Gibraltar leads on ICO regulation

Gibraltar has been in the spotlight in recent months following the jurisdiction’s milestone DLT regulations. The DLT regulations, which came into force on 1st January 2018, received a warm reception by many in the FinTech space. Other jurisdictions are now keen to address the blockchain technology that is disrupting traditional industries and businesses. They, too, see they need for regulation, and are looking to Gibraltar for inspiration.

In a speech on Friday 2nd March 2018, The Bank of England’s Governor, Mark Carney, stated it was time to “regulate elements of the crypto-asset ecosystem to combat illicit activities”. Gibraltar’s proactive approach has clearly placed the jurisdiction in a unique position as one of only a few jurisdictions to have some form of regulation for this growing industry.

It looks as though Gibraltar will continue to remain in the spotlight as the jurisdiction looks to address concerns surrounding the increasing number of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) that are funding blockchain based startups. It has been widely reported in recent weeks that Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar and the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) are preparing to release a draft of the world’s first token regulations.

During a presentation at the Gibraltar International FinTech Forum 2018, otherwise known as the Gibfin conference, which took place between 28th February and 1st May 2018, the GFSC provided attendees with more information about the activities that the forthcoming token regulations aim to regulate. The token regulations will regulate the following activities conducted in or from Gibraltar:

  1. the promotion, sale and distribution of digital tokens;
  2. the operation of secondary market platforms trading in tokens; and
  3. the provision of investment advice and ancillary services relating to tokens.

Promotion, sale and distribution of digital tokens

Tokens that are not considered securities, such as utility and access tokens, will be caught by the new token regulations but gifts, donations, virtual currencies (i.e. Bitcoin) and central-bank digital currencies will not.

The FSC clarified that they will not expand the interpretation of what is considered a security in Gibraltar and also have no intention of defining token categories, or the functionality of tokens, either pre or post ICOs. The intention is to ensure that token sale participants’ are presented, in advance, with all relevant information to enable them to make an informed decision.

To be captured by these regulations, the activities will need to be carried out in or from Gibraltar and will include activities:

  • which purport to be or imply that they are made from Gibraltar;
  • are intended to come to the attention of, or be accessed by, any person in Gibraltar;
  • are conducted by overseas subsidiaries of Gibraltar-registered legal persons (in such cases, the Gibraltar person will be liable); or

are conducted by overseas agents and proxies acting on behalf of Gibraltar-registered legal persons, or on behalf of natural persons ordinarily resident in Gibraltar (in such cases, the Gibraltar person will be liable).

It is anticipated that Gibraltar-based token issuing companies will be required to comply with some form of disclosure rules that are yet to be announced. It is expected that the proposed regulations will require adequate, accurate and balanced disclosure of the relevant information to enable potential token sale participants to make an informed decision.

Additionally, token issuing companies will be obliged to collect know-your-customer (KYC) information on their token sale participants in order to comply with financial crime provisions in Gibraltar.

Additionally, entities that wish to conduct an ICO from Gibraltar will need to be sponsored by firms that the GFSC has authorised to perform such a function. Authorised sponsors will possess the appropriate knowledge and experience and will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the part of the regulations. Authorised sponsors will be regulated by the GFSC.

In order to encourage best practice for token sales conducted in or from Gibraltar, authorised sponsors will be required to have codes of practice in place that token sale entities will be required to comply with. Codes of practice may set out such matters as the method for storing, applying and distributing sale proceeds. Codes of practice will require approval from the GFSC and the regulator will establish and maintain a public register of authorised sponsors and their respective past and present codes of practice.

The GFSC will not however regulate:

  • Technology;
  • Tokens, smart contracts, or their functionality;
  • Individual public token offerings; or
  • Persons involved in the promotion, sale or distribution of tokens.

Secondary market conduct

Secondary market platforms, operated in or from Gibraltar, dealing in tokenised assets (including virtual currencies) and their derivatives will be caught by the token regulations. The GFSC aims to:

  • ensure organised trading takes place on regulated platforms;
  • establish transparency and oversight of secondary markets;
  • enhance investor protection;
  • impose conduct of business standards; and
  • encourage competition.

The proposed regulations will set out requirements for:

  • disclosure to the public of data on trading activity;
  • disclosure of transaction data to GFSC; and
  • specific supervisory actions concerning tokens and positions on token derivatives.

This second area of focus will be modelled, so far as is appropriate, proportionate and relevant, on market platform provisions under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II and Markets in Financial Instruments and Amending Regulation, otherwise known as MiFID II and MiFIR, which came into effect in January 2018.

It is proposed that the GFSC will authorise and supervise secondary token market operators, and establish and maintain a public register of such operators.

Investment Advice

The provision of advice on investments in tokens, virtual currencies and central bank-issued digital currencies will be covered by the token regulations, including:

generic advice (setting out fairly and in a neutral manner the facts relating to token investments and services);
product-related advice (setting out in a selective and judgmental manner the advantages and disadvantages of a particular token investment and service); and
personal recommendation (based on the particular needs and circumstances of the individual investor).

The regulations will seek to ensure that such advice is fair, transparent and professional. This third area of focus will be similar to the investment advice provisions in MiFID II.

It is proposed that GFSC will authorise and supervise token investment service providers, and establish and maintain a public register of such providers

Watch this space

We are expecting to receive a draft of the much anticipated token regulations in the coming weeks. However, we understand that the draft will only likely include the first area of focus concerning the promotion, sale and distribution of digital tokens with the remaining two elements of the token regulations to follow later this year.

While we are eagerly anticipating the release of the draft regulations, which will mark another significant milestone for Gibraltar, the jurisdiction is not resting on its laurels. Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has presented a progressive bill before its parliament to amend the scope of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2015, the jurisdiction’s main legislative instrument concerning anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing provisions. The intention is to bring:

“undertakings that receive, whether on their own account or on behalf of another person, proceeds in any form from the sale of tokenised digital assets involving the use of distributed ledger technology or a similar means of recording a digital representation of an asset.”

within the scope of anti-money lauding and counter-terrorist financing provisions.

