Hey, you. Thought bitcoin was dead, huh? Think again.
Against all odds, the cryptocoin is still (I repeat, still) crawling toward mainstream adoption. And though the mainstream media has been quiet about bitcoin and the blockchain, 2016 has been the year where the ball really started rolling.
I just caught a snapshot of Bitcoin earlier this week, as it rose, yet again, above $650. Despite the arrows in its back, it shows no sign of slowing down.
Here’s an action shot from the wild:
Actually, this is from Alt-J’s Hunger of the Pine video
To be clear, bitcoin is not not gaining favor simply because the overlords are letting it. (Actually, “TPTB” have been embracing the technology, rather than trying to stifle it.)
Of course, trying to ban it outright, due to its global and decentralized nature, would be a fool’s errand. And would probably summon the heroic forces of the Streisand Effect. The only practical way to kill bitcoin at this point would be through demonization and propaganda.
Luckily, not even that has happened much.
On the contrary, Hillary Clinton’s staff has toyed with the idea of supporting cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. And even the Deep State is slithering on board the blockchain: “The United States Department of Defense,” William Suberg writes for Bitcoin News, “has signed a $1.8 million partnership with two tech firms, to study Blockchain use in securing sensitive military data.”
Big banks, too, are embracing both bitcoin and the blockchain. In some cases, they are doing so willingly. In others, they are doing so because they have to in order to keep the wheels on the bus.
For example, banks are beginning to stockpile bitcoins in anticipation of “ransomware” attacks which demand the cryptocoin in payment. Ransomware attacks occur when a hacker holds hostage valuable or proprietary information or systems and demands a ransom in exchange for its freedom. According to the DOJ, there are, on average, 4,000 ransomware attacks per day in the U.S. And each attack demands, according to cybersecurity firm Cyence, from $500 to $1,000 in bitcoin.
On the other side of the digital token, banks are embracing the technology underpinning bitcoin, the blockchain. According to a new report from Accenture (which is designing “editable blockchain” technology), nine out of ten major banks in the Western world are looking into the idea of using Blockchain technology for payment transfers.
The report, called Blockchain Technology: How banks are building a real-time global payment network, reads: “The technology could resolve inefficiencies and friction that have long driven up the costs and the time required to move money around the world. Blockchain has proven its scalability to support such infrastructure. And as the industry sets its focus on developing the networks, business processes and standards needed to run these systems, payments could be one of the first major proving grounds for enterprise Blockchain adoption.”
As a result, according to IBM, 15% of the world’s big banks will be using blockchain technology by 2017.
Visa, the largest global payment card company, is teaming up with Chain, a San Francisco-based blockchain startup (which received funding late last year from Capital One, Nasdaq, Citi Ventures and, yes, Visa), to better facilitate business-to-business transactions (B2B).
“What we’ve built — and only work on with most of our partners — are blockchains that can issue assets of many different kinds,” Chain’s CEO Adam Ludwin recently told Wired. “You have to be able to trade not only one security for another, but for currencies. What you will see are networks that can handle transactions involving all currencies as well as other types of financial instruments.”
Because of this, the arcane SWIFT system, according to Matthew English of CoinTelegraph, is good as dead: “This juggernaut is in the process of being disrupted by Ripple Labs, one of the world’s most innovative, and most successful, Blockchain companies.”
Moreover, the same system disrupting fintech could also ensure there’s no foul play in future voting processes.
Fueled by worries of rigged electronic voting machines which are, as has been shown time and again, susceptible to hacking, individuals are warming up to the idea of using blockchain technology to ensure the process is transparent and incorruptible: “If Semantic Blockchain technology can potentially unseat SWIFT,” English goes on, “which as of September 2010, linked more than 9,000 financial institutions in 209 countries, exchanging an average of over 15 [million] messages per day, is it so implausible to suspect that a Blockchain might be able to disrupt the business model of voting machine manufacturers to bring more accountability to the hallowed task of recording the sentiment of America’s 146,311,000 registered voters?”
It doesn’t stop there…
Five of the world’s largest insurance companies — Aegon, Allianz, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Zurich — are teaming up to explore the blockchain’s potential for revamping standards and practices in the industry. “If Blockchain technology proves viable,” reads the announcement, “it could well streamline paperwork and reconciliations for (re-)insurance contracts and accelerate information and money flows, while greatly improving auditability.”
Walmart and IBM are linking arms with Tsinghua University to improve the food supply chain in China with blockchain tech.
A group in Japan called the Tech Bureau Corp just launched a TV show called Bitgirls in Tokyo which allows viewers to vote for their favorite contestants using cryptocurrencies.
London-based blockchain company Funderbeam has created a blockchain-based stock exchange for startup companies: “Funderbeam,” founder Kaidi Ruusalepp (and former CEO of Nasdaq’s Tallinn) told CoinTelegraph, “is the future of exchanges, combining three things in one: data, funding, and trading, and it’s all happening across borders and on Blockchain technology.”
Corporations and States would be foolish in this age not to embrace the warm and secure digital womb that is the blockchain. They, too, have to keep up with the Joneses. And with cyberattacks on the rise, they need to make sure their systems can withstand the punches.
But here’s the rub…
At the same time, by legitimizing bitcoin and blockchain technology, unbeknownst to themselves, they are slowly cannibalizing their artificial State-sanctioned perches.
In the race for efficiency, convenience, security and innovation, the Statist Quo is, it appears, ignorant of the pesky “side-effects” of the technology they embrace with open arms: Bitcoin and the blockchain provide prime infrastructure for a decentralized, private, censorship-resistant free market.
If you think the Internet is “the great democratizer,” to paraphrase the Blues Magoos, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
The oligarchy has allowed the Trojan Horse in through the gates. Bit by bit, it will infect everything it touches.
It will be beautiful.
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today
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