Blockchain at CES: Evaluating the Tech’s Hype and Potential

There were twice as many people as chairs throughout the nearly four-hour “Future of Blockchain” CES conference program this week. The enthusiasm of the program’s attendees mirrored that of exhibitors as well as the general anticipation surrounding blockchain and its applications at the show. The new offerings discussed at CES 2018 ranged from Kodak’s resurgence as a rights management platform to fast food chains asking users to mine tokens by eating chicken wings. A number of entertainment-specific blockchain technologies showed promise beyond an alternative means of purchasing content. Continue reading Blockchain at CES: Evaluating the Tech’s Hype and Potential

Despite Hacks, Cryptocurrency Mania Drives Up Bitcoin Value

NiceHash, a Slovenian-based marketplace for mining digital currencies, says its payment system has been hacked and the contents of its Bitcoin account stolen. According to its Facebook page, every week NiceHash paid out millions of dollars in Bitcoin weekly, meaning the loss could be significant, especially since Bitcoin has had a precipitous rise in value. Uncertain is whether NiceHash users’ accounts have also been hacked. In light of the unknowns, NiceHash has closed down operations for 24 hours. Meanwhile, Bitcoin enthusiasm continues to rise, as illustrated by a 40 percent jump in price yesterday. Continue reading Despite Hacks, Cryptocurrency Mania Drives Up Bitcoin Value

Bitcoin and Virtual Currencies Skyrocket, Skeptics Concerned

The price of a single Bitcoin just reached $10,000 on some exchanges, two months after it topped $5,000 for the first time. That’s a stupendous and unprecedented uptick, given that the Dow Jones Industrial Average in its biggest year (1915) went up 82 percent, which equates to one-tenth of Bitcoin’s rise. The price has been pushed upwards by new buyers from around the globe — Japan and South Korea are hotspots — enticed with the idea of storing money outside of the control of governments and companies. Continue reading Bitcoin and Virtual Currencies Skyrocket, Skeptics Concerned

Social VR Platforms Proliferate in the Next Digital Land Grab

The typical VR experience is solitary, but an increasing number of companies are exploring the possibility of virtual realty in the context of a social platform. That trend was made clear by Microsoft’s acquisition of AltspaceVR. High Fidelity is an environment that lets users create their own avatars and social worlds, with a marketplace where they can buy avatars and other 3D elements. And vTime, a stationary platform, lets four people at a time engage in fully rendered environments. Continue reading Social VR Platforms Proliferate in the Next Digital Land Grab

Goldman Sachs Exploring Creation of a Bitcoin Trading Desk

Goldman Sachs Group, in the early stages of considering whether to start a trading operation for Bitcoin, could become the first blue-chip Wall Street company to deal directly in the virtual currency. If it does so, it will give Bitcoin more credibility among investors. Bitcoin and other virtual currencies were first used and are still perceived as commonly used for illegal activities. The currency is still controversial, banned by China and deemed a “fraud” by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. chief executive James Dimon. Continue reading Goldman Sachs Exploring Creation of a Bitcoin Trading Desk

Are Cryptocurrencies Next Big Bust or Revolution in Finance?

Jackson Palmer and his once-wildly successful cryptocurrency Dogecoin are a cautionary tale for those bedazzled by Bitcoin. Palmer was an early enthusiast of cryptocurrency, but sought a way to mock the hype around investing huge sums of money in it. He created his own cryptocurrency, Dogecoin, based on an Internet meme of a Shiba Inu dog. Instead of getting the joke, investors brought Dogecoin’s market value to $400 million, before scammers and hackers brought it down, selling fake products and defrauding investors. Continue reading Are Cryptocurrencies Next Big Bust or Revolution in Finance?

OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

The technology underlying Bitcoin is now under development to render 3D visual effects. Los Angeles-based OTOY, which provides a GPU-based software system to create a cloud-based pipeline for 3D content, is hoping to raise as much as $134 million to develop Rndr, distributed cloud rendering for VR and other content, via blockchain technology. HBO and Discovery have invested in OTOY, which has also partnered with Facebook and Mattel. Relying on cloud-based GPUs for rendering is a much less expensive solution than supercomputers. Continue reading OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

SEC Rules That Blockchain Tokens Are Regulated Securities

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ruled that blockchain tokens sold through token sales are to be classified as securities, a ruling that was anticipated and that will have a powerful impact on projects looking to fundraise from U.S. investors. The ruling follows an investigation of The DAO, which raised a record-breaking ICO (Initial Coin Offering) last May and then lost one-third of it in a hack. As a result, part of the Ethereum community executed a rollback transaction of the DAO fundraising; The DAO has since been delisted. Continue reading SEC Rules That Blockchain Tokens Are Regulated Securities

Chat App Kik Plans Debut of Ethereum-Based Cryptocurrency

Ted Livingston, founder/chief executive of messaging app Kik, is a Bitcoin enthusiast — so much so that he plans to debut his own cryptocurrency, dubbed Kin and based on the Ethereum network, later this summer. The company plans what is called an initial coin offering (ICO), which lets startups create their own digital money, raise funds via crowdsourcing, and thus develop their own cyber economies. Livingston had previously launched another cryptocurrency, Kik Points, in 2014, which ended its run in the fall. Continue reading Chat App Kik Plans Debut of Ethereum-Based Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin Market Trending Upwards, But Ethereum On the Rise

The Bitcoin market, almost a decade old, is now skyrocketing in value. Behind Bitcoin’s rising price are investments by Japanese investors and a heightened perception of global perils. Over the weekend, according to the website CoinDesk, the price of Bitcoin reacted to a sudden spell of speculative investment, trading above $2,200 on Monday, which represents more than 15 percent from the closing price of $1,913 on Friday. Bitcoin is up 397 percent from a year ago and 130 percent this year. Continue reading Bitcoin Market Trending Upwards, But Ethereum On the Rise

Banks Make Move to Real-Time Person-to-Person Payments

J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and other banks just introduced real-time person-to-person payments — something PayPal’s Venmo has done for years — to their five year-old joint effort clearXchange. Previously, clearXchange could take up to three days to transfer money. PayPal upped its game, by signing a deal with Visa to let Venmo and PayPal app users instantly access monies they receive. PayPal and the banks collect no fees on these transactions, which they regard as a gateway to other, paid services. Continue reading Banks Make Move to Real-Time Person-to-Person Payments

Internet Allies Unite to Create More Secure, Future-Proof Web

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, most recently Google’s chief Internet evangelist, co-created Internet server protocols in 1973. Since then, he’s helped the Internet to mature, but one problem he didn’t foresee was the ephemeral nature of storage media, from floppy disks to Zip drives. Tomorrow’s browsers may be incompatible with today’s webpages. Worried about what he calls “a coming digital dark ages,” Cerf has now turned his attention to making the Internet more secure and future-proof. Continue reading Internet Allies Unite to Create More Secure, Future-Proof Web

Blockchain: More Than $50 Million in Virtual Currency Hacked

The Decentralized Autonomous Organization raised $160 million in Ether, a virtual currency that is an alternative to Bitcoin. The experimental project was hailed as the most successful crowdfunding effort ever, until last Friday when a hacker made away with more than $50 million. Although the hack was frozen and the project’s computer scientists plan to rewrite Ether’s code to recover the money, the project most likely will end, leaving in its wake a bigger debate than ever about the viability of virtual currency. Continue reading Blockchain: More Than $50 Million in Virtual Currency Hacked

Bitcoin Rival Ethereum Offers Online Markets, Smart Contracts

Although other alternative currencies have tried to gain traction as Bitcoin struggles with internal divisions, none have succeeded in doing so — until now. A rival virtual currency, Ethereum, has gained the interest of a wide range of finance and technology behemoths, including JPMorgan, Chase, Microsoft and IBM. As a result, its value has shot up 1,000 percent over the last three months. Built on a blockchain in which every transaction is publicly recorded as is Bitcoin, Ethereum promises to do more. Continue reading Bitcoin Rival Ethereum Offers Online Markets, Smart Contracts