These developments are further evidence of Gibraltar’s continued effort to make the jurisdiction crypto friendly and provide safe environment for both business and consumers.

 

Hassans International Law Firm is the largest law firm in Gibraltar and a driving force behind Gibraltar’s crypto boom. It enjoys consistently high rankings in leading legal directories and this year has once again been ranked Band 1 by Chambers & Partners. The Hassans’ FinTech team consists of 12 experienced practitioners co-led by partners Anthony Provasoli and Vikram Nagrani.

 

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The Unique Industries that Blockchain Technology Will Forever Change

Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University professor and economist, recently made a bold but frequently repeated prediction about bitcoin–it’s going down. According to Rogoff, “bitcoin will be worth a tiny fraction of what it is now if we’re headed out 10 years from now … $100 [is] a lot more likely than $100,000 ten years from now.” The accomplished academic, who once served as the chief economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), went on to say, “Basically, if you take away the possibility of money laundering and tax evasion, its actual uses as a transaction vehicle are very small.”

Time will tell whether or not Rogoff’s bearish prediction is correct. Nevertheless, to Rogoff’s sure dismay, blockchain technology is here to stay. The nascent technology has already disrupted dozens of industries, and undoubtedly, many more are in line. From banking and financial services to supply chain management, blockchains are revolutionizing the way businesses and industry leaders are conducting their operations. Here are three industries that will forever be changed because of blockchain technology.

Blockchain Technology and the Travel Industry

One specialized travel platform, Cool Cousin, has a well-received iOS app that lets local residents give tips and create travel guides on where visitors should go in their hometowns in exchange for money. Vacationers and tourists can explore new areas through Cool Cousin guides developed by city natives. Cousins, as they’re affectionately called, have the responsibility of offering digital tours and pointing out the best local restaurants, businesses, and attractions. What’s more, Cool Cousin is developing blockchain solutions to their app.

The platform’s blockchain implementation is centered on smart contract integration. Smart contracts will both establish and enforce interaction between the platform participants, thereby implementing a system of checks and balances. This will keep the platform truly decentralized. Smart contracts will also be the mechanism that facilitates transactions between cousins and travelers, creating trust between all parties. Cool Cousin will eventually operate using the CUZ coin, its native crypto token. CUZ will remove the need for third parties and allow rapid cross border transactions and international payments to take place. Visitors can save on travel expenses while cousins will benefit from higher profits because they will transact in a peer-to-peer, decentralized manner.

How the Sports Industry is Getting a Blockchain Boost

Another company, Jetcoin, is partnering together athletes and their fans to incentivize success in the sports industry. Through the platform, fans can earn money and directly participate in emerging athletes’ careers. The platform works like as follows. First, an athlete releases a portion of his or her IP rights to the Jetcoin Institute. Second, the Jetcoin Institute, with its expert panel, creates a career plan along with a corresponding budget. Third, the Jetcoin Institute releases the rights in the form of Jetcoin smart contracts, which can be purchased with Jetcoins on the platform. Finally, as the athlete follows the plan and begins to secure revenues, a portion of his or her earnings are distributed back to the smart contract holders. Jetcoins can either be exchanged for another crypto or fiat currency, or used on the platform to purchase tickets to events, VIP access, and other perks.

Data Sharing and Security Meets Blockchain Technology

The world is increasingly dependent on data. But, as history has often shown, data isn’t always as secure as it needs to be, nor is it always easy to share in a safe manner. In response to these issues, Tierion uses the power of blockchain technology to verify data sharing, files, and processes. Their API and other platform tools can be used by companies and organizations to anchor a timestamped proof of data on the blockchain. The platform is particularly helpful for companies that mus share and store large amounts of data, as the platform uses blockchains to create immutable records and verifiable audit trails. The platform is also extremely easy to use and integrates with existing web, desktop, and mobile applications.

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Want to understand how blockchain ticks? Qtum might be one place to start!

Cryptocurrency investors are becoming more discerning, as they more and more appreciate the need to avail themselves of greater understanding of how a particular project’s blockchain works.

As investors learn and explore more deeply the technological issues, they are likely to come across Qtum, a project that is doing something with blockchain that adds value by its team setting by answering the question: how do we blockchain business-friendly?

On first sight, Qtum’s provenance in a fork from Bitcoin might trigger a weary “oh not another one” response from the newly inquisitive investor. That would probably be a mistake.

A good starting point for assessing a blockchain’s worth is the value differential it brings to the table compared to the Bitcoin benchmark for good reason. Bitcoin may have been getting a bad rap for transaction times and high fees and the supposed inefficiency of its proof-of-work consensus mechanism, but in security and adoption it remains way ahead of all comers. From the view, then, there is a reason why Bitcoin is a good starting point for those like Qtum trying to build a blockchain that is enterprise-ready.

Bitcoin has been around for nine years and it has never been hacked and never had any down time. Ok, but what about those early design decisions in the protocol that could be holding back wider adoption, such as its inability to run smart contracts, in addition to the scaling issues.

And, sure Ethereum is built for smart contracts and decentralised applications but it too has scaling issues and high costs associated with executing code.

Qtum has come up with three innovative contributions to the problem of how to get the good stuff from Bitcoin and Ethereum without carrying the not-so-good stuff baggage: its Account Abstraction Layer, which means you can run Ethereum smart contracts on bitcoin core; a proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism that is more than a theoretical construct and is now a living, breathing network of thousands of nodes; and lastly a governance system that is both robust and flexible so software upgrades can take place with a minimum of fuss.

Let’s consider those three features of the Qtum blockchain in turn.

Bringing Ethereum contract to bitcoin core

The first is the critical one from which much else flows. Ethereum is sometimes referred to as a second-generation blockchain because instead of just a transactional layer it can also run applications. However, in so doing Ethereum abandoned an important part of the bitcoin approach to handling transactions, known as Unspent Transaction Outputs (UTXO) model. It is a more complex way of handling transactions than Ethereum’s account/balance system. But that’s not the only reason it was rejected be those who built Ethereum – it wasn’t stateful. That’s was seen as a problem because a stateful computing program keeps track of interactions, a critical feature in a framework running applications.

