Travelers Can Receive Discounts on First Class Flights With a Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies are an intriguing financial tool for many different reasons. While the primary focus is on speculation, StormX shows things can be done differently. Travel enthusiasts can now fly in first class by using their native cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency Opens New Doors

It is safe to say the future looks interesting for cryptocurrencies. If StormX is to be believed, the travel industry will be prone to disruption by this new form of money. More specifically anyone looking to fly first class can now do so through the native Storm cryptocurrency. This new service has come to market in collaboration with I Only Fly First Class. This particular travel concierge service provider will be a prominent partner for StormX moving forward.

Users who have the Storm Play app can earn this new cryptocurrency accordingly. It can also be purchased from small exchanges. So far, none of the major trading platforms have opened a market for this new coin as of yet. That situation may change thanks to this positive development. STORM tokens will offer users discounted flights to destinations around the world. The only requirement is purchasing the flight through the I Only Fly First Class website. StormX CEO Simon Yu added:

“Making first class flights available in cryptocurrency to savvy consumers, tech enthusiasts, adventurers, and bargain hunters is a momentous leap forward in merging the worlds of travel and crypto. Perhaps most exciting is that StormX’s alliance with I Only Fly First Class means that traveling in style — once a luxury afforded by few — is now at the fingertips of everyday people. By watching advertisements or reviewing products, for example, anyone anywhere in the world can be rewarded in STORM Tokens and then use them to travel the world first class at more affordable fares.”

The Future Plans for StormX

With this new offering, STORM holders can save thousands of dollars on first class flights. It is something of great interest to travelers and regular consumers alike. With most of the major airlines supported on this platform, there are plenty of locations to choose from. Finding these luxury deals and being able to pay with cryptocurrency can make a very big difference. It may also bring more positive attention to cryptocurrency as a whole. This is a prominent use case for this new form of money.

More specifically, it is one of the first mainstream use cases for cryptocurrency in the travel industry. That may seem surprising, but cryptocurrencies have not made much of an impact in most industries just yet. With STORM paving the way, it will be interesting to see if other currencies can thrive as well. Bridging the gap between cryptocurrency and mainstream users will not be easy, though. Especially not if the currency involved is as relatively unknown as the one created by StormX.

So far, it seems the Storm Play app has over 1.5 million downloads. That alone is rather impressive for such a niche market. Advertisements and features related to I Only Fly First Class will be integrated into this application. This new partnership will also help move the Storm project along in the future. With the Storm Market to be launched soon, it will be interesting to see which other features we can expect. For travel fans, this news is pretty significant. Whether or not it will become a popular solution to book first class flights, remains to be seen.

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Bitcoin Pizza Day is an unofficial holiday among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. It marks the birthday of the moment on which Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 BTC for two large pizzas. It seems Hanyecz is still keeping a close eye on Bitcoin as of right now. He recently used the Lightning Network to buy two pizzas with Bitcoin at more normal prices.

Laszlo Hanyecz is a Cult Figure

It is safe to say Bitcoin would not be this popular without Laszlo Hanyecz. This man is responsible for creating the first commercial Bitcoin transaction. In May of 2010, he spent 10,000 Bitcoin to buy two pizzas. Considering how Bitcoin had no real value at that time, it became evident this was a rather big milestone for the cryptocurrency. Ever since that time, the Bitcoin ecosystem has grown by leaps and bounds.

Every year, Bitcoin enthusiasts celebrate Bitcoin Pizza Day. This is done to celebrate the Laszlo Hanyecz Bitcoin payment. It is quite a fun event, as it involves eating pizza paid for in Bitcoin. With popular services such as accepting Bitcoin, ordering a pizza has become a lot easier. This too can be credited to Laszlo Hanyecz in an indirect manner. Bitcoin certainly has come a long way ever since May of 2010.

Over the past few years, the value of Bitcoin has soared. As time progressed, these two pizzas have become rather expensive. The money spent by Laszlo Hanyecz would be worth nearly $10 million at current prices. Few people expected things to evolve in such a direction so quickly. However, there is no time to dwell on the past too much. Now is the time to look to the future of Bitcoin, especially when it comes to using it as a payment method.

The Lightning Network is Important

Conducting Bitcoin transactions has become a lot more expensive over the years. Fees are rather low now, but they went as high as $20 not all that long ago. A scaling solution is direly needed in this regard. The Lightning Network seemingly offers a lot of feasible solutions in this regard. For now, we have to wait and see if this scaling solution can live up to people’s expectations, though.

