Why do we care about cryptocurrency?

Leo Zhang

By Leo Zhang

Despite the ICO hype, price volatility, aggressive hackings, downright scams, and general confusion running amok in this young industry, the fundamental potential of cryptocurrency is still growing. In the article below, Andrea O'Sullivan of CoinCenter lays out several useful problems cryptocurrency can solve, and a reminder of why we are still so optimistic about the future of this technology.

Cryptocurrency: what is it good for? (A lot, actually.)
(CoinCenter, by Andrea O'Sullivan)

"There are a lot of very good reasons that cryptocurrency enthusiasts spend so much time improving and building out new infrastructure to bring these innovations to more and more people. And while there are certainly illicit uses of cryptocurrency, that is par for the course for new technologies: from automobiles to the Internet. The solution to that is not to throw out the baby with the bath water."

Technical Updates

Them Lightning Network Nodes sure do look centralized to me! What gives?
(StopAndDecrypt)

"You can’t criticize a Pareto distribution of wealth (unless it’s unnatural due to external factors, kind of like what Bitcoin tries to solve by being sound money), but you can try and criticize what it will imply for the Lightning Network."

What is the Zcash Sapling MPC ceremony?
(Billy Garrison)

"As part of Zcash’s upcoming Sapling network upgrade, a new set of public parameters is being generated through another MPC. This MPC is different in that it is open to anyone to participate in, and as long as any one (or more) participant is honest and secure, then the toxic waste will be completely unknown and the MPC ceremony will be successful."

List of resources on Bisq, the decentralized exchange

A survey of two verifiable delay functions
(Dan Boneh, Benedikt Bunz, and Ben Fisch)

"A verifiable delay function (VDF) is an important tool used for adding delay in decentralized applications. This short note briefly surveys and compares two recent beautiful Verifiable Delay Functions (VDFs), one due to Pietrzak and the other due to Wesolowski. We also provide a new computational proof of security for one of them, and compare the complexity assumptions needed for both schemes."

Automating trust
(In The Mesh, by Richard Myers)

"People often wonder how blockchain-based smart contracts can be extended to messy real life situations. A simple financial transaction is a common use of contracts, but there are many others. A vending machine may embody some illustrative features of a smart contract, but it still requires people to stock it and empty the coin box – and it has a number to call in case of a fault in the machine. If no one stocked or fixed it when it broke, no one would buy sodas from a vending machine."

News & Commentary

CME Bitcoin volumes doubled in the last month

Commentary on trade-driven mining

Blockchain, once seen as a corporate cure-all, suffers slowdown
(Bloomberg, by Olga Kharif)

"That could be bad news for makers of blockchain software and services, which include International Business Machines Corp. and Microsoft Corp. They’re aiming to make billions on cloud services that help run supply chains, send and receive payments, and interact with customers. Now their projections -- and investors’ expectations -- may need to be tempered."

Are stock buybacks starving the economy?
(The Atlantic, by Annie Lowrey)

"Analysts argue that buybacks hurt corporate America, American workers, and American growth in a few ways. For one, buybacks are a sign of short-termism among executives, the argument goes, boosting shareholder value without boosting the underlying value, profitability, or ingenuity of a given firm. Companies do not get better because of buybacks; it is just that shareholders get richer."