IMF’s Lagarde Counters Crypto Warnings With New Praise Of ‘Potential Benefits’
The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde
was buoyant about cryptocurrency in a blog post in support of the technology, published Monday, April 16. The post, which comes roughly one month after Lagarde cautioned against the “dark side” of cryptocurrency, sees the IMF leader focus on what she describes as the “potential benefits” of “crypto-assets such as Bitcoin.” “A judicious look at crypto-assets should lead us to neither crypto-condemnation nor crypto-euphoria,” she writes. While continuing her narrative about the need to reign in illicit activity involving crypto, which she had voiced during January’s World Economic Forum 2018 and since, Lagarde nonetheless reiterates the need for an “even-handed approach”
“Understanding the risks that crypto-assets may pose to financial stability is vital if we are to distinguish between real threats and needless fears. That is why we need an even-handed regulatory agenda, one that protects against risks without discouraging innovation.”
She continued, “A clear-eyed approach can help us harness the gains and avoid the pitfalls of the new crypto-assets landscape.” Lagarde’s call for a balanced outlook on cryptocurrency comes at a time of increasing regulatory involvement in the industry, while traditional financiers continue to call Bitcoin a ‘bubble’ and pundits spy the start of a market surge.
William Suberg got into Bitcoin while completing his Masters degree and hasn't looked back since, writing about anything crypto-related which makes him sit up and pay attention. He started working with Cointelegraph in October 2013.
The Craigslist of Crypto Is Making Millions Where Bitcoin Is Needed Most
That's how much revenue LocalBitcoins is now generating annually off a business that started back in 2011, all with an investment of just a few thousand dollars. One of the longest-running and most controversial bitcoin companiess, the decidedly low-fi website now has roughly 20 employees worldwide and 4 million registered accounts.
And reflecting the global tide, 40 percent of those users have signed up in the last six months. All that is according to Nikolaus Kangas, the CEO of the company, who started the venture with his brother Jeremias at a time when there weren't many options outside meeting up face-to-face to trade bitcoin. But the online portal continues to thrive even as the landscape of polished VC-backed exchanges (and even bleeding-edge decentralized alternatives) matures.
Sure, the peer-to-peer marketplace accounts for only a sliver of worldwide bitcoin trading – last week, it handled $62 million in trades, according to Coin.Dance estimates. This may be less than a top-20 exchange does in a day, but the service is gaining traction in markets that are generally overlooked by mainstream providers. "We are the most global platform out there," Kangas said. "Our goal is to improve the global trade possibilities, to serve people who have limited access to financial services." And, it turns out, even though LocalBitcoins tends to be more expensive (since sellers set their own prices), the company is much needed.
Indeed, Coin.Dance shows that Venezuelan transactions spiked to a new all-time high this month, as did usage in Tanzania and Peru – all countries that are struggling to recover from banking industry slumps. During the peak week of April 14, LocalBitcoins' trading volume in these three nations combined was worth roughly $55 million – more than six times the value of U.S. trading on LocalBitcoins in the same week.
And when the Bank of Montreal restricted customers from making cryptocurrency purchases, LocalBitcoins activity in Canada spiked. It's these instances that make LocalBitcoins so valuable, even in an environment where growing awareness of institutional traders and their high-value swaps (average transactions on LocalBitcoins are just $450) are stealing the limelight.
And that's paid off. The peer-to-peer exchange, which charges a 1 percent transaction fee, took in more than €22 million (roughly $27.2 million) of revenues in 2017, more than triple the amount from 2016, according to Kangas. Despite the market dip since December, when bitcoin's price peaked at $19,783, he said trading volume has continued to grow.
Nikolaus told CoinDesk:
"If you compare us to those big altcoin exchanges that were making $100 million per day or something like that last fall, we are kind of a small player. But I think we are solving a basic problem of how to buy or sell bitcoin for fiat currency."
Not always easy
And that basic problem was even more apparent in 2011 when the brothers first started in on the idea. Nikolas, a Finnish programmer, was fascinated by bitcoin – a new stateless currency meant to take power away from the banks, and maybe even governments. But every website he went to that provided services for Finnish buyers was awful in that they were hard to use. The Kangas brothers wanted to change that.
So having saved up a year's worth of living expenses and with a few thousand dollars to spend on server fees, the brothers launched LocalBitcoins. Yet, the journey for LocalBitcoins hasn't always been easy. The company has tested several products over the years, including a merchant billing service in 2014, but none of those gained traction like its bread and butter – P2P exchange.