Surprisingly, Laszlo Hanyecz has tried this technology himself. Most people expected him to be done with Bitcoin in recent years. Even so, Hanyecz purchased two pizzas with Bitcoin. By using the Lightning Network, he didn’t have to pay 10,000 BTC to do so. Instead, the payment was completed virtually instantly. It is worth mentioning the shop he ordered from does not accept Bitcoin payments natively, However, a one-off deal was agreed upon without too many problems.

This trial further highlights the potential of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. While it’s still a bit of a complex solution, the new Core client makes it easier to use. That doesn’t mean everyone will follow the lead of Laszlo Hanyecz, though. There is still a lot of work to be done before LN will go mainstream.  It is good to see people actively experiment with this concept as of right now, though. With this solution in place, Bitcoin will enter a new era altogether.

Ethereum smart contracts are hot technology as of right now. While many companies see merit in this technology, there are security issues a swell. Researchers discovered several vulnerabilities which put millions of Dollars at risk. This is worrisome news, although there is a positive side to it as well.

Security Flaws in Smart Contracts

There are many different aspects to smart contracts. Templates can be used, but any additional code is always a security risk. Considering how there are so many Ethereum-based contracts out there, it is good to know if they are secure or not. According to new research, the future isn’t looking all that bright as of right now.

Through a new approach to sniff out vulnerabilities, researchers aim to improve the security standards. Unfortunately, they already discovered over 3,000 vulnerable contracts in existence right now. These contracts have a combined value of nearly $6m at current Ether prices. If someone were to take advantage of these flaws, things can get out of hand pretty quickly.

The main problem is how smart contracts are used to manage other people’s money. While it sounds convenient, there is always a trade-off to be made. The fact existing contracts cannot be amended is a big problem. Especially if a security flaw is discovered, there is nothing to be done about it. For some reason, this is a major design flaw which never was much of an issue, until now.

Analyzing the Code is Difficult

Even though smart contracts are designed to simplify operations, their code is pretty complex. Every contract is written by a human coder, yet their input is difficult to analyze. As such, it can take months, if not years, until major security flaws come to light. The researchers explained they use a different approach to find flaws:

“Assume we put a few coins in the machine, and just start randomly pushing buttons hoping that the inner workings of the vending machine—which we have no knowledge about, springs and whatnot—eventually releases the latch so you can take the candy.”

By creating a private fork of the Ethereum chain, the researchers can execute permutations of interactions. As such, they can monitor these creations for abnormal behavior. It is not the most convenient approach, but it seems to work just far. No specific information regarding the nature of these flaws has been disclosed as of right now. Rest assured criminals are already probing for weaknesses by the time the information goes public.

Bitcoin is a very energy-inefficient project as of right now. The proof-of-work aspect has been discussed many times over. It seems community members are now advocating to change this algorithm altogether. With mining centralization becoming a real problem, such a change is not necessarily a bad thing.

The Proof-of-Work Situation

Generating new Bitcoins requires dedicated hardware. This hardware is expensive and consumes a lot of energy. As such, we regularly see reports of how inefficient and wasteful Bitcoin mining really is. These discussions always cause friction among community members as well. Changing this situation will not happen overnight, though.

After all, the Bitcoin network is secure thanks to proof-of work. Without this solution in place, the network is open to hackers and other attacks. At the same time, the mining aspect of Bitcoin is not decentralized by any means. Unlike what some people think, a lot of the mining activity is centralized in many ways.

In terms of hardware manufacturers, there is only one company that matters. Bitmain makes a healthy profit due to Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm. It is expected the company made over $3bn in operating profits throughout 2017. That is quite a steep amount, but not entirely unexpected. The Chinese company has a monopoly on the market as of right now.

Changing the Way Bitcoin Works

Bringing more decentralization to Bitcoin is not easy. As long as the reliance on proof-of-work remains in place, centralization will remain a pressing threat. As the network becomes “bigger’, finding a solution becomes even more difficult. If this trend continues, China will control Bitcoin in every way one can imagine. It controls the hashrate, the mining hardware production, and most mining pools as well. Not an ideal situation for a decentralized currency whatsoever.

The bigger question is what we can do from here on out. A recent Medium blog post by Cobra, co-owner of and BitcoinTalk,  touches upon all of the aforementioned problems and more. Switching from Proof-of-work to something else is not a logical evolution. However, sticking with the current PoW-oriented Bitcoin could eventually cause more problems, friction, and centralization. Bitcoin Core developers will have to come up with a creative solution to effectively counter these problems.

