The big moment finally arrived! The third Bitcoin halving! Did you have a Zoom party to celebrate? Send photos of your wild night to our Twitter, we’d love to see them. The more depraved the better. Unsure what the Bitcoin halving actually is? We don’t really just want any old photos of your Zoom parties, but we’ve got some articles for you to read that should make up for it. Learn all about what the halving is, what the halving isn’t, and the impact of past halvings.
There was lots of other news this week. VISA, Libra and Reddit all made headlines, while we said goodbye to an old friend 😢 That’s right, Telegram’s TON network is no more. Read on.
Bitcoin’s third halving goes off without a hitch
After much anticipation, the most hyped cryptocurrency event of 2020, Bitcoin’s third halving, finally took place at 7:23pm UTC on Monday. The latest Bitcoin mining block reward halving reduced the Bitcoin block reward from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC.
The 630,000th block was mined by Antpool, although they were somewhat overshadowed by the miner of the final Bitcoin block with a reward of 12.5 BTC, f2pool. The mining giant encoded the block with the message “🐟NYTimes 09/Apr/2020 With $2.3T Injection, Fed's Plan Far Exceeds 2008 Rescue”, in a homage to Satoshi’s Genesis block, which contained a similar message about the financial crisis of the day: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks".
The impact of the halving on Bitcoin’s hashrate was immediate, as it fell by 30% over the last three days. This is in line with the predictions made by industry insiders, who credit the drop with old equipment becoming unprofitable and miners temporarily shutting down their operations.
The price has remained relatively stable since the event, after a recovery of the weekend’s losses on Wednesday which brought it back to the $9,500 zone, where it has remained ever since. All eyes are now on whether the halving will again precipitate a bull run. The two previous Bitcoin halvings in 2012 and 2016 preceded record price surges. However, the market has changed and some crypto players are sceptical that the same will happen this time around. We wait with bated breath!
Reddit turns to Ethereum
Reddit has introduced a new system to reward "quality posts and comments” with ERC-20 tokens based on the Ethereum blockchain.
These tokens will be stored in the Reddit Vault, a wallet component built into Reddit’s Android and iOS apps. Users will be able to hoard community points or use them to purchase premium subreddit-specific digital swag such as badges, custom emojis, and GIFs in comments. As points will be based on a blockchain and independently stored in users’ wallets, neither Reddit nor moderators has any control over them.
And two subreddits with a combined 2.4 million members are already launching their own cryptocurrencies. The r/Cryptocurrency and r/FortNiteBR subreddits unveiled their token launches with their tokens, MOON and BRICK, respectively.
“[BRICKS] can be traded freely and used for any number of purposes within the community,” the Fortnite subreddit announcement reads. “At this time, they can be used to display reputation within the subreddit, unlock exclusive features like badges and GIFs in comments with a Special Membership, and add weight to votes in polls.” The post in r/Cryptocurrency promises the same perks for MOON.
Telegram abandons TON
Messaging service Telegram announced on Tuesday that it is abandoning its blockchain platform Telegram Open Network (TON) following a lengthy battle with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Telegram towards the end of last year in an attempt to stop the distribution of TON tokens to US investors. However, the scale of the US market has apparently doomed the entire project, which raised around $1.7 billion back in 2018.
Telegram CEO, Pavel Durov explained in a message posted to his official Telegram channel on Tuesday that the firm's entrenched fight with US regulators was to blame. He had some strong words. Durov noted:
"Unfortunately, a US court stopped TON from happening. How? Imagine that several people put their money together to build a gold mine – and to later split the gold that comes out of it. Then a judge comes and says: 'These people invested in the gold mine because they were looking for profits. And they didn't want that gold for themselves, they wanted to sell it to other people. Because of this, they are not allowed to get the gold.'"
"Sadly, the US judge is right about one thing: we, the people outside the US, can vote for our presidents and elect our parliaments, but we are still dependent on the United States when it comes to finance and technology (luckily not coffee). The US can use its control over the dollar and the global financial system to shut down any bank or bank account in the world. It can use its control over Apple and Google to remove apps from the App Store and Google Play. So yes, it is true that other countries do not have full sovereignty over what to allow on their territory. Unfortunately, we – the 96% of the world's population living elsewhere – are dependent on decision makers elected by the 4% living in the US."
A second lease of life for Libra?
Last year, the Facebook-led digital currency project, Libra took the world by storm, bringing a whole new audience to cryptocurrency and giving central banks across the world palpitations. However, following a hard year battling regulators and a number of high-profile members abandoning ship, it’s now changed tack completely, all but abandoning many of its original plans in favour of becoming a more traditional payments platform. However, all is not lost. This week, Singapore's Temasek, one of the world’s biggest institutional investors, threw its support behind Libra.
The state-backed investment company’s inclusion in the Libra Association makes it the first Asia-based member. Perhaps more importantly, it is also the first state-backed investor to get involved in the project. Singapore is recognised as a financial technology hub in Asia and the government has encouraged and supported crypto-related technologies and financial technology innovation. So will this breathe new life into the under-fire project?
Visa seeking a patent for 'digital fiat currency'
It’s not just tech companies getting involved with crypto, some big financial beasts appear to be making moves too. Among them is Visa. According to the application published May 14 — but filed way back in November 2019 — the payment giant filed an application to create digital currency on a blockchain with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The proposed invention was pitched as a means to bridge the advantages offered by cryptocurrencies with those provided by traditional, government-issued ones. The application explains: "Cryptocurrency systems have advantages over fiat currency systems. For example, cryptocurrency money transfers can also be faster than conventional fiat currency money transfers. Lastly, because some cryptocurrencies use blockchains, such cryptocurrencies are often trusted since blockchains are immutable records of transactions. While cryptocurrencies have advantages, they are generally not subject to regulation like fiat currencies. Further, it is not practical for governments to wholly convert their fiat currency systems entirely to cryptocurrencies, since cryptocurrencies require the use of electronic devices. Some segment of the population of a country may not have electronic devices so a complete conversion of fiat currencies to cryptocurrencies is not practical."