On top of that, LocalBitcoins was the platform in the middle of more than half a dozen criminal cases associated with LocalBitcoins traders. For instance, last year, the U.S. Department of Justice sentenced a father-son duo of LocalBitcoins users, Michael and Randall Lord, to several years in prison for operating an unlicensed money transmission business. And Reddit is full of testimonies about scammers and hackers exploiting inexperienced LocalBitcoins' users. Nikolaus said the team is very concerned about criminal activity on the site and cooperates with authorities to investigate any crimes that use the platform.
Yet, just like Craigslist horror stories haven't stopped people from using the internet marketplace, instances like these connected to LocalBitcoins haven't slowed the platform's usage. In fact, the $27.2 million in revenue LocalBitcoins took in last year was more than triple its profits from 2016. Even with bitcoin's recent price dip (after December highs close to $20,000 a coin), Nikolaus said trading volume continues to grow.
Compliance for a non-bank
That said, Nikolaus remains steadfast in its interest in staying on the right side of the law. "We want to follow all the current regulations and laws, but right now it is quite unclear," he said. What is clear, though, is that at least in the U.S. the company has to report certain transactions as suspicious. This includes transactions over $10,000 and any transactions set up obviously to circumvent that limit.
Everything else – complying with local regulations – is up to the buyer and seller. In this way, LocalBitcoins has set itself up to be only a technology provider and not a complicit party to any unlawful actions users of its technology might participate in. This outsourcing of compliance responsibility is one of the reasons the company has been able to stay afloat, even in the face of competition from well-funded startups.
Because LocalBitcoins facilitates generally trades of smaller amounts, they rarely attract scrutiny. For instance, when the Investor Protection Bureau of the New York Attorney General's Office sent an inquiry letter this month to more than a dozen cryptocurrency exchanges, including Coinbase, Kraken, and Gemini – exchanges that function more like banks — P2P platforms like LocalBitcoins were notably absent from the dragnet.
It seems it helps to be local.
For example, Iranian blockchain researcher Ziya Sadr in Tehran routinely uses LocalBitcoins to sell cryptocurrency. Since sanctions keep Iranian banking customers from accessing foreign markets, he told CoinDesk, Iranian traders use LocalBitcoins to find local sellers who accept wire transfers from Iranian banks.
As mentioned before, it's these kinds of markets, which are cut off from the rest of the world, that need P2P crypto exchanges like LocalBitcoins. Roman Snitko, CTO of a new P2P exchange called Hodl Hodl, noticed a similar trend on his platform. Russians, who lack centralized exchange options, were some of the first users to flock to Hodl Hodl.
Speaking to this need, then, Snitko told CoinDesk:
"In countries without centralized exchanges, I think P2P trading will play a significant role."
Leigh Cuen is a tech reporter covering blockchain technology for publications such as Newsweek Japan, International Business Times and Racked. Her work has also been published by Teen Vogue, Al Jazeera English, The Jerusalem Post, Mic, and Salon. Leigh does not hold value in any digital currency projects or startups. Her small cryptocurrency holdings are worth less than a pair of leather boots.
A new startup is disrupting the piggy bank with a cryptocurrency wallet for kids
One of my children currently gets £1.50 a week in pocket money;
the other, £2.50 (about $2.00 and $3.50). We encourage some pretty basic behaviors with these funds: save, spend, and donate. Jars, wallets, small bags, countertops, and backpacks act as various means of storage. But in our efforts to instill some financial literacy in our grade-school-age kids, we have committed a gross oversight: We failed to incorporate the blockchain.
Enter Pigzbe, a colorful cryptocurrency wallet and interactive app, powered by a “family-friendly” token called Wollo. The hardware wallet allows kids to collect and store Wollo, while the app features games that revolve around saving and spending. Powered by a decentralized blockchain ledger, it enables families “to come together as microfinancing networks.” Or, put another way, when a grandma in Italy wants to sent junior some money in London, she can do it with Wollo via Pigzbe, and avoid the hassle of mailing paper money or the annoyance of foreign-currency fees.
Filippo Yacob, one of Pigzbe’s founders, is also the CEO of Primo Toys and creator of Cubetto, a wildly successful wooden code board and rolling cube robot that teaches three-year-olds how to program computers. He tells Quartz that his top goals in creating Pigzbe are to address financial literacy early in life, and allow families spread around the globe (like his own) to participate in a kid’s financial life.
