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.
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.
‘Sweet coin of mine’ isn’t going to be Guns N’ Roses next hit single, but their former drummer Matt Sorum has been putting a great deal of effort into the launch of a new crypto payment solution, called Artbit.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who was also a member of Velvet Revolver, is helping launch the payment crypto for artists, which is built on top of Hashgraph and works via blockchain technology.
The aim of Artbit is for artists to receive their fair share of money after a gig and for that payment to be made into a digital wallet, without any middlemen involved in the transaction.
Although it is still a little sketchy with the details, Artbit has announced that it will work using gamification and augmented reality. It is thought that artists and bands can generate income by posting and hosting live performances. The curating public will also have an option to take home a share of the pie.
Sorum told Yahoo finance that he feels that this new currency is an essential development within the music industry.
He said: “My interest is in cutting the middleman,That’s been something on artists’ minds for years. There’s all these people you got to pay along the way. With blockchain, imagine if you bought a song online for 99 cents and that money was automatically distributed straight to all the contributors—the producer, all the writers of that song.
“With this technology, the money can go into everybody’s wallets automatically, it doesn’t go into a bank account where somebody’s making all that money and interest.”
Sorum added that he believes the current industry isn’t working hard enough for the artists, but cryptocurrencies can change all that.
He added: “Any new or young artist has really got to work really hard to even get on the front page of a platform like Spotify—and even at that point you can’t really monetize your art.
“With Artbit, we’re going to have direct access, people are going to be able to get online right away, not be served a bunch of ads, and have a direct community to be able to monetize their craft now, with no middleman, direct payout, with a wallet, with crypto, and a community that’s safe and secure, powered by Hashgraph.”
There will be a token sale, but no details regarding the ICO have yet been released. Artbit hopes to launch by the end of this year.
Cardano (ADA) will support Ledger Nano s hardware wallets in the future
Open-source crypto wallet Daedalus is currently the safest and only supported option for thousands of Cardano users who are looking to store their ADA cryptocurrency. However, it’s been riddled with teething problems over the last couple of months. But, the good news is that Ledger support is coming in the near future.
Users seem to have no initial problems when setting up the Daedalus wallet, creating a seed or downloading the blockchain, but are later locked out of accessing the wallet when they restart the software due to the screen freezing and displaying the sprint message, “Connecting to network…”
Users have tried a plethora of potential fixes, from completely uninstalling the wallet to tinkering with firewall settings and everything in between, with no success in sight.
On the March 7th, 2018, Daedalus released version 0.9.0 and Cardano 1.1.0 but, for many, this does not seem to have not provided any solution.
We spoke to the team behind Cardano regarding the wallet problems that we have witnessed, to see if a more successful solution would be coming soon. We are pleased to say that it’s good news all round, as we can announce that users will be able to store ADA on their Ledger hardware wallets in Q3 2018.
CS: Lots of users are reporting problems with syncing the Daedalus wallet, this seems to be a common problem in the community?
The latest Cardano SL release 1.1 is designed to address syncing problems experienced recently by some users. This update was released by IOHK on the 7th March, and they are now monitoring the performance of the Daedalus wallet to assess if further action is required.
CS: When will users be able to store Cardano on their Ledger Wallets, will this be pushed in 2018?
Stage one of the Ledger integration project is complete. This means that we now have a functioning Ledger app, but this still needs to be fully tested. Stage two of this project requires IOHK to develop an interface and test it. At present this work is scheduled to be completed by Q3 2018. This will provide Cardano holders with the highest level of security by allowing users to store Ada offline.
Hardware wallet support for cryptocurrencies once seemed like an overzealous way to store digital assets, but it’s now become the de facto method due to exchanges being regularly hacked, phishing attempts and all sorts of weird and well thought out hacking methods which are used to steal your assets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
HOQU 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.
Gems 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.
Peer-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:
A seeder shares a file through the Upfiring network
The file is encrypted by the platform
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.
