If you’re ever in need of a good laugh, put on futuristic sci-fi movies from the 1970s and 80s and have a giggle at the tech innovations that they expected us to have in place now.
Jet packs, holograms, cloning – these were all expected to be rife in 2020, and that’s if we managed to survive the likely post-apocalyptic world ruled by our android leaders.
Basically, making predictions in technology is something of a fool’s errand!
This brings us nicely onto cryptocurrency, which tends to draw some of the most extreme opinions on where it might go. The pessimists predict that bitcoin will eventually be worth nothing, whereas the optimists believe that BTC could one day surpass even its all-time high value of just shy of $20,000.
The reality is probably somewhere in between, though it should be noted that the signs are that blockchain technology – and by extension crypto – could be set to finally break through into the mainstream in the coming years.
Look, we all know that the crypto bubble supposedly burst in 2018 when valuations for each currency had gone sky high, but let’s look at the bigger picture: today, the crypto market – said to be in its bear phase – still boasts a market cap of $200bn.
Does that sound like a ‘fad’ or something that is going to be disappearing anytime soon?
There are other stats that suggest that crypto is being more widely adopted by mainstream society. In 2015, for example, only five million people worldwide possessed their own blockchain wallet for storing their currencies. Today, that figure stands at 42 million.
Find an industry that has multiplied more than 800% in adoption in the space of four years, and you will find an industry that is thriving.
There is a balance here between individual consumers accepting digital currencies as the norm, and major corporations utilising the blockchain to enhance how they do business on a day-to-day basis.
We wait for the moment when crypto is widely accepted on the high street in the same way that cash and credit cards are, but online you can certainly see a shift towards more secure methods of payment – as we will find out later in this article, Amazon in particular are taking great strides towards becoming crypto-friendly.
However, what the industry really needs is institutional investment – a major shot in the arm from a worldwide brand saying, ‘We believe in crypto’. In the past few months, major steps have been made to that end.
Let’s take a deep dive into how big business is adopting crypto and the blockchain, and hypothesise as to whether this global interest can lead to mainstream adoption in the near future.
Amazon leading the way
Just getting that one major multinational corporation in on crypto, and for it to accept digital payments from crypto wallets, would blow the whole thing wide open.
Step forward Amazon, which might not yet accept bitcoin and co on the site, but which is certainly in the midst of integrating blockchain technology into its operations.
Earlier in 2019, the company purchased three domain names: amazonbitcoin.com, amazonethereum.com and amazoncryptocurrency.com. Need we say any more?
Is Amazon preparing its own crypto launch, similar to Facebook’s ‘Libra’ project? The jury is out on that one, but any time that a massive mainstream operator such as Amazon begins to make moves into the industry, the world will sit up and take notice
How Amazon plans to use those domain names is anybody’s guess, but it would certainly appear – at the very minimum – that the company is looking to futureproof itself
Aside from that, it has been confirmed that Amazon has launched its own fully managed blockchain service, ostensibly for the development of scalable networks for its own next-gen projects.
That process even saw the firm develop its own ledger database, Amazon QLDB, which is a fully managed system via which blockchain apps can be built.
When we talk about the mainstream appeal of cryptography, this is as big as it gets
Amazon’s tech team are digging deeper than most. They have already partnered with blockchain specialists Consensys, R3 and IDEO CoLab, and just a matter of months ago, they won their own patent for developing Merkle trees, which are used in the formation of the proof-of-work algorithm.
It’s a huge progress, and further legitimacy that blockchain tech is the future of businesses in a digital setting. Hopefully, crypto will also be taken along for the ride!
It’s not just Amazon, either. Walmart, that friendly old retailer, has applied to patent its own crypto coin, and as a huge brand in direct competition with Amazon among others, perhaps that will force more mainstream adoption quicker than many expected!
Opera singing from the same hymn sheet
There is a growing demand for VPN-driven browsers, and at the front of the queue is Opera.
Opera may not have the reach of Firefox or Chrome, but it is tapping into a user base that quite likes the idea of more anonymity online – the original genesis behind cryptocurrency.
Opera accounts for roughly 3.3% of all web browser traffic – it has millions of users, in short – and so the news that it is moving into crypto should also be treated as a mainstream trigger.
Its developers have recently released version 54 of the browser, and Android users can now get support for their bitcoin, Ethereum and Tron payments.
It’s a response to customer demand as much as anything else, and indicative of the power that crypto is starting to have in the digital conversation.
A free unlimited VPN, a built-in ad blocker, and now wallet support for three of the major currencies – Opera is preparing itself for the anonymous future that is surely just around the corner.
Cielo heaven sent for crypto supporters
You may not have heard of the Cielo brand before, but this is a tech innovator that is doing its best work in the background of some major names in retail.
