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What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital crypto-currency with no single point of failure due to its decentralized peer-to-peer architecture. The source code is publicly available and changes to the reference Bitcoin client are made via concensus within the community. Advantages of Bitcoin include irreversible transactions (i.e. no possibility of chargebacks as with credit cards), pseudo-anonymous, limited and fixed inflation, near instant transactions, multi-platform, no double-spend and little to no barriers to entry and more. It was created by an anonymous person known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Find out more at WeUseCoins.com.

Bitcoin Latest News

Former CFTC Commissioner: Regulation Would Solve Bitcoin Volatility

Former Commodity Futures Trading Commission head Bart Chilton wrote that bitcoin's volatility indicates artificial inflation of its price.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 4:20 pm

Op Ed: How Blockchain Technology Could Save Struggling Artists Around the World

artonbc.jpg

To a complete outsider, the worlds of art and cryptocurrency do not appear to be linked. But for content creators of all kinds, blockchain technology provides an ideal solution to preserve intellectual property, create demand and increase value for digital content.

The digital revolution is often blamed for making life harder than ever for artists. We are always hearing stories of artists realizing their work has been ripped off by a major brand or that they are not being paid or credited for the content they create.

However, thanks to blockchains, ownership rights can be restored in favor of artists. The very digital landscape that proves so difficult for artists could well increase the possibility of profits for artists online.

Physical art was one of the first big applications of blockchain technology.

The concept of integrating blockchain technology into the art industry is not untested. Blockchains have already been a part of the physical art world for a few years now as a reliable way to verify creation and ownership details. The application of a trustworthy system of verification like the blockchain to artworks makes perfect sense.

A number of companies are actually already authenticating artwork with blockchain technology, including Verisart in Los Angeles, Tagsmart in London and Ascribe in Berlin. For both collectors and artists, they provide digital certificates of authenticity and provenance records that enable buyers to verify the authenticity of the artwork they purchase while creating an accredited ownership history for the artwork over time.  

What blockchain technology provides is its unmodifiable digital ledger which logs every single digital transaction. More importantly, this ledger is public so everyone can see its history. This means, for example, that you can see that the painting you are interested in has been purchased three times from buyers in London, Madrid and Milan. Because the log is decentralized and cannot be edited, there is no potential for lies or trickery — no one can sell you a fake copy if a digital record of the authentic piece exists.

By allowing records like provenance, authorship and ownership to be unmodifiable, blockchain technology potentially solves the issue of forgeries and thefts in the art world. According to the FBI, billions of dollars worth of art and cultural property go missing every year. Being able to prove and track the ownership of artwork could make it almost impossible to resell stolen artwork in the future.

By increasing trust in the art world, blockchain technology could also help increase the value of art. One important factor in art is scarcity — it is what drives demand. People covet beautiful things: the more unique, the better. The Mona Lisa wouldn’t likely be worth $2 billion if there were 10 originals on the market.

Blockchain technology may pave the way for a robust new market of digital art.

It is no secret that life for digital artists can be difficult. In the music world, for example, physical sales are almost non-existent. Artists earn less than a cent from each time their music is played. At Spotify, the average payout for a stream to labels and publishers is between $0.006 and $0.0084. By the time the label has taken its share, artists receive an estimated $0.001128.

The digital art and design world is arguably just as bad — or worse. While individuals can easily download a music file from a file-sharing website, it is even easier to screenshot or share digital art without any attribution or financial benefit for the artist. As long as people don’t consider digital assets “objects,” digital artists won’t be paid what their work is worth. However, being able to certify the ownership of digital assets through the blockchain could assure the value of digital art and change the behavior that it is okay to swipe art from the web without a thought. People already consume all kinds of creative content on digital screens, be it books, movies, media, or music. The time has come for them to value digital art they can appreciate just as thoroughly on their devices.

A new generation of blockchain-based art collections is bringing the digital art and cryptocurrency worlds together.

For many people, a painting on the wall is worth money; but a digital work of art online has no financial value. A new business model, however, is now emerging for digital art that could alter this perspective.

