What’s new with Cryptocurrencies

What makes the blockchain so interesting?

The blockchain is effectively the general ledger of the Bitcoin currency. It logs each Bitcoin transaction — a key element of the security of the crypto-currency. Bitcoin is the only currency that has been created (in recorded history) that has maintained a record of how every dollar is spent. The technology that sits behind the blockchain is what is really beginning to attract attention — with a huge amount of research and investment exploring the question of what else could the blockchain be used for? Its strength is that it supports secure transactions that are permanently recorded. It doesn’t take too much imagination to see that this type of technology could be applied to almost any commercial relationship. The other key feature of the blockchain is that it is completely decentralized — there is no third party or central authority that regulates or controls the process or the data and you don’t need to be a professional crypto money investor to see the huge potential of this innovation.

Financial services companies are getting serious about Bitcoin

It is interesting to see banks and credit card companies starting to turn their attention to the opportunities that are emerging from the cryptocurrency industry. We have seen American Express confirm that they have participated in a multi million dollar funding round for a service called Abra. Abra claims to provide a service that makes it easier to send money between countries — the way it does this is by using the blockchain technology that underpins the Bitcoin currency. It is easy to see why a company such as American Express would be interested in this kind of development — cross-border currency transfers have long been seen as being expensive transactions that take too long, American Express has the potential to unlock huge value if it can position itself as a market leader in this space. It is the uncertain regulatory environment and potential reputation risks that have made major financial organizations hesitant to move aggressively into the digital currency space, but this seems to be slowly changing as banks and credit cards explore how to leverage the new technologies that are emerging.

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