Čvn 07

MIT Grads Envision a Future Where Anyone Can Start a Bitcoin Fund

· June 7, 2017 · 1:00 pm

A new machine-based investing platform called Catalyst aims to allow cryptocurrency investors to become bitcoin fund managers.


Disruptive Trends in Finance

Enigma is a start-up run by MIT graduates and their current project is an online financial platform called Catalyst. According to the platform’s whitepaper, “Algorithmic trading and machine learning are proving to be disruptive trends in investment management.”

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency have a large barrier of entry for those looking to invest the smart way. Many current, non-traditional investors got in as early Bitcoin adopters. These cryptocurrency enthusiasts have a wealth of knowledge and experience that gives them a familiarity with the market as well. Algorithmic trading and machine learning are yet another facet of what drives the current cryptocurrency ecosystem but are currently only utilized by a select few in this field rather than in a structured fund managed way.

The technical knowledge required for successful high-frequency trading in volatile markets is a hurdle when it comes to investment and trading. There is also very little existing data and information consolidation to trade on, never mind utilize, to drive advanced techniques using algorithmic and machine learning in gaining a trading advantage.

Automated for the People

Data-driven automated processes generally excel over human operators in terms of speed and, given the right datasets, potentially results. Site API access means that investors are able to execute trades in a much more streamlined way, which is particularly advantageous when an exchange may be suffering from high traffic loads. Such occurrences are common on existing cryptocurrency trading platforms, especially when interest approaches fever pitch causing site outages created by demand surges.

Automated trading is not new, it is used on traditional exchanges outside of cryptocurrency where it is already proving to be a disruptive technology. As the Catalyst whitepaper says, it is a disruptive trend for what has traditionally been a human-driven system.

For those wanting to make low maintenance investments that leverage the power of automated bots it is an attractive option. The average user’s reality, however, can be quite different. Most trading bots, if successful, are likely to be based on proprietary technology and unavailable for purchase.

There are open-source versions available online but they are quite simplistic, require a modicum of programming skills and most definitely a degree of algorithmic fine tuning to get the best results from them. Mistakes in the programming can also be costly. A seemingly low maintenance solution soon starts to look less attractive, unless of course, someone is already managing that fund for you to invest in.

Building a Better Financial Ecosystem

Enigma co-founder and CEO Guy Zyskind explains the current interest in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general:

A lot of people are starting to look into it, and invest in it, but it’s still very much kind of like the Wild West.

Zyskind is interested in creating an online ecosystem where users can not only become cryptocurrency traders but can also find and potentially become fund managers. Fund managers will be ranked in terms of their performances on leaderboards, enabling others to follow their lead. Catalyst comes in as a platform for people to leverage the kind of data that drives automated trades. This data, in turn, could be used by a fund manager to drive a successful Bitcoin fund for others to invest in.

Blockchain Banking App Humaniq Reschedules ICO, Offers Solidarity to Chinese Investors

Fast Company’s Steven Melendez writes:

In Catalyst, Enigma plans to make various datasets available for use in automated trading decisions, from historic price information to analyses of the overall sentiment of news stories and social media posts about cryptocurrencies. The company plans to also invite users to create their own datasets and make them available—perhaps for a fee—to those setting up funds and looking for mathematical indicators of how and when to trade.

The Catalyst Whitepaper contains the following more direct information of the datasets:

Catalyst bitcoin fund investing platform

“Since the ecosystem surrounding crypto-markets is still in its early days, relevant data sources are scarce and fragmented,” write the Enigma founders in the white paper. “We plan to change the landscape, bringing it to the level of more mature financial markets.”

This kind of development hints that Bitcoin may not need to secure the Winklevoss ETF with regulatory bodies and that it could again potentially enable itself outside traditional finance regulation.

Winklevoss

Are we seeing more an increase in this entrepreneurial development of fund management in the cryptocurrency field? Will this be the next entry point for a more mainstream investor approach? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of MIT, Shutterstock 

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Kvě 12

FundYourselfNow Crowdfunding Platform Announces Q1 2018 Launch, ICO Starts June 2, 2017

· May 12, 2017 · 4:00 pm

A new smart contract based crowdfunding platform, FundYourselfNow.com is set to launch in Q1 2018, making its services available to cryptocurrency investors and entrepreneurs. The platform is built with a goal to help the project leaders raise funds in Bitcoin and Ethereum, to back their ideas through various partnerships.

[Note: This is a press release.]


The platform’s mission aligns with the recent trends in the cryptocurrency market which saw a huge rise in ICO investment during 2016. During the period, over $200 million raised across the board. Despite the huge influx of ICO investments, smaller and less technically savvy project leaders are less able to orchestrate such investment vehicles.

FundYourselfNow aims to simplify the crowdfunding process, to give all ‘Project creators’ a chance to receive the necessary funding to establish themselves in the market. FundYourselfNow project creators will be able to create virtual tokens, which will offer unique customized rewards to the investors, which contribute towards the project. The tokens will eventually be eligible to be traded on cryptocurrency market platforms.

FundYourselfNow Crowdfunding Platform Announces Q1 2018 Launch, ICO Starts June 2, 2017

FundYourselfNow is built over Ethereum platform, leveraged by its smart contract capabilities. It has already seen significant developments in terms of inclusion of Bitcoin support via Rootstock and more as the team prepares for the crowdsale.

The Ethereum smart contracts are designed to promote a level of accountability within the crowdfunding ecosystem. The platform has a milestone-based payment option, which allows project investors the ability to withdraw fund, should a project fails to deliver on its targets. This alleviates a large portion of the risk currently faced by investors in most standard cryptocurrency ICO’s.

Hong Kong-listed company, Success dragon International’s CEO Carlos Salas recently lead the seed funding round for FundYourselfNow. Carlos, also an angel investor and accomplished businessman, helped the platform reach their initial funding goal faster than anticipated.

The funds raised through crowdsale will be utilized by FundYourselfNow to continue the platform’s development and offer project creators cryptocurrency-backed funding, through their crowdfunding campaigns.

Pinnacle Digital has acquired Caxton Worldwide Success Limited, in order to assist FundYourselfNow to achieve its own separate legal status. Led by Pinnacle Digital’s team, FundYourselfNow will continue its fundraising and development under the heading of Caxton Worldwide Success Limited. The platform has scheduled its upcoming ICO on June 2nd, 2017, giving investors a chance to support the crowdfunding project from day one.


Images courtesy of FundYourselfNow, Shutterstock

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Kvě 08

Blockchain-Based Decentralized P2P IOU Platform, Sikoba Launches Pre-Sale Ahead of Token ICO

· May 7, 2017 · 8:00 pm

London-based decentralized money platform Sikoba has announced its upcoming ICO with a token presale. The blockchain-supported platform is based on P2P IOU’s, and the crowdsale will give participants the opportunity to receive a 50% bonus on SKO tokens — a cryptocurrency designed to fuel transactions within the Sikoba platform. The ICO will take place between April 25 and May 15, 2017.


A Blockchain-based IOU System

Sikoba’s decentralized money platform allows users to offer each other mutual lines of credit, within a blockchain-based IOU system. The P2P credit system is made possible through various smart contracts and gives users the freedom to pay each other with fiat and cryptocurrencies. Sikoba’s smart contracts have specified conditions, fee structures and repayment rules to keep the credit relationships in order.

The platform employs a ’credit conversion’ system that also allows users who do not trust each other to exchange credit safely. On Sikoba, fiat currencies or cryptocurrencies can act as a medium of exchange when there are no credit links between participants, or to repay outstanding balances when needed.

Sikoba’s CEO Aleksander Kampa recently expressed the company’s intention for the decentralized platform to evolve into an entirely independent and self-organizing entity eventually. The Sikoba blockchain could achieve this using its ‘federated Blockchain’ design. This unique blockchain is self-governing, which allows the addition and removal of participants, based on the member voting consensus.

Sikoba’s CEO Aleksander Kampa

This is a permissioned mining model where only authorized nodes add blocks to the blockchain.

Kampa also stated that Sikoba would most likely use Ethereum as a notary, but still perform its primary operations on its own or another blockchain. The blockchain will be chosen based on the relevant criteria of scalability, flexibility, and speed.

Sikoba operates with a small development team, aided by several important supporting members. Still in the pre-alpha stage, Sikoba’s IOU platform is not expected to be fully operational until towards the end of 2017. SKO token presale funds will be appropriated for the expansion of the Sikoba team, to finalize a detailed whitepaper and develop an MVP by the year end.

The Sikoba platform aims to offer a fully functioning virtual credit or IOU system that offers users the ability to attain accredited value, borrowed from another participant without releasing any funds. SKO tokens serve as a type of digital credit and have the potential to become a major aspect of the future credit system.

Sikoba ICO Token Pre-Sale

Sikoba ICO Token Pre-Sale

The Sikoba presale tokens are scheduled for release by the end of June 2017. Participants will receive usable SKO tokens after the platform’s launch, expected in Q3, 2018. The pre-allocation phase has begun on 17 March 2017, and the public presale will start on 25 April.

Following the presale, Sikoba presale tokens will be issued on the Ethereum blockchain. They will later become exchangeable into SKO tokens, which will be used to pay for transaction fees on the Sikoba network.

What do you think of Sikoba’s blockchain-based IOU system? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Sikoba, Pixabay

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Kvě 05

Do A.I. and Cryptocurrency Work Well Together?

· May 5, 2017 · 3:00 pm

Just because Grindelwald and Dumbledore had a deadly brawl during their quest to revolutionize magic doesn’t mean two great powers cannot be used in concert to change the world.

