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The Almighty Buck Bitcoin IBM Linux

IBM and Linux Foundation To Create Blockchain For Major Financial Institutions (thestack.com) 99

An anonymous reader writes: Following initial news of the project in March, IBM, under the supervision of the Linux Foundation and in partnership with several major tech interests including Fujitsu, has announced today that it will lead development of a new blockchain — a financial transaction ledger fashioned after the Bitcoin model. Provisionally called Open Ledger, the new initiative is aimed specifically at financial transactions, and though it will be open source in terms of development, but 'semi-private' in operation. Those with an interest in the project are said to include JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and the Bank of England. IBM VP Jerry Cuomo, who has discussed the project with Fortune and Wired, commented "The current blockchain is a great design pattern...Now, how do we make that real for business? What are the key attributes needed to make that happen? That's what this organization is about."
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IBM and Linux Foundation To Create Blockchain For Major Financial Institutions

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  • by TechFurryFox ( 4327457 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @12:45PM (#51137729)
    Bitcoin is already real for business. This blockchain project will fail, people don't want banks in control of money, which is one of the reasons bitcoin was created in the first place.
    • by JcMorin ( 930466 )
      Exact, they like it, they agree it's good, but they want their own so they can control it. But only problem: it's great because nobody control it. My guess is a millions will go down the drain before they switch to a 621+ peta hash/sec secure blockchain known as Bitcoin.
      • Exact, they like it, they agree it's good, but they want their own so they can control it. But only problem: it's great because nobody control it.

        They want their own because they are recording transactions other than cash or Bitcoin transactions, like stock or business transactions.

        • Yep, this appears to be for their private usage, not for users in the wild.
          • Exactly, banks are staring at the blockchain for international transactions. The blockchain will enable them to transfer funds at a fraction of the cost today. The worldwide infrastructure needed for international funds transfer is costing billion of dollars per year. The blockchain will enable them to save almost all this money for international transfers between financial institutions.
            • Note, of course, that Bitcoin itself makes it possible and easy to transfer money internationally avoiding banks altogether. So they really have to lower their transaction costs if they want to keep that business.

        • The Bitcoin blockchain can already do this - it supports sending verified messages from one party to another.
          It's not well-suited to high volume high frequency transactions, however, because (currently) every true node needs a full copy of the block chain, and because Bitcoin mining is intentionally throttled. Getting transactions in quick means paying a fee (and you can bet the powers that be would die of shock if you told them they were expected to PAY a fee rather than collect one).

          • The Bitcoin blockchain can already do this - it supports sending verified messages from one party to another.
            It's not well-suited to high volume high frequency transactions, however,

            And there you have the two reasons put together why IBM and the Linux foundation are starting with Bitcoin and modifying it to suit the needs of major financial institutions.

            Getting transactions in quick means paying a fee (and you can bet the powers that be would die of shock if you told them they were expected to PAY a fee rat

    • And also the current system works because of the people mining are keeping the blockchain alive.

      So if it's semi-private, it probably means regular people won't be able to mine, which means that corrupted banks will try to take over this new blockchain and all of our fiat money will be at risk.

      Time to close down your bank accounts or at least never keep any money in them.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:38PM (#51138103)

        So if it's semi-private, it probably means regular people won't be able to mine, which means that corrupted banks will try to take over

        No, that is not what this is about. This is not a takeover of bitcoin by the banks. This is about using a separate semi-private blockchain to verify non-bitcoin transactions. Currently, financial transactions, such as stock or bond sales, can take several days to clear, and involve significant transaction costs. By using a blockchain, these transactions could be verified in seconds, and at lower cost.

        • That's not what I said at all. You cut off the quote right before I wrote "take over this new blockchain".

          I was saying that one crooked bank or a joint group of banks could try and take over this new bank-only blockchain.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I think what you are saying here is that since it is private there are fewer players, so it is easier for a single player to gain more then 50% of the processing power and doing whatever the fuck they want. This could be solved with technical measures however, precisely because it is a private system. For example each miner may need to be authenticated by all other miners in order to join, there could then be "stay within these limits or you lose access" type requirements. Yes banks are out to screw us over

        • So if it's semi-private, it probably means regular people won't be able to mine, which means that corrupted banks will try to take over

          No, that is not what this is about. This is not a takeover of bitcoin by the banks. This is about using a separate semi-private blockchain to verify non-bitcoin transactions. Currently, financial transactions, such as stock or bond sales, can take several days to clear, and involve significant transaction costs. By using a blockchain, these transactions could be verified in seconds, and at lower cost.

