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Google Adds Ethereum Blockchain Dataset to Its Big Data Analytics Platform

The Google Cloud team has officially made the Ethereum (ETH) dataset available in BigQuery, the company’s big data warehouse for analytics, according to a post published on Google’s official blog August 29.

The Ethereum blockchain data is posted in the dataset and updated on a daily basis. As the team explains, the tool was created to help make business decisions, prioritize improvements to the Ethereum architecture itself (for example, to prepare updates), and balance sheet adjustments, e.g. how quickly a wallet can be rebalanced.

As Google explains, the Ethereum blockchain contains APIs for random functions such as checking transaction status, looking up wallet-transaction associations, and checking wallet balances. Still, the API endpoints cannot be easily reached. For that reason, BigQuery’s OLAP features help aggregate such types of data and and visualize it.

Ethereum transfers and transactions costs in 2018

Screenshot of Ethereum transfers and transactions costs in 2018. Source: BigQuery

Furthermore, the software based on Google Cloud synchronizes the Ethereum blockchain to computers running Parity — a UK-based provider of infrastructure software for interacting with the Ethereum network, which performs a daily extraction of data from the Ethereum blockchain ledger and stores date-partitioned data to BigQuery for exploration.

Google also shows some examples of the uses of the new tool. One of them relates to CryptoKitties — a game based on the Ethereum blockchain that is the most popular ERC-721 smart contract by transaction count. BigQuery collects data on accounts that own at least 10 CryptoKitties (a color on the graphics indicates owner) and their mascots’ reproductive fitness (size).

CryptoKitties infographic of owners and CryptoKitties’ reproductive fitness

Screenshot of CryptoKitties infographic of owners and CryptoKitties’ reproductive fitness. Source: BigQuery

Google has already expanded into blockchain-based tools and services this year. In February, the company created a similar tool for the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain to visualize transactions, detect anomalies, and extract necessary data from the blockchain ledger.

As Cointelegraph wrote in July, Google also partnered with two blockchain-focused firms, Digital Asset and BlockApps, to offer new distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions on Google’s Cloud Platform.

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Google Releases Tools For Ethereum Blockchain Analysis

Internet giant Google has expanded its big data analytics with the inclusion of tools to explore the Ethereum blockchain.

Just a few months after releasing Bitcoin support for its BigQuery database tool, Google has announced a new plugin for analyzing the Ethereum platform. In a blog post last week the tech giant stated;

“Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies have captured the imagination of technologists, financiers, and economists. Digital currencies are only one application of the underlying blockchain technology. Earlier this year, we made the Bitcoin dataset publicly available for analysis in Google BigQuery. Today we’re making the Ethereum dataset available.”

The post elaborates to explain the primary differences between the Ethereum blockchain and Bitcoin’s. These include a token based smart contract principle, precise and direct Ether value transfer resembling accounting ledger debits and credits, and the virtual machine that can execute arbitrary code. It added that Ethereum blockchain data was now available for viewing with BitQuery, Google’s web service that enables interactive analysis of massively large datasets working in conjunction with Google Storage.

Chrome users are now capable of accessing and reading all of the data stored on Ethereum’s blockchain. Google elaborated on the development stating;

“A visualization like this (and the underpinning database query) is useful for making business decisions, such as prioritizing improvements to the Ethereum architecture itself (is the system running close to capacity and due for an upgrade?) to balance sheet adjustments (how quickly can a wallet be rebalanced?).”

A software system has been built on Google Cloud that ‘synchronizes the Ethereum blockchain to computers running Parity in Google Cloud, performs a daily extraction of data from the Ethereum blockchain ledger, including the results of smart contract transactions, such as token transfers, and de-normalizes and stores date-partitioned data to BigQuery for easy and cost-effective exploration.’

Google then demonstrated a few examples of how this data could be put to use. The first of which was a list of the most popular smart contracts by transaction count. The most popular ERC721 (collectible) smart contract by transaction count is the main contract for Cryptokitties unsurprisingly. This data can then be probed deeper to find out more information on the evolution of these digital moggies in the form of some fancy charts.

