The original Ethereum value driver was the ICO (initial coin offering), another casino on Meth. The regulators did what they do well and snuffed it out but crypto at its base is a way of creating value outside of the maw of fiat monopolies and you can’t keep that at bay indefinitely. So snuffing out ICOs didn’t snuff out Ethereum, it just left it ticking over until the distributed computer got another hit app. Here it is.
We’ve been using Google Ads for the past 6 months to help us get more visibility for our smart contract auditing services and we’ve noticed a strange change in the last few days. It seems that Google completely blacklisted Ethereum as a keyword. Any of the keywords that contain ‘ethereum’ in our campaigns are no longer showing ads as of January 9th.
Senate Banking Committee Remains Open to Idea of Digital Dollar in Tuesday’s Hearing. If you want a measure of how far things have come in terms of the acceptability of the digital dollar idea in Washington from something that a year or so ago would have been a nutty, fringe idea, read the opening paragraph to Nikhilesh De’s writeup of this hearing: “Not every U.S. lawmaker is on board with the idea of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) or digital dollar, but no one explicitly rejected it during a hearing of the powerful Senate Banking Committee.”
Ethereum is what is known as an open-source, blockchain-based, distributed computing platform. It has smart contract features that enable the processing of contractual agreements online. These smart contracts can be used to process the transfer of assets, such as shares, property, and money. When a smart contract is run on a blockchain, it becomes a self-operating program. It will automatically execute once certain predefined conditions have been met.
Gold has had at least three millennia to establish itself as a store of value people turn to when social systems are in stress. Bitcoin has only existed for 11 years. While plenty of investors are willing to speculate on the possibility bitcoin might supplant or compete with gold, the idea is far from ingrained across society. When will it be more widely accepted? Perhaps when the international crisis of global leadership unleashed by COVID-19 undermines the capacity of institutions like the Federal Reserve to sustain economic and social confidence. Whatever new institutions and systems we create going forward will need to address how the internet has upended society’s centralized systems of governance. When that happens, we’ll need a decentralized, digital reserve asset as the base value layer. As I said, it will take time. Meanwhile, the developers will keep building.
ZIMBABWE ACCIDENTALLY LEAVES DOOR OPEN FOR CRYPTO. Here’s a recipe for creating a fertile environment for alternative payment systems: outlaw the system everyone is currently using. When the Zimbabwean government made the nutty step of banning digital payments – used for 85% of transactions by individuals, due to severe shortage of cash – it clearly wasn’t trying to promote bitcoin. In forcing people to go to a local bank to redeem funds locked in popular payments apps such as Ecocash, its goal was to protect the embattled Zimbabwean dollar. In a statement, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, said the move was “necessitated by the need to protect consumers on mobile money platforms which have been abused by unscrupulous and unpatriotic individuals and entities to create instability and inefficiencies in the economy.” The thinking is that Ecocash, which enables currency trading, is making it easier for people to dump the local currency. But here’s the thing: Ecocash, which said it suspended cash-in-cash-out functions (presumably because its banking lines will be cut) is still keeping in-app payment facilities open. And it said nothing about stopping its fairly popular service allowing people to buy cryptocurrency. Not surprisingly, since the ban “demand for bitcoin has skyrocketed,” according to African crypto news site, bitcoinke, with “sources claiming bitcoin is now selling at at 18% premium above the market rate.”
There are legitimate concerns about security on Ethereum. With such a complex system, and so many different programs running on it, the attack surface is large. And given the challenges the community faces in migrating to Ethereum 2.0, including a new proof-of-stake consensus mechanism and a sharding solution for scaling transactions, it’s still not assured it will ever be ready for prime time.
I like POW (proof of work) crypto currencies where the system is ruled on the basis of how much computing power you can apply to maintaining the system. I’ve steered clear of Ethereum because it is heading towards POS (proof of stake,) a system where oligarch-sized owners of the coin get to call the shots and likely do what oligarchs do best, poop on the little people and fight to the death amongst themselves. Crypto is politics in software form, so to me the political framework of cryptocurrencies is all important. The POS future for Ethereum is a killer for me long term, but right now it is not that “in the long term we are all dead” that is the key, it is that visibility of the long term itself is all but dead.
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And while Ethereum fans crow about there being 12 times more wrapped bitcoin on their platform than the mere $9 million locked in the Lightning Network’s payment channels, the latter is making inroads in developing nations as a payment network for small, low-cost bitcoin transactions. Unlike WBTC, which requires a professional custodian to hold the original locked bitcoin, Lightning users need not rely on a third party to open up a channel. It’s arguably more decentralized.
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