CryptoPunks by Larva Labs is one known example. The company has created 10,000 computer-generated digital characters, each one unique, with proof of ownership stored on the Ethereum blockchain. Each one is owned by a single person and verified by a smart contract. As the blockchain data is public, you can see exactly which of the characters have been purchased and which remain available. Some people have spent 10 ETH (around $3,000) on the rarest types of CryptoPunks on the secondary market.

Another example is the selling of “Rare Pepes,” crude depictions of the meme often used online as an alt-right symbol. Meme artists previously tried to watermark their memes; nevertheless, they continued to be downloaded and shared. The solution was to use the Counterparty platform, which allows users to make anything into a unique digital token. Now the Pepes can be bought and sold — the rarest costing $11,589 — with RarePepeWallet.com.

This is just the tip of the creative iceberg. Imagine the possibilities with digital art created by actual artists becoming desirable and more valuable. In addition, artists who otherwise would have been forced to use a large-scale centralized company to distribute their work are now able to distribute their work in a decentralized way and receive fair compensation.

Soon, people may begin collecting digital art in the very same way they collect it in its physical form. This may also require a cultural shift in the perception of digital art and its value, but this cultural shift could well be instigated by applying technology, thereby adding financial value and scarcity to digital art. This may well turn out to be a significant boon in the lives of artists all over the world who will be able to profit and take control of their creative output and their intellectual property in a dynamic, budding market.


The post Op Ed: How Blockchain Technology Could Save Struggling Artists Around the World appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 2:54 pm

Nebraska Lawyers Accept Bitcoin Following Ethics Board Approval - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Nebraska Lawyers Accept Bitcoin Following Ethics Board Approval
CoinDesk
As CoinDesk previously reported, the Nebraska Lawyers' Advisory Committee was asked if lawyers could accept bitcoin from either a client directly or through a third party. That request also queried whether lawyers can hold cryptocurrencies in escrow or ...

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 2:31 pm

It's time to address bitcoin's big blind spot - CNBC


CNBC

It's time to address bitcoin's big blind spot
CNBC
Bitcoin has yo-yo'd from the low $200s a few years ago to over $5,000 earlier this month. Lately it's been around $4,000. Former financial regulator Bart Chilton says if this happened under his watch, he certainly would have launched an investigation ...
Former CFTC Commissioner: Regulation Would Solve Bitcoin VolatilityCoinDesk

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 1:10 pm

Zcash Audit Finds No Serious Issues in Launch Ceremony Security

A new audit of the complex and controversial zcash key generation ceremony has found any serious security compromises were unlikely.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 12:10 pm

Gold Investor John Hathaway: Cryptocurrencies Are 'Garbage'

A notable asset manager who focuses primarily on gold had a harsh word for the cryptocurrency market craze this week: "garbage."

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 11:15 am

Bitcoin Futures-Based ETF Likely to Be Approved in the US Soon - TheStreet.com


Bitcoin Futures-Based ETF Likely to Be Approved in the US Soon
TheStreet.com
"Yes, you can already trade a derivative in Europe, an exchange traded note which tracks Bitcoin," Nadig adds. "Then the race in the U.S. is the race to see what gets approval first. Will it be a Bitcoin future or a straight up Bitcoin holding ETF? My ...

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 10:14 am

Germany's Central Bank: Consumers Won't Use Blockchain for Payments

Germany's central bank has published a new blockchain research paper.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 9:00 am

Bitcoin isn't wild and wacky enough yet to make a good hedge - Economic Times


Economic Times

Bitcoin isn't wild and wacky enough yet to make a good hedge
Economic Times
Full disclosure: I don't, and wouldn't, invest in either gold or bitcoin. Still, as someone once said, markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent -- and trying to shake other investors out of their unreason is as pointless as ...

