By Corey Moss

Well, it’s CES time and that can only mean one thing – the latest and greatest TVs, smart home devices, car tech, drones, oddball gadgets — and cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency you ask?

Unless you have been hiding under that proverbial rock, you are at least familiar with the word bitcoin, even if you don’t know exactly what it is. Bitcoin, a form of cryptocurrency (created in 2009), is the first in a system of decentralized digital currency. The system works without a central bank or single administrator – transactions take place via peer-to-peer network between users directly, without any intermediary. The transactions are verified by network nodes through the use of cryptography, and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain.

Bitcoin.jpeg

The only way to describe bitcoin at this point is hoopla – as is with most of what’s seen and discussed at CES – and hysteria. If you consider what are to be the most talked about things in the world in 2018 (where it all begins at CES) as far as what will have the greatest impact – tech and otherwise – they’re likely the continuing cloud, AI, VR, AR, IoT conversations — and cryptocurrency, along with blockchain.

KashMiner.png

And, to take the cryptocurrency conversation to the next level, Eastman Kodak revealed plans at CES to mine its own form of bitcoin (with KashMiner), with the concept being a public ledger (its own blockchain platform called KodakOne) for managing image rights to ensure that photographers get paid for their work. The company’s shares soared nearly 120% after the announcement.

And then of course you get the warning – and the…

I guess I’d have to wonder if this was serious tech, one of those oddball objects, or a risky investment. Or just dumb.

Financial experts dedicated to the market have agreed that 2017’s massive bitcoin gains were masked by some wild swings along the way. Referenced in Financial Times 2017: Bitcoin for investors — what the experts think, a new-found bitcoin enthusiast, after watching the bitcoin price begin to nosedive just a day after it broke through a $10,000 milestone, his quote was “I was just refreshing my laptop again and again. It wasn’t pleasant. It was panic.” Though he also says “I’m living and breathing this.” Its also noted that John McAfee, the cyber security expert, has predicted the price of bitcoin will reach $1M by the end of 2020. At the opposite end of the bitcoin spectrum, others “in the know” say it will just plunge.

Hoopla, hysteria.

CNBC Mad Money’s Jim Cramer has been very vocal about cryptocurrency, with much heightened awareness. In a (UK) Express article Bitcoin THREAT: Financial legend says cryptocurrency is here to STAY but there’s a CATCH, it states how bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like XRP (ripple) and ethereum are not “going away any time soon” according to Jim Cramer, but that he also does not think they are a good investment yet. His comparison as a serious defacto currency is to gold, and Cramer alludes to how the speculative nature of the markets makes it difficult to pin down an accurate value for any cryptocurrency.

In fact, case in point – on January 10th Ethereum hit a record high — while Bitcoin and Ripple’s XRP continue to slide. In essence, still a good amount of risk as Cramer is indicating.

Market capitalization (known as market cap) of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are listed here from largest market cap to smallest. Cryptocurrencies are also known as coins or virtual currency. Note of course that bitcoin is on top, with ethereum second and ripple third. Litecoin is another cryptocurrency mentioned often. You can search by coins and tokens – take notice of the 24 hr change.

These were December’s 6 Top Bitcoin Predictions for 2018  from The Street, which began ‘What a year it’s been for Bitcoin’ – evidence that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will continue to be top of mind through 2018.

Could there eventually be some kind of straight bet here?

Again, follow the Market Cap.

Bitcoin ATM machine

Bitcoin ATM machine – the machines make it easy for casual users to turn cash into bitcoin

For those in the AV industry that have been following the Bitcoin conversation, it’s imperative to survey the whole landscape. Yes, there are certain industry companies that are apparently accepting or considering accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment (like Microsoft who accepts Bitcoin payments, Uber accepts Litecoin), however a targeted view is necessary here in terms of following the market, and the experts if you are involved. Cryptocurrency, along with being a certain form of currency (though questioned in terms of its exact worth as such by experts like Cramer), is also considered to be a highly speculative investment, and thus is a risk.

Blockchain technology is transforming industries, including financial, energy and advertising. One instance – for small businesses, targeting is especially crucial. Ads must be attuned to the audience on several levels by demographic, geographic location, channels used and more. The goal is not just to get foot traffic into their store, but for it to be the right kind of traffic. Location-based advertising is a pertinent application for the technology as it can be customized to incentivize, along with better aligning the interests of those being targeted and those doing the targeting, forming a mutually beneficial connection between them.

The cloud conversation took center stage at CES 2018 as Schenzhen’s Onething Technologies presented its Onething Cloud (launched in August 2017), the first product that leverages user’s idle computing resources and organizes them into a massive cloud computing infrastructure, and blockchain technology with new international strategic planning.  With this innovative cloud breakthrough, Onething has access to solve the problem of insufficient computing resources through the sharing economy. Onething Cloud, designed for individuals with high quality digital needs, providing quick downloads, storage, file management and other functions with remote control, won Most Popular Product at CES 2018.

Just what is blockchain technology’s potential to transform markets and industries? More to come on that.

Cryptocurrency – straight bet? Hoopla? Hysteria? Either way, we’ll keep you covered on this.

Note: Blockchain header: CCO Creative Commons, Bitcoin image: Wikimedia Commons, Bitcoin ATM: Wikimedia Commons

Me at Barco

With over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, The Collaboration Factor and Convergent Tech Talk. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers. Find him talking about a whole lot of things, tech and otherwise.