Chinese money dominates bitcoin, now its companies are gunning for blockchain tech

Chinese money dominates bitcoin, now its companies are gunning for blockchain tech

Chinese money dominates bitcoin, now its companies are gunning for blockchain tech

Beijing, China

It’s a sweltering summer night when I’m invited to join a bitcoin miner from Shenzhen at a “bitcoin club” somewhere in downtown Beijing. I’ve just returned from visiting one of the world’s largest bitcoin mines and find myself at a gathering of cryptocurrency enthusiasts at a craft beer brewery in the Sanlitun nightlife district.

I excuse myself from the bitcoin meetup and resort to jumping in a pirate taxi because I don’t have a mobile wallet from Alibaba or Tencent—the primary way to hail and pay for taxis in the city. After paying in cash—now a rarity in China’s mobile payment saturated cities—I disembark, then get lost amid Beijing’s ancient hutongs, the narrow alleyways that link China’s traditional courtyard residences.

My host puts me out of my misery by sharing his location on a real-time map over our WeChat direct messages. Now drenched in sweat, I meet Jack Liao, who runs a bitcoin mining firm called Lightning Asic. He leads me through a dark hutong, coming to a set of carved wooden double-doors. Pushing them open, we enter into the courtyard of a palatially renovated villa. This is my first look at the elusive “bitcoin club.”

The club is located in a 2,000-square-foot villa with a staff of 15, including cooks, cleaners, and wait people. It has two guest rooms, a dining room that hosts two dozen people, a professional Texas Hold ‘Em table emblazoned with the legend, “Faith in Bitcoin,” an automated mahjong table; shelves stacked with fine wine and liquor, a room for practicing Chinese caligraphy, and so on. The table stakes are bitcoin, AliPay credits, and sometimes even yuan, the only non-virtual currency accepted. Guests can sleep, eat, drink, and gamble for free if they’re acquainted with the miners who run the place. “People come here just to chat about projects,” Liao says.

The eye-popping villa bankrolled by bitcoin mining is a symbol of just how lucrative the cryptocurrency industry has been for some on the Chinese mainland. China is home to the world’s largest bitcoin mines, thanks to abundant and cheap electricity, and at one time the country accounted for 95% of the volume traded in global markets. Its central bank is experimenting with a blockchain-backed digital currency, and its biggest companies, from tech giants to industrial conglomerates, are racing to bake blockchain tech into major new projects.

All this points to a central question: How did stateless cryptocurrencies get so big in China, a country where the national currency—along with so much else—remains tightly controlled by the government? Why has bitcoin, along with other cryptocurrencies, flourished with so much vigor here in China? A two-week journey through bitcoin trading operations in Shanghai, mining operations in Inner Mongolia, and the club in Beijing hasn’t answered the question definitely—but it’s gotten me much closer.

Bitcoin is a political statement

Bitcoin began as an experiment in economics and politics, as a project to create electronic money that anyone could use but no one controlled, especially a sovereign authority. The code behind the new currency gave life to libertarian ideals like: money free from government controls on spending and taxation; transactions that could ignore a global, sometimes corrupt banking system; and freedom from central bank targeting of interest rates and inflation. It was also rebuke to the very notion of conventional money.

Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, encoded a headline from the Times of London in the first block of transactions ever created on the bitcoin blockchain. It read: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”

Given bitcoin’s political bona fides, it’s a great irony that Chinese companies and individual users are so dominant in its daily activities. The world’s biggest bitcoin miner is a Beijing-based company called Bitmain, which operates two mining pools that control nearly 30% of all the processing power devoted to bitcoin mining. It might seem that Chinese bitcoiners are carrying out some kind of libertarian protest against China’s ruling communist party, subverting the status quo by processing cryptocurrency transactions towards a yet-to-be-revealed political end.

They aren’t.

“In China, bitcoin is one thing and in America and Europe it is another thing,” Liao said as we sipped tea from porcelain cups on the villa’s top floor. Our host, Wu Bi, explains there is no competition between cryptocurrencies and the government-controlled renminbi, at least as the government sees it. “In China our government says bitcoin is not a currency, it is a commodity, so there is no chance it will compete with the renminbi,” Wu told me in Chinese, with Liao translating. “Bitcoin is a great idea, but in China we care more about blockchain.”

Wu and his Chinese compatriots are focused not on the currency, but on the technology behind it. Blockchain is simply a technical way to record encrypted transactions that are distributed across a computer network; once entered they cannot be altered. Instead of using blockchain, or bitcoin, as a permissionless cryptocurrency, banks want to shoe-horn some of bitcoin’s features into current transaction systems to create a low-cost network that, crucially, would require administrators to grant users access. Those administrators, of course, would be banks, or central banks. “Different countries may have different ideas about what is government, and what is the liberty of individuals,” Wu says.

Bitcoin users I met in Beijing were similarly dismissive of bitcoin’s libertarian politics. They did not want to be named or quoted directly, but their argument was essentially this: People in China simply aren’t interested in bitcoin’s potential for political change. And besides, China’s closely controlled economy has delivered prosperity for now—what benefits does bitcoin bring besides as an investment that might appreciate?

Object of speculation

Ordinary Chinese bitcoin users I spoke to, and those who are served by the exchanges and wallet providers, are far more interested in the ability to speculate on bitcoin’s wild price swings—it’s just another way to make money as China continues to adopt characteristics of a market economy.

As it happens, bitcoin arrived just as a class of retail investors in China is growing in size, and seeking better returns than those offered by a restricted financial products market. Even the market for property in China’s top-tier coastal cities, usually reliable for spectacular returns, has been subjected to ever tightening lending restrictions by a government eager to curb speculation. “[Chinese consumers] have had such limited channels for so long, and [bitcoin] was finally one that was not tightly controlled by the government,” says Martin Chorzempa, a research fellow specializing in Chinese internet finance at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC.

One seasoned observer of the Chinese bitcoin scene concurs. Eric Zhao is n engineer at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai and runs the widely followed Twitter account CN Ledger. Bitcoin became popular almost by default, because of the paucity of products for the Chinese retail investor, he says. “There are not many good investment choices for common people in China. Many people worry about inflation and lots of people feel insecure about their financial status,” he says. “They buy it simply because they believe it will appreciate in value.”

Uncorrelated to major asset classes and generally disconnected from the Chinese economy, bitcoin has been hugely attractive to Chinese investors already overweight domestic stocks and property. Indeed, research from Pantera Capital, a venture fund for blockchain companies, shows that bitcoin is almost completely uncorrelated to major equity, debt, and commodity asset classes. “Because [bitcoin] is globally connected, it’s not easily affected by the Chinese economy,” says Isaac Mao, a longtime entrepreneur and investor in China’s technology scene. “It may be the only economic activity fully connected to the global economy.”

Crackdown

The wild ride on bitcoin in China, however, braked to a stop Sept. 4, when China’s central bank began to take steps to halt domestic bitcoin trading. It started with a ban on “initial coin offerings,” followed by a shutdown of local bitcoin exchanges. China’s authorities have clamped down on bitcoin trading before, most notably in 2014, when the cryptocurrency was on a historic rally driven, in part, by Chinese money.

Now rumors are swirling that a ban on bitcoin mining may be enacted. But if the government has found bitcoin to be a potentially dangerous element in the country’s socio-political mix, why didn’t it crack down before? Instead, it has been relatively tolerant of a technology that was designed to weaken the state’s grip on money.

The rare true believer in bitcoin’s libertarian properties is Bobby Lee, an American who runs the world’s oldest bitcoin exchange, BTCC, in Shanghai. His firm was forced to shut down domestic trading through its BTCChina arm, although it still runs an exchange for non-Chinese traders. When we spoke before the crackdown in August, Lee was enthusiastic about government regulation, saying it would help the market mature. But he also struck a defiant note, saying that bitcoin’s design made it impossible for China’s regulators to shut down. “There is nothing [the Chinese government] can do. That is the beauty of [bitcoin],” he said.

