No one likes missing the train. Of course, jumping on the wrong one is sure to delay the arrival even more. In today’s Bitcoin in Brief, we cover the latest attempts by big corporations to stay close to the crypto waters without really wetting their feet. Also, do you want to know how Cryptokitties have inspired a new Ebay-like platform for crypto enthusiasts?
Another Badge of Patents
While it is somewhat understandable when central banks want the blockchain but not bitcoin, it isn’t that clear why serious businesses make similar choices. Some of them prefer to shy away from the decentralized cryptocurrency, for which the awesome technology was actually invented. Getting on the crypto train has the power to lift stock prices. If it’s the wrong train, however, it could also postpone the arrival at the final destination.
The blockchain technology is what makes bitcoin possible, but Walmart wants to use it without the cryptocurrency. The US retail giant has announced plans to employ blockchain in payment systems for vendors and customers. Two patents, filed by Walmart last year, were approved last week. The vendor payment sharing system will automatically process payments for products and services, the company explained. The system will also encrypt the transactions on a blockchain.
The planners at Walmart may not have noticed, but processing encrypted payments on the bitcoin blockchain has been working flawlessly for many years. Much smaller businesses, like some companies in the Baltic states, have realized that already. Besides, instant conversion to fiat, offered by crypto payment providers, eliminates the risk that comes with the volatility in crypto markets. So, what’s so scary about using bitcoin and its blockchain?
Tracing the Untraceable
Realizing, probably, that bitcoin is here to stay, another giant, Amazon, has recently obtained a bitcoin tracking patent. The online retail behemoth wants to track multiple datastreams, combine the information, and sell the data. The patent explicitly mentions bitcoin. Amazon claims that every time a bitcoin transaction takes place, related data can be captured and correlated. That’s interesting! “Untraceable and anonymous” transactions have often been cited among the “mortal sins” of cryptocurrencies.
Now, it turns out that a bitcoin address could be easily associated with a shipping address, an IP, an email, a bank account, or a social media profile by online retailers, internet providers and banks. The patent aims to make the presumably anonymous crypto information relevant and identifiable by collecting data from multiple sources and then finding the correlation with other transactions. As Tamebay reports, the authors specifically note that law enforcement may be interested in receiving data for bitcoin transactions by country.
Here Comes a “Rare” Competitor
Another global retailer, Ebay, may soon feel competition from a young fintech startup. Rare Bits brands itself as an Ebay-like platform for crypto enthusiasts who want to buy digital assets. The platform allows users to purchase, sell and search for virtual assets denominated in cryptocurrency. The startup launched just a couple of months ago but has since raised $6 million. As CNBC reports, some big names are on the investors list, including Spark Capital, First Round Capital, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear and founder and former CEO Justin Kan.
Rare Bits is a matchmaker for sellers and buyers of crypto assets. For its services, the platform takes a cut of a developer’s revenue from the sale of their assets. The business idea has been inspired by the success of Cryptokitties, a game of buying and selling digital kittens with ethereum-based contracts. The company claims to have processed more than $100,000 in transactions during its first month. Unlike cryptocurrency exchanges or crypto wallet providers, Rare Bits doesn’t trade cryptocurrencies but crypto products. Its users are offered a catalogue of more than half a million such items.
The platform focuses on consumers familiar with cryptocurrencies but its co-founder Amitt Mahajan says there is plenty of room for new people to get on board. “Imagine if a celebrity like Beyoncé or someone really well known were to release ten backstage passes on the blockchain… How many millions of people do you think would go out of their way to acquire one of those things?”
What do you think about businesses trying to separate blockchain technologies from decentralized cryptocurrencies like bitcoin? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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