Another example was a look at the top ten most popular ERC20 contracts and some statistics from number five, OmiseGO, with evidence of airdrops showing a high number of OMG receivers but no increase in senders.

Girl in a jacket

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Google Now Provides a Big Data View of the Ethereum Blockchain

Internet search giant (and much more) Google has added ethereum to its big data analytics platform BigQuery.

Making the announcement in a blog post on Saturday, the company said that, while an API exists for commonly used functions, such as checking transaction status or wallet balances, it’s not so easy to access all of the data stored on the ethereum blockchain.

The post continues to say that “perhaps more importantly,” the API doesn’t allow for viewing blockchain data “in aggregate.”

Aiming the new service to provide more of a Big Data window into ethereum, Google said:

“A visualization like this … is useful for making business decisions, such as prioritizing improvements to the Ethereum architecture itself (is the system running close to capacity and due for an upgrade?) to balance sheet adjustments (how quickly can a wallet be rebalanced?).”

The software system Google has built on its Cloud platform does several things: it synchronizes the ethereum blockchain to computers running Parity; it pulls data from the ethereum ledger on a daily basis, including the results of smart contract transactions; and it “de-normalizes and stores date-partitioned data to BigQuery for easy and cost-effective exploration.”

In some examples of why the addition may be useful and or interesting to users, Google sets out several examples, showing that, for one, CryptoKitties (a crypto collectibles game) smart contract transactions are by far the most numerous on the ethereum network. It further adds a visualization for “pedigrees” of accounts that own more than 10 CryptoKitties:

CryptoKitty visualization courtesy of Google

A second example looks at data from ERC-20 token project OmiseGo, with a visualization that shows how token recipients spiked on Sept. 30 2017, while senders didn’t. The explanation? The surge marked the OmiseGo project’s airdrop of tokens to its community.

Data from the bitcoin network was added to BigQuery earlier this year, according to the post.

Anyone interested in using Google’s new service can already query ethereum’s data in Kaggle.

Images courtesy of Google

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Dutch Central Bank Advisor: Bitcoin Price Changes With Google Search Activity

A policy advisor for the Netherlands’ central bank has claimed that Bitcoin price changes coincide with Google searches for the cryptocurrency, CNBC reports Friday, August 31.

In an interview with the network Wednesday, De Nederlandsche Bank’s Joost van der Burgt said that the trend became clearer last December with the advent of the first Bitcoin futures hitting the market.

“Every time bitcoin was in the news, be it positive or negative, the price went up accordingly,” he said.

Bitcoin’s failure to compensate for losses which began in the last weeks of 2017 has sparked various theories about its future prospects from traditional finance circles.

Returning to the theme of the Bitcoin “bubble,” figures such as economists Nouriel Roubini and Robert Shiller have made repeated claims throughout this year that the largest cryptocurrency cannot sustain higher prices for long.

Van der Burgt too suggested the bursting of this “bubble” may not have yet definitively occurred.

“My take on it is that because of the introduction of futures, that might have deflated the bubble before it got to a level where it might burst completely,” he added.

Van der Burgt has not taken an altogether anti-Bitcoin stance. In an April report for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, in which he discussed the Bitcoin bubble using Hyman Minsky’s financial instability index, the analyst did not dismiss the idea Bitcoin could represent a genuine innovation.

“Then again, maybe Bitcoin is different than anything we have seen before, and maybe a decade from now its market capitalization will be sky-high as it attains the status of a new global currency,” he mused in concluding comments.

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Report: Some Crypto Mining Apps Remain in Google Play Store Despite Recent Ban

According to a report by the Next Web published on August 28, several cryptocurrency mining apps remain in the Google Play Store despite the ban.

On July 27, Google banned crypto-mining apps from its Play Store. An update to Google’s developer policy read that “we don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices.” The company gave mining app developers a 30-day grace period to revise their products in order to comply with the new terms.