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 8:49 am

Weak Demand? Bitcoin's Price Rebound May Be Starting to Fade - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Weak Demand? Bitcoin's Price Rebound May Be Starting to Fade
CoinDesk
The rebound in the bitcoin-U.S. dollar (BTC/USD) exchange rate appears to be stalling out. After rising from a recent low of $2,980 earlier this week, bitcoin is again trading below $4,000, a development that raises doubts as to whether the rally will ...
Can you live only on bitcoin? Some believers try itUSA TODAY
Bitcoin is sinkingBusiness Insider
South Korea in Centre of Bitcoin Universe As It Passes China in Bitcoin TradingCoinTelegraph
TheStreet.com -CryptoCoinsNews -Express.co.uk
all 40 news articles »

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 8:05 am

Weak Demand? Bitcoin's Price Rebound May Be Starting to Fade

The rebound in bitcoin's price from the recent low of $2,980 has stalled, raising doubts as to whether the rally will continue.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 8:00 am

Bitcoin Mining Farms Invited to Russian Leningrad Region - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Bitcoin Mining Farms Invited to Russian Leningrad Region
CoinTelegraph
“For the production of Bitcoins, first of all, large areas for processing and cheap electric power are required. As you know, the construction of LNPP-2 is being completed in Sosnovy Bor, and large areas of the first nuclear power plant are being ...

and more »

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 7:21 am

Urbit Is Moving Its Virtual Server Galaxy Over to Ethereum

Urbit, the galactically inspired network of cloud servers, has announced plans to rebuild its infrastructure based on ethereum tech.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 7:00 am

Blockchain History? IBM Ventures Is Close to Making Its First Industry Investment

IBM Ventures has its eyes on compliance and supply chain for its first cash investment in the blockchain industry.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 6:00 am

How bitcoin could overcome its wild reputation - CNBC


CNBC

How bitcoin could overcome its wild reputation
CNBC
A major problem for bitcoin is its extreme volatility, which is a cause of concern for many investors. A lack of liquidity may be to blame for the cryptocurrency's volatile nature, an expert tells CNBC. "The high volatility I think is due to the low ...

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 5:52 am

Australia Cites Blockchain In 'Digital Economy' Strategy Launch

Australia is plotting an ambitious new Digital Economy initiative and blockchain is part of the plan, a new paper reveals.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 5:00 am

CFTC Chair Giancarlo: Embracing Blockchain Is in the 'National Interest'

J. Christopher Giancarlo, CFTC chair, has called on government agencies to embrace blockchain, saying it's in the national interest to do so.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 4:00 am

The European Union Wants to Beef Up Penalties for Cryptocurrency Crimes

The EU is eyeing beefed-up penalties around crimes involving cryptocurrencies, such as ransomware, the European Commission said this week.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 3:00 am

Searching for Problems? James Altucher to Bitcoin Critics: You're Dead Wrong

Business blogger James Altucher provides a counter to cryptocurrency being "a solution in search of a problem," one strong enough to make him a bull.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 2:00 am

4 Top-Performing Alternatives to Bitcoin - Investopedia


4 Top-Performing Alternatives to Bitcoin
Investopedia
While Bitcoin dominates the headlines, its underlying blockchain technology has spawned a new ecosystem of alternative cryptocurrencies, known as “altcoins.” Following Bitcoin's staggering 1,000% moonshot of the past 12 months, a fresh wave of capital ...

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 1:11 am

Swiss Telecom Giant Launches New Blockchain Business

A major state-owned telecommunications provider in Switzerland has created a new blockchain business.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 3:05 pm

Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution

Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution

 Stellar, a nonprofit decentralized financial network, and the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), the country’s dedicated fintech platform, have published a joint report on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

According to the report, organizations have raised over $1.8 billion through ICOs since January 2017. As this popular new fundraising method provides a simple and fast method to acquire serious funding, there has been “tremendous momentum” growing around ICO launches among new businesses in the blockchain industry, the report said.

On the other hand, the report also detailed that there are high risks associated with ICO investments. Since there is still a lack of regulation and control surrounding the industry, Stellar and LHoFT compared the current ICO sphere to the “Wild West” — a term that has become rather popular of late in reference to ICOs.

“ICOs raise issues for consumer protection, combating money laundering, and other regulatory compliance goals. Complications may arise from several sources, including the mechanism through which ICOs are conducted, the teams spearheading ICOs, the identities of contributors to ICOs, the quantity of money that is raised, the validity of ICOs’ technology and processes, marketing claims, and the impact that ICOs have on the greater cryptocurrency markets. All these factors must be scrutinized so that the heralded benefits of ICOs are balanced against market and legal risks as the model matures and gains broader acceptance,” the report states.