I pointed out that the government could seize exchanges, and even bitcoin mining facilities, and compel their owners to run certain types of code or mess with transactions, thus damaging the cryptocurrency. Lee was sanguine. “They’ll want to control it, but bitcoin was not meant to be controlled,” he said. “You can make all the rules you want, and the question is, can they be enforced? With guns you can say, let’s make guns illegal. But with bitcoin, there’s nothing physical. It’s information, and there’s plausible deniability.”

The reality may be more prosaic. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are simply too small to bother the Chinese government much, says Isaac Mao, the investor and entrepreneur and one of China’s earliest bloggers. “The [Chinese Communist Party] doesn’t recognize it as a threat, so bitcoin actually grows very quickly in China,” he told me at a cafe in Hong Kong, where he is now based. “But it’s too small. There is no scale. The market capitalization of bitcoin is about the same as PayPal,” or about $70 billion.

I spoke to Mao in August, but the crackdown doesn’t signal any political threat, writes Chorzempa of the Peterson Institute. It’s more likely that bitcoin trading is just collateral damage from a wider set of restrictions on alternative financial products that have caused billions in consumer losses. Regulators have reigned in not just crypto trading but peer-to-peer loans, trusts, and lending to non-bank institutions this year, Chorzempa writes: “The clampdown thus fits into a broader set of efforts to lessen financial market risks perceived by Chinese policymakers.”

Everyone hates inflation

To the extent that bitcoin trading and mining is a political statement, it’s a demonstration against inflation. Prices in China grew rapidly in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008, hitting their highest level in decades in 2007. Inflation has moderated since then, but ordinary Chinese say they still feel the pinch.

Bitmain’s Micree Zhang, who developed its proprietary mining chips, says worry about inflation chewing up his earnings was one reason why he first became interested in bitcoin. “Before I knew about bitcoin I disliked, and was very worried about, inflation. Especially in China in the last 10 years,” he said when I visited with him at Bitmain’s main facility in Inner Mongolia. “When I discovered bitcoin, I knew it was a good idea, very quickly.”

One bitcoin user I met in Beijing told me he was attracted to the cryptocurrency because the government couldn’t devalue it by printing more money, unlike the yuan. The Chinese government controls its currency far more tightly than other major economies.

This level of control can lead to panics. In 2015, the Chinese government devalued the yuan in an attempt to boost economic growth, sending shockwaves through global markets. While today the central bank’s move is seen as astute, at the time Chinese consumers were hit hard, worrying about paying more for everything from Australian beef to New Zealand milk.

Digging for digital gold

China has been the world’s largest electricity producer since it surpassed the United States in 2011. Cheap electricity is the crucial ingredient for a profitable bitcoin mining operation—and China has it in spades. So it’s no surprise that China has become a world center for the activity.

Take Beijing-based Bitmain, for instance. It’s the world’s biggest bitcoin miner, but the company doesn’t divulge its financial data, and there’s no easy way to find out because its beneficial owner is a trust in the Cayman Islands. But one longtime commentator in the bitcoin space, Jimmy Song, has performed an analysis of the firm’s likely profitability. His estimate: $77 million in mining profits for the firm this year, of which electricity and other operational costs come up to about $23 million.

It’s estimated that two-thirds of the world’s processing power devoted to mining bitcoin resides in China. These bitcoin mines take the form of giant warehouses filled with thousands of custom-designed machines and chips, all whirring away to check bitcoin transactions and compete for a slice of the 12.5 bitcoins awarded to a miner every 10 minutes. Collectively, bitcoin miners have collected more than $2 billion in revenue over the cryptocurrency’s nine-year lifespan.

Bitmain leads the pack as both a creator of bitcoin mining rigs and chips, and an operator of vast server farms. It’s now raised $50 million from marquee Silicon Valley investors including Sequoia Capital to expand to the US—perhaps reducing its exposure to Chinese regulations—and to develop a new set of chips for artificial intelligence.
 

Sheer scale

Bitmain’s position as the world’s largest miner is only the tip of Chinese industrial interest on blockchain technology. Last May, a Chinese company called Wanxiang Group, one of the world largest automotive parts makers, sponsored a blockchain hackathon at the Deloitte offices in Rockefeller Center in New York. Wanxiang plans to embed blockchain technology into a new “smart city“—a nine square kilometer plot of land with a planned population of 90,000 people and $30 billion in investment—that it is building from scratch near Hangzhou in eastern China. It was looking for the world’s brightest blockchain developers.

Wanxiang was offering $15,000 to teams who came up with an enticing blockchain project for the smart city, with an additional $1 million in funding. As Wanxiang executive Peter Liang clicked through his slides detailing how blockchains would power everything from the city’s electricity grid to its traffic control system and be embedded in Wanxiang’s factories, the handful of programmers in the room grew both skeptical and awed. “It’s so huge, it’s hard to even believe,” one developer told him.

Wanxiang isn’t the only Chinese conglomerate with blockchain dreams. Beyond cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, some of China’s biggest firms are betting on the technical ideas behind it to revolutionize their businesses. They’re placing much bigger bets than their counterparts elsewhere in the world, who are mired in small-scale trials, proofs of concepts, or slow moving consortia. Chinese companies “are not only moving faster, but the scale of their blockchain ambitions dwarf what we’re seeing elsewhere,” says Garrick Hileman, of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

The Chinese e-commerce giant JD has already launched a food supply tracking system using a blockchain in Beijing supermarkets and online stores. The tech giant Tencent has partnered with Intel to develop a blockchain architecture. And the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, has said it’s researching blockchain technology as a way to potentially digitize the yuan.

Blockchains for industry

Unlike firms elsewhere in the world, Chinese companies sense an opportunity to unify the fragmented data flows flowing through their stupendously large and complicated factory floors and supply chains by marrying a blockchain data layer with Internet of Things devices. Conveniently, these applications are also free of the regulation and scrutiny that can slow down financial applications. “I personally believe that non-financial [applications] will go commercial sooner,” says Vincent Wang, Wanxiang’s chief innovation officer.

Foxconn, one of the world’s largest contract manufacturers of electronics and best known for manufacturing Apple’s iPhone, sees blockchain as way for its suppliers to get easy financing. “In China, 85% of SMEs can’t get financing,” Foxconn executive Jack Lee told a conference in New York in May. “They have to go to shadow banking … so it’s very inefficient and costly.” If Foxconn can leverage its current data on small businesses through blockchain, it could create a highly efficient supply chain that could also track delivered goods.

Just as mobile phones allowed China and emerging economies to leapfrog the rich world’s telephone landlines, blockchain technologies could help its industries skip the development of antiquated financial services models. After all, Chinese tech firms Alibaba and Tencent are already processing trillions of dollars through their mobile payments businesses. “We are more interested in getting to a next-generation financial services business,” Foxconn’s Lee says. “That’s the key. As a side benefit for Foxconn, it will streamline the supply chain.”

Those kinds of observations make less worrisome the recent drop in China’s share of bitcoin trading volume as well as rumors on Telegram chat groups about an imminent crackdown on even China’s powerful bitcoin miners. Because Chinese money’s waning influence over the bitcoin markets may be replaced by control over an even greater prize.

As it continues to move from a rural to an industrial economy, China needs to leapfrog the incumbents and assert itself as a technology leader. Bitcoin and the ideas behind its blockchain may be one way to do that—and it may be why China has been a leader of a stateless cryptocurrency for so long.

 

Author: Joon Ian Wong

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
david ogden cryptocurrency entrepreneur

David

Will bitcoin ever be a safe investment or always a gamble

Will bitcoin ever be a safe investment or always a gamble

Will bitcoin ever be a safe investment or always a gamble?

The boss of JP Morgan was unequivocal about bitcoin at a recent conference in New York: the digital currency was only fit for drug dealers and would eventually blow up. “[It] isn’t going to work,” said Jamie Dimon. “You can’t have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think that the people who are buying it are really smart.”

A few days after Dimon’s comments, the value of bitcoin plunged when the Chinese authorities announced a crackdown on it. It has been an eventful month, even in the context of a currency that is less than a decade old. Since the start of the year the value of a single bitcoin has gone from $1,000 (£750) to almost $5,000.