Whether or not Bitcoin can survive without proof-of-work remains a big question. It is true miners can be seen as a “problem” in many different ways. They are the ones determining the future of Bitcoin by supporting or rejecting scaling solutions. The regular user has absolutely no say in the current Bitcoin ecosystem, unfortunately. Bringing power back to the people is not straightforward. A new hard fork is not necessarily the answer either. Something has to change sooner rather than later. How that change will be enforced, remains to be determined.

Cryptocurrency markets are not off to a good start in 2018. Most markets have lost nearly half of their value during the first few weeks. This most recent dip has pushed the momentum back as well. Even so, analysts are convinced this year will be very bullish for all cryptocurrency markets in the long run. Especially Bitcoin may see some big gains.

Bitcoin Scalability Improvements?

All cryptocurrency markets have seen major declines throughout the first seven weeks of 2018. Although Bitcoin showed some good momentum this week, most gains have been lost once again. Whether or not this is a bubble effectively bursting, remains to be determined. However, there are still a few solid reasons as to why things may turn out for the better. Julian Hosp remains bullish on cryptocurrency for quite some time to come.

Especially where Bitcoin is concerned, things can still improve quite a bit. With new scaling solutions coming to the ecosystem, a lot of progress will be made. Segregated Witness is now enabled by default through the Core client. It has also become more convenient to use altogether. If this adoption rate improves, the Lightning Network has a fair chance of succeeding as well. For now, there is no official release date for the Lightning Network as of yet.

With a lack of scaling, Bitcoin made a lot of headlines due to mounting fees. At one point, a Bitcoin transaction cost over $20. It is far from ideal, yet solving the problem is not all that easy. With SegWit and LN, those fees should eventually come down over time. Only time will tell if this works as people expect it to. Moreover, the addition of smart contracts to Bitcoin through Rootstock is something to look forward to.

Other Cryptocurrencies and ICOs

Cryptocurrency is about so much more than just Bitcoin, though. More regulation of this entire industry can be a good thing in many different ways. If an industry is regulated, it is “validated” in the eyes of the general public. For now, we see dozens of countries looking into regulating Bitcoin and other currencies. Not everyone is a big fan of regulation, as it imposes severe restrictions in some cases. For now, it seems further regulation will help legitimize cryptocurrencies and digital tokens moving forward.

Most people expected institutional investors to make a big impact on cryptocurrency. Through the Bitcoin futures, that should have happened some time ago. So far, the initial interest in such futures has been rather limited. Even though the volume is picking up, it remains to be seen if institutional investors effectively show a real interest in cryptocurrency. Depending on how this trend evolves, we may see some big progress in overall prices moving forward.

Last but not least, the elephant in the room is the ICO industry. To many people, it seems initial coin offerings are the downfall of cryptocurrency. With the SEC cracking down on illicit projects, things will improve moving forward. It all comes down to more legitimate coin offerings in the future, and which companies will embrace this model. Especially with Telegram turning their ICO into an IPO of sorts, it is evident the business model itself may see some big changes.

Artificial intelligence is both a blessing and a curse rolled into one. Some people are convinced AI will improve our society, whereas others remain fearful. Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin donated $763,000 to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. With this money, the organization can further study potential hazards or artificial intelligence, among other things.

MIRI is Popular Among Cryptocurrency Users

Cryptocurrency can be used for many different purposes. Using it to fund other projects or even scientific research is one example. Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin is doing exactly that. Last year, he contributed nearly 764,000 in Ethereum to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. This nonprofit wants to address hazards associated with artificial intelligence now and in the future.

It is not uncommon for cryptocurrency users to contribute to scientific research. MIRI received nearly two-thirds of all donations in cryptocurrency. That shows people are more than willing to spread the wealth around and help improve our society. The donation by Vitalik Buterin is the largest of 2017. It’s also the third-largest donation in history.

Scientific research initiatives can benefit from cryptocurrencies. Although these markets are very volatile, it’s also a new source of donations for research. In the case of Bitcoin and Ethereum, there’s a good chance their value will go up in the future. For now, MIRI hasn’t confirmed if they converted the donation to fiat currency already. The nonprofit received twice the expected amount in donations during December 2017. This shows there are some real concerns associated with artificial intelligence.

Vitalik Buterin and AI

To some people, it may seem odd Vitalik Buterin is funding this research. Ethereum is known for its smart contract technology, among other things. These contracts are, according to some individuals, somewhat similar to AI. They automate processes and require no real maintenance by its creator once created. That is, assuming the contract is built properly and its code has been audited at some point.

Additionally, Ethereum supported the concept of a decentralized autonomous organization. This is another solution which is not all that different from how most people perceive artificial intelligence. At the same time, Ethereum is not using a coding language which “learns” automatically either. Developers make some vast improvements over time, but automation and AI are not the same by default.