However, bitcoin’s UTXO model doesn’t applications and instead does one thing – handles payment transactions and stateless is not necessary because all transactions must come from a previous transaction and every time a transaction is sent a UTXO is created at the associated address.

A user’s bitcoin wallet “balance” is not represented by a single number but by several UTXOs, each with its own transactional data including the amount being sent or received. User A might have two UTXOs, one with 3 BTC, the other 4. User A wants to send 6 BTC to User B. To do so they would have to send both UTXOs and receive back the “unspent” or “unconsumed” 1 BTC change.

One of the features of bitcoin’s UTXO model is it allows for verification of whether a transaction has been included in a block without having to download the entire block; it is known as Simplified Payment Verification (SPV).

Qtum keeps the benefits of UTXO by extending the Bitcoin Script language so that Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) smart contracts can run in a UTXO environment. Qtum calls this method for transporting code the Account Abstraction Layer. It is this breakthrough that enables not just Bitcoin but many other related UTXO blockchains to work with EVM smart contracts, from Litecoin to ZCash.

And Qtum is not stopping there. Work is well advanced on its X86 virtual machine which aims to hugely expand the instruction set available to EVM smart contracts, making code much more performant, that’s to say more efficient.

Mobile-first is a smart move

This first and perhaps most important innovation bestows upon the Qtum blockchain the ability to execute contracts on smartphones. There’s no need to download the 30GB Ethereum blockchain in order to implement a full node on a mobile device. With half of all traffic on the internet originating from a smartphone, running on mobile is no longer optional for many businesses. Qtum is also scalable, therefore when we start thinking about Internet-of-Things devices interacting with a blockchain, Qtum’s mobile-first design decisions are even more important.

This brings us to the second major innovation – the proof of stake (PoS) mechanism that instead of depending on costly proof-of-work (PoW) methods, nodes have to own Qtum tokens and there is no mining. That in itself might not be news, but that having 3,400 nodes up and running in 50 countries around the globe is, because the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Bitcoin’s PoW might be considered by some to be costly and inefficient but it is very secure.

PoS represents something of a trade-off between security and efficiency and the key to success will be in getting such mechanisms working in the real world and finding the right balance on security and efficiency. In that light, Qtum’s efforts to date are no mean feat – there, as yet, have been no on-chain failures. Contrast that with the Ethereum community’s progress, where there has been much talk about implementing PoS but it is still far away from happening.

On Qtum’s blockchain even the smallest of nodes – holding just 10 Qtum – are able to “book the world ledger”, by-passing the centralisation dangers emergent on the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks. Also, Qtum’s PoS rewards nodes that stake their coins for the longest period of time, which enhances security.

Good governance matters

Lastly, the third innovation is in governance matters. A cursory glance at the ideological infighting that has crippled software development on the Bitcoin network, this is an issue of increasing importance. Qtum has thought about on-chain governance from the get-go, and which has come to fruition in its distributed governance infrastructure. In it, parameters of properties such as blocksize, gas price, gas limit can be easily adjusted, dispensing with the need for incessant forking.

The ultimate governance arbiter is the Judgement Committee of the Qtum Foundation, elected from the community of token holders, so there can be no log-jams as seen in bitcoin core development.

It’s worth investors taking some time out to read up on Qtum. Perhaps there are problems yet to arise and there are certainly other platforms with equally robust, albeit different, blockchain technology, but on current form Qtum is in contention as a blockchain that could be one of the winners.

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Interview with Nexo: The world’s first crypto overdraft backed by Credissimo

We had the pleasure of chatting with Antoni Trenchev, Managing Partner at Nexo, in an exclusive CoinSpectator.com interview, to find out more about one of the most exciting crypto startups we have come across this year.

Not heard of Nexo? They are the world’s first instant crypto-overdrafts service, which enables anyone to access traditional fiat without selling their digital crypto assets. The whole process is powered by blockchain technology.

Although new to the blockchain industry, the team behind Nexo is no stranger to the world of finance, with its ten years of expertise and innovation running Bulgarian FinTech firm Credissimo.

CS: What are the benefits of having asset-backed lending on the blockchain?

Nexo’s primary mission is to enable the community to enjoy its crypto-wealth without selling it. You simply place your crypto asset in an Overdraft Wallet and instantly start using a credit line based on their value. With Nexo’s product, you have the cash to spent whenever you might need to while keeping the upside potential of your crypto. We have been in the consumer lending space for over 10 years now with our successful European FinTech Credissimo, so we are in an excellent good position to offer a unique proposition to the blockchain.

Please see our short video explainer:

CS: Who is providing the FIAT funds for the loans? Is this accredited lenders on the NEXO platform or will it come from NEXO reserves?

Here is where we differ from other services that are mostly P2P and borrowers have to match willing lenders. Nexo bridges that gap and makes the product more efficient, ensuring constant supply and liquidity. That is why almost all funds from the Token Sale will be used to fund our Crypto Overdrafts. We are also in advanced talks for the acquisition of an FDIC Bank, which would allow Nexo to extend even more overdrafts and even offer interest-rate bearing deposits.

CS: As you are probably aware lots of banks are unhelpful let’s say when buying/ selling cryptocurrency. Do you expect any problems with clients receiving fiat and having to explain where that money has come from if they mention crypto?

It is true that not all banks yet accept the inevitability of cryptocurrencies and blockchain solutions. That is one of the reasons we are looking to acquire a bank, we want to operate a company that understands what crypto assets are all about. Of course, KYC and AML are important for us and the community in general, so the source of funds is a must for larger amounts, but that should not interfere with the customer experience.

As for the Crypto Overdrafts – they are purely fiat transactions so we have solid banking partners even today. Starting April 2018, our clients will have a seamless experience and get access to cash in just a few clicks, all the while retaining full ownership of their assets.

CS: Similar companies are utilising asset-based lending such as “Salt Lending” “ETH Lend”, what benefits does Nexo have over these?

The Nexo Overdrafts are instant and automatic, as we fully appreciate the fact that speed is of the essence when a client needs liquidity. Nexo’s overdraft terms are standardised, so unlike P2P platforms, there is no back and forth between borrower and lender and the process is much more user-friendly.