By Marcie Terman, founding director of XBT Corp Sarl


This could be the worst way to start an important conversation about financial technology, but stick with me, it gets more interesting. We are speaking about the world-altering technology of Artificial Intelligence as the first superpower coupled with the financial system disruptive technology of cryptocurrency — a decentralized payment system that circumvents government manipulation of currency and is forcing us to redefine the concept of money. The question is: Can these two technologies be used together to change the way ordinary people like you and me invest our money — without expiring in a shower of blue sparks? “Avada Kedavra!”

Avada Kedavra

But first, let’s take a step back and look into them as individual concepts, with respect to their relationships to investment and trading.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) means software that after its initial programming continues to improve its performance based on its experience of the environment it has been set to ‘learn.’ Unlike in movies, where AI is characteristically portrayed as menacing, human-destroying droids, AI software has actually bettered our lives in fields as diverse as healthcare, education, safety, transportation, and entertainment. In the field of financial trading, AI has been clandestinely used for two decades to generate profits for hedge funds, banks, and other large trading companies.

In its early days, AI trading systems relied on human intervention to provide trade execution but since the rise of electronic exchanges, AI trading has probably changed the character of the world’s markets without the general public’s knowledge.

Today, it is the hedge funds, banks and major international corporations like Goldman Sachs that are reaping the benefits from AI-based trading of forex and stock markets. These companies harness “deep learning” — evolving mathematical and statistical models of prediction and probability — to forecast the short-and-long term outcomes of various financial markets. These models, because of their nature, should be able to track the changes in market condition and therefore continue to improve their performance over time.

I Robot

Deep learning models aren’t concerned with the fundamentals of the underlying market. They work through pattern recognition, and like their human quantitative analyst counterparts seek the relationships between chart patterns and expected outcomes to generate a return. However, even the most disciplined human trader can be influenced by the fear of loss or greed which may change their trading behavior.

AI Bots, however, execute trades consistently without emotion at lightning speed directly onto the exchange, placing and closing trades on behalf of their clients. They stick faithfully to limits, never lose discipline or waver from their assigned course based on the idiosyncrasies of emotion.

Cryptocurrency Trading

Cryptocurrency trading, which until recently has been mostly centered on bitcoin, has gained momentum in recent years. Since Feb 2011, when bitcoin stood at parity with the US dollar, bitcoin has risen to where it is trading now some six years later at prices between $1,200 and $1,425. The reasons behind bitcoin’s success are many.

Coupled with its decentralized nature which protects it from all good and bad government policies; bitcoin is beginning to be seen as a viable alternative in certain countries where hyperinflation or lack of confidence in government has rendered the local currency a less attractive alternative. Bitcoin is also becoming easier to manage, simpler to use, safer than carrying paper money and cheap enough to transact and carry, without needing an intermediary.

Despite the last 6 month’s remarkable price increase, bitcoin as an asset class has its share of ills, including periods of extreme market volatility. Bitcoin’s limited supply coupled with the inability of governments to intervene to counteract market forces means that bitcoin reacts quickly to market bias. Take for example, the very recent bitcoin ETF buzz: bitcoin’s price trended northward comfortably ahead of the SEC’s ETF ruling amid growing optimism, hitting a peak of $1,327 a coin. But after the SEC shot down both the Gemini and SolidX bitcoin ETF projects, the price nosedived 20% before rallying within the month back to similar levels.

In addition, shorter-term fluctuations can be seen if one looks at intraday bitcoin charts. On an average BTC/USD chart, bitcoin’s value fluctuates between 10 and 15 USD every 4 hours and sometimes quite a bit higher. For many investors, such fluctuations make bitcoin an uncomfortable investment choice. However, there are day traders who use this volatility to take tidy profits out of the market on a daily basis. These are the traders who are fixed, glued to their computer monitors and mobile screens all day long, tracking the market to enter and exit positions.

intraday bitcoin charts

So we return to the original question: “Can a market as young and volatile as cryptocurrency be successfully partnered with Artificial Intelligence to produce a profitable outcome?”

With market capitalizations in the low millions up to low billions, cryptocurrency markets present too small an opportunity to interest most trading banks and hedge funds. They use the power of their deep pockets coupled with AI to generate massive profits from high-frequency trading where a few millisecond advantage over competitors can generate big returns.

This means that there is room while cryptocurrency markets are still in their infancy for AI developers to create systems that learn to identify profit opportunities in these young, highly volatile markets. And while a Goldman Sachs may snort at a market cap of 20 billion dollars, investors like you or me would be delighted with this kind of profit.

We are starting to see young talent, like the people running the Our AI Bot blog out of the UK. These types of cryptocurrency enthusiasts are coupling their Deep Learning System knowledge with innovation, imagination and an understanding of the inputs that are relevant to predicting digital currency market movement to yield what look like fairly outstanding results.

But many within the cryptocurrency space feel the markets are moving towards mainstream and already there are players like Pantera Capital and banks like Santander and Citibank that are looking at how to generate profits from the cryptocurrency markets. So the window of opportunity for individuals to benefit from what AI can do in digital currency trading is probably limited. The time to look at this opportunity is now – “Expecto Patronum!”