The deferral period has passed, but some apps that enable on-device mining are still available on the Play Store, according to the Next Web. The site reportedly found eight apps, three of which have been removed. NeoNeonMiner, Crypto Miner PRO, Pickaxe Miner, and Pocket Miner are still live on the store, while Bitcoin Miner reportedly claims its offering complies with the terms introduced by Google.

While MinerGate has been removed from the store, its developers told Hard Fork that the app’s latest iteration deleted its on-device mining features in order to comply with Google’s rules. MinerGate told Hard Fork in an email:

“Mining on your phone directly was among the core features of the MinerGate app before the last changes in Google Play Development policies. With the last update, we are removing this functionality to meet the updated requirements.”

Earlier this month, Google Play Store hosted a reported Ethereum (ETH) scam application. Lukas Stefanko, a malware researcher from Slovakia, reportedly found a fraudulent “Ethereum” app on Google Play that had been offered for purchase at price of €335 or around $388. According to the researcher, the scam intended to dupe uninformed buyers into purchasing the app, who mistook it for the original Ethereum cryptocurrency.

In April, Google also announced that it is removing mining extensions from its Chrome Web Store after “90 percent” supposedly failed to comply with its rules. The move reportedly came in response to analysis of malicious “cryptojacking” present in extensions.

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Ethereum Scam App Appears on Google Play Store, Malware Researcher Reports

Android’s Google Play Store has recently become a spot for hosting another reported Ethereum (ETH) scam application, The Next Web reports August 21.

Lukas Stefanko, a malware researcher from Slovakia, found a fraudulent “Ethereum” application on Google Play that had been allegedly offered for purchase at price of €335 or around $388, according to The Next Web.

In an August 20 tweet, the researcher noted that buying the app is “not the same” as an Ethereum purchase, implying that his recent discovery is a crypto scam intended to defraud users by mimicking the original altcoin Ethereum, which is worth around $290 at press time.

Scam

Screenshot from Lukas Stefanko’s Twitter

Stefanko’s tweet shows that the scam application, which was described through Google Translate as “just a Ethereum,” was developed by so-called “Google Commerce Ltd,” and has managed to amass over 100 installs since the last update in August 2017 by the time of the report.

The genuine name of the developer of Google-backed applications on Google Play Store is “Google LLC.” At press time, the application is unavailable on Google Play.

On July 27, Google had banned crypto mining apps on its Play Store, only allowing remote mining applications. According to The Next Web, despite the recent ban, multiple illicit apps like JSEcoin are still appearing on the store, noting that Google developers have 30 days from the date of policy changes to comply.

Earlier in April, the tech giant had also announced the ban of all mining extensions from its Chrome Web Store, as well as all browser extensions to mine cryptocurrency. And in March, Google followed Facebook’s move by announcing a ban on all crypto-related ads of all kinds, a step that reportedly subsequently affected the crypto markets.

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Ethereum Scam Swindles Over $40,000 From Unsuspecting Android Users

$400 For A Logo… Woops 

For years, the cryptocurrency industry has been rife with unbridled creativity from an amassment ofindividuals. While this innovation has resulted in some unique projects, products, and services, creative and near ingenious crypto-related scams have become a common, near-daily sight for many consumers.

Lucas Stefanko, a European cybersecurity researcher, recently brought attention to a new Ethereum-centric scam on the Android Google Play store that was unique in its own right. According to Stefanko, the scam was just an app, one that costs €335 (~$390) that is, that portrayed itself as “Ethereum.”

As the image implies, the app claims to sell “just an Ethereum” for 335 Euros, or approximately $100 over the current value of a single ETH token. While the exorbitant price would be somewhat of a scam in itself if that app actually provided users with one ETH, it turns out that users who purchased the “Ethereum” app got nothing but the classic Ethereum logo, with all of its sharp vectors, minimalistic features, and dark aesthetics.

What’s even more bizarre is that in the app’s over a one-year lifespan, it has garnered over 100+ installs from unsuspecting users, racking up a minimum of $39,000 in the process.

