Blockchain – Value Proposition

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Considering you now have a basic overview of how blockchain works from our previous blog post, let us dive into the possible use-cases of this beautiful technology. I am not over exaggerating when I call it beautiful, because once you understand the sophistication of this tech, you will go head over heels too.

To understand why blockchain is so important and why most people swear by its applications, let us understand the use case of blockchain in the transfer of value/cryptocurrency.

Exchange of value has been happening ever since human civilization began. Early humans used to barter goods to express value. Then came cowry shells and precious metals like gold, silver, etc. Value exchange is based on consensus and trust.

To understand this concept, let us consider the following example:

Suppose you have a handful of cowry shells, a couple silver coins, and some standard American dollars. You manage to build a time machine which takes you into the past and you go on a journey equipped with cowry shells, silver coins, and some USD.

Pre-Medieval Markets

In this pre-medieval market of the past, you approach a rice seller and offer him a couple USD. He looks at you strangely and throws away this bizarre-looking piece of rectangular paper. You hurriedly fetch the USD because you know it’s worth a lot more in modern markets than this rice seller considers it to be.

You then offer him some cowry shells. This is instantly recognized by the rice seller and he offers you a bag of rice in exchange.

Medieval Markets

You now travel to Medieval Europe again and offer the European rice seller a couple hundred USD sporting Benjamin Franklin. You are pretty certain that this rice seller could not possibly deny a couple hundred USD for a measly bag of rice!

This rice seller is also confused about your strange behaviour and tries to shoo you away. You then offer him a couple of silver coins and he parts with a bag of rice willingly.

Modern Markets

You come back to present day NYC and call your online grocer to ask if they accept cowry shells or silver coins instead of USD (because you have spent all the money you had in the medieval markets and in building a time machine). The grocer calls you several unpleasant things and hangs up.

Now on further inspection of these situations, you realize that markets at a particular time in history only accept a certain commodity as an exchange for value. If people do not know about different currencies as value stores, there is no consensus between buyers and sellers on the underlying value of a commodity. Because of a lack of trust, there is no transfer of value and an active trading market ceases to exist.

Cowry shells have value in pre-medieval markets because there is enough liquidity for them as both buyers and sellers trust in the prevalence of cowry shells.

People in medieval Europe believe in Silver because the sovereign issues silver coins and the general population trust in the sovereign to protect their assets and rights.

Similarly, people in current market places trust the USD because it is backed by the government of the United States and people trust the USA to uphold the value of their currency.

There is a grave problem emerging here. If you notice, as time progresses, centralised institutions like Sovereigns and Governments often tend to have higher control and monopoly over the transfer of value. This is beneficial for governments but is a huge red flag for the general public. The concentration of power in the hands of a few often leads to disastrous events, history is proof.

Future Markets

Blockchain disrupts the centralisation of trust by creating a distributed ledger that is not owned by a central authority. Instead, the decentralized trust mechanism is facilitated by millions of machines throughout the world by expending processing power using electricity. Like other markets, when we have buyers and sellers of a particular currency and they attain a consensus on how much a particular currency is worth, we have a post-modern cryptocurrency market.

Here the value of cryptocurrency is determined by the unique value it offers and how much the buyers and sellers think the system is worth. Such cryptocurrency marketplaces have the potential to obliviate several aristocratic legacy systems that only hinder progress. Blockchain Board of Derivatives is one such cryptocurrency marketplace.

The two biggest cryptocurrencies are currently Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Bitcoin’s value proposition is the pure exchange of value. It acts as a virtual currency specifically for value transfers.

Ethereum, on the other hand, can be used for the exchange of value along with a number of other promising use cases. One of them is smart contracts. Smart contracts enable you to program a set of predefined conditions in the blockchain to perform a certain task on the trigger of an activity.

Possession of property

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A simple example of this could be possession of a property. The smart contract acts as a facilitator between the buyer and seller. The buyer transfer funds into the smart contract and the seller transfers relevant titles of property. The smart contract holds information transferred by both parties in escrow, validates it on the decentralized network and facilitates the transaction only after sufficient confirmations

 

This is just one example of a use case developed on the Ethereum protocol. There are countless applications that can be developed using this powerful system. We will discuss the Ethereum White Paper in-depth in upcoming blog posts which will reveal how the Ethereum protocol works.

