Mediablocks Newsletter #2: What if Facebook morphs into a (very big) money service one day?

A bi-weekly newsletter covering blockchain and media.

Issue #3 • March 7, 2019

From Bloomen.io, an EU co-funded research project. http://www.bloomen.io
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Welcome to another edition of Mediablocks. This week the big story is about Facebook and how blockchain could play a big part in the future of the social network.

We would like to ask for one small favour: should you know anybody interested in blockchain or future media (or both) – please forward this newsletter. Here is the link to subscribe to this newsletter: https://tinyletter.com/Bloomen
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BIG TOPIC

What if Facebook morphs into a (very big) money service one day?

Quote: ‘I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services’, Mark Zuckerberg.Facebook/The Verge

Quick update
There are many things happening at once at Facebook – and blockchain plays a big role.
  1. There is speculation about a future “Facecoin” which would enable instant money transfers via messaging services like WhatsApp (owned by Facebook).
  2. The blockchain team at Facebook is hiring more people and the job descriptions avidly read for clues.
  3. Even more recent founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a public letter in which he predicts a future with private information exchange, which would be a big departure from what Facebook is now.
  4. Facebook is in a race to market with other messaging services, like Telegram and Signal. New York Times
Quick analysis:
  • If you piece all this together there is one impression: Facebook prepares for a future where it is no longer just a (very large) communication and advertising platform.
  • Instead, Facebook wants to be indispensable, in the true meaning of the word by enabling services we all need and use every day. Here how Facebook describes the vision in the job adverts:Quote: “The blockchain team is a startup within Facebook and we’re exploring lots of areas of interest across all facets of blockchain technology…Our ultimate goal is to help billions of people with access to things they don’t have now – that could be things like healthcare, equitable financial services, or new ways to save or share information.” Blocktribune
  • The moves of Facebook will define whether blockchain becomes a mainstream technology very fast or whether it will take years for the technology to mature.

How Facebook could use blockchain technology? Here are just two scenarios, to illustrate why this development is super important.

  • One scenario, not too far into the future: WhatsApp could enable money transfers from person to person, at low costs. There is a huge demand for remittance services in India, Africa, China, parts of South America.
  • According to the World Bank, in 2018 overall global remittance grew 10% to US$689 billion, including US$528 billion to developing countries. Worldbank, via Wikipedia.
  • Another scenario, more into the future: If people could use money, buy directly then Facebook could re-invent advertising and sales, with new dynamics. Facebook could have advertising campaigns where millions of users are sent to certain products or services. Instead of just making an offer, Facebook could control larger parts of the transaction and of course take a cut.
Facebook wants to re-invent itself. It’s a bold move and so far it is not clear what it might be in 10 years: A social network that is also a bank? Or a bank which is really good in communication?
  • Execution of such a project needs a lot of resources and technical know-how. But all of that is available at Facebook.
  • So far, there are hints from articles, internet posts and interviews, and a widely noted letter on privacy by  Marc Zuckerberg. But not a fully announced strategy nor significant steps towards execution of the new direction.
  • Interesting: Follow Facebooks job adverts for blockchain experts
  • For blockchain as a technology this is the ultimate test. Users need to experience whether the technology can mature quickly. Innovative, usable, trustable.
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KNOW-HOW

The difference between blockchain and databases, explained: “The argument goes that many of the purported attributes of blockchain can be accomplished with conventional, tried-and-true technology. For instance, there are already hashing algorithms, digital signatures and public key infrastructure (PKI) available for use. If you need a traceable, verified audit trail, you can save your transactions to a database and then digitally sign the data, hash it and store that hash. The difference: blockchain has all of those features in one place and it plays well with others. There is value in blockchain in of itself as a distributed, independently verifiable single version of the truth shared amongst multiple entities – where no one entity is in control and all entities have equal access and equal control.” Computerworld
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BLOOMEN PROJECT UPDATE

Testing demos: In the project we are preparing user tests based on functional demonstrators, for example for Bloomen Photo. What is important is to interact with photo editors to see what they say. The goal is to learn what features are considered useful and then refine the demos. If you are interested in testing, please be in touch. info@bloomen.io

Bloomen at MWC in Barcelona: The mobile world congress in Barcelona has a new, shorter name, now called “MWC”. The get-together is still the place to be for the mobile world. Bloomen was present through it’s affiliation with Worldline/Atos. Twitter

Coverage in “El Mundo”: The Spanish newspaper published an article Bloomen. Here is a link to the online version of the article (in Spanish): El Mundo

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BLOCKCHAIN & MEDIA UPDATES

Tax payments: “Consulting firm EY has launched a tool to help cryptocurrency users with their accounting and tax calculations. The firm announced Monday that the software solution, called EY Crypto-Asset Accounting and Tax (CAAT), was designed to assist its U.S. customers prepare Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax returns related to crypto assets.” Coindesk

Protests after acquisition :Coinbase received a load of criticism in the past two weeks, after the announcement of the acquisition of a London-based start-up called Neutrino. The company was bought to provide blockchain/crypto currency analytics data for the platform, but the move was met with much criticism. Even a #DeleteCoinbase hashtag circulated on Social Media platforms. The reason for the uproar: Some Neutrino team members had been involved in a company called Hacking Team, which has allegedly sold spyware to oppressive governments in the past. TwitterDecryptmedia

60 Second Blockchain Builder: Chainlizard, a service provided by Komodo enables set-up of a user defined blockchain in less 60 seconds. In order to have a functional blockchain the code must be connected to nodes, but nevertheless this offering is a sign that simplification for setting up the technology is evolving.
Decryptmedia

Unicef explores use of blockchain for schools in Kyrgyzstan: “As part of a broader, ongoing initiative called Project Connect, UNICEF aims to engage over 1,500 local schools in Kyrgyzstan and explore the use of a blockchain-based solution for improving and monitoring Internet connectivity levels.” Coindesk
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Thanks for reading.

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Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash