Overstock is bringing the blockchain to Wall Street, and Satoshi Nakamoto may have been identified (again). Here are the cryptocurrency highlights of week 50:
- The headline dominating the week was the “big reveal” that Bitcoin’s creator, a person or a group by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, was the Australian named Craig Steven Wright. Gizmodo and Wired separately came this conclusion, and published their research just hours apart. The story, however, quickly turned out to be quite bizarre. Wired already notes that several pieces of evidence that Wright is Satashi Nakamoto appear to have been falsified. Furthermore, Wright’s claim of owning two supercomputers and having two PhD titles also turned to be nothing but lies. It must be added that Wright has been confirmed to possess three master’s degrees. The forgeries could indicate Wright may have been running a long con, with the first pieces of fake evidence created more than 20 months ago. But it would appear that Wright may have been an actual victim of hacking and extortion as well, which would not add up to a hoax. Wright has also proven to possess a great deal of technical knowledge regarding the Bitcoin protocol. The mystery of Satoshi Nakamoto therefore remains unsolved for now.
- In a somewhat undervalued headline it was reported that online retailer Overstock.com has been granted permission from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue new publicly traded shares via the Bitcoin blockchain. The concept itself is far from new as NASDAQ already issues privately held shares via the Bitcoin blockchain, using the concept of colored coins, on its private market trading platform Linq. The big difference is that in the case of Linq it concerns pre-IPO trading, while in the case of Overstock it concerns (post-)IPO (and thus publicly held) shares. With this move, Overstock is bringing the blockchain to Wall Street, and paving the way for transforming traditional equity markets.
- The second scaling Bitcoin workshop was held in Hong Kong this week on December 6 and 7. The workshop did not lead to an immediate solution for Bitcoin’s ongoing scalability debate, but one proposal did manage to catch most of the attention. Blockstream co-founder Pieter Wuille presented a new idea called Segregated Witness. The idea is aimed at removing signatures from a transaction and moving them into a separate data structure, freeing up the block space they are currently using. It is estimated this can reduce transaction size by 60%. Obviously, it is not enough to end the block size debate, but it would make scaling more effective. More importantly, the proposal also fixes transaction malleability, which has been another longstanding issue in the current protocol.
- A few weeks ago Microsoft announced it would make Ethereum blockchain tools available to Microsoft Azure Enterprise Users. To recap, users would get the ability to “deploy private and semi-private or consortium blockchain networks, as well as public Ethereum nodes with a single click”. Microsoft has now revealed that it is also intending to integrate Ripple into its toolkit. Ripple provides a global (cross currency) settlement network, lowering both costs and time involved for settlements. It is also one of the reasons why the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) announced this week that it launching an initiative to improve cross-border payments using blockchain.
- The recent Bitcoin price rally increased its pace this week, as the price is now trading more than twelve percent higher than the previous week. This equals an increase of roughly $46 per Bitcoin, putting the current exchange rate at about $425 per BTC. This increase was still low compared to Ripple, which was by far the best performer of the week from the biggest cryptocurrencies. As a result of the announcement by Microsoft the price of Ripple XRP almost doubled this week.