IBM has released a proof of concept for blockchain-powered Internet of Things devices called ADEPT, short for Autonomous Decentralized Peer-To-Peer Telemetry. The system design is fully distributed, secure, and open source. Primarily based on the blockchain, which is the protocol that underpins BitCoin and the other cryptocurrencies, ADEPT also incorporates Ethereum for smart contracts, TeleHash for fast, secure, peer-to-peer messaging, and BitTorrent for file sharing. The company is teaming up with Samsung, which will presumably help test and implement the system into their products.
“Imagine a world where a smart washer is able to detect a component failing, can check from the blockchain if the component is in warranty, place a service order with a contracted service provider, and the service provider can independently verify the warranty claim – again from the blockchain – and all this, autonomously.”
The distributed design allows IoT devices, which might have a useful life of ten years or more, to avoid using a cloud service with ongoing financial costs that would likely require selling user data to be sustainable. It also eliminates single points of failure—for example, a hacker would not be able to compromise a manufacturer’s update server to instruct every device to transfer cryptocurrency maliciously because there is no central server, and quarantining bad actors is built in.
Shift Payments, a Y Combinator-backed startup, is testing a new breed of debit card that aims to make it easier to use digital currencies, cryptocurrencies and loyalty points in real life. Currently integrated with both Coinbase and Ripple accounts, and with plans to add support for regular money and loyalty points soon, Shift aims to develop a truly universal payment solution for both online and offline. Although several domestic banks has raised concerns about its practicality, this debit card by Shift points to a possible future where virtual currency converges with the existing monetary system.
In what amounts to a huge win for digital currencies and online payments systems across the board, California signed into law bill AB 129 – otherwise known as the ‘Lawful Money’ bill that legalizes digital currencies across the state. The bill, however, doesn’t introduce any form of regulation for Bitcoin, and to a certain extent relies on governmental intervention on that front. It’s the biggest victory for the most prominent alternative currency yet, and represents a big step forward in the public acceptance of digital currencies and digital wallets.
Square announced today that it’s adding support for Bitcoin to its mobile payments service, which means that buyers can import the digital currency into its mobile wallet and use it to pay for items on the Square Market in stores that support the service. The goal, as far as Square is concerned, is to maintain the product’s relevance as digital currencies become more mainstream, and to ensure that their adoption into the platform is as painless as possible. It’s interesting because one of the biggest barriers to widespread adoption of Bitcoin has been the fact that mainstream retailers don’t accept the currency in their stores; but, if Square accepts Bitcoin in its wallet and the financial transaction is carried out through Square, it means that retailers won’t necessarily notice a difference in their bottom lines as long as the money comes through the Square platform. If alternative currencies are to be accepted by a broader part of society, look for mobile payments providers to play a big role.
As Bitcoins quickly become a very real form of money – people have already invested life savings in the digital currency that has risen in value from $13/coin in January to $140/coin currently – it has as well become a prime target for backers. Today, it has been proven that the money-transfer medium is very vulnerable through transaction records that are discoverable by search engines, which lead to potential hacking targets. The records indicate what a user bought and how much they paid, as well as their email addresses. For the company that has sold over $1 million of Bitcoin over the past 30 days, this Phishing issue is the most recent, and prominent, of issues with the currency; in 2011 there was a major crash that brought the value of the currency down over 90%, and Mt. Gox, the largest name in Bitcoin trading, was also hacked. So while many have jumped on the Bitcoin bandwagon, this is a reminder to many more potential buyers that the currency is, like most things on the Internet, quite vulnerable.