What do you think? Can A.I. and cryptocurrency work well together? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Warner Bros Productions, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, CryptoCompare, AdobeStock

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Dub 19

ViaBTC Explains Why They Don’t Support SegWit

· April 19, 2017 · 12:00 pm

ViaBTC’s latest blog post sheds some light on why the mining pool is opposing the Bitcoin scaling proposal, SegWit.


ViaBTC, Bitcoin Core and SegWit

ViaBTC just published a blog post in which they explain the reason behind their opposition to SegWit, citing the concerns regarding the complexity of the soft fork, the irreversible damage it may and the introduction of second-tier networks like Lightning Network. The mining pool also mentions Bitcoin Core’s impact on Bitcoin and the community as a negative, claiming that they are “abusing their previous influence”. The post reads:

Today, Bitcoin is in urgent need of diversified dev teams and implementations to achieve decentralization in Bitcoin development.

As companies and mining pools choose their side of the debate, SegWit or Bitcoin Unlimited, most have released statements regarding which solution they are backing and why. While most companies favor the activation of SegWit, mining power has been on the side of BU. Among the pools that support BU, Antpool and ViaBTC have been two of the most vocal regarding Bitcoin Core and the Segregated Witness proposal. On ViaBTC’s transaction accelerator page, a popup service statement reads:

ViaBTC is of the opinion that the current “Bitcoin Core + Blockstream” Bitcoin development team is not taking satisfactory steps to ensure the growth and advancement of Bitcoin in accordance with satoshi’s original white paper, and is in fact actively harming the health of the Bitcoin economy by actively stifling efforts to solve some of Bitcoin’s most pressing problems.

“SegWit doesn’t solve the most urgent capacity issue”

In the latest blog post dubbed “Why we don’t support SegWit”, ViaBTC states that SegWit is a soft fork solution for transaction malleability and that it cannot solve the current network overcapacity problem which is currently the most urgent issue in the Bitcoin network.ViaBTC goes on to state that second-tier networks like Lightning Network cannot be considered as a block scaling solution. The blog post reads:

LN transactions are NOT equal to Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer on-chain transactions and most Bitcoin use scenarios are not applicable with Lightning Network. LN will also lead to big payment “centers”, and this is against Bitcoin’s initial design as a peer-to-peer payment system.

However, the SegWit is not Lightning Network (LN). SegWit introduces a much-needed fix for a pressing issue in Bitcoin, which is transaction malleability. This fix would allow LN to be implemented in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin network overcapacity

However, ViaBTC seems to be missing some very important points. The introduction of a patch to one of Bitcoin’s bugs should not be considered as harmful just because it allows developers to build a second network on top of Bitcoin. Bitcoin should be cleared of bugs like transaction malleability and developers should be free to build whatever they want (which is what has happened so far) on top of Bitcoin.

The fact that a mining pool would block an important fix like this due to the possibility of losing out on transaction fees is, at best, selfish. ViaBTC also seems to have missed the fact that some forms of second-tier networks are already possible in Bitcoin, even without the transaction malleability fix, and are being developed right now. Lastly, one should also note that without these channels, users that are looking for the advantages they would provide will find them elsewhere either through altcoins or centralized payment systems, which can only result in the loss of use cases for Bitcoin with nothing gained.

ViaBTC’s statement that “SegWit doesn’t solve the most urgent capacity issue” is, however, correct. While it may be considered as a “quick-fix” that will double the network’s capacity, further updates will have to be made in the future. This is where Bitcoin Unlimited seems to please its supporters, their Emergent Consensus protocol proposes a fix that is somewhat “permanent” as it allows the block size limit to change according to demand.

“SegWit makes it harder for future block scaling”

Here, ViaBTC cites some real concerns regarding the possibility for future scaling updates which are indeed made harder by SegWit’s changes. SegWit allows blocks to reach a 4MB limit due to the way witness data is accounted for. However, this limit is not meant to be reached, as the only data that is read differently is the witness data and not the tx. inputs and outputs. This results in a ~2MB block limit under regular circumstances.

This means that a possible attack vector is to create 4MB block which is a problem for the network. So, any future increases, for example from a ~2MB limit to a ~4MB limit, will theoretically allow a block that is four times bigger to be created, in the example above this would mean a ~16MB limit. This, however, is extremely unlikely and is not seen as a problem for Bitcoin Core developers.

The problem is that if a way to implement this attack did come along, SegWit could not be reversed. The blog post reads:

On technical terms, SegWit uses a transaction format that can be spent by those who don’t upgrade their nodes, with segregation of transaction data and signature data. This means SegWit is irrevocable once it’s activated, or all unspent transactions in SegWit formats will face the risk of being stolen.