Apart from Bitcoin and Ethereum, there are numerous other cryptocurrencies and blockchain systems in the market and each has a unique use case that they propose. Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise almost all centralised trust based legacy systems.

Blockchain technology is truly the future and BBOD is committed to being at its helm.

Blockchain – Introduction

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This article is a brief introduction to the world of Blockchain. You might have read Blockchain related articles or come across discussions on how Blockchain is going to change the world. Centralised institutions are either defensive or accepting of this disruption by defining their own terms.

 

So, what is all the fuss about? Let’s understand blockchain in its raw form.

Blockchain is a distributed database system. This means instead of storing files on a single computer, information is stored across millions of computers all over the globe.

FACEBOOK AS A CENTRALIZED ENTITY

When we log in to Facebook, all the content that we and our friends share on Facebook are stored in Facebook’s central server. Facebook technically owns all that data (even though they claim that they don’t own our data); they use that data to directly target ads towards us.

Blockchain technology disrupts this and gives users the power to control their personally identifiable information.

DECENTRALISED, DISTRIBUTED AND CENTRALISED SYSTEMS

The diagram shows three images sourced from Wikipedia.

 Source : Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia


The first image depicts a centralised repository like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. where one central entity controls all information.

The second image is a decentralised system where a few nodes maintain the solidarity of the network through mutual consent yet allow free nodes to live by storing minimal data.

The third image is a distributed system where each node on the network will absolutely need to store all the information that is present in the network.


In the first image, if the central node is compromised, the whole system breaks down. But in decentralised and distributed systems, these kinds of attacks are impossible as at any given point in time, there are multiple copies of information throughout the network.

CONFUSED?

Well, the below example will clarify this concept.

Suppose Alice is transferring $100 to Bob via a traditional bank transfer. They both have an account in the same bank. When Alice initiates the transaction, the bank has a central database which deducts $100 from Alice’s account and adds $100 to Bob’s account. Now, this isn’t an ideal scenario because banks usually charge transaction fees

If something happens to the bank’s central database and that transaction is lost, neither Alice nor Bob get the $100. There are backups and safeguards in traditional banks to help prevent this, but this is still a very valid scenario. In case of a cyber-attack, all our funds in centralised servers are at tremendous risk. We as account holders, acknowledge and accept this risk because of the trust we have in these banking institutions.

Now, what if I told you, blockchain prevents all of this by creating a decentralised value exchange system with 100% uptime and a distributed trust system which is extremely difficult and highly improbable to crack.

In a distributed ledger system, once Alice initiates a transaction, all the nodes in the network confirm the transaction and the ledger is written in stone. It is immutable, and the transaction is secured. Even if an attacker tries to compromise one node, the transaction is still present in another node and to modify the transaction only in one node is still extremely difficult.

To change the details of one transaction, the attacker must modify all the following transactions in hopes of generating an alternate chain faster than the honest chain which is being processed by miners. Miners are facilitators of the transactions in the blockchain. They verify each transaction that comes across to their respective nodes by solving computationally difficult and processor intensive puzzles. The attackers’ transactions will not go through as honest nodes will reject transactions and blocks that are invalid. The attacker needs ample processing power to overcome the cumulative processing power of honest nodes which is highly improbable to achieve in well-established blockchain systems.

We will discuss more on Mining along with Public Keys and Private Keys (your crypto username and password) in future posts.

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BLOCKCHAIN AS A CHAIN OF BLOCKS

Blockchain, as the name suggests, is a chain of blocks that are linked together one after the other. All nodes on the network have the full replication of all transactions that have taken place on the blockchain ever since the genesis block was mined. The ledger is open and the transaction between accounts will be displayed on the ledger for the whole world to see.

The transactions are cryptographically encrypted and the digital signature of one block is used to encrypt the next block. This is a perpetual system and to modify one transaction in the ledger is impossible. If an attack is tried, cryptographically encrypting all future blocks is computationally and economically a very expensive task.

We hope you now have a basic idea of what blockchain technology is all about. The implications of this technology are far and wide and will soon be at the helm of all trust-based systems.

BLOCKCHAIN – AS MANY HAVE PREVIOUSLY SAID, IS THE NEW INTERNET.

Fundamental Pick: Power Ledger

 

 

THE WORLD LEADING PEER-TO-PEER MARKETPLACE FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY

 

SYNOPSIS


It is no secret that global warming has been at the top of the world’s agenda over the past decade. However, whether such high-level conversations yield beneficial results is extremely questionable.