“Every week you learn saving, modeling, exchanging, and spending,” he says of the digital wallet. Grandparents can gift money, while parents and other family members can reward chores or pay allowance in an ultra-modern way. Kids can set tasks for themselves, which are then rewarded by others, encouraging entrepreneurial thinking, he says. They will naturally learn about volatility too, since the value of Wollo tokens, like any cryptocurrency, will fluctuate—potentially a lot. “Volatility itself is a reality,” Yacob notes. “That’s a valuable conversation to have.” Kids can pay for products in the real world with a Wollo card that converts the tokens to fiat currencies.
American and Chinese citizens cannot participate for regulatory reasons, and toddlers are generally discouraged from buying and selling securities. Wollos will be issued via an initial coin offering that opens to the public June 13 (pre-sales have already begun, and raised about $10 million, Yacob said). They will be available to trade on SdEx in July. American and Chinese citizens cannot participate for regulatory reasons—those pesky securities laws—and, in general, toddlers everywhere are discouraged from buying and selling securities. Sensing this is a tough sell at a time when cryptocurrencies are still associated with scams, money laundering, and vertigo-inducing volatility, Pigzbe’s white paper (pdf) attempts to spell out the problems it aims to address,
High transfer fees that “hinder the true microfinancing nature of piggy-banking and financial education in early years”
The limited geographic scope of many banking networks
The generally lame/inflexible design of the piggy bank
Pigzbe allows kids to get their crypto on cheaply and relatively easily. A single transaction costs 1/100,000 of a Stellar lumen in network fees, it says—this crypto coin currently runs for around $0.33. Wollo transfers between family members are settled within three to five seconds, regardless of location (though as noted, US and Chinese citizens cannot take part). Wollo coins can also trade on the Stellar Decentralized Exchange against other tokens and fiat currencies supported by the network.
“A new piggy-banking paradigm”
According to the paper, Pigzbe “combines the latest in connected technology, tangible interface design, and blockchain technology to reach an underbanked generation of children and families by ushering in a new piggy-banking paradigm powered by their children’s first cryptocurrency and hardware wallet.”
I foresee a few problems with this system.
A lot of grandparents struggle with FaceTime, so making transfers to a crypto wallet may be asking a bit much. We are also living in a moment when parents need to understand the terms and conditions of digital services to make decisions that will both protect their children’s privacy and manage their digital footprint. The six pages of conditions in the Pigzbe white paper, which include warnings about securities fraud, are not reassuring.
What’s more, I do not consider children as “underbanked,” nor do I see volatility (beyond my own temper) as among the things my kids need to learn about urgently (kindness, compassion, empathy, and math are more important). I think chores should be done because kids are part of a household, not because they are rewarded with Wollo tokens (pocket money in our house is not tied to chores). Finally, on my massive kids-and-tech to-do list, which includes preventing them from becoming addicted to screens, avoiding cyberbullying, and protecting their privacy, currency transaction fees don’t break the top 200.
Yannick Naud, a Pigzbe advisor, says he joined the product because the team had experience designing, building, and marketing real toys (John Marshall, another co-founder, built Kano, a computer). The project uses actual, tangible products—the wallet and app—to teach kids about 21st-century finance, including cryptocurrency. When you buy the wallet (which costs $60), it comes with 200 Wollos, so you are ready to get going right away.
Yacob is passionate about financial literacy. “We live in a society oppressed by debt,” he says. He is right that banks are frustrating, transfer fees are extortionate, and many families set up shaky systems for allowances or pocket money that don’t teach kids very much about money. The modern financial system, he says, accurately, “is designed to confuse people.”
How does this help? The project’s white paper describes Pigzbe as a “decentralized application that allows people to create their own enclosed, autonomous financial networks and to exchange money within them.” It also encourages customers try to get more people on the platform (more trading means more value).
That doesn’t feel like a lesson I am trying to instill in my kids. Yacob claims that the point isn’t the value of the Wollo, but the lessons learned through it. “If it’s worth $12 or $1,200 it doesn’t matter, because the value they got from it is in the game and the experience that taught them something,” he says. Call me old-fashioned, but if my kids are saving their cash, I want them to have faith in its value, with some attention devoted to inflation and the time value of money.