For now, Vitalik Buterin is doing his good deed by donating to MIRI. It would be interesting to see who else donated to this particular nonprofit in December of 2017. Given the interest in what this group is doing, their research appears to be quite valuable. Whether or not Vitalik Buterin will make other similar donations, remains to be seen. Initiatives like these bring some positive momentum to the cryptocurrency industry as well.

Digital solutions will go a long way in the financial industry. Right now, a lot of processes still require manual labor. It is cost-inefficient, cumbersome, and introduces unnecessary delays. The asset management sector can certainly benefit from the performance increase provided by blockchain technology.

Blockchain in the Financial Sector

It is evident distributed ledgers will play a big role in the future of finance. Not just in terms of banking or remittance either. Instead, new research indicates blockchain can revamp the asset management business as a whole. More specifically, the technology can automate buying and selling of funds, which will lead to major cost reductions. Giving investors more bang for their buck is always an option worth looking into.

Looking at the current daily trading volume across the busiest markets, total savings may add up to $2.7bn. That is a rather significant amount which should not be overlooked whatsoever. Using a distributed and decentralized market infrastructure will have many different benefits. Saving on costs is, perhaps, the biggest selling point in this regard.

However, the blockchain will also introduce additional transparency. It will also lead to new industry-wide standards to automate most of the financial entries recorded by different companies. As of right now, most of that information is still inputted on a manual basis. Staffers need to be paid to complete the tasks, which is both costly and time-consuming at the same time.

Transforming Asset Management Solutions

One thing most people don’t realize is how these added costs are paid by the end investor. That is a situation which needs to change sooner rather than later. A lot of money is “wasted” on manual labor which could easily be automated in this day and age. Whether or not blockchain is the best solution in this regard, remains difficult to predict.

Some trials have been conducted in this particular field already. Calastone’s trial in 2017 shows the technology can effectively process transactions a lot quicker. Moreover, it does so at a much lower cost compared to current traditional solutions. A test is not the same as using this technology in the real world, though. Processing millions of transactions every single day is a tall order, even for a distributed ledger.

Another problem in the asset management industry right now is the duplicate information. More specifically, the process of buying and selling funds is subject to duplication. This has been a problem for some time now, yet it seems things grow progressively worse. Something needs to change in the world of asset management in this regard. There is room for improvements and cutting costs at the same time.

It appears there will be more blockchain-based tests related to asset management this year. A lot of financial institutions show an interest in this technology. Calastone may effectively move their asset management services to a blockchain-based solution by 2019. Other players have some work to be done in this regard as well. Distributed ledgers continue to make inroads in the financial sector as of right now.

Digital advertising is an industry prone to disruption in many different ways. Major brands are trying to introduce a new degree of transparency to this industry in the future. Even AT&T and Bayer are banking big on blockchain technology in this regard.

Disrupting Digital Advertising

It is unclear what the future will hold for digital advertising. The current business model suffers from a lack of transparency. At the same time, advertising fraud is on the rise. Something will need to change sooner rather than later. Bayer, the pharmaceutical giant, has been vocal about issues affecting the digital media supply chain.

More specifically, the company warned about fraud and waste since 2016. Ever since that time, very little action has been undertaken to improve that situation. Using blockchain technology to alleviate some of these concerns is certainly an option worth exploring. Bayer is working together with Amino Payments.  As such, Bayer is now experimenting with blockchain-based campaigns. It is a small step in the right direction.

Interestingly enough, there is another major player working together with Amino Payments. That is none other than AT&T, the famous telecommunications provider. That company is also concerned about the fees taken by intermediaries when it comes to digital advertising. There is no real transparency to make any proper assessments in this regard as of right now.

The Role of Blockchain Technology

AT&T has now begun experimenting with blockchain-based advertising solutions earlier this year. They see merit in the “bidded programmatic space”. It is of the utmost importance advertisers know how their budget is being spent. Without any transparency solution in place, it is impossible to determine how that plays out. If advertisers don’t get their money’s worth, there’s no reason to continue with the current digital advertising model.

For the time being, it remains unclear what we can expect from these tests. No official ads have been purchased at this time, by the look of things. There will need to be some experimentation and research first and foremost. Determining the proper value of every intermediary along the supply chain will be a big challenge. The end results will probably surprise a lot of people. Dealing with intermediaries will also result in a lesser efficiency, even in digital advertising.