As a result, the energy sector has been of heavy interest in the business sector, with many firms trying to find solutions to provide for what will inevitably be a green future. Despite such efforts, one key party in the equation is clearly missing, the consumers who require the energy in the first place. Without empowering communities themselves to change their energy habits, demand for such green energy will remain low and ultimately the cost of respecting the planet will remain high.

Blockchain technology may provide one avenue to solve the world’s energy crisis, and Power Ledger (POWR) appear to have placed themselves at the forefront of this sustainable revolution.

POWR propose a decentralised model which cuts out middlemen and places the power in the hands of the consumers themselves. One might wonder why consumers would want such a responsibility, the answer lies in that they will be provided with the opportunity to profit from their own green habits. Users of the project will be able to buy and sell unused renewable energy utilising the Ethereum blockchain to record their consumption and production. Transactions will be made using the native POWR token which can be held for speculation, stored for future use or sold back to the users’ fiat currency of choice. All users of the network are required to install solar panels to produce such energy and as a result, the project promotes solely green energy.

The system works as follows, individuals produce energy to cater for their individual needs and if they have any surplus energy they can sell this energy peer-to-peer to another user who has not produced enough energy to cater for their household consumption. The privately generated energy can be transmitted through existing traditional infrastructure to consumers in need. This initiative allows consumers to manage their own energy and chose the destiny of their own fate. If they chose to provide additional energy by purchasing more solar panel units then they will likely profit long-term. Alternatively, if users cannot afford to buy many solar panel units or chose not to they will have energy slightly subsidised by what they own and buy the rest through the POWR marketplace.

Consequently, the POWR marketplace encourages users to be as green as possible by becoming efficient prosumers in order to reap the rewards of the system. This innovative economic approach to promoting the use of renewable energy is extremely unique compared to traditional models as a result of Blockchain technology allowing individuals to immutably trust each other and trade without needing to confirm energy will be sent or that payments will be made.

Ultimately, this should empower communities to go greener by placing a large emphasis on the economic returns of such a decision. As the world continues to overuse raw materials and abuse the earth, global warming is certain to stay at the forefront of global debate, consequently, unique solutions such as POWR certainly have the potential to become extremely popular in years to come.

For this reason, Power Ledger could see substantial growth if they achieve their goals and is certainly a project to keep an eye on long-term.

 

CATALYSTS


diverse team comprising of both blockchain specialists and conservation experts, Co-founder Dr Jemma Green has multiple PHDs from the University of Cambridge relating to renewable energy
Power Ledger have already completed trials of the project in Australia which allowed consumers access to cheaper renewable energy than available from large distributors and to profit from their surplus energy, a rare proof of concept not regularly seen in the Blockchain space
The consumer/prosumer economic model proposed will likely become more desirable as green energy turns mainstream as a result of global regulations and energy restrictions
Although the project is built on top of the Ethereum Blockchain it is highly adaptable and could be employed on any Blockchain platform if the market dynamics change in the future.

 

RISK FACTORS


The project is highly dependent on whether renewable energy becomes widely utilised by individuals in the future, although with strict UN regulations already in place and consumers becoming more conscious, this shift in the market already appears to be taking place
There are several other Blockchain firms trying to solve the energy crisis including Grid+ and WePower, although such projects are yet to have a proof of concept
Power Ledgers business model means that wealthy individuals will benefit the most as they have the purchasing power to buy more solar units initially, although even those who cannot afford solar panels should be able to benefit from cheaper prices as a result of intense peer-to-peer market competition

 

CONCLUSION


As individuals become more conscious of their carbon footprint and regulating bodies tighten energy use from non-renewable resources, renewable energy use is only set to become more prevalent in mainstream society. When this occurs, individuals will seek the most cost-efficient way to consume their energy. If Power Ledger can empower communities by helping them realise the economic and environmental benefits of such an application, they have the potential of becoming a market leader in the space. Thus, POWR should be on your long-term watchlist.