Yacob is used to resistance to his products. When he started selling Cubetto, people thought the idea of teaching coding to three-year-olds was absurd. He’s banking (literally) on that being the case with Pigzbe: He has an idea ahead of its time that will address, in time, the growing demand for improved financial literacy and adoption of decentralized digital means of exchange. That may be the case. But my family’s “microfinancing network” is sticking with coins tucked away in pockets and drawers until further notice.
She is a Ten-year veteran of the New York Times, where she covered finance and then schools (the logic made sense to us). Prior to that a short stint at the New York Post, and a long one at Institutional Investor magazine. A Graduate of Colorado College ('94) and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs ('99). Lived in Mexico and Argentine for a bit, loved it. She is a Wife, mom and athlete who loves children's books, grown-up books and wishes her knees and back were that of a 20-year-old.
Token Airdrops Are Taking Off Despite Legal Concerns
They say you get nothing for free in this life, but tokenized projects running airdrops would beg to differ. You can now get a whole lotta crypto assets for free – hundreds of them in fact – simply for signing up and following some social channels. What started as a novelty has become the norm, with a vast number of ICOs now earmarking a portion of their tokens for free distribution. Questions remain though about the legal status of airdropped tokens in an age where anything related to crypto risks being labeled a security.
Airdrops Are the New Faucets
In bitcoin’s earliest days, faucets were used to distribute the cryptocurrency. Fractions of a bitcoin were given away on tap, back when BTC was cheap enough to send in small amounts and bits were worth buttons. Anyone who claimed those free morsels back in the day and held onto them will have eventually came into possession of some extremely valuable cryptocurrency. Today, airdrops are the faucets of the token economy. These freely dispensed tokens aren’t worth much – if anything – but there’s a small chance that one day they might be worth something.
At the Crypto Investor show in London last weekend, glossy flyers promoted an after-party with “free drinks + airdrop”. Come for the prosecco, stay for the tokenized revolution. Such is the prevalence of airdrops that an entire cottage industry has sprung up to promote them and inform crypto holders of the latest ones worth catching. Prominent Twitter traders compete to top the referral leaderboard for airdrops, whereupon they will be rewarded with yet more tokens. Everyone’s clamoring for free tokens right now, even though no one’s sure whether they’ll ever have any utility or market value.
Get Your Airdrops While They’re Hot
For new entrants to the cryptocurrency scene, airdrops provide a way to get some points on the board or rather some tokens in the portfolio. The very act of claiming them is enough to teach beginners the basics of wallet use and receiving crypto. The problems these projects purport to solve also provides a primer on the weird and wonderful world of crypto. Such is the prevalence of airdrops, they now have a dedicated Bitcointalk forum thread, dedicated Telegram groups and, in Airdropalert, a website that promises you need “never miss a free crypto airdrop again!”
Most of the tokens awarded are ERC20s, though other blockchains have also caught on; NEO for example recently distributed ONT via an airdrop. Just like an ICO tracker, Airdropalert filters offers based on upcoming/active/past. Tokens currently up for grabs include Boutspro, Yee, Sofin, and Aelf. Giving away tokens is easy in the early stages of a project when they’re literally worth nothing. The trick is getting the airdrop community to start using these tokens on the platforms they were designed for. If that occurs, and the project reaches critical mass, the tokens should rise in value, and then everyone will be a winner. Or so the theory goes.
With AirDrop, you can wirelessly send photos, videos, websites, locations, and more to a nearby iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac.
What you need
Make sure that both devices can use AirDrop:
On Mac computers, choose Go from the menu bar in the Finder. If the Go menu includes AirDrop, that Mac can use AirDrop.
On iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch) open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. If AirDrop is in Control Center, that iOS device can use AirDrop.
Turn on and set up AirDrop
On Mac computers:
Choose Go > AirDrop from the menu bar in the Finder. An AirDrop window opens. If Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is turned off, you'll see a button to turn it on. AirDrop turns on automatically when Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are on.
To receive files from everyone instead of only those in your Contacts app, you can use the “Allow me to be discovered by” setting at the bottom of the AirDrop window.
On iOS devices:
Open Control Center.
Tap AirDrop, then choose whether to receive items from everyone or only from people in your Contacts app. Learn more.
Choose Go > AirDrop from the menu bar in the Finder. Or select AirDrop in the sidebar of a Finder window.
The AirDrop window shows nearby AirDrop users. Drag one or more items to the recipient's image in the window, then click Send.
Or use the Share feature:
Click Share , if available in your app. Or Control-click an item in the Finder, then choose Share from the shortcut menu.