While this may be a real concern to a certain degree, the prospect of an attack vector that is currently considered impossible and would theoretically become a problem once the network implements a second scaling update, which may never happen, doesn’t seem to be a valid reason for blocking SegWit.

“SegWit will deepen Core’s impact on the community”

In the last section of the blog post, ViaBTC states its concerns regarding the Bitcoin Core development team and its influence on the Bitcoin community, citing problems like the infamous censorship perpetrated by Bitcoin Core on Reddit and Bitcoin forums. This seems to be completely off from what Bitcoin is supposed to be, a global apolitical currency.

Bitcoin forums, boards and development teams are not part of Bitcoin. They are exterior to the network. If there is indeed censorship going on in these places, users should abandon them. If the Bitcoin Core team is trying to turn Bitcoin into a centralized payment system (or whatever), the community/miners should not approve their updates. However, rejecting an update based on the developer that proposed it, and not on the actual code, is childish. This reason could easily be turned around on the Bitcoin Unlimited development team, which has had its fair share of controversy.

Conclusion

While we do believe that both scaling proposals have their strengths and weaknesses, ViaBTC’s concerns regarding SegWit seem to be non-existent at best: Blocking transaction malleability is a malicious act on the network. Opposition to SegWit should be based on the problems it will cause the network and not on the problems it could theoretically cause if a currently-nonexistent attack vector is eventually found. Lastly, users should decide what is best for the network and not whom, that’s the beauty of Bitcoin.

Do you think that ViaBTC is right and that we are missing the point? If so, let us know in the comment section.


Images Courtesy of

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Dub 19

Exscudo Cryptocurrency Financial Services Releases its First Video Message

· April 18, 2017 · 10:00 pm

Estonian cryptocurrency-backed financial services platform Exscudo recently published a video interview featuring its top managers Alex Sitnikov (CTO), Julian Kossinov (CFO), and Andrew Zimine (CEO).

[Note: This is a press release]


The video highlights the platform’s unique services, products and how they can benefit the cryptocurrency community. Exscudo offers a range of cryptocurrency based IT solutions that functions in the new age financial and legal domains.

The new financial ecosystem is quickly being realized by the efforts of specialists from various fields. In the interview, veteran IT-developer Alex Sitnikov who is well-experienced in working with traditional stock exchanges has offered some invaluable information on how the system operates.

Unlike many other exchanges that trade in fiat and multiple cryptocurrencies, Exscudo trades in EON color coins. This system ensures that the exchange does not hold any of the user’s funds, thus negating any attempts by hackers to steal users’ funds. All funds remain in the users’ personal bank accounts or wallets until the time orders are finalized.

Exscudo aims to apply some of the more beneficial regulatory practices of mainstream stock exchanges into its platform to facilitate fruitful cooperation between them.  The adoption of relevant regulatory requirements and compliances by Exscudo also helps the platform avoid issues related to money laundering etc.

In the interview, Kossinov states that Exscudo has developed a number of products to solve the problems of accessibility, transparency, and sustainability of the financial market. The platform’s products and services are designed to facilitate an honest exchange procedure between cryptocurrencies and fiat.

Exscudo’s uniquely designed distributed network (EON) serves to power the entire ecosystem. The EON coins act as fuel for the blockchain and ICO assets. Exscudo will release a total of 240 million EON coins, of which 150.72 million will be available for sale during the ICO, scheduled to start on April 25, 2017. The price for 1 EON will be set at 0.0002 BTC.

Exscudo’s compliance with legal and regulatory requirements makes it attractive for traditional investors as it provides them with an opportunity to invest legally in a cryptocurrency-powered project. The platform believes to have something to offer to almost everyone. For businesses, Exscudo’s merchant platform provides the capability of receiving a wide range of cryptocurrencies as payment from customers.

Other features offered by Exscudo to its users includes its own channels for miners and traders, wallet application, secure messenger and more. The Exscudo app also provides a broad range of functions for storage and exchange of currencies, payments, secure communications and even monetization of public channels.


Images courtesy of Exscudo.com

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Dub 12

‘The Blockchain and Us’: A New Documentary on Bitcoin Tech Changing the World

· April 12, 2017 · 7:00 am

A new documentary film called The Blockchain and Us was released last week exploring how Blockchain technology can change the world in a meaningful way.


Documentary: ‘The Blockchain and Us’

A documentary film dubbed “The Blockchain and Us” by Manuel Stagars has been released last week. The 8-part documentary focuses on what blockchain technology is and the social and economic impact it can have in the world, if its potential is successfully harnessed.

the-blockchain-and-us_still-airport-after-rain

The preview description reads:

Economist and filmmaker Manuel Stagars portrays this exciting technology in interviews with software developers, cryptologists, researchers, entrepreneurs, consultants, VCs, authors, politicians, and futurists from the United States, Canada, Switzerland, the UK, and Australia.

