Amazon is to the 21st century what Walmart was to the 20th century. Slowly, Amazon is putting its imprint onto more and more areas of business. Already AMZN is one of the world most valuable companies worth more than $725 billion. Their sheer size allows them to go wherever they want. Last year’s jumbo acquisition of Whole Foods is a good example.
From these moves, it is clear that Amazon intends to avoid becoming the “one trick pony” that its rival Apple has succeeded in becoming. That means that Amazon must forever be searching for giant technology centric markets. Cryptocurrency may be on the horizon.
Just yesterday the U.S. Patent Office issued # 9,947,033 to Amazon for software titled Streaming Data Marketplace. CNBC first reported the headlines. Here are some direct excerpts from the patent application:
Streaming analytics technologies hold the promise of making vast volumes of data available in a low latency fashion. However, while prior technologies may be able to provide data in a low latency fashion, the raw data may have low value (or have less valuable than the data could have) until the raw data is enhanced by correlating the raw data with additional data, such as by matching records using common values.
One example is a data stream that publishes or includes global bitcoin transactions (or any cryptocurrency transaction). These transactions are completely visible to each participant in the network. The raw transaction data may have little meaning to a customer unless the customer has a way to correlate various elements of the stream with other useful data.
For example, a group of electronic or internet retailers who accept bitcoin transactions may have a shipping address that may correlate with the bitcoin address. The electronic retailers may combine the shipping address with the bitcoin transaction data to create correlated data and republish the combined data as a combined data stream.
A group of telecommunications providers may subscribe downstream to the combined data stream and be able to correlate the IP (Internet Protocol) addresses of the transactions to countries of origin. Government agencies may be able to subscribe downstream and correlate tax transaction data to help identify transaction participants.
Translating Into English
Amazon filed this patent back in 2014 so it is obvious that cryptocurrencies were not the only application they had in mind for their Streaming Data Marketplace. That doesn’t change the fact that crypto has evolved in value to over $300 billion and adoption of bitcoin by Amazon would be a major legitimizing force in the whole crypto movement.
The one big thing standing in the way of acceptance of a large number of relatively small value transactions is liquidity (speed) and Amazon vendors profits could be enhanced or completely wiped out by crypto volatility. Before getting all excited, the Streaming Data Marketplace would need to address this issue.
Without trying to get into the techno garbodigook, one way to address the problem would be for Amazon to create their own massive crypto exchange that not only provided low latency transactions but serve as yet another Amazon service. Just using the Amazon name would bring enormous credibility.
The Value Of the Data
After reading through the patent, it is obvious there are many applications to be developed. Helping regulators may be one of those. Here is what the patent application states.
For example, a law enforcement agency may be a customer and may desire to receive global bitcoin transactions, correlated by country, with ISP data to determine source IP addresses and shipping addresses that correlate to bitcoin addresses. The agency may not want additional available enhancements such as local bank data records.
Good Or Bad For Bitcoin (And Others
Is having all of the additional data available to law enforcement and other regulators a good or bad thing? After all, doesn’t this take away all the anonymity that attracted so many to cryptocurrencies in the first place?
There are arguments on both sides of this issue but I think the benefits are worth some consideration. The biggest is that if Amazon and all of its vendors have a mechanism in place to accept payment in bitcoin, this is a huge plus. The day this happens eBay and virtually every other online merchant will get with the game. And let’s remember we are talking about far more than just bitcoin. The downside is that if you have obtained your crypto from some questionable activities or wish to maintain your anonymity, stay away from online shopping.
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