Furthermore, Nexo is very flexible with regards to the crypto you can keep in your Overdraft Wallet. We will be revealing more details soon. Nexo offers a variety of options: besides fiat, you can also use crypto at market prices to make instant repayments. There are no geographic restrictions at Nexo, you can be anywhere in the world and still receive a Crypto Overdraft from us.

Nexo’s Overdrafts have fixed interest rates and the same Loan-to-Value for everyone and availability is instant and automatic. P2P platforms take а commission in the interest of each loan. Nexo’s income is the interest rate on the overdraft, we do not make money from anything else. An important aspect is that no minimum overdraft repayment is required if the outstanding overdraft balance is within the available overdraft limit.

Bottom line, Nexo’s Overdrafts are simple, extremely flexible, cost-efficient and with the customer in mind.

CS: Can Nexo overdrafts/ loans be used for purchasing property or mortgage purposes?

Of course, everyone can spend their cash the way they please.

CS: What regulatory hurdles do you still need to overcome?

Nexo’s model as a whole does not face any particular hurdles. But the crypto space has its challenges and in general what we would expect to see is more regulation kicking in. This could be either positive or negative. Some countries, like Switzerland, are very good at giving broad enough rules so that companies that bring value to the community, can operate with a higher degree of certainty. Rules are good, but concise, unobtrusive and business-friendly ones, and we hope for that.

We believe that security tokens are the future – most tokens are security tokens anyway, pretending to be a utility token, obviously, this is unsustainable. That is why we have opted for a security token with Nexo. It is interesting to see how exchanges will adapt to the new circumstances.

We are quite bullish and believe that crypto and tokenized assets will become a multi-trillion industry that will bring immense and exciting opportunities for all of us.

CS: According to a report by Morgan Stanley the p2p marketplace will be worth $150 to $490 billion by 2020. Does Nexo aim to take a large slice of this?

At Nexo we aim at delivering the best possible Crypto Overdrafts to the widest possible audience. We would like to convince the clients of our unique proposition by letting the users experience the ease of use and that will lead to market share that is satisfactory. For this reason we are launching the product prior to listing the NEXO Tokens on exchanges.

CS: Do you expect a high number of interest from companies as opposed to regular users?

Actually, we are experiencing a growing interest on all fronts.

CS: How do you plan to tackle money laundering, as you can appreciate around new technology you will always have a 3rd party trying to taking advantage. What markers do you have in place to stop someone using stolen/ hacked crypto to take out a loan?

In our 10+ years experience with Credissimo we have always adhered to the highest security and regulatory standards. We continue to do the same with Nexo, utilizing in-house solutions where we have the necessary expertise and contracting leading third party providers where this makes sense – escrow/custodian accounts and parts of our KYC/AML/CFT processes, for instance.

CS: The NEXO sale has been cancelled due to raising funds privately from investors, can you mention any institutions or firms that have invested?

It is part of our agreement with investors that they should make the first step and disclose their involvement with Nexo. Just like Michael Arrington, Founder of TechCrunch and the Arrington XRP Fund chose to do.

CS: You state that the overdraft benefits from not liable to capital gains tax (which is the case when selling crypto profits) but what if the borrower took out an overdraft but defaulted on the interest payments. In this scenario would any taxes be applicable?

As long as the client does not default, no tax liabilities kick in. If however we are forced to liquidate an asset, all depends on the price. Should the liquidation price be higher than the purchase price, capital gain tax will be owed to the relevant tax authority on the profit made.

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Top ICO’s & Cryptocurrencies to invest in 2018

With new ICO’s being launched everyday the industry is thriving but it is becoming harder and harder to identify high quality, sustainable and investor friendly projects.

This has been compounded by the general bearish trend that has surrounded the space since the Decembers bull run where virtually every coin reached new all time highs (ATHs). The main reasons for this recent downward trend however have included: China confusion, hacks, Tether woes, Binance fud and more recently the dumping of roughly 35,000 Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash onto the market by the Mt. Gox trustees which correlated perfectly with the drops we can see on the charts.

mt gox dump
Image riverflop Reddit user.

With the market now showing signs of stabilization this is the perfect buy-in opportunity to invest in high quality projects at a fraction of their worth.

So without further ado check out our top upcoming ICO’s and cryptocurrencies we think will provide a good return on investment throughout 2018.

P.s Why listen to us? Because we have a proven track record in recommending high quality, very profitable projects. Take a look for yourself here and here.

XYO Network

XY, the firm behind XYO Network have built and currently expanding one of the worlds largest decentralised location tracking protocols with GPS beacons and Bluetooth.

The result? Tagging and monitoring the movement of physical objects (including humans) anywhere in the world.

For example in the future governments and agencies could potentially use the technology to ensure everyone is registered and able to move around legally and freely through selected jurisdictions with no additional need for verification, passports etc. It can also help with realtime tracking of lost, missing, wanted people or objects.

Another use case would be ecommerce. Given the amount of parcels that go missing with no resolution/ accountability companies can use the tracking to manage their shipping and supply chain needs resulting in full transparency and accountability. For example an ecommerce store only takes payment once an item has been received by the customer.

XYO Network powers the service through its mining kits and enables anyone with a location tracking device such as Bluetooth, GPS, LPWAN (LoRA), Low Earth Orbit LEO Satellites to contribute. As referred to in the Whitepaper these Sentinels, Bridges, Archivists and Diviners are also rewarded with XYO Tokens based on their interactivity/ helpfulness.

XYO Network will be running a token sale this March. Whitelist restrictions apply and you can take part by visiting their website.

Website: https://xyo.network/

Essentia

Data ownership has become a hot topic these last couple of years with many unaware that corporations, governments and other 3rd party entities are profiting from what many consider to be their personal data.

According to research studies in 2017 digitally generated data amassed roughly $1 trillion dollars in revenue last year, none of which is seen by the individual whom it concerns.

Blockchain startup Essentia wants to change this by developing a way for everyone to decide and control who has access to their data, what it can be used for and receiving a fee for its use.

