Fundamental Pick: Polymath

 

Image result for polymath logo

 

CHANGING THE WAY SECURITIES ARE CREATED

 

SYNOPSIS


Over the past two years, ICO’s have raised more than 4 billion dollars in revenue, yet in the period before 2018, none of them were registered with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). If certain crypto assets are determined securities, without abiding by the traditional framework, there could be grave consequences.

This hot topic is the problem Polymath is determined to solve. In order to achieve this, they propose a platform in which to create security tokens where all necessary regulatory requirements are accounted for. This new framework has been coined the security token standard: ST-20 and is comparable to Ethereum’s ERC-20, whilst focusing on securities and abiding by the SEC regulations.

Allowing for the simplification of the legal process of creating and selling security tokens in compliance with government regulation. This merging of emerging blockchain technology and traditional regulations has many individuals excited, as it will allow for institutional figures to feel more secure when investing large sums of money in ICO’s in the future.

Arguably a factor which is currently holding blockchain technology back from mainstream adoption. With little competition in the blockchain market at current, Polymath’s platform could truly change the way securities are created and traded in the future, for this reason, the project appears to have great potential if pulled off professionally.

 

CATALYSTS


  • CEO Trevor Koverko has long-term experience in the cryptocurrency market, previously working for reputable companies such as ShaftShift and Luminex
  • 30 core team members, with wide-ranging experience in blockchain and traditional finance roles, working for companies such as LedgerX, Jaxx, Overstock, and Deloitte
  • First mover advantage, with little comparable competition currently
  • Collaboration with tZERO advisors who are also building a securities exchange, providing liquidity to the market
  • Partnerships with KYC facilitators IdentityMind and BnkToTheFuture, alongside SelfKey, a digital identity verifier

 

RISK FACTORS


  • Not all team members are fully dedicated to the project, as their time is split between multiple projects
  • tZERO is also building a securities exchange but is still in its ICO stage
  • The main competitor at current is the SEC itself, although their traditional procedure is often long and rigorous

 

CONCLUSION


As with any emerging technology, blockchain has largely outpaced regulation from those who seek to implement it. Although this may allow for constant innovation within the sector, it often holds institutional investors back from supporting projects they believe in.

Polymath may prove a safe haven for these more cautious investors, by providing a platform where security tokens can be easily created that meet all necessary regulatory requirements with ease. As a result, individuals can feel comfortable in investing large amounts of money within the sector, without facing a backlash from intervening regulators in the future.

Consequently, many individuals see great potential in Polymath, and with little competition at current in the blockchain marketplace, the project could truly change the way securities are created in years to come. Talks of impending regulation are only going to increase whilst the blockchain space matures, and with such talks, the popularity of the project will likely grow, for this reason, Polymath could be an excellent long-term investment.


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Fundamental Pick: Selfkey

 

Image result for selfkey

 

 

STREAMLINING TEDIOUS KYC PROCESSES FOR BUSINESSES WHILST ALLOWING INDIVIDUALS TO CONTROL THE FATE OF THEIR OWN IDENTITY

 

PROBLEM TO SOLVE


Currently, we place an enormous amount of trust in centralised authorities to store and manage our identity. Such organisations entitle us to essential human rights such as financial services, citizenship/passport registration and business licenses. As with all centralised entities they are incredibly prone to hacking resulting from a single point of failure, all user data is stored in one single place. This has too often resulted in our identities being exploited for criminal purposes such as identity fraud, as seen in the Equifax hack where 143 million users identity were stolen from a central database.

Coupled with this inefficient management of sensitive data, the current process of completing mandatory KYC (Know Your Customer) processes for business is cumbersome, costly and repetitive. KYC ensures that client identities are fully assessed before any business relationships are formed to avoid the risk of illegal or fraudulent interactions. They span numerous jurisdictions and are therefore widely used by firms all over the world. Sharing sensitive identity data to numerous centralised databases has it proposed risks, but perhaps more poignant is how much time and energy is spent completing such a process repeatedly.

