Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter No. 50

Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter No. 50

Five Minute Blockchain – No. 50


Estimated reading time: 6 min 23 seconds


“Everybody says, ‘We don’t want to talk with the banks, we don’t want to know what they’re doing, etc.’ But they’ve actually been around for 300 or 400 years. They have a lot of experience on how to do things actually, or how not to do things.”

Cointelegraph reporting from European Blockchain Convention in Barcelona


Top search results could lead to online scammers; FBI recommends ad blockers when using search

Cory Doctorow, a well-known journalist, author and activist, recently published a screenshot of a search via Twitter where the top search result for a restaurant led to a fake website designed to scam users. The actual restaurant was also showing up in the search but ranked lower.

This new approach by scams is hard to detect by Google. As one result, the FBI recommends using an ad blocker to shelter against such falsified and malicious links.

“…cyber criminals are using search engine advertisement services to impersonate brands and direct users to malicious sites that host ransomware and steal login credentials and other financial information.”

Cory Doctorow on Twitter

Malware Bytes Lab

AI-generated voice used to break into a bank account

Many banks offer the option to enter an account using a voice command. A reporter for VICE managed to trick a bank system using a free choice to cheat the system. Experts suggest that banks re-consider and switch to different methods of identity verification.


Signal warns it might stop services for the UK should “Online Safety Bil” undermine message encrypt.ion

The Online Safety Bill is currently passing through the UK parliament. Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, introduced it. The government and child protection have argued that encrypted messages make it difficult to fight child abuse.

The UK Home Office said in a statement: “It is important that technology companies make every effort to ensure that their platforms do not become a breeding ground for paedophiles. The Online Safety Bill does not represent a ban on end-to-end encryption but makes clear that technological changes should not be implemented in a way that diminishes public safety – especially the safety of children online”.

Meredith Whittaker, president of Signal, told the BBC it was “magical thinking” if government agencies in the UK want to provide privacy, but “only for the good guys. Encryption is either protecting everyone or it is broken for every. one.”

Apple had previously suggested a system where content where photos on phones or tablets could scan for child abuse but had abandoned the plans after much criticism.


Mozilla study: Developer privacy claims on Google Play can not be trusted

A study by Mozilla calls the labels used in the Google Play Store “a joke” and “useless”:

“The study looked at the privacy information that app developers are supposed to fill out in the Google’s Play Store and compared those details to the apps’ privacy policies. The privacy labels are supposed to give you information about an app’s data practices so you can make informed choices, but the study found the labels are close to useless. Just six apps of the 40 apps in the study got a passing grade.”



Using new AI platforms, the next generation of “deepfakes” could leada  to a whole new level of damage

The people in the videos look r, and they speak compellingly. But they are not real, and their words might be a believable lie. This is the scenario experts say could be the next level of “deepfakes”.

The combination of several AI platforms “…can also be used to more quickly and cheaply build an army of people who don’t exist, fake actors capable of fluently delivering messages in multiple languages. That makes them useful, says Gregory, for the “firehose” strategy of disinformation preferred by Russia, along with everything from “deceptive commercial personalization to the ‘lolz’ strategies of shitposting at scale.”

Fast Company

It is tempting to use generative AI for legal documents. What could go wrong?

Without the help of technology, lawyers spent hours over hours in legal research and the gradual writing of contracts and other legal documents. Now, generative AI has arrived. And it is quite tempting to use the technology to generate legal texts. On one side, experts consider legal documents to be a good use case for generative AI.

There is already a dedicated an AI platform for this use case called Harvey. Law experts created the company behind Harvey using ChatGPT and received $5 million in funding from OpenAI in November 2022 (TechCrunch). The platform describes itself as a “copilot for lawyers”.

