Users of social messaging application WhatsApp can now exchange cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, and ZTX directly on their personal platform, according to an announcement made by a blockchain ecosystem called Zulu Republic.
Zulu Republic has designed a messaging bot named Lite.Im that relies on simple user inputs to make blockchain transactions. In addition, the bot can export cryptocurrency and allows the option of earning electronic cash through a referral program.
Lite.Im—currently available in English and Spanish—heralds the wider adoption of cryptocurrency on digital platforms. The bot is already being used by other messaging and social applications like Facebook, Telegram, and Short Messaging Service.
A report published by Reuters last week also suggests that social networking giant Facebook is investing in blockchain development through Libra Networks, a new financial technology company registered by it in Switzerland.
What Is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is an open-sourced digital currency often credited with being the first established electronic currency in the world. One of the defining traits of this currency is that it is decentralized. In other words, it’s not in the hands of an issuing authority or political institution.
Instead, in the bitcoin world, a computer code handles the production of the cryptocurrency according to predefined rules and regulations. The same code tracks all the transactions made in the system, as it automatically follows every bitcoin ever created.
According to Coin Central, there are presently around 17 million bitcoins in existence. The total amount that can be created is capped at 21 million, but since users are allowed to make very, very small transactions, the total amount should not be an issue in the long-term for a large number of users.
Using the cryptocurrency is not very complicated. People can transfer bitcoins via a peer-to-peer network on a blockchain. The blockchain consists of many blocks—data structures based on encryption—that are useful for security purposes.
The Price Of Bitcoin is Rising Again
According to Yahoo Finance, bitcoin has risen more than 100% against the U.S. dollar since the year began. Almost fifty percent of this increase has come over the past month alone. One bitcoin is currently trading close to $8,000 in the open market. There are several drivers of the rally in bitcoin value.
One of the possible explanations for the rise is the trade tensions between the United States and China. Since the two embarked upon a tariff war, it is being speculated that investors are dumping stocks and buying up bitcoin to offset unstable markets.
Another possible reason is that Chinese investors are more disposed toward investing in bitcoin because of frequent currency devaluations in China. By buying up bitcoin, the Chinese are hoping that the cryptocurrency stays more stable than the yuan.
A third, and perhaps the most plausible, explanation lies in the fact that many institutional investors are now embracing the cryptocurrency. GrayScale Bitcoin Trust and CME Group recently made statements to that effect.
A general good feeling created around the cryptocurrency by increased investment, as well as the backing by powerful technology companies like Facebook has probably given rise to the boom in the prices of electronic currencies.
Is Facebook Moving Toward Digital Currency?
Bloomberg reported in May that tech giant Facebook was planning to launch a type of cryptocurrency known as stablecoin in the third quarter of 2019. The report was based on anonymous sources telling the publication that the blockchain department of Facebook was hiring employees from PayPal ahead of the big announcement.
Of the 50 employees at the Facebook blockchain project, 10 are from PayPal, according to Bloomberg. The social media company is thought to be developing stablecoin, a form of digital currency linked to different real currencies in order to stabilize prices.
Facebook has launched WhatsApp Pay in the United States as part of an effort to test the market already. With more than two billion people around the world using Facebook’s messaging applications (Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp), the potential implications of a shift to cryptocurrency will likely be huge, claims Bloomberg.
Facebook is not the first company experimenting with stablecoin. More than 120 ventures over the past year invested in this type of cryptocurrency. However, none of these have achieved any real success, and a few have been forced to shut down in recent weeks.
As smart devices make it easier to make digital payments, more companies are investing in blockchain. The rise in electronic currency can also help mainstream the informal economy. Investment trends support the assertion that cryptocurrencies may be more than just a fad.