JPMorgan tests blockchain payments from space, but it’s no Blockstream

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JPMorgan Chase reckons its blockchain applications are “close to generating revenues,” reports Reuters.

To drum up interest in those applications, JP Morgan recently tested blockchain-powered payments using satellites orbiting Earth.

The idea: perform decentralization theatre for corporates — from space.

Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the array of smart devices that LinkedIn influencers say could one day seamlessly communicate (and transact) with each other.

And if smart fridges and speakers are exchanging real value in the future, then banks will assuredly wedge themselves between and charge fees.

Throwback to 2019.

Enter Onyx, JPMorgan’s blockchain arm. The unit’s chief exec Umar Farooq told Reuters its satellite tests were meant to  “explore IoT payments in a fully decentralized way,” and that “nowhere is more decentralized and detached from Earth than space.”

JPMorgan makes the blockchain rules

While technically true, it’s disingenuous to suggest paying a Danish satellite company to temporarily run a node for a private DLT system “decentralizes” anything — purely because of the distance between it and Jamie Dimon’s office toilet.

Public blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum are decentralized not because of the space between nodes, but because anyone at all can participate in the network, and even change it.

In fact, if enough participants want to modify the network’s rules, they can, as long as a majority agrees.

This is decentralization. What JP Morgan is performing decentralization theatre, a practice recently perfected by Binance’s Changpang Zhao via Binance Smart Chain.

If Onyx wanted sudden changes to its space-compatible DLT, it could make them — single-handedly — and if Onyx felt like reversing or rolling back hypothetical transactions between your Alexa and smart fridge, it could. 

In any case, there already exists a better example of satellites in a truly decentralized blockchain with Bitcoin.

Bitcoin development giant Blockstream maintains an actual satellite network that beams the entire Bitcoin blockchain to Earth.

Unlike JPMorgan’s faux-decentralization, Blockstream’s satellites allow anyone to use Bitcoin without permission — especially useful in areas with strict internet censorship.

You can read more about Blockstream’s satellite system here.

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