Introducing Blockchain Tech News

April 1, 2017

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Welcome to the premiere issue of Blockchain Tech News, a Networld Media Group publication covering the exploration, implementation and evolution of distributed ledger technologies and their application to — well — just about any process under the sun.

BTN is the successor to — or really, an extension of — the Networld publication Virtual Currency Today.

We launched VCT three years ago, at a time when digital currencies were just tugging at the fringes of popular culture and bitcoin was looking as though it might gain enough traction to escape from the murky depths of the dark web to the high road of mainstream respectability.

My own introduction to bitcoin and the blockchain came during the financial crisis in Cyprus almost exactly four years ago.

As editor of ATM Marketplace, I closely followed news updates about bank closures and blocks-long ATM queues as the country's banking system skirted the brink of total collapse.

While the government floated serious proposals to confiscate funds from the bank accounts of Cypriots, Cypriots desperately sought to move said wealth out said bank accounts and put it someplace: a) out of government reach; and b) safer than a mattress.

Many Cypriots — and others who feared that the crisis might spread to additional EU nations — busily converted whatever cash they could get into bitcoin, resulting in a headline-grabbing run-up in the currency's value.

To facilitate the euros-to-bitcoins exchange, a zealously Libertarian internet entrepreneur named Jeff Berwick announced his intention to build a multibillion-dollar bitcoin ATM empire, which he would kick off by planting the first bitcoin ATM right in little Cyprus.

In writing about the bitcoin ATM for ATM Marketplace, I spent hours down online rabbit holes, trying to figure out how it was possible to turn math problems into money, and regretting that the door to crypto riches had closed for me decades ago, when I almost failed trigonometry and forgot to get an advanced degree in computer science.

In the end, Cyprus managed to recover — without ever getting its bitcoin ATM. Berwick, alas, did not become a bitcoin ATM magnate, however, devices manufactured by a number of other bitcoin believers did begin to pop up — first in Canada, then in the U.S., Hong Kong, the U.K., China, a few EU nations, and elsewhere.

According to Coin ATM Trader, nearly 1,100 bitcoin ATMs dot the globe today, with approximately 3.3 new devices installed daily and only 2,999,000 more or less to go to match the number of traditional ATMs on the planet.

Since the launch of VCT, Bitcoin and other virtual currencies have continued to claim a growing share of cultural consciousness through mainstream media coverage. Just today, a 70-something neighbor mentioned to me that she had learned about bitcoin watching an episode of "The Good Wife."

But bitcoin as a payment instrument continues to be stymied by an inherent paradox: It can mainstream itself as a reliable and well-regulated currency or it can maintain its rogue aura as an anonymous, anti-establishment alternative to fiat. It can be U2 "Boy" or U2 "Zooropa"; but it can't seem to choose.

The blockchain, though …

Very different story.

By design, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies are stable, self-regulating, eminently predictable and highly practical — exactly what banks, health care, governments, supply chains, stock markets, title companies, transportation systems and virtually any other records-based enterprise craves.

The blockchain is practically purpose-built for the business world, and industries that wouldn't share the same sidewalk with virtual currency are ready to walk — no, run — down the aisle with blockchain technologies.

In January, the World Economic Forum published findings from its survey of more than 800 executives and experts in the information and communications technology sectors. These professionals predicted that by 2025, blockchain technology will reach the tipping point, and that by 2027, 10 percent of global gross domestic product will be stored on blockchain technology.

The expected results of this massive shift?

  • increased financial inclusion in emerging markets, as financial services on the blockchain gain critical mass;
  • disintermediation of financial institutions, as new services and value exchanges are created directly on the blockchain;
  • an explosion in tradable assets, as all kinds of value exchange can be hosted on the blockchain;
  • better property records in emerging markets, and the ability to make everything a tradable asset;
  • contacts and legal services increasingly tied to code linked to the blockchain, to be used as unbreakable escrow or programmatically designed smart contracts; and
  • increased transparency, as the blockchain is essentially a global ledger storing all transactions.

As these and related events unfold, Blockchain Technology News will be following the developments, players and outcomes, bringing you information, analysis and expert commentary to provide context and perspective.

And, of course, we'll continue to bring you the latest news about bitcoin and other virtual currencies as their future unfolds.

It promises to be a fascinating story; we'll do our best to make it a great read, as well.

— Suzanne Cluckey, Editor
ATM Marketplace | Blockchain Tech News


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