Bitcoin is becoming a big brand

How big are these news headlines?

· Bitcoin surpasses 1 M daily active addresses.

· Uber provided an estimated 14 M rides per day in 2017.

· Apple sold 798,877 iPhones per day in 2017.

· OLA & Uber combined provide an estimated 3.5 million rides per day in India.

The virus has already spread! And it’s a good news for bitcoin.

According to CoinMetrics.io, there are now over a million daily active addresses, a number that is defined as the number of unique “from” or “to” addresses used per day. This is something we haven’t seen since November 2017, at the height of the bitcoin buying frenzy.

As Coindesk reports, one Twitter user, Kevin Rooke, noticed the movement this week and tweeted: “When Bitcoin first broke 1 million active addresses (Nov 27, 2017), 1 BTC was $9,352 and the median tx fee was $3.23.Yesterday 1 BTC was $8,230 and the median tx fee was $1.33.”

While some might say that this statistic isn’t that important, it certainly shows us one thing — there are people using bitcoin on a regular basis, whether for trading or spending. It is a good stat for bitcoin, regardless of what those who criticise it say.

From the statistics at the beginning of this article, you can see that there is a context for the figure. Take a look at the figures for Uber.

On the face of it, Uber is doing ‘better’ than bitcoin, because it has 14 million daily users globally. But you have to consider the fact that shifting from using a standard taxi to using Uber is much simpler for most people than changing from using fiat currencies to a cryptocurrency. So, the comparison is not exactly fair.

Then again, Apple is selling just under one million phones on a daily basis, putting bitcoin slightly ahead of it.

Ultimately, what can we take from these figures? The answer is that bitcoin is seeing the same kind of transaction volume as some of the world’s leading brands, which is quite an achievement, and shows that bitcoin is not just the leading cryptocurrency; it’s becoming the big brand of the cryptocurrency space.

Is there an Uber IPO conspiracy?

I ask this question, because there are rumours floating around that suggest the US government and General Motors (GM) are in cahoots to suppress Uber’s $120 billion IPO and promote Lyft.

I first came across the idea via a CCN article by Nicole Grinstead. She has provided an excellent infographic explaining the race between Uber and Lyft, or should I call it a battle, that has been ongoing since Lyft launched in 2012. It shows that in 2015, Lyft got a major influx of investment from China, and in the following year it entered into a partnership with GM. This was intended to improve their share of the ride-sharing market, and advance GM in the autonomous car sector. However, in August 2016, Lyft’s former Chines partner bought Uber China, ending the relationship. In December 2018, Lyft filed for an IPO with the SEC, and later the same day, Uber also filed for an IPO. And so the battle lines were drawn.

The Lyft-Uber IPO battle

Now they are embroiled in an IPO race that is happening in Japan as well as the USA, mainly because the largest investors in Uber and Lyft are based in Tokyo. Lyft is much smaller than Uber, and it is estimated that its IPO will take place this week. Lyft’s co-founder John Zimmer recently claimed that he isn’t worried about beating Uber to an IPO. Maybe, Grinstead writes, that’s because he knew that Lyft’s victory in the rivals’ race to debut on the stock market was guaranteed. She also remarks that if Lyft can get to an IPO first, it will have an advantage over Uber and could topple Uber from its place as market leader.

More competition for Uber

However, Uber faces bigger issues than the Lyft IPO. In February, Daimler and BMW announced their additional $1.13 billion investment in their joint venture to compete with ride-hailing companies. BMW CEO Harald Krueger made a statement outlining a five-prong plan to offer services ranging from ride-hailing and vehicle charging to parking and car-sharing, or in his own words, “To form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously.”

US government and GM in possible conspiracy?

But let’s get back to the conspiracy. As Grinstead says, “GM’s 9% ownership of Lyft could provide cause to suspect a government conspiracy to promote FUD about Uber.” Furthermore, while the US government sold the last of taxpayers’ GM shares in 2013, the government’s 2009 bailout of GM could be said to indicate that the government now wants to ensure GM’s ongoing profitability. And as Grinstead also remarks, GM and the government have been linked in sufficient conspiracies before now to make interference in the Uber IPO not beyond the realms of possibility. Grinstead concludes by saying, “Evidence to support this conspiracy is anecdotal at best. Nonetheless, if Uber is facing secret government opposition, it may be the biggest hurdle standing between them and $120 billion.”

