Wiser #41; A big week for Bitcoin; Facebook focuses on the Metaverse and starts trials for its Novi digital wallet; and I ask the question, "Should social media be anonymous?"
In this issue of the Wiser! Newsletter;
- a big week for Bitcoin with the first ETF fuelling an all-time high price
- EL Salvador's President Bukele
- Is Facebook about to rename itself as a Metaverse company?
- Trials begin for the Novi digital wallet
- Amazon's strategic push to own the smart home (video)
- Anonymous accounts on social media
- Plus some insights and information on China, Space, Microsoft, Linkedin and Apple (plus a few other snippets).
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A big week for Bitcoin
In the week that the price of Bitcoin hit an all-time high, the first Bitcoin-based ETF was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
It is also the week that El Salvador’s national airline announced that it was now accepting Bitcoin as payment for airline tickets. The El Salvador story is more symbolic than profound, but just like the first ETF, these are small steps towards the mainstream adoption of Bitcoin, the original crypto.
And, they all played their part in contributing to the demand for Bitcoin which saw the price rise just short of hitting $67k, surpassing the previous high of $64k in April.
When it comes to the ETF launch, this is important because it is the first-ever ETF that gives investors exposure to Bitcoin without actually holding one.
This is expected to open up the Bitcoin market to nervous investors or those who were put off by the technical nature of this thing that you can not see, touch or hold. And it seems to be working.
The Proshare Bitcoin Strategy ETF has $1.1 billion in assets under management in just 2 days. This is the shortest time that it has taken any ETF to it that mark.
This ETF is a fund that does not hold Bitcoin itself but is trading on the futures market, essentially placing bets on the future price of Bitcoin.
Personally, this doesn’t appeal to me as I’d rather hold my own than place my faith and assets in the hands of third parties when it comes to Bitcoin. Especially given the volatility, speculative and nascent state of Bitcoin.
However, this is a big day for Bitcoin because ETFs will be a way to get institutional investors on board with crypto more easily. With more to follow. There are a dozen or so applications for Bitcoin ETFs waiting for SEC approval.
You may recall that the SEC chair, Gary Gensler, has been in favor of futures-linked ETFs but still calls cryptocurrency the “Wild West.” Funny that, because I did the same in a recent post for Wiser! Newsletter but didn’t get the same media attention!
Back to El Salvador.
At the current rate of growth, President Nayib Bukele will soon have more Twitter followers than the population of El Salvador. Buoyed by Bitcoin's rise in price, up around 30% since El Salvador's BitcoinDay, Bukele has a new Twitter profile pic.
Earlier this week he was tweeting about Volaris, the national airline of El Salvador, which is now accepting Bitcoin.
He also tweeted;
“Wall Street just doesn’t get it”.
Referring to the all-time highs in stocks and equity markets that do not reflect the fundamentals of performance or the creation of real value (oh, the irony). Bukele's point is that the overly inflated stock markets we see today are the consequence of the excessive printing of new money into the system to compensate for the pandemic (The US printed around $4.5 trillion of new money last year, as much as they have ever printed ever).
A lot of this new money is being used to buy stock, thereby pushing up prices.
Bukele is forecasting a collapse that will impact supply chains. By moving the El Salvador economy to Bitcoin, Bukele believes he can insulate the poorest nation in Central America.
Time will tell!
Is Facebook about to rename itself?
As I was about to publish this week's essay on the Metaverse for Premium Members, rumours surfaced that Facebook is about to rename itself to reflect its new focus on the Metaverse. (I have delayed publishing the essay until the story unfolds further).
If it happens, this would be huge news for the social media platform that is used by over a third of the world's population every month. It is no secret that the Facebook strategy is to realign to the Metaverse and move away from being purely a social media company with an advertising business model.
A key component of Zuckerberg's Metaverse strategy is a digital wallet. This would allow users to move units of value around the Facebook network instantly and at zero cost.