Maybe some users were tricked by the 22 reviews (likely fraudulent), which gave the app an average rating of four out of five stars, or by the apparent firm behind the app — “Google Commerce LTD.” Obviously enough, it isn’t Google nor an affiliated subsidiary that is offering this app, as the firm wouldn’t be caught dead taking part in such a scheme. However, reports from The Next Web have speculated that including Google Commerce may have aided the app’s developers to get their scammy app listed on the Play Store. Although Google has touted its secure system, it would make sense that even some small things sneak past Google’s ‘eye of Sauron’.

While it is unclear who is behind the app, or who unfortunately bought it, the app has since been removed from the Play Store, likely in direct correlation with the security researcher’s tweet.

Google Play Store Remains A Battleground For Crypto Apps

In related news, it was recently revealed that Google’s attempts to stave off crypto mining apps have been rather unsuccessful. As reported by Ethereum World News, Google made an attempt to restrict apps that mine cryptocurrencies in late-July. Nearly one month after the firm’s announcement, mining apps, new and old alike, were still present on the Play Store.

JSEcoin, play store, mining app, cryptocurrencyImage Courtesy of TNW

One app included JSECoin, which allowed users to manage desktop mining operations remotely, while also providing users with a method of mining cryptocurrencies through a mobile device. Although this app was totally within the rules prior to the apparent ban, JSECoin somehow slipped under Google’s all-watching radar after the crackdown occurred. While the technology giant has since responded, cracking down on the app and also noting that it will give existing mining apps a thirty-day grace period, others aren’t convinced that the firm’s efforts are warranted. Nonetheless, Google has begun to show fleeting signs that it may be beginning to accept blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash

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Blockchain Startup Closes Multi-Million Dollar Funding Round Led by SoftBank, Baidu

Blockchain marketing platform Atlas Protocol (ATP) has concluded a seed investment round of several million dollars led by SoftBank China Venture Capital (SBCVC), according to an August 20 press release.

The multi-million dollar investment round, whose final amount was not disclosed, also included participation by Baidu Ventures (BV), Danhua Capital, and Fenbushi Digital.

Atlas Protocol was formed by Nebulas Labs and the xGoogler Blockchain Alliance (xGBA), with co-founder of Jide Technology and the “first engineer” of Google Adwords Jeremy Zhao, as well as Professor Ronghui Gu of Columbia University, acting as technical advisors for Atlas Protocol, according to the press release.

ATP plans to develop a blockchain ecosystem and “construct a new paradigm of interactive marketing.” The press release states that ATP allows for the ranking of “onchain targets’ value and enabl[ing] value circulation through tokens,” with the use of the ATP Smartdrop service application.

The xGoogler Blockchain Alliance was formed in April of this year to to create a community for all ex-Google employees interested in blockchain.

In June, Chinese Internet giant Baidu had announced it was developing its own blockchain protocol aimed at reducing mining energy consumption.

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Google Play’s Anti-Crypto Mining App Policy Hasn’t Seemed To Work

While cryptocurrency mining has historically been a task completed by powerful desktop computers or ASICs, some innovative firms have decided to create applications that allow mobile devices to mine. These apps quickly garnered popularity in the cryptosphere, as users sought to accumulate a bit of crypto change through an easy-to-use, ‘set and forget’ mobile program.

But as reported by Ethereum World News, Google did their best to put an end to these apps at the end of July 2018. In a policy update, the technology giant specifically acknowledged crypto mining, writing:

We don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices. We permit apps that remotely manage the mining of cryptocurrency.

As a result of this rule, all apps that provide an in-house mining feature would be banned and forcefully removed from Google’s so-called “Play Store.” Nonetheless, a recent article from The Next Web‘s cryptocurrency column seems to show that the ban has not been entirely effective.

Image Courtesy of TNW

TNW reporters first found an app called JSECoin, which is reportedly a UK-based blockchain startup that is focused on providing browser-based mining services as an alternative to mining. From this description, it seems that JSE is doing its best to replicate what CoinHive has done, this being an alternative method for websites to generate capital without displaying advertisements. Regardless, the startup recently announced that it had introduced its own program onto the Google Play Store.

