Is ‘The Simpsons’ ahead of the Bitcoin curve?

One of my colleagues recently shared an anecdote with me about ‘The Simpsons’. She told me that during a chat about politics, her son told her, “Well, it was on ‘The Simpsons’ and then it came true.” And then he asked her, “How do they do that?”

Indeed, how is it that the long-running animated series appears to be a more reliable source of future predictions than Nostradamus, or even the MSM? So, I was very interested when one of the writers I follow, Billy Bambrough, published an article at Forbes about the The Simpsons’ predictions for Bitcoin

It’s true that cryptocurrencies, and in particular Bitcoin, have been mentioned in a number of shows, perhaps most relevantly in ‘Silicon Valley’, as well as in The Big Bang Theory, but who might have expected that Luno, a major bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange, would turner to the Simpson family’s past prediction to figure out when Bitcoin might go mainstream.

Bambrough refers us to an episode that aired on 23rd February, which I must admit I didn’t see. It featured Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon Cooper in ‘The Big Bang Theory’, and in it, Bitcoin is described as ‘the cash of the future” and that this future is coming closer “each day.”

As Bambrough points out: “Over the show’s 30-year run The Simpsons have correctly predicted Donald Trump becoming U.S. president, the NSA spying scandal, Apple’s FaceTime, smartwatches, and the Disney takeover of Fox.”

Now, here is the interesting bit. The analysts at Luno have calculated that it takes an average of 15.6 years for a ‘Simpsons’ prediction to become reality. That means we’ll see mass adoption by 2036. Marcus Swanepoel, Luno’s chief executive, said, “It seems the creators behind The Simpsons have a knack for picking up on things that seem out-of-this-world, and a way of portraying the impossible as part of day-to-day life,” adding, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve overshot their prediction slightly in this case.”

Indeed, the very fact that ‘The Simpsons’ are talking about crypto and Bitcoin on-screen may give adoption a very helpful nudge, because there is no doubt that public perception and awareness is one of the most important factors in digital assets going mainstream.

Perhaps we should all be keeping a closer eye on ‘The Simpsons’ — it’s obviously about so much more than eating doughnuts!

Who’s in the Forbes Blockchain Top 50?

The Forbes annual Blockchain 50 is on its second outing. It lists the companies making the biggest strides in blockchain, and most of them are valued in the billions of dollars. Indeed, to appear on the list, Forbes says, “To qualify, Blockchain 50 members must be generating no less than $1 billion in revenue annually or be valued at $1 billion or more.

There are some surprising names that turn up in the Blockchain 50, if only because on the face of it they have little to do with blockchain.

For example, De Beers is on the list. The diamond giant’s new software, Tracr, follows diamonds through the supply chain as they are mined, cut, polished and sold and tens of thousands of stones are being registered per month.

Foxconn makes the iPhone trade-finance venture, Chained Finance, pays more than 20 electronics suppliers using digital coins minted on the Ethereum blockchain. As a result the costs have dropped from annual percentage rates as high as 24% to a mere 10%.

Dole Foods is another blockchain adopter. It is using it across all vegetable processing, for millions of pounds of lettuce, spinach and coleslaw. Customers at Walmart can now check where their fruit comes from by scanning a code used by farmers. It is soon expanding this use of blockchain to its fruit.

LVMH, the luxury goods brand, is using blockchain technology for traceability and proof of authenticity. Among its brands, Louis Vuitton is already tracking millions of its products in an effort to reduce counterfeiting.

The United Nations, a 75-year-old organisation is using a number of blockchain initiatives, including one that is intended to combat warlords who steal aid using pilfered ID cards, the UN has over the past two years disbursed funds to 106,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, using blockchain-verified iris scans instead of ID cards.

As Forbes says in its introduction to the Top 50, “Blockchain started as a way to move bitcoin from point A to point B, but it is now being used by a host of big companies to monitor and move any number of assets around the world as easily as sending an email.”

From the instantaneous settlement of German government bonds to verifying the provenance of diamonds mined in Africa and bringing liquidity to a small supplier of sliding shower doors in Zhongshan, China, this year’s members have largely moved beyond the theoretical benefits of blockchain, to generating very real revenues and cost savings.

Is Jack Dorsey a Bitcoin hero?

