The full potential of Bitcoin has yet to be realized

Bitcoin has undoubtedly come a long way in its ten-year history. And while “Bitcoin” has become a popular word in the world’s vernacular, Brian Armstrong, the chief executive at Coinbase and an advocate for an inclusive and decentralized financial system, has claimed that the project is still in its infancy.

Who Is Brian Armstrong?

Brian Armstrong has undoubtedly been an integral part of the cryptocurrency industry since 2012. But, just like many of those now entrenched in this movement, he didn’t even consider the concept of a digital currency when his career began. So, that begs the question — how did he get into Bitcoin?

Armstrong conveyed his come-up in an interview conducted by Chris Dixon, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto arm and a Coinbase board member. Explaining his superhero origin story, if you will, the American national explained that he began his journey at Rice University, graduating from the prestigious school with a Masters in Computer Science. While at school, Armstrong began to discover the power of technology, and how it could turn traditional industries, such as healthcare, education, and finance, right on their heads.

Following his time in higher education, the entrepreneurial developer began to truly work on University Tutor, while also moving to Bueno Aires, Argentina to find himself, as it were. And while his tutoring platform performed respectively, while in the South American nation, still shell-shocked from a hyperinflationary financial crisis that occurred just years earlier, a fire was kindled in Armstrong’s inner being.

Yet, he didn’t initially capitalize on this newfound belief system that was festering, presumably due to the strength of centralized financial incumbents. So, he packed up his bags, leaving for Silicon Valley like his fellow aspiring computer developers. He began his career in the de-facto technology hub at Airbnb, becoming the 40th employee at the now-world-renowned home platform. And, even as a software engineer, Armstrong began to see what financial qualms befell Airbnb, then a fledgling startup looking to set up operations worldwide. He told Dixon:

“Airbnb had grown really quickly — it had grown into 600 people — and they were moving money all over the world to 190 countries. So I had a front-row seat into how broken the global financial system was because there were high fees and delays, and each country we were trying to move money into and out of had opaque, broken infrastructure — like an oligopoly of different payment companies.”

And eventually, while he was home for Christmas in 2010, he stumbled across a link to the original Bitcoin whitepaper on Hacker News, a news portal run by Silicon Valley incubator YCombinator. Armstrong, who called the paper the “most exciting thing I read in five years,” explaining that he had to re-read Satoshi’s magnum opus a number of times, as he couldn’t stop thinking about the transformative ability that Bitcoin held.

Commenting on why this paper was so interesting, the Rice graduate claimed that the as the Internet was a medium to move information, Bitcoin was a way to transact value in a decentralized manner. So, Armstrong thought to himself, if Bitcoin is going to be as big as the internet, he should try his hand at making one of the “formative” companies in the cryptosphere.

The industry insider delved deeper explained his backstory in a recent Twitter thread, issued to celebrate the anniversary of Bitcoin’s first processed block on January 3rd, 2018.

Armstrong began to work on a prototype for an exchange and wallet during the weekends and late nights after his Airbnb shifts, to the dismay of his friends, who thought “Bitcoin sounded pretty crazy.” And eventually, after tinkering with the Ruby programming language, the forward-thinker got an Android wallet working, with a self-coded full node. Upon the success of his little project, Armstrong took his prototype to YCombinator, which subsequently funded his project and convinced him to drop his tenure at Airbnb.

Following some deliberation and soul-searching, Armstrong stumbled across the world “coinbase” on the official Bitcoin wiki — a term used to describe the content of the input of a generation transaction (Block#554,509’s coinbase read “Thanks Satoshi”) — and purchased the domain just days later. And, as many like to say, the rest was history.

Related Reading: Crypto Giant Coinbase Made Strides In Q4 2018, Even As Bitcoin (BTC) Plunged 40%

The Bitcoin Whitepaper Was The Spark, But There’s Way More To Come

In the aforementioned celebratory thread, which became one of the thousands on this auspicious day, Armstrong claimed that he believes Bitcoin was “one of the most important inventions of all-time.” Backing his claim, Armstrong noted that it began a global movement that pushed firms to disintermediate individuals and their money and data. The Coinbase chief even quipped that while he’s happy to see an expansive ecosystem stem from the first cryptocurrency, which contains crypto assets of all shapes and sizes, his first love was Bitcoin, and nothing is going to change that.