Although JSECoin’s primary feature is to remotely manage a mining operation, the app offers a secondary feature of mining directly on your phone, which is evidently against Google’s newly instated policy. However, according to JSECoin’s co-founder and CTO, John Sim, his firm did not mean harm when they introduced this feature, nor did it have anything malicious in mind. After back and forth between JSE and Google, the technology giant removed the application from Google Play’s expansive selection of millions of apps. In a later comment, Sim noted that Google had temporarily suspended the app, noting that even a “low power CPU consumption” mining mode, which JSE provided, would not be permitted.

While JSE may be in the wrong in this case, there are other applications that still are present on the Play Store that do not abide by Google’s rules, which seem to be more of an advisory at the moment. A popular mining application that is still present is MinerGate, which markets itself as a way to “make a mobile crypto fortune” and a way to “mine on the go.”

Although MinerGate has 1,000,000+ downloads, with an amassment of 5/5 raving reviews, there are some individuals who aren’t convinced that the app does as it claims. For example, James Dawson-Shaw writes:

(It’s) Impossible to make money using a mobile device. Could work on a VERY HIGH SPEC computer to make £5 a month. Other than that, the company is the only thing making money.

Other outraged individuals claimed much of the same, with others noting that there were issues with the app itself, which hasn’t been updated in nearly three months to boot. But again, MinerGate is a small drop in a metaphorical bucket of dozens, if not hundreds (or even thousands) of applications that claim to support mobile mining and are still listed where Google was supposed to ban them from.

According to a recent statement from Google, the firm has only permitted these apps due to its grace period system, where rules are not acted upon immediately upon filing. While this explains the aforementioned apps, it still remains to be seen how JSE slipped through Google’s all-watching radar.

This isn’t the only time that Google has botched a cryptocurrency app-related situation. In late-July, Google unexpectedly dropped MetaMask, a popular DApp and Ethereum browser solution, from its desktop-focused store.

But even though Google may not be on top of the cryptocurrency-related app game, the American technology company has begun to show the slightest signs of acceptance of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

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Blythe Masters Looks Beyond Finance for Next Wave of Blockchain Growth

To hear Blythe Masters tell it, the time has come for Digital Asset (DA) to spread its wings and fly.

The distributed ledger technology (DLT) company she founded in 2014 is entering a new phase, heralded by, among other things, a partnership with Google Cloud to simplify and proliferate the tech.

To date, DA’s strategy has stood out among the big enterprise blockchain players for its laser-like focus. Instead of spending a lot of time on consortiums, proofs-of-concept and the like, the New York-based company concentrated on landing the one big fish.

It achieved that goal late last year when the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) officially hired DA to replace its creaky Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS), a multi-year project that’s currently underway.

Now, having earned the rare distinction of a bona fide production customer, Masters’ startup wants to foster an ecosystem around its Digital Asset Modeling Language (DAML), which is about to become available with a software development kit (SDK) via Google Cloud.

“Having spent three and a half years in the design-and-build phase, this is the ‘open up and educate’ phase and [the time to] build a community of channel partners and developers,” Masters told CoinDesk.

This, in turn, will open a vast range of opportunities for DA, she said – both within the financial services industry where Masters spent most of her career and outside it.

“The application of this technology is by no means limited to the world’s biggest market infrastructures,” the former JPMorgan Chase executive said, adding:

“It goes well throughout financial services, well beyond capital markets and beyond financial services into all the other industries that have a vested interest in improving the efficiency of their workflow orchestration.”

According to Masters, there is “a lot of pent-up demand” for DA’s technology which the cloud-based DAML SDK can start to meet and a “potential addressable market that is almost unmeasurable.”

To give a sense of the breadth of this market, Masters rattled off a litany of new pastures for DA, including: healthcare and insurance claims; digital media rights; royalty streams; real estate; lending and collateral management within capital markets, derivatives post-trade, securities post-trade, reference data, supply chain, crypto wallet custody of assets and more.

However, Masters was careful to qualify this, acknowledging the fatigue felt in many corners following the blockchain hype of a few years ago.

“I think there was some fair criticism that blockchain was a technology solution looking for a problem to solve,” she said. “But our approach has very much been to work with customers to identify the problem first and sometimes not to recommend a DLT solution.”