LHoFT and Stellar addressed both the upsides and the downsides of ICO fundraising. Organizations launching ICOs benefit from a built-in customer base, a committed group of customers that will stay with the product or service until it officially launches. Furthermore, according to the report, the fundraising method has positive effects on the network, can target global investors (or donors) in a non-discriminatory manner while providing a fast and easy fundraising mechanism. Additionally, retail investors are keen on participating in ICOs, and open-source projects can benefit from the fundraising method too.

Similarly, investors can benefit from the high liquidity of the tokens (sold during ICOs), in addition to being able to sell them through cryptocurrency exchanges or over-the-counter (OTC) transactions, which would allow the investors to transfer the tokens easily without the authorization of the token issuer (the organization launching the ICO).

Token holders are often offered bonuses, such as “gift cards” or “licenses” that will incentivize them to support the growth and the development of the project. ICO investors also benefit from the lack of “geo-lock” — they can invest in the project no matter the location (unless specified otherwise). Most importantly, ICOs have a high potential for big gains.

On the other hand, there are plenty of risks associated with ICOs, according to the report. Firstly, ICOs lack the formal process for auditing the organizations.The writers of the study highlighted a potential problem with smart contracts: If the contract is not programmed correctly, it could lead to unexpected transfers without the authorization of the token owner. Some tokens are not based on any fundamental value, thus, may facilitate bubbles and Ponzi schemes.

Furthermore, Stellar and LHoFT emphasized the issue of “investor education” — some investors are not informed well enough about an ICO project before investing in it. The report also detailed security problems, such as phishing scams and the loss of private keys, which can result in the investors losing their tokens.

As with most cryptocurrencies, tokens also tend to be volatile. According to the report, ICO cashouts may create price distortions on the market. Furthermore, the market can be subjected to manipulation, such as the “Whales” method, in which the token issuer organization holds back a percentage of the tokens and distributes them between the team members. Both investors and organizations can experience network lag during popular ICOs, while some token distribution mechanisms can cause unpredicted difficulties for both parties.

The lack of regulations within the ICO space presents various problems for both the investors and the organizations, such as being subject to the financial regulations of multiple jurisdictions. The anonymous nature of the cryptocurrency sphere can result in many of the investors being seen only as pseudonyms, which could cause issues for law enforcement and regulators. Since there is uncertainty about the taxation of tokens, both investors and organizations could face legal issues, such as tax evasion charges. Furthermore, the report discusses that there is an increasing concern that ICOs can be used by criminals for money laundering or terrorist financing purposes.

The post Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 12:35 pm

CFTC Commissioner: Blockchain Will Bring 'Sea Change' to Financial Markets

The CFTC has named one of its leaders as the new sponsor for its technical advisory committee – and he wants to see it work on blockchain issues.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 12:30 pm

Japanese Billionaire: ICOs 'Democratize Venture Financing'

Japanese billionaire Taizo Son believes ICOs will significantly impact how startups raise capital.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 10:30 am

OmiseGo's ICO Token Is Tops in Market Cap, But Heavy On the Charts

A notable ICO token appears to be weathering regulatory concerns, bouncing back this week on a relatively positive newsflow and new developments.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 9:35 am

Australia's Securities Watchdog Might Run Its Own Blockchain Nodes

Australia's securities markets regulator is weighing the use of blockchain as part of broader data strategy.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 9:05 am

Decred Adds Atomic Swap Support for Exchange-Free Cryptocurrency Trading

Decred Adds Support for Atomic Swaps for Direct Cryptocurrency Trading Without Exchanges

Decred is announcing support for on-chain atomic swaps, which will allow cryptocurrency holders to trade directly, without having to rely on external exchanges. The cryptocurrencies initially supported are Decred (DCR), Bitcoin (BTC) and Litecoin (LTC).

“Support for on-chain atomic swaps is extremely useful,”Jake Yocom-Piatt, Decred Project Lead said in a statement. “Thanks to the foresight of the Lightning Network authors and developers, and the dedication of our own developers, it is our pleasure to deliver an important capability that has been discussed since the concept of cross-chain atomic transfers was proposed in 2013.”