The Share menu lists several sharing options. Choose AirDrop.
Select a recipient from the AirDrop sheet, then click Done.
If you don't see the recipient in the AirDrop window or sheet, read the tips for sending items.
If the recipient is signed in to your iCloud account, the item you're sending is automatically accepted and saved. Otherwise, the recipient is asked to accept the item before it's saved to their device.
On a Mac, the item is saved to the Downloads folder.
On an iOS device, the item appears in the appropriate app. For example, photos appear in the Photos app and websites appear in Safari.
Tips for sending items
If you don't see the recipient in the AirDrop window or sheet:
Make sure that both devices have AirDrop turned on and are within 30 feet (9 meters) of each other.
If you're sending to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:
Your Mac needs to be a 2012 or newer model with OS X Yosemite or later.
The iOS device must be using iOS 7 or later and have Personal Hotspot turned off in Settings > Cellular.
If you're sending to a Mac:
If the receiving Mac is using OS X Mavericks, Mountain Lion, or Lion, it needs to have an AirDrop window open: choose Go > AirDrop from the menu bar in the Finder.
If the receiving Mac is a 2012 or older model, click “Don't see who you're looking for?” in the AirDrop window or sharing sheet of the sending Mac. Then click “Search for an Older Mac.”
Find out if the Mac has “Block all incoming connections” turned on in Security & Privacy preferences. A Mac won't receive items using AirDrop if this setting is turned on.
If AirDrop on the receiving device is set up to receive items from contacts only, make sure that both devices are signed in to iCloud. Also make sure that the email address or phone number associated with your Apple ID is in the Contacts app of the receiving device.
AirDrop system requirements
To send items to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or to receive items from those devices, you need a 2012 or later Mac model with OS X Yosemite or later, excluding the Mac Pro (Mid 2012).
To send items to another Mac, you need:
MacBook Pro (Late 2008) or later, excluding the MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2008)
MacBook Air (Late 2010) or later
MacBook (Late 2008) or later, excluding the white MacBook (Late 2008)
iMac (Early 2009) or later
Mac Mini (Mid 2010) or later
Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010)
Need more help? Save time by starting your
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to an expert.
Free Crypto Airdrops Are a Real Thing… Here’s Some Recent Examples
A company giving out free samples to entice new customers is nothing new. But giving out free currency, or shares of their company? That sounds a bit suspicious…
Turns out, in the Cyrpto world, it’s nothing new. From Dogecoin to Bitcoin, many developers relied on on free “faucets” to entice their first users (the original BTC faucet gave away 5 BTC just for filling out a captcha…)
More recently, companies have begun “airdropping” as a means of promoting their business and encouraging trading of their coin. This just means they’ll send free coins to a wallet address you provide, typically in exchange for a small favor on your end, like retweeting a post.
I’ve rounded up 5 of the most promising airdrops from January and February; each offering between $1-10 USD just for clicking some buttons. Before we hop in, however, here’s what you’ll need to claim your tokens:
To avoid giving out too much private information, I recommend setting up special accounts for airdropping. Each company has different requirements, but here’s what you’ll need to get all 5 offers:
Ethereum Wallet Address: To deposit your tokens. Create one instantly at MyEtherWallet.â Twitter Account: Consider setting one up specially for this purposeâ Telegram Account: Telegram is a mobile chat app many companies use to communicate with users. You’ll need to install the Telegram app on your smartphone.â Phone Number: Set one up free on Google Voice if you want to avoid giving out private information. Only 1 airdrop required a phone number (HedgeConnect), but they didn’t verify it anyway.
Now without further adieu, here’s the current airdrop offers from March, 2018:
Sphere is aiming to create a decentralized social network. They’re offering 50 SAT tokens free when you sign up. Just follow the link, create an account and confirm your email address. Tokens are currently selling for $0.05 each, making this airdrop worth $2.50 before the official launch.
Shivom is running a very limited airdrop, supposedly valued up to $9 USD, according to Airdrop Alert. Simply follow the link, join the telegram and retweet 2 messages from Shivom. The tokens are due to distribute in June after the ICO sale.
To sign up for this airdrop, you’ll need to be on your mobile phone. Follow this link to join their telegram channel (download the telegram app if you don’t have it already) and type “/claim” into the message window.
You’ll get an immediate response that includes a link to redeem your token, and a referral link you can use to earn extra. To redeem your tokens you’ll actually be given a 12-digit code. Because HPT has not actually launched yet, you’ll this code to claim your tokens in February, after their initial coin offering.