Meaning ‘heaven’ in Spanish, Cielo is the largest payment processing provider in Brazil, working alongside Visa, Mastercard and many more household names.
In a huge announcement recently, Cielo’s management confirmed that they are adding support for bitcoin to their platform.
This means that anybody who holds BTC will be able to make payments using the currency at any PoS system that is powered by the Cielo platform. This will involve the scanning of a QR code via a dedicated smartphone app – quick, easy and surely set to be adopted in mainstream retailers across the world.
For now, customers intending to pay for their goods via their bitcoin wallet will need to hold their stash at a particular set of exchanges – which just happen to be partners of Cielo.
However, cynicism aside, this is clearly a breakthrough for crypto in the mainstream sphere, and hopefully more retailers will take the opportunity to update their payment systems to accept BTC, among other coins.
In Brazil at least, a new app is being developed by Cielo that will enable users to pay with their bitcoin even where a relevant PoS system is not in place. This could well be the trigger for wider adoption of anonymous currencies in a country where political stability is often a matter of discourse.
It seems that there is a real appetite for crypto across South America. In Venezuela, a PoS system has been developed that allows people to make crypto payments in branches of Traki, one of the country’s premier department stores. In a nation where corrupt governance has been an issue for decades, this is another tick in the box for anonymous digital currencies.
Ripple making waves in Japan
One of the most popular payment apps in Japan is the aptly named MoneyTap, which already has Ripple functionality built into it.
Then, along came Revolut, a sort of rewards platform that pays out to its users in cryptocurrencies, even allowing holders to exchange their coins for others on the channel.
Both are extremely popular – both are blockchain-based.
These are exciting times for crypto in Japan, and those feelings of anticipation have been increased further with the news that Mastercard is planning its own voyage into the blockchain
Mastercard could – and ‘could’ is the key word here, because it hasn’t been confirmed – be working on its own crypto payment system. That’s according to trusted sources ‘in the know’, anyway.
Information in the public domain is that Mastercard has been recruiting ‘blockchain experts’, and has sought to obtain a number of different blockchain patents relating to its processes. The plot thickens.
Combine the efforts of Mastercard, MoneyTap and Revolut and you have three big companies with major expansion plans into either the blockchain or crypto market. Again, this is something that we can file under ‘mainstream acceptance’, which is good news for everyone holding their coin collection.
Dubai: powered by blockchain
Much of the focus so far, in the sense of institutional investment and interest in crypto, has come from major commercial entities.
However, when a whole government and ruling body starts to get switched on to cryptography, you know that the technology is legitimate.
Dubai has devised plans to become the first city ‘fully powered’ by a blockchain. The Dubai Blockchain Strategy was developed on behalf of the ruler, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. His ultimate aim is to make Dubai ‘the happiest city on earth’ by achieving three strands: governmental efficiency, industry creation and international leadership.
No paper, no problem
The blockchain will power at least two of those aspirations. Government efficiency will come from the savings that the blockchain is able to generate: going paperless as far as admin is concerned could save $1.5bn annually in itself, while reducing CO2 emissions and apparently freeing up some 25.1m hours of economic activity!
Within the year, Dubai plans to process visa applications, bills and licence renewals on the blockchain, while creating new industry opportunities in healthcare, financial services, logistics, energy supply, real estate and retail
Dubai’s very own Crown Prince also happened to be the originator behind the Global Blockchain Council, which was set up in 2016 and features members representing Microsoft, IBM, SAP and more than 50 public and private businesses from the tech world.
The Middle East is one of the fastest-developing regions worldwide, and its integration of the blockchain in its most fundamental operations is further proof that cryptography is here to stay.
The Chinese view
You probably knew this already, but China is second only to the US in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on an annual basis.
The gap is closing, and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that China will become the most powerful country in the world – based on select metrics – within the next decade.
At the heart of that growth will be technology, and it might surprise you to learn that in such an autocratic nation, the blockchain, and its anonymity, is leading the way.
“The Chinese central government is encouraging the whole industry, compared to lots of debates happening in the US or in Europe. With the support of the government, a lot of funding and talent will go into this industry. It will be a huge benefit,” said Noah Wang, co-founder of Top Network.
As outlined by stats from the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), China has applied for or obtained more blockchain patents than any other country in 2019, which helps to explain how widely accepted the technology has been both on a personal and institutional level.
Keeping politics transparent
It’s great news for democracy, as the sheer transparency of the blockchain prevents fraud and corruption – key in governmental voting in some areas, such as China and parts of South America, where such things are a major concern.