‘Web-paced innovation’

The DA team recently returned from San Francisco, where Masters and Shaul Kfir, DA’s CTO, gave a talk on DLT partnerships at the Google Cloud Next conference.

The primary aim of the Google Cloud partnership is to make it easier for developers to deploy DA’s tech, which Masters describes as “a mission to unleash web-paced innovation across multiple industries.”

This means abstracting away the underlying complexity of the cryptography, the data architecture, the blockchain or DLT state engine, said Masters.

The Google Cloud-DA partnership appears to run deep as well as wide. To help drive the DAML platform-as-a-service (PaaS) program, DA has also welcomed former Google engineering executive AG Gangadhar to its board.

And adding to the symbiosis, Google Cloud has joined DA’s developer program private beta, giving Google Cloud developers access to DAML.

The DLT space has garnered extraordinary enthusiasm and Google’s developers and its customers are no less curious and motivated in this space than any others,” said Masters.

It’s now clear Google is getting serious about blockchain following candid comments last month from co-founder Sergey Brin that the search giant was playing catch up with the blockchain trend.

Google would not comment on the partnership or DLT generally, but an insider close to the DA-Google Cloud partnership confirmed to CoinDesk, “All of Google has access to the DAML SDK, and this includes Alphabet,” Google’s holding company, which has portfolio companies in a wide range of industries.

But not every influential figure in Mountain View is a blockchain convert. CoinDesk asked Google’s chief internet evangelist, Vint Cerf, if he thought tokens could perhaps be used to incentivize users and align them with the goals of tech platforms.

Cerf, who was not commenting on the DA partnership but on cryptocurrency generally, replied in a curt email: “Not clear yet. It could just turn into a speculation like tulip bulbs and bitcoin.”

Still, Masters said DA and Google share a common approach to solving engineering problems and “a focus on empowerment of enterprise customers, particularly in the workflow orchestration space that we have in common. So that is where the enthusiasm is coming from.”

Maverick Masters

To be sure, DA is far from alone among enterprise blockchain vendors in trying to expanding its ecosystem.

For instance, IBM and Hyperledger are hard at work exploring what they can do with partnerships. Meanwhile, a recent announcement from banking blockchain consortium R3 talked up the potential for its Corda platform to be interoperable across a wide range of industries.

There has also been an increase in blockchain-as-a-service announcements of late. BlockApps Strato has also been welcomed onto Google Cloud, while Amazon Cloud Services (AWS) recently cemented a partnership with ethereum design studio Consensys in the form of the Kaleido project.

But Masters pointed out that DA has always charted its own course, adding that the company’s strategy remains unchanged.

“It’s where we always intended to focus,” she said, referring to the new priority on building a developer ecosystem. “We just didn’t approach it via the same avenue necessarily as everyone else.”

Aside from ASX, other customers DA has publicly disclosed it is working with are the U.S. clearing and settlement giant DTCC and Dutch megabank ABN Amro.

Another thing enterprise blockchain watchers seem to be interested in is a possible amalgamation between private or permissioned DLTs and public chains, with their fluidity of tokenized assets.  

Asked for her opinion on the nascent token economy and where it might bleed into the enterprise world, Masters said she is “not ruling out tokens by any means.”

She agreed there is lots of good research and development work being done on this, but said the institutional use of enterprise tokens requires enterprise-grade command-and-control infrastructure.

“It won’t be until the kind of controls you routinely expect around transactions and post-trade processing of a stock or bond today can also be produced for the transaction of a tokenized instrument – whether it’s a stock or a bond or a cryptocurrency – that we will see widespread enterprise adoption of tokenized instruments that rely on public chain technologies.”

Ever the hard-headed businessperson, Masters would not be drawn on the merits or otherwise of one DLT architecture versus another, but answered categorically all the same when she said:

What I believe in is our technology. I don’t mix philosophy or religion with technology. I believe in solving business problems using tech in a cost-effective and safe manner.”

Blythe Masters mage via CoinDesk archives 

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.