Users can already begin performing exchanges between DCR, BTC and LTC using tools that the Decred developers have created. The tools are text-based at the moment, but will be integrated into the Decrediton GUI wallet in a future release.

According to the Decred team, this advancement disintermediates the exchange process, allowing for greater market fluency. It also delivers on the market desire for improved interoperability between currencies and the demand for new efficiencies that drive investor value.

"This is the first step in a progression toward high-utility, non-Turing complete smart contracts,” Yocom-Piatt told Bitcoin Magazine. “We look forward to a new generation of greater fluency between projects. It was a pleasure collaborating with the dev teams at Litecoin and Lighting Labs."

The concept of atomic swaps (or atomic cross-chain trading) were first described by Tier Nolan back in 2013. A previous Bitcoin Magazine article provides a step-by-step explanation of a simple example where two users agree to swap agreed amounts of BTC and LTC and use the multisig and time lock features available in both Bitcoin and Litecoin basic scripting to synchronize two transactions on two independent blockchains without having to trust each other.

Yesterday I did an on-chain atomic swap of 1.337 LTC for 2.4066 DCR w/ @_alyp_ of @decredproject. (See txns: https://t.co/BlxU1QBK2U) ⛓️⚛️💱🚀 https://t.co/wPqzdw40Gp

— Charlie Lee (@SatoshiLite) September 20, 2017

It’s worth noting that Lightning Network payment channels, now enabled by SegWit, make atomic swaps more powerful and easier to implement, and permit adding support for off-chain swaps.

“The addition of LN support allows for both on-chain and off-chain atomic swaps, meaning that trustless cross chain exchanges can occur,” noted Yocom-Piatt. “Since supporting LN does not break any existing functionality and only adds to Decred’s capabilities as a system of value storage and transmission, it is a very attractive target for addition to Decred.”

“On-chain atomic swaps are an important step towards enabling peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading,” said Laolu Osuntokun, Lightning Network Daemon (LND) lead developer. “We are excited for this process to continue with off-chain atomic swaps over the Lightning Network in the near future. By taking this process off-chain, substantial latency and privacy improvements can occur.”

Decred (DCR) describes itself as “digital currency for the people,” completely independent, community funded and community owned. The project wants to build an open and progressive cryptocurrency with a system of community-based governance integrated into its blockchain,  including a hybrid consensus system to ensure that no group can control the flow of transactions or make changes to the currency without the input of the community.

“Decred is Bitcoin as it should have been,” noted crypto-investor Jon Creasy. “Bitcoin would be of the people, for the people. As great an idea as this was, however, Bitcoin soon became controlled by an ‘oligarchy,’ so to speak.”

It’s important to note that some countries, such as China, are attacking cryptocurrency exchanges as the weakest links in the crypto ecosystem. The Decred move shows that, at least for crypto-to-crypto trading (for example, exchanging bitcoin for litecoin), it’s perfectly possible to operate without exchanges. However, it doesn’t solve the problem of crypto-to-fiat and fiat-to-crypto trading, which is arguably of top concern for cryptocurrency users.

The post Decred Adds Atomic Swap Support for Exchange-Free Cryptocurrency Trading appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 8:14 am

GoldMint and the Future of Gold Ownership

GoldMint Header

Reflecting gold’s historical repute as a scarce and valued resource, Bitcoin has become known in many investment circles as “digital gold.” With its unprecedented rise, Bitcoin’s worth is now estimated to be about twice that of an ounce of physical gold.

On August 7, 2017, the startup GoldMint was launched with the intent of ushering in a new digital era of gold as a store of value. This project aims to provide a unique set of gold ownership solutions for cryptocurrency investors and enthusiasts worldwide. It is holding an initial coin offering (ICO) that starts in less than 12 hours. 

The GoldMint project reaffirms the notion that physical gold is a respected method of payment and wealth preservation, all tied to its value and scarcity. Gold ownership, however, requires expensive security, safekeeping and insurance. GoldMint’s innovative approach seeks to address these inherent issues.