Data on a blockchain cannot be changed or altered in any way, and that is useful not only in politics but also in a range of other industries where accuracy to the minutest detail is key.
In China, they have their own Amazon-sized retailer, Alibaba, and it has made its own plans to enter the world of crypto.
This comes through the bitcoin rewards app, Lolli, with which it has partnered.
Now, customers who purchase something from Alibaba can earn up to 5% of their purchase value in BTC, which is then posted to their Lolli account.
To give you a flavour of the scale of that agreement, China’s version of Black Friday – known as ‘Singles Day’, or Guanggun Jie in Chinese dialect – saw Alibaba make a record $38bn in 2019.
That’s a huge amount of bitcoin being earned!
Strength in numbers
One of the reasons why individuals and businesses alike are turning to the blockchain is its security credentials.
For the uninitiated, the blockchain is a string of digital code that is used to record transactions – a ‘chain of blocks’ is where it got its name from.
Because all blocks are connected and created automatically, there is no way for the chain to be altered or tampered with in any way
If you are a crypto holder, then you will already know a bit about public and private keys. Without these, transactions cannot be completed and thus the blockchain cannot be updated.
The most sophisticated of hackers could tamper with the blockchain, but remember that the whole network is overseen by the peer community, who would be able to smell a rat within seconds
The blockchain does not exist in one single place, and so there is no central system that can be hacked by those with nefarious acts in mind. Instead, the chain is distributed across a whole network, making it much harder for fraud to be accomplished
The whole point of cryptography is anonymity and decentralisation, and its output – the blockchain – is a way for people to be linked together without any personal data being compromised.
An example: the bitcoin blockchain
If you’re scratching your head at all these techie terms and still don’t know what makes the blockchain so secure, then we completely understand!
So, let’s strip it back, almost to the beginning actually, and consider the bitcoin blockchain.
Every time a transaction is made using bitcoin, the data of it is added to the accounting ledger – the store of all transactions ever made.
This ledger is saved on a vast network of computers known as nodes, and each time a transaction is submitted, these nodes check to make sure that it is valid, i.e. that the person is spending BTC that they actually own
The network then turns the transaction into a set of code known as the block, and this gets added onto the previous blockchain already built. Hopefully, you’re still with us!
The people who own the nodes and add to the blockchain are known as miners, and these miners actually earn bitcoin as their reward for their work.
How is this process secure and tamperproof?
It’s all in the consensus protocol, which is the process by which the network of nodes ‘agrees’ on the details of the ledger.
Each block has its own hash (sort of like a fingerprint), which serves as the ‘proof of work’ that a miner has completed the work and is thus eligible for the reward. Once a block is complete, the chain is updated and the process is complete.
Verifying that a hash matches its block is easy to do, and so any acts of fraud can be easily tracked and traced. All hashes are the links between their blocks, so it is nigh on impossible to change the ledger retrospectively without your computations being rejected.
This is the long-winded process that ensures that the blockchain is almost tamperproof and completely secure. We say ‘almost’, because smart tech-savvy hackers will try everything in their power to disrupt the flow of life.
However, for now, the blockchain looks as secure a process as you are likely to find online.
Why is mainstream adoption great news for Bitcasino players?
Cryptocurrency, like most markets of this type, is governed by the simple mechanics of supply and demand.
When demand goes up and supply stays roughly the same, the price – or value – of an asset increases exponentially.
In a nutshell, that explains why mainstream adoption of crypto is a good thing for anybody holding their own stash!
Once the buying and selling of crypto becomes more prevalent, with lots of new money flooding into the market, you will see the value of your own coins increase – putting you in a fantastic position.
You could sell at that point, of course, and lock in a profit, or you can spend your currencies safe in the knowledge that you are getting maximum output from them.
Making it count
At Bitcasino, for example, we welcome deposits made via traditional sources (e.g. credit and debit cards), as well as accounts funded by crypto such as bitcoin, Ethereum, Tron and co.
If the value of your currency has increased, then you can basically arm yourself with more spins on our huge library of slot games, more spins of the roulette wheel, more hands of blackjack, and so on.
You can also withdraw to your personal crypto wallet, so if you pick up any winnings from us – and the value of your coins continues to increase thanks to mainstream adoption – then you can cash out and sell if you wish and maximise your returns even further.
There’s that old saying in life that you should make your money work for you, and the same is true for crypto!
We have hundreds of different games for you to try at Bitcasino, as well as a live casino and even a partner sportsbook if you like to have a wager or two.
It’s quick and easy to sign up, and if you want to, you can try our games in demo mode for free prior to depositing your crypto or cash into your account.
It’s a super-fun way to reinvest your crypto wallet – and who knows, you might just walk away with more coins than you started with?!
Words: Sean McNulty