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All-in On Bitcoin: Square’s Crypto Division Snags Google Alumnus

Square Crypto Takes the Plunge (… Finally)

A little over an hour ago, Square Crypto, the Silicon Valley firm’s Bitcoin (BTC) centric initiative/division started making some, uh, odd tweets. Introducing itself as Gary Fuches, the handle, run by Square, the financial technology play by Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, claimed that he “loved blockchain in a very big way”.

And then in an odd turn of events, “management” came to redact Gary’s comments, revealing instead that Steve Lee will be joining Square Crypto. This, of course, was an evident jab at Square’s dislike towards “blockchain”, but love towards all things Bitcoin. So, you must be wondering, who is Steve Lee?

Well, according to his star-studded LinkedIn profile, he is an alumnus of both Yahoo and Google. At Google, Lee excelled as a director, managing the teams behind Google Maps, Google Glass, and certain of the firm’s mobile application branches. Lee is also an angel investor, having made early investments in Lyft, Pinterest, Groupon, and Anchor Labs. But most importantly, he is currently a volunteer for the Bitcoin Decentralized Project and acts as a catalyst for the adoption of the cryptocurrency in the Bay Area. Square describes him as:

An angel investor, startup advisor, and former Director at Google. He is also a volunteer PM helping to drive bitcoin adoption through open-source development, UX, and storytelling.

Working on Boosting Bitcoin Adoption

This marks Square Crypto’s first hire ever. For those who missed the memo, in March, Twitter chief Dorsey wowed the Bitcoin community with a straight out of left field announcement. On March 20th, the Missouri native, who joins Elon Musk as an outspoken crypto proponent, revealed that the multi-billion dollar company in Square intends to hire up to five talents for “open source contributions to the Bitcoin and crypto ecosystem.” At the time, Dorsey stated that he intended to open three or four of those spots to engineers, especially those who have experience working with open blockchain ecosystems, while the remaining seats would be left for a designer.

Dorsey then stated that he intends for those he hires to report directly to him, in spite of his responsibilities managing Square’s 2,000 staffers and Twitter’s 4,000-strong workers. And if this wasn’t a good enough of an offer already, Square claimed it would be open to forking out Bitcoin to those they hire, likely marking the first time that a large organization will pay their employees in a non-fiat currency.

Square, of course, is one of the only mainstream firms dealing with Bitcoin, and the only one directly selling it. The firm sold over $50 million worth of the cryptocurrency last fiscal quarter, and is purportedly a big catalyst for the growth of BTC in the United States.

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

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Crypto Scores Big-Name Backer in Chicago’s Mayor: “Alternative Currencies Will Happen”

Chicago’s Mayor Takes To The Stage To Laud Cryptos

Very often do incumbents of legacy industries mention crypto assets. And even if they do, their comments are often laced with a negative tone, as they are wary of the purported criminal activity-enabling potential of assets like Bitcoin.

But, this narrative took a sudden turn on March 18th, as Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s incumbent mayor, took to the stage of a local FinTech gathering to make mention of cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Per Forbes, his statements were rather positive.

Emanuel, who formerly served as President Obama’s chief of staff, remarked that for nations facing finanicial imbroglios, namely Iran and Venezuela, harnessing crypto assets could be a good escape mechanism. He went on to explain:

One day, somebody’s going to figure out – whether that’s Argentina, ten years from now, five years from now – how to use cryptocurrencies to stay alive when their facing a financial crisis, and then you’re going to find out that this moment has arrived.”

Emanuel’s comments are rather reminiscent of those made by humans right advocate Alex Gladstein, who wrote an op-ed in TIME Magazine on a similar subject matter. According to reports from this very outlet, Gladstein explained that he sees Bitcoin, privacy-centric digital assets (ZCash, for example), and similar technologies as a way out of authoritarianism.

The mayor of one of America’s biggest cities was open in stating that his knowledge of the technology is lackluster, but explained that he sees blockchain’s “trend lines are affirmative for its future.”

Emanuel Joins Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Others In Bitcoin Love

Emanuel’s public show of affection for cryptocurrencies comes after some of the world’s largest Silicon Valley stars, entrepreneurs, and the like have lauded Bitcoin.

As you, the reader, likely know, Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter and Square, has become somewhat of a BTC crusader in recent months. After adding the cryptocurrency, which he has called a contender for the Internet’s native currency, to Square’s Cash App in early-2018, Dorsey has gone, as CNBC puts it, “all-in” on the space. After confirming that he would add the Lightning Network to Cash App, he scooped up a Trezor hard wallet to store his holdings.

Most recently, he called on three to four developers and one designer to join Square Crypto, a recently-launched division meant to bolster the Bitcoin ecosystem through development and newfangled products.

