Climate Change

Perpetuating the myth that if only we are able to keep climate temperature increases to 2ºC everything will be okay is almost worse than the claims of the climate change deniers.  The complacency today in the face of the absolute collapse of our planet’s biosphere is unconscionable. We watch as the world is turned uninhabitable, and rather than take up the challenge, we continue, if not accelerate, in the wrong direction.  More carbon has entered the atmosphere in the last thirty years due to mankind’s activities than in all the time we had been on this earth till then combined. Instead of reducing our carbon emissions to zero, we have increased our output by 1.5% since Al Gore wrote An Inconvenient Truth in 2006.

We’re apathetic because we’re losing, and see no possibilities of a good outcome. But it’s much worse than that.  We’re already seeing the devastating effects but have not yet felt them at home. Those days are about to commence.  We’re literally dancing at our own funeral. The insect world has collapsed. Amphibians are disappearing around the globe.  The bumblebee has been put on the endangered species list. Did you see any smashed bugs on your windshield this past summer? Any moths dancing by the night lanterns? I just drove from NYC to Boca Raton, FL and back.  Not a bug on my grill in twenty-six hundred miles. Last spring I drove to San Francisco and back. The state of Utah was practically covered in the smoke from forest fires the entire time I was crossing the state.  Tornadoes in the middle of winter? Arctic cyclones? Meteorologists are having to invent new names for weather events. The end has already begun, we just don’t know it yet.

Bitcoin: State of the Art

It’s been some time since I’ve written here regarding Bitcoin and for good reason.  There were no clear trends developing that I could see.  While my faith in Bitcoin remains unwavering, I did not see what might have been influencing the marketplace, in general, nor Bitcoin in particular.  Meanwhile, the price of Bitcoin had fallen in a series of steps downward to $6500, then $4500, then $3500.  Two factors made my ears perk up this morning.  Perhaps, we’re at a crossroads, now.  Only time will tell.

Blockchain Now!

Reuter’s reports that Germany’s justice and finance ministries have proposed to launch a state-run register to boost the use of blockchain. We’ve seen these same efforts repeated with other governments across the globe. While bitcoin is slowly being adopted, its underlying blockchain technology is being widely adopted. That the blockchain regulations, policing of the blockchain technologies, and the registration of blockchain based exchanges are being put in place now will later prove useful to a bitcoin economy.

Blockchain technology replaces a centralized network with a decentralized, distributed network. Instead of a central clearinghouse for all transactions, exchanges are made throughout the network. Instead of a physical token for each transaction, such as printed shares of stocker each trade, trades can be made in blockchain technologies entirely digitally. In order for investors to pay their fair share of taxes on blockchain transactions, both the government agency and the tax payers have to have the apps that allow them to compute the necessary amounts. To follow up on complaints of foul play, emergencies, and general police detective work, law enforcement agencies need to know what blockchain technology is and how to deal with it. There is no difference between researching a transaction made in a blockchain network for real estate and for a bitcoin transaction. The list goes on, but in short, learning to work with blockchain is the very skill required to work with bitcoin.

Kroger Drops Visa

Quote from Cointelegraph, a daily cryptocurrency news feed:

“On Friday, Mar. 1, Kroger officially announced that its Smith's Food & Drug stores will not accept Visa cards starting Apr. 3 due to the high fees that company imposes on major retailers. "Visa has been misusing its position and charging retailers excessive fees for a long time," Kroger's chief financial officer Mike Schlotman said, explaining the decision.”

Link to the original online statement:

It stands to reason that a grocery chain such as Kroger’s would find it necessary to restrict the use of VISA cards in their stores.  You would think the small fees merchants are required to pay to accept VISA cards is well worth the attraction to customers. But grocery stores work with extremely small margins.  While a typical suburban store may hold a million dollars in inventory on its shelves and turn over that merchanize several times per year, the markups are so slight that added VISA costs could tip the economics in the wrong direction.  

The equivalent ‘fees’ cryptocurrencies charge are miniscule by comparison.  Mining fees are usually just pennies compared with VISA and MASTERCARD fees which are a small fraction of the total spent.  A $6.00 item might cost the merchant $0.45 in fees. Grocery stores are particularly hard hit by the VISA costs since fees are comprised of a flat fee for every transaction, around $0.15, and a percentage of the gross amount.  Higher percentages are charged for smaller ticket items. An expensive item might have a 1.5% VISA fee, while an item selling for under $2.00 might have a 4% fee. Groceries are usually under $10.00 per item.

A merchant, therefore, must compare VISA fees of $0.45 or more and cryptocurrency fees of just pennies.  What merchant wouldn’t want to save an extra $0.30 per transaction?

To make matters worse, VISA and MASTERCARD formulae include extra premiums on smaller merchants, out-of-the-way sales locations, and sole-proprietorships.  In other words, the smaller, less secure the merchant’s situation, the higher the fees. Some Etsy-type merchants selling from their homes are being charged a 10% processing fee.

Cryptocurrency is going to attract merchants facing these excessive plastic card charges.