The spiralling price of the cryptocurrency, along with the controversy it has attracted in the past few weeks, has meant that interest from buyers has peaked and more consumers are considering whether to invest – or gamble, as some commentators say – in it.

“We continue to see a rise in demand for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” says Obi Nwosu of Coinfloor, an exchange where people can buy and trade bitcoin. “When senior leaders in the financial community, regulators and government bodies share their views about bitcoin, it further raises interest and awareness in the market.”

So amid the warnings, should investors see the spiralling price as reason enough to buy?

How it began

Established in 2009 after the financial crash, bitcoin is a digital currency that has no central bank or regulatory authority backing it up. The coins don’t exist in a tangible form but are made by computers and stored in a digital wallet or on the cloud. They can then be exchanged and used in transactions.

There is a finite number of bitcoin that can be supplied – 21m – and there are currently 15m in circulation. Its price has fluctuated wildly since it was launched. Seven years ago, two pizzas were bought for 10,000 bitcoin. At its peak at the beginning of September this year each bitcoin was worth almost $5,000. As it can be used as an anonymous way to carry out cross-border money transfers, it has been linked to drug dealing and money laundering.

There are bitcoin ATMs that allow the cryptocurrency to be exchanged for cash, and an increasing number of businesses accept it. Lady Mone, co-founder of underwear brand Ultimo, launched a property development in Dubai with prices in bitcoin, while a London property developer is to allow its tenants to pay their deposits using it.

Growing interest

The renewed attention on bitcoin has led to a spike in interest from people wanting to invest. “BTC [bitcoin] and crypto[currency] more broadly have hit the mainstream consciousness,” says Lex Deak, chief executive of alternative investment aggregator Off3r. “I am getting an increasing number of enquiries from late adopters who want to learn more about accessing investment opportunities in the space. It has matured rapidly since the beginning of the year, courtesy of the jump from $1,000 to over $4,000, with a feeling that there is now a little less volatility.”

Guy Halford-Thompson, the founder of brokerage Quickbitcoin, says he would not be surprised if mainstream brokers and investors started to invest heavily in the near future. At the same time, the financial regulator has warned against a speculative frenzy over initial coin offerings (ICOs) – a digital way of raising funds from the public using cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin – because of their unregulated nature and lack of investor protection.

While some investors may be attracted by the massive rises this year, others will be wary of the volatility. In mid-January one bitcoin was valued at $800. By June this had gone to $3,000. One month later, it was at less than $2,000 and then almost $5,000 by the start of September. Two weeks later, it was at $3,200.

“Whether it is suitable or not is down to individual circumstances,” says Deak. “If you are an experienced investor with a balanced portfolio and relatively small exposure, then BTC is an exciting and potentially lucrative investment. It needs to come with a clear warning that there is potential for significant losses and investors need to carefully consider the method of investing.”

Tread carefully

Electronic payments expert Dave Birch has said in the past that “one doesn’t invest in bitcoin, one gambles on bitcoin”. Those working in the area advise anyone planning on buying the currency to only invest as much as they are prepared to lose.

“The general sensible view is that the more volatile the investment, the smaller proportion of your wealth you should consider storing in it,” says Marc Warne, founder of bitcoin exchange Bittylicious. “I have heard of people moving their life investments into bitcoin and this is a bad idea.

“The flipside is simple – why not give it a try? If you have £20 to spare, for instance, buy a tiny amount and track its price. If something goes hideously wrong the £20 can be written off and it can be considered a learning experience. If you can, spend it somewhere like at a few pubs that accept it.”

Because the typical protections surrounding investment are not present with bitcoin, prospective investors should ask for help from those who have traded in them already, says Halford-Thompson. “My advice to anyone thinking about investing in bitcoin is to do their own research, but also to speak to people who have already gone through the experience of investing in it,” he says.

“Most of the dangers are because the protection that investors would normally enjoy on a stock market are not present. If you own bitcoin, you need to make sure you know how to buy, sell and store it properly or you risk losing your entire investment.”

Is it secure?

Concerns about the security of the cryptocurrency have continued to shadow it. Last year, almost 120,000 bitcoin worth around $78m (£58m)were stolen from Hong Kong-based Bitfinex, one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, which resulted in a 20% drop in the value of the currency at the time.

“Similar to online banking, people need to take care with their bitcoin account credentials,” says Nwosu. “Whether you secure your bitcoin yourself or with a third party like Coinfloor, we recommend the safest way to go is to keep your security credentials offline.”

Daniel Scott of Coincorner says the currency itself is secure, but the problem surrounds businesses in the industry and the wallets where the bitcoin are stored. “Unfortunately, IT security is a real-world issue, not just for bitcoin but within any industry that uses technology. You only have to do a quick Google search for recent hackings of large global companies to see that any company is open to security issues regardless of size or industry.”
 

AS RISKY AS TULIPS

When Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, dismissed bitcoin as a currency for drug dealers and murders that would end up imploding, he compared its rise to an infamous bubble from the 1600s. “It is worse than tulip bulbs,” he said.

Dimon was referring to one of the most notorious periods of speculation in history when the value of tulip bulbs rocketed amid a mania for the flowers. The popularity of the bulbs hit its peak in the 1630s.

They were traded “frantically”, according to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and some people even put their homes down as collateral. However, the market crashed in February 1637, leaving many investors penniless.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.

Thomasine F-R.

Author: Shane Hickey 

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

David

Why Bitcoin and Ethereum will soon be everywhere

Why Bitcoin and Ethereum will soon be everywhere

Why Bitcoin and Ethereum will soon be everywhere

Bitcoin, Ethereum and blockchain technologies are all the rage. Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are raking in millions in mere minutes, and every day a new initiative is announced with ever-increasing hype.

With all of this going on, you’d expect cryptocurrencies to be mainstream fare, right?

Unfortunately, they’re not quite there — yet.

As of now, your grandma probably isn’t wagering Ethereum with her bridge buddies. Heck, even buying pizza with cryptocurrency sounds like science fiction. The fact of the matter is that for people outside of the hardcore crypto-enthusiast community, the whole idea is still mysterious.

This article will help you get a better grasp of the future of cryptocurrency. After you finish it, you’ll clearly see how these technologies are poised to join the mainstream.

So, when will this dizzying race come to an end? Is there real value in the blockchain craze? Can it possibly live up to the expectations created by so many rivers of newsprint?

Below, you’ll find answers to all of these questions and more.
 

The true potential of blockchain technology

As it turns out, distributed blockchain ledgers do have a future.

Not only can they reduce skyrocketing IT costs, but the promise of faster, less-expensive financial transactions has the potential to accelerate growth in a host of industries.

With this great potential comes some bad news, though … you won’t see these possibilities become a reality until the technology becomes useful in the real world.

uber

What will this look like exactly? Well, when you can pay for a ride to a cafe and buy a coffee in crypto — without needing a master’s degree, mind you — its use will be pretty standard.

When crypto goes mainstream transactions won’t be measured in millions of dollars, but trillions.

The explosion of the global sharing economy illustrates how cryptocurrency can go mainstream.

Several companies are already changing the way things are done in this sector. They’re taking products and services that are already in existence and turning them into economic opportunities for millions of people.

In their industry, Uber and Lyft have transformed the way the world thinks about traveling by car. They’ve also empowered people who couldn’t otherwise find work to generate income.

With these businesses, it’s easy for drivers to get started, and they can work on their terms. Due to these reasons and more, Uber and Lyft have taken off like wildfire.

Air B&B

Airbnb also challenges the status quo to provide worldwide accommodations for its users. Not only has it reinvented the way people think about traveling, but it’s been an absolute game-changer when it comes to bringing more money into various communities.

Currently, initiatives like Open Money are laying the foundational groundwork so that software developers can make the vision of universal cryptocurrency acceptance possible. Their platform provides the technological infrastructure that will integrate cryptocurrency transactions into practical, everyday applications.

At the end of the day, companies like Uber and Lyft don’t just change the way we think about the world — they change the world. When it comes to cryptocurrency, companies like Open Money will significantly expand the acceptance of cryptocurrencies by facilitating their incorporation into the software people are already using.
 

Can cryptocurrency acceptance in consumer apps open the floodgates?

