Amazon’s Cryptocurrency – A New Era

During the first weeks of November 2017, there was a great deal of speculation ongoing in interested circles about the future of Amazon’s cryptocurrency. More specifically, many observers were wondering about why Amazon had registered three cryptocurrency related web domains in the course of just one short week. The company itself did not join in with this speculation, issuing only brief and non-committal statements. These did nothing to quell the interest that had been generated in these developments and this should not be surprising since the activities of this giant of retail and also cloud services are bound to be a subject for prediction and debate. This indeed proved to be the case when Amazon’s legal department took the steps necessary to secure their possession of three web addresses. These were amazon.cryptocurrencies.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com and amazonethereum.com. One of the first things that interested observers noted was that these three new purchases created a larger pattern when they were considered in light of Amazon’s securing of amazonbitcoin.com back in 2013. There seemed something of a disconnect in the pattern on closer observation, however, as the bitcoin-related site was seen to now connect and forward to Amazon’s main site, while the newly acquired domains did not, at that time, connect onto anything else. The question being asked was: what does all this mean in relation to Amazon’s cryptocurrency? Was the company going to change its policy, perhaps, and in future accept payments in bitcoin or Ethereum?

There is a very prosaic possible answer for all of this speculation and we should remember that, when we are hypothesising about such matters as Amazon’s cryptocurrency, we should accept that the simplest solution is the one most likely to be accurate. This simple solution is that Amazon registered these domains for trademark and copyright reasons. If Amazon itself owns these web domains, then no other parties can create confusion or perhaps fraud by registering them. Such a step, or indeed pre-emptive strike against trademark infringement is a very plausible solution to the questions that were being asked, especially when it is considered in harness with the company’s expressed disinclination to accept payments in bitcoin. However other possible explanations for Amazon’s cryptocurrency have been suggested, one of which relates to the securing of the amazonethereum.com domain. This second most popular cryptocurrency was not appreciating in value like its principal competitor, and was widely touted as having more uses in general, especially as being a medium for the much-discussed ‘smart contracts’. If this was the case then did Amazon have plans to become involved in what would be, effectively, a decentralised competitor in its own principal market? This would be a bold strategy, indeed. Or was Amazon interested in future ‘cloud-mining’ of cryptocurrencies in general, and the securing of the domains merely a preliminary step in this venture? This seemed unlikely given the inherent problems with ‘cloud-mining’ in general and the cloud-mining of cryptocurrencies.

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