 

SOLUTION


Such inadequacies with the current status quo have lead Selfkey (KEY) to provide an innovative solution. In essence, KEY aim to empower individuals and businesses to possess full control over their own identities by eradicating the need for unnecessary and unsecure centralised intermediaries. Their digital identity system based on the Ethereum Blockchain will allow users to upload all necessary documentation to ensure they are fully compliant to pursue any venture which needs identity verification, whether this is for commercial or personal purposes. By combining all necessary documents in one place on their desktop and mobile app, which only the user has access to via their individual public key, applying for financial services, passport/citizenship and business endeavours that need KYC compliance becomes simple. Thus, for businesses, KEY eliminates the mundane and costly repetition of KYC registrations and for individuals, KEY allows easy access to essential services and ultimately empowering people to own their identity without relying on other unreliable middlemen.

 

APPLICATIONS


Once the platform goes live in Q4 2019, individuals and businesses will be able to purchase a variety of products and services via the Selfkey marketplace utilising the KEY Token, including but not limited to, bank accounts, residency, KYC licences and real estate. Additionally one will be able to manage their cryptocurrency assets, including the KEY token itself and any other ERC-20 tokens. Conversely, unlike many other cryptocurrency firms, KEY already has a working beta of their desktop wallet which looks incredibly professional and KEY also provide an online demo of different functions the desktop wallet will be able to achieve in the future. In a space which is often incredibly difficult to understand from the outside, this a refreshing approach that allows users to gain a deeper insight into how the platform will function in the future. After all, as with all technology, once Blockchain technology is integrated into our daily lives the end users are unlikely to be interested in how things operate in the backend as long as they serve their desired purpose.

 

SUMMARY


Ultimately, Selfkey’s accumulation of necessary documents needed for typical business and personal interactions should reduce time and costs for both parties. KYC registration may be their killer application for businesses, whilst individuals ability to determine how to efficiently manage their own identity should gain further appeal. Still in its infancy, Selfkey has a bright future ahead of itself and if they live up to their roadmap they should become incredibly profitable for long-term investors. Be sure not to miss out!

 

CATALYSTS


  • Proven Ability: Key team members behind Selfkey have already proved their ability to successfully manage a large-scale project from start-up to finish with their successful venture KYC Chain, a KYC solutions provider, that is already working with numerous blue-chip firms
  • Firm Foundations: The interconnectivity between KYC Chain and Selfkey allows the business to focus solely on Blockchain development and user experience as the infrastructure and expertise in the business of KYC is already established
  • Consumer Awareness: The major Equifax hack alongside the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal has lead to an increasing number of individuals becoming more aware of how their identity can be stolen or misused for illicit purposes, ensuring demand for having more control over one’s own identity
  • Familiarity with KYC: Every time one wishes to participate in an ICO they have to go through the KYC process, this is a repetitive and long-winded process which many cryptocurrency users are familiar with and would certainly avoid if possible, creating more demand

 

RISK FACTORS


  • Serious Competition: There are other notable other firms trying to provide a digital identity solution using Blockchain technology such as Civic, which has been long established, although Selfkey’s clear advantage is the deep-rooted industry connections that KYC Chain has provided
  • Slow Timeline: For a business that already has such firm industry foundations their timeline is not particularly fast, with continual developments throughout 2019, there will certainly be a race to become the market leader in the digital identity space, although it is also important that everything is completed to the highest of standards

 

EVENTS


  • 30th September: Alpha launch of SelfKey Corporate Identity Wallet desktop app, Alpha launch of SelfKey mobile app and Partnership work with governments and utility providers
  • 31st December: Beta launch of SelfKey desktop app

 

CONCLUSION


Selfkey is an innovative identity platform which aims to streamline the verification process for a variety of services by allowing both individuals and businesses to retain full ownership of their identity. KEY’s killer application is the ability to aggregate all information necessary for KYC processes in one place, whilst only allowing the user access to such information via their public key. This should save a considerable amount of time and expense for businesses all over the world who regularly must be KYC compliant before exchanging value with others.