Combining blockchain with advertising will require a completely different infrastructure altogether. It seems the Amino solution now offers trust and transparency through publisher contracts. It is a step in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done in this regard. Being able to pay for media directly is the end result for both Bayer and AT&T. How that will play out for ad agencies, remains to be determined at this point.

Coinbase is a very hot company as of right now. That is not always for the right reasons either, unfortunately. The company recently provided a product update to explain what the future holds for this firm as of right now.

Addressing Recent Coinbase Issues and Reports

The year 2018 has been rather eventful for Coinbase in many different ways. Perhaps the biggest issue is how the company got caught up in some recent Visa-related drama. Hundreds of users complained about issues using their payment cards. Some even got charged twice or more time for specific transactions, which is unacceptable. It seems Visa will continue to crack down on all cryptocurrency activity for quite some time to come.

None of these issues were the result of Coinbase doing anything wrong either. Instead, the issue was completely with Visa and WorldPay. Both companies are resolving the problems as we speak. Most duplicate transactions have been reversed without problems.  Some lingering issues still need to be resolved in this regard. Coinbase can’t do anything about this issue as of right now, yet they will keep an eye on things.

There are also some concerns regarding the “cash advance” fees associated with Coinbase transactions. More specifically, some users suffer from an extra fee when buying cryptocurrency through this exchange. This is, once again, not Coinbase’s fault. They are working with their card processing company to iron out these problems. This process will take some time, though, and some banks will continue to charge them regardless.

All users can do is report such incidents to their banks. It is then up to the financial institution to explain the situation or address it accordingly. Buying cryptocurrencies with a payment card will always be a bit cumbersome. It is convenient, but the current fees make it unfavorable. Some users may be entitled to a fee reimbursement, although your individual mileage may vary in this regard.

PayPal Support Will be Removed Temporarily

There is also an update regarding PayPal support. A lot of users are not too impressed by Coinbase’s integration of this payment method. For now, the option will be enabled for a few weeks. After that period, PayPal support will be taken offline and go through an entire revamp. It is a bit unclear what to expect from this change, but it should lead to an improved user experience altogether.

Last but not least, using a bank account with Coinbase is still a solid option. This process also received some big updates, and the entire process is a lot more streamlined as of right now. By setting up the bank account through “instant connect”, users can purchase Bitcoin and other supported currencies right away. Overall, using a bank account with Coinbase is still the best option, for now, at least until all of the issues are resolved accordingly.

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies can be threatened in some ways. Quantum computing is perhaps of the biggest concerns as of right now. The Cardano Foundation and think-tank Z/YN recently released their findings on this potential threat to public key cryptography.

Cardano Wants to Become Quantum Computing-Resistant

Quantum computing is the next logical evolution in the world of technology. It allows for must faster calculations and unparalleled processing power. At the same time, this technology also poses concerns for public key cryptography. Most cryptocurrencies and blockchains rely on this type cryptography. As such, addressing potential future problems at an early stage is incredibly important.

Cardano is one of the cryptocurrencies focused on building quantum-resistant solutions. More specifically, the currency’s developers will support additional signature schemes in the future. Ensuring their cryptography and blockchain is quantum computing-resistant is a top priority as of right now.  This particular cryptocurrency project prioritizes security and interoperability over anything else.

One of the main reasons Cardano is so appealing is because of its intriguing design. At its core, the currency offers special extensions which allow for adding more signature schemes through a soft fork. With this focus on quantum computing, any major security layer can be added without network disruption. Thus, the only question is if and when quantum computing may become a problem for Cardano.

Conducting Research for Industry Standards

According to the recent study by the Cardano Foundation and think-tank Z/YEN, that is only a matter of time. The study concludes how large-scale quantum computing will effectively break the security of public key cryptography. This will have all kinds of different consequences for solutions built on top of this technology. It extends well beyond cryptocurrencies and blockchain as well. Most online communication services in the world rely on public key cryptography as of right now.

It is evident the Cardano Foundation wants to proactively deal with this threat whenever possible. There are some available solutions to nullify this issue, yet an industry-wide response standard will need to be established first and foremost. Cardano Foundation Chairman Michael Parsons added:

“As part of our extensive blockchain research programme with Z/Yen, we are exploring a range of issues from the technological, to regulation and governance and industry applications. The topics explored are forward-looking by their very nature, and the possible impact of quantum computing on the blockchain is a case in point.”

A future without cryptography is unthinkable as of right now. This technology forms the foundation of virtually everything we do online. With a growing interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain, public key cryptography will only become more commonly used as well. The Cardano Foundation wants to lead the charge in addressing future issues associated with quantum computing.