Write it down or copy/paste to save it in a safe place!
Okay, so this isn’t exactly cryptocurrencies, but the stock-trading app RobinHood is giving away 1 free stock when you sign up for their platform. You don’t need to deposit any money, or even provide a credit card/bank account number. Simply create an account, and claim your free stock.
Most free stocks are worth around $5, but Robinhood is transparent that 1 in 100 will receive an Apple, Facebook or Microsoft stock, which are valued around $100–160 USD. Cryptocurrencies are also coming to the platform soon, and may be a part of this promotion in the future.
Unlike the other airdrops, Robinhood will require your full information, including home address and Social Security Number. Don’t be alarmed; they are a completely legitimate brokerage company simply complying with federal regulations. Robinhood will track your investments and send a 1099 at the end of the year (similar to Vanguard, Fidelity, or any traditional investment platform). But personally, I’m looking forward to using a trading platform that will make tax time simple, compared to the clusterf**k that crypto-taxes are turning out to be.
Some of these airdrop promotions provide you with extra tokens/stocks for referring other participants.
Fela Oparei https://medium.com/@cryptofela
Business writer by day; coin trader by night.
This blog is for my semi-professional thoughts & insights on cryptocurrency investing in 2018.
Company Aims To Become ‘Amazon Of Sharing Economy’ With Blockchain App
A company is building a Blockchain-based system
to eliminate fragmentation in the sharing economy – and creating a single app that gives users access to “any available asset they wish to rent, borrow or share.” ShareRing claims the current market is extremely inconvenient for consumers. Although thousands of companies exist, many of them are specialized in one particular niche, such as caravans or office space. This forces users to go through the arduous process of registering multiple accounts – and, given the fact that some of these small businesses only operate in a heavily localized area, there’s no guarantee that the items they need to borrow will be available where they live.
The Australian company has the goal of becoming the “Amazon of the sharing economy,” enabling users to lease “assets” from a broad range of categories through a single smartphone app. They would be connected to individuals nearby who have items they are willing to share, while rental companies would be able to develop their own “mini” app within ShareRing to reach greater numbers of prospective customers. ShareRing is already exploring deals with big brands, and the latest partnerships will be announced on its website.
In its white paper, the company lists areas where its technology could prove useful. Some examples include renting cars, trucks and trailers, as well as booking delivery drivers, sharing gardens, swapping books, co-housing, car sharing and social dining. ShareRing’s Blockchain platform, known as ShareLedger, is already in development. “Highly customizable” smart contracts will be used to complete transactions, with the company stressing that typical users are not going to require advanced technical knowledge in order to use the platform.
“Taking things to the next level”
The team behind ShareRing already have experience in this industry after starting the vehicle-sharing brand Keaz in the middle of 2013. Offering solutions for both corporate users and consumers, the company now has offices in five countries – and its main technology, KeazACCESS, was launched in May 2015. Executives say they have “decided to take things to the next level” through Blockchain because a company is yet to help this industry achieve its full potential. Their white paper argues that most people are even unable to name five businesses operating within the sharing economy – and the two examples most commonly used as answers, Airbnb and Uber, only cover two types of assets available to the public.
ShareLedger is also going to feature a dual token mechanism. Whereas SharePay is the currency that customers will use to rent assets, ShareToken allows providers to pay for access to the Blockchain. All users will be able to access their balances for these tokens in a lightweight wallet accessible from PCs and smartphones. “Small transaction fees” are charged to providers who use ShareRing. There are one-off charges whenever individuals or businesses add an asset to the platform. Providers are also charged if “attributes” need to be added, allowing extra bits of information such as a Vehicle Identification Number to be linked to the asset. Finally, they will pay a fee every time their asset is rented out to a ShareRing user.
Growing the ecosystem
At the heart of ShareRing’s system will be a “clever, integrated app” which uses geolocation to show users which services are available nearby – and within two years, the company hopes that up to 1 mln assets will be available to share around the world. Its Blockchain system will be publicly available by Sept. 2018, and KeazACCESS will be the first “client” integrated into ShareLedger. ShareRing’s token sharing event is set to take place in May, with the company planning to run token hunts and several other competitions to spread the word and raise awareness of the project.