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.
It 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.
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.
North Korea is renowned for many, many things, but until now, cryptocurrency investment wasn’t one of them.
However, that might be all about to change as an international expert has said that the country has made an absolute mint from Bitcoin recently.
Former US National Security Agency officer, Priscilla Moriuchi, told reporters that the politically isolated country took in more than $200 million in digital cryptocurrency transactions in 2017.
Ms Moriuchi, made this claim during an in-depth interview with Radio Free Asia. She also discussed the subject with Vox.com, where she stated that she has reason to believe that these coins are being liquidated and the resulting cash is being used to support North Korea’s military.
She said: “I would bet that these coins are being turned into something – currency or physical goods – that are supporting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme.”
She estimated that the regime took in 11,000 Bitcoins in 2017, which would have been worth around $210 million at the currency’s peak value.
This revelation comes after unconfirmed reports of a state-sponsored hacking regime, which is focusing on cryprocurrencies.
According to a report of the incident on the Daily Telegraph, North Korea’s government continuously deny any criminal doings but the evidence points towards genuine activity from Pyongyang.
The report read: “Pyongyang consistently denies all hacking allegations. However, cyber security experts and defectors have claimed that promising students are handpicked from prestigious universities to join Bureau 121, the hermit kingdom’s shadowy cyberwarfare agency.”
Many believe North Korea is attracted to cryptocurrency because of its lack of traceability and loose regulations.
“Change is good” is a sentiment that Bitwala is definitely getting behind, as they have announced their intentions to re-launch as a crypto-first bank.
The award winning firm is now allowing potential customers to sign-up to a waiting list for their new offering, with the first accounts expected to open in the middle of this year.
Their move comes in the wake of high demand for crypto-friendly banking – which many believe there is currently a deficit in. Bitwala, who had to suspend their regular services in January due to regulation changes, intend to fill this gap in the market.
Bitwala were unable to reveal which bank they’ve partnered with but stated that its an “established German bank”.
Users will have full control of their private keys and thus will not be the holdings of Bitwala or the partner bank, this means the 100,000 Euro protection scheme will not cover cryptocurrencies but Euro deposits only.
Bitwala stated that users will be able to make transfers in and out of their account via SEPA transfer, making the selling and purchasing more flexible. Most of the established cryptocurrency exchanges are partnered with banks in Poland who are also on the SEPA network opening a quicker transfer time.
We asked Bitwala if they were anticipating any problems with users transferring funds in and out of the account, which is a common problem with banks blocking users from purchasing cryptocurrency.
“The foundation that we’ve built with our partner bank is very solid and based on German banking law, so we don’t expect any problems. This is not to say that we will not comply with the rules. Our partner bank and we are working very closely with regulators to ensure that all KYC and AML measures are in place.”
Co-founder and CEO of Bitwala, Jörg von Minckwitz said:
“Our founding vision has always been to bridge the gap between traditional and crypto economies. We believe that traditional banking was and has always been the weak link of the whole process, and we are looking forward to build an account that will tackle these very weaknesses.”
All new accounts that they open will come with a German IBAN and will be regulated by The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority of Germany (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht).
Up until January Bitwala was a digital payment processing system that worked using blockchain technology. It made a name for itself through simplifying complicated processes and making them more accessible to as many individuals and companies as possible.
We have no doubt that von Minckwitz will hope to keep these values in place as they move to the next stage of their development in the crypto economy.
Users will only be able to sell and buy Bitcoin at present but more cryptocurrencies are planned for the future.
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.
Despite early investors making impressive gains with Bitcoin, and many experts predicting that the cryptocurrency will reach as much as $50,000 this year, opinions continue to be divided, with its future as a currency and an investment solution faltering. The project’s ageing architecture and lack of innovation are central in this debate and continue to drive investors and enthusiasts alike into more exciting and innovative projects that are built on more able and scalable blockchain platforms.
