U.S. government takes the Internet backwards!

U.S. government takes the Internet backwards

On Monday 23rd April, net neutrality in the USA ceased to exist. The net neutrality rules introduced during the Obama era prevented Internet service providers from blocking, slowing down or prioritising Internet traffic.

According to a report from Business Insider, this could lead to a whole new era of ‘build your own Internet.’ One company, is already piloting a programme in Venice, California, and guess who it is? Yes, it’s WeTransfer!

WeTransfer, as many of you will be aware is the file transfer company that businesses use on a regular basis when files, especially those with high resolution images, are just to big to be sent via email. The company, which started in Venice, CA, is partnering with another Los Angeles outfit called Community Broadband Project “to create a “mesh network” — a decentralized series of wireless routers that allow customers to get online without going through an ISP.”

What is a mesh network?

The short answer is that a mesh network is usually local. It can be created when households in an area install routers, called ‘nodes’ that are then connected to local antennas. And, that creates a local network.

The FCC is taking the country back in time

WeTransfer’s President, Damian Bradfield believes that what the U.S. government is doing via the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking the country backwards in time to an era when a provider could tell you whether you could access Skype or BitTorrent. He said: “Fundamentally we believe the power shouldn’t be with the ISPs to make those sorts of decisions.”

Grassroots resistance

What WeTransfer is doing is a form of grassroots resistance to the end of net neutrality. Mesh networks can sidestep the influence of powerful ISPs like AT&T. Until now, the use of this type of network has been confined to rural areas with little or no broadband coverage, but it may now become more widespread.

WeTransfer alongside the Community Broadband Project is offering an independent connection to households in the Venice area. “We were looking for a way that not only we could benefit from an internet that is net neutral, but also some degree educate people around us that there is an alternative,” Bradfield said.

WeTransfer is funding the project and it is still in the beta testing stage in the Venice area. Eventually they hope to offer a service that is cheaper than those of the large ISPs.

Ultimately, WeTransfer wants the FCC to reinstate net neutrality rules. States such as California, Oregon, and Washington are in the process of passing their own state-level net neutrality laws. However, he is not hopeful about a return to net neutrality, because the FCC commissioner Ajit Pai is against the Obama-era rules. But, as several states and companies are suing the FCC over this, perhaps there is some hope it might change.

 

 

 

What will happen after the Bitcoin fork?

 

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We are only days away from one of the biggest events in Bitcoin’s history – the Segwit2x fork that will happen around 16th November. Needless to say there is a lot of discussion in the crypto press about what this will mean for the leading digital currency.

In the last week we have seen Bitcoin’s value shoot up to a new record high and then correct itself; a series of movements that is typical of the various crypto coins. We have also seen a number of companies in the financial mainstream talking up the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, which has energised the market, but the introductions of Segwit2x is a step that for many is one into the unknown.

So far this new technical roadmap for Bitcoin seems to have support from its miners, but nobody is sure whether this November fork will change the code for existing Bitcoin, or whether it will lead to a new coin. Some are already talking about Bitcoin 2x, indicating that this is the route they think it will take.

It is of course one of the largest changes to the platform that has ever taken place, so it is uncharted territory and there are commentators who point out that previous forks have created unforeseen changes for users and investors. Consequently, there is some apprehension about the fallout after Segwit2x.

What is Segwit2x?

What is Segwit2x? Coindesk describes it as, “ both a proposal that seeks to change Bitcoin’s technology and a formal written agreement reached between certain parties interested in that change.” It also represents something that we haven’t seen on the blockchain before and it has its supporters and dissenters.

For or against Segwit2x?

Because Bitcoin is an open-source protocol, it relies on a group of volunteer and startup-sponsored developers to fix bugs, propose changes and maintain operations. This group are not in favour of Segwit2x and have been saying they have nothing to do with it for months. The miners – these are the people who solve the algorithms and approve transactions haven’t said very much. Originally they supported the fork, but now they appear to have less confidence in it. If they don’t support it, this could contribute to the outcomes of the fork.

Startups are the ones who are giving it the strongest support, because they use the Bitcoin protocol to offer services to their customers. They have the most ‘real life’ interaction with the technology and they are optimistic about how changes to the blockchain will correct any concerns users have about scalability. However, even they are preparing for worst-case scenario.

 

It seems that we will have to wait until the fork actually happens, because it’s impossible to make a prediction. Some say it is doomed to fail, others that it makes no sense: I say wait and see. We’ll know the truth before the end of November.

 

 

 

 

 

Ethereum vs Bitcoin in 2017

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One of the questions I often get asked is this: will Ethereum outperform Bitcoin in 2017? It is very interesting, because right now it appears that Bitcoin is still King of Crypto. But in my opinion that might all change by the end of this year, and if not, then we will surely see some dramatic changes in 2018. I’m not the only person who thinks this; most of the cryptocurrency analysts also share this view.

