By KJ Kingsley, Analyst
1. Twitter Seeks to Decentralize its Platform with Blockchain. Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and CEO of Twitter, announced on Dec. 11th that “Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard.” This announcement comes on the heels of Jack Dorsey’s growing interest in bitcoin and decentralized ledger technologies. Dorsey is beginning to realize that with blockchain technologies, Twitter could provide a better place to exchange ideas and views. With Twitter allocating resources to this new blockchain venture, Dorsey will likely see the difficulties to build a decentralized social media platform. Recent blockchain examples such as Steemit, Basic Attention Token, and Karma have highlighted the struggles in this space like user adoption, data security, authentic identity, development funds, and scalability. However, the push by Facebook’s Libra to enter the blockchain space may have prompted Twitter to try to succeed in this growing field. In addition, Block.one’s Voice social media application will supposedly address the shortcomings of centralized social media and perhaps Twitter will adopt the technology behind Voice. Time will only tell which incumbent social media platform will survive in the upcoming wave of popular decentralized social media applications.
2. Where’s the Funding in the Ethereum Ecosystem? Recently, the ecosystem of Ethereum saw a large upgrade that makes the blockchain more secure and scalable. Decentralized financial companies have built many applications and released code on the Ethereum network—a positive sign that there is need and demand. However, with Ethereum’s price slump and difficulties still with generating positive revenue for many Ethereum-based companies, the question of funding is paramount in this space. Without proper funding, many Ethereum start-ups are folding. The largest Ethereum development company, ConsenSys, announced on Dec. 11th that key operations in India and the Philippines would close. This cutback follows a round of layoffs late last year that saw 13% of ConsenSys’ staff let go. Joe Lubin, the CEO of ConsenSys, late last year mentioned that the layoffs were due to the fact that the company invested in many Ethereum startups that did not turn a profit. And that ConsenSys would begin to push for their invested start-ups to generate revenue in the future. This is an important factor when thinking about the larger health of Ethereum because it would indicate that without enough funding future upgrades may be far and few.
3. Growing Adoption of JPMorgan’s Blockchain Payments Platform. JPMorgan first launched its blockchain payments platform, the Interbank Information Network (IIN), in 2017. The network relies on member banks to exchange information related to international payments on JPMorgan’s native blockchain platform Quorum. On Dec. 10th, The Block reported that over 80 Japanese banks plan to join JPMorgan’s network. This is the largest number of banks from any single country on the network, which currently boasts over 360 banks worldwide. Japanese banks are incentivized to move to this network in the wake of growing demands by the Japanese government to strengthen their anti-money laundering measures. The increased interest in JPMorgan’s network is significant because larger blockchains such as XRP (Ripple) have tried to become the de facto banking cryptocurrency. If the private banks are successful in leveraging their own blockchain rather than XRP, investors in payment tokens (XRP, Stellar, BCH, Dash, LTC, and Tether) should begin to reassess their positions to evaluate whether or not their crypto will become obsolete by the big banks.
4. Gaming Giants Begin to Pour into Blockchain Space. This past week saw the partnership of large players in the gaming space: Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Ubisoft have announced their support of the Ultra blockchain, a sisterchain of the EOS mainnet. With the arrival of industry titans, gaming on the blockchain will open up new opportunities where gamers will be able to own their in-game purchases while creating a marketplace of digital assets. Gaming is one avenue where mass adoption of blockchain gaming may occur due to the easier on boarding process of more technologically savvy users. Needless to say, the next evolution of gaming will somehow incorporate decentralized ledger technologies in order to provide a richer experience for its users.
5. America’s top Foundations Fund Attack on Big Tech. According to the New York Times, large foundations and think tanks are planning on breaking up Big Tech through antitrust lawsuits. This comes at a moment when other technology evangelists have pushed to the mainstream the notion that Big Tech is ruining the lives of Americans. An opposition to Big Tech is alerting everyone in the technology space to be aware of a future filled with court battles and lawsuits over the very nature of Big Tech existence. Cryptocurrencies would benefit from a world where Big Tech is broken up and where a more decentralized internet is needed. As long as there is a centralized group of internet companies, cryptocurrencies will still be seen as a threat to the incumbents.
6. Millennials are Fleeing Big Cities for the Suburbs and Fly-Over Cities. With the cost of living on the coasts skyrocketing out of reach for many millennials, alternative cities inland have proven attractive. In addition to a growing nature of work where telecommuting, teleconferencing, and working remotely is becoming commonplace, physical location may not be seen as a premium as it once did. This new digital marketplace will indeed need a form of currency transaction and hopefully one of the public cryptocurrencies becomes the de facto mode of transaction. We are living in a more digitized world where the online world may become the new medium where we interact with people on a daily basis.
Disclaimer: KJ Kingsley is not a financial advisor and holds the digital tokens or cryptocurrencies represented in the content above. This content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. Nothing contained in this post constitutes a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by myself to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments in this or in any other jurisdiction in which such solicitation or offer would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the author’s employers.