At the time of writing, it seems the biggest trend for 2019 is the adoption of cryptocurrencies by major players. From banks like JP Morgan – an institution that was once greatly against the use of cryptos – to social media platforms like Facebook, the market is experiencing increasing pressure for Bitcoin and altcoins to go mainstream.
I argue that 2019 will be the year mainstream media starts properly discussing the value preposition of Bitcoin, both as a store of value and as a usable digital currency, especially with increased adoption from big industry players.
Facebook coin coming soon
When Facebook launches a coin, many people will use these candy-colored financial surveillance systems.
The question is, what will you use? https://t.co/qQWAtw0OF1
— Andreas M. Antonopoulos (@aantonop) March 1, 2019
As TechCrunch reported, a Facebook executive has not only confirmed the release date of the social media company’s cryptocurrency, but has also stated that the new coin will be pegged to a basket of currencies. By pegging the Facebook cryptocurrency – currently known as Libra – to a basket of currencies rather than a single one, the new coin will help mitigate against extreme price fluctuations. These and additional details will be spelled out in the white paper, coming later this month.
Last month, Coin Rivet reported that testing for Libra (at the time known as “GlobalCoin”) would begin later this year, with an initial roll out in a dozen countries expected during the first quarter of 2020. The social media network has reportedly reached out to credit card companies Visa and MasterCard to invest in the new venture. It has also sought out the advice of leading digital exchanges Coinbase and Gemini to gather intelligence on custody solutions and cryptocurrency conversion options.
Although Facebook claims the goal is to have a decentralised cryptocurrency operating within its system, given the fact running nodes is quite difficult, the small fee of $10 million, and the fact you must be chosen by Facebook, I really doubt we’ll ever think of Libra as a decentralised cryptocurrency.
Independently, I’m of the opinion Libra will help people in developing countries – where most Facebook users now come from – as they’ll be able to easily transact within the platform. Also, because the company now owns a cryptocurrency, Facebook won’t have many legal grounds to block cryptocurrency adverts.
In addition, as people feel more and more comfortable using cryptocurrencies, I see a rise in the adoption of Bitcoin due to its sound money features.
You can now pay with Bitcoin on Amazon
— paywithmoon (@paywithmoon) April 24, 2019
Simply put, you can now use Bitcoin to pay for products on Amazon. Payment-processing browser extension Moon will accept payments from Lightning-enabled Bitcoin wallets. Amazon itself never sees the Bitcoin and does not have to agree to the process.
Bitcoin is converted into fiat currency by a financial institution behind the scenes, which takes responsibility for passing the same value in regular dollars to Amazon or the seller. In other words, “merchant integration” is not required.
Microsoft isn’t missing the boat
Last month, Microsoft announced through its Research gate that it has developed a tool to audit smart contracts in Azure Blockchain. The Microsoft Research team wrote in the blog post:
“With a vision of fortifying smart contracts in Azure Blockchain, the team found a partner in researchers at Microsoft Research working on advanced techniques for ensuring correctness of software programs. The collaboration has resulted in VeriSol, a brand-new open source formal verification tool.
“With VeriSol—short for Verifier for Solidity—developers can begin to express the desirable behaviors of smart contracts written in a subset of the popular Solidity language and then use mathematical logic machinery to rigorously check those specifications against the implementation. It has recently been incorporated into Azure Blockchain’s continuous integration pipeline for smart contract development.”
Not only that, but the technology giant also added Bitcoin as a currency unit on Microsoft Excel. Does this mean Microsoft now considers Bitcoin to be a fully digital currency? Only time will tell, but the indicators do look quite bullish.
Apple CryptoKit Explained
Is @Apple entering crypto?
— Ivan on Tech (@IvanOnTech) June 6, 2019
Fundamentally speaking, the only dominant tech colossus that doesn’t seem to be making a move into cryptocurrency is Apple. Even though there were reports saying its new cryptographic toolbox – called “Crypto Kit” – was its way of dipping its toes into cryptocurrency, the news actually referred to a cryptographic tool which targets cryptographers and cryptography-focused developers.
Still, I’m finding it weird that Apple isn’t targeting this new emerging market.
Benfica partners with Utrust
Last week, we received news from multiple Portuguese news sources that Benfica, the biggest Portuguese football club by fan base, has partnered with UTRUST to accept cryptocurrency payments.
UTRUST allows customers to pay with their favourite cryptocurrency and then immediately converts it to fiat, which means suppliers can get paid in full in US dollars, euros, GBP, and other fiat-based currencies. The company’s motto is that businesses no longer need to worry about cryptocurrency volatility, making it risk and hassle-free for merchants to integrate the payment method into their business.
UTRUST is live with @SLBenfica ? We’re launching with one of the biggest football teams with 14 million fans worldwide.
It’s official—you can now pay with #crypto on the Benfica website: https://t.co/Lt7hGVOcnX pic.twitter.com/aYl8DCw6IW
— UTRUST (@UTRUST) June 5, 2019
Whether you see the fiat-to-crypto gateway as a good solution or not, one thing is certain: there’s multiple crypto-enthusiasts, like Andreas Antonopolous, who firmly believe adoption is a slow process that can only happen with fiat-to-crypto gateways and services bridging the old world with the new fully-digital and decentralised world of Bitcoin.
Of course, the more connected and entangled we are, the more technologies develop – and the more dependent we are on them, the faster they’ll reach the majority of the world’s population.
Remember it only took about 30 years for the internet to reach more than 50% of the world.
Now imagine how much faster the process will be if we’re dealing with the most basic technology we’ve invented since the wheel and fire: money.