ConsenSys-Associated Agritech Project Covantis Officially Established

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Binance Says Leveraged FTX Removal Comes After Confused Users Hodled Tokens

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Bitcoin Halving Capitulation: ‘Mining Death Spirals Don’t Happen in Real Life,’ Says Report

With Coronavirus Spreading, Check These Sites for Remote Jobs in the Crypto Industry

While You’re Under Quarantine, Check These Sites for Remote Crypto Jobs

If you are on the lookout for a job in these pressing times, when the coronavirus pandemic has limited public movement and shut down businesses, it’s worth exploring opportunities to work from the relative safety of your home. The number … read more.

Cut and Run: How to Quickly Cash Out From Crypto to Fiat

How to Quickly Cash Out From Crypto to Fiat

There are many reasons why you might seek to liquidate your digital assets into fiat currency, be it to pay a bill, buy a meal, or cover an emergency. When needs must, speed is of the essence; no one has … read more.

Judge Grants Injunction Halting Telegram's TON Release Once Again, Notice of Appeal Reportedly Filed

Judge Grants Injunction Halting Telegram’s TON Release Again, Notice of Appeal Reportedly Filed

The embattled Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain and its native gram cryptocurrency have seen plans for launch stifled once again, with a preliminary injunction granted by Southern District of New York Judge P. Kevin Castel. The March 24 injunction sides … read more.

Privacy Browser Brave Integrates Cryptocurrency Trading Through Binance

Privacy Browser Brave Integrates Cryptocurrency Trading Through Binance

Privacy-oriented Brave has launched cryptocurrency trading within its browser. The company announced on Tuesday that over 12 million active monthly users of the privacy browser can now buy and sell cryptocurrencies, view their crypto balances, and obtain deposit addresses without … read more.

China Is Drafting Laws for the Circulation of National Digital Currency

China Is Drafting Laws for the Circulation of National Digital Currency

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, China’s central bank has reportedly completed the basic development of the nation’s central bank digital currency. The central bank is now drafting legislation for its circulation, according to local media. A number of patents have revealed … read more.

Here’s How to Order Food From Your Home Using Cryptocurrency

Here’s How to Order Food From Your Home Using Cryptocurrency

Staying home during the coronavirus epidemic reduces the risk of getting infected with the deadly covid-19. The disease, which has already claimed the lives of over 20,000 people globally, spreads through human contact. Food is one of the few basic … read more.

Making Bitcoin Go Viral: Could Endless Printing Trigger a Hyperbitcoinization Event?

Making Bitcoin Go Viral: Endless Printing Could Trigger Hyperbitcoinization

Hyperbitcoinization has been defined as “a state where bitcoin becomes the world’s dominant form of money.” But what actually needs to happen for bitcoin to ‘go viral’? As it turns out, a hyperbitcoinization event may be more likely than many … read more.

'What Bitcoin Did' - Scanning the Hottest Cryptocurrency Keywords and Google Searches

‘What Bitcoin Did’ – Scanning the Hottest Cryptocurrency Keywords and Google Searches

For years now the term “bitcoin” has managed to capture a tight relationship with specific trends and keywords online. News.Bitcoin.com decided to investigate the specific keywords, questions, comparisons, and prepositions that are often associated with the digital currency when people … read more.

4 Virtual Crypto Conferences You Can Attend From Home

4 Virtual Crypto Conferences You Can Attend From Home

The crypto industry has had to quickly adapt to the escalating coronavirus pandemic, with major conferences postponed, canceled or hastily reformatted for the virtual realm. Due to its disproportionately high number of remote workers, though, the industry is more geared … read more.

Printing Money from Thin Air - How the Fed Reduces Purchasing Power and Makes You Poorer

Printing Money from Thin Air – How the Fed Reduces Purchasing Power and Makes You Poorer

Unless you have your head in the sand, you’ve probably realized that governments and central banks can print money out of thin air and in unlimited amounts. The United States and the Federal Reserve have been creating money from nothing … read more.