This week, Facebook announced that it was starting user trials of Novi in the US and Guatemala. The focus is remittances. This is where overseas workers send money back home to their families. (I wrote a 10-min essay on it here.)
Facebook has chosen Guatemala for the trial because 14% of the nation's GDP comes from remittances, with around 90% of this money coming from the US. And despite almost everyone in Guatemala having a mobile phone, over half of the population do not have access to financial services.
Given the sheer scale of Facebook's reach, if they were to succeed in making Novi the digital wallet of choice, over a third of the world's population would be able to operate without a traditional bank.
Amazon's strategic push to own the gadgets in your Smart Home (Video)
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Should anonymous accounts be banned on social media?
In the wake of the killing of British MP Sir David Amess, the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has called for anonymous accounts to be banned on social media.
Putting to one side the challenges of HOW to make this work given that these are global networks outside of the UK's jurisdiction, the question is SHOULD we do this?
Especially given that Patel's proposals would compel social media firms to hand over details of a user's identity on demand. An authoritarian sounding move that would have triggered outrage if made in China. However, public opinion appears to support such measures.
In a completely unscientific poll on LinkedIn, I asked the question from my network. At the time of writing, the poll results looked like this...
For clarity, I have not seen any reports that directly link social media to the actions of the killer of David Amess. However, there is growing evidence of how social media platforms, especially the messaging ones, are being used as platforms for hate, misinformation and extremist manipulation.
One example is Telegram, the 5th largest messaging platform in the world with over half a billion monthly active users. Telegram's libertarian ethos has been praised for its resistance to censorship. It has become a magnet for extremists and those kicked off other social media platforms. However, under the surface, the platform appears to be a "cesspool" according to a new report by Hope Not Hate.
The issue across all social media is that individuals can hide behind anonymous identities, the platforms can hide behind section 230 and freedom of speech, and the groups can hide behind encrypted messages.
It is platforms like Telegram, Parler, GETTR and Rumble, so-called "free speech platforms" that Home Secretary Patel wants to introduce new laws that force these tech companies to bear responsibility for what goes on on their platforms.
BREAKING NEWS: meanwhile, Donald Trump has announced he is launching a social media network called Truth Social (you couldn't make it up!). The new platform will come online in early 2022 and is certain to be branded as a truth platform.
Snippets of Insight and Information
The future's most agile robots could be based on squirrels
Three squirrels are the Olympic divers of the rodent world, leaping gracefully among branches and structures high above the ground. They could help develop the most intelligent, agile robot ever. Source: Inverse
Microsoft shuts Linkedin down in China
Linkedin is the last of the social media platforms running in China after Facebook, Twitter, Google all departed some time ago. That's coming to an end after Microsoft call time. Source: Wiser!
Is this the future of space tourism?
Spaceship Neptune (which is really a big ballon) will take 8 passengers to the edge of space. Source: Unilad
Suspected ransomware payments nearly doubled this year
Corporate cybercrime is on the increase, especially ransomware. This is where cybercriminals hack into and take over the company's IT infrastructure, effectively shutting them down. They then demand ransom payments to restore operations to normal. A US Treasury investigation found over $5 billion in bitcoin transactions as potential ransomware payments. Source: Wall Street Journal
How Apple became a CPU powerhouse (Twitter thread)
What is Bitcoin mining and how does it work?
Bitcoin mining is the process of adding and verifying blocks of transactions to Bitcoin’s public blockchain. Miners compete to solve a complex cryptographic puzzle and are rewarded with newly-minted Bitcoin. Simple! Sources: Decrypt, Wiser!
Holograms you can touch and feel
"Aerohaptics" is a modern variation on an illusion technique known as Pepper’s Ghost. It is a centuries-old magic trick that is helping to make holograms that we can "feel". Source: Popular Science
Let us know what you think about this subject by putting your comments, thoughts or feedback in the comment section below. ☟