Now all of this sounds pretty amazing, but what is needed to bring this vision to reality?

Companies will need to develop strategies that are based on proven market principles to succeed. Namely, they’ll need to empower app developers from all over the world to quickly and easily integrate cryptocurrencies into their applications.

The booming consumer applications market is the ideal starting point for bringing cryptocurrencies into the mainstream. According to a recent research study by We Are Social, more than half of the world’s population now connects to the internet with a smartphone, generating over 50 percent of all internet traffic.

Overall, 3.5 billion people around the globe consistently use mass-market consumer software.

around the world

The real motor of consumer software lies in the hands of software developers. All around the globe, these individuals are innovating solutions that engage their users in powerful ways.

Unfortunately, they don’t currently have the tools they need to make this possible.

Though others are likely to follow in its footsteps, Open Money is the first initiative to provide a state-of-the-art REST API, SDKs and industry best practices designed to facilitate blockchain integration.

Built by developers and for developers, with this solution, it won’t be necessary to start from scratch. Instead, they can leverage an established infrastructure to transition their currently successful apps into the cryptocurrency market, finally enabling you to pay for your pizza in cryptocurrency.

“We want to be the catalyst that takes blockchain technology and puts it in the hands of billions of people around the world. By empowering developers of all sizes to harness the true potential of this amazing technology, we will be contributing to a world that is more efficient, equitable and productive. That’s what the Open initiative is all about,” explained Ken Sangha, COO of Open Money.

The Opportunity

Cryptocurrency is on the brink of change. Soon, app developers from around the globe will empower everyone — including grandparents— to use cryptocurrency with ease. (Nostalgia: $12 checks written by older folks will soon be a thing of the past, so get your cryptowallet ready.) If they succeed, they’ll create a new market that’ll change the economic system forever.

 

by NATHAN RESNICK

 

Posted by David Ogden

David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrpreneur

 

David

Young investors make thousands from bitcoin but experts warn amateurs could lose everything

Alessandra Sollberger, 29, has made more than $80,000 (£60,000) from bitcoin,

Young investors make thousands from bitcoin but experts warn amateurs could lose everything

Anyone seeking the hottest investments will have been watching developments in cryptocurrency with a discerning eye.

Bitcoin, the king of the breed, has soared in value since launching in 2010. Thirty dollars’ worth of bitcoin bought at launch would have made you a millionaire by now.

But the digital currency is also susceptible to wild fluctuations. Less than two weeks ago, the price of bitcoin collapsed by 15 per cent in a single day amid speculation that China was about to impose a crackdown on the currency.

Veteran investors and financial advisers will warn you to steer clear of such a risky product. But whether the experts like it or not, the value of cryptocurrency is growing at an astonishing rate. Bitcoin, which is priced in US dollars, was worth less than 10 cents in October 2010. By November 2013 the value had jumped to $980, and it leapt again to a new high of almost $5,000 (£3,700) early this month.


The likes of bitcoin can hit dizzy heights.

They can also fall precipitously Today a single coin is worth more than $4,200. The jump in value has been fuelled by growing demand from buyers around the world. In particular, it appears to have captured the interest of young people who see cryptocurrency as a way to get involved in investing.

Alessandra Sollberger, the 29-year-old founder of London-based “superfoods” company Evermore Health, got in at the right time. She bought around 400 coins for less than $9 in mid-2012 after hearing about the currency through her work at a private equity firm.

The Oxford University graduate, who grew up in Switzerland, sold 250 coins when the price hit $82 in March 2013, making her more than $20,000. She then sold another 100 for $600 in 2014, netting her a further $60,000.

She used the money to launch her own business last year and still holds four coins, which have a current market value of almost $17,000. “Obviously with hindsight I should have put everything into it, but I’m happy with the returns I got,” she says.


Alessandra Sollberger, 29, used the money she made from bitcoin to start a business

Ms Sollberger, who is also an adviser to a cryptocurrency hedge fund in the US, believes virtual currency has a long-term future.

She is backing ether and ripple as other successful currencies, although she says investing is not for the faint-hearted. “There’ll be so much volatility. It takes a strong stomach and fundamental conviction to hold one of these in the long term.”
 

Beware of hackers

Cryptocurrency has no physical shape or form. The coins are created and stored electronically and transactions are made between individual users, bypassing banks. Advocates say this is the future of money – but others are concerned.

One big issue is security. Because the coins are stored electronically, the system appeals to hackers. People may also simply forget their account details or password, losing access to their coins.

Justin, a graphic designer for an architectural practice in Bath, bought 6.5 bitcoins in June 2015 for less than £1,000. The 43-year-old, who declined to give his surname, now has a portfolio worth £20,000.

But he is not planning to cash in any time soon. He plans to reassess his bitcoins in 2025, by which point he will have held them for 10 years. He has also been putting more in this year. “Rather than stick spare money at the end of the month into a savings account, I spend it on bitcoin,” he says.


Andrea Casino, 22, is new to cryptocurrency

Andrea Casino, a 22-year-old Master’s student, only starting investing in crypto two months ago. He put $2,000 in two newer crypto coins – OmiseGo (OMG) and Lisk.

“I was up about $600 in my first week. But then the concerns about China happened and the value dipped to $1,500. Now I’m $400 in profit,” he says. “I don’t do any other form of investing. It’s a bubble but holding now is the wisest thing to do.”
 

How to buy:

Partly for the purposes of researching this article – as well as being curious about the growth potential of bitcoin – I recently became a buyer.

The first thing you need is a wallet to store the “coins”. Investors willing to spend a lot of money should really get an offline wallet (similar to a hard drive). I went for a free online wallet at Blockchain.info.

After you have signed up for a wallet, you will be given your own bitcoin address – a unique set of numbers that is similar to a bank account number. Once you have copied down your address, head to an online exchange to buy some coins. I used Bittylicious.com after reading several favourable reviews online. It also offers a very competitive commission rate.

You can buy various currencies on Bittylicious, although Blockchain will only host bitcoin and ether in the wallet at the moment. You buy the coins by paying cash direct into the seller’s high-street bank account.

You don’t have to buy a whole bitcoin; it can be as small a portion as you want. There are some places in the UK where you can spend your bitcoin – see wheretospendbitcoins.co.uk/map.

 

Have you missed the boat?

There is no doubt that bitcoin’s growth has slowed over the past month. However, investors will know that any investment should be made with the long term in mind.

In bitcoin’s case, no one knows what the value of the coins will be in 10 years’ time. The currency could soar by more multiples, or it could collapse and become another failed financial product that economists will analyse for years to come.

 

Should you invest?
What the experts say

Gretchen Betts, Magenta ­Financial Planning
The high returns are clearly attractive to young people. However, this market is unregulated and susceptible to fraud and hackers – with no compensation if this happens. So as an investor, you could lose everything.

Cryptocurrency should be considered very high risk and only for sophisticated investors who can afford to speculate with money they are prepared to lose. The volatility means losses of 20 per cent in a day are not unusual; most people can’t afford to lose that much.

As an unregulated asset, bitcoin is not something I would recommend as an investment. There are also some ethical concerns to consider – the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency makes it attractive to criminals and for money laundering.

William Hobbs, Barclays
To make the case for an asset’s inclusion in a portfolio, it needs to have a positive expected return over the long term, and act as a diversifier.

Bitcoin potentially satisfies both criteria. With the increasing digitisation of the economy, we may see a greater shift towards non-cash transactions executed through digital means. This would, increase the utility of cryptocurrency, potentially leading to price appreciation and a positive expected return. Besides that, bitcoin is unlike most traditional asset classes.

Of course, correlations should be interpreted with caution, given how unstable they can be.

Nevertheless, current patterns suggest, in theory, that bitcoin may be, in theory, a useful diversifying asset.

 

Author: Elizabeth Anderson

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur

David Ogden Cryptocurrency entrepreneur

 

David

First Cash, Now Gold? Another Bitcoin Hard Fork Is on the Way

first cash now gold

First Cash, Now Gold? Another Bitcoin Hard Fork Is on the Way

Bitcoin, bitcoin cash, bitcoin gold?

