I’m now a verified Brave Rewards creator!

Brave is quickly becoming my favorite web browser.

They prevent ads, trackers, and fully integrate with the world of cryptocurrency through their BAT token.

Their entire ecosystem is super cool because they aim to replace the current web advertising structure completely. Check it out:

I’m now a verified Brave Rewards creator!

At long last, I’ve now registered myself and this website to the Brave Rewards program!

All this means is that visitors like you, using the Brave browser, can contribute tiny amounts of BAT tokens straight to my wallet; only if you believe my content is worthwhile though! 🙂

If you’re using the Brave browser, check out the Brave icon to see the details of my registration!

Congressman Bill Foster: the US Central Bank Digital Currency

On Thursday, January 23, 2019, I listened to Congressman Bill Foster (IL – 11) present his thoughts on a US Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and its relationship with a centralized Digital Identity.

Before getting into the weeds, I’d like to restate that these are his expert thoughts (blended with some personal perspective), not a polished proposal ready for votes.


Principally, Foster’s US CBDC would rely on three foundational elements.

  1. Account-based balance transfers through Fed-owned accounts.
  2. Judicial safety nets for “reversing” transactions through courts
  3. Biometrically-signed Digital Identity tied to both ends of transactions

Notably, what it does not explicitly include is establishing this CBDC on a blockchain or as a cryptocurrency. Rather, the nature of the judicial safety net to allow transactions to be frozen or reversed would fall directly opposed to the immutable nature of the typical blockchain.

Before we explore each of these, let’s add some context to his point of view.

Why they want to do it

Fundamentally, the US government is not acting from a forward-thinking mentality. Rather, they are playing defense against China.

The threat of a Chinese CBDC is the strongest impetus the US government has for pushing for a US CBDC. They worry, among many, that the dawn of a Chinese CBDC will dethrone the USD as the world’s reserve currency. Without this, the US would not act.

Further, they worry that if the Chinese CBDC gains adoption, the world would be under the thumb of Chinese law – your assets could be frozen or confiscated without warning or reason, and the recourse would be through Chinese courts.

Now, as much as I distrust the US system to get it right, I’d choose them over the Chinese system every time. And, despite it all, many people would agree with that choice as well.

In summary, the US government wants to protect their power over the global monetary supply against a growing Chinese alternative; reasonable, I suppose.

Why it needs to be built this way

The dream of truly anonymous, immutable, and trustless peer to peer payments cannot be fulfilled through a CBDC (just use crypto instead).

Firstly, KYC/AML fundamentally opposes anonymity. Though any libertarian would argue against it, the reality of the world and its use of money for nefarious purposes is apparent. We can’t have a CBDC that is built to easily comply with washing illegal money into the primary monetary system. Say what you will about cash, but digital currency moves at the speed of light and needs to be held to a higher standard. So, we need a reliable digital identity.

A CBDC can only be built within the confines of its ability to enforce compliance with the law. Therefore, it can only exist with a layer of verified, biometrically-signed digital identity (thumbprint, iris scan). The curious piece of this is how identity would be enforced outside of the US; ie. how would a French banker use a US CBDC; a Russian?

Interestingly, Foster posits that the CBDC can be built in a pseudo anonymous way to prevent counterparties from knowing each other’s identity, while still revealing both to the central authority. This could fundamentally change the data collection strategies of payments companies like PayPal in that they would not have a credit card name on the transaction to relate to any other transactions. Businesses would only know that $29.99 entered the system for an item, not that it came from Joe Smith.

Secondly, like any contractual agreement, the ability to raise issues to a higher, impartial power to settle disputes is foundational to trust, recourse, and plain usability. If I have a contract with someone and there is a dispute, I can take them to court for action. A CBDC must be built with a layer to leverage this pattern; on-chain or off-chain. If you accidentally send funds to a dead-end account, you’ll want a way to escalate the issue to reverse the transaction. If someone steals your money or defrauds you, you’ll want the justice system to provide an option.

While I am against providing a small subset of individuals the keys to a “backdoor” to the CBDC (since it becomes a single point of failure that every enemy nation state will likely make their primary target), the pattern must be implemented to some degree. Personally, I would prefer an off-chain option rather than open a backdoor to the entire monetary system, regardless of how well trained and secure the operators are.

Lastly, instead of using the cryptocurrency pattern of keys owning tokens and transactions transferring ownership, Foster prefers to use account balance transfers within the confines of the Federal Reserve. He believes account balance transfers instead of blockchain would be a superior solution to scale; at present he’s not wrong.

I can’t speak to the strategy of holding these accounts within the Federal Reserve or how this system would play into monetary policy and interest rates. Foster did not have any comments on this perspective, but it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t mess with your account somehow.

Final Thoughts

Though many libertarian ideals will die on the table for the CBDC, did we really expect anything else?

I’m actually very excited to see the use cases of a solid, biometrically-signed digital identity. From preventing spam calls to online voting, a trusted, government-backed digital identity would fundamentally transform the internet.

As far as the US CBDC goes, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Acting defensively and without a clear proposal, we’re a long way off from POC and adoption. And I don’t see myself using the Chinese CBDC to pay my bills anytime soon…

Meanwhile, if you want to use USD on the internet, pick up some DAI or any other stablecoins.

Tip: Super easy content ideation

Ever get stuck coming up with ideas to write about?

Simply record or revisit your Google searches related to your niche and write about what you learned.

This is especially helpful when you search for something and cannot find what you’re looking for – prime content for future searchers.

For the perfect example of this in action, I recently searched for “how to show the ManageWP plugin”, but had to ultimately ping their support team to get the answer.

I then published the result: How to show the ManageWP plugin.

