Bitcoin Weekly 2016 May 25: US Postal Service looks into blockchain-technology, Bitcoin smart contracts by end of …

This week the Bitcoin community saw a fairly slow news cycle but there’s still some gems to be found. The United States Postal Service released a report on Monday outlining the government’s approach to using blockchain-technology to enhance what the post office already does, and add services such as financial services and identity management for citizens.

RSK Labs, also known as Rootstock, has announced that the company will be using 2way-pegged Bitcoin sidechains to deliver smart contracts to the Bitcoin blockchain by the end of 2016. Media for the community claims these smart contracts will be better than the Ethereum blockchain, which has a claim to fame for doing smart contracts extremely well.

Somewhat popular iOS game SaruTobi that tips players in bitcoins has just been released on the Android operating system. The developer of the game has some things to say about using bitcoin to promote and spread a mobile game.

Finally, Balaji Srinivasan, CEO of 21 Inc., argues that bitcoin will clearly become the currency of the next-gen of virtual worlds, especially because of its born-digital nature (and mentions virtual reality), although exactly how that will come together is still hard to tell.

BTC status

The current weighted global average market price of BTC is holding at approximately $451 USD. Over the past week the market value initially sunk from $455 down to $437 last Thursday (May 19), stayed for a few days but then began recovering on Sunday (May 22) in a steady climb until today.

From the U.S. Postal Service report on possible uses of blockchain technology.

From the U.S. Postal Service report on possible uses of blockchain technology.

U.S. Postal Services releases report on potential use of blockchain-technology

On Monday the United States Postal Service (USPS) released a report on the possible use of blockchain-technology as part of its operations from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

“The Postal Service could benefit from use of this technology–particularly regarding financial services, identity services, supply chain management, and device management–and should consider exploring and experimenting with it,” one highlight from the report states.

The USPS represents one of the most complex logistical supply lines in the U.S. government having to orchestrate, manage and operate an end-to-end delivery system across the entire U.S. and integrate with international carriers. This alone could benefit from the use of a blockchain system providing distributed tracking for parcels and proof-of-activity—but as an ubiquitous organization with satellites all around the US, the USPS could also offer numerous other services.

Supply chain management is an obvious use of blockchain-technology (as mentioned above) where a blockchain could be used to distribute the current status of every parcel in a network by tracking milestones of activity from receipt to delivery.

Device management, also called the Internet of Postal Things, could become the next big complexity for the USPS as more and more elements of the Postal fleet, distribution centers, carriers, etc. receive devices for tracking, identifying and managing the movement of letters and parcels. Each of these devices would be Internet-connected (or at least USPS-network connected) and communicate status changes. Already blockchain-technology has been proposed as part of communication mesh protocols for IoT devices.

Financial services has already been proposed as a possible extra service for the USPS to provide to communities from acting as a bank for citizens unable to easily get traditional bank accounts. See U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s comments on how the USPS could double as a service for the underbanked for small loans, cashing checks, paying bills and holdings saving accounts. Already Bitcoin (a blockchain-technology itself) could be used to provide secure remittances between Postal Offices or the USPS could roll its own cryptocurrency, for example Postcoin, to act as an exchange of value.

Finally Identity services could be a final estate for the USPS by providing a better identification mechanism than what the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does in the U.S., where identification is per state and there is no national database. Already projects have risen to use existing blockchains as stores of proof-of-identity (such as Onename’s Identity Passcard) but governments need an issuing authority, the USPS could act as that. By tying identity information to a secured blockchain the USPS could act as an issuing authority to make national ID cards tied to a public ledger providing a way to rapidly verify identity and authenticity of the ID card.

For more details and information, download and read the entire report [PDF].

Bitcoin getting smarter contracts by year’s end from Rootstock

If you have not checked out RSK Labs, or Rootstock, it’s about time to do that. The name of the project, “Rootstock,” is a reference to a horizontal, underground root system that sends up shoots and down roots from its nodes—in short it’s a deference to attaching side-chains onto the Bitcoin blockchain. Rootstock intends to use a 2-way peg to Bitcoin to enable fully complete smart contracts using the blockchain.

