When Facebook’s Libra Association was founded in October 2019 to govern its stablecoin Libra, the financial community, central banks, and crypto detractors fought back to denounce, attack and legally fight the arrival of such an event.
They were somewhat successful, albeit with the help of the Corona Virus, in delaying the inevitable. Libra is coming with a new face for subsidiary and blockchain division Calibra, now named Novi, along with also revealing details of the anticipated wallet product.
According to Coindesk, though the release date still remains unclear, the Novi wallet will operate as a standalone app, as well as provide interoperability with Facebook’s social messaging apps Messenger and WhatsApp, to make transactions as “easy as sending a message.”
Now, big tech companies are all scrambling for a little taste of crypto living with blockchain plans of their own, but what caught my attention was a little news nugget from the New York Times, so let’s start with that.
Picture worth a 1000 words
The New York Times last Friday released new details of its blockchain-focused research and development project.
In a blog post, product manager Pooja Reddy delved into the initiative, which it built using IBM’s Blockchain Platform.
Reddy noted: “A prong of The News Provenance Project was to conduct research around how readers make judgments about the photos they see online. To help with that research, we built a prototype that leveraged blockchain to surface a news photo’s contextual information on a simulated social media feed. We wanted to see whether visible contextual information, such as the photographer’s name and the location depicted in the photo, could help readers better discern the credibility of news photos in their social feeds.”
The Times aims to record everything that happens to a photo, from capture to publication, where the Blockchain has the ability to preserve the full history of a photo separately from the image file itself.
Microsoft looks for an identity
Microsoft’s decentralized identity tool, called ION, is moving to the Bitcoin mainnet for a public beta test, according to an announcement from Microsoft reported by the Block.
Decentralized identity tools enable greater ownership over one’s digital identity credentials by creating unique identifiers that are cryptographically verifiable. Users can secure their own information and verify the identities of others using public key infrastructure, limiting the reliance on big tech companies like Facebook and Google.
Microsoft first announced that it would run ION on the Bitcoin network last year.
Microsoft listed bitcoin startup Casa in addition to BitPay, Gemini and others among “the next wave of collaborators” who will run nodes and provide feedback during the beta period.
Libra makes money
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked during an annual shareholder call how Libra could help it financially.
In response, Zuckerberg spoke about the impact on e-commerce activity and its subsequent effect on advertising revenue. Zuckerberg said that Libra could essentially make advertising more effective for businesses on its platform, and in turn, boost revenue for Facebook.
As Zuckerberg explained, Facebook doesn’t charge a set price for ads; rather, businesses submit their advertisements through an auction system, bidding based on the results they’re trying to obtain.
The Libra Association announced a broad reimagining of its core model, which will feature a series of tokens backed by different government-issued currencies.
The Libra Association has also added several new members recently, including Singapore investment giant Temasek.
Google and Theta
Late last May, 2020, Theta Labs, a venture-backed blockchain company, struck up a new partnership with Google Cloud, which will offer a new service allowing users to deploy and run nodes of Theta’s blockchain network.
Forbes said Google Cloud itself will operate a validator for Theta’s network — servicing all of Europe.
“This is one of our first validators, but we have many crypto customers,” says Allen Day, Developer Advocate for Google. “We had already made Bitcoin, Ethereum and six other cryptocurrencies’ data available through our public dataset program. This is the next step.”
Amazon DLT product authenticity
According to Coindesk, Amazon has patented a distributed ledger-based (DLT) system for proving the authenticity of consumer goods. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes using DLT to infuse “digital trust from the first mile of an item’s supply chain” to the last.
Amazon’s system compiles data from distributors, manufacturers and shippers on an “open framework” that builds a product provenance across information silos. This data could be neatly packaged for the consumer, as shown in the patent drawings.