NEW YORK —Today Coinbase is listing on Nasdaq. A decade of work and so many people brought us here. This includes every Coinbase employee, focused for years on building a financial system that’s free, fair, and open to everyone. It also includes you, the 56 million people who use Coinbase. And of course, we have to recognize Satoshi Nakamoto, who started it all by introducing Bitcoin to the world in 2008.
We’ve had a number of ups and downs on our way here. Through luck and skill, Coinbase succeeded where many predicted it would fail. We weathered the ups and downs through innovation and keeping our eye on the long term. And along the way, we made cryptocurrency easier to use, introducing millions of people to this new technology. I’m proud of what we have accomplished so far. But we certainly didn’t do all this work just for one day.
Today’s listing is a milestone, but it’s not as important as every new day in front of us. Coinbase has an ambitious mission: to increase economic freedom in the world. Everyone deserves access to financial services that can help them build a better life for themselves and their families. We have a lot of hard work to do to make this a reality.
We’re still in the early days of this industry, but we’re squarely focused on the future, on our mission, and on building the best crypto experiences for you, our community.
WASHINGTON —Money is a social and legal construct underpinned by trust. Conceptions of money have evolved and money has taken many forms over the years. In North America, pre-colonial trade was often conducted in wampum, corn, and fur pelts.
Today, for the United States, whatever specific objectives may arise for a central bank digital currency (CBDC), they should be consistent with the Federal Reserve’s longstanding objectives of the safety and efficiency of the nation’s payments system, as well as monetary and financial stability. A CBDC arrangement must be in keeping with these objectives, which have guided the central bank since its establishment in 1913.
A foundational element for introducing a CBDC is understanding its purpose: What can a CBDC be used for, how it can be used, and what potential value does it provide? A recent Bank for International Settlements report highlighted a number of potential benefits for a CBDC. These include enhancing payment system resiliency, increasing payments diversity, encouraging financial inclusion, and improving cross-border payments. Research papers and other reports have referenced the potential for a CBDC to support monetary policy. It is important to consider that a CBDC that is designed to support monetary policy transmission or economic stimulus payments, for example, would be quite different than a CBDC that is designed to be an alternative to cash. Without clear objectives, it would be difficult to establish business requirements for a CBDC.
Sources: This map was compiled using data from the March 2020 BIS Quarterly Review and a 2020 working paper from the IMF, “A survey of research on retail central bank digital currency,” and supplemented through additional secondary research. CBDC activity tracking sites from organizations such as the Atlantic Council were used. Motivations were broadly determined by the authors using the public statements attributed to sources within the central banks themselves or in some cases other news sources.
Central bank interest in CBDC research and experimentation varies significantly. However, these interests generally fall into two broad categories. One set of central banks is primarily looking to address present-day challenges, while for others it is exploring future capabilities. For some jurisdictions, a CBDC is intended to address a specific problem — inefficient payment systems, weak banking infrastructure, or declining cash use — or to promote national policy goals, such as supporting payments inclusion and protecting monetary sovereignty.
For many advanced economies, the primary motivations are centered on potential payments innovation and general preparedness for a potential future state. highlights some of the central banks’ primary motivations.
Source and Map: Federal Reserve by Jess Cheng, Angela N Lawson, and Paul Wong. Select here to visit their website for this full article.
WASHINGTON ―The wait is finally over for the very end of 2020. The latest lists from Industry of top stories in tech, cyber, and STEM likely will loom much larger in the fog of 2021. Topping the charts for 2020 during National BDPA’s 45th Anniversary year were stories directly and indirectly related to COVID-19, Big Tech, Cybersecurity, and Social Unrest amidst a wider and much deeper ‘Digital Chasm‘ connecting underserved communities with their respective populations during a pandemic.
The Top 25
Most of the top 25 stories highlighted below for 2020 previously were shared with Industry, communities of color, traditionally marginalized communities, and underserved communities inside or on the covers of weekly and monthly publications.