Wired has a story with statements from several prominent law firms. Most are optimistic about the use cases for generative AI, for example, for standard documents or early-stage research. But at the same time, there are worries about current platforms making things up and tending to “hallucinate” about topics poorly defined in the learning material. The significant risk is that some law providers signed not to be more cautious and deploy AI to mass-produce certain legal documents – only to find out later that it was a big mistake. (Waitlist)


Wired ($)


European Union starts consultation on whether some companies should pay more for using internet traffic

The EU considers demanding a contribution from the largest tech companies. The money would then be deployed for upgrades for phone lines both at home and mobile. Currently, a document aims to collect opinions in a survey as public consultation. The EU internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, will discuss the plans at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress (MWC). The critical argument that big traffic generators should pay more has been part of lobbying by larger telecommunication companies for some years. Now the EU seems to agree with this view. Opponents are highly critical of such different pricing. They say that the move might open a box of pandora because telcos will be free to draw the line for heavy traffic and enable them to charge all kinds of companies.

EU Commission: Exploratory Consultation – The future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure

Thierry Breton on Twitter


NFT platform Dapper labs to loff off 20% of its staff

Dapper Labs laid off 134 people, or 22% of its staff, in November 2022. Now the company has announced a second round of layoffs. The reduction comes despite a strong financial position. Dapper Labs had received $600 million from venture capital. The company had an early success with NBA Top Shot, where fans could purchase short professional basketball clips.

The Block

YouTube rolls out multi-language audio tracks

“The multi-language audio feature lets creators add dubbing to new and existing videos, helping them expand their global reach and reach new audiences for their channels, according to YouTube.”



International Monetary Fund: Blockchain can speed up payments and settlements, but crypto still is a “disappointment.”

The IMF sees three areas of application: Tokenization, Encryption and programmability. But the advisers argue that private issuers of (crypto) money can not be trusted to protect investors and users.


Research: State of Blockchain Report 2022

Global venture funding provided $26.8B for blockchain companies in crypto finance, web3 and blockchain infrastructure. While prospects looked positive in early 2022, the entire industry came under macroeconomic pressures, specifically in the 4th quarter of the year. CB Insights has a free (after registration) market overview with 162 pages of charts and data to make sense of it all.

CB Insights


  • Why the 15-minute city is fueling a ludicrous conspiracy theory (Fast Company)
  • Pakistan’s three-day Wikipedia ban sends a “dangerous” message (Rest of World)
  • ConsenSys Acquires Easy-to-Use Blockchain Notification Tool ‘Hal’ to Strengthen Web3 Development (Coindesk)
  • Tencent to offer “metaverse-in-a-box” development services in Asian markets (
  • Google Cloud becomes a validator for Tezos blockchain (Ledger Insights)

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Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter No. 48

Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter No. 48

Five Minute Blockchain – Nr. 48


Estimated reading time:


“We are grounded in the fact that Google dominates this [search] space. A new race is starting with a completely new platform technology.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella – Interview with “Wall Street Journal” (free)

“If you’ve ever written a blog post or product review or commented on an article online, there’s a good chance this information was consumed by ChatGPT.”

The Conversation


How are Microsoft and Google approaching the inclusion of new AI Chatbots in search?

If you want a good overview of how Microsoft and Google approach the race to integrate AI in search: The linked video below compares the presentations from last week by both companies and has further analysis and excerpts from an interview with the Microsoft CEO.

ColdFusion TV: “Google embarrass themselves (AI war is heating up)

So far, Google, the market leader, seems to need more preparation and has not yet recovered from the surprise advance of Open AI and Microsoft’s swift implementation of ChatGPT.

In a promotional video published by Google, users spotted an inaccurate answer. This and a public event which failed to “dazzle” (Reuters) led to a slide of Google stock of 9 % this week; the company lost an equivalent of $100 billion in book value.

Coldfusion TV


Hope for the next-gen internet, with new risks and dangers

How AI is integrated into search and other online services is a big question for the coming years. Precisely, what concepts will be followed?

The outcome could be positive: Better search results and better information. Many knowledge jobs could become more productive because the struggle of searching for information could go away. The internet could become a productivity machine, helping us find answers to complex problems.
But there are considerable risks, too. It starts at the foundation: Which material was used for training the new generation of AI platforms? Which pictures, words, insights, concepts, codes and numbers? Who owned those before? How are these info bits used now in AI?

