Two Sides of the Bitcoin: Local Group Says Cryptocurrency Could Boost Prosperity in Our Province

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If you purchased one Bitcoin in mid-December 2016, it would have cost you around $700. If you sold it in December 2017, you could’ve sold it for over $17,000.

That kind of growth has drummed up plenty of public interest in Bitcoin and other digital currencies, internationally as well as here at home. However, will Bitcoin be as big as Google? Or is it destined to be the Napster of currencies?

One group that is hoping to make the most of this new economic frontier is Blockchain NL, a community group with the mission to “innovate different sectors of the Newfoundland economy using blockchain technology.”

Blockchain NL gets in name from the innovation behind Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

“Think of a blockchain as an open and distributed record-keeping system that promotes transparency yet ensures privacy,” says Tomisin Jenrola, a member of Blockchain NL.

“Each record consists of a list of transactions that have occurred on the network. Transactions represent movement of assets around the network; this could be sending and receiving money or transferring food from a farmer to a wholesaler. Additionally, each record ‘knows’ other records before it, forming a link. The records are called blocks and the link of these blocks is the blockchain.

“Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies backed by cryptographic security usually running on the blockchain,” says Jenrola, who is a Computer Science major at Memorial. “They are the most widely known use of blockchain technology. Bitcoin was the first, but is not the only cryptocurrency.”

Since the blockchain doesn’t put all of its trust in one central point, it’s considered by some to be less vulnerable to hacking, data manipulation, data loss, hardware malfunctions, and other issues.

Financial experts can only theorize as to why cryptocurrencies have exploded in value. It could be the next big thing, a rejection of big banks, or an innovative response to cyberterrorism. Or, it could be driven by criminal organizations, guarded by the privacy and anonymity it provides. It could just be widespread financial FOMO. Who knows?

“The ability to have a system where there is transparency and fairness is what will make blockchain widely adopted in coming years,” says Jenrola.

On January 15, Blockchain NL will host a public event to discuss the various parts of blockchain technology as it is used today. The event is open to all, regardless of background or technical expertise. Through the event, BlockchainNL says they aim to educate attendees about blockchain technology and develop pilot applications of blockchain technology in the province.

“We hope attendees of the inaugural event will leave with better knowledge of the blockchain, understand the importance and benefits of a distributed ledger technology, and also use their expertise to create and develop on new or existing ideas,” says Jenrola.

Blockchain NL’s “What is Blockchain?” event will be held on January 15 at the Bruneau Centre on Memorial campus, 6:00 to 8:00pm. For more info, visit facebook.com/blockchainnl

About Author

Lauren Power

Lauren Power is a writer from St. John's

4 Comments

  1. When your local arts paper, your hairdresser and your cab driver are all talking about (_____investment_____), it’s time to get out. Blockchain technology might make a couple nimble traders a few dollars but this has no more potential to revitalize the Newfoundland economy than the Sprung greenhouse or any of our other foolish “made in Newfoundland” ideas.

  2. @D — Why do people call The Overcast an Arts paper? I’d say 20% of their content, tops, is arts stories. Which is nice, but it’s hardly an arts paper? This month’s cover story is about healthcare, today’s posts are about bitcoin and marijuana. Hmm.

  3. It doesn’t really matter whether I call it an arts paper or toilet paper. The OC (and the Scope before it) are not of the same calibre as The Economist or The Financial Post or The New York Times when it comes to writing about anything, let alone politics, economics and industry. It has a self-proclaimed “alternative” angle, is distinctly left-biased and keeps a Newfoundland arts scene focused angle on virtually every story they write.

    The adage of getting out if a stock when your cab driver is talking about it still holds valid, that we’re all swimming in financial bubble territory, just like subprime mortgages, dot com mania, and Dutch tulips. Wait and see. There’s nothing but ones and zeros and I bet anyone who is holding the bag when it pops will not be able to unload fast enough. Just like the dotcom bust and 2008 subprime.

  4. @D – I think you should go to the meeting. Blockchain technology is not an investment. Nor it is a stock. Nor do you invest in it when you buy bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.
    To quote the article: “a blockchain is an open and distributed record-keeping system”. This technology has many other applications independent of cryptocurrencies. For example, to make bookkeeping in a private company or government more transparent and secure, or to execute smart contracts (without needing a third party to facilitate). The potential future applications are vast and exploring them is an intelligent move.
    I should say I also believe in a strong future for cryptocurrencies and I wouldn’t so easily discount local arts papers, hairdressers and cab drivers. When they all start accepting cryptocurrencies for their services, I hope you will have made sure to get some 😉

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