Jack Dorsey is a curious character. The combination of his business success with a somewhat eccentric lifestyle pretty much guarantees media and public interest in him. He may not be as well known as Mark Zuckerberg, but he’s probably more easily identifiable by the public than the Google guys for example. Plus, he does often look as if he might have had a lead role in Pirates of the Caribbean, or some other Hollywood production. However, what in my opinion is most interesting about him is the role he has played in promoting cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin.

Dorsey is not only a co-founder of Twitter, he also launched Square, a mobile payments company that is hot on crypto. Dorsey is known to be a massive Bitcoin supporter, and has vowed to help Bitcoin develop as a global currency though Square. However, he is not a Bitcoin bull — he has a diverse crypto portfolio and is always upfront about that. Square’s spokesperson told Forbes, “it’s “only a matter of time until instant, low-fee bitcoin payments are as common as cash used to be.”

And to speed this along, Dorsey’s Square Crypto division is working on a kit that should help to integrate the Lightning Network with Bitcoin wallets. Lightning is a layer-two solution built on top of the Bitcoin network that makes payments faster and cheaper, and speed and cost are key elements of taking Bitcoin mainstream.

Until now there has been a problem with scaling Bitcoin for everyday payments, and this has slowed down adoption. Dorsey wants to supercharge the leading crypto’s throughput, which is why Square announced its Lightning Development Kit (LDK) to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, although it was definitely no coincidence.

As Gerelyn Terzo writes at CCN, “What Dorsey’s crypto division plans to do is give developers greater flexibility with Bitcoin and Lightning technology that in a nutshell comes down to streamlining bitcoin wallets.”

Essentially, the Lightning Network can potentially process millions of transactions per second, which is massive compared with Visa’s 45,000 transactions per second.

Dorsey deal with the volatility issue

Improving the speed and cost of Bitcoin transactions is one thing, but merchants are reluctant to accept the cryptocurrency because of its volatility. Dorsey and Square have a solution for that as well.

Square has been granted a patent that enables users to conduct fiat-to-crypto transactions. The customer can pay in bitcoin and the merchant can instantly convert it to U.S. dollar or any currency.

Basically, Dorsey is laying the foundations of an infrastructure for widespread Bitcoin use, because with instantaneous payments that can be converted into any currency, both customers and merchants have no reason to deny Bitcoin as a payment option.

If Dorsey and Square achieve this, they will surely be hailed as Bitcoin heroes. Unless you’re a Bitcoin hater!

 

Who will be Top Dog in Digital Currencies?

Digital currencies have been popping up like daisies over the last several years and there doesn’t seem to be an end to it. Some might say that it would be more accurate to compare them to weeds and that an awful lot of them need to be removed from the cryptocurrency environment.

It is certainly true that there are questions marks over the long-term survival of a significant number of them. Brad Garlinghouse, the Ripple CEO, thinks that around 99% of digital assets will “got to zero”. And there are many others who agree with him, even if they don’t put a precise figure on it.

Now the survival of what I might call the ‘smaller’ coins is even more in question, because central banks are moving into the digital asset arena with their own digital currency, and this will put a lot of pressure on all but the strongest cryptocurrencies.

Mati Greenspan, senior analyst at eToro remarked to Charles Bovaird at Forbes: “At the moment the three biggest currencies in the world are racing to make their fiat digital.” In this race, China is winning, because the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve haven’t put in the effort to keep up. Then we add something like Libra into the mix and for a time it looked like Facebook’s digital coinage had the potential to threaten every other cryptocurrency,. Now, that project looks less certain to be such a major threat.

So what is the likely outcome? Some market observers believe that whatever happens, there won’t be a winner-take-all scenario. Jacob Eliosoff, a cryptocurrency fund manager thinks there will be around 100 widely used cryptocurrencies that will survive. Marouane Garcon, managing director of Amulet said, “There won’t be a single currency because of too many political differences in the world, but just like fiat currencies some will be stronger in value than others.”

Furthermore, bitcoin, which is currently the leading digital currency, may not be the ultimate winner, but it is likely to be in the winning group. Jake Yocom-Piatt from Decred had this to say: “Instead of a large amount of capital and attention spread across many currencies, we will increasingly see that same capital and attention spread across a smaller number of SOVs, leading to a corresponding increase in their value.”

Who do you think will win the race to be Top Dog in this race? The central bank coins, stablecoins like Libra, or bitcoin and its peers?