From “The Conversation”:

“ChatGPT is underpinned by a large language model that requires massive amounts of data to function and improve. The more data the model is trained on, the better it gets at detecting patterns, anticipating what will come next and generating plausible text.

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, fed the tool some 300 billion words systematically scraped from the internet: books, articles, websites and posts – including personal information obtained without consent.

If you’ve ever written a blog post or product review, or commented on an article online, there’s a good chance this information was consumed by ChatGPT.”

The Conversation


AI applied to Deep Fakes makes detection much harder

The New York Times has a story about artificial presenters used in videos, which are hard to distinguish from natural persons. According to The Times, an AI software named Synthesia has already been used for Chinese propaganda. The AI-supported software is meant to be used for sales videos. Expect the quality to improve in the coming years.

New York Times (free article)

Quality journalism can be good business

The New York Times published financial results for the 4th quarter of 2022 and some figures for the past year. In short: While traditional advertising is declining, The Times is one news organisation that no longer depends on this type of income. The number of subscribers has grown to 9.3 million, a more significant number than the print circulation even at the height of print publishing.

The New York Times (Free to read)

In addition to hardware sales, Apple’s service business is gigantic

Its service revenue of Apple has reached $78.1B for 2022. That is double the revenue of Netflix ($31.6B) and above the combined revenues of McDonalds and Nike ($72.3B).


Macro raises $9.3m for intelligence on top of digital documents

Could standard documents like PDFs become more usable? A company called Macro just got funding for their ideas to do just that.

“Jacob Beckerman, a former investment logic engineer at Bridgewater Associates, grew frustrated using standard document apps like Acrobat and Microsoft Office to print out and mark up documents. He wondered why there wasn’t a way to read and write on a PC that felt as fluid as paper, which led him to experiment with PDF processing software.

By 2020, those experiments had grown into a fully fledged, custom PDF editor that Beckerman helped to build from scratch. Using AI, the editor — called Macro — pulls out key terms, sections and equations to make documents interactive and hyperlinked.”



Bank of England published papers on the digital pound

The Bank of England has published two papers discussing a digital pound’s benefits and potential set-up. The current approach favours a central database and does not use smart contracts or blockchain.

In a separate technical paper, blockchain technologies were described that “might have advantages in guaranteeing consistency and resilience”, combined with “privacy, scalability and security challenges. Centrally governed, distributed database technologies might achieve the ledger requirements without limitations. Therefore, these technologies might be appropriate for the core ledger design.”


The Bank of England: Consultation for Digital Pound

The Bank of England: The digital pound. Technology Working Paper

Blockchain Regulation Round-up

  • Blockchain privacy at risk in the EU
  • Argentina considers “proof of solvency” as a requirement (
  • Central Bank of Brazil tests security and transaction privacy levels of Digital Real (
  • Coinbase CEO hearing rumours that staking could be banned in the US (Coinmarketcap)
  • What public companies are saying about crypto and blockchain on earnings calls (Blockdata)


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Photo by Ales Nesetril via Unsplash

Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter No. 43

Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter No. 43

Foto von Techivation on Unsplash
Trends and Scenarios for Blockchain, Fintech and Crypto – 2021

Trends and Scenarios for Blockchain, Fintech and Crypto – 2021



Background: For years now Futurist Amy Webb and her team at the Future Today Institute in New York City publish insightful trend reports. The researchers dig through mountains of material, the goal is to find out how new developments will affect business and society. By now the yearly Tech Trends report has become a highly important source for many organisations around the world. The findings help to develop individual strategies and start to innovate.

  • How is the report organised? The entire Tech Trend report delves into more than 500 trends. For the 2021 edition, this 14th annual Tech Trend report is split up into 12 smaller reports, based on topics. One of those covers blockchain, which is what we care about here.

Key elements of the 2021 Tech Trends Report

Overview of 2021 Tech Trends Report

Six indicators for each trend

To make the importance of each trend clearer, the report provides six indicators for each.These indicators are very helpful to understand whether a trend is important right now or over a longer period. Below are the six indicators used in the Tech Trend Report.