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Fundamental Pick: Astronaut Capital

 

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ADDRESSING THE TRUST, ACCESSIBILITY AND MANAGEMENT ISSUES OF ICO’S BY PROVIDING A UNIQUE CRYPTOCURRENCY INDEX FUND

 

PROBLEM TO SOLVE


Since early 2017, the ICO market has grown exponentially as entrepreneurs begun to realise the potential of a new funding mechanism that could raise millions of dollars in a matter of minutes. For example, the ICO for a web browser, developed by the creator of Javascript managed to raise over $35 million dollars in under 30 seconds. Such an efficient funding vehicle had never been seen before, even in the world of venture capital. Both institutional and retail investors were invited to participate, finally allowing mom and pop to get in on the ground floor of what could be some of the most innovative blue-chip firms one shall see in their lifetime.

However, although many ICOs have genuinely good intentions and wish to use their funding to create innovative new products on the Blockchain, some saw this as an opportunity to quickly exploit individuals with a false promise and exit the market quickly. Hence, navigating this vast new ecosystem successfully and profiting from your findings is no easy feat for the average layman.

Additionally, the process of registering and applying for ICO crowd sales is tedious and time-consuming, with cumbersome KYC barriers often putting potential consumers off. Despite this, even if they do decide to make the purchase, management of numerous assets after the fact can become a difficult procedure, with many wallets only offering limited functionality for ICO coins.

Finally, although ICOs promise to accessible to all, whether this is actually the case is highly debatable. Prospective consumers must jump through hoops to find exactly where and how to buy the tokens until their funds are needed. This is often the result of a large majority of such assets being sold to large investors prior to them reaching the public market

 

SOLUTION


Astronaut aims to address the trust, accessibility and management issues of Initial Coin Offerings by providing their own ICO index fund token (ASTRO). Essentially, this allows investors to gain exposure to a varied basket of ICOs without needing to undergo the rigorous due diligence needed in order to profit from this emerging market. The index is carefully balanced by industry experts to ensure maximum profits can be acquired at any given time.

First, to address the point of trust, Astronaut works under the umbrella company Picolo Research. A well-respected cryptocurrency analysis firm with over 10,000 monthly subscribers. They strive to find the most appealing ICO offerings through in-depth fundamental analysis of notable up and coming firms by a team of highly trained professionals. Their articles are clear and concise as possible to help investors understand why a certain ICO has been added to their weighted index portfolio.

Second, in regards to accessibility, ASTRO breaks down industry barriers by buying in bulk from ICOs they wish to add to the index, allowing them to access pre ICO prices and most importantly having the contacts and information to successfully purchase popular projects. This takes the onus off the retail investor and places it in the hands of the well-versed Astronaut team. One merely has to purchase the ASTRO token to gain access to a well researched varied ICO portfolio that is weighted according to market conditions. This universal exposure is often what consumers desire yet simply do not have the time or the resources to pursue.

Finally, on the subject of asset management, Astronaut actively monitor their positions and are not afraid to exit them where a particular ICO has not met their projected expectations. This takes the need for investors to continuously monitor their positions out of the equation, which may be of particular interest to long-term holders or newbie investors who are simply not equipped to tackle this extremely volatile emerging market. Being able to quietly participate in a market using an index allows one to gain exposure to a clearly booming sector without all the associated risks.

 

APPLICATIONS


The ASTRO token provides two types of return for its investors. Firstly, users receive quarterly income distributions based on the amount they invest and their exit activity. Secondly, holders gain any token appreciation aligned with the Net Asset Value (NAV) of the index fund.

Access to the Astronaut index fund is simple for anyone who has invested in an alt-coin in the past, it can simply be bought online at an exchange under its prefix ASTRO. Whether one decides to include this as part of an already manageable portfolio, under the umbrella of ‘ICOs’ or if they wish to let the company manage the entirety of their portfolio, allocating all funds to ASTRO is completely up to the investor. The former is probably most appropriate with a mix of high cap names such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

 

SUMMARY


Whilst the cryptocurrency market continues to evolve, opportunities to invest in ICOs can provide huge rewards for those who are willing to spend a considerable amount of time researching. Despite this, the risks associated with ICOs can leave naive investors wishing they never entered the market in the first place. For the latter Astronaut provides an easy way to gain access to a well-researched basket of cryptocurrencies without undergoing the due diligence. Definitely, one to consider for those who want to benefit from the ICO boom whilst remaining cautious.

