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What FAANG are doing in blockchain?

Updated: Jun 18, 2019

Almost all major landmarks in blockchain and crypto-assets industry have been reached by startups. Let’s see in this article what is being prepared by the most popular and best-performing tech giants.

Facebook

Facebook had issued a ban of any crypto advertisement on its platform in January 2018. Later that year in June, they reversed on that decision in an official statement. However, the Zuckerberg-led giant is still reportedly blackballing most crypto ads, even those with the remotest connections to crypto-assets.


More interestingly, Facebook has developed serious plans to introduce its own crypto-asset in 2020. The company’s crypto department of 40 employees is led by David Marcus, former Paypal president recruited from the Board of Coinbase. Furthermore, its fully owned Whatsapp app is also developing its own crypto-asset with India’s $70 billion remittance market as a target. Some sources have revealed that it would be a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar.


The extent to which there will be one crypto-asset for WhatsApp and a another one for Facebook is still to be confirmed at this stage. We believe this is very unlikely as the social media giant announced plans to unify its social platforms – Facebook, Instagram & Whatsapp. Also, issuing two different crypto-assets in a relatively short amount of time, from two platforms ongoing a merger, and for roughly the same set of users, could be detrimental to their strategy and their users’ perception.


What is certain is the big impact in the crypto community. Some analysts have warned that a crypto-asset issued by Facebook could threaten Bitcoin, as per being backed by one of the largest tech giant with a massive 2.5 billion user base. In comparison, there are about 50 million crypto wallets, and not all these are active. Also, Facebook might make it much easier to access the token to their users. One of the challenges Bitcoin has encountered is the perception that it’s difficult to obtain and use.


Nevertheless, such a move in the crypto World could have a counter effect of finally bringing Bitcoin to the masses, or at list grant it more trust, attention and usage from the masses. In this perspective, it’s not certain whether Facebook will easily unseat Bitcoin from the crypto throne in 2020. The Game is on.

Amazon

In April 2018, Amazon launched a Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) solution called AWS Blockchain Templates. It allows it users to launch an Ethereum (public or private) or Hyperledger (private) network in a matter of minutes and with just a few clicks. Today’s offer is completed by Amazon Managed Blockchain, and Amazon QLDB. The company relies on a series of technology partners to make up for its lag and strengten its offer.


Clearly, Amazon is positioning its blockchain ambitions in the cloud services industry, rather than in the crypto-assets industry like Facebook, which is a bit of a surprise. In facts provided it commands the largest online retail platform in the world with 4 to 6 millions of articles sold representing hundreds of millions of dollars of goods, one would have expected it to enter the playground of payments crypto-assets.


Apple

Apple is reportedly having a limited interest in blockchain technology. This interest is perceived as being focused on the traceability of raw materials, especially minerals. Amid its implication in the development of certain industry-wide standards, the company supported the Blockchain Guidelines of the Responsible Business Alliance’s Responsible Minerals Initiative (“RMI”).


Netflix

On January 6th, during the Citi 2016 Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference, Netflix CFO David Wells opened the possibility for Netflix to accept Bitcoin payments. But this opportunity has not yet come true.


In order to maintain its US market dominance of 51%, Netflix could integrate blockchain technology into its services. After Amazon Prime as challenger with 33% market shares, Disney+ is perceived as a serious threat currently gearing up to launch in the US in November 12th.


As a major streaming company, a future move in the blockchain space is more than expected since the possibility of transmitting data in a decentralized and secure manner is already being used. There are applications such as Livepeer on Steem’s blockchain and Viuly on Ethereum whose purpose is media sharing. Even Tron was initially born as a multimedia sharing platform. Streamium, a service like Netflix, links video streamers and viewers by leveraging on a peer-to-peer (P2P) video streaming service with payments in bitcoin.


Google

As early as 2017, a patent had appeared for an unfalsifiable blockchain belonging to the Mountain View company. Google is reportedly working on its own blockchain-related technology to support its cloud business and compete with emerging startups that use blockchain to create new operating models. Yet perhaps the business of data is where Google is putting major expectations.


In the past year, as part of the BigQuery Public Datasets program, Google Cloud released datasets consisting of the blockchain transaction history for Bitcoin and Ethereum. On February 5th, the company released 6 additional datasets for the following crypto-assets: Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Dogecoin, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin and Zcash. All datasets update every 24 hours via a common codebase, the Blockchain ETL ingestion framework.


The first terabyte for these datasets will be free each month, with costs charged per byte following for heavy users. The search giant also has a machine learning (ML) tool which searches for patterns in transaction flows so it can provide basic information on how a crypto address is used.


Check the full version of Blockchain Quarterly (Q1 2019) report for more Insights.

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