The World Economic Forum (WEF) has long been a lightning rod of global discussion on economic, social and political trends. This year’s gathering in Davos, Switzerland, was no exception.
Blockchain technology emerged center stage last week as a key discussion theme, receiving praise from attendees for its cutting-edge potential. Bitcoin and the future of cryptocurrencies, too, were highly discussed topics at the forum, not just casually but also in an official session and a few panel discussions. There, cryptocurrencies were the subject of intense debate among looming questions about its long-term viability and worth.
Ahead of Davos, Nobel Prize–winning economist Robert Shiller joined a growing chorus of prominent Bitcoin naysayers, telling CNBC that Bitcoin “might totally collapse and be forgotten and I think that’s a good likely outcome[,] but it could linger on for a good long time, it could be here in 100 years.”
Chatter surrounding Bitcoin’s reputation as a haven for illicit activities persisted among WEF attendees as well. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said during a panel discussion: “The fact that the anonymity, the lack of transparency and the way in which it conceals and protects money laundering and financing of terrorism and all sorts of dark trades is just not acceptable.”
In a brief interview by email with eBits.Co, WEF Member Jennifer Zhu Scott offered an alternative perspective to Shiller, Lagarde and others regarding Bitcoin’s meteoric rise and future possibilities.
“Most of the status quo are still in denial. But we are at the cusp of a complete transformation of the financial industry. The fact we are even talking about it at Davos is already a validation of progress within the [Bitcoin] movement.”
Zhu Scott is the founding principal at Radian Partners and Radian Blockchain Ventures, a firm that targets private investments in artificial intelligence and the blockchain and their applications to climate-change-related projects such as solar infrastructure and carbon-credit trading.
She said that Shiller lacks a comprehensive understanding of the underlying (blockchain) technology and its economic implications. According to Zhu Scott, Shiller’s comments on Bitcoin and those who believe in it were based on impressions instead of sound research.
“One common mistake the status quo often makes is to judge Bitcoin as the destination of the digital asset movement. For while it has certainly caught people’s imaginations, we are only seeing the very early stages of it,” said Zhu Scott, who was an active participant at this year’s forum.
She was quick to offer the reminder of how messy the internet was back in the 1990s, particularly with respect to its application to business. “Look back at those who said, ‘Because the dot-com boom is a bubble, the internet will go nowhere.’ They now sound silly. But people are making these same mistakes.”
Zhu Scott was particularly taken aback by Shiller’s highly critical comments onstage, where he stated that Bitcoin enthusiasts are “selfish” and “in it for money.”
“It would have been like me asserting that his economic theories were hurting the little guys without understanding what GDP was. Those with a voice, such as Shiller and the other Nobel Laureates, have a responsibility to look beyond the noise and understand the fundamental shift that is happening.”
All debate aside, Zhu Scott says that the fact that we are still talking about Bitcoin after almost a decade, and the fact that Bitcoin is still alive and thriving, proves that it’s a powerful idea.
“The debate at Davos this year was important as it offers a pragmatic view on Bitcoin and the token economy,” said Zhu Scott. “It was an opportunity to acknowledge its weaknesses while also inspiring people to focus on its potential. To me, Satoshi Nakamoto’s gift to the world will likely have a much larger impact on the future monetary reality than any of the Nobel Laureates who feel so urged to offer conclusions.”
Russian IT Giant Mail.Ru Enables Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash Payments
One of the biggest Russian IT holdings, Mail.Ru Group, is allowing advertisers and the owners of advertising sites to pay and be paid with cryptocurrencies on the advertisement platform myTarget.
Mail.Ru Group is the worldwide technology company which unites three big social networks Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki and My World; ICQ messenger; mobile ads service Youla; popular online games Warface, Allods Online, Armored Warfare and Skyforge; food delivery platform Delivery Club; and ridesharing service Beepcar.
The myTarget platform helps advertising parties purchase and place ads on Mail.Ru properties. It also allows owners of sites to earn money by having ads displayed on their pages.
Using BitPay, bitcoin and bitcoin cash can be used to pay on Mail.Ru as well as on social networks Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte. Odnoklassniki is one of the oldest social networks in Eastern Europe with more than 45 million users. It is especially popular among 30 to 55 year olds. Vkontakte, “The Russian Facebook,” is the most popular social network in Europe with more than 80 million active users and about 460 million registered users. It’s translated into 90 languages but is most popular among Russian-speaking users.
Dmitry Sergeev, the first deputy chief director of Mail.Ru Group said in a statement: “We tend to give our clients maximum opportunities for their business development. The myTarget platform will become a starting point for the ecosystem, which will develop in the future and include other products of Mail.Ru Group, including gaming projects.”
Washington Post Adds Support for Brave Browser, Basic Attention Token
The Brave browser and its Basic Attention Token (BAT) just added another verified mainstream publisher to its list of partners.
According to original posts on Reddit, the Washington Post recently integrated with Brave to accept contributions in BAT on its website. As such, the Post’s readers can now donate BAT to the publication via the Brave platform.