Vexanium, a Marketing Platform To Benefit Both Retailers and Users
—SINGAPORE, April 11, 2018 —
An innovative decentralized marketing ecosystem called VEXANIUM, which helps to cut costs and improve efficiency and transparency for commercial businesses, is being launched by Danny Baskara and team. The blockchain based ecosystem which VEXANIUM creates will solve the major pain points that this industry faces today. The VEXANIUM platform will also naturally serve existing blockchain businesses in their user acquisition, activation and retention. This makes it attractive for both businessmen, crypto-enthusiasts and ordinary users.
In Asia, a majority of retailers use online promo marketing platforms such as Groupon, Dianping or Meituan to win new customers. Promo marketing strategies rely heavily on campaigns on these platforms which provide substantial traffic and sales. These platforms charge an average of 15% – 20% in commission per transaction through a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) or CPS (Cost Per Sale) structure. An increasing number of retailers struggle because these commissions together with the discounts offered represent too high a proportion of their margins. To protect margins, retailers often end up giving lackluster promotions that are either unattractive or with unrealistic terms. Meanwhile, customers are often frustrated when trying to utilize a voucher or redeem their gift cards and coupons. Common difficulties include using vouchers that have already been utilized, expired, are lost or with unreasonable T&C requirements.
“By using the VEXANIUM platform, companies can create points in loyalty program applications in the form of digital tokens, "said Danny Baskara. "Typically such incentives are rewards to customers in Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) activity. The tokens can also be converted into coupons or points that can be used in corporate applications, " A study conducted by GfK concluded that 49% of consumers would gladly switch brands for savings in the form of a coupon. In the retail market, South-East Asia and Indonesia, in particular, are some of the fastest growing markets globally, with the latter boasting a population of over 260 million people. The importance of vouchers and coupons for retailers to attract new customers in those regions is significant.
VEX token will be listed on Tokenomy upon launching of the platform. Partnering with fIndodax.com (former bitcoin.co.id), the biggest digital asset exchange in Southeast Asia, Tokenomy helps VEX access to 1,000,000+ potential investors and traders. The VEX app features an integration with selected crypto exchanges in order to allow users to directly trade their VEX token balance on the exchange. Also, the VEX Exchange will allow consumers to trade vouchers among themselves and set their own prices. Customers will be able to store and redeem their voucher tokens via VEXANIUM app.
One game-changing use case of the VEX Platform is the lucrative “airdrop” market, which will allow blockchain companies to create airdrop campaigns for acquiring new customers and rewarding existing ones, using the VEX token. "For companies that want to take advantage of the VEXANIUM platform and want to create digital tokens on their applications are required to purchase a large number of VEXANIUM digital tokens, VEX, because each transaction is using the token, included in transaction fees," Danny states. This will be facilitated via the VEX web and mobile apps.
In an exciting move, the VEXANIUM marketplace plans to be fully functional and open to merchants and individual users in Indonesia by Q4 2018. VEXANIUM will complete the establishment of the ecosystem by launching VEXchange and VEXplorer by Q2 2019. Merchants and enterprise users can create voucher tokens and start their marketing campaigns all seamlessly via the one-stop mobile app. VEXANIUM founder and CEO Danny Baskara previously built and sold Indonesia’s largest voucher and couponing platform Evoucher, which was with more than 2 million active users. After 7 years of building Evoucher, the founders realized that the blockchain can solve the fundamental problems of this industry. The idea for the VEXANIUM ecosystem was born.
VEXANIUM will revolutionize this space by bringing the voucher and couponing industry on-chain. The immutability, liquidity and decentralized nature of VEXANIUM will revolutionize this market while introducing a whole new wave of retailers and users to the blockchain era. A number of angel investors are already backing VEXANIUM, such as Marcus Yeung, founder and CEO of SEAbridge, and Joseph Aditya, CEO of Ralali, the largest B2B marketplace portal in Indonesia. VEXANIUM VEX token pre-sale starts on April 14th, 2018.
Bitcoin Price: Experts Weigh in on Cryptocurrency Price Recovery Amidst Institutional Interest
Bitcoin looks like it will end the week with a 15% price increase
and all but four of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization are still showing green. Investors are demonstrating increased confidence illustrated by trading volumes. Experts have shared their predictions and explanations for the increase, which may well indicate a recovery for the cryptocurrency market after months of trepidation. Thursday’s sudden price increase for Bitcoin is the result of what experts term a “short squeeze” and it sparked a frenzy of activity in the charts.