          Financial transactions don't take several days to clear because they're hard to verify. They take several days to clear because (1) it slows down day trading, especially by people without large capital reserves, and (2) for some transactions, because it lets banks hold onto your money and make interest off them in the meantime. Put another way, they're slow because somebody prefers it that way.

      • So if it's semi-private, it probably means regular people won't be able to mine

        There is nothing to "mine". They want to record transactions for other entities, entities that are not created by mining in the first place. You're not going to create a share in a corporation by mining. That's also why they need to put in some development work and can't just clone Bitcoin.

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:00PM (#51137841)

      > Bitcoin is already real for business.

      Bitcoin is real for SOME businesses who operate online. It's not feasible for anyone else, and it is most DEFINITELY not feasible for everyone.

      There's just so MANY reasons why bitcoin has issues. I'll list a few, and maybe someone can pop in with more.

      1- Bitcoin transactions can take hours to complete, and in no cases do they complete fast. The global transactions per second possible is really low (like less than 20), compared to thousands for credit cards / etc. In *practice* the total transactions per second possible now is less than five.
      2- To speed up the transactions to even the theoretical max would require a bunch of random people to agree on standards, but with a low limit they find that people will "bribe" the system by enclosing a transaction fee into their transaction. This moves the transaction higher in the priority (because the processors stand to get some payment). That's not inherently awful, but it means that any time someone wants to speed stuff up for everyone, the people doing the processing stand to lose money- so, of course, they don't want this to happen.
      3- Everyone who touches this stuff seems to turn into some kind of thief. It's like dark magic. Feds bust DPR, one of them steals his shit. Mt Gox takes off with everyone's cash, or a hacker does, or who knows, the point is it is gone. It's all gone, every time. Put bitcoins in this jar, I have a plan. Oops, the plan was to take the jar.
      4- The people sound absolutely insane. I'm a libertarian, and they sound insane to me- imagine how all this screed sounds to someone who isn't even of that persuasion.
      5- A ton of bitcoin are locked up by the person or people who premined it, who may or may not be the businessman who got investigated, or who knows. The whole thing is shrouded in ludicrous amounts of secrecy.

      Bitcoin has a niche for now, but this is very volatile and backed by nothing except scarcity. It exists solely because there's no good way to transfer money anonymously without meeting in person- literally any government in the world could tank the price by offering a way to transfer their currency anonymously.

      So it's a currency that takes a premium above the market share to buy, takes a premium to trade with, takes minutes at BEST to confirm a transaction, usually involves a transaction hit on the sell, and involves a fee to pay to the miners on any transaction- and everyone involved at the high level is both fully invested and fully delusional. Oh, and the price is ludicrously volatile. And everyone who you trust immediately turns into bats and flies away.

      • by JcMorin ( 930466 )
        1. 1 - Bitcoin settlement can take hours, Credit card can takes months... you see the notification instantaneously, there is services that can tell you in a few second how safe it is (double spend & fees validation). If you are buying anything
        2. 3 - Just like cash, if you give cash to someone and he run away, it's gone. If you burn it, it's gone. Bitcoin is not created for your Grama, but can work for banks,business and surely international transfer that takes days and cost a lots.
        3. 4 - You talk about se
        • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:53PM (#51138233)

          I'm pretty sure you are serious, so I'll respond.

          1- Why are you changing the game to "settlement"? No one cares how long it takes to write a check to clear your credit card balance. Does debit card "settlement" take months? The point is that cash, check, and plastic all take less time than bitcoin to do a goddamned thing with, and all of them have recourse in event of fraud.
          "3"- Comparing it to cash is silly. Yes, it can be stolen, like cash. But you don't have to keep all your dollars in cash, whereas you DO have to keep all your bitcoin in bitcoin. Cash is anonymous, instant, can be guarded or hidden trivially, doesn't require electricity to work, doesn't require a functioning internet to work, and doesn't require a huge server farm in China to work- and can be stolen. Bitcoin is sorta anonymous, maybe, and the rest isn't true, except the stealing part.
          "4"- I don't need to mount some amazing defense of our money supply in order to point out the numerous problems in bitcoin. Bitcoin seems a very early and problem prone solution to a problem that few people have a lot of, and many people have a little of. Whatever the problems are with fiat currency, they are trivial compared to the strange and destructive environment that is bitcoin.