Users trumpeted the news as a major adoption milestone and with good reason. Owned by Jeff Bezos, the Washington Post is one of the largest media outlets in the United States, and this is just the latest publisher to adopt Basic Attention’s model in recent months. Other mainstream publishers that Brave and BAT have on board include Vice and the Guardian (U.K.).
The Washington Post, Vice and the Guardian are all impressive bedfellows, but the Brave browser gets around with more than just media outlets. Popular YouTube channels, such as PewDiePie, Casey Neistat and Philip DeFranco started accepting BAT back in November of 2017, and, this February, the project announced that it has enabled streamers on the popular streaming service Twitch.tv to receive user donations via Brave Payments.
Founded by Mozilla Firefox creator Brendan Eich, Brave offers a eBits. Eich created Brave to fix the problems that plague digital advertising, such as bot views, inequitable share of advertising revenue and fraud. Brave attempts to streamline the process by connecting advertisers and publishers directly, cutting out middlemen and third party partners.
As the first working iteration of BAT’s model, the Brave browser works with publishers and users to deliver a less intrusive and more equitable advertising model. With Brave, users can hide ads from any website they visit on the browser. However, they can also disable this ad-blocking feature and earn a portion of advertising revenue for every ad they interact with. Users can then spend these tokens for services, promotions and the like on participating sites, or they can donate them directly to publishers they especially appreciate if they’re feeling generous.
The platform also anonymously gauges user attention to ensure that publishers get no more or no less than their allotted share of ad revenue. Additionally, it keeps tabs on what ads consumers favor so that advertisers can know which products they should direct at which audiences. Thus, Basic Attention Tokens monetize user engagement so as to reward consumers for their attention; cut publishers a fairer piece of the advert pie; and give advertisers more reliable data on user interests.
Currently, only the Brave Browser supports BAT, but the team has it in its sights to expand the token to other browsers in the future. If the project can onboard more browsers, BAT may become more attractive to online publishers as its proof of concept morphs into adoption.
Image attribution: By Michael Fleischhacker – Own work, Public Domain.
“Cryptocurrency,” “Blockchain” and “ICO” Make Their Merriam-Webster Dictionary Debut
Anyone needing an established definition for “cryptocurrency,” “blockchain” or “ICO” now has a trusted resource: the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. On March 5, 2018, Merriam-Webster announced the addition of 850 new words, phrases and new meanings for existing words to merriam-webster.com and to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary print edition.
Interestingly for cryptocurrency enthusiasts, out of all 850 new words and phrases such as “dumpster fire,” “glamping,” “welp,” and “life hack,” the Bitcoin logo took center stage on both Merriam-Webster’s main tweet and its website announcement about the new dictionary entries. The website also features this statement just above the words “‘Cryptocurrency’ is now in the dictionary” and the Bitcoin logo:
The language doesn’t take a vacation, and neither does the dictionary. The words we use are constantly changing in big ways and small, and we’re here to record those changes. Each word has taken its own path in its own time to become part of our language — to be used frequently enough by some in order to be placed in a reference for all. If you’re likely to encounter a word in the wild, whether in the news, a restaurant menu, a tech update or a Twitter meme, that word belongs in the dictionary.
Emily Brewster, associate editor at Merriam-Webster, stated, “In order for a word to be added to the dictionary it must have widespread, sustained and meaningful use. These new words have been added to the dictionary because they have become established members of the English language and are terms people are likely to encounter.” The addition to the Merriam-Webster dictionary of the words cryptocurrency, blockchain and ICO seem to fit those criteria well.
cryptocurrency noun cryp·to·cur·ren·cy ˌkrip-tō-ˈkər-ən(t)-sē , -ˈkə-rən(t)-sē : any form of currency that only exists digitally, that usually has no central issuing or regulating authority but instead uses a decentralized system to record transactions and manage the issuance of new units, and that relies on cryptography to prevent counterfeiting and fraudulent transactions. First Known Use: 1990
blockchain noun block·chain ˈbläk-ˌchān : a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network; also : the technology used to create such a database. First Known Use: 2011
ICO noun ˈī-ˈsē-ˈō : an initial offering of a cryptocurrency to the public : initial coin offering. First Known Use: 2014
Bitcoin was added to the dictionary in April of 2016.
The dictionary’s editors added two other words that describe how money is organized and distributed: “microcredit” and “microfinance.” Other new entries include previously existing words with additional new meanings, such as the venture capital term “unicorn” (noun used figuratively to mean a startup valued at $1+ billion); the psychophysical word “bandwidth” (noun used figuratively to mean “emotional or mental capacity”); and the web-centric words “case-sensitive” and “subtweet.”
There were some tongue-in-cheek comments on the Twitter announcement, including “GenZ hijacking language and grammar, while the adults still think they are in control of the narrative;” “The damnable youths seek to corrupt the invaluable and inviolable institution of tongue to their own devices;” and “Didn’t add covfefe?”
Merriam-Webster has not yet released a full list of the new words and phrases, though “HODL” is not included in the current update.
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