Nearby, Elon Musk, a world-renowned entrepreneur and visionary of what’s to come, has expressed a similar sentiment on the future of digital assets. Musk told ARK Invest’s CEO that he expects for paper money to be ousted by cryptocurrencies, before adding that he sees Bitcoin’s structure as “brilliant.” The Tesla and SpaceX CEO, however, made it clear that he only owns less than $1,000 worth of BTC.


Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Snaps Up Trezor To Store Bitcoin (BTC)

Dorsey Looks To Secure Bitcoin (BTC) Stash

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey is back to shilling the cryptocurrency space yet again. Most recently, Dorsey took to his personal feed to reveal that he bought a hardware storage device from Trezor, a leading cryptocurrency wallet provider, through the Cash App, a Bitcoin-friendly project that he headed.

In a tweet, he revealed he spent 0.06639… BTC on the device, with reports claiming that this implies he bought a Trezor Model S (no, not a Tesla).

It is presumed he bought the device to store the Bitcoin that he has recently begun to accumulate, in seeming preparation for the next bout of mass adoption.

Interestingly, Dorsey hinted at the reasoning why he chose a Trezor instead of a Ledger device. In response to a point about the fact that the France-based Ledger’s software is proprietary and not fully open-source, the Twitter CEO replied with “This.” Funnily enough, the team at not Dorsey-endorsed wallet creator, whose CEO called for an extended crypto winter, issued a response.

They wrote that offering open-source software isn’t the silver bullet, but made it clear that they are appreciative of signal boosting that Dorsey has done for Bitcoin in recent weeks.

An Ongoing Story

Dorsey’s most recent public tweet in regards to the cryptocurrency space, or Bitcoin more specifically, comes just weeks after he doubled-down on his support for this space amid this brutal market winter. Here’s a bit of background.

In recent weeks, Dorsey has risen from a nobody in the Bitcoin community to part of its upper echelons. It started when he appeared on the “Joe Rogan Experience” to talk about a number of subjects, eventually leading to Bitcoin. Host Rogan, who has expressed interest towards Bitcoin previously (he had Andreas Antonopoulos on a number of times), brought up Square’s crypto integration and Dorsey’s comments on how BTC is vying to be a ubiquitous currency. Explaining that rationale behind this statement, the Twitter CEO proudly stated:

“The Internet will have a single native currency, which will likely be Bitcoin. It is something that was born on the internet, that was developed on the internet, that was tested on the internet. It is of the internet.”

Following that podcast, he began to tout Bitcoin and facets of this nascent ecosystem on Twitter. He lauded the Lightning Network, before bashing altcoins, like Tron and Ethereum, and touting the merits of projects built using the aforementioned scaling solution. Dorsey even appeared on a number of Bitcoin-centric podcasts, revealing that he has accumulated $10,000 worth of BTC over the past week. He alluded to the fact that he does this every week, claiming that he has maxed out the Cash App’s BTC purchasing option.

Dorsey’s involvement with this industry is evidently an ongoing story. But where will the Silicon Valley entrepreneur show his face in the industry next? Many sure do hope it will be Square’s acceptance of the Lightning Network.

Title Image Courtesy of Descryptive.com Via Unsplash

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Researcher: Dorsey’s Square Could Help Bitcoin (BTC) More Than an ETF & Bakkt

Square Could Spark Widespread Bitcoin Adoption

Earlier this week, Ethereum World News reported that Square, a fintech startup based out of San Francisco, had sold millions worth of Bitcoin (BTC) over fiscal 2018. In fact, since launching its cryptocurrency offering in early-2018, basically at the peak of the recent cycle, the Cash App, Square’s flagship application, made $166 million revenue from the sale of BTC. In Q4 alone, the company sold $52 million in the digital asset, even as Bitcoin fell through the floor in a seeming act of investor capitulation. Square’s BTC business is also clearly trending upwards, with the Jack Dorsey-led firm seeing this facet of its operations post bigger profits quarter-over-quarter

Per a breakdown of Square’s earnings from The Block, Cash App likely sold approximately 10,000 BTC during yesteryear, which is no small sum. This has led some analysts to keep their heads high, as it clear that there are infrastructure plays to accentuate this ecosystem is far from dead in the water.

Alec “Rhythm Trader” Ziupsnys broke down his thoughts on Square’s involvement with Bitcoin in a comment posted to Twitter. Sticking to his argument that the flagship cryptocurrency’s supply cap is primarily what gives it value, Ziupsnys wrote that Square sold 6.2% of the value of the 162,000 BTC mined last year. For one company, especially one that doesn’t center its efforts on the cryptocurrency space, this is evidently impressive.

