PayPal Launches Super App for Consumer Financial Services

PayPal has begun rolling out its new app, designed as a one-stop financial services tool capable of handling everything from direct deposit and automatic payments to peer-to-peer transactions, shopping and crypto capabilities. In addition, the company has announced PayPal Savings, offering high-yield accounts in partnership with Synchrony Bank. Shifting paychecks to PayPal is seen as a big step that can centralize consumer financial chores through the service, making it competitive with neobanks like Chime and Varo. PayPal now links to 17,000 billers including utilities and credit card firms. Continue reading PayPal Launches Super App for Consumer Financial Services

Coinbase Becomes First Cryptocurrency Startup to Go Public

Startup Coinbase, a secure exchange platform that helps people purchase, sell and store cryptocurrencies, has become the first such startup to go public. Shares traded at $381 each, up 52 percent from a reference price of $250, and eventually closed at $328.28, for a company valuation of $85.7 billion, ten times higher than its last private valuation. The San Francisco-based company’s IPO is a landmark for long-time crypto advocates. In its wake, Bitcoin’s value soared to $64,829 and Ether traded at a record-high of $2,487 (which also followed news about upgrades to the Ethereum network). Continue reading Coinbase Becomes First Cryptocurrency Startup to Go Public

PayPal, Visa Enable Streamlined Cryptocurrency Transactions

PayPal announced the launch of Checkout with Crypto, which allows customers to purchase certain items online via cryptocurrencies. The new feature is part of the company’s new unit focused on blockchain and crypto/digital currencies and adds to its current capability for customers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency. Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash are the cryptocurrencies accepted, which are processed with clear conversion rates and no additional fees but only one type of cryptocurrency is accepted for each purchase. Continue reading PayPal, Visa Enable Streamlined Cryptocurrency Transactions

Microsoft Announces Launch of Azure Blockchain Services

In the past year, Microsoft has demonstrated a focus on blockchain technology. It previously launched a blockchain developer kit along with its Azure Blockchain Workbench. Just last week, ahead of its Build developer conference, Microsoft announced the launch of Azure Blockchain Services, a “fully managed service that allows for the formation, management, and governance of consortium blockchain networks” which are “meant to help businesses build applications on top of blockchain technology,” according to TechCrunch.

Continue reading Microsoft Announces Launch of Azure Blockchain Services

USC Will Host Full-Day Blockchain Symposium This Friday

USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Center for Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things (CCI) is hosting the second International Symposium on Foundations and Applications of Blockchain (FAB 2019). The event will take place on Friday, April 5, 7:00 am – 8:00 pm at USC. This one-day symposium builds on the previous success of FAB 2018, attended by close to a hundred participants and featuring presentations by distinguished speakers from academia and industry. To register, visit the symposium’s Eventbrite page. Continue reading USC Will Host Full-Day Blockchain Symposium This Friday

DTR and Academics Tackle Faster, Scalable Cryptocurrency

A group of professors from universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley are at work on the Unit-e, a “globally scalable” cryptocurrency that can achieve blazing speeds and retain Bitcoin’s vaunted decentralization. Unit-e will be the first project of the non-profit Distributed Technologies Research (DTR), an academic-formed foundation supported by hedge fund Pantera Capital Management. They hope to design a coin that will process transactions faster than Visa. Continue reading DTR and Academics Tackle Faster, Scalable Cryptocurrency

Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

Blockchain sessions and projects still abound at CES this year, but the bloom is definitely off the rose. At last year’s sessions it was standing room only, but this year it was no problem finding a seat. Given that cryptocurrencies are down 82 percent since last year at this time, I guess it’s no surprise. The good news, however, is that with a lot of the hype and “quick buck” mentality deflated, there’s a lot of good work and investing still being done. Unlike last year, which was one ICO announcement after another, this year was much more subdued and focused on products that address real business needs. Continue reading Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

MovieCoin’s Public Presale For Blockchain-Based Technology

MovieCoin, which describes itself as “a next-generation financial technology company … [that] leverages blockchain technology, digital assets and proprietary applications” for the media and entertainment industry, has just launched its public presale. The presale, with a hard cap of 10,000 Bitcoin (BTC), follows a private presale that reached its soft cap of 2,000 BTC. The company will accept Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin and Bankex (BKX) tokens during this public presale period. The minimum commitment is 5 BTC or equivalent. Continue reading MovieCoin’s Public Presale For Blockchain-Based Technology

8 Circuit Studios Uses Blockchain, Ethereum to Build Games

Creating Metaverse, the digital universe depicted in “The Matrix,” “TRON” and “Ready Player One” and described by novelists William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, sounds like a nearly impossible feat. But Seattle-based 8 Circuit Studios, staffed by veteran gamers, plans to rely on its expertise plus blockchain and cryptocurrency to develop this world more quickly than previously deemed possible. That’s because the company proposes that gamers, developers and publishers will work together to create the Metaverse ecosystem. Continue reading 8 Circuit Studios Uses Blockchain, Ethereum to Build Games

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?