The 30-minute long documentary features cuts from several interviews with industry leaders like Christian Decker from Blockstream, Perianne Boring Founder & President at the Chamber of Digital Commerce, Taylor Gerring Co-Founder at Ethereum, Matthew Roszak Co-Founder & Chairman of Bloq, and many more.

The documentary does not focus on the technical aspects of blockchain technology and should not be viewed as an introductory video. Instead, the film seeks to give a high-level view of the blockchain “far from hype” and “starts a conversation about its wider implications” in several aspects of our society.

Chapter 1: First Contact With The Blockchain

In the first segment, the interviewees describe their first contact with blockchain technology. An experience that has changed many lives but usually starts off with a pinch of disbelief. Most people were quick to dismiss Bitcoin and the blockchain once they run into it for the first time, but many return to it after understanding how it works and the potential it has to change the world.

Matthew Roszak Co-Founder & Chairman of Bloq, shared his experience:

I did what most people do the first moment they are exposed to Bitcoin. I discounted it. I thought this was silly internet money, you could mine it, it’s like a golden goose and it took me about an year to really re-explore the technology…

Chapter 2: Blockchain Technology

Here, the documentary delves into a high-level explanation of what blockchain technology is and what makes it tick, and what we can do with it.

Image result for R. Jesse McWaters

R. Jesse McWaters Financial Innovation Lead at the World Economic Forum, explained:

You have the ability to create records that are indelible. You have the ability to transfer value by making updates to those records. And you have the ability to automate updates to the records through these things called smart contracts. That means potentially that you could transform the structure of financial services.

Chapter 3: Influence Of The Blockchain

This chapter focuses on how blockchain technology can influence various industries and aspects of our society like financial inclusion, identity, and IoT.

Image result for Rik Willard

Rik Willard, Founder & Managing Director at Agentic Group, said:

As the blockchain became more influential in our thinking we began to realize that it was a profound shift in how the Internet could be used to create new forms of value and how it could be used to enfranchise and include people in global finance.

Chapter 4: New Business Opportunities

Chapter 4 talks about the infrastructure that is being built around blockchain technology, the business opportunities that arise from it and how traditional industries are dealing with and adapting to this disruptive new technology.

Image result for Paul Meeusen

Paul Meeusen, Head Finance and Treasury Services at Swiss Re, stated:

We are all, also in the financial services industry trying to recognize that we don’t have to be defensive but we rather have to embrace not just this technology but this enabler that it brings us to access a vastly underutilized or undiscovered market that we have to do business with on an eye-to-eye level.

Chapter 5: The Blockchain and Banks

This segment explores how big financial institutions will implement blockchain technology through slow upgrade processes and how some of these institutions are reluctant to accept this technological shift, while others are actively researching and testing the technology to stay ahead of the curve.

Image result for Caitlin Long

Caitlin Long, Chairman of the Board & President at Symbiont.io, explained:

I know how big financial institutions work. They’re not going to do something reckless with technology. This is people’s money and livelihood they’re working with.These are slow upgrade processes. These systems, once they get implemented, will run in parallel with the old systems for a while before you have a switch over to the new one. That’s standard in technology upgrade.  knew this was going to take time. But there are antagonists, players who are threatened. It’s the AT&T/Verizon/Kodak analogy again. Their business model is threatened by this and they’re going to do things to slow down and water down the transformational networks. There is a game theory approach to how the technology is being rolled out in the markets, for sure.

Chapter 6: The Blockchain And Financial Inclusion

An estimated 74% of the world population (according to the World Bank) do not have access to basic financial services provided by Banks. Chapter 6 explores how Blockchain technology can drastically change the financial inclusion landscape and allow people to interact with the world economy in a much more meaningful way than micro-finance institutions and other alternatives.

Eric Van der Kleij, Founder OF Adeptra, London Tech City, Level39 and adviser to the UKGovernment expressed his opinion on the subject:

I don’t like to think that we’re creating so much prosperity for the less than one percent. I like to think of purpose-led businesses. By the way, that’s the trick, I think, for large corporations: to understand that the cost/efficiency of embracing this new technology will potentially widen their accessible markets at a cost, that’s reasonable. That in itself will create prosperity in different areas. Something that we should think about.

Chapter 7: The Real Revolution

Blockchain technology can be considered the fourth technological revolution. With it come the same concerns, which is the loss of jobs due to automation. Blockchain technology has the power to cut out institutions that act as intermediaries or “middlemen”, including banks themselves.

This chapter delves into this concern and how various people perceive it. Dolfi Müller, Mayor of the City of Zug stated:

It’s called the ‘fourth technological revolution’ and I think we are at the beginning of such a revolution just now. That’s why we don’t close our eyes. Some people say ‘There will be much trouble, people will lose their work,’ and so on. I’m sure it will happen but it’s better we face it than deny it.

Chapter 8: The Blockchain and Us

In the eighth and final chapter of the Blockchain and Us documentary, interviewees express their thoughts on how blockchain technology can be implemented on a larger scale and how it can affect our lives. From an idea to a full-scale revolution, blockchain technology is here to stay and has the potential to change the world in a meaningful way.