The infrastructure model can be split up into three sections. These are:

  • User Data
  • Essences – This is the container that holds and controls the flow to the users data
  • Essentia Network – This is the decentralised network that manages the Essences in a clean, interoperable and secure manner.

Third parties and dApps can easily access user data as pluggable oracles based on what information users wish to release. Developers can also build on top of the Essentia framework to create data management tools, identity solutions, data exchanges, decentralized CRMs etc.

For example using Essentia’s eLogin users can authenticate and login to compatible websites without the need for any password. This move away from insecure and sometimes cumbersome passwords means more security, privacy and a cleaner interface to manage identity and authentication across every service that the user wishes to use.

The firm has an impressive advisory board which includes:

  • European Commission and certified business coache Erik van der Staak
  • Thomas Graham who is a managing partner at crypto advisory firm TLDR;
  • Francesco fusetti who raised $19 million with his charity project AidCoin
  • Yann Marston with 20 years experience in business, he is responsible for strategic sales at Motorola Solutions.

Esentia is running an initial coin offering to raise funds enabling investors to purchase ESS tokens which will power the technology. The price is set at 1 ETH = 15000 ESS and they aim to raise $31,900,000.

You can find more at the website here: https://essentia.one/

Hoqu

hoqu logoHOQU aspires to be the world’s first decentralised marketing platform enabling affiliates and merchants to work together directly without the need for a middleman. This ensures both parties are treated fairly with all actions completed through transparent smart contracts.

The global advertising industry is estimated to be worth some $200 billion dollars per year with the USA, China and United Kingdom dominating the market. HOQU hopes that a large proportion of these transaction will be running on their blockchain in the near future.

It’s no secret that this industry is centralised with the affiliate networks controlling a large number of merchants and affiliates. In doing so they are able to set high fees and low commissions, all the while enforcing unjustified and overpriced account maintenance charges.

Startups are also often priced out of joining the networks with insanely high barriers placed in their way. HOQU removes these barriers with smart contract technology and fair fees for all.

This technology creates a win win scenario for both merchants and affiliates by reducing fraud, ensuring fair payouts and lower all round costs. All whilst streamlining the whole process.

HOQU’s Initial coin offering raised $18.7 million and at the time of writing HOQU (HQX) was trading at $0.083164 on IDEX and ForkDelta.

Website: https://www.hoqu.io/

Gems

gems logoGems is a decentralised mechanical turk powered by blockchain technology. It builds on the shortcomings of traditional Mechanical Turks such as Amazons MTurk and Crowd Flower.

A traditional MTurk is a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace which enables individuals and businesses (also known as requesters) to hire others to perform microtasks that computers are currently unable to do.

However current providers are very inefficient, implement costly verification techniques (consensus by redundancy), charge exorbitant fees and are unavailable to a large portion of the workforce who don’t have access to bank accounts.

By using blockchain technology Gems is able to eradicate all these issues.
Gems is currently being advised by a range of industry heavyweights that include Medium and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Augur co-founder Joey Krug, reCAPTCHA co-founder Ben Maurer, Aragon co-founder Luis Cuende and co-founder of NEO Global Capital Roger Lim.

At the time of writing Gems is trading at $0.018616 on Gate.io and IDEX for both USDT and ETH pairs.

Website: https://gems.org/

Upfring

upfiringPeer-to-peer file sharing is a phrase most of us are familiar with. It was once one of the most popular ways to share files across the internet and through the use of torrents still is even today.

It is however starting to show its age and limitations. One of the biggest being a massive disparity between file downloads and availability ratio.

This is due to the lack of seeders who have no incentive to share content other than as a hobby or possible notoriety.

Upfiring tackles the root cause of this problem by offering seeders compensation (payment in UFR) for their contributions.

By adding incentivisation in to the mix seeders rise to a higher calibre and become more abundant, resulting in faster access and downloads for users.

The process is as follows:

  1. A seeder shares a file through the Upfiring network
  2. The file is encrypted by the platform
  3. A downloader requests access to the seeded file but can only download once they have paid using the currency of the network which is UFR tokens.
  4. Once downloaded and paid for in full the file can be decrypted.

UFR is currently trading on various exchanges including Cryptopia, Stocks.Exchange, IDEX and ForkDelta at roughly $0.30 and has been tipped by many as a coin that should at least rech $5 by Q4 of 2018 due to the attractive market cap.

Website: https://upfiring.com/

Cardano

cardano logoIt would be almost criminal to end the article without mentioning Cardano. This is by far one of the most exciting (albeit adventurous) projects that we will be following over the course of 2018/2019.

Founded by Charles Hoskinson, a former co-founder of Ethereum and Jeremy Wood, operations manager at Ethereum, the project takes all the best bits from previous generation blockchains and rolls them in to a peer-reviewed, institutionally backed decentralised public blockchain and cryptocurrency. In essence Cardano wants to be Ethereum but usable day-to-day e.g far more scalable, sustainable, and interoperable.

Born out of scientific philosophy with experts contributing from all over the world not only helps Cardano develop a solid, research-backed foundation but will also simplify government and legal approval when that time comes.

Their detailed roadmap can be found on the website with upcoming events such as Ledger support and the opening of a new research and development center that focuses on the Cardano blockchain Ho Chi Minh city.

Cardano (ADA) is currently trading at $0.22.
Website: https://www.cardano.org/

That’s it for now!

p.s Last year with tipped HelloGold, Cindicator, VeChain, TRON, Request Network and Utrust. All of which not only increased in price but reached significant roadmap goals, formed partnerships and are starting to make real change across many industries with their Blockchain technology.

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Blockchain technology will track Billion dollar Amazon Fund

Brazilian Development Bank BNDES has signed a memorandum of understanding with German development bank KfW with the aim to improve transparency and efficiency in the use of public resources that finance the development of the Amazon Fund, this will now be powered by Blockchain technology.

BNDES was assigned the management of the Amazon Fund, which is responsible for raising funds and allocating resources; monitoring and supervising actions and supported projects; accountability; and reporting results obtained in a continuous and transparent manner; in addition to exercising the role of Amazon Fund Guidance Committee executive secretariat.

