Last week in blockchain – 2019, week 3

Welcome to Last week in blockchain. My name is Wim Pelgrim, a blockchain realist and with this weekly podcast you’ll stay up to speed about all the major developments on the blockchain. And please leave a review on iTunes so my podcast will get higher in the search results, share it with your friends and if you listen to this podcast for the first time: subscribe using your podcast app.

This week a few follow-ups of last week’s news. A critical note on TRON and BitTorrent, the remittance market, this week about Pakistan and Alipay and in the referrals an article on the central banks and digital currencies. And I will talk about the 51% hack of Ethereum Classic, a nice report about the news coverage of blockchain in 2018 and my wow feeling about a NASA article.

Personal

Technology

Last week I ended my item about TRON with the observation that I find it hard to see how the BTT-token would help the BitTorrent network. An answer to this question came from Simon Morris, former BitTorrent executive. He gave an interview to Breaker Mag in which he told about a concept he and other engineers designed for tokenizing their software. This technology could make the entire BitTorrent network as much as 40 percent faster. But now Tron is implementing about the concept he designed, he sees a problem: the TRON blockchain can’t handle the transaction volume BitTorrent will produce. Morris has little confidence in the technological foundation of TRON and Justin Sun. Quote: “It’s very clear that Justin is very strong at marketing. He has a very nice personality from a marketing point of view. He doesn’t have a technical bone in his body. He wouldn’t understand, technically, anything. But the approach that bothered me was, the very sort of Trumpian approach—if you get caught in a lie, the answer is you double down on the lie. [It was] the endless doubling down on lies that made me think it wasn’t going to be a fit.” That’s quite the statement. We’ll see how this will work out. If you want to know more, check out the entire article by Breaker Mag.

And then to the Ethereum Classic blockchain. This network (a fork from the Ethereum network) had a typical problem for permissionless public blockchains: a 51% attack. You can find a lot of articles online about this attack, but Cointelegraph had the best title: The reality of Proof of Work. How does this attack work and why is this a technical reality for Proof of Work? Proof of Work is the consensus algorithm (out of about 14 well known others) that is used in Bitcoin and Ethereum Classic. This means miners in the network solve cryptographic puzzles to determine who can validate a block in the network. The more computer power you add, the greater the chance you solve the puzzle and receive a fee. But when a lot of computers pool their power together to contribute 51% of all the computer power in the network, they control the network and can change blocks. And that is what happened in the Etherum Classic network. The 51% changed older blocks and the damage isn’t clear yet. And if a community supporting a blockchain with Proof of Work isn’t large enough, mining pools can take over networks. So if you are working on a blockchain network or application, think about the techniques you would like to use.

Background articles and research

As I said last week, I don’t want to do a lot of looking back at 2018. But Cryptoglobe had an interesting article about the field I’m in: the news coverage of blockchain. Avi Rosten wrote an article in which he look at the coverage of crypto and blockchain news in 2018. And he has some interesting graphs, developments and conclusions in his article. Two nice conclusions from this article: the volume of sponsored posts and ICO’s plummeted. The ICO bubble clearly burst last year and the amount of articles about these burst too. And secondly the proportion of articles focusing on technology is declining, which brings Rosten to the conclusion blockchain is becoming more mainstream.

Companies en applications

A lot of news from last week is coming back this week. I talked about Facebook entering the remittance market. This week Alipay, the third payment platform in the world, partners with Ant Financial Services Group from Pakistan to start the first remittance product in this country. And the companies hope to take a piece of the 1 billion dollar home remittance market. “This puts Pakistan on the map of very few countries in the world that have launched International Remittance using blockchain technology,” said Tariq Bajwa, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, who initiated the launch of the event. It seems a legitimate use case and an interesting battle in the remittance market to follow in the next few months and years.

Sometimes you come across a very surprising but very intelligent blockchain solution. This week I read an article by Ronald J. Reisman of NASA who wrote about a blockchain solution for air traffic. What is the problem? Air traffic controllers have the responsibility to guide planes safely through the air and to prevent accidents, collisions and other problems. But in order to do that, they need information about all planes in the sky. Current radar-based air traffic service providers may preserve privacy for military and corporate operations by preventing public release of selected flight plans, position and state data. As of 2020 a new system will replace that procedure. NASA proposes a open source permissioned blockchain framework for secure communication between any specific aircraft and any particular authorized member, sharing data in accordance with the terms specified in the form of smart contracts. The prototype demonstrates how this method can be economically and rapidly deployed in a scalable modular environment. Wow. This is the next wave of blockchain buzz: real world solutions in use cases blockchain as a tool is the best answer for a specific problem.

Governments and law

When you are working on blockchain in China, you have to take into account new regulations by the Chinese authorities. Platforms will have to implement real-name registration for users via a national ID or telephone number, censor content en store user data. Also authorities must have access to stored data. The goal of the Cyberspace Administration of China is to “advance the industry’s healthy and orderly development”. Technology Review has a nice headline: “China will now officially try to extend its Great Firewall to blockchains”.

Hardware

Oh my god!

Referrals

And to conclude this podcast, a few articles you can read next week for yourself. Three US governments actively acting on the rise of blockchain: New York opens a new Blockchain Center, Washingtons Douglas county is looking to build a blockchain innovation campus and Wyoming accepted two blockchain sandbox bills. And the EU encouraged the Central Banks to issue digital currencies, but they will not do that in the near future. And looking for a PhD in blockchain in my beautiful country The Netherlands? Check out this vacancy at the University of Delft.

And that wraps up this Last week in blockchain. Check my website: www.wimpelgrim.nl for more info on me and my podcast and a full transcript of this episode. Check the links mentioned in this episode in the description: TRON and BitTorrent, the 51% hack, news coverage report, Pakistan’s remittance market, China’s new regulations and NASA on blockchain in air traffic control. And if you like what you’ve heard, share this podcast with your friends and on social media and subscribe to this podcast in your podcast app. See you next week!

Sources

TRON and BitTorrent revisited
https://breakermag.com/former-bittorrent-exec-says-theres-no-way-its-token-can-run-on-tron/

51% hack of Ethereum Classic
https://cointelegraph.com/news/ethereum-classic-51-attack-the-reality-of-proof-of-work

News coverage of blockchain
https://www.cryptoglobe.com/latest/2019/01/crypto-news-trends-in-2018-how-has-the-landscape-changed/

Pakistan remittance market
https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190108005651/en/Blockchain-Technology-Backed-Home-Remittances-Malaysia-Pakistan

China’s new regulations
https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-belarus-cryptocurrency/belarus-allows-traders-to-buy-shares-with-bitcoin-idUKKCN1P91VZ

NASA on blockchain in air traffic control
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20190000022.pdf

Referrals

New York
https://thenextweb.com/hardfork/2019/01/11/new-blockchain-center-opens-in-new-york-amid-cryptocurrency-market-woes/

Washington
https://cointelegraph.com/news/washingtons-douglas-county-is-looking-to-build-a-blockchain-innovation-campus

Wyoming
https://www.coindesk.com/wyoming-lawmakers-advance-blockchain-sandbox-bill

Central banks
https://www.forbes.com/sites/mayrarodriguezvalladares/2019/01/08/central-banks-are-not-issuing-digital-currency-soon/

Vacancy in Delft
https://carriere.nrc.nl/vacatures/technische-universiteit-delft-tud/phd-design-and-implement-security-protocols-for-blockchains-f35e5

Support me on Patreon: www.patreon.com/wimpelgrim

Music © by https://www.bensound.com

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