FUD-free Fridays: China going all in on blockchain?

On 31 October 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto released his now-infamous Bitcoin white paper and transformed the way we think about money and transactions. Since then, the cryptocurrency it outlined has risen in value from $0.003 in 2010 to $9,165 today (as of time of writing). We’ve now mined more than 18 million Bitcoin, with 3 million left out there up for grabs. The Bitcoin network just this week surpassed $1 billion in cumulative fee revenue, and it currently has a market cap of over $165 billion. In other words, Bitcoin, you’ve done good. Happy 11th birthday ?

And what better way to celebrate than running through all the latest crypto news! Read our weekly rundown of everything that’s been going on. Witness how this incredible innovation is transforming our world, right now. Be the most knowledgeable person in the room at this weekend’s parties and box socials.

?? The Chinese Government LOVES crypto

The last two or three years has seen some mixed messages from China regarding cryptocurrency, but sentiment coming out of their government seems to be turning bullish.

Speaking at the Political Bureau of the Central Committee last week, President Xi Jinping drove the markets crazy, sending the Bitcoin price into overdrive (over 40% in a single day) when he described Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology as an “important breakthrough” and said more should be done to encourage its development.

“We must take blockchain as an important breakthrough for independent innovation of core technologies,” he said in his speech. “Clarify the main directions, increase investment, focus on a number of key technologies, and accelerate the development of blockchain and industrial innovation.”

There were also a number of other indicators that suggest the country is opening itself up to blockchain technology, with many speculating that this is preparation for the launch of its own state-backed digital currency. Chinese censors have started removing online posts claiming that blockchain technology is a scam and promotional posts have been allowed.

They’ve also passed a new law, which will come into effect on 1 January, aimed at “facilitating the development of the cryptography business and ensuring the security of cyberspace and information”. And to top it off, the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) has even released a decentralised app (dapp) for members to attest their loyalty on a blockchain.

According to a post from the CCP’s propaganda office on Saturday, the dapp, in literal translation called “Original Intentions Onchain,” allows members to pledge their allegiance to the party and store it on a blockchain, which can be shared and seen by others.” That’s one use case. Even if it might not have been what Nakomoto exactly had in mind.

?? Italy LOVES crypto

China isn’t the only country bullish on crypto. According to a recent report by marketing analysis firm SEMRush, Bitcoin is now the third most popular method for online payments in Italy.

Paypal remains the top choice for online payments in Italy, processing around 1.3 million payment transactions per month. The Italian payment processor PostePay is close behind, enabling almost 1.2 million monthly transactions. On average, Bitcoin is used more than 215,800 times each month. That’s more than American Express (only 189,000 times) and Visa and MasterCard (33,950 times each month).

The data did not take into account the number of Paypal and PostePay accounts that were linked to credit cards, which may have changed the make-up somewhat. But it’s still excellent news for Bitcoin user adoption.

? Bitmain seeking US IPO sponsored by long-term Bitcoin sceptic Deutsche Bank

Tencent News has reported that mining manufacturing giant Bitmain this week secretly filed an initial public offering (IPO) application in the US with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Bitmain has also brought on board Zheng Hua, the former representative of Nasdaq China, as a consultant, seemingly in order to increase the probability of its listing on a US stock exchange.

Of particular interest is the revelation that the IPO will be sponsored by German multinational, Deutsche Bank. The bank’s involvement represents something of a change in tack. They previously said that “Bitcoin is actually worthless; it is just a sequence of digital zeros and ones. It has no intrinsic value. For this reason, it does not really make sense to call Bitcoin “digital gold” or treat it as a commodity.” Sour grapes turned fruitful?

? Bakkt developing crypto consumer app for first half of 2020

Bakkt has announced plans to launch a consumer app that helps retail customers purchase goods with crypto. In a blog post, Chief Product Officer Mike Blandina wrote that the company was “launching a consumer app to make it easy for consumers to discover and unlock the value of digital assets, as well as ways in which they can transact or track them.”

“Merchants gain access to a broader set of customers with expanded spending power,” Blandina wrote. “A key feature of the model we’ve designed is to support a superset of digital assets, including cryptocurrencies as seamlessly as investors transact in stocks in a retail brokerage account. Our vision is to provide a consumer platform for managing a digital asset portfolio, whether they wish to store, transact, trade or transfer their assets.”

Starbucks will be Bakkt’s first partner when the app launches in the first half of 2020.

? Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey backs $10 million round for crypto startup CoinList

Twitter CEO and long-time Bitcoin advocate Jack Dorsey has invested in token sales startup, CoinList as part of its second funding round.

CoinList helps startups raise money through token sales and will use the cash to build CoinList Trade, a new exchange platform, and a cryptocurrency wallet. It raised a total of $10 million.

“Crypto needs a trustworthy platform for launching new projects. CoinList leads the industry in that role, and trading is a logical next step,” the Wall Street Journal quoted Dorsey as saying.

Dorsey has previously opted against joining Libra and has been outspoken in his support on Bitcoin, once saying that “the world ultimately will have a single currency, the internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be Bitcoin.”

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