Matt Odell, a prominent coder in this space, echoed Ziupsnys’ comment, replying with a link to one of his tweets on the subject matter. In the Twitter message, posted months ago by Odell, it was explained that during the next bull rally, it is more likely than not that the Cash App, one of the most popular mobile applications on the U.S. App Store, will become a key facet of the industry, as it will be an easy-to-use on-ramp that could spark widespread retail adoption. But interestingly, support for Bitcoin purchases and sales might just be the tip of the iceberg. Rumor has it that Square, with Bitcoin diehard Jack Dorsey at the helm, could become a platform for crypto-friendly merchants too.

Lightning Network May Come To Square

Per previous reports from Ethereum World News, Dorsey took to Bitcoin bull Stephan Livera’s podcast to confirm hearsay that his fintech firm was to introduce support for the Lightning Network, a scaling solution that promotes low-cost, near-instant, secure, and more private BTC transactions for everyone and anyone.

During the podcast, which also saw Lightning Labs chief executive Elizabeth Stark make an appearance, the Twitter CEO explained that Square’s integration of the scaling protocol is a matter of “when,” not “if.” Speaking on the rationale of eventually making such a move, Dorsey explained that his firm’s raison d’etre is to serve customers best, with Lightning only accentuating this goal.

He added that Square sees Bitcoin’s underlying nature as a currency, rather than solely a speculative asset. And as it stands, the widespread adoption of the Lightning Network is the most promising means to get to that end.

And with all this in mind, Ziupsnys noted that there’s a likelihood that Square’s Bitcoin efforts could be just as important for the BTC price and adoption than an ETF and Bakkt combined.

Photo by Dmitry Moraine on Unsplash

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Tippin.me, a Panacea for Social Media Economic Models? Post 13,000 New Downloads After Jack Endorsement

There is a new wave and Sergio Abril app, Tippin.me, is drawing huge benefits as the crypto tide rise. The web browser extension that is currently in beta and supported by Chrome and FireFox allows users to receive Lightning Network powered micro-payments—denominated in Satoshis—a billionth of a Bitcoin. At the same time, users can use Tippin.me to reward or “tip” quality Twitter posts. Demand for the application took a turn for the best days after Jack Dorsey the founder of Cash and Twitter endorsed the application.

13,000 New Downloads After Jack Endorsement

Upon installation, each tweet bears the lightning bolt symbol, an explicit show of support for the lighting network and more importantly, Bitcoin. All the same, users are ecstatic and whether this extension will be incorporated directly by Twitter remains unknown. However, what is clear is that Sergio has admitted that the application is gaining traction with 13,000 downloads in the last few weeks. What’s encouraging is that the developer is hard at work, fixing bugs and most importantly, setting up a practical business plan, a guide that once implemented will see Tippin.me become compliant with local laws.

Jack Dorsey participation is crucial and as an ardent supporter of Lightning Network—he is one of the first investors of Lightning Labs, where together with other luminaries sunk in $2.5 million towards the development of this scalable, high throughput, feeless and instantaneous settling solution. Besides Twitter, Jack is the brains behind Cash App which is developed solely by Square—a publicly traded company at the NASDAQ. As a tech visionary, a lot of expectations rests on his shoulders but still he has never been shy to endorse Bitcoin saying on more than one occasion that the currency is the future of the internet. In a conference, Jack said:

“The internet is going to have a native currency so let’s not wait for it to happen, let’s help it happen. I don’t know if it will be bitcoin but I hope it will be.”

Tippin.me Support is Across the Board

He’s not alone. Dan Rusnac, a blockchain consultant says, Tippin.me though in a proof of concept stage is “refreshingly simple” to use and there is no need of creating new social media networks with tailored economic models as the plugin can be installed and users receive rewards in a liquid and on-demand asset as Bitcoin. In a Medium Post he said:

“Not only the Twitter experience completely changes but it also open limitless future scenarios: an internet where, thanks to this extension/s, you can tip people on all socials (it can be for a tweet, for an article, for a video, for a comment, etc.), thus creating a new way to raise money by content creators without the need of a central agency and without the need of creating a new social platform and economic system from scratch!”

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Square’s Cash App Sold $52M Worth Of Bitcoin In Q4 2018, $166M Over 2018

Cash App Sold More BTC Quarter-Over-Quarter

At the peak of 2017’s bubble, Square, a fintech company based in America, introduced a native Bitcoin (BTC) market into its flagship product, the Cash App. While the integration received some flak, especially for Square’s inability to be quick on the draw, the cryptocurrency product has grown alongside the startup’s swelling user base.

