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Tab Sweep – 19 February 2018

Why WhatsApp’s entry into payment arena could change Indian banking forever – the interface is easy to use. However Paytm is unhappy, and might pull the “we don’t want to be colonised by a foreign company”. Remember that there are about 250 million WhatsApp users in India!

“All companies threatened by WhatsApp payments are going to tag it as anti-national and try to pull it down as it’s hard to win on merit against the network effects of WhatsApp,” tweeted Kunal Shah, founder of payments company Freecharge. “This strategy worked for Patanjali (Ayurveda-based consumer goods company) and wonder if it will work for payment companies.”

As Stripe exited the cryto-payments market just a few weeks back, it’s interesting to see Coinbase Commerce launch. They accept Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin, and you can integrate it with your checkout flow or use the Shopify integration.

BlockSci: a platform for blockchain science and exploration – work is very interesting, as you get insights into how the Bitcoin ecosystem operates. “Current tools for blockchain analysis depend on general-purpose databases that have full support for transactions. But that’s unnecessary for blockchain analysis where the data structures are append-only. We take advantage of this observation in the design of our custom in-memory blockchain database as well as an analysis library.”

Inside Asia’s bitcoin economy was the cover story for Nikkei Asian Review, January 31 2018. “Whenever I talk to them, regulators say they encourage development of blockchain-based technologies in the country,” said Kevin Guo, co-founder and co-chairman of Dianrong, a Shanghai-based peer-to-peer loan startup. Also good coverage of OmiseGO, NEO, what regulators fear, and Pundi X (Jakarta based).

NYT reportage on KodakCoin: Kodak’s Dubious Cryptocurrency Gamble.

Why Is Bitcoin Valuable? – long read. Censorship resistant. Related Hacker News thread.

Jameson Lopp Bitcoin resources. It’s a long, useful list. It will take you many days to go thru the content but it is highly recommended. In the same vein, I’d also subscribe to David Gerard’s blog, Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain.

Now even YouTube serves ads with CPU-draining cryptocurrency miners. Also, Media group Salon: Let us use your computer to mine crypto. I kind of like Salon’s model – if you don’t see ads, you allow your CPU resources to be used. However, with the invention of “tabs”, imagine how many of these windows will be open? Won’t be long before browsers stop this (at least for in-active tabs). What about when you’re on a laptop with a battery? Salon’s experiment is powered by Coinhive.

BitMEX Research on Tether.

Why blockchain is a belief system

For the most part it is just a bundle of pre-existing technologies brought together in a cryptocurrency context to solve a problem most of the regulated financial system does not have: a lack of trusted intermediaries.

Aside from solving that very specific issue — and doing so extremely expensively — blockchain achieves little beyond the novelty of broadcasting transactions publicly and pseudonymously in a way that achieves ledger immutability.

FT: Berkshire’s Charlie Munger calls bitcoin ‘totally asinine’ (paywall) – “noxious poison”, “totally asinine”, “groupies”. Don’t have to read it, just a shock & awe headline.

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