This is intriguingly in stark contrast to how the Bitcoin maximalist community paints Armstrong and his fellow pro-crypto Silicon Valley peers, like Erik Voorhees. Kevin Pham, a leading anti-establishment advocate who led the so-called “Hold Wells Fargo Accountable Movement,” has openly called out Armstrong, claiming that the Coinbase head should get “canned” for the good of this industry. Pham has overtly expressed his hate towards Armstrong due to his distaste for Ethereum, which in turn, means hate for anybody who pushes the project.

But, via Twitter, Armstrong noted that his firm’s clients remain enamored with Coinbase, with this affection spreading “among new customers and long-time hodlers alike.” Contrary to his critics, Armstrong then noted that he’s happy to see steady progress continue on protocols, platforms, and services that bolster the Bitcoin ecosystem, namely the Lightning Network. At the same time, Armstrong even tipped his hat to developers, claiming that he’s sorry for certain critical messages previously, before adding that he wants to see this technology succeed across the globe.

Yet, in spite of the growth of this ecosystem over Bitcoin’s decade-long lifespan, the Coinbase founder, who recently committed to forward a majority of his eventual wealth to those in need, noted that this industry is still waxing its skis, so to speak. Armstrong wrote, “the full promise of Bitcoin is still yet to be realized.”

Brian Armstrong


12/ To the extent I was critical of people working on any part of Bitcoin or crypto in the past, I apologize. My hope is that we see this technology succeed in the world, and my hat is off to anyone working to make that happen.

Brian Armstrong


13/ I believe we’re still at the beginning. The white paper signaled the start of a movement and the full promise of Bitcoin is still yet to be realized.

41 people are talking about this

Travis Kling, the founder of the Ikigai Fund, echoed this thought process in an extensive interview with TD Ameritrade. Kling, who formerly was a portfolio manager at Steven Cohen’s Point 72 hedge fund, noted that a majority of Bitcoin’s 10-year history was the runway, as the asset is just getting its wings off the ground now. By the same token, the cryptocurrency proponent explained that most of the publicity and development that has fallen on cryptocurrencies, namely BTC, came within the last 18 to 24 months, not during this sector’s earliest years.

But, just like Armstrong, Kling, who runs his long-short cryptocurrency fund out of an office in Los Angeles, claimed that he expects for BTC and other cryptocurrencies to succeed, as it allows consumers to opt-out of the most ambitious monetary experiment of all-time — quantitative easingand the incessant printing of U.S. greenbacks.

And while cynics are sure that cryptocurrencies will fold to be valued at $0 apiece, this industry’s prospects continue to look bright, even as the traditional market falls on hard times. Case in point, Armstrong drew attention to the diehards that continue to flock to this space en-masse, accentuating that this has only made his convictions about cryptocurrencies stronger than ever. Interestingly, Spencer Bogart, the essential figurehead of crypto-centric investment group Blockchain Capital, also touched on this influx of talent and what it means for this industry moving forward.

Speaking to CNBC’s Fast Money on the matter, Bogart explained that the “most encouraging” indicator is the “quality of talent” that continues to arrive at crypto’s doors. The seeming diehard noted that many “young people” have been entranced by what Bitcoin has to offer, with the world’s “best and brightest” asking to make an entree into this industry. As explained by Bogart, this, in and of itself, shows that cryptocurrencies have an extremely bright future.

Featured Image from Shutterstock
NICK CHONG | JANUARY 28, 2019 3:49 PM

Number of Bitcoin ATMs Hits 4,000 Globally: Why is it Growing So Rapidly?

According to a report released by ValueWalk, the number of Bitcoin ATMs worldwide has surpassed 4,000 and the market is still growing rapidly.

The increase in the number of Bitcoin ATMs comes in a period during which cryptocurrency businesses are prioritizing compliance, dealing with strict Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies.


On January 20, CCN reported that ShapeShift, a Switzerland-based cryptocurrency exchanges, received 18 subpoena requests from the U.S. authorities in 2018.

Although the number of requests received by ShapeShift was far less than that of Kraken, a major digital asset trading platform that received 315 subpoena requests from the U.S. government last year, it was relatively high given the fact that ShapeShift is not a U.S. corporation.

The U.S. government filed 66 percent of all subpoena requests received by Kraken, which serves 80 percent of its users outside of the U.S.

The rise in the demand for and popularity of crypto ATMs coincides with the G20’s efforts to regulate the cryptocurrency sector with tightened regulatory frameworks.

Most major cryptocurrency markets in the likes of Japan and South Korea have implemented new policies in regards to transaction monitoring, user surveillance, and fraud prevention since 2017.