GoldMint purchases, sells and repurchases their native digital asset called

“GOLD,” which is 100 percent backed by physical gold. It features an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) which can be utilized as a payment and investment tool for both companies and individuals in hedging risk.

Capitalizing off of the inherent advantages of its physical counterpart,

GOLD tokens offer a stable, transparent, non-volatile means of buffering one’s crypto portfolio from wild market swings. Here, GoldMint is committed to ensuring that GOLD delivers consistent value through paper assets like ETFs and futures as well as through physical assets. Moreover, GOLD owners will be able to use their tokens to secure guarantees, loans and escrow services, all at a modest 5 percent purchase and 3 percent sale fee.

GoldMint will also deliver a utility token known as “MNT” to facilitate operations, implement smart contracts and incentivize block creation and transaction confirmation.

During the early stages of this project, MNT will be sold and distributed on the Ethereum blockchain. After the MNT distribution has taken place, Goldmint will launch its own Graphene -based Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain that offers a safer, more productive and faster experience.

Minting the Blockchain

GoldMint utilizes a blockchain ledger to execute trades, loans and investments for profit. The following are what make the GOLD crypto asset unique:

  • 100 percent information transparency relative to all GoldMint GOLD. The company discloses its gold reserves, fostering the opportunity to buy back GOLD at its current trading price.
  • GoldMint utilizes the decentralized blockchain for smart contracts and for its crypto assets.
  • ETFs are used for liquidity and elasticity facilitating gold trades which are far faster than those of physical gold.
  • Secured loans can be leveraged with GOLD, like jewelry or coins. GoldMint assists in the storage of this collateral through its unique Custody Bot, a blockchain-connected robot used for inspection, temporary and long-term storage and the transfer of physical gold, jewelry, coins or gold bullion.
  • Members have the ability to earn passive income as the market price of GOLD rises.
  • An option which allows for the buyback of GOLD for fiat according to the current price of GOLD.
  • A fast and efficient user registration and identification system.

To support merchants and developers, GoldMint is in the process of releasing an application programming interface (API) for the development of third-party apps and other interfaces. Use of this API will allow online stores to accept GOLD as a payment method, enable loans to be secured by banks and provide access to services such as escrow accounts and financial guarantees.

The Goldmint Team

Goldmint is led by CEO Dmitry Plutschevsky, who co-founded Lot-Zoloto — a gold trading company based in Russia with trading transactions totaling $100 million in 2017 — with former banker Konstantin Romanov. Serg Umansky, head of portfolio management at Whiteridge Investment Funds, Alex Butmanov, managing partner at DTI and Julian Zegelman, managing partner at Velton Zegelman, are among the advisors of the company

GoldMint founders predict that its unique value proposition will disrupt the billion-dollar gold market, allowing GoldMint to establish itself as a market leader in the coming cryptocurrency revolution.

To learn more about GoldMint and participate in its token sale, visit its website, read the white paper and follow the company’s social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

The post GoldMint and the Future of Gold Ownership appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 September 2017 | 3:51 pm

Op Ed: How Blockchain Technology Will Disrupt Digital Content Distribution

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The way we consume media content has been on a continual overhaul for the past two decades. Every aspect of media distribution has become more streamlined from the razor-thin devices we use to consume media to the manner in which we purchase and store our coveted content. Books, music and movies have all seen their physical bodies and storage locations dissolve, to be replaced with on-demand downloads and digital copies.

The digital content revolution has done a lot for increasing access and visibility for artists and authors, but the current publishing giants have failed to adequately adjust to the times in a few crucial areas. While it's true that platforms such as YouTube and Medium have granted publishing access to the greater public and eliminated gatekeeping middlemen like talent agents and PR people, the current digital content sharing platforms have built their empires on the skeletons of the publishing giants’ templates that existed before and, unfortunately, have continued operating in ways that fundamentally undermine the artistic control and profits of their contributors.   