          Also, "Bitcoin is not created for your Grama"... a currency that requires you to be some crypto anarchist cyberpunk guy in order to function at all (before the smarter crypto anarchist cyberpunk guy steals all your shit) is an idea too insane for most novels.

          • No one cares how long it takes to write a check to clear your credit card balance. Does debit card "settlement" take months?

            Many people care, because someone pays interest on that money.

            "3"- Comparing it to cash is silly. Yes, it can be stolen, like cash. But you don't have to keep all your dollars in cash, whereas you DO have to keep all your bitcoin in bitcoin. Cash is anonymous, instant, can be guarded or hidden trivially, doesn't require electricity to work, doesn't require a functioning internet to wor

            • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

              > You can't easily move large amounts of cash around, though.

              The ability to move large amounts of bitcoins around is a cross of feature and bug. The comparison I was responding to was "oh, of course people run off with the bitcoins all the time, it's just like cash". That's a silly comparison. In the minds of its defenders, bitcoin is "like cash" when defending its ability to be stolen, "like checks" when defending its really long transaction times, "like fiat currency [as envisioned by someone with n

              • Bitcoin can be easier to use than dealing with a bank Really can it? I mean, if Alice wants to pay Bob 2 Bitcoin:

                Actually, a much more common and simpler problem is: Alice wants to transfer $50000 to herself from the US to France. Right now, there are steep charges, banks screw you on the exchange rate, and on top of all that, they usually collect interest for a few days.

            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              Yay... I am all set up and in Florida.

              Anyhow, I'm tired. But it is not hard to pay for a car with cash. The car that I drove here was nearly 120k and I paid for it with cash. I signed a document saying that I was taking the money out and bought the car. That was it. The credit union even gives me a suitcase to keep it in and I return it when I get around to it.

          • 1- Why are you changing the game to "settlement"? No one cares how long it takes to write a check to clear your credit card balance.

            You made this about settlement when you complained that bitcoin was slow because it takes 30 minutes or so to get the transaction recorded and confirmed on the blockchain. That's settlement: once on the blockchain the transaction is irreversible. If you don't care about settlement then broadcasting a transaction with Bitcoin such that it can be seen and validated by the recipient takes mere seconds, which is at least as fast as any other payment system in general use.

            With a lot of work and some luck it's po

      • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:44PM (#51138153) Journal
        "1- Bitcoin transactions can take hours to complete, and in no cases do they complete fast"

        Several years ago sure. Typically minutes with todays hashing rate.

        "3- Everyone who touches this stuff seems to turn into some kind of thief. It's like dark magic. Feds bust DPR, one of them steals his shit. Mt Gox takes off with everyone's cash, or a hacker does, or who knows, the point is it is gone. It's all gone, every time. Put bitcoins in this jar, I have a plan. Oops, the plan was to take the jar."

        In almost every case someone is basically trying to take the form of a bank. In the fiat system all the money is given to the banks (literally, it's created digitally on demand at lower interest than treasury bills, which can then be deposited in the bank allowing the bank to borrow 20x their value, buy tbills with it, deposit, rinse and repeat). You don't need a bank. No deposits, no having your deposits being ripped off. The problem is the transition period. I've got no fix for that one.

        "5- A ton of bitcoin are locked up by the person or people who premined it, who may or may not be the businessman who got investigated, or who knows. The whole thing is shrouded in ludicrous amounts of secrecy."

        This is the one I hate hearing the most. At it's peak it was like $200 million bucks worth. So what? Look what zuckerberg got for making facebook. He also is still sitting on most of it (okay he's about to give most of it to charity but pick another, bill gates, steve jobs, etc most of them still have the majority of their stock counting on their business growing and the value going up). Why shouldn't the creator of the system and the early adopters (early investors) make more. Bitcoin operates in a circular fashion as a unit of value in proper exchange for goods and services. It is not a ponzi or pyramid. This is a hell of a lot more reasonable than the current fiat system which mathematically depends on generating inflation and then automatically gives all the new inflation to people in the top 0.001%.