Of course, this is merely one poignant application KEY offers, the platform will also provide individuals and businesses with access to financial services, citizenship, business licenses and health insurance, to name a few. It is likely the KYC validation market is where we will see KEY thrive first as a result of their successful parent company KYC Chain. Although, with such a wide-ranging market, opportunities for clients and growth are endless. For this reason, Selfkey is one not to miss out on and should be on your watchlist.

 

Fundamental Pick: Basic Attention Token

Image result for basic attention token logo

 

INTRODUCING BLOCKCHAIN-BASED DIGITAL ADVERTISING

 

SYNOPSIS


Currently, the world of digital marketing is controlled by a few major players within the market, namely Google and Facebook, who account for an overwhelming 73% share of all ad revenue. Such a duopoly has negative consequences for the entire ecosystem that includes advertisers, publishers and consumers. Perhaps most poignant, however, is how centralisation has allowed certain countries to influence foreign elections by simply buying a majority share of adverts on a single platform that users consume. With stories like these clearly in the headlines, consumers are becoming more conscious of how their data is being used to target and exploit them into making decisions they perhaps wouldn’t have made otherwise.

Such a discontent is expressed clearly in the use of ad blocking services on more than 600 million devices globally. This circumvents advertisers’ ability to profit from influencing users decisions, publishers capacity to operate free services for their user base and consumers ability to view advertisements they may actually be interested in. Basic Attention Token (BAT) is aiming to solve this problem with their decentralised digital advertising based on their native Brave browser. Before one questions BAT’s ability to shift a user base from dominant browsers such as Chrome, it is key to note that the CEO of BAT invented both Firefox and JavaScript. Brave works as follows, the browser monitors how users interact with the web anonymously based on their attention to a particular advertisement, it then only provides adverts which fit the users’ profile history and significantly reduces the bandwidth needed by blocking irrelevant ads. Consequently, creating a unique user experience catered directly to the individual consumer. Ultimately, this allows advertisers to only pay for viewers who are almost certainly interested in their content, publishers to provide interesting content tailored to their consumers and a far more pleasant user experience for the consumer. Evidently, this allows for a mutually beneficial ecosystem dissimilar to what one experiences today.

The BAT token is utilised on the Brave platform by becoming the native currency for advertisers to pay publishers for promoting content. Additionally, users earn BAT tokens when they choose to view ads, this amount will be determined by a machine-learning algorithm that determines how long a user is viewing content by the pixel-height of the window. Finally, unlike the majority of cryptocurrencies on the market today, BAT presents a clear use case for its product that is easily understood by any layman. With a CEO who has outstanding relevant experience and a fully functioning Brave browser already present, this service could easily take off as the current model continues to fail. Thus, Basic Attention Token appears an interesting proposition and should be monitored closely over the coming months.

 

CATALYSTS


  • BAT’s CEO Brendan Eich is a well-respected individual in the technology community with a proven track record after creating JavaScript code and co-founding Firefox
  • The project appears to be mutually beneficial for all parties in the advertising ecosystem – consumers user experience is becoming increasingly negatively impacted by advertising hence the heavy use of ad blockers and publishers have lost 66% of their ad revenue in the past decade
  • The Brave Privacy browser already has more than 2 million active monthly users
  • The project provided a bounty to YouTube influencers to incentivise them to use the platform, such initiatives could continue to grow their user base once content creators reek the benefits
  • BAT has recently acquired a Partnership with DuckDuckGo, a search engine platform which caters to individuals who value their privacy

 

RISKS


  • BAT relies on users adopting the Brave platform, without such adoption their business model will be worthless – Brave does, however, present numerous benefits for users such as essentially passive revenue for viewing ads and a more personalised viewing experience – Thus, communicating this value proposition to all parties within the advertising ecosystem will be key to their success
  • Battling technology giants such as Chrome will certainly be difficult – although BAT is considering integration with numerous major players by creating a browser add-on which achieves the same goal
  • Two other Blockchain firms are attempting to tackle this unique problem, AdShares and Papyrus, although they seem to focus on advertisers and publishers whilst forgetting users benefits

 