This capitalizes on the exact search term I used (SEO), leaves a record for future searches to resolve this same issue, and sets me up as a SME on this term.


Tip: How to show the ManageWP Worker plugin

When you install the ManageWP plugin, you can configure it to be hidden from view so the client website won’t accidentally remove it.

This also hides the plugin from you and, in the case that you want to remove it, makes it slightly more painful than it needs to be.

Simply add the following query parameter on the plugins page to reveal it:


This will reveal the plugin so you can manage it.

How Blockchain could replace GTIN, UPC, and Barcodes

Whenever you checkout at a grocery store, your cashier will scan the barcodes of your items and their prices are automatically added to the total.

The tech is rather simple. Each barcode scanned is equivalent to some unique sequence of numbers that exists as the ID of the product.

That ID (aka UPC or Universal Product Code) is used to lookup the product’s name, price, weight, and other data from the store’s local database.

Additionally, that UPC exists in the global scope as well. For example, a specific banana has the same UPC in every store across the world.

But, how can the stores know they’re not going to choose a UPC that’s already in use by apples?

How can interoperability exist between brands?

What about other products like books or shirts?

Enter, Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN).

UPC was the original, but it’s successor GTIN covers a lot more.

The GTIN standard has incorporated the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), International Standard Music Number (ISMN), International Article Number (which includes the European Article Number and Japanese Article Number) and some Universal Product Codes (UPCs), into a universal number space.


In order to ensure that there are no collisions, individual brands register for a Company Prefix that they can use to denominate all products under.

Specifically, GTIN is managed by a centralized company called GS1 that approves and manages the entire GTIN database.

Blockchain was made for this

So, GTIN is a numeral based standard that requires a central trust to regulate that users don’t interfere with each other’s namespace.

In the same way that ENS allows for a trustless registrar for domain names, a blockchain solution for allowing companies to register and manage the product information within their portfolio while simultaneously preventing conflicting usage and unsanctioned modifications.

For example: if I wanted to register my product with a GTIN, I need to pay GS1 every year for the Company Prefix so I could create GTIN’s within its scope.

Instead, using blockchain, I could use my wallet to transact directly with a smart contract to create a new product GTIN as a 100% unique UUID and manage the metadata associated with it directly.

I would be able to create a product GTIN for the cost of a transaction fee, add pricing data, name, and even logistics data to the public blockchain without ever paying a middle man.

Then, I would print my products with a QR code of its blockchain address.

Graciously, I’m assuming for international tech support for QR code product scanners that interact with the blockchain, but hey we’ve switched before and we can do it again. Progress isn’t painless.


Why ENS will be superior to DNS in every way

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I have a tendancy to buy domains names without second though (shout out to gotballs.org…).

So naturally, I have a few issues with the domain name registrar industry as a whole:

  1. Premium Domains are an absolute scam. Registrars can choose to markup domain names for profit as they see fit even though they don’t own the domain.
  2. ICANN is essentially shaking down users for profit and owns a monopoly on the creation of new TLDs
  3. Domain ownership requires private information to be provided during registration and you would then need to pay for WhoisGuard on top of that to prevent spammers from retrieving it.

Now, the current industry exists as a natural byproduct of the technology that existed at the time it was required. A central trusted authority was needed to maintain a ledger of who owned what domain and which server had its data. A necessary evil, per se.

Blockchain did not exist to serve as a trustless middleman to coordinate this information.

But now it does.

What is ENS?

So ENS – Ethereum Name Service – is a smart contract built on the Ethereum network that acts as a trustless, decentralized mechanism for registering and managing domain names.

For example, through ENS I have registered jameswmontgomery.eth by sending an arbitrary amount of ether to the smart contract. It then marks my address down as the owner for X number of years and will expire unless I reregister.

Most notably, the ether I sent does not go to some corporation – it literally gets burned.

The first thing you’ll notice, though, is that you cannot simply visit jameswmontgomery.eth as you would jameswmontgomery.com – at least not on major browsers (yet). We’ll revisit this in a bit.

Primarily – at this point – ENS’s main value is acting as a shortcut for Ethereum addresses (and other cryptocurrencies).

Specifically, instead of sending ether to my address 0xcDbB43A1BacB5Fe29ff895C7f79dC9dD0d536F71, you would send it to jameswmontgomery.eth from a supported wallet like Meta Mask or MyEtherWallet.

The ENS smart contract would then automatically route the payment to the correct address; it’s even smart enough to route payments to the different token addresses automatically like Ethereum, Bitcoin, BCash, Ripple, and others.

It doesn’t sound like DNS though.

Payment routing is just the beginning.

They’re also rolling out support for registering existing TLDs like .com and have already established a proof-of-concept with the .xyz TLD.

This allows existing TLD registrants (you can’t just buy google.com, sorry) to claim their domains on the ENS network and enable three key features:

  1. Accept payments from any crypto wallets directly to jameswmontgomery.com without an intermediary like PayPal.
  2. Join Web 3.0 by serving site content through Swarm and IPFS.
  3. Store meta data like email, Twitter username, and others as structured data for easy reference on apps.

It can’t be far from thought for the architects to want to support core DNS features like A Records, CNAME, etc as well, but these features are currently not supported.


When ENS does support these key DNS features, it will ultimately be the superior choice for the future of the internet because:

  1. It does not rely on a central authority to maintain a ledger of ownership
  2. It does not arbitrarily establish “premium” domain names and jack up prices (though, it does have simple character count scaled price to ward off domain piracy).
  3. It is an open source protocol that can ultimately be governed by a DAO instead of a corporation.
  4. It is inherently censorship resistant and governments cannot shut down ENS addresses.
  5. DNS’s core function as a distributed ledger with TTL is handled by default on Ethereum.