25.Earth Day Tech Summit: BDPA and UDC Earth Day Summits go virtual due to COVID-19. [April 2020 edition of bdpatoday]
24.Digital Divide: 51,000 laptops with Internet services were provided to students in Detroit, MI. [bdpatoday.com]
23. U.S. Naval Academy: Midshipman First Class Sydney Barber becomes the first Black female to lead Brigade of Midshipmen. Upon graduation in May of 2021, MIDN Barber will receive her commission as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. [bdpatoday 11.14.20 ICYMI edition]
22. Zoom: In order to meet exponential growth and unprecedented demand, Oracle is selected as a cloud infrastructure provider for Zoom meetings. [bdpatoday 05.02.20 ICYMI edition]
21. U.S. Navy: LTJG Madeline G. Swegle becomes the U.S. Navy’s first Black female Tactical Air (TACAIR) jet pilot. [July 2020 edition of bdpatoday]
20.NIST: The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Privacy Framework Version 1.0 was released to help organizations identify and manage privacy risk for building innovative products and services while protecting individuals’ privacy. [ bdpatoday 01.18.20 ICYMI edition]
18. COVID-19: Apple and Google partner on contact-tracing technology. [bdpatoday.com]
17.Tesla: Headquarters and Gigafactory moves are heading to Austin, TX. [bdpatoday.com]
16.HPC: Lewis Hamilton wins 7th FIA Formula One championship powered by edge-to-core analytics with high-performance computing (HPC) from HPE. [bdpatoday 11.28.20 ICYMI edition]
15.COBOL: Federal, State, and Local governments call for more COBOL programmers to assist staff with stimulus, relief, and unemployment checks. [bdpatoday 04.04.20 ICYMI edition]
14. Exascale Day!: October 18th is Exascale Day. HPE, JEF, and BDPA welcomed “10 to the 18th power” or “10^18” during Exascale Day Weekend launching a series of supercomputer, HPC, and artificial intelligence (Ai) webinars. [October 2020 edition of bdpatoday]
12.BDPA2020: National BDPA’s 45th Anniversary, Annual Technology Conference, Diversity Career Fair, I.T. Showcase, Mobile App Showcase, and the annual National High School Computer Competition (HSCC) collectively go 100-percent virtual for the first time in the Association’s history. #BDPA2020 was successfully delivered across all mobile platforms. [August 2020 Special Edition of bdpatoday]
11. USASMDC: The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and BDPA Huntsville launch a new Cyber Workforce initiative with the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC.) [bdpatoday 10.31.20 ICYMI edition]
10. Digital Divide: Microsoft awards $15 million in Community Skills Grants, an investment over three years to fifty (50) Black- and African American-led nonprofits that are working to increase skill development and economic opportunities. The H.O.P.E. Project DMV in partnership with National BDPA’s Greater Washington, D.C. Chapter (bdpadc.org) are one of Microsoft’s grant recipients for 2020. [bdpatoday.com]
9.AFRL: In fiscal year 2021 (FY21), the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program seeks to ink new and innovative deals with emerging small businesses and HBCU mission partners to meet or exceed the Department of the Air Force’s (DAF) priorities. [bdpatoday May 2020 edition]
8. Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin’s latest rise in 2020. For the first time in its history, Bitcoin reached $20,000. According to CNBC, the world’s most-valuable virtual currency traded 5.6% higher on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, to a new price of around $20,600, taking its year-to-date gains north of 180%! [bdpatoday.com]
7. SpaceX: The launch of two NASA astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) marked the first private spaceflight company to send a crewed spacecraft into space. [bdpatoday June 2020 edition]
6. SolarWinds: Government agencies ‘hacked’ again ― stories from Federal, State, and Local agencies are still unfolding as we venture deeper into 2021. [bdpatoday.com]
5.Wall Street: Nasdaq advances “diversity” as stocks in 2020 across most major indices reached record highs. Nasdaq soon may adopt new listing rules related to board diversity and disclosures. [bdpatoday.com]
4.White House: As the daughter of two immigrants from Jamaica and India, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’ historic election breaks several barriers. “All eyes are on Georgia” as the next President of the Senate awaits Georgia’s runoff election results to determine control of the U.S. Senate. [bdpatoday November 2020 edition]
3.Big Tech vs. Uncle Sam: On October 6, 2020, bdpatoday.com featured a story about the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee’s release of findings of its more than 16-month long investigation into the state of competition in the digital economy, especially the challenges presented by the dominance of Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook and their business practices. On October 20, 2020, bdpatoday.com shared a story from the Department of Justice (DOJ.) DOJ — along with eleven state Attorneys General — filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms. In 2021 and the foreseeable future, “Big Tech” will have its day in Congress and the Courts from at least two branches of government. In the pipeline will be renewed battles over Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (at 47 U.S.C. § 230). “Section 230” provides immunity for content providers and website publishers from third-party content. [bdpatoday.com]
2. COVID-19: “All Hands On Deck” for scientists, engineers, physicians, logisticians, STEM technicians, and I.T. professionals. “Digital divides” and “heath desert” challenges across the globe in underserved communities are hampering vaccine distributions as 2020 fades away. [bdpatoday December 2020 edition]
Number 1. Digital Divide and Social Unrest: Black Data Matters, Black Tech Matters, Black Consumers Matter, all lives matter, every student ― #BDPAfuture ― really matters. Founded by Earl A. Pace, Jr. in Philadelphia, PA as Black Data Processing Associates, BDPA was established in 1975 to promote and share awareness across traditionally underserved or marginalized communities of new “Data Processing” careers with related technical job openings in “Computer Science” fields. Today, BDPA’s mission has not waivered.