There could be as many as four cryptocurrencies bearing the bitcoin name if a small group of miners and developers carry out a planned fork of the blockchain this month.

Styled as a rebellion of sorts, bitcoin gold aims to follow a similar launch plan as bitcoin cash – the blockchain that split from bitcoin this summer by way of a "hard fork." The idea of the project is to release an improved protocol, one that will challenge bitcoin cash in particular, and details are now starting to come come into focus.

Led by Jack Liao, CEO of Hong Kong mining firm LightningASIC, bitcoin gold is slated to launch on October 25, with its cryptocurrency being opened to exchanges on November 1.

Still, while whispers of the event are just beginning to spread, the importance of the project appears up for debate. Given that bitcoin cash produced an ultimately smaller bitcoin network, not to mention a cryptocurrency that's worth about 12 percent as much as bitcoin at press time, most seem to view the plan as another distraction in an already divided community.

For one, bitcoin gold looks like it could be even smaller that bitcoin cash, at least in that not as many miners seem to support it.

In remarks, BTC.Top founder Jiang Zhuoer and ViaBTC CEO Haipo Yang – two early champions of bitcoin cash – went so far as to downplay bitcoin gold as insignificant.
 

'Decentralized again'

But while those in the know might be skeptical of bitcoin gold, it does have a goal that many in the community may find attractive: creating a truly decentralized bitcoin.

Most notably, the developers behind the network hope to open up mining to more participants by replacing bitcoin's mining algorithm with one that will enable it to be mined with graphics cards. The idea is to make big miners – sometimes controversial figures on the network – less relevant.

"Bitcoin gold will implement a proof-of-work change from bitcoin's SHA256 to Equihash, a memory-hard algorithm that is ASIC-resistant and optimized for GPU mining," explained pseudonymous bitcoin gold developer "The Sorrow."

That the plan is being hatched in China, long the hotbed of bitcoin mining, only adds another layer to the story. Liao, whose mining hardware largely focuses on the litecoin network, is seen as one of the few voices domestically that can challenge the established order.

Yet, Liao was quick to name one mining firm in particular, Bitmain, as the reason that more bitcoin users should support the idea. A mining company that has been at the center of bitcoin drama over the last year, critics have long argued that the firm has too much of an influence over the network.

Still, creating a network that grows so popular as to remove miners is easier said than done, and some are skeptical that this would lead to the end goal that bitcoin gold advocates desire.

"GPU mining can't prevent centralization. GPU [markets] are controlled by Nvidia and AMD," Zhao Dong, a cryptocurrency trader and investor, argued in response to the plan.

Liao, however, argued the accessibility of the companies' products means the distribution of hashing power might evolve differently.

 

Bitcoin gold's unknowns

Again, though, even project leaders admit many of the details around the hard fork are fuzzy.

Bitcoin gold's pseudonymous lead developer "h4x" said that the project is "still evolving" and details such as exact block height of the hard fork are still up for discussion.

According to the original website text, bitcoin gold was even planning an initial coin offering (ICO) by which 1 percent of the bitcoin gold coins would go to the developer team, but these details have since been removed.

One thing is clear though about the funding: because of the nature of the split, every bitcoin user at the time will have an equal amount of bitcoin gold associated with their private key.

"It is a minimalist fork of the Bitcoin Core codebase in the spirit of litecoin – only a few conservative modifications," said h4x.

H4x went on to describe bitcoin gold in more abstract biological terms, arguing that it tests how well hard forks work and if they benefit the ecosystem.

He said:

"Organisms derive benefits from creating offspring. With bitcoin gold we are conducting an experiment to see if that principle holds true in the world of blockchains."

And this sentiment is largely in line with developers who have predicted that more bitcoin forks similar to bitcoin cash will come forth in the future.

After bitcoin cash forked earlier this summer, for example, Lightning Network developer Tadge Dryja argued that more forks would spring up, but for another reason: money.

With bitcoin gold in the works and another hard fork slated for November, it seems that prediction is slowly becoming reality.

 

Sep 27, 2017 at 08:00 UTC by Alyssa Hertig

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency entrepreneur

David

Early bitcoin investor Palihapitiya declares ‘nobody can stop it’

Early bitcoin investor Palihapitiya declares 'nobody can stop it'

Early bitcoin investor Palihapitiya declares 'nobody can stop it'

  • Social Capital's Chamath Palihapitiya was early in both Facebook and bitcoin and continues to back both.
  • "The idea that the government can put curbs on this is actually pretty specious," he said in response to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's criticism of bitcoin.

Investors who followed Social Capital's Chamath Palihapitiya into the early stages of two investments he advocated would have made an awful lot of money.

Palihapitiya was early in both Facebook, the ubiquitous social network, and bitcoin, the disruptive crypotcurrency that has sharply divided investors who continue to argue over its legitimacy.

Even with the major gains both have made, Palihapitiya remains hot on tech stocks in general, and bitcoin in particular. The digital currency, despite some volatile times, has soared nearly 300 percent this year.

That has come even though JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has called it a fraud that is doomed to fail.

"Nobody can stop it because nobody can control it," Palihapitiya said in an exclusive CNBC PRO interview at the Delivering Alpha conference on Sept. 12. "The idea that the government can put curbs on this is actually pretty specious."

Rather than debate its status as a currency or its use for nefarious purposes, he said there should be a broader discussion about how to put it to better use.

"As far as I'm concerned, the genie is out of the bottle," he said. "Now the real question is how can we productively use it to solve some of society's issues around the financial services infrastructure."

 

Jeff Cox | @JeffCoxCNBCcom

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency  entrepreneur

David

Bitcoin’s price is spiking by 7 percent as traders shake off China fears

Bitcoin's price is spiking by 7 percent as traders shake off China fears

Bitcoin's price is spiking by 7 percent as traders shake off China fears

The price of bitcoin is up nearly 300 percent year to date.

Bitcoin is still under the $4,000 level, which it broke through after JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said on Sept. 12 that the cryptocurrency is a "fraud" that will eventually blow up.

 

The price of bitcoin rose sharply on Monday with its price spiking up 7 percent midday, according to CoinDesk market data.

The price of the cryptocurrency is up nearly 300 percent year to date.

Bitcoin's price is spiking by 7 percent as traders shake off China fears

Bitcoin is still under the $4,000 level, which it broke through after JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said on Sept. 12 that the cryptocurrency is a "fraud" that will eventually blow up.

In addition, recent reports said regulators in China have ordered bitcoin exchanges to close hurt the digital currency's price.

"In my opinion, the markets overreacted to the China news. In the short term, it was bad news, but long term the fundamentals are unchanged," William Mougayar, author of "The Business Blockchain," wrote in an email.

-CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report

Author: Tae Kim |

 

Posted By David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

David

Why Most ICO’s Will Fail: A Cold Hard Truth

Why most ICO's fail

Why Most ICO’s Will Fail: A Cold Hard Truth

In this guide from Blockgeeks, you will learn why most ICO’s Will Fail.

On June 12, 2017, an Ethereum based called Bancor held its ICO. It raised $153 million in 3 hours. No, you are not reading it wrong, 153 million…..in 3 hours!!!

If that doesn’t get your brain melting, then how about this? The BAT ICO $35 million in 30 seconds!!! That’s near $1.2 million per second! And if that still doesn’t get your jaw dropping, then how about this? Have you heard of UET? UET had an ICO which raised $40,000 in just 3 days. Admirable if not particularly mind-blowing. Why do we bring it up after talking about Bancor and BAT?

Well, UET stands for “Useless Ethereum Token”, it is a “joke coin”.

Here is the sales pitch that they used, “UET is a standard ERC20 token, so you can hold it and transfer it. Other than that… nothing. Absolutely nothing.” And they raised $40,000 in 3 days! Welcome to the crazy world of ICOs! There is no doubt that ICOs have changes the financial landscape over the past 2 years. In the first half of 2017 alone they raised over $1 billion!