        "and backed by nothing except scarcity"

        Wrong. Scarcity is not bitcoins value. Bitcoins value is that it is currently the only commodity which is impossible to counterfeit. There is not a single .00000000001 BTC worth of fake bitcoin, anywhere, ever. No government can say that about their currency. If they can make it, and do so cheaply enough to make it viable, someone else can produce it as well. Combine that with scarcity and you have not only the perfect value holding unit but something governments can use to exchange with each other. No longer would the US have to trust that China would under value their currency to gain a trade advantage. No longer could new zealand produce almost nothing of value with a tiny population but live like a thriving highly productive western nation. Bitcoin COULD be made inflationary (although once a currency can divide to arbitrary decimal places it mathematically functions the same as an inflationary currency, you just end up trading smaller bits rather than larger quantities and no longer need to figure out who to give the money to). But the system to determine more units were needed in circulation would need to also be a distributed peer system that works automatically based on math. The average transaction size goes below x, add to the blockchain and if 60% of clients agree the extended blockchain is valid the extension is valid.

        "takes a premium to trade with"

        This is true of all digitial currencies. Even with regular fiat currencies, cash transactions have a premium because they have a minimum unit size and fractions get shaved.

        "Oh, and the price is ludicrously volatile."

        True but that is primarily a problem of scale. If the bitcoin market were the size of a major nations economy it would be just as stable if not more so.
        • 1- Bitcoin transactions can take hours to complete, and in no cases do they complete fast

          Several years ago sure. Typically minutes with todays hashing rate.

          Hashing rate has zero effect on how quickly transactions are confirmed in the blockchain. The network adjusts the difficulty to counter increases in hash rate such that one block is completed, on average, every ten minutes. This is an important part of maintaining coherency: blocks need to be propagated to (almost) every node across the network in significantly less time than the inter-block interval. If blocks occur too quickly then you get lots of forks and have to wait for more confirmations before you c

        • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

          > Several years ago sure. Typically minutes with todays hashing rate.

          Like, this is just ludicrous. You can just browse the net and see people complaining about it RIGHT NOW. Just getting one confirmation can take half an hour trivially, and you need multiple normally.

          > In almost every case someone is basically trying to take the form of a bank.

          Which broadly seems necessary unless everyone is expected to hold the entire ledger of all transactions from the history of time. There's workarounds, but th

          • "Like, this is just ludicrous. You can just browse the net and see people complaining about it RIGHT NOW. Just getting one confirmation can take half an hour trivially, and you need multiple normally."

            You need zero normally. You can see the transaction broadcast in the blockchain almost instantly and you at that point have a much higher confidence level than you do with a check or credit card payment. They can't take it back. With one confirmation you have enough data to guarantee it isn't counterfeit and t
      • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:52PM (#51138227) Journal
        1- Bitcoin transactions can take hours to complete
        My bank's online billpay can take up to three days to complete. Sending a check out of state can take well over two weeks to arrive and fully clear.

        2- [...] people will "bribe" the system by enclosing a transaction fee into their transaction.
        I can enter a stock order at a host of retail brokerages for under $10; or, I can pay biiig bucks to have a sub-millisecond line right to the exchange.

        3- Everyone who touches this stuff seems to turn into some kind of thief.
        First of all, massive selection bias there. And second, welcome to every unregulated item of value ever created. Until some regulatory authority steps in to protect the weak and the stupid, some people just can't seem to throw their money at the criminals fast enough. "Here, stranger, hold this money for me while I look the other way for a few days".

        4- The people sound absolutely insane.
        I can send money to foreign friends without paying foreign exchange or wire transfer fees. Wow. Lock me in a padded room. I can pay for goods and services online semi-anonymously. Pass the antipsychotics. Again - Selection bias. You've chosen to only hear the crazies over the people just using it in mundane day-to-day transactions.

        5- The whole thing is shrouded in ludicrous amounts of secrecy.
        And the Federal Reserve won't open its books to outside auditors because?

        this is very volatile and backed by nothing except scarcity.
        "Scarcity" means it has more backing than every world government issued currency.

        It exists solely because there's no good way to transfer money anonymously without meeting in person- literally any government in the world could tank the price by offering a way to transfer their currency anonymously.
        And I agree, with the only substantially-true statement you've made. Except, no government will ever offer that as an option (without having a backdoor), making it not much of a threat.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:04PM (#51137873)

      This isn't electronic money, it's a ledger and transaction system. Not the same thing at all. Instead of a "cash" value, you could be trading a stock, a commodity, etc.

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:13PM (#51137939) Journal

      This isn't a cryptocurrency. It's a securely signed ledger for the transactions the banks are already doing. Many times each day, Wells Fargo sends money to Bank of America, BOA borrows from Chase, Chase pays back a loan from Barclays, Barclays pays Wells Fargo (completing the circle) , etc. There's a lot of paper work, computer processing, and transaction costs and delays in moving that money around the circle. A block chain might, in some cases, might be a more efficient or effective way to record some of those transactions rather than the current computer system.

