The Update

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The short story

It’s kind of amazing that we’re still talking about BitCoin in 2019. It’s been through so many ups and downs, and survived repeated crashes. It keeps on going. But we’re still saddled with the libertarian, anti-authoritarian, crypto-is-only-good-for-censorship-proof-use-cases beliefs that make it easy for hucksters and hangers-on and to surround it, and discredit it. I feel like we need to talk more about the optimistic, interesting uses for it.

We should be talking about low-cost money transfers at faster settlement speeds. Intermediaries have taken fees for this for so long, and it’s another potential area to change the norm. Mobile phones caused long distance fees to mostly go away, Crypto should make money transfer fees go away.

We should be talking about person to person transactions that don’t require the bank to take days to grant access to your money, or being able to make travel arrangements more easily. We should be talking about money that’s identity theft-resistant, or is accessible to a wider range of people, like M-PESA has been. We should be thinking about micro-financing, and how it helps the large number of people who don’t have a bank as a normal part of their lives. We are limited by the things we’ve come to think of as normal: the dominance and stability of the dollar/pound/euro, the presumption of everyone having a banking institution, the notion that it’s normal to have to wait to get access to your money.

ICOs

BitTorrent is preparing an ICO through Binance. BitTorrent is the protocol and filesharing platform (BitTorrent Sync, for example) that enables downloading or creating a personal file cloud that can take advantage of many users sharing small bits of the data and then reassembling it on the client side into the intended file. Justin Knoll, who invented it, wants to tokenize it on the TRON blockchain for media consumption. It’s essentially a way for content creators to make a peer to peer offering to their viewers, and accept payment. TRON purchased BitTorrent (the company) which is why they’re doing this on their chain. It aligns with BitTorrent, which has always been about decentralized data. The whitepaper is a good read.

Stacktical sets out to convert service level agreements (SLAs) to smart contracts. When the SLA isn’t upheld, you earn tokens. Likewise, get rewarded in tokens for meeting the SLA. With a public ledger, it’s meant to be easy to see which service providers live up to the reliability you’d like. The whitepaper is here.

The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Good

Bitcoin Turns Ten on Anniversary of Genesis Block

January 3 marks the 10th anniversary of the Genesis Block or Block 0. On this day ten years ago, months after the controversial publication of “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” Satoshi Nakamoto started mining the first-ever Bitcoin block.

Looking back, this decade is undeniably full of ups and downs. There is much to celebrate. As of Sunday, January 6, investing.com’s list shows that there are 2,534 cryptocurrencies. Growing interest in cryptocurrencies has prompted several countries to turn crypto-friendly. Regardless of whether you’re a crypto enthusiast or a critic, you have to agree, Bitcoin already made history.

Bad

Iran Declares Telegram Crypto Aspirations an Act against National Security

Once again, the Iranian government is cracking down on the popular messaging app Telegram, calling its native token Gram a threat to national security.

According to a report by Teheran Times, the state criminalized aiding Gram cryptocurrency. Iran’s Secretary of Criminal Content Definition Task Force Javad Javidnia claims that Telegram’s activities pose a serious threat to the financial system. Thus, any use of Gram is going to be treated as a “disruption to the national economy.”

Back in May, Iran’s judiciary banned the app, accusing it of causing widespread unrest in the country. At that time, Telegram was the most popular social app in Iran and boasted 40 million active users — nearly half the country's population.

Ugly

Fraudulent Website Uses Former New Zealand PM to Promote BTC Scam

Former New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has been targeted by crypto scammers, who used his image to promote Bitcoin and a fraudulent company called “Crypto Revolt.”

According to a report in Stuff, it's not the first time John Key has had his image stolen for such a purpose. In 2017, Key was featured on a fake NZ Herald website along with a fictional Bloomberg interview full of misleading claims about his investments in Bitcoin.

Apparently, the so-called celebrity endorsements are scammers’ latest weapon of choice. They are using images of other influential figures, such as TVNZ presenter Hayley Holt and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden.

Georgia State Senator Reports to Jail for Lying about “Stolen” Crypto Mining Equipment

Michael Williams, a Republican state senator of Georgia, turned himself over to authorities after he was accused of insurance fraud.

According to the court documents, in May of 2017 Williams allegedly falsely reported the theft of computer servers that were used to mine cryptocurrency from his campaign offices. The mining equipment was valued at $300,000.

After an investigation, Williams was charged by a Hall County grand jury on three counts: false report crime, false statement, and insurance fraud for having filed a false insurance claim concerning the case.

News

NYSE Operator’s Bakkt Raises $182.5 Million Funding Round

The Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) digital assets platform Bakkt celebrated New Year’s Eve with an important announcement. The first round of funding raised $182.5 million from a number of influential partners and investors. In the post, Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler pointed to the start-up’s current work with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

“At an industry level, regulatory approval for physically delivered and warehoused Bitcoin will establish and amplify the voice of U.S. authorities as the digital asset market evolves globally,” explained Loeffler. “We have filed our applications, and the timing for approval is now based on the regulatory review process.”

Bakkt’s (postponed) launch date is just around the corner. The platform is scheduled to go live on January 24.

Chilean Court Rules to Keep Crypto Exchanges’ Bank Accounts Open

The anti-monopoly court known as the Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia (TDLC) has ordered the banks to reopen the accounts of Chilean cryptocurrency exchanges, reports Diario Financiero.

The TDLC decision is a response to the Supreme Court’s ruling issued in early December which determined that Chilean banks were not obligated to provide services to digital currency exchanges. At that time, the financial institutions suspended a number of bank accounts belonging to Chilean crypto exchanges Buda, OrionX, and CryptoMKT. The TDLC verdict is undeniably a huge win for the crypto industry in Chile.

Filipe Larrain, Chilean Minister of Finance, promised crypto regulation. The finance ministry is working with the country’s Central Bank and Council for Financial Stability to develop a balanced framework for the fintech sector.