With eight years of existence, the Amazon Fund finished 2016 with a portfolio of 86 supported projects, totalling R$ 1.4 billion (US$ 617 million), of which 47% have already been disbursed. It has received donations from Norway, Germany and Petrobras totalling R$ 2.8 billion (US$ 1.13 billion).

Blockchain technology is set to be the object of cooperation between BNDES and KfW.

The memorandum is to be signed between the development banks of Brazil and Germany provides for test concept in the Amazon Fund

The National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) has been exchanging experiences with companies, research centres and financial institutions that are dedicated to blockchain technology development. In this context, the BNDES board approved a memorandum of understanding with KfW, the German development bank, to promote cooperation between the two institutions in enhancing TruBudget software.

The tool was developed by KfW to improve transparency and efficiency in the use of public resources that finance development. Although based on bitcoin-like technology, TruBudget does not involve the use of a virtual currency: it is a workflow tool that uses a private, not public, blockchain such as bitcoin.

Until May, BNDES will do a pilot test of the application in the Amazon Fund. The Fund, which is managed by BNDES, includes the German bank as one of the donors and carries out non-repayable financial operations, which are the focus of the memorandum.

Under the agreement, KfW will provide BNDES with access to the software repository and manage all other platforms and related tools necessary to collaborate and work on improving TruBudget. The German bank will also offer technical support for the application of the tool.

During the tests, BNDES will regularly share information about the use of TruBudget among participants. The Bank will not use it for commercial purposes or claim intellectual property for the software or a modified version of it. During the joint execution of the project, KfW intends to formalize the TruBudget license in the open source modality.

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Top ERC20 token projects to invest in right now

Six interesting ERC20 projects to invest in right now

In the last few months our editorial team have been flooded with pitches from a variety of token based startups. We’ve read white papers on everything from blatant scams through to fairytale ideas and everything in between.

As an investor it can be hard to cut through all this clutter and find the next big token, especially one that will make a good return on your investment. This is getting considerably harder with scammers becoming more creative when their marketing techniques and ideas.

That said every so often we do come across innovative blockchain projects that genuinely fix a problem and are set to revolutionise their respective industry.

Our team have researched six promising ERC20 tokens backed startups we think will make great investments.

HelloGold

hellogold logoHelloGold is not a Blockchain firm you might be familiar with, despite the company raising just over 17,000 Ether in a token sale earlier this year.

The project aims to simplify the purchase and management of Gold through a smartphone app for low to medium income customers based in poorer parts of the world.

Built on the Ethereum blockchain the project helps do what traditional gold investing cannot – it provides greater transparency and security for gold owners and verifies the amount of gold being held by each person whilst cross-checking with daily gold list custodians who physically store the gold in a fully insured vault in Singapore.

Why is this important? It means every gram of gold only has one owner and is completely traceable.

HelloGold have already delivered on many fronts. Their app is already available to download on Google Play and gold purchase trails are already unddrway in Malaysia.

They have also recently partnered with blockchain startup Aeon credit who have agreed to provide financing to customers at competitive rates.

It’s the first certified Shariah compliant online gold platform in the world, during the token sale they attracted investment from heavyweight venture-capital firm Fenbushi Capital with Bo Shen from the firm also joining the advisory board.

As for the team it includes CEO Robin Lee who is the former CFO of the World Gold Council with a strong background in financial roles.

Roger Ward also has vast experience working in the gold industry, having most recently worked at the World Gold Council developing strategy and managing complex projects in London. Other team members have come from roles at the Royal Bank Scotland Group, Wolff Olins PLC, AEON Group and Wykeen Seet was the VP at Bangkok Bank in Thailand.
At the time of writing one HelloGold (HGT) costs $0.008512, making it a bargain.
It is currently trading on EtherDelta, HitBTC and Coss.

https://www.hellogold.com/

Cindicator

cindicator logoCindicator is a decentralised analytics platform powered by ‘hybrid’ intelligence. The project raised a cool 55,569 Ether in the token sale earlier this year with over 4,000 participants.

Cindicator uses the wisdom of the crowd to determine answers to market changes. By aggregating opinions from a wide range of forecasters in different countries with different professional backgrounds, personal experience etc the platform can accurately quantify and provide accurate predictions when hedging trades.

The team behind Cindicator is what makes it a very promising token to watch. Names include Charlie Shrem COO at Jaxx, who is also a founder of the Bitcoin Foundation, Anthony Diiorio Founder at Jaxx and Ethereum, Marcus Killick Chairman of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange, Evan Cheng Director of Engineering at Facebook, Anton Govor head of strategy at Moscow Exchange, CFO and co-founder of changelly Konstantin Gladych.

The current price of one CND token is a steal at $0.016822. Trading is taking place on both HitBTC and Mercatox.

https://cindicator.com/

VeChain

vechain logoEstablished two years ago in Singapore VeChain is a product management platform built on the Ethereum Blockchain. They aim to revolutionise how products are processed through the supply chain by simplifying how manufacturers manage, collect and share data with vendors and consumers.

VeChain is already making waves by securing some very promising partnerships. Recently they were accepted into an incubation program launched by accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). They have also partnered with the world’s largest freight company, Kuehne & Nagel. The firm has a yearly revenue of around $21 billion. VeChain will help smartify parcels with chips linked to data held on the Blockchain to make tracking, managing and global collaboration more efficient.

VEN token is currently trading on Binance, Liqui, HitBtc, Coss, OpenLedger DEX, Kucoin and EtherDelta at $0.25 per token.

https://www.vechain.com/

Tronix

tronix tron logoBeijing-based blockchain startup TRON is a protocol for the global digital entertainment industry. It provides developers with the infrastructure for app development and smart networks which in layman’s terms means TRON is developing a worldwide free content entertainment system built on the blockchain which will enable users to publish, store and own media in a decentralised manner.

Tron’s founder Justin Sun is no stranger to the entertainment industry and was named in Forbe’s China 2015, 30 under 30.

He was also a former Chief Representative at Ripple and has since turned Peiwo, a streaming app into the leading live-streaming app in China. He will also bring the apps 10 million active userbase into the TRON ecosystem giving the project a solid user base from the get go.