 

CATALYSTS


First-Mover Advantage: Crypto index coins are a relatively new concept in the Blockchain ecosystem, currently ASTRO’s only competitors are Crypto20 and TaaS, this could give them the edge over future equivalent competitors who enter the market

Qualitative Approach: Unlike their competitors, ASTRO heavily focus on in-depth qualitative fundamental analysis to choose their picks and self-weight the portfolio according to the strength of projects, whilst many other index funds use an algorithmic equation to balance top coins against each other according to current market conditions

ICO Focus: Of the few crypto index funds available, most focus on top coins by market cap, whilst ASTRO have chosen ICO’s as their UPS, a much more challenging environment for consumers to invest in successfully

 

RISK FACTORS


Reliance: Whilst relying on experts who understand the ICO landscape extremely well may be more successful than investing personally, you are ultimately avoiding putting in the due diligence yourself, studying their methodology for allocating coins to your portfolio is highly advisable

Small-Cap: Currently the project is listed as 750 by Market Cap on coinmarketcap.com, hence the project has yet to gain large amounts of traction, there is certainly a need for the expansion of the number of exchanges that ASTRO is listed on

 

CONCLUSION


The ICO market has seen both the biggest winners and losers in the cryptocurrency marketplace to date, yet picking the winners is no easy feat. ASTRO may provide a safe haven for investors who seek to gain exposure to such a market without the undeniable risks associated. Relying on others to do research for you is often risky business, yet with a sound methodology centred around fundamental analysis and a well-regarded team, the project appears to have great promise. Besides, not all individuals have the time or knowledge to pursue such due diligence on a market which is certainly overwhelming and continuously expanding. For this reason, ASTRO is certainly one to watch as they grow.


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Fundamental Pick: Ontology

 

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PROVIDING TRADITIONAL BUSINESSES WITH ALL THE NECESSARY TOOLS TO CREATE THEIR OWN INDEPENDENT BLOCKCHAINS

 

SYNOPSIS


Founded by members of the renowned Neo blockchain initiative, Ontology aims to revolutionise the business world as we know it. Whilst many blockchain firms seek to specialise in a unique problem, Ontology’s strength lies in the diversity of their approach.

In essence, Ontology intends to provide traditional businesses with all the necessary tools to create their own independent blockchains, without the need for prior knowledge of distributed networks.

For example, they offer the easy integration of traditional business services such as identity verification, the exchange of sensitive data and protocol management. At current, inadequacies of centralised trust networks mean that such services are vulnerable to insufficient privacy protection, cumbersome identity verification and suffer from monopolisation of data management.

Using Ontology, these flaws in the current status quo can be alleviated, by migrating all such desired services to comprehensively more efficient decentralised trust mechanisms, without businesses requiring prior knowledge, whilst meeting organisational needs of all sizes. This has the potential to become a catalyst for removing blockchains high barriers to entry in the business world, ultimately leading to large-scale adoption.

For this reason, many institutional investors are extremely excited about the project, as the broad business mindset appeals to their needs. Still in its infancy, with plenty of room to grow, Ontology could pose as a great long-term investment.

 

CATALYSTS


  • Strong support from the Neo Foundation, with leading members of the City of Zion council transitioning over to Ontology from the popular smart contract platform
  • Founder member Jun Li has worked in Fintech for an impressive 16 years and was Co-Founder of OnChain, which is well connected within the Chinese business community
  • ‘Co-Builder Plan’, a collaborative effort to advance blockchain infrastructure is supported by some colossal Chinese venture capital firms including Sequoia China, Danhua Capital, Matrix Partners China, and ZhenFund.
  • A large proportion of ONT tokens have been allocated to the technical community in order to incentivise growth

 

RISK FACTORS


  • Ontologies broad mandate could backfire if the network fails to become scalable, due to the pace of its own success
  • As with many blockchain firms, the effectiveness of the project is yet to be seen and cannot be guaranteed, although the sequential release of their mainnet, id system and verifiable claim protocol in late June appears promising
  • The threat of Chinese regulation impacting their innovation, although their team comprises experts with links to government bodies to mitigate this risk

 

CONCLUSION


Although Ontology is still a relatively young project, it has gained widespread support from the blockchain community within a short space of time. This can largely be attributed to the diversity of their approach, which seeks to satisfy the needs of businesses of all shapes and sizes, by providing a universal toolkit that aims to bridge the gap between the inadequate status quo and the decentralised future.

Hence, Ontology largely appeals to the business mindset by removing the high barriers to entry that blockchain often imposes and ultimately allowing for large-scale adoption. Such a business model, coupled with their nepotistic foundation and their soon to be released projects, suggests that Ontology has a great future ahead of them.