The pandemic of 2020 coupled with civil unrest across several U.S. cities revealed widening ‘digital chasms’ with news deserts, health deserts, and food deserts in every corner of America leading up to our top stories for 2020. Systemic racism, cultural biases, social discord, oppression from deep within our society’s soul, and gerrymandered redlining transgressions still are shrewdly perpetuated today through outdated laws, discriminatory policies, algorithmic bias, obsolete technology, and dilapidated infrastructures. To this end, our lead success stories feature BDPA, its ICT Industry partners, major corporations, and local BDPA Chapter mission-partners making impact investments to help eliminate “deserts” within digitally divided communities as millions of students, teachers, and parents where forced home; many with little or no access to high speed Internet services. [bdpatoday.com]
Last October, National BDPA celebrated the life of Vivian C. Wilson, the first women elected to the Association’s chief executive role of National BDPA President.
BDPA Nation also said goodbyes in 2020 to iconic Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman;Dr. George Robert Carruthers, an inventor, physicist, engineer and space scientist; Roderick “Rod” Wesley Flakes, former President, BDPA (Boston) Mass MetroWest Chapter and engineer at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC); U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; one of NASA’s “Hidden Figures” Katherine Johnson; U.S. Representative John Lewis; Norman Shakespeare, former Vice President of Strategic Planning, BDPA (Boston) Mass MetroWest Chapter; model and restaurateur Barbara “B” Smith; and Charles “Chuck” Yeager, World War II ace fighter pilot and U.S. Air Force quintessential test pilot.
2021 has arrived! In May 2021, bdpatoday (ISSN 1946-1429) launches its 15th year to proudly serve more I.T. technicians and cybersecurity professionals, new HBCU Chapters, new student members, and new consumers in every industry. To add your team’s success stories in tech, cyber, and STEM along with new campaigns or press releases, contact our team directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org – or – email@example.com.
Seemingly undisturbed by 2020’s craziness, and largely unfazed by bitcoin’s wild price swings that concluded with new all-time highs in December, Bitcoin’s technical community continues to plow ahead. Bitcoin’s software and the many projects around it were gradually improved throughout the year, as software was optimized, bugs fixed and privacy leaks patched. The bulk of this work, as vital as much of it is, doesn’t attract headlines.
Yet, a bird’s-eye view on Bitcoin’s tech development over the span of a year helps highlight new milestones in Bitcoin’s ongoing technological march forward. In 2020, too, the consistently growing Bitcoin development community introduced a number of useful new features, several particularly important upgrades and some especially notable improvements.
As this volatile year is drawing to a close, these were some of Bitcoin’s most notable technical developments over the past 12 months…
New Privacy Tools With PayJoin And CoinSwap
On Bitcoin’s privacy front, the PayJoin and CoinSwap projects this year represented two promising advancements.
PayJoin, also known as Pay to Endpoint (P2EP), is a trick that lets recipients of a transaction partake in the transaction through a CoinJoin, to basically send funds to themselves while also receiving the actual payment from the real sender. If a snoop, conducting blockchain analysis, were to assume that all coins sent in a transaction belonged to the same person — as they normally would — they’d be wrong. This already benefits the privacy of both sender and receiver, as the snoop would confuse (past) coin ownership between them. Moreover, if enough people use PayJoin, it could render this important heuristic for blockchain analysis useless altogether, in turn benefiting even the privacy of those who didn’t make PayJoin transactions themselves.
The Lightning Network Became More Robust With Watchtowers (And More)
The Lightning Network, Bitcoin’s Layer 2 protocol for faster, cheaper and more private payments, continued to improve across the board in 2020. With Lightning implementations LND, Eclair, C-Lightning and — since July — Electrum rolling out a number of new software releases, and a growing number of projects building on top of the protocol, Lightning development was more active than ever. Among the more notable developments, Watchtowers resolved one of the Lightning Network’s remaining weaknesses, resulting in a more robust protocol.
After Miniscript, Bitcoin Programming Was Made Easier With Minsc
The code embedded in Bitcoin transactions that specifies what conditions must be met to spend the coins in a next transaction is written in a programming language specifically designed for Bitcoin, called Script. Script can be tricky to work with, however: in programmers jargon, Script is hard to “reason about.” This means that, especially as it becomes a bit more complex, it can be difficult to understand what a piece of script actually allows: a transaction may unintentionally include code that allows the coins to be spent under different conditions than originally intended. This is one reason why many Bitcoin software applications, like wallets, refrain from utilizing Script’s full potential.
Smart Contracts Became Smarter With DLCs
Whenever smart contracts depend on external data — data that doesn’t live on the blockchain — they rely on an external source for that data referred to as an “oracle.” If two users want to bet on the outcome of a sports match, for example, the oracle would have to use the result of the match to settle the bet in favor of whoever made the correct prediction (at least in case of a dispute).