However, all these insane success stories tend to make us look at facts with rose-tinted glasses. The fact is, that around 99% of all ICOs out there will fail. And that’s not exaggerated doom and gloom, over the last few years, thousands of cryptocurrencies have been created and over 90% of them have failed. And the fact also remains that given the insane success of most ICO’s, scammers are flooding the market creating bogus dapps/coins to get their fill of the ICO pie and effectively create an “ICO bubble”.

So, keeping all this in mind let’s aim to answer this simple question: “Why are most of the ICOs going to fail?”

A quick disclaimer before we continue

Before we continue, we want to make something very clear. We don’t “hate” on ICOs. We believe that ICOs are truly revolutionary and will continue to evolve and will become an amazing vehicle for developers, entrepreneurs and investors who are looking to innovate and change the world by just showing their concept aka a whitepaper. (Well, we hope more than just a whitepaper) That’s truly brilliant. 🙂

With that being said, let’s start.

Why Most ICO’s Will Fail: A Cold Hard Truth

So, how does an ICO work?

Firstly, the developer issues a limited amount of tokens. By keeping a limited amount of tokens they are ensuring that the tokens itself have a value and the ICO has a goal to aim for. The tokens can either have a static pre-determined price or it may increase or decrease depending on how the crowd sale is going.

Tokens are basically native currencies that can be used in an environment (think of the arcade coins that you needed to play games in an arcade) or they give their owners various rights inside the native environment (Think of the wristbands that certain nightclubs use which entitles you to get a certain number of free drinks).

The transaction is a pretty simple one. If someone wants to buy the tokens they send a particular amount of ether to the crowd-sale address. When the contract acknowledges that this transaction is done, they receive their corresponding amount of tokens.

So, that’s a general idea on how ICOs works. But then why do most ICOs fail. The reason why most ICOs fail is that most developers/entrepreneurs do not pay any attention to the three pillars that make an ICO:

  • Cryptoeconomics.
  • Utility.
  • Security.

Pillar #1: Cryptoeconomics

It is funny how most developers forget the “cryptoeconomics” of their ICOs. There are two words that makeup cryptoeconomics: “cryptography” and “economics”. While most developers pay attention to the cryptography part, they hardly pay any attention to the “economics” part. As a result of which, it is very rare to find a token whose economic skeleton has been properly and thoroughly mapped out.

In order for the token to be decently valuable in the long run, there must be sufficient demand for it but that is not what is usually seen in the ICOs. What is seen is unsustainable token inflation which largely happens because of flawed economic models and the greater fool theory (more on that in a bit).

For these permanently inflationary tokens, their demand must always outpace their inflation for them to be valuable in the long run, which more often than not creates a Ponzi Scheme like scenario.

Before we go into all that, however, we need to understand where the fundamental problem of most ICO economic model lies.

One of the biggest advantages of ICOs is that anyone can come and raise money for their concept…not a finished product, a concept. There is still a long way to go before that concept can become a product and as with anything, there is a 90-95% chance that it will be a failure.

However, many of the early adopters of ICOs have made a killing because of the low entry and the high profit. As a result of this everyone else developed a massive case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and started pouring millions into concepts that didn’t even have an alpha version ready. Look at this, for instance, ICOs made nearly $800 million in the second quarter of 2017 alone! Compared to that, Venture capital made just $235 million:

These are people who have little to no idea about how the blockchain works, they are just putting in money to make a quick buck. Seeing this trend, the developers shifted their focus. Instead of making Dapps/currencies which added something new and unique to the ecosystem, they started making products for the ICO.

Their end goal became: “Build a flashy enough whitepaper to get good money in ICOs”. Because of this rampant speculation and very little due diligence, the “Greater Fool Theory” came into play.

What is the Greater Fool Theory?

The Greater Fool Theory is an economic theory which states that the price of an object increases not because of the value that it brings in but because of the irrational beliefs attached to it. Art is a great example of the greater fool theory.

So let’s apply the same to ICOs. You have a bunch of dapps and currencies coming up which are bringing in nothing new to the ecosystem. However, because they have been hyped up so much and there so many ignorant investors around, their value increases anyway, and as a result, the tokens face an inflation.

So, let’s recap what we have learned so far:

  • Investors are investing millions into concepts that don’t even have an alpha version of their product.
  • Investors are desperate to put their money in because they think that ICOs are a way to get rich quick.
  • In order to cash in on this, developers are creating products more aimed towards ICOs than to give actual value.
  • Because of the “Greater Fool Theory.” the value of the tokens gets inflated

If this sounds suspiciously like a bubble then yes, you are right and the thing is, we have been here before, we have seen this play out. The whole ICO situation is scarily reminiscent of another wave that swept us in the late 90’s. They say that those who are not aware of history are bound to repeat it. So let’s do a quick history lesson and turn back the clocks.

 

The Dot-Com Bubble

Around 1997, the internet became big and tech companies began to emerge everywhere. Investors started putting in their money and flipping their investments into huge sums. Eventually, everyone who saw this started getting major FOMO (fear of missing out) and they began giving away their money to companies without even having any idea as to whether the business had the potential to work or not.

Common sense went out of the window and every random internet business was making a killing in the IPOs. Warren Buffet noted that:

“The fact is that a bubble market has allowed the creation of bubble companies, entities designed more with an eye to making money off investors rather than for them. Too often, an IPO, not profits, was the primary goal of a company’s promoters.”

BOOM!

He hit the nail right on the head, most of the companies that got millions from their investors failed and some turned out to be nothing more than scams. Eventually, the bubble burst in 2002. Companies crashed and lost millions within a year. One of the most infamous examples of this is Pets.Com which lost $300 million in just 268 days!

The parallels between the ICO bubble and the dot-com bubble are a bit frightening. Much like dot-coms, the ICOs have attracted a lot of investors who don’t want to miss out on the gold rush. Much like the dot-coms ALL the investing is done purely from speculation. You have to realize that most of the companies that you are investing in, in ICOs barely have anything ready. Most of them don’t have the alpha version of their end result, it is all based on speculation and the potential of the project.

As with anything, most of these projects will fail to get the end results. The reason why the Ethereum ICO worked so wonderfully was that it had a dedicated and driven team of talented developers who were a day in and day out to make it a success, same with Golem.

The parallels are very apparent and it can get real scary thinking about it. But we are not market experts. All we can do is speculate. We don’t know whether we are living in the “ICO bubble” or not, nor do we know whether it is a bubble that is going to pop.

What we do know is that unless developers stop with their “get rich quick schemes” and actually pay attention to launching ICOs which bring in true value and has a concrete economical skeleton, then we will be seeing patterns which are depressingly similar.

 

Pillar #2: Utility

What is the definition of Utility? Utility means the total satisfaction that is received by the consumption of the goods or services. Most of the ICOs do not maximize their token utility. The tokens should be absolutely integral to the ICO and must increase the overall value of your final product.

If you are an ICO developer, then ask yourself this question: If you take away your token does your business fall apart? If the answer is no, then you don’t need a token. There are only a few cases that make sense to tokenize. Most people get tokens only so they can “HODL” it and buy more bitcoin and ethereum in the future! Is that all that your tokens are worth?

If you do use tokens for your business, then you need to completely understand its role and maximize its utility. You have to understand that tokens can be multi-purpose tools which can bring in a lot of “oomph” to your business. Your business model should be such that you are exploiting your tokens to the maximum possible limit.

(Before we continue, we would like to give shoutouts to the inimitable William Mougayar and Kyle Samani for their brilliant work and research.)

As William Mougayar points out in his Medium article, there are three tenets to token utility and they are:

  • Role.
  • Features.
  • Purpose.

These three are locked up in a triangle and they look like this:

Each token role has its own set of features and purpose which are detailed in the following table:

Let’s examine each of the roles that a token can take up:

  • Right

By taking possession of a particular token, the holder gets a certain amount of rights within the ecosystem. Eg. by having DAO coins in your possession, you could have had voting rights inside the DAO to decide which projects get funding and which don’t.

  • Value Exchange

The tokens create an internal economic system within the confines of the project itself. The tokens can help the buyers and sellers trade value within the ecosystem. This helps people gain rewards upon completion of particular tasks. This creation and maintenance of individual, internal economies is one of the most important tasks of Tokens.