Per the company’s recent Shareholder Letter, which pertains to fiscal Q4 of 2018, the company sold $52 million worth of Bitcoin (13684 BTC at the current price point). This means that over the course of 2018, which saw BTC collapse from a yearly high of $17,000 to a yearly low of $3,150, the San Francisco-based fintech giant sold $166 million worth of the flagship cryptocurrency — no small sum.

Although $166 million in fiat-to-crypto volume seems lackluster, skeptics would be remiss to disregard fiat amplifiers. Due to the shallow order books (low liquidity) that are a byproduct of nascent markets, U.S. dollars that enter this market have often had an amplified effect on the value of digital assets.

Per analysis compiled by Alex Kruger, a leading markets researcher, JP Morgan claims that for the crypto assets at large, a fiat amplifier of 117.5 is present, as a purported $2 billion in net inflow pushed Bitcoin’s market capitalization from $15 billion to $250 billion But, this isn’t the whole story. Citigroup purportedly estimated an amplifier of 50, while Chris Burniske of Placeholder Ventures calculated the figure out to somewhere between two and 25.

Thus, considering a low-end estimated amplifier of 10 times, the $166 million that Square’s clients allocated towards BTC may have pushed Bitcoin’s market capitalization by approximately $1.5 billion. Not bad, eh?

Square’s revenue figures also hold importance because, throughout 2018, the firm’s Bitcoin sales increased quarter-over-quarter, underscoring the continual Bitcoin demand from American retail investors.

Although this is great in and of itself, what’s next for Square and its involvement in this nascent market?

What’s Next For Square & Bitcoin?

Well, the answer is quite simple. As reported by this outlet on a previous date, Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of both Square and Twitter, took to Bitcoin bull Stephan Livera’s podcast to confirm these rumors. During the podcast, which also saw Lightning Labs chief executive Elizabeth Stark make an appearance, the Twitter CEO explained that Square’s integration of the scaling protocol is a matter of “when,” not “if.” Speaking on the rationale of eventually making such a move, Dorsey explained that his firm’s raison d’etre is to serve customers best, with Lightning only accentuating this goal.

He added that Square sees Bitcoin’s underlying nature as a currency, rather than solely a speculative asset. And as it stands, the widespread adoption of the Lightning Network is the most promising means to get to that end.

While Dorsey’s comments regarding his fintech upstart’s plans to integrate the Lightning scaling solution were open-ended, the magnitude of the future move was quickly comprehended.

In an interview with Tim Copeland of Decrypt Media, Jeremy Welch, the chief executive of Bitcoin hardware and software provider Casa, noted that Square’s (and Twitter by extension) support for Lightning would simply be “huge.” Welch explained that as Square is a “very well respected company,” with “great tech, great teams,” it’s doubling down on Bitcoin would be significant for both adoption and reputation. The entrepreneur explained:

“Silicon Valley hasn’t had the best view on Bitcoin overall. So, it would be significant on multiple levels, both in terms of adoption and their reputation and they have cachet with a lot of the bigger financial institutions.”

Title Image Courtesy of Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

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Twitter CEO Tells Congress It's Exploring Blockchain in Bid to Fight Scams

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told a Congressional committee Wednesday that the social media company is exploring blockchain solutions for its platform.

Dorsey was responding to a question from California Representative Doris Matsui during a House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing that focused on alleged bias against political conservatives on Twitter.

“You previously expressed interest in the broad applications of blockchain technology, including potentially in an effort to verify identity to fight misinformation and scams,” Matsui remarked before asking: “What potential applications do you see for blockchain?”

Dorsey replied that “we need to start with problems we’re trying to solve for our customers and look at all available technology,” going on to say:

“Blockchain is one that I think has a lot of untapped potential, specifically around distributed trust and distributed enforcement. We haven’t gone as deep as I would like just yet in understanding how we might apply this technology to Twitter but we have people thinking about it today.”

That the company is looking at possible solutions for shoring up digital trust using blockchain is perhaps unsurprising, given recent events.

As reported by CoinDesk and many other outlets, Twitter has been ground-zero for identity scams that seek to defraud users out of their cryptocurrency holdings. Through the use of copycat accounts and what researchers say is a massive botnet, would-be fraudsters have sought to trick users into sending their coins to fictitious accounts.

During the hearing, Matsui remarked about a previously-reported plan that calls for the Department of Commerce to create a blockchain workign group.

“As I previously announced in this committee, I am soon introducing legislation to direct the Department of Commerce to convene a working group of stakeholders to develop a consensus-based definition of blockchain,” she said prior to asking Dorsey about the social media firm’s work with the technology.

Image via House of Representatives video

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