Bitcoin Hashrate Down 45% – Miners Witness Second-Largest Difficulty Drop in History

Bitcoin’s hashrate has plummeted 45% since the record-breaking levels it saw on Feb. 29. The hashrate touched an all-time high of 136 exahash per second (EH/s) but has since dropped to 75 EH/s. Moreover, the crypto network has seen the … read more.

Coronavirus Relief: Cryptocurrency Aid Programs Launched to Combat Covid-19 Outbreak

Coronavirus Relief: Cryptocurrency Aid Programs Launched to Combat Covid-19 Outbreak

Cryptocurrencies are being used to help fight the global coronavirus pandemic. Crypto companies are doing their part to provide coronavirus aid to countries, hospitals, and people suffering from covid-19. A coronavirus relief campaign, a Red Cross bitcoin fundraiser, and an … read more.

Bitcoin Miners Are Selling Coins Faster Than They Can Generate Them

According to data sites and a number of observers, bitcoin miners are selling coins faster than they can produce them. Ever since the market downturn on March 12 and the week of falling prices that followed, bitcoin miners have been … read more.

Vermont Rapper Releases Hip Hop Track ‘#Freeross,’ Ulbricht Petition Nears 300K Signatures

Southern Vermont-based hip-hop artist, Krypto Man, has released a new single called “#Freeross” in hopes to get Ross Ulbricht released from prison. Krypto Man is a well known rapper on the east coast and revenue from the song will be … read more.

Ripple CEO's Public Statements About XRP Token Under Fire in Class-Action Lawsuit

Ripple CEO’s Public Statements About XRP Token Under Fire in Class-Action Lawsuit

Plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against Ripple Labs have filed another litigation complaint against Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse. The news follows the recent court judgment that denied Ripple Lab’s attempt to get the case dismissed. Also read: Market Update: … read more.

Singapore Allows Crypto Companies to Operate Without a License for 6 Months

Singapore Allows Crypto Companies to Operate Without a License for 6 Months

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has granted an exemption from holding a license to a number of cryptocurrency companies operating in the country under the new Payment Services Act. Among the companies benefiting from this six-month grace period are Binance, … read more.

Major South Korean Bank Prepares to Launch Crypto Services as Government Green-Lights Regulation

Major South Korean Bank Prepares to Launch Crypto Services as Government Green-Lights Regulation

Following the approval of a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies by the South Korean government, one of the largest banks in the country is preparing to launch a range of crypto services. KB Kookmin Bank has applied for trademark registration, reportedly … read more.

'Bull Run May Not Come Immediately After Bitcoin Halving,' Says Bitmain's Jihan Wu

‘Bull Run May Not Come Immediately After Bitcoin Halving,’ Says Bitmain’s Jihan Wu

Bitmain cofounder Jihan Wu’s recent interview discusses some of his predictions concerning the future of bitcoin, mining, the bitcoin halving, and the cryptoconomy. Despite the coronavirus outbreak and its effect on the global economy, Wu is optimistic and he believes … read more.

Trump Signs Largest Bill in US History — When Will Americans Get Stimulus Checks

Trump Signs Largest Relief Bill in US History: When Will Americans Get Stimulus Checks

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed into law what he calls the largest single economic relief bill in history. “At $2.2 trillion dollars, this bill will deliver urgently-needed relief for our nation’s families, workers, and businesses,” Trump said. Americans are … read more.

US Lawmaker Claims Stimulus Bill Bolsters Fed Secrecy, Pork Funds, and Wall Street Bailouts

On Friday, U.S. bureaucrats passed the 2020 stimulus bill, which has become the largest cash injection package ever created by the federal government. However, following the bill making it through the Senate and House, Republican representative Thomas Massie told the … read more.

400 Kraken Survey Respondents Predict Bitcoin Price Will Surpass $22K in 2020

Trader Survey Respondents Predict Bitcoin Price Will Surpass $22K in 2020

San Francisco-based exchange Kraken conducted a poll that stems from the responses of 400 “VIP” cryptocurrency traders. Despite the current economic climate, surveyed participants indicate they still believe the cryptoconomy is in a “bull market.” Moreover, Kraken’s survey respondents think … read more.