  • Years on the list: Some trends show up for the first time, others have been reported upon for several years. It must be noted that some trends take more than a decade to fully evolve. Others fade away when expected technologies are not evolving or when buyers are not interested as expected. 
  • Key insight: A brief description of the trend, in simple words. This alone is helpful, simply to learn about many trends which are new and relevant. 
  • Examples: Providing examples of the trend at work, by naming projects and companies.
  • Disruptive impact: What the trend might mean for business, government or society
  • Emerging players: “Individuals, research teams, startups or other organizations emerging” around the specific trend 
  • Action scale: As a conclusion, the Tech Trend report provides recommended actions. These are ranging from “Watch closely” to “Informs strategy” to “Act now”. The latest stage is reached when uncertainty is low, there is data supporting the trend evolution. 

Key trends for blockchain, fintech and crypto

  • The trends report is not just cheerleading further growths of tech.  While some developments are seen as solutions to problems, the researchers warn about pessimistic scenarios for some trends, for example, the idea of “Human IPOs” (where people auction off their time, decisions). 
  • The TruBlo take: What we found interesting: There are many opportunities for far-ranging impact for society, for example by making remittances simpler, easier and cheaper. The social aspects, over time, should be as important as the speculative, purely financial aspects of blockchain and crypto. By being of value for many and being reliable the chances for blockchain technology to fulfil expectations and promises is much more likely than simply using it for casino-style speculation.

General observations

The report starts with a summary of recent observations around blockchain and new finance platforms. These are not trends, but current conditions and characteristics of the blockchain field. The key observations, as reported by The Future Today Institute, are:

  • Existing, large crypto holdings enable investments for innovation. 
  • Decentralised financial instruments will be adopted by enterprises
  • Four dozen countries are piloting digital fiat sovereign currencies
  • Blockchain is adopted for supply chain management, often for environmental purposes
  • Big demand for impartial and secure financial systems for fast (and low-cost) transactions
  • Smart contracts could remove intermediaries
  • Fractional ownership might evolve, based on the option to sell and trade tiny parts of an asset with crypto money fractions

Blockchain trends for 2021

Trend 1: Central Bank-Backed Digital Currencies (CBDCs)

There are big forces at work here. Should central banks enable digital currency, the whole cryptosystem would get a big boost. There are many positive aspects here: Payments could be executed faster, with fewer costs. What authorities try to avoid at all costs are big mistakes, such as sudden security problems, money theft or other illicit activity.

Examples (from Tech Trends Report) to better understand this trend: “In 2018, the Marshall Islands created a new digital currency called the Sovereign (SOV), which is now legal tender in the Micronesian nation. Singapore’s central bank created a digital currency backed by the Singapore dollar that runs on the Ethereum blockchain. Canada’s central bank has been researching the issuing of digital currency. China is the undisputed leader in CBDCs, successfully executing a large-scale pilot of more than 4 million digital yuan transactions from April to December 2020. An international coalition of central banks, including the Bank of Canada, Bank of England, Bank of Japan, European Central Bank, and U.S. Federal Reserve, issued a report in October 2020 outlining key principles for CBDCs.

Trend 2: Stablecoins

A stablecoin is a digital currency, but with the value connected (“pegged”) to a real-world currency. Quote from the report: “Stablecoins—specifically those pegged to the U.S. dollar—open up a universal means of exchange across the globe without traditional financial hurdles. People can now store savings in a stable asset rather than a local currency suffer- ing from inflation, and stablecoins offer faster, more affordable remittances.”

Trend 3: Social payments

The title of this trend initially a little misleading. It’s not so much about social, but about shifting payment features to social media platforms – to then be able to offer payment services like banks and credit cards. The trend is already huge. It will likely accelerate a global trend to move from cash money to digital tools, such as payment apps on mobile phones.