Guido Rudolphi, Founder of Cryptocash:

Everything will change. In my opinion, the possibilities are endless.

The documentary can be seen here.

Full interviews can be seen here.

Do you think Blockchain can truly change the world for the better? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Angel.co, Linkedin, Blockchain-newyork.com, Caitlin-long.com, Twitter, Shutterstock

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Dub 08

Cambridge University: Cryptocurrency Use Seeing ‘Significant Growth’

· April 8, 2017 · 12:00 pm

A report by Cambridge University’s CCAF reveals that the number of people using cryptocurrency today has seen significant growth and rivals the population of small countries.


Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) has recently published a research paper called Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study, which examines several sectors of the global cryptocurrency industry, including exchanges, wallets, payment providers, mining and more.

The study was led by Dr.Garrick Hileman, senior research associate at the CCAF and a researcher at the Centre for Macroeconomics. According to the CCAF, it’s the first global research of its kind to systematically investigate all key cryptocurrency industry sectors based on non-public “off-chain” data.

The paper makes several key findings that challenge some of the erroneous concepts that many have regarding the cryptocurrency space and shows that digital currencies are becoming an increasingly important part of our society. Dr.Garrick Hileman wrote:

Dr.Garrick Hileman

“The growing usage and range of capabilities we document in this study indicate that cryptocurrencies are taking on an ever more important role in the lives of a growing number of people (and machines” around the world. As we show in this study, the number of people using cryptocurrency today has seen significant growth and rivals the population of small countries.”

According to Dr. Hileman, a second paper by the CCAF focusing blockchain technology will also be launched in the following weeks. The paper is centered around the use of blockchain technology by more established industry players as well as at public sector institutions such as central banks.

What’s in it

The study collected data from nearly 150 cryptocurrency companies and individuals, covering 38 countries from five world regions, including names like Peter Smith from Blockchain.info, Roger Ver from Bitcoin.com and companies like Coinbase, Bitmain, BTCC, Unocoin, and others.

The CCAF carried out four online surveys from September 2016 to January 2017 and communicated with the companies and individuals involved in order to collect this data. For companies that did not contribute to the study, the dataset was supplemented with additional research and web scraping using commonly applied methods.

The 114-page report counts with four sections, each covering one of the aforementioned industry sectors: exchanges, wallets, payments and mining. There are also three appendixes; the first one is an introduction to cryptocurrencies, the second offers a more detailed intro to the cryptocurrency industry and the third covers the geographical dispersion of cryptocurrency users.

Key Findings

The CCAF highlights the following findings as the key points of the paper:

  • The current number of unique active users of cryptocurrency wallets is estimated to be between 2.9 million and 5.8 million. (The majority of which are located in North America and Europe)

Cryptocurrency wallet users donut chart

  • The lines between the different cryptocurrency industry sectors are increasingly blurred: 31 percent of cryptocurrency companies surveyed are operating across two cryptocurrency industry sectors or more, giving rise to an increasing number of universal cryptocurrency companies.
  • At least 1,876 people are working full- time in the cryptocurrency industry and the actual total figure is likely well above two thousand when large mining organizations and other organizations that did not provide headcount figures are added.
  • Average security headcount and costs for payment companies and exchanges as a percentage of total headcount/operating expenses are similar but significantly higher for wallets.

Exchanges

  • The exchanges sector has the highest number of operating entities and employs more people than any other industry sector covered in the study; a significant geographical dispersion of exchanges is observed.
  • 52% of the small exchanges hold a formal government license compared to only 35% of large exchanges.
  • On average, security headcount corresponds to 13% of total employees and 17% of the budget is spend on security.

Cryptocurrency exchanges chart

Wallets

  • The lines between wallets and exchanges are increasingly blurred; 52% of wallets surveyed provide an integrated currency exchange features, of which 80% offer a national-to-cryptocurrency exchange service. In contrast with exchanges, the majority of wallets do not control access to user keys.

Payments

  • While 79% of payment companies have existing relationships with banking institutions and payment networks, the difficulty of obtaining and maintaining these relationships is cited as this sector’s biggest challenges.
  • On average, national-to-cryptocurrency payments constitute two-thirds of total payment company transaction volume, whereas national-to-national currency transfers and cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency payments account for 27% and 6% respectively.

National-to-cryptocurrency transactions vs other transactions

Mining

  • 70% of large miners rate their influence on protocol development as high or very high, compared to 51% of small miners.
  • The cryptocurrency mining map shows that publicly known mining facilities are dispersed, but a significant concentration can be observed in certain Chinese provinces.

Cryptocurrency mining by country

Do you think cryptocurrency use is growing? Have you seen indicators of increased mainstream adoption? Let us know in the comments below!


Images Courtesy of CCAF, AdobeStock

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Úno 28

PayPal on Blockchain: ‘Why Don’t We Just Use a Database?’

