“silver-colored glitters” by abigail low on Unsplash

If bitcoin takes over, the actions of one bank won’t matter much

Someday, the global economy might run on bitcoin, with hundreds of billions worth of commerce flowing through the cryptocurrency each day. When that happens, the theory goes, people will no longer be “bound by the shackles of banks or taxes but … emancipated … with new or revitalized dreams and hopes of a brighter, more independent future.” (Source: Knut Svanholm) Today, however, is not that day.

Early this morning Business Insider broke the news that banking giant Goldman Sachs has indefinitely shelved planned to create a crypto trading desk. The report sites unresolved regulatory issues as the reason for the…


The Economist goes all in on declaring crypto a ‘casino’ but admits there may be some hope for blockchains

“Show me the money” tops the latest screed in The Economist about how bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “useless.” Well, thank goodness that’s been clarified! Just one thing, though. When Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Rod Tidwell asks Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire to show him the money, it’s pretty early in the movie. Maguire is just setting off his own and Tidwell is still an over-cautious, me-first player who has yet to have his epiphany.

Whether bitcoin winds up with Renee Zellweger in our story, of course, remains to be seen but it might be wise to consider the possibility that crypto…


The Blockchain Transparency Institute yesterday tried to figure out the truth around trading at leading crypto exchanges. And what they found was sobering, if unsurprising: Some of the “leading exchanges” in crypto are doing far less volume than they claim. Overall the folks at BTI suggest up to two-thirds of crypto trades might be faked, using techniques like “wash sales” where tokens are sold and repurchased over and over again by the same entities.

There is, however, good news in the report. Using unique visitor accounts from ostensibly reliable third-party web traffic data, BTI concluded that the biggest exchanges were…


Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash

One of the promises of blockchain has been the idea you can “tokenize” any security or asset by creating a digital, crypto token that represents an ownership interest in a company, a building, a work of art. The skeptic might note that’s already mostly possible. Shares of stock represent fractional ownership interest in corporations and they are easily traded on exchanges throughout the world — no (analog) paper certificates required like in the old days.

So the news today that OpenFinance has launched the first regulated exchange for securities tokens might not seem very exciting at first glance. In this…


Life imitates art: It’s hard to change how things are done

Fans of the TV series Silicon Valley know that the core plot last season was the company’s attempt to build a “decentralized internet”, free from the control of governments, large corporations, et al. Spoiler alert: Our intrepid coder/entrepreneurs have only mixed success by the time the season is finished. In March, Wired took a look at how much of that fictional future was in our present and came away with similarly mixed results: There are some distributed apps (dApps) out there, but they’re harder to use, not especially popular, and have issues around performance and copyright.

Still, with trust in…


Photo by Mark Kamalov on Unsplash

The cagey crypto company circumvents the tough questions

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse was one of the richest people on earth back in January when his company’s cryptocurrency, XRP, was trading as high as $3.36 per token. Like many cryptos, XRP has been hit hard in 2018, though, now trading around 10% of that high. Still don’t cry for Garlinghouse. Based on those January estimates he might still be in the three comma club and he’s most certainly still CEO of Ripple.

These days, instead of counting his riches, that top job means he’s focused on getting financial institutions to support his company’s technology to move money — ideally…


New models, confusing rules make it hard not to get forked

The old saying about nothing being certain except for death and taxes has been resonating with the crypto community for some time. A lack of clarity around how to treat cryptocurrencies and whether existing rules can be applied to these new forms of money has caused consternation even for major players. Last week, Bloomberg looked at how hedge funds were struggling with tax issues. The IRS has yet to issue clear guidance on whether it accepts the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s idea that cryptos are, in fact, commodities.

Realistically, even those who are putting millions of dollars at risk trading…


Adult entertainment has driven technology adoption before

Technology is often accused of being a solution in search of a problem. And perhaps there’s no better example than last week’s announcement about a leading porn site joining forces with a nascent cryptocurrency. “Pornhub subsidiary wants to pay you cryptocurrency for watching porn — but don’t get too excited” read the headline over at The Next Web’s Hard Fork.

The site in question is called Tube8 (surely NSFW), which apparently has 150 million “page visits” monthly and boasts of 10 million users. And the pitch is simple, users will be able to earn something called the Vice Industry Token


Square, Robinhood provide access to next generation of investors

Today’s price bump notwithstanding, 2018 has thus far been a year to forget for investors in cryptocurrencies. But against that backdrop some longer-term bullish signs have emerged and one in particular is had to ignore: It’s easier than ever to buy and sell bitcoin thanks not just to the continued success of market-leader Coinbase but also to the folks at Square.

Square first opened trading in the leading cryptocurrency back on January 31, via a tweet (no surprise) from CEO Jack Dorsey who runs the payments company and also, of course, Twitter. As of August 14 with the regulatory…


As the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has risen over the past several years, the financial press has been trying to make sense of it all. What moves crypto pricing? How does crypto’s value change with stocks? Commodities? Currencies? Macroeconomic factors? The following is a just a smattering of the headlines purporting to place crypto in context with other financial assets:

“RBC detects a fledgling relationship between bitcoin and gold”, CNBC reported last December.

“Bitcoin is selling off this year. Here’s what the decline could mean for stocks,” the news channel stated in June.

“Turkey meltdown propels lira volatility…

Mark Rogowsky

Founding Editor in Chief, The Block. Multiple-time entrepreneur. Ex-Uber, Apple, Oracle, MongoDB. Long-time Silicon Valley observer.

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