Could Blockchain be Used for Border Protection?
In this week's digital currency update, we're going to provide market updates for two digital currencies: Ethereum and Factom.
After that, we're going to dig into Square's new BitLicense and the new digital currency phenomenon, token swaps.
Ethereum Will Combine Casper and Sharding Upgrades
Things have been heating up for the world’s second-largest digital currency, Ethereum.
On June 15th, Ethereum developers convened to talk about the future of the blockchain network. This meeting focused on two upcoming releases for the Ethereum network, Casper and sharding.
Sharding is currently one of the best proposed solutions to blockchain scaling out there. It will increase how quickly a blockchain can process transactions by changing the validation process. Sharding also allows for horizontal scaling, making it a unique and potentially incredibly effective scaling method.
Casper, on the other hand, is another major step for Ethereum as it prepares to transition to proof of stake (POS). This new validation method is more energy efficient and democratic than the existing validation method, proof of work (POW).
If Ethereum is able to successfully adopt POS, it could signal a brighter future for the network. Vitalik Buterin noted in the meeting that the launch of Casper and sharding could “basically scale up” the chain to its “theoretical maximum.”
Considering that Ethereum is the second largest digital currency by market cap and wildly popular in the developer community, this is a big development. We will keep investors up to date as the situation surrounding Casper and sharding develops.
Factom Wins Grant to Protect U.S. Border Patrol Data
On June 18th, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded blockchain company Factom a grant of $192,389 to support testing of a new platform that is intended to secure border patrol and camera sensors.
Prior to this grant, Factom had received $200,000 from the DHS in 2016 to begin the project.
Factom was established in 2016 and operates out of Texas. The blockchain company focuses on providing tools for more honest systems. Its theory is that by providing more honest systems, it can free up dead capital and unlock untapped potential lingering in disorganization.
Currently, Factom is working on a technology that integrates the data collected by sensors and cameras onto a blockchain. In the process, this data will be secured, preventing it from being spoofed, modified, or disrupted. The technology itself will be tested in an area with limited internet availability and uncertain weather, ensuring that it will actually function in a border patrol scenario.
Anil John, the Identity Management Research and Development Program Manager at the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, stated, “The Factom piece is more along the line of: these devices exist, but how do we build a picture of the identity of this device over time? The blockchain could be the catalyst that allow us to document the changes.”
Square Receives BitLicense From New York
More than likely, you're already familiar with now world-famous startup Square. Square has changed the way small businesses interact with customers. In fact, go to any farmers market, art fair, or small retailer, and you'll likely see Square's characteristic credit card swiping tool.
And now it looks like this company is heading into the digital currency world.
On June 18th, Square received a BitLicense from regulators in the state of New York. The approval comes after Square submitted its paperwork to receive a BitLicense in March 2018.
What exactly is a BitLicense? And what will it allow Square to do?
BitLicense is the term used for a business license for virtual currency activities issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS). The regulations are limited to activities in New York or involving a New York resident.
What this means for Square is that it can now offer its customers in the state of New York the ability to buy and sell Bitcoin through its Cash app.
This is a valuable step for the market, giving digital currency users and investors another easy channel to access cryptocurrency.
What Exactly is a Token Swap? And Should You Care?
In the blockchain and digital currency space, there are a lot of unique events. From ICOs to airdrops, blockchain technologies have created a market unlike anything else.
Now, a whole new phenomenon has entered the fray. It's called a "token swap," and it's very likely that every investor will run into one at some point in the future.
Here are the details...
Put simply, a token swap is when tokens from one blockchain are moved over to another. Another good way to think about it is that your balance in one token is being moved to a balance of another token in a compatible wallet.
If you need an example of a blockchain, just look at EOS. Since its network launch, EOS has been moving a small number of ERC20 EOS tokens from the Ethereum blockchain to the EOS blockchain.
Why would a company choose to do this? There are actually quite a few reasons.
For starters, doing a token swap benefits the company because it allows them to collect capital without having to lock it up. It benefits the trader because they can trade the token long before the blockchain launch.
Beyond that, companies also decided to do token swaps when they think it will be better for the technology. A good example would be Storj, which made the transition from the Bitcoin blockchain to Ethereum because the team felt Ethereum would be far more stable. In these cases, investors are rarely affected outside of technological progress.
Today, billions of dollars in tokens migrate from one blockchain to another every year. That said, very few people seem to have an understanding of token swaps, and that includes industry experts!
But token swaps are becoming more common. Top exchanges will help companies conduct a token swap. That includes Kraken, which helps companies perform token swaps, pausing funding ahead of the transition. This means if you're storing your tokens on an exchange, you may not have to do anything during a token swap. If you're storing your tokens offline, you may have to swap them manually.
That said, investors should be aware that token swaps do come with a degree of risk.
There is always the chance that tokens, and in turn investor money, could be lost. Token swaps are still evolving in our current blockchain market, and we will keep investors up to date as this new facet of token fundraising evolves.