Free from Tron: Steemit’s Blockchain Fork Hive Outperforms Steem Token Value

Free from Tron: Steemit’s Blockchain Fork Hive Outperforms Steem Token Value

For weeks now, the cryptocurrency community has been fervently discussing the recent acquisition of the Steemit blockchain. Skeptics believe that the Tron takeover has shown significant vulnerabilities with delegated-proof-of-stake (DPoS) projects. Following the takeover, the community still managed to fork … read more.

Porn Industry Thrives During Lockdown: These Sites Accept Cryptocurrencies

Porn Industry Thrives During Lockdown — These Sites Are Cryptocurrency-Friendly

Porn sites have been experiencing increased traffic as the number of people under lockdown or quarantine rises due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many of these sites accept cryptocurrencies, including Pornhub. The popular porn site currently offers residents of some countries … read more.

In-Between Bitcoin Halvings: Analyst Proves Bitcoin's Price Not Bound to 4-Year Cycles

In-Between Bitcoin Halvings: Analyst Proves Bitcoin’s Price Not Bound to 4-Year Cycles

Crypto traders and analysts have always looked to the halvings for some kind of clues in order to predict the future price of bitcoin. A number of traders also think that BTC price movements shift every four years and speculators … read more.

Microsoft Patents New Cryptocurrency System Using Body Activity Data

Microsoft Patents New Cryptocurrency System Using Body Activity Data

Microsoft has patented a cryptocurrency mining system that leverages human activities, including brain waves and body heat, when performing online tasks such as using search engines, chatbots, and reading ads. “A user can solve the computationally difficult problem unconsciously,” the … read more.

Latest Bitcoin.com Wallet Release Features Live Charts and Price Tracking

Latest Bitcoin.com Wallet Release Features Live Charts and Price Tracking

This week, our developers rolled out the latest version of the lightning-fast, noncustodial Bitcoin.com Wallet. The new version now comes with live price graphs so crypto enthusiasts can follow crypto price changes in real-time. Moreover, the wallet software also features … read more.

IMF Says Recession Is Here, 80 Countries Request Help, Trillions of Dollars Needed

IMF Declares Global Recession, 80 Countries Request Help, Trillions of Dollars Needed

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has declared that we have entered a global recession — one that is as bad as or worse than the previous global financial crisis. 80 countries have already requested emergency assistance from the IMF. Meanwhile, … read more.

Bitcoin Mining Roundup: BTC Regains 100 Exahash, Miners Close Shop, Pre-Halving Shake-Up

Bitcoin Mining Roundup: BTC Regains 100 Exahash, Miners Close Shop, Pre-Halving Shake-Up

In 44 days, BTC miners will face the third reward halving as the block subsidy will soon shrink from 12.5 to 6.25 coins per block. Following the market carnage in mid-March, BTC’s hashrate plummeted 44% to a 2020 low of … read more.

Egypt Limits Bank and ATM Withdrawals Citing Rampant Cash Outflow and Coronavirus Fears

Egypt Limits Bank and ATM Withdrawals Citing Rampant Cash Outflow and Coronavirus Fears

On Sunday, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) announced it had instructed financial institutions in the country to put withdrawal limits in place for cash. Regional reports disclose that Egyptian residents can only withdraw 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($640) and businesses … read more.

Stablecoin Market Caps Swell Over $7 Billion – Volumes Surpass Most Trading Pairs

While most digital assets have been suffering, stablecoins have been surging since the market downturn in mid-March and tether (USDT) is capturing more than 70% of BTC trades today. Besides tether, a wide range of other dollar-pegged cryptocurrencies have also … read more.

French Soccer Star Claims Crypto Scam Impersonated Him

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If you are at an office or shared network, you can ask the network administrator to run a scan across the network looking for misconfigured or infected devices.

Bitcoin’s Lightning Becomes Latest Protocol to Court Publishers With Micropayments

The trouble with bitcoin payments these days may be a lack of spenders, not spending opportunities. 

On Monday, the Silicon Valley bitcoin startup Lightning Labs announced a new standards proposal that makes it easier for companies to automate small bitcoin (BTC) payments, like ongoing subscriptions. 

“We are using this product for our Loop service, it’s already in production,” Lightning Labs engineer Oliver Gugger said of the standards proposal called LSAT. “It’s not all the way there. We’ve just proposed the protocol.”

