Could Stablecoins Be The Answer to Cryptocurrency Woes? 4 1118

You might be curious about investing in crypto. You maybe even made a few bucks (or lost some, depending on your timing). But the infamous volatility in cryptocurrency value makes it almost unviable as an actual method of paying for goods and services. After all, you may dabble in digital money in an exchange, but would you be willing to accept your wages in Bitcoin? That’s where stablecoins are a game changer.

When FUD washes through the sensitive markets, digital coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum are highly unreliable. You could make a significant increase one day, but you could also take home half pay the next. Maybe that’s not a problem when it comes to purchasing a coffee or a FMCG, but when you’re buying high ticket items or receiving a regular salary, volatile cryptos are not the answer.

Enter Stablecoins

In an attempt to establish a commonly agreed upon worth, stablecoins are growing in popularity. Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that are pegged to another stable asset. This includes the US dollar, gold, and even silver. That makes for low volatility, without tying it to any central bank and allows for more practical, everyday usage.

Stablecoins are causing a lot of excitement in the crypto world as they could be the catalyst for widespread adoption of digital money. The fact that they are still decentralized means that transaction fees are low or non-existent, and they offer a certain degree of privacy as well. But obviously the main advantage to stablecoins, as the name suggests, is their stability.

Stablecoins provide a viable altcoin that can be used in everyday transactions and for long term payment schemes as well.

So, the question now may be not whether stablecoins will take off, but who will be the first to do it successfully? There are already a few on the market, but they each have their advantages and drawbacks.

Tether

Tether is pegged to the US dollar and claims to be 100 percent backed by fiat currency. For every digital tether coin, there is a tangible dollar behind it. 1 tether USTD equals $1 USD. Simple. But not without its issues.

While its stable value is widely recognized, tether could be a ticking bomb, as its trading volume regularly exceeds its market cap. And more than one authority is beginning to question its claims. Its centralization goes against the cryptocurrency philosophy, as well.

MakerDao

Unlike Tether, Maker is decentralized. Like Tether, it is also pegged to the US dollar, but it’s backed by ETH as well. Their stable coins are called Dai and each one is worth $1 USD. The price stability is achieved through an autonomous system of smart contracts.

Being backed by ETH means that Dai is on the blockchain and therefore transparent. But the process of purchasing Dai is a little complex. Its entire system is hard to get to grips with and probably not user friendly enough to become mainstream.

NuBits

Don’t let the name put you off. NuBits has been successfully trading for a few years already, as one of the first stablecoins to emerge. When it first came out, cryptocurrency was not as volatile, and many people questioned the point of a digital currency that could not be used for investment purposes. But NuBits has proven its worth. The only market their USNBT coin lost value to was Bitcoin, which is hardly surprising considering the latter’s meteoric rise.

NuBits offers a good option for those looking for almost zero volatility. It’s also cheap to spend, as there are no vendor fees, which means it’s more attractive than using a credit card. And there are also no chargebacks for vendors, as all transactions are irreversible.

If cryptocurrencies will ever go mainstream or even replace fiat currency completely, they will need to be price stable. While Bitcoin and Ether continue to rise and fall, stablecoins could be on the up and up.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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Happy 10th Birthday, Bitcoin!! 7 3035

On January 3rd, 2009, block number zero produced the first 50 bitcoins. They were mined by none other than the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. Thus was born the phenomenon of the decade. And on January 8th, ten years ago today, bitcoin became a public network when Nakamoto released bitcoin version 0.1.

Nakamoto announced the release via the Metzdowd cryptography mailing list, calling bitcoin “a new electronic cash system that uses a peer-to-peer network to prevent double-spending.”

Nakamoto’s description of the software that would revolutionize technology is sparing and to the point. “It’s completely decentralized with no server or central authority,” the succinct announcement goes on. “Windows only for now.  Open source C++ code is included.” It describes the proof of work as “ridiculously easy”.

It follows with a brief description of how transactions work, how many coins will be released and how they can expect to split every 4 years, along with the caveats that the software was still “alpha and experimental,” offering “no guarantees”. It’s signed with no letter closing, simply:

“Satoshi Nakamoto”

Bitcoin, This Is Your Life

My what a ten years it has been. Just to recap:

On January 12th, 2009, programmer Hal Finney, who had downloaded the new bitcoin software immediately, received ten bitcoins from Nakamoto. This was the first ever bitcoin transaction. Over a year later in May 2010, programmer Laszlo Hanyecz received 10,000 bitcoins in exchange for two Papa John’s pizzas, initiating the first real-world bitcoin purchase and thereby creating the pizza index.

Bitcoin simmered until 2017, when it’s value jolted from $900 to over $19,000, and bitcoin became a household name. Over the past year, the original crypto has settled to a more modest $4,000 valuation, and stirred up a lot of public din in its wake.

Where Were You on January 9th, 2009?

So where were you on the day of Nakamoto’s announcement? Probably on your couch watching DVDs of Pineapple Express and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia seasons 1 through 3, or laughing at Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog on your iPhone 2.

It was a simpler time. Wired was calling Google Earth the number one app on the fancy new iPhone app store. Competition was fierce with Windows 7 in beta. Facebook had recently dropped the “is” from status updates, and a fun app called Twitter (formerly “Twttr”) had just introduced a feature called Trending Topics.