Ernst & Young Bitcoin

Pictured: The unveiling of a Bitcoin ATM at Ernst & Young in Switzerland. Credit: EY

Bitcoin ATMs provide an alternative to strictly regulated cryptocurrency exchanges by allowing both buyers and sellers to purchase or sell cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin with minimal identification and KYC requirements.

But, there are some downsides to Bitcoin ATMs, especially for regular and experienced users. The fees on Bitcoin ATM transactions are percentage-based in most cases, leading to substantially higher fees than on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Most Bitcoin ATMs also have low daily limits for buyers and sellers, disallowing individuals from buying or selling large amounts of Bitcoin at a time to prevent the usage of ATMs in money laundering.

Speaking to ValueWalk, Straight Up Capital managing partner Sean Keefe said that Bitcoin has the potential to become a key part of the e-commerce sector, which may contribute to the increasing demand for Bitcoin ATMs.

“E-commerce is over. Cryptocurrency is the future. Companies like are only doing Bitcoin transactions, and other digital conglomerates like Amazon and Facebook know the war chest is coming. Just like was a brand name in the mid-’90s, Bitcoin is just the start of many brands to come that will offer the same service. It’s only a matter of time before everyone will have a Bitcoin option on their mobile devices,” Keefe said.


In South Korea, for instance, despite being one of the largest cryptocurrency markets along with the U.S., Japan, and Europe, the usage of Bitcoin ATMs has declined throughout the last two years.

Bitcoin ATM companies such as Coinplug have pivoted to operating a regulated cryptocurrency exchange with previously obtained capital from venture capital firms.

A key to the long-term success of Bitcoin ATMs is to lower the transaction fees and to provide reasonable conversion rates. But, due to high maintenance costs, it remains uncertain whether these issues can be addressed in the months to come.

Author – 

Number of Bitcoin ATMs Hits 4,000 Globally: Why is it Growing So Rapidly?

Russia Plans to Ditch US Dollar for Bitcoin, Says University Professor

A Russian university lecturer with ties to the government says the Kremlin will soon begin investing massively in Bitcoin as a way of avoiding new U.S. sanctions, a move that could happen “in a matter of weeks.”

Russia to Buy Some ‘Digital Gold’?

Speaking exclusively to Micky, Vladislav Ginko of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration believes new U.S. sanctions will push the Kremlin into diversifying its cash reserves into Bitcoin.

Ginko who has ties with the government going back more than 20 years says the move will happen in a matter of weeks. Ginko has in recent times appeared on various Russian media platforms clamoring for the adoption of Bitcoin as a haven asset.

Commenting on the issue, Ginko said:

US sanctions may be mitigated only through Bitcoin use. Because of US sanctions, Russia’s elite is forced to dump US assets and US dollars and invest hugely into Bitcoins. The central bank of Russia sits on $466 billion of reserves and has to diversify in case there are limited opportunities to do it (in the future).

Cutting Dollar Dependence Amid New U.S. Sanctions

Along with China, Iran, and Venezuela, Russia is exploring ways to reduce its US Dollar dependence. Back in November 2018, Russian President; Vladimir Putin, declared that in the wake of new sanctions, the country had no choice but to cut down on its use of the Dollar in international trade.

At the time, President Putin said:

We have no goal of moving away from the Dollar. It’s the dollar that’s moving away from us. Those making such decisions are not shooting themselves in the foot, but somewhere more delicate, further up the body.

According to Ginko, the Kremlin will, beginning in February 2018, look for ways to diversify its reserves. Ginko has in recent times appeared on various Russian media platforms clamoring for the adoption of Bitcoin as a haven asset.

Russian Efforts

If the Russian government and the elite class invest massively in Bitcoin, the price of the asset could experience a sudden upward surge. Such a situation occurred in 2018 when wealthy Chinese citizens reportedly moved money into BTC in the wake of an accelerated currency devaluation by Beijing.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has been stocking up on non-digital gold as a shield against economic sanctions. Reports indicate the government is selling U.S. government debt in exchange for the precious metal. By August 2018, Russia had already tripled its gold reserve as it gears up for renewed economic tussles with the U.S.

Such is the extent of Russia’s gold-gobbling that global gold purchasing figures reached a three-year high in November 2018. The Kremlin is also pursuing closer economic ties with China to create a new payment system independent of the Dollar.