LSAT, an open-source feature, is already being used to serve real customers by the startup Tieron, which offers time-stamping services. Gugger acknowledged this and said he hopes Lightning Labs will help establish an industry-standard across different services, from client-facing options like crypto paywalls to backend functions like recordkeeping.

“We lead by example and hope all these different, fragmented protocols that are already out there can become compatible with each other,” Gugger said, emphasizing such standards could ease the way for companies outside the space looking to accept bitcoin payments. The question of what types of services Lightning Labs would enable is still unclear, due in part to the fact current demand is primarily research at crypto startups.

Seeking users

It remains to be seen how, or if, demand will manifest. It’s already possible to integrate crypto payment processing into an established publishing platform in a proprietary way.

Tieron engineer Buck Perley made a related open-source Lightning tool with LSAT, Boltwall. This could theoretically be used to create a bitcoin paywall for content. But no one has asked for this use case yet, Perley said. Instead, most of Tieron’s clients ask for the startup’s time-stamping product, Chainpoint, which utilizes the Lightning functionality.

“You couldn’t really say Chainpoint is a customer, but there was demand for this kind of tool. And Boltwall made it easier for us to implement an LSAT/Lightning-enabled paywall,” Perley said. “I also have a personal belief that the subscription model so many platforms are trying to fall back on is not sustainable in the long run. Having a couple dozen subscriptions across many different kinds of content distribution platforms just feels problematic to me.”

There are free software tools and paid services available for any site that wants to accept bitcoin for digital content, which the Lightning Network experiment Yalls has been for more than two years. Yet so far only a few outlets, such as Forbes, are experimenting with cryptocurrency payments.

CoinDesk itself experimented with crypto tips nearly four years ago. Currently, there are 47,025 publishers that can indirectly receive Brave’s Basic Attention Tokens (BAT), according to unofficial data site BATGrowth. The Brave option is by far the widely used to date. Still, for CoinDesk at least, it’s attracted a mere pittance. 

As of January 2020, CoinDesk readers have contributed 19,213 in BAT tips, currently worth less than $3,000, according to CoinDesk Managing Director Jacob Donnelly. It should be noted that CoinDesk hasn’t completed the steps with Uphold (Brave’s wallet provider) to verify corporate identity, he said, so these funds are not under CoinDesk’s control.

Experimental paywalls

Although they remain niche, a handful of adjacent projects are experimenting with crypto-powered paywalls without LSAT.

Forbes, for example, accepts ether (ETH) for an ad-free reader experience, utilizing subscription services from the crypto startup Unlock. Independent reporter Camila Russo also uses Unlock to accept dai stablecoin payments for her newsletter about Ethereum. Russo said “hundreds” of subscribers, roughly 40 percent of her paid readership, use this option. Even among Ethereum fans, most prefer to pay with a credit or debit card.

“I’m still using Substack to publish my content,” Russo said. “[Unlock] doesn’t provide the actual infrastructure to publish the content, so the value proposition with Substack and Patreon is a little different for now.”

So far, experiments for crypto payments like the ConsenSys spoke Civil aren’t sustainable based on subscriptions alone. (Civil CEO Matthew Iles said the startup isn’t ready yet to publish results from their experiments.) Other crypto payment tools have struggled to garner buy-in from the media industry itself.

For example, the anonymous European engineer behind MicroPay said he took the Lightning tool offline for compliance reasons after just one day. It would download content from behind a paywall and send a PDF in exchange for a few cents worth of bitcoin to the engineer’s personal node. Now he’s exploring ways to get outlets to use it to address the audience demand to “read two to three articles max a month” without registering for a full subscription and submitting personal information.

“MicroPay can be used for other things as well, not just paywalls,” he said. “Any service which asks for micropayments can go through.” 

Early days

The reason such tools haven’t found product-market fit yet is all about getting the outlets onboard.

As Unlock CEO Julien Genestoux said, outlets want readers’ emails and personal details because they want to send newsletters, sell tickets to events and find other ways to engage with audiences.