Other members of the team include Jihan WU, CEO of Bitmain, Shuoji Zhou, partner of FBG Capital, Chaoyong Wang and founder of ChinaEquity Group.

The price of one TRX is currently $0.001956 and can be purchased on Binance, Liqui, Gatecoin, Mercatox, HitBtc and EtherDelta.

https://tronlab.com/

Request Network

request.network logoFin-tech firm Request Network has made waves in the last couple of months when it raised a cool $33,600,000 in their initial coin offering. Unlike many Blockchain firms they were actually founded in 2015 and started receiving support very early on from ING bank. Request Network aims to become a decentralised network for payment requests allowing businesses or anyone for that matter to request monies from just about anywhere. It is looking to position itself as a payment provider like paypal, stripe etc with one of its main uses being invoice management on a distributed ledger.

Notably Request Network was the first ICO to be incubated by the well known American-based seed accelerator YCombinator.

Not only is Request Network utilising the Ethereum Blockchain but also other technologies including Civic, Aragon and 0x. The team behind Request Network also have great experience in the finance industry having founded money transfer service Moneytis. Gilles Fedak co-founder of iEx.ec also sites on the advisory board.

As blockchain starts being implemented into mainstream services it is crucial that tools and services are available to simplify and automate migration from traditional billing and invoicing systems through to blockchain based approaches. We Request.Network will be that bridge.

Request Network is trading at $0.054420 per REQ token on Binance, Kucoin, Liqui, Gate.io, EtherDelta, Mercatox and IDEX.

https://request.network/

Utrust

utrust logoSimilar to Request.Network and dubbed the “payments platform of the future” Utrust aims to take the benefits of PayPal and weave them in to Blockchain technology to create the ultimate online payment gateway that will protect buyers with mediation and sellers.

Utrust is a member of the Crypto Valley Association and is also supported by the Swiss government.
The team behind Utrust come from a variety of backgrounds including finance, banking, UX and cyber security.

The price of one Utrust token is just 6.5 cents through the crowdsale and is expected to be trading on EtherDelta very soon.

https://utrust.io/

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Interview with HelloGold CEO Robin Lee: Bringing Blockchain and Gold to millions of people across Asia.

Robin Lee CEO Hello Gold

Hello Gold is a Shariah compliant gold investment app that allows anyone to buy and sell Gold hassle free. Its built on the Ethereum Blockchain with an aim to help the millions of low to medium income people from emerging countries save in Gold as apposed to their unstable local currency.

We spoke with Robin Lee, the CEO of HelloGold(former CFO of the World Gold Council) to find out more since the successful token sale which raised 17,149 ETH.


Can you briefly explain what HelloGold is?

“The amount of money in a person’s wallet should not be a barrier to his ability to access financial products that the rich enjoy. HelloGold wants to remove affordability and accessibility from the equation through the democratisation and digitisation of financial saving and loan products using real assets starting with gold” Robin Lee CEO HelloGold.

HelloGold has created an easy way for mass market customers to preserve their wealth by buying gold through a secure mobile app

How do customers purchase Gold, do they have to buy HelloGold tokens? Or only in RM1?

HelloGold is currently only available in the Malaysian market – we have plans to expand in 2018. For our customers, there are 2 ways to buy gold:

HelloGold app customers can log in and buy gold 24/7 once they have cleared the KYC process and topped up the app with cash using online banking. Prices track global market spot price and are updated every 5 minutes throughout the day. App customers can buy from as little as RM1. Customers buy, store and sell the gold which is physically vaulted down in Singapore. They can also gift the gold to another account holder, have the gold physically delivered or take a collateralised loan against the gold.

For people that are comfortable using crypto currency, HelloGold has recently launched our gold-backed token (GBT). Each GBT is fully backed by 1g of PAMP 99.99% investment grade gold vaulted in Singapore. GBTs will be available for purchase directly from HelloGold over the next few months to enable us to gauge demand

Why is Blockchain technology needed for buying Gold? What benefits does it provide to the consumer?

HelloGold uses blockchain technology to provide 3 benefits:

Transparency

By publishing the smart contracts and incorporating a blockchain explorer (transaction navigator), it will be possible to review the full list of anonymised transactions and calculate the amount of gold that HelloGold is holding on behalf of customers. This, in turn, can be compared not only to the amount of gold published in the customer gold list (anonymised) but also against the records managed by our custodian.

Security

HelloGold has incorporated several security mechanisms to protect customer accounts. All connections are encrypted using HTTPS. Internal API calls between the core components are secured with additional secret keys and firewall rules that limit interactions between trusted systems. For external facing APIs, for example APIs used by our mobile application, the API calls are further secured with a combination of industry standard OAUTH and secure tokens for each mobile device. The addition of a distributed record adds a further level of security from internal and external attempts to alter account data without leaving an audit trail. The smart contracts are being developed with best practices in mind following constant review of public audit documents. This should ensure that customer accounts are true and accurate.

Access

In addition, the Ethereum smart contracts enable HelloGold to create GBT, tradeable on any exchange which accepts them.With HGF’s gold-backed token everyone will only need the equivalent of a fraction of a dollar to save through gold (GBT works to 18dp). This will make the HelloGold platform available to everyone anywhere in the world

Do you think HelloGold will change how we buy gold in the future?

We are only at the start of our journey to impact the lives of the underserved and unbanked in emerging economies. Since our public launch in April, HelloGold has changed the way for over 4,000 customers when it comes to wealth preservation by providing a modern, convenient and cost efficient access to gold.

We have ambitious plans to expand the use of the product with both new partners and into new markets, to change how more people are able to access affordable financial products that were previously only accessible to the wealthy

Can you share any future plans or partnerships ?

We outlined our expansion plans in the whitepaper that we wrote for the recent token sale, full details can be found there.

In short, HelloGold plans to expand into new geographic markets, specifically Thailand, China, Indonesia and Philippines plus expand the product with new features/technology, asset classes (eg silver/platinum), partners which will enable us to serve new customer segments.