Will massive Bitcoin investment by the Kremlin lead to any surge in the price of Bitcoin? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Osato Avan-Nomayo · @3rdPesinSingula

Russia Plans to Ditch US Dollar for Bitcoin, Says University Professor

Bull Reversal: Bitcoin Climbs Key Price Hurdle to Target $4K

Bitcoin’s (BTC) price crossed key resistance yesterday, boosting the prospects of a stronger rally above $4,000.

The leading cryptocurrency by market value broke out of a bearish descending pattern and closed above key resistance at $3,633 yesterday. That came after picking up a strong bid on the anniversary of its 2017 all-time price high on Monday.

Tuesday’s close has also pushed up the probability of a bullish three-day close above $3,590 being confirmed on Thursday.

So, with the short-term picture looking bullish, the focus shifts to the next major resistance levels lined up at $4,000 (psychological hurdle) and $4,410 (Nov. 29 high).

BTC is currently trading at $3,750 on Bitstamp, having clocked a two-week high of $3,776 earlier today. The cryptocurrency has recovered 20 percent from the recent low of $3,122 but is still down 73 percent on a year-to-date basis.

Daily chart

BTC’s close above $3,633 on the daily chart bolstered the increasingly bullish technical setup, as represented by the positive divergence of the 14-day relative strength index (RSI) and the high-volume falling wedge breakout.

Further evidence that the bears have weakened is a bullish crossover between the 5- and 10-day exponential moving averages (EMAs).

Hourly chart

On the hourly chart, the bull flag breakout confirmed yesterday created room for a rally to $3,840 (pole height added to breakout price).

Both the rising trendline and the stacking order of the simple moving averages (SMAs) also favor an extension of the ongoing rally.

Monthly chart

The outlook as per the monthly chart would turn bullish if and when prices beat the former support-turned-resistance of the 21-month EMA, currently at $5,728.


  • Tuesday’s close above $3,633 confirmed a short-term bearish-to-bullish trend change.
  • BTC will likely test the psychological level of $4,000 in the next 48 hours, with the next target being resistance at $4,410 (Nov. 29 high).
  • A daily close below $3,633 would weaken the bullish scenario, but is looking unlikely in the short-term

Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency assets at the time of writing.

Bitcoin image via Shutterstock; charts by Trading View

Author – Omkar Godbole

Apple founder Steve Wozniak hopes bitcoin will become a single global currency

Tech legend Steve Wozniak says he is attracted to the “purity” of the idea that people around the world could one day share a single currency, despite being separated by national borders.

He echoed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who recently said that he believes bitcoin will become the single currency worldwide.

“I buy into what Jack Dorsey says, not that I necessarily believe it's going to happen, but because I want it to be that way, that is so pure thinking,” Wozniak told CNBC on the sidelines of the Money 20/20 conference in Amsterdam.

The tech guru who bought bitcoin when the single coin cost around $700 said recently that he was not interested in turning a profit and was instead focused on the blockchain technology behind bitcoin. Wozniak explained that he used blockchain to make secure payments while travelling abroad.

“Bitcoin is mathematically defined, there is a certain quantity of bitcoin, there's a way it's distributed… and it's pure and there's no human running, there's no company running and it's just… growing and growing… and surviving, that to me says something that is natural and nature is more important than all our human conventions,” said Wozniak, who also owns two ether crypto coins.

He announced recently that he has sold all but one bitcoin. The world's top digital currency was trading at $7,454 on Tuesday.

Currently, there are over 1,000 cryptocurrencies in existence, but Wozniak says that bitcoin is the only one that remains “pure” because others have had to give up some of the aspects that makes bitcoin what it is.

“Only bitcoin is pure digital gold… and I totally buy into that. All the others tend to give up some of the aspects of bitcoin. For example, being totally decentralized and having no central control. That's the first one they have to give up to try to have a business model.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

John McAfee vows to ‘serve the crypto community’ when he runs for president in 2020

Cybersecurity guru and cryptocurrency enthusiast John McAfee has announced plans to run for the US presidency in 2020 as part of a broader agenda to “best serve the crypto community.”

The founder of McAfee Antivirus Software said that he would set up his own political party if necessary, according to a tweet that was posted on Monday and has picked up over 750 comments and nearly 5,650 likes so far.

This would be McAfee’s second attempt to run for the White House. Two years ago, the crypto enthusiast lost out to former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson in his bid to be the candidate for the Libertarian Party.