YouTube, for example, recently announced they will not allow users to earn any money until they reach 10 thousand views. Medium was recently very candid about the moral dilemmas and growing pains they have faced while trying to balance the selling of advertising space as well as respecting their contributing authors and readership. And it's no secret that Amazon and iTunes take a chunk out of authors’ and artists’ earnings, with iTunes currently pocketing 30 percent of its artists’ profits and Amazon taking a hefty 30–75 percent.

Though it’s easy to be critical, I am more interested in looking for a viable alternative to disrupt the existing system. This will require harnessing the decentralizing nature of emerging blockchain content distribution technologies. Here’s why:

Blockchain could be the solution to making micropayments a reality.

As media consumption has gone digital, a cost-effective way to charge per article or per song has been a limiting factor. Many platforms and publications have opted for subscription-based charging as high transaction costs make pay-per-use charging impossible. Amazon, for example, passes on its internal transaction costs to their clients, which currently equal 2.9 percent of the total transaction as well as a flat fee of 0.30 cents for every transaction.

The pricey transactions make processing small charges inefficient and not cost-effective, which has led many experts, such as editor of TechCrunch John Biggs, to predict that the future of digital publishing will depend on the adoption of micropayments.

Blockchain technologies allow for an incredible number of transactions to be processed at a low cost. Decentralized blockchain systems distribute the collective payment history across the entire network and don’t favor any single “auditor.” The network is maintained by all blockchain nodes as a whole.

Emerging blockchain transaction processing speeds have also recently shot past the leading blockchain currency, bitcoin, and would be capable of processing on a large scale. Where Bitcoin's transaction speeds average 7 transactions per second, new blockchain-based currencies are already approaching thousands of transactions per second; Bitshares claims they can process 100,000 per second.

In fact, a newspaper in Winnipeg, Canada, has already begun to use a micropayment system to charge per article for its news content and projects earning over $100,000 in digital revenue.

Blockchain could tilt the balance of power towards individuals, not publishing powerhouses.

As mentioned previously, YouTube and Medium have dramatically increased content creators’ access to audiences and established a more democratic, popularity-based promotional scheme. Unfortunately, they are both still centralized content distribution entities that can make arbitrary and unilateral decisions. YouTube and Medium both have the right to remove comments, content or entire channels or profiles without leaving a trace.

In contrast, a blockchain content distribution platform preserves an unchangeable record of all actions. The record produced by blockchain systems creates an environment of total transparency for both content creators and media consumers, and it also ensures that all views, comments and ratings reflect the real interactions the content has experienced, leaving no room for subjective, inflated ratings or deleted bad reviews.

With nothing deleted, content producers can create and post with the security that their work and reputation will remain intact, trolls can’t hide their past bad behavior and can easily be spotted via their comment history, and all content fairly reflects its actual popularity.

Blockchain technology could provide instant payouts and security.

Today, freelancers, authors and artists working with publishing platforms are accustomed to waiting multiple months to receive payment for their work. For big-name artists, this is just part of the business. But for smaller artists, it can be difficult to wait for reimbursement without any idea of how much they will eventually be paid. The financial uncertainty, prolonged waiting periods and lack of payment transparency in current digital content media sharing platforms could be discouraging potential artists and authors from seeing content creation as a viable source of income. Instead, the system encourages content creators to seek payment, not for the quality of their content, but through product sponsorships, PR and ad-focused content.

With blockchain-based content distribution, content creators can be paid within seconds of a consumer paying for a download. Consumers would also know their purchase was directly supporting the content creators they enjoy and effectively cut out the publishing middlemen eating up the content producer’s profits.

Though blockchain technology may, at times, sound a bit hard to conceptualize, digital media distribution really shouldn’t be rocket science. While the zeros and ones behind publishing platforms get more complex, the process for content creators and consumers has simplified and should continue to do so.

The bottom line is content creators who make good quality content that people are willing to pay for deserve a simple and transparent digital media sharing platform that fairly compensates them according to the consumer demand for their work. Media consumers equally deserve the ability to directly support the content creators they enjoy. And blockchain technologies may be the disruptive technology that digital media content distribution needs.

This is a guest post by Matej Michalko, founder and CEO of DECENT. The opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine. 

The post Op Ed: How Blockchain Technology Will Disrupt Digital Content Distribution appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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