Trending Topics

David Bowie was celebrating one of his eight final birthdays, while Michael Jackson and Patrick Swayze were enjoying their last few months among us mortals. Only days later, pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles made aviation history by skillfully crash landing US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, saving everyone on board.

A burgeoning class of ennui soaked fashionistas, deemed “hipsters,” were described in Time Magazine as “smug, full of contradictions and, ultimately, the dead end of Western civilization,” a vermin who “manage to attract a loathing unique in its intensity.” They went on with this colorful character sketch:

“Hipsters are the friends who sneer when you cop to liking Coldplay. They’re the people who wear t-shirts silk-screened with quotes from movies you’ve never heard of and the only ones in America who still think Pabst Blue Ribbon is a good beer. They sport cowboy hats and berets and think Kanye West stole their sunglasses. Everything about them is exactingly constructed to give off the vibe that they just don’t care.”

Time Magazine, 2009

Is it time for any of that to come back into style yet? Maybe give it a few more years. We need a break.

Williamsburg was gentrifying and Portland was still America’s best kept secret. The streets were flooded with fixed gear bikes and the sounds of Grizzly Bear, Real Estate, Kings of Convenience, and TV on the Radio.

Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion was just a few days old, and Fever Ray’s self titled was about to drop. The world was listening to Lady Gaga, whose single “Just Dance” hit number one on Billboard’s top 100, and Taylor Swift’s Fearless, which was the top selling album.

That same month, box offices favored the cuddly Marley & Me, while The Dark Knight swept the people’s choice awards. Audiences were still getting wowed by Avatar, paying a lot to be disappointed by Mall Cop, and getting hyped about the upcoming Watchmen movie.

Meanwhile in Washington DC, a president with a multisyllabic vocabulary was about to be inaugurated (a rarity in the 21st century, we would find out), and his kids were playing with a Wii they got for Christmas.

Here’s To Another Decade Ahead

What a time it was, the dawn of 2009. And most of us, at least for a few more years, had never heard about blockchain, cryptocurrencies, or bitcoin.

And now here we are.

So, dear reader, here’s to ten more years of crashes, booms, bubble scares, hype, derision, libertarian fanboys, pizza and moon lambos. Happy tenth birthday, bitcoin!!1

South Korea to Launch K-Voting: Elections by Blockchain 4 2913

South Korean officials are developing a blockchain based voting system, scheduled for completion by the end of the year. Naturally, it’s called K-Voting.

An election watchdog called the National Election Commission, along with the Ministry of Science and ICT, started developing the system in June in pursuit of a more reliable and secure online voting system. The ministry hopes the transparency of the blockchain will prevent any tampering with election results, because anyone, including the candidates, can see the data and vet the results themselves.

The launch will begin by testing the system with lower-stakes trial runs, like surveys. After assessing the results of the trial runs, the ministry and the NEC will launch the full version of K-voting, which will use the blockchain throughout the entire voting process, from voter authentication all the way through tallying election results.

“We expect the blockchain-based voting system to enhance reliability of voting,” said ministry official Kim Jeong-won. “The ministry will continue to support the application of blockchain technology to actively utilize it in areas that require reliability.”

It’s Not Korea’s First Dance With Blockchain Voting

This isn’t the first time South Korea has used blockchain for voting. Last March, citizens used a voting platform developed by Blocko to decide how to prioritize community projects in the local budget. The blockchain election took place in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea’s most populous province, which surrounds Seoul and is home to many federally administrative buildings including the Ministry of Science and ICT headquarters. With 9,000 participants, the vote was smaller in scale than what the ministry hopes to implement now. But the success of the project boosted confidence in the potential of the distributed ledger for regulating and securing online elections.

“Blockchains will change the world within a few years just as smart-phones did,” Gyeonggi-do Governor Nam Kyung-Pil said at the time. “We can complement the limits of representative democracy with some direct democracy systems by using blockchains, the technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

“Numerous institutions have contacted us to adopt a blockchain-based voting system after the voting in Gyeonggi-do,” said Blocko CEO Won-Beom Kim following the success of the project. “By using a blockchain technology in online voting, we can save expenses required to maintain a central management agency and time to collect vote results.”

Blockchain Voting in West Virginia

For this year’s midterm elections in the US, West Virginia introduced a blockchain-based app to replace absentee ballots. The app was specifically geared towards West Virginia residents serving overseas in the military.

Around 144 West Virginians in 30 different countries apped in their votes on the platform, which was developed by Boston-based startup Voatz. West Virginia reported the experiment as a success. “This is a first-in-the-nation project that allowed uniformed services members and overseas citizens to use a mobile application to cast a ballot secured by blockchain technology,” West Virginia Secretary of State Andrew “Mac” Warner said following the midterms.

Despite the professed success, Warner’s Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Queen told the Washington Post they have no plans to expand the project, and “will never advocate that this is a solution for mainstream voting.”

The Precedents Are Set for ‘Direct Democracy’

But West Virginia has set a precedent, and now blockchain voting has a foot in the door Stateside. A bolder election-by-blockchain enterprise like South Korea’s K-Voting could inspire change in the States where election reform is desperately needed. If K-Voting takes hold, it could change the face of democracy worldwide.

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