The 72-year-old tech entrepreneur has recently emerged as a distinguished advocate for digital currencies, including bitcoin, which have experienced swift growth in recent years while demonstrating extreme volatility. Last week, McAfee announced plans to create his own crypto-backed ‘fiat’ currency. The brand new bills are expected to be released for June 25.

At the same time, the antivirus software pioneer seems to be realistic about his chances, according to his tweet.

Apart from his career as a tech entrepreneur, McAfee hit the headlines in 2012 after he was declared a person of interest in a murder case in Belize, Central America. However, the businessman, who was neither arrested nor charged with the crime, left the country and moved to the US.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

4000 New Bitcoin ATMs to be Introduced in Argentina

Argentine is about to have 4000 new crypto enabled Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) installed all over the country. It is thanks to the regulations that have eased with regards to ATM’s allowed to be placed in nonbanking establishments in Argentina.

The Central Bank of the Argentine Republic (BCRA) has allowed ATM’s to be placed anywhere, and not just banks which were the previous regulations.

There have been only two players so far in Argentine’s ATM market. One is the local Banelco and the other the international Link network. Now independent and third-party ATMs can be integrated into the existing financial system.

The Central Bank expects to open 30,000 new ATMs across Argentine given the flexible rules being implemented.

The new freedom in ATMs being located anywhere has given rise to Odyssey Group planning to install 4000 crypto enabled ATMs across the country. There are already 200 Octagon models of Odyssey spread in Argentine that was introduced last year. It was used only for exchanging Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin hence could not be used for withdrawals due to the controlled banking network access.

Odyssey describes the crypto ATM’s as “as “really just a vending machine that dispenses cash instead of snacks or soda.”

The total estimated cost of a machine is $8000 with an installation fee between $1000 and $1500 with the owner having to stock the machine up with money. According to estimates, Odyssey plans to retrieve initial costs within five or six months.

A mobile application will allow customers to locate nearby cryptocurrency ATM’s and let them see if it is operational with cash.

Argentine has hopped onto the cryptocurrency ATM bandwagon with many other countries already adapting to its use. As of now according to a report by Statista, there are 2662 Bitcoin ATMs installed worldwide.

The Southern African country, Zimbabwe has a single Bitcoin ATM dispensing cash thanks to Golix which is Zimbabwe’s first and largest cryptocurrency exchange. It dispenses US dollars due to the value of the local currency.

Even Australia hopes to install 500 machines with Bitcoin selling and purchasing power. British cryptocurrency exchange, Bitlish confirmed it would deploy 5000 BTC ATM’s soon around Europe.

The United States has the most Bitcoin ATMs in the world, with the number of Bitcoin machines increasing from 502 in January 2016 to 2050 in January 2018.

Image Source: “Flickr”  –   By

CBOE Saw Its Highest-Ever Bitcoin Futures Volumes Yesterday

Two major markets for bitcoin futures contracts saw a major boost in volume on Wednesday.

Available market data shows that CBOE saw its highest-ever volume for bitcoin futures since it first debuted the contracts back in December. 18,210 contacts for the May futures were traded, along with 703 for the June contract and 87 for the July contract. No volume was reported for the exchange’s August-dated contract.

CBOE Options Institute senior instructor Kevin Davitt, in a social media video posted on Thursday, said that “[the] average daily volume (ADV) runs about 6,600 in XBT Bitcoin Futures. Yesterday’s volume was nearly three times ADV.”

He went on to explain:

“Yesterday was the highest daily volume for bitcoin futures since their introduction here at CBOE nearly five months ago. The lead month May futures traded 18,210 contracts, and across the term structure a total of 19,000 bitcoin futures traded here yesterday. The previous high-volume session was January 17 with just less than 15,500 contracts traded.”

Wednesday’s volume was an outlier among the past several days, as well as the results seen during Thursday’s session. On Monday, XBT Bitcoin Futures traded at 3,881, rising to 6,653 on Tuesday. On Thursday, volume was reported at 5,634 contracts as of press time.

CME, according to market data, also saw a big trading day on Wednesday.

The exchange saw the volume of its bitcoin futures contracts market double on Wednesday from the day before, shooting past 11,000 contracts. Unlike CBOE, it was CME’s April 2018 contracts which saw the bulk of the spike, according to its website.

The spike in January’s volume coincided with the expiration of the first set of contracts, Davitt said. However, Wednesday’s volume did not, nor did it have a 15-20 percent range in futures Davitt would otherwise have expected, he added.

“We will certainly be watching to see if this is a volume aberration or if more and more institutional types are moving into crypto,” he said. However, he noted that “the overall bullish sentiment continues in XBT Bitcoin Futures.”