· February 28, 2017 · 9:00 am

If something works, why change it? PayPal’s Harper Reed has dismissed “boring” Blockchain technology, choosing to stick to the traditional databases.


‘Why Don’t We Just Use a Database?’

In the midst of the “chainwashing” trend, some companies seem to be taking the high road and staying clear of Bitcoin’s underlying Blockchain technology. This is the case with PayPal which, despite its ambitions to become the dominant global online payments platform, has distanced itself from this prospect.

reed

When asked about the potential for blockchain technology at the 4YFN conference, Harper Reed, the Director of Software Development for PayPal, dismissed it stating:

Whenever people say why don’t we use the blockchain to do this, I think why don’t we just use a database?

This is, in fact what PayPal has been doing all along with its own centralized online payments app Venmo, which is now processing nearly $20 billion USD per year and is much in vogue among millennials, in particular.

Reed went on to reference Bitcoin’s “dark market” image as the medium of exchange for the deep web economy, suggesting that the technology would benefit from a rebrand:

When I think of blockchain I think of drugs, and I’m not really a drug user so I find it really boring.

PayPal & Bitcoin

However, this comes as a relatively refreshing stance towards Blockchain, despite Reed’s misconception regarding Bitcoin being a “drug currency.”

PayPal seems to be more focused on results and on the user-experience itself, rather than on hype and the technology that works in the background, which was the key point of Harper Reed’s talk at 4YFN, the startup spin-off of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Nevertheless, PayPal has had several “encounters” with blockchain technology and Bitcoin itself. In June 2016, PayPal partnered with the digital asset exchange and wallet Coinbase, allowing users to sell bitcoin and cash out to their PayPal accounts.

thiel

Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and close adviser to President Donald Trump, has also expressed his interest in the technology, having invested in several Bitcoin startups himself.

He once stated:

PayPal had these goals of creating a new currency. We failed at that, and we just created a new payment system. I think Bitcoin has succeeded on the level of a new currency.

Thiel is becoming an extremely important adviser for Donald Trump, who is increasingly being associated with Bitcoin supporters like 21 Inc. CEO Balaji S. Srinivasan and the recently appointed U.S. Budget Chief Mick Mulvaney, also known as “Bitcoin Congressman.”

Will PayPal retain its competitive edge in the future despite shunning blockchain technology? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, queerty.com, wikipedia.com

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Úno 27

Ethereum Price Shoots Up Before Major Press Conference

· February 27, 2017 · 7:00 am

Bitcoin has been making all kinds of headlines so far in 2017, but it looks like Ethereum price may be ready for a breakout year in 2017.


Ethereum Price Breaks Out

If you have been watching Ethereum price recently, those in the know are expecting a major announcement that could put Ethereum into the mainstream in a big way this week.

Ethereum is coming off a very impressive 2016, its first full year on the market, where its market cap surpassed $1 billion USD and Ethereum price passed $20 at one point. The first half of 2016 saw nothing but ETH price hype and acceleration, and 2017 is shaping up the same way.

4

Ethereum’s ETH value has grown from under $8 USD to over $14.50 on Sunday, a climb of over 81%, in less than two months. Just in the last week, the price has jumped over $3 USD; ETH rose 7% on a Sunday. By percentage, this rate of growth outpaces Bitcoin’s value gains in 2017.

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What’s causing all of this drama? There is a press conference scheduled for Tuesday morning in downtown Brooklyn, New York where the new Enterprise Ethereum Alliance will be officially announced. This is a “consortium” built around Ethereum’s blockchain technology and will include Microsoft and other major mainstream giants in computer systems, banking, and technology.

So Hot It Sells Out a Free Online Stream

Strangely, a free online streaming broadcast on Tuesday is listed by EventBrite as “Sold Out,” so if you go to the site to reserve attendance, you will not gain satisfaction. However, the event will be recorded for future release. The EventBrite site for the event describes the concept thusly:

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance connects Fortune 500 enterprises, startups, academics, and technology vendors with Ethereum subject matter experts. Together, we will learn from and build upon the only smart contract supporting blockchain currently running in real-world production – Ethereum – to define enterprise-grade software capable of handling the most complex, highly demanding applications at the speed of business.

Although Ethereum is clearly not designed to appreciate in the same manner as Bitcoin, it is proving to be an incredible investment, for those savvy enough to take advantage of it. The fact that its “smart contract” focus is attracting corporations for future applications shows that altcoins can make it big if they make the right business case and address the right technical problems.

Ethereum

“If you look at identity management on the blockchain…if you look at certificate revocation on Ethereum and all of these different use cases you realizing that all of them really do seriously compliment each other,” Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin told Epicenter in an online podcast. 

The ‘killer app’ (for Ethereum) in some sense is this kind of combined vision of all of these things working together.

Will 2017 be a good year for Ethereum as well? Share your thoughts below!


Image provided by CoinMarketCap, Steemit, Wired, Shutterstock

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