● MasterCard to integrate crypto
● Bitcoin consumes more electricity than Argentina

Hi and welcome to this week’s edition of Overbit.com’s Weekly Round Up.

Today, big news broke in the cryptocurrency industry when a source familiar with the matter reported that the Mastercard network would have soon rollout digital currency payments settled in crypto at participating merchants - a first for the financial giant. Chief financial officer Ned Segal said the firm has been watching other companies to see what it can learn. Still, the company is keeping a tight lid on its ongoing plans and has not yet disclosed which digital currencies it intends to support, or where.

Previously, Mastercard funded limited cryptocurrency transactions through its cryptocard partners Wirex and Uphold. However, these services only cover the payment, not settlement; coins are converted into fiat currency long before entering the retailer.

In a blog post published after this article, Mastercard Executive Vice President for Blockchain and Digital Asset Products Raj Dhamodharan indicated that stablecoins would be the primary beneficiary of the upcoming Mastercard integration.

While it seems many companies are starting to get more and more bullish on crypto, environmental activists are beginning to speak about the ecological implications of Bitcoin, and this is nothing new as these talks happen every bull run.

Cambridge researchers estimate that it consumes about 121,36 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year. It is unlikely to fall unless the value of currency slumps, as “Mining” for cryptocurrencies, is power-hungry, requiring intense computation to validate transactions.

The University of Cambridge’s online calculator reports that Bitcoin’s annual energy usage uses more electricity annually than Argentina as a whole, leaving critics to say that Tesla’s decision to invest heavily in Bitcoin undermines its environmental profile.

This problem will not go away because as the price rises so does energy usage, according to Michel Rauchs, a researcher at the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance, who co-created the online tool that generates these estimates. Mr Rauchs told the BBC Tech Tent podcast “It is really by design that Bitcoin consumes that much electricity,” and “This is not something that will change in the future unless the Bitcoin price is going to significantly go down.”

By contrast, Bitcoin’s energy could power all the kettles used in the United Kingdom for 27 years, he said. However, it also indicates that the amount of electricity consumed every year by always-on but inactive home devices in the US alone could power the entire Bitcoin network for a year.

Bitcoin’s rising energy costs with its surging popularity will certainly be a trend to watch going forward. However, technology and engineers have always found a way to solve difficult problems such as these, and in Bitcoin & cryptocurrency lies the perfect incentive: a block reward for whoever can design more efficient ways to run these systems.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on news and trends like this going forward. Thanks again for reading at Overbit.com.

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