Consensus – The Big Announcements

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Consensus 2019 has packed up and gone home, and as usual there were some announcements and events that grabbed the headlines, including many that happened outside of the event itself. Here we wrap up the biggest news from Consensus 2019 week.

Bakkt Says Testing to Start in July

Bakkt announced Monday morning that they plan to start testing Bitcoin acceptance and custody in July, pending a full platform release “in the coming months”. They still have some CFTC hurdles to clear, but this is a clear sign that the platform is finally moving in the right direction, which would add further legitimacy to Bitcoin’s status.

Microsoft Puts Identity on the Bitcoin Blockchain

Microsoft announced Tuesday that it was testing decentralized identity on the Bitcoin blockchain. The project, called Ion, will be open source and is concerned with the underlying mechanics of how networks talk with each other. Microsoft also revealed that a team has been working for over a year on key signing and validation software that will rely on public networks such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, but with the ability to handle far greater throughput than the underlying blockchains themselves.

Whole Foods and Starbucks Accepting Bitcoin

Huge retailers, such as Whole Foods and Starbucks, are now accepting cryptocurrency payments thanks to a tie in with the Gemini platform and an app called SPEDN. SPEDN has been designed by Flexa Network, a crypto payment platform that bills itself as the “future of payments” and exists purely to help people spend their crypto easier, something the space is certainly crying out for. An amusing photo did the rounds of Gemini founders the Winklevoss twins paying for a Starbucks coffee through SPEDN in front of two less than impressed employees, so let’s hope the future is a little less painful than the photo looked.

Samsung Crypto Wallet to Feature on Budget Smartphones

Samsung caused a stir when they announced a crypto wallet would feature in the new Galaxy S10 phone, but the fact that they will be rolling out the technology to budget smartphones is just as big of a deal as it will expose many more people to cryptocurrency. Senior Managing Director Chae Won-cheol said:

We will lower barriers to new experiences by gradually expanding the number of Galaxy models that support blockchain functions. We will also expand our service target countries after Korea, the United States and Canada.

eBay Not Accepting Crypto Payments

Not so much an announcement as a clarification. Some hyped-up Consensus goers had people believing that eBay would announce a major structural change to their payment systems by posting ambiguous adverts at Consensus.

This obviously turned out to not be the case, as eBay clarified the following day:

Cryptocurrency is not accepted as a form of payment on the eBay platform, nor is it part of our payments strategy.

Still, one out of six isn’t bad.

Bitcoin Takes Centre Stage

Bitcoin’s stunning performance in the lead up to and during Consensus will have been a huge topic of discussion for sure, but it remains to be seen whether we will see a 2017-style climax where Bitcoin continues to rise or a 2018 repeat where we will witness some downside action. Current projections suggest more upside may yet be on the cards, which would usher in the finest end to Consensus 2019 that anyone could have wished for.