CONCLUSION


Blockchain technology can often be incredibly difficult to understand for the average individual. Concepts such as BAT may help educate the general population by providing value without needing extensive knowledge of the underlying technology. Such invisible integration is how many individuals have begun to utilise technology in the past, history will likely repeat itself. BAT’s value proposition seems robust and mutually beneficial for all parties within the advertising ecosystem. Advertising can more effectively target their ads, publishers can streamline their content to cater to their user base and consumers can enjoy a more tailored user experience whilst getting passively paid. If Brave as a browser can truly present clear advantages over the incumbent browser giants or BAT can achieve integration via an add-on, then the project has true potential. With an outstanding CEO who holds a proven track record of true innovation and a solid business model, Basic Attention Token is certainly one to add to your watchlist.

 

 

Fundamental Pick: NEO

 

 

Digitalising Physical Assets In Order To Build The New Smart Economy

 

Overview of The Neo Ecosystem

 

NEO is a non-profit, open source Blockchain platform which aims to build the infrastructure for an innovative new smart economy. The project was founded in 2014 by CEO Da Hongfei and CTO Erik Zhang, backed by their now notorious Chinese firm Onchain, which undergoes Blockchain research and development in Shanghai. The project started out as the first Blockchain platform in China coined Antshares, before the founders decided to rebrand to NEO in an effort to appeal to a more global market. NEO understands that community development is the most essential aspect of any efficient Blockchain ecosystem and so have placed a great amount of emphasis on expanding their global developer community at a rapid rate. The project now supports such a community with side projects including City of Zion (CoZ), NeoResearch and NEL, who aim to continuously develop the ecosystem to make NEO one of the best functioning Blockchain platforms in the world.

 

The Smart Economy

 

In order to achieve the vision of a new smart economy based on a distributed network, NEO aims to utilise Blockchain technology and digital identity to digitise assets, automating these digital assets using smart contracts. Thus, NEO aims to convert real-world assets such as property, vehicles and physical possessions into digital assets recorded on the NEO Blockchain in the form of smart contracts, that can be verified to unique individuals using their digital identity. As a result, such digital assets acquire the ability to be traded, transferred and registered (to name a few use cases) via a distributed network, allowing global peer-to-peer agreements to be made efficiently and with ease. Not only does this open up a global market for digital ownership of assets, but it also provides immutability not possible when often untrustworthy centralised intermediaries are involved, creating a digitalised, programmable and trustless economy. Whilst some might be suspect to such a drastic change to the status quo, NEO’s purpose is not to destroy traditional Chinese institutions. Instead, they aim to help gradually transfer the Chinese economy into the smart economy of the future.

 

NEO Applications

 

Digital Assets 

As previously mentioned, in order to facilitate their smart economy NEO aims to convert traditional assets into digital assets on the NEO Blockchain. Digital assets are programmable assets which represent a traditional asset in the form of a smart contract. By converting traditional assets to digital assets individuals no longer need unnecessary intermediaries to transfer ownership between parties, exchange value or register an asset to a particular individual. Instead, the inherent trust of NEO consensus algorithm allows assets to become fully decentralised, traceable and transparent. All of this is possible due to NEO’s digital identity system which connects individuals to physical assets via digital certificates placed on the NEO Blockchain. Ultimately, digitalising assets allows individuals from all over the world to exchange physical value seamlessly without the need for a third party. This eradicates traditional fees associated with centralised authorities and provides liquidity from a globalised market.

 

 

Digital Identity 

Digital Identity will allow NEO to accumulate the information of willing organisations, individuals and other entities in electronic form, to create a digital fingerprint for such parties in a highly secure manner stored on the NEO Blockchain. As a result, once they are baked into the Blockchain, the identity documents will become tamper-proof and impossible to destroy. Such digital identity will then be utilised by parties using highly secure multi-factor authentication methods such as fingerprints, voice and facial recognition in order to digitalise assets themselves and exchange value of existing assets. The concept of digital identity allows organisations and individuals to transact knowingly with one another without needing to trust them. Moreover, assets registered using NEO’s digital identity system can be protected by law due to the transparency of ownership. This innovative solution combining law with a trustless system ensures all digital assets are unconditionally verifiable to parties and cannot be seized.

