The most interesting things I've seen in blockchain, tech, and our decentralizing world as seen from the world's border with China.
Happy Year of the Monkey! This past week was the Chinese New Year holiday. We had 3 days of public holiday here in Hong Kong, while the rest of China had an extra long day holiday. While children and kids at heart were collecting their money-filled red envelopes in this part of the world and others were arguing about blocksizes, Bitcoin superstar startup 21 Inc was pumping out useful code.
Figuring out how much money to pay to send your Bitcoin transaction so that it is processed quickly has historically be more art than science. Paying too much is a waste; paying too little will delay your transaction for hours. 21 Inc released updated code and a new service to predict the optimal Bitcoin transaction fee.
Any two machines or humans in the world can open a channel that allows them to send zero cost small payments. The means a merchant could bill a human or machine for multiple amounts as small as fractions of a cent. Setting up a micropayment channel only costs a few cents, so these make sense when the total amount transacted is around $1. (at current bitcoin price ~$400).
In comparison, unless you’re an Amazon or Google, each credit card transaction costs around $0.30, which makes it impractical to bill for amounts less than a few dollars. Most merchants get around this high transaction cost this by aggregating small amounts and billing customers once a month or once a quarter. The problem with this is that you either have to extend credit to your customers and take the risk that they won’t pay, or you have to ask customers to prepay, tying up their working capital. Bitcoin micropayments lets you avoid both of these problems.
I’m putting all the Bitcoin Scaling drama posts in their own section for those who would rather skip it.
Last week, I mentioned the launch of the Keybase Filesystem, a end-to-end encrypted dropbox that makes it trivially simple to share confidential files with anyone.
I reached out to Keybase founder Chris Coyne (via PGP encrypted email, of course) for early access to the alpha. The Keybase alpha for Mac comes as a DMG file. You drag it into you Application folder like most apps that don’t come from the Mac App store. On first run, it asks for permission to install the filesystem drivers. These create a special folder on your Mac’s hard drive called “/keybase” that syncs with the service.
I created a file in the root of my public folder so that people will see a web page when they visit my Keybase public site. I also put something funny in an end-to-end encrypted folder for a friend. Unfortunately, he ran into problems setting up Keybase on Linux so hasn’t been able to read the contents. Undoubtedly, these bugs will be worked out before the service goes public.
If you’d like to try out Keybase Filesystem with me, let me know! I’ve also got at least one more invite available for the service. Email me by replying to this newsletter!