      > people don't want banks in control of money

      The line at the bank, the people standing there waiting to hand their money to the bank, suggests otherwise. Regardless, this article is about the banks using a blockchain to record transactions among themselves . Surely the banks want the banks to be in control of their own monetary transactions.

       

      • I should clarify transactions between big banks is ONE example. The same toolset can be used for other blockchains, to keep track of whatever you want.

        Another example might be medical residencies. All of the hospitals want the top graduates. The top graduates won't accept a residency at a crappy hospital, and a top hospital like Mayo clinic won't accept a graduate with a low GPA. It gets complicated. Kind of like the NFL draft except with a lot more people, and graduates (theoretically) have more choice

  • Incentive? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aaden42 ( 198257 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @12:50PM (#51137773) Homepage

    Isn't the incentive for burning CPU for blockchain verification that you get to claim the transaction fees in BTC? And isn't a large element of its strength the fact that you need relatively crazy amounts of hardware plus consensus from multiple sources to build it, thus making forgery intractable?

    How do you incentivize enough CPU power & players into a "semi-private in operation" system? Why do established big players want to mess around with this when they're already getting pretty serious transactions fees doing it the old fashioned, closed everything way?

    • Re:Incentive? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:04PM (#51137875)

      How do you incentivize enough CPU power & players into a "semi-private in operation" system? Why do established big players want to mess around with this when they're already getting pretty serious transactions fees doing it the old fashioned, closed everything way?

      Securities clearing - the process of making sure that when you click the button to buy something, you get it, and the person who sold it to you no longer has it, without either of you having to care about each other's creditworthiness, nor even your respective brokers' respective creditworthinesses - is really, really, complicated. And slow (days, batch-processing taking place overnight.) And expensive. Its procedures date back almost a century, to the days when everything was done on physical share certificates with numbers on them and handwritten signatures.

      http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-07-14/banks-forgot-who-was-supposed-to-own-dell-shares [bloombergview.com]

      And it still sometimes breaks.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Sure, but the reason the block chain works for Bitcoin is that it has an omniscient view of all transactions ever and can prove whether or not you have "money" in your account. Unless every US dollar and all shares of the stock you're trading in is traded through this system, you'll always have clearance risk that whoever is claiming to sell you stock doesn't have it and the one claiming to buy your stock can't pay. Recording the promised transaction is really not that complicated, stock exchanges act as a

        • The risk is that the trade will never be completed as recorded.

          Not a big risk, because there would be stiff penalties, and eventually people would get kicked off the system. I mean, the same happened with paper stock certificates, which aren't usually moved around anymore either. In the end, you still get reliable faster clearing and recording of transactions with the new technology, at no increase in risk.

      • by epine ( 68316 )

        creditworthinesses

        Fucking brilliant, and yet so understated.

    • How do you incentivize enough CPU power & players into a "semi-private in operation" system?

      To get the CPU power, make each 'coin' so valuable that the CPU power is relatively trivial.
      To get the players, show them how to use it to get tax breaks and avoid transaction fees.

      • by Aaden42 ( 198257 )

        To the degree that banks actually pay tax (LOL...),should they find any technique to do ${taxable_thing} without incurring taxes, you can rest assured that oversight will be temporary at best. Laws will be amended to ensure revenue continues to flow to government.

        See also: Bitcoin appreciation is taxable as capital gains in many jurisdictions.

    • I suspect the idea is that this will be optimized for inter-bank transactions - it's not like cooking the books is unheard of, and this will make at least certain classes of exploits far more difficult. As for security - the security of the blockchain as a ledger is unchanged in principle - each block would still presumably contain the cryptographic hash ("fingerprint") of the previous one, so you can't realistically doctor things retroactively. Where CPU power is relevant to exploits in Bitcoin is in cre

      • At that point you have two factors protecting the chain from forking: the technical CPU power requirements, and the already present "good behavior" of the banks themselves, who don't want to get kicked out of the cartel for shenanigans. That could also reduce the CPU requirements a lot - the members of the cartel can simply decree that nobody seeks to acquire more than N% of the total processing power or they get kicked out.