 

Smart Contracts: The Ethereum of China?

Whilst many have coined NEO ‘The Ethereum of China’ there are some key differences. Although both platforms provide similar functionality, allowing developers to build smart contracts on top of their existing platform in order to create dApps, NEO allows a much more diverse set of programming languages to be utilised. For instance, if one wishes to build a dApp on the Ethereum Blockchain, they will need to learn Solidarity, Ethereum’s unique programming language. Comparably, in order to create a dApp on the Neo Blockchain, one can utilise a variety of widely used coding languages including Javascript, C#, Python, Java, and Go. The ability for developers to code smart contracts without needing to learn a new coding language significantly reduces the high barriers to entry in the industry by eradicating the time it takes to learn a new distinct language. This opens up a global pool of talent who already have the ability to program smart contracts with ease. Looking forward, this should allow for many more dApps to be deployed than possible on the Ethereum network which should grow the NEO ecosystem exponentially.

 

Catalysts

 

Prominence Within China: The Chinese economy is growing at an exponential rate, with the Chinese government placing a strong emphasis on innovation within the financial-technology (FinTech) sector. Already meeting with government officials, NEO has placed itself at the forefront of this development. Other platforms such as Ethereum will incur high barriers to entry when seeking to penetrate the Chinese market, due to the inherent language barriers and cultural differences. Hence, a homegrown Chinese platform such as NEO has the potential to gain substantial market adoption within China, especially when they place a strong emphasis on respecting Chinese regulations alongside business and cultural norms.

 

Universal Programming Language Support: Many existing Blockchain platforms require developers to learn a unique programming language in order to build smart contracts on their platform. This excludes a wide number of businesses from developing dApps on their platforms, due to the obvious cost and time of learning an entirely new coding language. To the contrary, NEO affords developers the ability to program smart contracts using numerous traditional programming languages, substantially reducing the cost of implementing smart contracts into existing business practices. This removes the high barriers to entry for businesses looking to enter the Blockchain ecosystem, which could lead to widespread adoption.

 

International Partnerships: Despite being based in China, Neo has managed to garner support from international tech giants. For example, Microsoft Azure partnered with NEO in order to attract talented developers to the platform from a global community. Such large-scale partnerships are likely to further bolster their standing within China, drawing attention to the platform from other tech giants within the local Chinese business community.

 

Risk Factors

 

Chinese Regulation: Although China is keen to be at the forefront of the Fin-Tech revolution, with a strong focus on Blockchain for business purposes, they do impose strict regulations on cryptocurrencies. For example, in the past year, they banned ICO sales within the country alongside unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges. Despite this, NEO places a strong emphasis on ensuring they comply with all necessary government regulations and now appeal to a global market of developers, limiting internal risk and the ability for businesses outside of China to develop on their platform.

 

Keeping Pace: The environment for Blockchain platforms has grown exponentially over the past year as a result of the clear success of Ethereum’s platform. Global competition is now incredibly saturated and if NEO wishes to keep pace with other platforms they must ensure that they attract the best talent to their platform. Nonetheless, with an incredibly strong brand name, an increasingly global community, significant developer bounties and by utilising a universal known coding language, the platform looks set to compete with other well-known platforms within the Blockchain ecosystem.

 

Conclusion

 

The Neo platform has positioned itself to become the world-leading provider of smart contracts for the smart economy of the future. By allowing businesses and individuals to digitalise assets, verified by their digital identity, NEO has the potential to cut out unnecessary intermediaries in the transaction of value and ownership of physical assets between parties on a global scale. The ability to program smart contracts in a variety of traditional programming languages gives NEO a real edge over many large players within the industry who require developers to learn an entirely new language. As a result, the platform has the potential to see widespread adoption by businesses and individuals who simply do not have the time or funds to learn a new language. Thus, as the global community continues to grow, NEO looks set to have a bright future ahead of itself.