Over the coming months, it will become clear whether the project can live up to its prosperous beginnings, although with such prominent Chinese venture capitalists supporting the project, you may want to believe the hype.


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Fundamental Pick: EOS

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THE MISSING ELEMENT TO PUSH DAPPS INTO THE MAINSTREAM MARKET

 

SYNOPSIS


Currently, one of the main barriers to adoption in the blockchain industry is scalability. Although innovative market leaders such as Ethereum have allowed for the creation of decentralised applications that utilise smart contracts, their usability on a large scale is severely limited. This is the result of the Proof of Work (PoW) model, where all nodes within the network have to agree on a single transaction in order for it to be added to the Blockchain.

EOS aims to solve this problem by creating a unique Proof of Stake (PoS) model which should scale to handle millions of transactions per second. EOS’s focus on scalability stems from the belief that in order for the space to receive mainstream adoption, robust enterprise applications need to be able to function as they do in our current world. Without such an ability, DApps use cases can be viewed as limited and almost novel. However, as with any groundbreaking technology, finding ways to solve fundamental problems takes time, EOS focus on this key issue could set them apart from the multitude of platforms currently in the market.

Additionally, unlike many other platforms, EOS lets users utilise the DApps created on their Blockchain without needing to spend unnecessary funds on transaction fees. This is achieved by allowing users to spend transactions proportionally to the amount of EOS they hold, a feature built into the Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm. Ultimately, this permits users to use applications without the need for spending tokens unless they are purchasing a product or service, as familiar in the traditional App market. This link between the current status quo and what the future holds could provide Blockchain technology with the bridge it needs to attract the masses.

Additionally, EOS’s PoS model avoids the need for cumbersome widespread consensus to be achieved in order for upgrades or edits to the main system or DApps themselves, as seen in the PoW model. Some may argue that this is a key feature in the security of a distributed network, despite this, however, the current PoW algorithm suffers from slow bureaucratic proceedings.

Innovations such as these are rare and although PoS may not be the final solution, constantly progressing towards technological perfection is certainly admirable. For the proposed reasons, EOS appears to have a keen vision for what the future Blockchain space may hold, and being a market leader in the unique PoS model provides them with a distinct market advantage. With the launch of their independent Blockchain already in use, it will be interesting to see the progression of projects developed on the EOS platform over the coming year. Certainly, one not to miss before it goes mainstream.

 

CATALYSTS


  • CTO Dan Larimer has a proven track record with several successful projects under his belt including Steemit (decentralised social network) and Bitshares (decentralised exchange)
  • EOS’s ICO raised an outstanding 4 Billion USD, providing a substantial war chest to deal with the turbulent cryptocurrency market and provide funding for the ecosystem
  • Partnership with Bitfinex, one of the world’s most liquid cryptocurrency exchanges, to build a decentralised exchange based on the EOS Blockchain
  • CEO Brendan Blumer has promised to allocate 1 Billion USD to fund projects built on the EOS platform, allowing for the industry grade DApps they wish to build to be realised

 

RISK FACTORS


  • Although CEO Brendan Blumer has created several successful companies including II5 (tech) and okay.com (real estate), he has no experience within the Blockchain space
  • The Blockchain platform sector is the most competitive within the market, including notable figures such as Ethereum, NEO, Cardano etc. Although, EOS definitely has a unique selling point with its innovative PoS consensus algorithm
  • Certain individuals oppose the PoS model entirely, as they believe it may give substantial power to EOS or turn the idea of a decentralised consensus into a political process, this viewpoint remains to be seen

 

CONCLUSION


EOS could just be what Blockchain needs to push DApps into the mainstream market. Boasting a million transactions per second, accompanied by zero fees, this platform should be both scalable and usable for the masses.

Questions of whether the PoS consensus algorithm is secure enough to be immutably trusted certainly remains to be seen, but without such innovations and a real-world testnet, no one will ever know, and large-scale adoption would likely remain stagnant. Having the guts to be the first to pursue such an end goal shows strength in vision.

Thus, if EOS manage to prove their critics wrong, they could become the market leader in the platform ecosystem. The coming year will surely determine this fate, so be sure to keep an eye on such an opportunity.


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Fundamental Pick: Polymath

 

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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.