Markets image via Shutterstock  –  Nikhilesh De

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.

Bitcoin is rallying — and can no longer be dismissed. Here are 3 reasons why

  • Bitcoin prices continue to climb, reaching nearly $10,000 on Friday.
  • Goldman Sachs’ move into the cryptocurrency market, regulatory clarity and the upcoming Blockchain Week NYC have all increased demand for bitcoin.
Three reasons why bitcoin is heading higher, according to Fast Money’s BK  

Bitcoin is rallying and can no longer be ignored, said Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of BKCM LLC, an investment firm focused on digital currencies.

“It’s a serious market,” Kelly said from Hoover Institution’s annual Monetary Policy Conference at Stanford University on Friday.

“When I would go to events like this in years past, you would kind of dismiss bitcoin,” Kelly said on “Fast Money.” “But it’s been brought up several times at this conference and taken quite seriously. And I think you have to with a market cap at half a trillion dollars.”

The cryptocurrency reached $9,700 around 5:15 p.m. ET Friday. While significantly lower than its mid-December highs around $19,700, the coin continues to regain losses from lows of around $6,000 earlier this year.

Kelly credits Goldman Sachs and its plans to open the first bitcoin trading firm of any Wall Street bank for pushing the demand higher.

“Goldman made a big move into the cryptocurrency space,” Kelly said. “They are definitely the leaders among the institutions in the space.”

Regulatory clarity is also pushing the coin’s value higher.

“One thing that is interesting is that bitcoin is clearly a currency,” Kelly said. “Almost everyone I’ve talked to, and people here at this event, are talking about bitcoin as a currency, not a security.”

Finally, Kelly said Blockchain Week New York City, bitcoin’s biggest event, is coming up next week, helping to generate more buzz around the coin.

“Essentially, everyone from the world will be descending upon New York to talk about cryptocurrency,” he said.–and-can-no-longer-be-dismissed-brian-kelly.html

Kellie Ell  –  News Associate for CNBC

Bitcoin and Diamonds

Blockchain used to track gold and diamonds from mine to finger

IBM, gold and diamond companies (including De Beers), and an independent laboratory are using TrustChain to track the provenance of finished pieces of jewellery


Portland — IBM, a group of four gold and diamond industry companies, and an independent laboratory are developing a blockchain network for tracing the provenance of finished pieces of jewellery from mine to store.

The TrustChain Initiative, which will run on IBM’s technology, includes precious-metals refiner Asahi Refining, US jewellery retailer Helzberg Diamonds, precious-metals supplier LeachGarner, jewellery-maker the Richline Group and a global safety consulting and verification company UL.

Other industry players may join the effort as well, said Jason Kelley, GM for blockchain services at IBM. Products being tracked through the program should be available to consumers shopping for jewellery by year-end, according to a joint statement on Thursday.

TrustChain is the latest effort by the jewellery industry to use blockchain — a real-time digital ledger that is immutable — to prove to consumers that their purchases don’t include blood diamonds or conflict metals and are ethically sourced. IBM has also been actively helping form a slew of blockchain-focused companies and industry initiatives around various supply chains.

For example, it’s working with companies such as retailer Walmart to trace food products, and earlier this year helped start an effort to track international cargo. Providing technologies to such projects is a huge growth opportunity for Big Blue, as IBM is sometimes nicknamed, which has already grabbed the biggest portion of the world’s blockchain-related spending.

Jewellery tracing is becoming increasingly important for business, as the younger customer is “far more sceptical, does more research”, said Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer at Richline. “We feel this is an absolute must right now.”

TrustChain has just completed its first proof-of-concept test, in which gold went from a mine in South Dakota to a refinery in Utah, to a fabricator in Massachusetts that converted the gold into casting nuggets and grains. Those then went to a manufacturer in India that made engagement rings and set diamonds in them. The rings went to a distribution facility and then to Helzberg in the US. UL, which helps companies ensure responsible purchases, monitored the transactions throughout the process.

Earlier this year, top diamond miner De Beers Group said it’s working to harness blockchain technology to track the gems. Start-up Everledger has been tracking diamonds since 2015, and has already traced provenance of more than 2-million stones. The London Bullion Market Association, which oversees the world’s biggest spot gold market, is looking at using the digital ledger to trace the origin of metal, to prevent money-laundering and to detect conflict minerals.


30 APRIL 2018 – 07:02 OLGA KHARIF