It is true that Bitcoin has the advantage of being a ‘first mover’ in the crypto market, and the coin that introduced blockchain technology to the market. It also made blockchain more widely accepted; for example, Goldman Sachs has just created a microsite dedicated to explaining the advantages of blockchain technology.

Bitcoin’s value has also seen a meteoric rise of over 500 percent in the last five years, which appears to make it unassailable, but the emergence of Etehereum, Litecoin and Ripple is challenging Bitcoin, because the others are gaining in popularity with both investors and the corporate entities. For me, Ethereum is particularly interesting and it’s the blockchain product with the most potential right now to outperform Bitcoin.

Some say that Ethereum got a helping hand when Vladimir Putin met the founder of Ethereum to create a Russian cryptocurrency. Even if that wasn;t the case, there are still many observers who believe it can perform better than Bitcoin this year. The key reason for this is its platform.

Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum is much more than just a cryptocurrency. It is THE platform for smart contracts and presently, Ethereum is leading innovations in the digital currency world. In fact, there are three reasons to be enthusiastic about Ethereum’s prospects:

  1. It aims to create decentralised software applications. Its system allows for simultaneous operations worldwide. This unique feature could lead to the creation of a new generation of decentralised businesses. This decentralised environment could ultimately challenge the status quo in finance, government, manufacturing, and much more.
  2. It is the platform for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). 2017 is the year in which the crowdsales that fundraise for startups really took off, and Ethereum is the technology behind them all.
  3. It has the potential to replace stock markets with peer-to-peer applications and it can develop a real sharing economy. In this respect it will outperform disruptive businesses like Uber.

In my opinion, because Ethereum is so much more than just a cryptocurrency this factor will enable it to outpace Bitcoin. It has the potential to revolutionise the way a multitude of businesses operate globally, so if you take the long view, Ethereum is the one to really watch.

 

Why I’m a Fintech entrepreneur

I’m a serial entrepreneur who believes in leveraging my many years at a senior level in IT into new opportunities as they arise. I have designed a VOIP system that led the vanguard in this field, developed a Global SIM solution on a travel platform and created a unique platform for online advertising using a ‘One Click Solution’. I’ve also worked on mobile/web apps based on proximity and geofencing.

With my extensive IT experience, it seemed logical to me, as well as exciting, to move into Fintech, particularly the development of new platforms based on the blockchain. This is the field that really inspires me, because I see so much potential in the whole world of the blockchain technology.

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What is Fintech?

Some people still aren’t sure what Fintech is when I talk about it. I define it as the segment of the technology startup scene that is disrupting sectors such as mobile payments, money transfers, loans, fundraising and even asset management. It’s a growing business: a recent report by Accenture found that “global investment in Fintech has skyrocketed from $930 million back in 2008 to over $12 billion by the beginning of 2015.” And, in terms of regions where Fintech has made the most gains, Europe is leading the way, according to Accenture.

As I said, my special area of interest is in the blockchain and how that can disrupt specific financial areas, such as money transfer, personal loans and fundraising for business startups.

Crowdsourcing and fundraising for startups

For example, Initial Coin Offerings, or ICOs as they are usually called, have made it possible for new businesses and some well-established entrepreneurs as well to raise the funds to take a product to market within a matter of weeks, or minutes in some cases. These ICOs use a combination of crowdsourcing (or some call them crowdsales) and the blockchain technology to raise the money. In the past it typically took months of presentations to venture capitalists and banks before funds were available to take a business forward – now an ICO cuts through all that red tape and the investors in the ICO, which can be anyone, not just accredited investors, can make a return on their investment. You could say that ICOs bring power to the people and allow everyone an opportunity to get involved in investing.

Fintech offers efficiency and lower costs

Fintech also allows businesses to work in more efficient and less costly ways. The major banks are slowly, but surely realising that blockchain products like Ethereum and Ripple can enable them to work faster and smarter and reduce costs. Ripple, for example, has been designed to replace the bank Swift system for international transfers. Instead of it taking days to send money from one country to another, it can happen in minutes.

The Ethereum platform

Ethereum is also of particular interest to a wide range of businesses because its platform includes a ‘smart contract’. Unlike a ‘physical’ contract, the smart contract is programmed in a way that removes any chance of fraud or third-party interference. Its role will become even more prominent as new startups begin to demonstrate the agility of using the Ethereum platform in a traditional market.

What’s next?

Right now I’m working on a project that taps right into a market that has been in existence every since man created money as an exchange for goods. The blockchain is undoubtedly the next step for this particular market, and as an entrepreneur with the right background to understand the technology, I simply had to get into Fintech. I’ll be writing more about this entire field over the coming weeks, so stay tuned to discover more about it and my specific project.