A new age of bitcoin is about to begin, as users around the world will no longer need internet access to spend the cryptocurrency on everyday transactions. So, who needs Verizon now?
The startup Blockstream, which raised $101 million from Khosla Ventures and others, is now streaming the entire bitcoin blockchain from five satellites strategically positioned in orbit around planet Earth to reach all major landmasses, except for Greenland and Antarctica.
A entire new application programming interface (API) lets users send encrypted messages to each other from some of the remotest regions on earth and pay for those messages in bitcoin using the Lightning Network, which is designed to open up bitcoin to the higher transaction volumes associated with wider retail adoption.
As Bitcoin, now valued at $59 billion, prepares to kick of its 10th year with struggling prices and an uncertain future, the cryptocurrency, dubbed “magic internet money,” has broken free from the internet, and perhaps more importantly, from internet service providers.
“Bitcoin has always been about uncensorable money,” said Blockstream chief strategy officer Samson Mow, who previously worked as the chief operating officer of cryptocurrency giant BTCC. “And now we have uncensorable communications as well.”
The newly integrated Lightning Network enables per-kilobyte micro-transactions, and “onion-routing” technology, similar to that of the Tor browser, allowing users to send messages wherein the sender, receiver, and content all are protected from third-party observation.
Back expects the new satellite and API will lead to increased development of smartphone and feature phone applications that link together Blockstream’s GreenAddress bitcoin wallet.
Because the entire bitcoin blockchain will be broadcast, even miners will be able to use the satellite connection to help generate new blocks and receive bitcoin payments.
There are people who are interested in connecting the blockchain and internet together, to receive bitcoin data via satellite and then relay it through mesh networks in a rural area or a village where internet is relatively expensive.
It provides a lower cost way to get connected to the bitcoin network and participate in the bitcoin economy.
While enterprise adoption of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has increasingly taken place in the form of large hedge funds, others like Blockstream have continued to build out a global payment infrastructure, largely focused on serving the unbanked in developing, or frontier, economies.
In April 2018, AirTM partnered with the Zerocoin Electric Coin Company, the maker privacy-protecting zcash, to make it safer for those in oppressive countries like Venezuela to anonymously use cryptocurrency.
Globally, 1.7 billion people do not have access to sufficient banking, according to a World Bank estimate from April 2018.
Forbes / ABC Flash Point News 2018.