“I just want to say the [crypto] wallet in my browser is my identity,” Genestoux said. “Think of a paywall as a membership. … When I transfer [the Unlock non-fungible token] to someone, now they’re a member. I’m not anymore.”

That type of fluid membership is difficult for traditional outlets to monetize. Plus, offering outlets a tool to accept currencies that few people actually want to spend hasn’t inspired much enthusiasm from publishers. Some publishers are also concerned about any extra compliance hurdles accepting crypto might cause, Genestoux said.

On the other hand, niche publishers like Hard Times CEO Matt Saincome are curious about currency-agnostic options. His online satire outlet uses Coil, an in-browser app made by former Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas. Users can load up their Coil accounts with a few dollars worth of credit, using cryptocurrency or credit cards, then read Hard Times content without ads and eventually gain access to exclusive content.

“I’m actually changing the direction of my business to be more geared towards it,” Saincome said. “It’s great because I don’t have to disrupt my ad revenue in order to try this. … Even if they [users] are paying in XRP, I can get U.S. dollars.”

Saincome said Coil isn’t a significant revenue stream yet, but he expects that to change as cryptocurrency gains more mainstream adoption.

“I wish I was a YouTuber right when YouTube was starting. That’s how I feel about Coil,” he said.

On the other hand, some crypto fans are striking out on their own rather than looking to serve publishers.

For example, BSV-focused developer Brad Jasper has roughly 100 user accounts on his closed beta blogging platform that went live in January, Bit.sv. He said at least 1,000 more crypto fans are on the waiting list. Although Bit.sv only pays creators in BSV, the platform can accept bitcoin, litecoin or ether as well.

“Imagine if you could move banks with just a few clicks. That’s what it will look like to move between these providers,” Jasper said, explaining how content creators could become more independent with blockchain platforms instead of sites like Tumblr or Medium. “I think the venture capital [media model] is dead.”

Disclosure Read More

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.

Data Shows Ethereum is Gearing Up for an Explosive Downside Movement

Ethereum has been closely tracking Bitcoin’s price action throughout the past several days and weeks, which has led ETH to once again enter a bout of sideways trading within the mid-$130 region.

Despite being able to post a strong rebound from its recent lows, it is important to note that analysts are widely anticipating ETH to see an intense downwards movement in the near-term.

This also comes in tandem with some slight growth in the cryptocurrency’s open interest on BitMEX, which may be a sign that the crypto’s next move will be massive.

Ethereum Faces Weak Technical Situation as Analysts Eye Near-Term Downside 

At the time of writing, Ethereum is trading up just under 1% at its current price of $133, which marks a slight decline from daily highs of over $135 but a notable rebound from lows of $125.

These lows were set yesterday in tandem with Bitcoin’s decline to $5,800, with bull’s ardent defense of this level creating an upwards tailwind that has allowed virtually all major altcoins to rally.

In the near-term, it does appear that the mid-$130 region has become resistance for ETH, and whether or not it moves past this level may be dependent on how Bitcoin trends.

One trader said in a recent tweet that Ethereum is flashing signs of weakness against its BTC trading pair, noting that it is currently hovering directly between key support and key resistance.

“Ethereum: The same approach still on ETH / BTC. I’m interested at 0.0172-0.0175 / 0.019-0.01925 areas for support or when we flip the 0.022 area. Right now it’s just hanging in between. Against USDT also not showing strength.”

Ethereum

Image Courtesy of Crypto Michaël

ETH Futures Sees Declining Volume, But Open Interest Begins Climbing 

Two interesting trends that may suggest the next movement will be large are the crypto’s declining futures volume and climbing open interest on BitMEX.

According to data from Skew, Ethereum’s futures volume across all major cryptocurrency exchanges has declined significantly in recent times, hitting a monthly low on March 29th before climbing slightly yesterday.

Ethereum

In the past, low futures volume hasn’t lasted for too long, with it climbing as the crypto’s volatility picks up. This could mean that a big movement is imminent.