  • Examples (quoted from Tech Trend Report): “In 2009, Venmo became the first social payment app, requiring users to caption their transactions and offering the option to share transactions publicly. Owned by PayPal, it now has 300 million users, and social payments is a serious financial service sector. China’s Alipay gives its 870 million users access to wealth management services, loan applications, and credit scores—and issued half a billion dollars in Chinese loans in 2020. Face- book’s new WhatsApp Pay has 400 million users in India. Apple and Goldman Sachs created a credit card for iPhones and Apple Watches. Uber Money will build a bank for its drivers. Amazon is exploring a checking account service to go with its existing branded credit card. This year, Google will launch GooglePlex, a banking app integrated with Google Pay—creating a single app to pay businesses and peers, manage savings, and conceivably even apply for loans.”

Trend 4: Content Provenance and Permanent Archiving

One use case for blockchain which has not been mentioned that often: Content verification, content provenance (who published something and when) and permanent archiving (as a means against censorship).

Quote: “Blockchains can be used as a universal index of content authorship and edits. This is a powerful tool to authenticate content and to combat censorship and misinformation.


Trend 5: Automated Credit risk modelling

This trend does not rely on blockchain, but on the introduction of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to credit risk calculation. The danger here is that a system analyzed by machines might lead to unintended, but nevertheless, the extremely harmful bias of a system against certain lender groups in society e.g. marginalised communities.

  • DISRUPTIVE IMPACT: “In many cases, using AI in credit modelling has increased bias against marginalized groups. However, automated processes based on behaviour, and not demographics, could result in more just and equitable outcomes.”

Trend 6: Decentralized Exchanges and Automated Market Makers 

Examples (from Tech Trend Report): “Centralized markets like the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq maintain fair, consistent, and transparent processes for publishing prices and orders, where market makers provide liquidity with both buy and sell positions. In cryptocurrencies and fully electronic markets, algorithms typically price assets, rather than traditional market books. Ethereum-based decentralized exchange Uniswap surpassed $50 billion in lifetime volume, despite concerns about liquidity and volume from darknet markets. Just months after its 2020 start, hit more than $47 billion in volume and became a decentralized finance leader. Total trading volume for these exchanged ballooned to $6 billion as of the first half of last year, up from $2.5 billion in 2018 and 2019.”

Trend 7: Web 3.0

This trend is about new options, extended capabilities of browsers, including financial or near-financial transactions. From the report: “Web 3.0 allows for web browsers and mobile applications to perform more complex processes and enable entirely new kinds of transactions.”

  • Examples: “Collaboration and decentralized creation are accelerated in Web 3.0—often referred to as the semantic web. Advanced techniques in data mining, natural language processing, and text analytics will make gathering and understanding unstructured data much easier. Plus, artificial intelligence and machine learning allow machines to collaborate directly with one another and, eventually, teach one another. In media, Otoy is cutting the costs of 3D visual effects production with a decentralized, distributed network of partners that can chip in spare processing power with a digital token known as RNDR. The InterPlanetary File System, a peer-to-peer hypermedia protocol, facilitates decentralized file sharing and cloud computing. Companies like Blockstack and Cosmos are building networking products that will unlock a new generation of applications and services.”

Trend 8: Smart Royalties

  • Quote from the report: Blockchain networks like Ethereum offer new ways to track ownership, licensing, and royalties through smart contracts or self-executing agreements in which the terms are directly written into lines of code.
  • Sample page from 2021 tech trends reportBlockchains form the foundational infrastructure layer for new, low-friction ways to automate royalty payments for digital intellectual property. A smart contract, for instance, could automatically pay an artist when her song is streamed or simply track the number of times people share online content, preserving it in a shared public database.
  • Example: Blockchain is at the core of the Open Music Initiative (OMI)—made up of IBM, Netflix, Pandora, and Spotify—which is developing a standardized open-source protocol and APIs for the music industry. OMI launched a pilot with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that lets Berklee College of Music students license their work to other universities.

Trend 9: Distributed Computing for a Cause

For example: “…the Golem network, uses Ethereum blockchain and lets people rent out idle computing resources like storage, processing power, or band- width to render computer-generated images, conduct DNA analysis, and tackle machine learning tasks.”

