. Normally, a payment that crosses national borders would have to pass through different sovereign banks, racking up fees with each step. The Mastercard blockchain would remove those steps entirely, thus making the payment less expensive and probably faster. Eventually, Mastercard’s blockchain could be used for other items, such as luxury goods to provide “proof of provenance.”

Overall, this is an interesting development. Could the lack of a cryptocurrency tie-in fire a shot across the bow of other blockchains? One also wonders how the energy use for a single transaction on the Mastercard blockchain compares to current credit card transactions and Bitcoin. A Dutch bank recently reported that the average energy cost for a Bitcoin transaction was 200kWh, and the cost for an Ethereum transaction was 37kWh. By comparison, a credit card transaction only incurred an energy cost of 0.01kWh.

Do you think the Mastercard blockchain will have a major impact? Does the fact that it does not use a cryptocurrency have long-lasting ramifications? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Pixabay, and Flickr.

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