  • Toll

It can also act as a toll gateway in order for you to use certain functionalities of a particular system. Eg. in Golem, you need to have GNT (golem tokens) to gain access to the benefits of the Golem supercomputer.

  • Function

The token can also enable the holders to enrich the user experience inside the confines of the particular environment. Eg. In Brave (a web browser), holders of BAT (tokens used in Brave) will get the rights to enrich customer experience by using their tokens to add advertisements or other attention based services on the Brave platform.

  • Currency

Can be used as a store of value which can be used to conduct transactions both inside and outside the given ecosystem.

  • Earnings

Helps in an equitable distribution of profits or other related financial benefits among investors in a particular project.

So, how does this all help in token utility?

If you want to maximize the amount of utility that your token can provide then you need to tick off more than one of these properties. The more properties you can tick off, the more utility and value your token brings into your ecosystem. If the role of your tokens cannot be clearly explained, or if it doesn’t really tick off more than one of the roles given above, then your token doesn’t have any utility and you can do without it.

Now, let’s move onto another interesting concept called “Token Velocity”.

Token velocity in simple terms means: Are people going to hold on to the tokens for long-term gain or sell it off immediately? This is a problem with most ICO and token structures because they are being treated more as a vehicle for liquidation than as a store of long-term value. In fact, regarding this, Willy Woo did an interesting case study.

He plotted the performances of 118 coins, from the first day of their inception to the day he made the graph. His only qualification was this; the coin should have reached a market cap of at least $250,000 in any one year of its existence. Let’s see what he came up with:

Image courtesy: WooBull

See that red line soaring triumphantly over everyone else? That is bitcoin. It is the only crypto that has performed consistently and grown from strength to strength. (The blue line above the bitcoin line is a statistical aberration according to Woo).

In fact, Woo’s research becomes more interesting when you break it down even further. Here he has grouped the coins together according to the year of their inception. Let’s see how well the coins from each year group performed:

Image courtesy: WooBull

Yikes! That does not look good at all!

What this shows is that every year the coins are performing worse and worse. And the reason for that is simple. More and more scam ICOs are coming in and developers are not making valuable enough projects. As a result of which, we have tokens, which perform no other utility than being a means of liquidation and that is exactly why Bitcoin and Ethereum are so far and above everyone else. People realize their potential as a proper long-term store of values.

This is exactly why developers need to pay attention to token velocity. The reason why Bitcoin and Ethereum have such high values is because, they are low-velocity coins. Let’s quantify token velocity (TV):

Let’s quantify token velocity (TV):

TV = Total Trading Volume / Average Network Value.

So, more the trading volume aka more that coin is traded more the velocity. Consequently, less the network value, more the velocity.

Now if you examine this from the perspective of bitcoin, then you will know exactly why its velocity is less.

  • No other crypto has as much network value as bitcoin.
  • No one wants to trade off bitcoin because they know that there is value in holding it.

So, what should developers do to ensure that they have less token velocity? They need to work and re-examine their tokens. They need to understand whether a token is being fully utilized or not. They need to answer several questions, some of which are:

Does my project really need a token?

  • Am I fully exploiting the token and getting as much token utility as possible.
  • Is my token useful only for initial liquidation purposes?
  • Is there any value in holding my token long term?
  • Is my token ticking off as many roles as possible?
  •  

It is only when developers work on the utility of their tokens will they be able to bring something which can contribute significantly to the ecosystem
 

Pillar #3: Security

And now we come to the third pillar… security

During your ICO and immediately after your ICO you have a big target on your back. If you haven’t paid attention to your security, hackers will attack you and they will rob you. In fact, this is what Chainanalysis had to say:

“More than 30,000 people have fallen prey to ethereum-related cyber crime, losing an average of $7,500 each, with ICOs amassing about $1.6 billion in proceeds in 2017.”

In fact, Chainanalysis claims that there is a 1 in 10 chance that you will end up a victim of the theft! That is staggering.

The crimes that happen largely fall into three categories:

  • Faulty code.
  • Phishing Schemes.
  • Mismanagement of keys.

Faulty Code

Perhaps the most infamous example of this is the DAO attack.

The DAO aka the Decentralized Autonomous Organization was a complex smart contract which was going to revolutionize Ethereum forever. It was a decentralized venture capital fund which was going to fund all future DAPPS made in the eco-system.

The way it worked was pretty straightforward. If you wanted to have any say in the kind of DAPPS that would get funded, then you would have to buy “DAO Tokens” for a certain amount of Ether. The DAO tokens were indicators that you are now officially part of the DAO system and gave you voting rights.

If in case, you and a group of other people were not happy with the DAO then you could split from it by using the “Split Function”. Using this function, you would get back the ether you have invested and, if you so desired, you could even create your own “Child DAO”. In fact, you could split off with multiple DAO token holders and create your own Child DAO and start accepting proposals.

There was one condition in the contract, however, after splitting off from the DAO you would have to hold on to your ether for 28 days before you could spend them. And this was where the loophole was created. People saw this in advance and brought it up but the DAO creators assured that this was not going to be a big issue. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
 

The DAO Attack

On 17th June 2016, someone exploited this very loophole in the DAO and siphoned away one-third of the DAO’s funds. That’s around $50 million dollars. The loophole that the hacker(s) discovered was pretty straightforward in the hindsight.

If one wished to exit the DAO, then they can do so by sending in a request. The splitting function will then follow the following two steps:

Give the user back his/her Ether in exchange of their DAO tokens.

Register the transaction in the ledger and update the internal token balance.

What the hacker did was they made a recursive function in the request, so this is how the splitting function went:

Take the DAO tokens from the user and give them the Ether requested.

Before they could register the transaction, the recursive function made the code go back and transfer even more Ether for the same DAO tokens.

This went on and on until $50 million worth of Ether were taken out and stored in a Child DAO and as you would expect, pandemonium went through the entire Ethereum community. The price of Ether dropped from $20 to $13 overnight. This still remains the worst ICO hack ever. The aftermath of the hack was so extreme that it split Ethereum into two different currencies: Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.
 

Phishing Schemes

Here is something truly scary for you to wrap your head around.

Phishing scams have stolen up to $225 million in Ethereum related cybercrimes. In fact, as we have mentioned before, more than 30,000 people have fallen prey to ethereum-related cyber crime, losing an average of $7,500 each.

So, before we continue, what is phishing?

Phishing is the process by which scammers get your sensitive information (like credit card details) by impersonating someone trustworthy and of notable repute. The scammers usually use email and in some cases, they use social media. In fact, someone has been trying to phish ICO developers by impersonating our very own Ameer Rosic!

As a developer, you need to be very very very careful of this. Imagine giving away your card details or, more importantly, your key details just before your ICO! Obviously, the investors get scammed more than the developers. One of the more popular ways of scamming investors is by creating a fake social media profile which somewhat resembles the real ICO page and then manipulating potential investors to send money to their address.
 

Mismanagement Of Keys

If you are a developer, then there are 3 questions that you need to ask yourself:

  • Where are you storing your private keys?
  • How are you protecting your wallets?
  • How are you protecting your customer’s tokens on your ecosystem?
  • Who are you sharing your multi-sig wallet keys with?

If you are a developer, then one of the many doubts and fears that you will face from your investors is what is stopping you from running away with all of their funds? Which is a very valid question. The way that you can allay these fears is by using a multi-signature wallet.
 

What is a multi-signature wallet?

The easiest way of understanding how a multi-signature (multi-sig) wallet works like is by thinking of a safe which needs multiple keys to operate. A multi-signature wallet is great for 2 purposes:

  • To create more security for your wallet and save yourself from human error.
  • To create a more democratic wallet which can be used by one or more people.

How does multi-signature wallet save you from human error?

Let’s take the example of BitGo, one of the premier multi-sig wallet service providers in the world. They issue 3 private keys. One is held by the company itself, one is held by the user and the third one is a backup that the user can keep for themselves or give to someone trustworthy for safe keeping.

To do any sort of transaction in a BitGo wallet you will need at least 2/3 keys to operate. So even if you have a hacker behind you, it will super difficult for them to get their hands on 2 private keys. And on top of that, even if you lose your private key for whatever reason, you still have that backup key that you had given to your friend.