        At that point you could actually eliminate the CPU requirements altogether. There is no need for "mining" when only trusted peers are allowed to contribute blocks—any peer can just append a block and broadcast it to the rest, with some simple arbitration protocol to resolve race conditions. You would still get the primary characteristics of a blockchain, a Merkle tree of ordered transactions protected by a chain of signatures stretching back to a genesis block.

        The whole point of "mining" in Bitcoin, b

    • Imagine changing the system to extend the block chain (with the transactions voted on by consensus the same as regular bitcoin transactions) and the extensions triggered automatically when the average transaction gets too small. Now each major national bank operating as large a mining operation as their nation can afford.

      You now have a global currency with no nation having to trust another to value it's currency, they instead build the biggest farms they can and increase the transaction processing power at
      • They day they quit using US dollars as the reserve currency for oil is the day the US economy goes into freefall.
        • It wouldn't be the worst thing ever for the US. Currently, the best chip fabs are intel and actually based in the US and initially that mining gear would need to be purchased with fiat currency.

          Because of this the mining power distribution would probably roughly parallel the current economic distribution. It would somewhat level the playing field. On paper asian powers like china would suddenly be a bigger deal but the reality is they just wouldn't be cheating anymore.

          Want to start a brokerage/bank/etc? Now
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Could there be purposes other than financial for blockchains? It seems it's a great signing/verification method.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's not that there aren't other uses beside virtual money. It's that the virtual money is a necessary part of the minimal viable blockchain that isn't centralized, because the proof-of-work secures the chain, so without an incentive to do the work, there is no proof of work and no security. You can use the Bitcoin blockchain for other things. The transactions are not hard coded as payments.

    • Sure - stock trades, event recording - basically anything where you want to create a permanent record of things that's insanely difficult to modify retroactively. I don't know about signing/verification though. I don't think that it actually offers any immediate benefit over a standard cryptographic signature - it's benefit would only in making a public record that X signed S as of time T. There are probably applications where that's useful, for example making sure that message S was actually signed by X

    • The blockchain sucks for signing. We already have public-key encryption. Same for analysis for verification.

      What it does do is provide a decentralized solution to resolved double-spending digital monies. So, mostly it seems limited to areas of ownership of bits.

  • It's not the blockchain. "Eternal logfiles" have been around for much longer than Bitcoin. The innovation is how the Bitcoin system agrees on the right blockchain without giving a central institution control over the blockchain.

    • Maybe that is exactly what they understand and they want every major national bank/brokerage/etc to be mining on one blockchain for exchange amongst one another while using an internal blockchain they control for accounts within their own system with their various server farm components voting on whether a transaction actually occurred to prevent "double spending" within their own large geographically distributed clusters.
  • The internet started to get popular, but Big Money didn't like the lack of control or some of the shadier practices that went on there.

    So America OnLine (among others) was created, and aggressively sold to consumers. And it provided "internet". Sort of. It was a very walled garden. But you did start seeing "AOL Keyword: MOVIE TITLE" and such in advertising and on TV. In the long term, how well did that work out?

    Yes, AOL still (technically) exists, but it is not the walled garden it used to be. It's n

    • So America OnLine (among others) was created, and aggressively sold to consumers. And it provided "internet". Sort of. It was a very walled garden. But you did start seeing "AOL Keyword: MOVIE TITLE" and such in advertising and on TV. In the long term, how well did that work out?

      While I don't disagree that corporate America does some shady things, America Online wasn't created for control of the internet. At the time, the Internet had few controls; it also had few directions. The world wide web was not what it is today. How would the average person get news without knowing to navigate newsgroups (by text commands)? How would someone use email (by text commands)? AoL was gated but it also presented the average consumer with a better UI to use the internet. Point and click controls

  • I'm sure IBM will find a way to use Sametime as base for this!
    • Sametime? You must have been laid off a couple of years ago. They use Connections for everything now. What IBM would really like to do is create some massive environment based on WebSphere that's so complex the service revenues will be insane and then run it out of Bangalore.
      • Yeap, I moved to a startup in 2011 (the best move I did in my life). Thanks for keep me updated with the new monster name! :)
  • the 21st century? Sure, they all try to provide feature rich modern interfaces for the customer (online banking, mobile apps...), but the back-end, the actual banking infrastructure, is still stuck back in the early 1980's. Why do electronic transactions take days to process? Why do they show you a posted balance and an available balance, and neither includes the tank of gas you just bought? Why does a simple check take days to process? Why do "wire transfers" still exist at all?

    The telegraph is ob

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