The project’s vision includes being Bitcoin friendly, providing increased security by preventing double-spends by merge-mining with Bitcoin, delivering scalability by being separate from but connected to Bitcoin and finally allow for instant payments (something difficult in Bitcoin because of time needed to wait for confirmations).

In March this year, RSK Labs announced that the project intends to launch its first beta testnet by September 2016. And, to do this, the project raised $1 million USD from Coinsilium, a leading blockchain investment firm based in London and Digital Currency Group, the prolific investor from New York.

“Our team at DCG feels that Rootstock developing is important for both the technical and business communities building on blockchain technology today,” said Barry Silbert, CEO of the DCG Group, about the investment, “and will enable many new use cases that have not been possible to date.”

For a details on the Rootstock 2-way peg, the project team wrote an extensive explanation on RSK Lab’s blog. Side chains, and the concept of pegged sidechains, were introduced in a whitepaper published in 2014 by members of the Bitcoin and blockchain company Blockstream.

Artwork from Spells of Genesis, Satoshi, copyright EverdreamSoft

Artwork from Spells of Genesis, “Satoshi”, copyright EverdreamSoft

SaruTobi, a game that tips players in bitcoin, now on Android

A little mobile game, initially released in December 2014 from developer Mandelduck for iOS, Sarutobi, tips players in bitcoins has now come to Android. The Android app boasts the same sort of addictive gameplay as its iOS cousin and, of course, pays players in bitcoins as well.

To date, the game has paid out approximately $16,000 USD.

Mandelduck founder Christian Moss told that he was pleased with the reception of the game, although the fanbase is still small.

“In the mobile app space SaruTobi doesn’t really compare,” Moss added, “a popular mobile game such as Clash of Clans is bigger than the Bitcoin space. So I’m more excited in seeing Bitcoin/blockchain games hit the mainstream, maybe it can take Bitcoin with it.”

Additionally, the game comes with the ability to connect to the IndieSquare Wallet, which not only allows the receipt of bitcoin tips but also can store blockchain cards and rewards from the game Spells of Genesis (previously covered on Bitcoin Weekly and SiliconANGLE).

The 21 Bitcoin Computer -- in the electronic flesh.

The future of virtual world currencies? The 21 Bitcoin Computer — in the electronic “flesh.” Image via 21, Inc.

CEO of 21 Inc. argues Bitcoin will be the currency of virtual worlds

21 Inc. is a company best known for pioneering a connection between Bitcoin and the Internet of Things with the unexpected promise of Bitcoin mining toasters and other appliances. What 21 has produced since, however, is the 21 Bitcoin Computer—a tiny Bitcoin miner connected to what amounts to a Raspberry Pi platform that can run Linux and therefore small apps and connect to the Internet. The idea: people can run small services on the Internet and the 21 Bitcoin Computer can provide those services for small amounts of Bitcoin.

Basically, 21 Inc. wants to deliver the next machine economy. The company’s CEO, Balaji Srinivasan, believes this I the course the future is taking and with $100 million in venture capital coming out of 2015, he may have a point.

“I think what happens over the next five to ten years is Bitcoin becomes the currency of the Internet, for machine payments and things like that,” Srinivasan said on a Consensus 2016 panel during the conference in New York City. “Then, over the next 20 years, it becomes the currency of the next world, which is ‘virtual reality.’ That’s where I think things really happen, once you start spending more time in VR than on the ground.”

During the Consensus panel Srinivasan also announced the 21 Beta program, which allows members to receive bitcoins for HTTP requests (presumably for returning some sort of useful information to the requester). This is fundamental to the 21 Bitcoin Computer model as the services it runs would run over the web via HTTP—and 21 has released full documentation for its 21 Marketplace developer libraries for discovery, payments and purchases.

Featured image credit: via reddit member huevos_de_acero
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Kyt Dotson
Kyt Dotson


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