Now, how does a multi-signature wallet create a more democratic environment? Imagine that you are working in a company with 10 people and you need 8 approvals in order to make a transaction.

Using a software like Electrum you can simply create a custom multi-sig wallet with 10 keys. This way you can make seamless democratic transactions in your company. And that is exactly how you will allay fears regarding the safety of the investor’s money. Suppose you publicly declare that 5 of those keys will be given to neutral parties who are reputable members in the crypto environment that will obviously create more trust among the investors.

However, despite all this, even a multi-sig wallet is prone to a hack attack. A wallet is only as secure as the code that makes it. On July 19th, a vulnerability in the Parity Multsig wallet was exploited and hackers made do with $30 million in ether.

So next time you are about to hold an ICO please make sure that you are taking care of your security. No one wants to see a tweet like this:

Conclusion

ICOs are the “in thing” now and the number of ICOs held per month is increasing exponentially:

Image Courtesy: Investopedia

 

If you are a developer then, and there is no easy way of saying it, you will most likely fail to create an end product. Does this mean that we hate ICOs? We don’t. Like we said, we really think that it is revolutionary. But, if you are a developer then it is your responsibility to you, your potential investors, and to the future of cryptocurrency itself to use the ICOs as a means of creating something truly meaningful rather a method of making a lot of cash.

  • Why are you doing your ICO?
  • Is your token something that will bring genuine value?
  • Are you sure you are not doing this just to make a quick buck?

If you cannot convincingly answer any of these questions then please, do not do your ICO. Don’t contribute to this “bubble”. Make something meaningful. Make something that will add to the environment, not exploit it.

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

David

Bitcoin Price Rises by 5% to $3,740 as the Cryptocurrency Market Gradually Recovers

Bitcoin Price Rises by 5% to $3,740 as the Cryptocurrency Market Gradually Recovers

Bitcoin Price Rises by 5% to $3,740 as the Cryptocurrency Market Gradually Recovers

Today, on September 23, the bitcoin price increased from $3,600 to $3,738, recording a daily increase of 4.88 percent. At today’s peak, the bitcoin price surpassed the $3,800 mark, showing signs of recovery from the largest price correction.

Bitcoin Price Rises by 5% to $3,740 as the Cryptocurrency Market Gradually Recovers

On September 20, less than three days ago, the price of bitcoin and most of the cryptocurrencies in the global market declined significantly. The bitcoin price plunged from $4,020 to $3,530, by $490, and the price of other leading cryptocurrency such as Ethereum also dropped by over 10 percent.
 

Bitcoin Remains Stable in $3,800 Region, Optimistic Indicators

In 2013, when the Chinese government banned bitcoin and trading activities around the cryptocurrency, the bitcoin price fell by over 40 percent and it failed to recover for more than eight months thereafter. The bitcoin price surpassed the $1,000 mark for the first time in December of 2016. However, when the Chinese government issued a nationwide ban on bitcoin, the bitcoin price was not able to surpass the $1,000 mark again until January of 2017.

In consideration of the impact the Chinese government and its ban on bitcoin had on the price of bitcoin in 2013, China’s nationwide ban on local bitcoin exchanges had significantly less impact on both the price of bitcoin and the state of the global bitcoin exchange market.

When the Chinese government requested major bitcoin exchanges and trading platforms including BTCC, OKCoin and Huobi to shut down, analysts expected the price of bitcoin to remain below the $3,000 mark for awhile, since the Chinese bitcoin exchange market was still a large market for bitcoin. But, as an increasing number of traders and investors began to realize that the Chinese market was only accountable for around 10 to 13 percent of global bitcoin traders, the international bitcoin exchange market started to demonstrate increasing demand from investors.

It is important to acknowledge that stability is most likely a far-fetched term to depict the recent performance of the bitcoin price. But, relative to previous events such as the 2013 ban on bitcoin by the Chinese government, bitcoin has done surprising well, showing resilience towards FUD and regulatory uncertainty in China.
 

Can Bitcoin Price Recover Beyond $4,000 In Upcoming Weeks?

Financial and bitcoin analysts including Max Keiser and Ben Verret reaffirmed that the bitcoin price is likely to increase in the upcoming days and weeks, considering that the weak hands have left the market. Earlier today, Keiser also emphasized his short-term price target of $6,000, given that the bitcoin price has been able to hold up and sustain momentum despite the uncertainty in regards to the Chinese bitcoin market and also, the country’s local bitcoin mining industry.

Since 2016, an increasing number of investors and traders have begun to seek bitcoin as a safe haven asset to avoid global markets volatility and weakening of reserve currencies. As the conflict between North Korea and the US continues to intensify, it is likely that more investors will seek out for bitcoin in the upcoming weeks.

More to that, as JP Vergne, a professor at Ivey Business School explained, developer activity around cryptocurrencies is the best indicator for price. Bitcoin development is booming with the emergence of Lightning-based applications and Segregated Witness (SegWit)-supporting wallet platforms.
 

Joseph Young on 23/09/2017
 

Posted by David Ogden
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

David

Ethereum, Bitcoin Prices Slide as Market Sheds $10 Billion

Ethereum, Bitcoin Prices Slide as Market Sheds $10 Billion

Ethereum, Bitcoin Prices Slide as Market Sheds $10 Billion

The crypto markets took a steep downward turn on Friday, with more than 90 of the top 100 cryptocurrencies posting single-day price declines. The bitcoin price dropped nearly $400 after challenging the $4,000 level earlier in the week, while the ethereum price slipped below $260.

Chart from CoinMarketCap

The total cryptocurrency market cap–the combined value of all cryptocurrencies–dropped more than $10 billion for the day. After beginning the day at about $133 billion, the crypto market cap quickly dropped below the $130 billion threshold, where it languished leading into Friday morning. At present, the total crypto market cap is about $122 billion.

Chart from CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin Price Dips Toward $3,500

Bitcoin was at the head of the retreat, dipping nearly $400 from its Thursday morning mark of $3,900. Market manipulation or not, the bitcoin price has tapered quite a bit since its early-week recovery. In the past day alone, it has dipped 6%, despite the fact that a prominent industry figure said a trusted source had told him that China will not extend its bitcoin crackdown to mining. At present, the bitcoin price is trading at a global average of $3,564, which translates into a $59.1 billion market cap.

Bitcoin Price Chart from CoinMarketCap

Meanwhile, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has taken another potshot at bitcoin, claiming that it’s “worth nothing” just a week after calling it a fraud.

Ethereum Price Dips Another 6%

The ethereum price mirrored bitcoin’s decline, dipping 6% for the day. After entering the day above $270, the ethereum price struggled to hold above that mark. Ultimately, it dove through the $260 level, too, bringing it to a current price of $257. Ethereum now has a market cap of $24.4 billion.

Ethereum Price Chart from CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin Cash Posts Double-Digit Decline

The bitcoin cash price careened downward on Friday, posting the worst single-day performance of any top 15 coin. Within the past 24 hours, the bitcoin cash price has fallen by more than $50–a 10% drop. At present, bitcoin cash is trading at $407 and has a market cap of just $6.8 billion.

Bitcoin Cash Price Chart from CoinMarketCap

Altcoins Trend Down

The altcoin markets joined in the retreat, with nearly every top 100 cryptocurrency declining for the day. Fourth-ranked Ripple saw its price fall 5% to $0.17, while Dash slid 3% to $337.

Altcoin Price Chart from CoinMarketCap

The litecoin price fell 8% to just under $46. The 6th-ranked coin now sits at just 50% of the $92 record it set on September 2.

Litecoin Price Chart from CoinMarketCap

NEM–whose single-day trading volume is just $3 million–declined 6% to $0.204, while IOTA dropped 5% to $0.484. Monero, whose price approached $150 less than a month ago, is now trading at just $85 following Friday’s 7% skid. Ethereum classic rounds out the top 10 with an 8% decline that forced its market cap below $1 billion.
 

Author: Josiah Wilmoth on 22/09/2017

 

Postedby David Ogden Entrepreneur

David