Screenshot of Golem Network Homepage

Screenshot of Golem Network Homepage

Trend 10: Fractional Ownership

  • Quote from the report: “Fractional ownership, commonly associated with time-shares, allows unrelated parties to divide costs and risks in order to collectively own an asset. Now that the concept is being applied to blockchain and digital platforms, it can unlock new ways to purchase and own assets, whether they’re in fine art, stocks, or other markets.”

This trend shows how far-reaching changes in financial systems can be. Co-sharing has potential. But one must be very careful to not allow scams from the past to be repeated in the digital world.

Trend 11: Self-Funding Digital Infrastructure

  • Quote: “Although much of the internet relies on free open-source software, people are more inclined to use it than maintain it— which is difficult and often leads to burn-out of key contributors. Gitcoin, which caters primarily to the Ethereum blockchain community, created a marketplace of bounties for open-source developers who want to contribute to projects and earn income for their work. Since 2017, Gitcoin has facilitated $10.6 million open-source software projects. Other crypto projects, such as Zcash, earmark a portion of each “block reward”—the number of new coins that enter the circulation as the crypto is mined—to go toward community development.”

Trend 12: Non-fungible tokens and Digital Collectibles

Non-fungible tokens are a variety of crypto assets. In essence, they can not be split up. Instead, they are a link or identifier for a specific, unique asset – such as a work of art or a video or a song. On exchanges, it is possible to buy this item and then own it exclusively, though only in digital form.

  • NBA Top Shot, the recent auction of Beeples work via Christie’s are good examples. “As more aspects of our lives shift online, demand for digital status symbols and personal expression will increase.” Blockchains enable digital tokens that are provably unique and scarce. As a result, digital collectables are now a growing feature of eSports, online gaming, and social networks. These unique tokens have a variety of applications—from personal expression to commerce to investing. 


Inserted into the blockchain trend report are three scenarios. These are larger possible evolutions, such as agreements on new global exchanges. The most interesting, in our opinion, is a scenario called “A new Bretton Woods”. The scenario could evolve around the concept of a “bancor”, a supranational currency for global trade. This would mean that not one country has a dominance in international trade or profits from the demand for its currency.

There is a negative scenario in the report, too. It is about a very new trend on some new social networks, where people (celebrities, influencer) can “go public”. This would mean that others can invest in them, with money or engagement. This scenario brings up a number of red flags because it might easily cross borders in a very negative way.

Key take-aways

Here are the key insights from the blockchain report:

  • Strategy: Innovative use cases for blockchain abound, but the complexity of the ecosystem remains a hurdle for most companies 
  • Innovation: Companies interested in blockchain struggle to find meaningful use cases. Chief innovation officers can champion companywide ideation to identify value, brainstorm new use cases, test desirability and feasibility, create a proof of concepts with paper or functional prototypes, and launch new pilots— with systems to collect data, test, and evaluate applications. Within many organizations, blockchain enthusiasts are hiding in plain sight, ready to contribute to new initiatives. 
  • R&D: More work is needed: re-searching bitcoin’s long-term economic security and addressing the protocol risks of crypto-currencies and deep code reviews. 
  • Risks: In the longer term, as smart contracts and blockchain peer-to-peer frameworks gain acceptance, business models must transform. Blockchain will reduce operational costs and increase efficiencies. Human-based trust models will transition to algorithmic ones, potentially exposing companies to new risks. 

Questions to ask

In general, any organisation should at least watch what is going on in blockchain and the financial markets. The trend is strong. It is partially good, partially dangerous that most of the markets are only used by small “insider communities”. The general public, so far, has not found wide-ranging use cases for crypto. But that might change, although only after some crashes and large scale scams. Once the systems reach a certain maturity later, the questions to ask are:

  • How will blockchain drive the efficiency of business practices?
  • Is there adequate planning for the longer term? And which assumptions must hold true for the current strategy to succeed?
  • Which parts of an organizations business are vulnerable to disruption by blockchain?

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