We are also increasingly approached by potential partners in other regions like the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia as well as Africa to consider expansion into those markets.

Who’s your target market for the app?

The ultimate customers of HelloGold’s platform, are those are not well served by their existing financial institutions and the unbanked. Financial institutions already provide a variety of easy ways for the high net worth and mass affluent market segments to invest in assets like gold so that they can diversify risks at the portfolio level but they do not enable the less affluent customer the same access. HelloGold targets two key market segments: the consuming middle class and the emerging middle class. In ASEAN and China alone, these two groups comprise 55% of the total labour force of 814m people. They saved approx. $505b in 2016, of which we estimate that $212b was in cash deposits.

Why are you running HelloGold on the Ethereum Blockchain over other similar technologies ?

HelloGold is using Ethereum as it is currently the most widely accepted platform that offers all the benefits of a blockchain (full traceability, non-repudiability etc.) and multiple source language implementations that encourage integration. Ethereum will handle only the parts needing consensus, transparency and accountability. Other services will continue to be provided using existing technology.

HelloGold needs a transactional blockchain with a powerful system of smart contracts which have the ability to ensure that a transaction can combine with the results of previous transactions to provide auditable consistent results. To date, Ethereum is the only stable system that has achieved widespread adoption. The decades of experience of our senior development team tell us to avoid anything experimental to run a live system.

Will you be expanding into other metals such as Silver?

Yes. We intend to create other real asset-backed tokens over the next 12 months.

What are you looking forward to in the blockchain space in 2018?

In HelloGold we are looking forward to moving our app backend onto the Ethereum network to provide our customers with greater security and transparency over their gold holding.

HelloGold intends to add different real asset backed tokens and providing more support to entities which support the twin objectives of 1) increasing mass market use of blockchain technology and 2) democratising access for the underserved and unbanked to financial products through the digitisation of these products.

Overall, we think that the blockchain space will continue to develop and mature through 2018. If the pace of change is as rapid as 2017, the industry will be significantly different at this time next year

HelloGold App Google Play:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hellogold.app&hl=en

HelloGold App Store:

https://itunes.apple.com/my/app/hellogold/id1193095204

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Energy giants BP and Dutch Shell join forces to develop blockchain energy trading platform

BP and Royal Dutch Shell have today formed a consortium with various other energy companies to develop a blockchain-backed trading platform for commodities.

Expected to launch by the end of 2018 the platform will significantly help cut costs in oil trading and streamline various aspects of the industry including the replacement of paper contracts. Swiss based commodity trading firm Mercuria also joined today has long been an advocate of paperless contracts.

Other members of the consortium include ABN Amro, Norwegian oil firm Statoil, Koch Supply & Trading, trading house Gunvor, ING and Societe Generale.

“I am very excited about this initiative,” said Anthony van Vliet, ING’s Global Head of Trade and Commodity Finance, “Marquee brands and competitors in the energy, trade and banking industry sharing one vision gives us a great opportunity to transform processing in the energy trade commodity sector”

In a statement, the consortium expressed a desire to see this form of trading replace traditional methods: “Over time, the new venture intends to lead the migration of all forms of energy transaction data to the blockchain, improving data quality, further strengthening security and increasing the speed of settlements industry-wide, while reducing the cost for industry participants.”

The new venture is seeking regulatory approvals and would be run as an independent entity, the consortium said in a statement.

Other companies trying to revolutionise the energy sector with Blockchain technology are Grid+ which has so far raised 38,000 Ether and PowderLedger whose ICO has not ended raising $13 million dollars.

With increased transparency and independence from central government blockchain technologies are slated to revolutionise the energy industry for both consumers and producers.

In January, IBM and Samsung unveiled an early platform for controlling connected devices based on a blockchain concept called ADEPT. This platform uses software developed on the Ethereum blockchain that authenticates “smart contracts” that represent micro-transactions between appliances within a home to enable them to react autonomously and instantaneously to varying conditions.

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Renowned Blockchain experts join Lendoit advisory board.

Israeli Blockchain firm Lendoit welcomes two new experts on to its advisory board.

High profile advisors Eddy Travia & Richard Titus have joined the advisory board of Lendoit, an Israeli-based financial firm that is using blockchain technology to revolutionise the peer-to-peer lending industry.

Travia, a key figure in the blockchain space since 2013, co-founder of SeedCoin and blockchain Space, and current CEO of investment firm Coinsilium brings a wealth of experience to the project.

With an impressive portfolio that already includes RSK, Factom, CoinDash and SatoshiPay. Travia was also nominated among the top 3 ‘Most Influential Investors of the Year’ at Blockchain Awards 2014 and has been a major influence in the space ever since.

Titus is currently the managing partner at ARK ICO Advisors, a Singapore based firm advising ICO projects all over the world including AdEx, Pillar & Hive. he brings over 20 years of technology, scaling and development experience to the project.

Having nurtured over 15 successful initial coin offerings the two new additions to the Lendoit advisory board will help pave the the firm’s success in the lucrative P2P industry.

Utilizing the Ethereum blockchain, Lendoit is a decentralised peer-to-peer lending platform that brings lenders and borrowers together globally using Smart Contracts on the blockchain to ensure transparency, trust, reduced risk and circumvent intermediaries.

Borrowers are able to download the Lendoit app and request a loan which is then auctioned to verified lenders on the platform, this provides borrowers with the ability to browse bids and accept the best loan rates to suit their circumstances.

Despite it not launching until next year Lendoit has already created strong ties with governments and corporations one of Israel’s biggest investment firms Migdal Investment Banking. Established in 1965 and part of Migdal Capital Markets Group, it currently manages assets valued at $9 billion for thousands of clients in the Israeli private, business and public sectors.

Compared to other P2P lending platforms on the market such as ETHlend and Salt, Lendoit offers a competitive advantage in various areas such as decentralised intermediate, interest auctions, and compensation funds.

Lendoit so far have also partnered with YETAX, Smartech, WHISP R&D, The Hive Project and Wings.

Whitepaper: https://lendoit.com/Lendoit-whitepaper.pdf

Telegram: https://t.me/Lendoit

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