 

 

How To Create An Ethereum Wallet Using Metamask

 

This post walks you through the setup process of MetaMask in Google Chrome. We choose Chrome as it is more widely used than any other browser. However, the process to install MetaMask plugins in Firefox and Opera is also the same.

 

What is Metamask?

MetaMask is essentially a browser plugin that is supported by Chrome, Firefox and Opera. It lets you set up your very own Ethereum wallet right in your browser. You can make transactions into and out of your Ethereum wallet with ease using MetaMask.

 


Step 1: Go to https://metamask.io/


 

Click on the GET CHROME EXTENSION button which is highlighted in the below image.

 You can select Firefox or Opera right below the highlighted box if you use those browsers. The steps that follow are similar. You will be asked to add the MetaMask Extension to your respective browser.

You can select Firefox or Opera right below the highlighted box if you use those browsers. The steps that follow are similar. You will be asked to add the MetaMask Extension to your respective browser.

 


Step 2: Install MetaMask Extension


 

Click on the ADD TO CHROME button to add it to your chrome extension list.

 The browser will check the compatibility and a dialogue box will pop up as shown below. Click on the Add Extension button to proceed.

 

The browser will check the compatibility and a dialogue box will pop up as shown below. Click on the Add Extension button to proceed.

 

Picture3.png

 

Step 3: MetaMask added successfully!


You have now successfully added MetaMask to your browser. Congratulations!

 

Step 4: Open MetaMask


Open a new tab and click on the small orange fox icon in the top right corner of the browser as shown in the below figure.

Picture5.png

 

Step 5: Accept Terms


 This will open a popup window with details. The Accept button will be greyed out. You can either read the Terms of Use or scroll to the bottom of the pop-up window as shown in the below images.

 Note - let's be honest, who reads terms and conditions anyway? Well, terms and conditions are extremely important because they provide information about the product and terms of use. Never ignore them.

Note – let’s be honest, who reads terms and conditions anyway? Well, terms and conditions are extremely important because they provide information about the product and terms of use. Never ignore them.

After you have read the Terms of use, click on the Accept button highlighted in the below image.

Picture7.png

This will be followed by a bunch of terms that you should read and accept as shown below.

Privacy Notice

Picture8.png

Phishing warning

Picture9.png

 

Step 6: Create a Wallet


You must now enter a secure password with at least 8 characters in the boxes provided.

Picture10.png

After entering the password and before clicking the create button as shown in the below figure, please take your time to understand the look and feel of the MetaMask fox as he follows around your mouse pointer. Pretty neat design, eh?

Picture11.png

 

Step 7: Wallet Seed Words


You will now come across 12 words that let you restore your MetaMask accounts. Make sure you keep them safe and secret. I have masked the words below except for the last word economy, for flair. You can either choose to copy the words somewhere safe or save it as a file in your computer. Both options are present as buttons below.

Picture12.png

 

Step 8: Congratulations! Wallet created!


You now have a MetaMask wallet!

 Clicking on each of the options mentioned will perform a particular action.

Clicking on each of the options mentioned will perform a particular action.

  • View account on Etherscan – This will take you to Etherscan.io where you can see all the transactions that have happened on your public address.
  • Show QR Code – This will show your public address as a QR code.
  • Copy Address to Clipboard – This copies your public address to your clipboard.
  • Export Private Key – This is very IMPORTANT as access to the private key determines access to your wallet.

You can also edit your wallet name to whatever you want by clicking on the edit option. I have changed it to ‘My First ETH Account’ as shown below.

 

Step 9: Public and Private Keys


You can now view your public and private keys. DO NOT SHARE YOUR PRIVATE KEYS with anyone.

The following screenshots show public keys and private keys (which are hidden because they shouldn’t be shared)

Public key

Private Key

 

Step 10: MetaMask Wallet Overview


You can now do transactions in ETH directly from your browser! You can explore the BUY and SEND buttons as shown in the below steps.

 

Step 11: Buy / Send ETH


 You can buy ETH from Coinbase or Shapeshift as shown below.

COINBASE

Picture18.png

 

SHAPESHIFT

Picture19.png

You can also send ETH to other recipients by specifying their addresses and the amount you want to send.

Picture20.png

 

This concludes the MetaMask setup tutorial. 
Hopefully, this brief tutorial successfully helped you create an Ethereum wallet on your browser using MetaMask.