Further supporting this notion is the fact that open interest on BitMEX is showing tempered signs of growth, which is also a historical indicator of imminent volatility.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Civic Wallet Offers Users $1 Million Insurance Policy on Stored Crypto

/latest/2020/03/civic-wallet-offers-users-1-million-insurance-policy-on-stored-crypto/

Civic Wallet Offers Users $1 Million Insurance Policy on Stored Crypto

civic-wallet-offers-users-1-million-insurance-policy-on-stored-crypto

Multi-signature, non-custodial wallet Civic is providing clients a $1 million guarantee to cover stored crypto-assets. 

Civic, a leading provider for decentralized identities in the crypto space, has become the first company to offer a non-custodial wallet with significant asset coverage. According to the policy, Civic has partnered with Coincover to offer users Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-like coverage of up to $1 million for assets stored in their multi-signature wallet.

Vinny Lingham, Civic co-founder and CEO, compared the wallet’s insurance policy to that of a bank. 

He told Cointelegraph,

This is the first time that both technical and non-technical users can feel safe about their holdings. Until now, people had to keep their coins in the cold storage, but now they don’t have to worry about it as their holdings are insured up to $1,000,000 just like a bank account with the FDIC.

Lingham said a main benefit of the insurance policy would be client protection in the event that Civic goes under. 

Coincover CEO David Janczewski explained that his company is not an insurance company, and instead works with Lloyd’s of London underwriters to provide the policy. He called Coincover a “protection and security company for cryptocurrency,” rather than a direct insurance provider. 

The multi-signature wallet currently employs a three key system, distributed among the client, custodian BitGo and Civic, with the latter intending to transition its private keys to Coincover. 

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com

Unofficial Iranian Telegram Applications Leak Data of 42M Users

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Nic Carter: ‘If You’re Not Radicalized, You’re Not Paying Attention’

Castle Island Ventures and Coin Metrics co-founder Nic Carter joins @NLW to discuss cascading crises, crypto dollarization and the state of the bitcoin narrative.

For more episodes and free early access before our regular 3 p.m. Eastern time releases, subscribe with Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocketcasts, Google Podcasts, Castbox, Stitcher, RadioPublica, IHeartRadio or RSS.

In this wide-ranging discussion, Castle Island Ventures founding partner and Coin Metrics co-founder Nic Carter joins @NLW to discuss:

For more episodes and free early access before our regular 3 p.m. Eastern time releases, subscribe with Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocketcasts, Google Podcasts, Castbox, Stitcher, RadioPublica, IHeartRadio or RSS.

Disclosure Read More

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.

Crypto-Powered Internet Helps Work From Home During Coronavirus

Once the coronavirus hit, registered nurse Shannon Garcia suddenly needed to work from home, like thousands of others in the U.S. Not only would her isolation make space in a crowded hospital, she’d keep herself safe. Having cardiac arrhythmia and lung damage, she’s more vulnerable to the global virus taking a toll on her health.

But she faced a serious problem: a lack of internet access. Internet service providers (ISPs) don’t deliver internet in Clatskanie, Oregon, where she and her family lives on a farm surrounded by cattle ranchers. She couldn’t contact her pregnant patients over video chat to check up on them. 

Perplexed about what to do, she stumbled upon a rather atypical organization, Althea Network, running near her local community. She “stalked” them, she said, until they came to her area.

By looking to this small cryptocurrency company, she was able to get the internet when big internet companies couldn’t help her.

This lack of home internet is common. More than a third (37 percent) of rural Americans don’t have broadband internet at home, according to Pew Research. Brookings Institution argues this is partly because ISPs are less likely to provide infrastructure in rural areas. Even if broadband is available, it tends to be slower. 

The coronavirus exacerbates the problem as millions of workers and students suddenly need to work or learn from home, or run the risk of spreading the coronavirus further. With no other options, these people might lose their jobs, an added strain to an already struggling economy.

20190503_153919
Image, taken in Oregon, via Althea

To keep people connected so they can keep their jobs and even access telemedicine, Ethereum project Althea is powering internet connections in a novel way. It uses cryptocurrency as a payment method for internet connections brought about by community-powered mesh networks. The network devices accept payment in ether or DAI, with the company considering adding other cryptocurrencies in the future. 

“Many people don’t have proper internet infrastructure and we can rise to fill that need,” Althea co-founder Deborah Simpier told CoinDesk, saying that the coronavirus crisis fills her with a greater sense of “urgency” than ever before.