Why trust us? Last year we tipped HelloGold, Cindicator, VeChain, Tronix, Request Network, and Utrust as projects to keep your eye on. See for yourself here.
With that in mind here are a few upcoming ICOs to keep your eyes on in 2018.
Governments, researchers, companies and individuals are currently maintaining roughly 6 million IoT sensors worldwide, with this number rapidly growing every day. The data collectively generated is worth an estimated $600 billion per year and is simply sitting in storage, locked away.
Blockchain startup Databroker DAO aims to unlock and monetise this IoT sensor data by creating a marketplace for data to be bought and sold. In doing so, these entities can create new revenue streams whilst also making all industries across the board better informed and more effective.
Databroker DAO is planning a pre sale and public token sale, enabling investors to contribute directly. The sale starts on 26 March 2018 and will run until 23 April 2018.
It’s also worth noting that the CEO of Overstock sits on the advisory board alongside three other key advisors, putting the project in a good, well managed environment.
EQUI aims to be a revolutionary investment platform by bringing venture capital into the modern world.
Powered by Blockchain technology, the platform enables anyone to combine funds and invest in sectors that have previously been accessible only to the rich. This is achieved by purchasing EQUI tokens which open up access to the platform to invest in approved projects. Projects that make a profit also offer a dividend, which is returned to investors via their Ethereum wallet.
EQUI is backed by a number of entrepreneurs with a wealth of experience across many business sectors. This Blockchain startup was co-founded by Baroness Mone of Mayfair, OBE, and Doug Barrowman.
The EQUI pre sale will run from 1 March to 8 March 2018.
Skyllz will change the way we access and manage employment in the near future.
With a rapidly growing technology sector that continues to dominate every other job market, the need for a better, more qualified workforce is no longer being met by traditional institutions. What is being taught and learnt in colleges and universities is becoming less relevant, with many opting for self-taught courses instead. This has become all the more popular with online universities, webinars, remote learning resources and YouTube.
Blockchain startup Skyllz hopes to tap into this gap in the market by creating an open source public skills validation platform to showcase, track and rate candidates. This immutable CV will reflect human-based metrics on a global scale that is based on actual skill.
The Skyllz team founded Workkola, an already fully working platform utilising the Skyllz technology.
The pre sale is scheduled for February to March, and the public main sale is going to happen between July and August 2018.
Skyllz has a strong team behind it with a range of advisors from multiple industries to drive the product forward.
Momentum makes it easy for brands to create their own cryptocurrency to reward and incentivise customers. It claims to be the world’s first Blockchain-based automation platform that rewards customers with cryptocurrency.
Customers are rewarded for being loyal, telling friends about a product, leaving reviews etc. This creates an incentivised ecosystem where both company and buyer benefit. Customers earn tokens for marketing the brands they love, with the added bonus of trading, gifting or selling tokens on, all from one simple handy wallet.
Momentum spotted a gap in the market due to current loyalty programmes not rewarding customers, as the points have little to no value, expire quickly and sit on customers’ cards unused.
Momentum is already working with some big-name brands such as Burger King and Firelli and has seen a large increase in activity on its apps.
With Momentum already working with real companies, the ICO is the perfect opportunity to invest in an established project.
Nexo aims to cater for a growing market of cryptocurrency enthusiasts who need access to fiat but don’t want to part with their cryptocurrencies.
Nexo plans to make this easier by offering people an instant overdraft secured by their own cryptocurrency assets. Customers simply import their cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin into their Nexo wallet, where they are provided with a fiat credit limit. Fiat currencies can be withdrawn using various methods, including bank transfer. It’s a win-win for both parties involved; once the overdraft has been paid back, customers can withdraw their cryptocurrency assets.
Nexo is one of our favourite ICOs this year. It’s been developed by the same people behind Credissimo, a leading FinTech group with a wealth of experience in the finance industry.
The Nexo token sale starts on 1 March 2018, with a fundraising goal of $50 million.