Holding Is Getting Safer With Bitcoin Vaults
The long list of exchange hacks and other bitcoin heists are testament to the fact that securely storing private keys continues to be a challenge, especially where many coins are at stake. But more secure solutions to store coins are in development. Bitcoin vaults — a concept dating back to 2016 — are a type of smart contract that secure coins so that it takes several confirmed transactions and a time delay to really spend them. This gives potential victims the opportunity to revert a heist before it is too late. 2020 saw the release of two types of vault prototypes.
Taproot Is Now Good To Go, As Activation Is Under Consideration
Taproot is set to be the first Bitcoin protocol upgrade since Segregated Witness activated in August 2017. First proposed by Bitcoin Core contributor Gregory Maxwell in January 2018, Taproot lets users “hide” smart contracts in regular-looking Bitcoin transactions: complex multisig construction could be indistinguishable from a simple payment.
For an even more extensive and detailed summary of Bitcoin’s 2020 tech developments, also see the Bitcoin Optech 2020 Year-in-Review Special. Aaron’s full article is linked here.
World Blockchain Hackathon 2018 and Howard University
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Whitney Griffith, an early member of the Howard University Blockchain Lab (HUBL), won first place at this year’s World Blockchain Hackathon, in San Francisco. Recently, HUBL got a chance to reconnect with her to hear all about her latest success story.
HUBL: How did you find out about the Hackathon?
Whitney: I found out about the hackathon through the magic of Silicon Valley. One of the organizers came to my birthday party, and after we were talking for a while he told me about his World Blockchain Hackathon series, where he travels the world hosting Blockchain hackathons to build a community. Immediately I was intrigued because Blockchain and hackathons are totally my thing.
HUBL: Did you already have a team, or did you form the team when you arrived?
Whitney: When I got to the event, I formed the team with some other women engineers. However, most of us were pretty clueless in terms of Blockchain development so on Saturday everyone basically took the time to follow some tutorials and we began working on the project on Sunday.
HUBL: What got you interested in blockchain dev?
Whitney: My friends at Howard University, specifically Alston, got me into this cryptocurrency world. The more I was in the blockchain space by going to the events, and faking it, I got more intrigued by the technology and specifically I saw the numerous use cases that Blockchain can be applied to, to make the world a better place. As such, I immediately knew I needed to learn how to develop in Blockchain and all I needed was time.
HUBL: How long have you been doing blockchain dev?
Whitney:I have been doing Blockchain Development for two weeks roughly. Before, I have been researching about general blockchain stuff, such as, cryptocurrency trading, mining and following the ICO trends but I have only been doing blockchain dev the past two weeks.
HUBL: What were some obstacles you and your teamed faced while building the project?
Whitney: One of the main obstacle we faced was lack of knowledge of the Stack of a DApp, limited understanding of smart contracts and how to secure smart contracts. As such we spent most of our time peer programming, writing in pseudocode and then having to write it over in Solidity, and explaining the concepts to everyone on the team.
HUBL: How did the pitch go?
Whitney: The pitch was great. We had a story to tell and we knew that was the thing that would enable us to win. I was tasked with doing the pitch for my team, and although I was nervous I pushed through because I believed in our story.
HUBL: What went through your mind when they announced your team as the winner?
Whitney: I was in shock. I still am somewhat in disbelief and my first thought was, “Yes, I can go to Bali now!” We all looked at each other and screamed because we did not expect to actually win. Logically it didn’t make sense, 60% of our team never coded smart contracts before, but here we were winning a blockchain hackathon. This experience just shows that once you believe in yourself you can achieve anything. We have decided to pursue our idea to make a legitimate company, and part of our prize was access to a coworking space in San Francisco for three months to build the company.
HUBL: What advice do you have for people looking to getting into blockchain dev, talk to your people!
Whitney: My advice is if you aren’t currently in Blockchain and you are still looking for an area in tech to dominate, do Blockchain! A part from the wonders that the technology do, the job market is absolutely booming, and most importantly, you have more control as the jobs are mainly remote. If you have a dream of traveling the world and being a digital nomad, Blockchain can allow you to do so.
I have created a Blockchain Resources doc, that has a bunch of tutorials that you can use to upscale in your Blockchain skills. Take time, do the work and you will definitely reap the rewards. And the community is important, share knowledge, talk with others in the space, make an effort to go to Blockchain related events and you will not regret it.
HUBL: Keep doing your thing in Silicon Valley, and we can’t wait for you to come back to Howard University in the fall and share your lessons learned with the lab!
— by Alston Clark Co-Founder, Howard University Blockchain Lab
Story and photo courtesy HUBL
Alston Clark is a 2018 Computer Science graduate of Howard University and National BDPA’s High School Coding Competition (HSCC) alumnus. Mr. Clark co-founded HUBL, the Center for Blockchain Education, Research, & Innovation, at Howard University.