Right now, it is building a broadband network in Washington, already with some success in delivering internet to people like Garcia who need it during this uncertain time.

Digital divide

Even before this crisis, access to the internet was a problem for many across the world, in what’s become known as the “digital divide.” And if it seems like the internet is ubiquitous in the U.S., costs and accessibility have long been problems for a significant portion of the U.S. population.

The coronavirus has made matters worse, leading to rapid and often unsettling changes and making people even more dependent on the internet. 

Now schools are closing to try to contain the coronavirus, impacting 55.1 million students. Many of these kids are expected to turn to learning online. But three million U.S. students don’t have their own access to the internet. 

I am happy to be a relay because I can make money.

Simpier hopes Althea will be able to fill that need for some of these kids, so they’re working to grow their networks beyond Oregon. “Right now we are primarily working on expanding our networks,” Simpier said.

Up until December Althea has been putting a proof of concept together, and they’ve been mostly focused on Oregon, with networks splattered across the state. Now, with the pressing needs of the crisis, Simpier thinks there could be opportunity to build networks almost anywhere. 

“This crisis is going to get worse in the coming months, so it’s important to start now,” she said in a recent community call, calling on volunteers to build more networks.

They’re starting to spread, with networks of various sizes up and running in Tacoma, Washington; Denver, Colorado; and Abuja, Nigeria. And they’re planning to expand to Haiti, Ghana, North Carolina, and Philadelphia.

Worldwide potential

It’s not just the U.S. that’s benefiting from this technology amid the crisis.

Helmed by small business owner Yakubu Yakubu (who goes by “Yakk Yakk”), the network in Abuja (Nigeria’s capital city) delivers internet to more than 20 people who didn’t have home internet connections before Althea came around (though they did have slow mobile connections).

Fatima Abdulhamid, who uses the network in Abuja, has been using the internet connection to work from home amid the pandemic. “It’s huge that she can stay at home and continue to learn online. And not only that, but this is a source of income for her,” Simpier argued.

img-20191103-wa0000
Image, taken in Abuja, via Althea

Abdulhamid can earn money from this by contributing to the underlying infrastructure. Antennas that pass on the connection, called “relays,” are spread across different houses in the neighborhood. If someone is close enough to one of these relays, they can use it to connect up to the internet.

Abdulhamid runs one of these relays in her home, delivering internet to neighbors.

This is where cryptocurrency comes into the picture. Other members of the group connect up to Fatima’s relay node and pay her in DAI for her service.

“I am happy to be a relay because I can make money and I feel at home with the Althea network,” Abdulhamid said in a statement.

“As more relays are added south of her, her own business to be empowered to make additional income,” Simpier said. That’s one reason why Simpier thinks it’s so important for these networks to be built in emerging markets, it “empowers” people with an extra source of income, she said. 

Plug-and-play internet

Simpier argues that Althea network is more flexible than what most ISPs, such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable, provide.

She started the project in Oregon in her rural hometown of Clatskanie. She was partly inspired by how an ISP did install a radio tower, but abandoned the project when they decided it just wasn’t worth it.

The Althea mesh networks are “often” less expensive, and generally just less of a hassle, than setting up a full-blown radio tower, Simpier argued. “The economics of centrally held infrastructure require thousands of dollars of upfront costs and a long term [return on investment (ROI)]. With decentralization, many different people can contribute capex to building and growing the network and benefit from the revenue generated,” she said.

Simpier argued that this flexibility is suitable for this crisis, seeing as people need internet connections right now to work or learn. It isn’t exactly feasible to wait for expensive, giant radio towers to be built. 

Their goal right now is to figure out how to set up these networks in as little as two weeks to address the crisis. 

Simpier hopes the network will  grow on its own out of need, like a vine growing uncontrollably in several different directions. Anyone running one of the intermediary relay devices can make money and other people can add relays to broadcast the signal further..

Yakk Yakk in Abuja, for one, is trying to onboard as many people as possible. He’s just waiting for more antennas to be sent in so he can help to start another network in Lagos, Nigeria, about 434 miles away from Abuja.