It is the fall of 2020 and the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system contains a bold new feature: token blockchain that consumers can use to purchase news articles. Meanwhile, the company has worked behind the scenes with news like Fortuna and the New York Times to ensure that they can accept Apple tokens as a perfect form of payment. The service spreads rapidly and many Apple users buy more tokens, providing a boost to the news industry and a victory for blockchain advocates who have long publicized technology as a superior way of paying.
This is just speculation, of course. I have no idea what Apple has planned for iOS 14 or if the company is seriously intending to build a blockchain. But the idea is not far-fetched. A conversation has arrived with consultants and entrepreneurs, who believe that it will take a technology giant like Apple to make large-scale blockchain payments work.
Previous attempts to bring the blockchain to the media, including the diseased Civil Star, have failed since they involved setting up new blockchain-first stores and at the same time persuading users to try it. The result was confusion all around.
Apple would be different. The company could exploit its existing relationship with the media to install a behind-the-scenes blockchain system and initiate adoption by providing free tokens to its broad user base. Subsequently, users can buy more tokens on a regular basis through the Apple Store. All transactions would be easily traceable on a distributed ledger, either on an existing Ethereum basis or on a new blockchain developed by Apple.
Naturally, the economic details of the agreement should be worked out. For example, would Apple agree to subsidize the initial token lot? Will publishers be able to redeem them in cash with Apple at full or partial value? Will tokens exchange third-party encryption exchanges?
Assuming these details can be worked out, the benefits would be significant for both parties. It would save all transaction costs by cutting credit card companies, and it would also create a slimmer payment experience for consumers. And for news publishers, it would solve the old problem of micropayments, ie how to charge users a small amount for a single article. Meanwhile, Apple would garner considerable goodwill by helping the troubled news industry.
Again, this is just a speculation – or perhaps wishful thinking on the part of this journalist. But if it is not Apple, it seems that another technology company will seize the opportunity to make blockchain payments a reality. Facebook, which is building its blockchain team like crazy, is another leading candidate, although it should overcome confidence issues given how society has burned media in the past. Meanwhile, Microsoft has worked quietly on a blockchain solution to manage intellectual property on its gaming console. It is not difficult to imagine the company extending it to a wider consumer payment system.
The bottom line is a blockchain-based payment method for the media that seems like a too promising occasion to fade. And even if I try not to make any predictions (at the end of the year or otherwise), I predict that Apple, Google or another technology giant will offer a cryptographic payment solution by the end of 2020.
The Ledger team will be back with more news in the new year. Jen, Robert and I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.
The last from the Crypto Crypto of the SEC
Last Thursday, the zar-Valerie Sczczepanik crypt spoke to the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance in the offices of Signum Global Advisors in New York. I left with two take-aways. Firstly, Sczczepanik is an incredibly perceptive regulator who is passionate about encryption and he believes he has a bright future despite the current wave of enforcement actions of the SEC. Secondly, for all the speeches of a "winter crypto", the blockchain world is still pulsating with vivacity and optimism. This was clear by looking at the crowded room of investors, lawyers and entrepreneurs who filled the room and stayed over 8pm to talk about crytpo.