All you have to do is follow the money, because in the end that is what it is all about for the government, GM and the two competitors — Lyft and Uber.

Apple and Uber lagging in self-driving car league table

Self-driving cars are frequently in the news. The technology has progressed strongly, but we’re nowhere near ‘perfect’ yet. There are a significant number of companies working on test vehicles, especially in California, with the focus on improving safety and the cars’ software capabilities. As Niall McCarthy, a data analyst at Statista writes in Forbes, “Disengagements, and the reasons they occur, are a key part of that test process.” What are ‘disengagements’? A disengagement is what happens when the car’s software detects a problem, or the driver sees some danger coming, and is then able to take control of the car, so it is no longer self-driving.

According to data from the California DMV published by website The Last License Holder, test models experience different levels of disengagement. For example, Google’s Waymo is way out ahead of the pack when it comes to “flawless autonomy.” The company’s cars covered an impressive 1.27 million miles in 2018 but more impressively still, the test fleet drove 11,154 miles per disengagement.

Las year there were 28 companies actively testing self-driving models on public roads in California. This equated to 467 vehicles with 2,036,296 miles covered in autonomous mode, and with 143,720 disengagements occurring.

Google is doing well, statistically speaking. And it is specifically doing better than Apple or Uber, who are both engaged in developing autonomous cars. Niall McCarthy reports, “Uber’s cars clocked up nearly 27,000 miles with only 0.4 miles covered per disengagement. Similarly, Apple had 1.1 miles per disengagement with just under 80,000 miles covered in total. The second-best record of miles per disengagement goes to GM Cruise with 5,205 while Zoox comes in third with 1,923.”

It is indeed somewhat strange to see Uber and Apple trailing in last place on Statista’s league table, and Mercedes Benz is only one step up from them. Even Nissan is doing better with a position around the middle of the table. Indeed, they all have a way to go to catch up with the Waymo!

A decentralised business is better for you

The background of a magnificent city

Let’s start by looking at Equifax. This is a U.S. company, and one of only three, that provides credit reporting on American citizens. Last year there was a massive security breach, which meant that the personal information of at least 143 million was in the wrong hands.

The problem here is that your personal data is centralised when these big credit-rating companies have it, and that means it can be manipulated; by them or by other parties through theft.

If Equifax stored consumer data on a blockchain-based system, the information would not only be better protected, the company itself wouldn’t be able to mess around with it in any way.

The blockchain uses cryptographic hash functions that both encrypt your data and track historical changes to it. Therefore, at any point in time, if any piece of your data is tampered with, you personally will be able to immediately see where and when the information was changed.

However, security isn’t the only advantage decentralised storage of data can bring. The communities using decentralised ledgers are incentivised to show more respect and this contributes to more efficient operations.

The incentive of having a stake in the business

Some platforms, especially those decentralised ones that have utility tokens, engender a sense of community, because every person involved has something to gain by making sure the platform runs for the benefit of all. It also means that they literally have a stake in the company just through token ownership. Also, all the community members can see how a platform uses their personal information and the steps taken to protect it.

There will always be bad actors in any company, and sharing economies are no different, although you’d think that in this particular sector, people are less likely to take advantage of other community members, but we’d be naïve to believe everyone really gets the idea of ‘sharing’. However, in decentralised communities, any bad actors are actively disincentivised, because if things go well, the stakeholders all benefit. If a bad actor contributes to making the company less successful, then they are shooting themselves in the foot.

If you take the example of Uber, which is s centralised company; none of the Uber drivers have a stake in it. They have no incentive to act in a way that makes the company more successful, because all the benefits of success go to the founders and shareholders. If Uber was a decentralised business, with drivers having some form of stake in it, it would be a very different story.

We may see an increasing demand for companies to adopt a decentralised approach, because ultimately it benefits the consumer, and they could be the driving force that increases the use of a new decentralised business model.