“This is what’s known in the markets as a short squeeze. When a lot of people are short on heavy leverage, a small movement up can trigger someone’s stop-loss,” said Mati Greenspan, Senior Market Analyst at eToro. “Keep in mind that when a short position gets closed it actually creates a buy order. After a prolonged period of moving within the range, stop losses start to pile up. And so, even a small movement in the market can trigger a chain reaction of stop losses all at once and lead to a breakout on the charts.”
The orange and blue dotted lines represent the tight range, between $6500 and $7500, that bitcoin has been trading in for the
past two weeks.
“We would normally look for a test of the blue line before moving forward. However, should the excitement start to come back into this market, it might not need to.” Said Greenspan. “The ratio of short margin trades versus longs has been increasing recently,” said Nick Kirk, quantitative developer and data scientist at Cypher Capital. “Buying volume ticked up today and a lot of these short trades got liquidated, helping fuel the rally.”
In an earlier interview with Bloomberg on April 11th, 2018, Greenspan predicted that Wall Street was “building bridges” and would “at least even things out” in the cryptocurrency markets by injecting new liquidity.
On April 6th, 2018, news broke that hedge fund legend George Soros might begin to invest in cryptocurrencies. According to reports, Adam Fisher, head of macro investing for Soros Fund Management received internal approval to trade cryptocurrencies. Hedge Fund Research indicates the average return on funds that started investing in cryptocurrency at the beginning of 2017 is 2,908%, compared to 9% gains for traditional hedge funds over the same period. On April 10th, 2018, Venrock, the Rockefeller family’s venture capital businesses announced a partnership with cryptocurrency investor group
“We wanted to partner with this team that has been making investments and actually helping to architect a number of different crypto economies and crypto token-based projects,” said Venrock partner David Pakman
The Rockefeller family has an estimated net worth of over $1 trillion, with Venrock reportedly holding $2.6 billion in managed assets. Venrock made significant gains with early investments in Intel and
“There are a lot of crypto traders in the market,” continued Pakman. “There are a lot of cryptocurrency hedge funds. This is different. To us, it looks a little bit more like venture capital.”
There are also disputed rumours that the Rothschild family now hold cryptocurrency related investments. Commenting to Bloomberg, leading Wall Street strategist Tom Lee describes Bitcoin’s sudden price hike
“We still feel pretty confident that bitcoin is a great risk-reward and we think it could reach $25,000 by the end of the year,” said Fundstrat co-founder Lee.
It’s not just Bitcoin that is seeing health price increases. Only a handful of coins in the top 100 are still showing declining prices. A number of coins have 24-hour average price increases of 20% and more. Ripple (XRP), with the third largest market capitalization after Bitcoin and Ethereum, is currently trading at $0.67 after a 21% increase. This is directly compared to a current rate increase of 5% for Bitcoin today. Ripple’s increase is likely fuelled by the announcement that Santander is launching an international payments service “OnePay FX” based on Ripple’s xCurrent blockchain technology. With the move, Santander becomes the first bank to offer a blockchain-based international payments service across a number of countries
at the same time.
“One Pay FX uses blockchain-based technology to provide a fast, simple and secure way to transfer money internationally – offering value, transparency, and the trust and service customers expect from a bank like Santander.”
Other notable price increases include IOTA (MIOTA), currently 10th by market capitalization at 21%, NEM (XEM) at 17% and Vitalik Buterin backed OmiseGO at 18%.
Realities That Will Rock The World Of Marketing In 2018
The digital marketing industry shows few signs of slowing down
as brands continue to adjust to the pace of change in data, technology and measurement. As marketing shifts away from the classic model of mindless spending, there are new opportunities and emerging technologies that can better trace the correlation between spending and engagement with prospective customers. From fake news to Facebook algorithms to Google and other tech giants changing the game, the industry landscape continues to force brands to adapt to new consumer behaviors and innovate to get the win. Based on my experience as the CEO of a digital marketing agency, here are four realities that I see shifting the world of marketing this year.
Every aspect of marketing is in the midst of an automation transformation.
Technology has introduced new kinds of marketing tools that take the guesswork out of advertising. For some firms, this has been a game changer, and for others, it has been a death sentence. Driven by emerging technologies, analytics and better data, marketing plans are shifting every day to match media consumption changes and platform updates. Yet, one of the biggest opportunities out of the digital transformation in marketing is reimagining the strategy in itself. Brands need to evolve their thinking to a process that observes the behavior of consumers through unique customer journeys and optimize efforts accordingly. Gone are the days when marketers can look at the last click in the funnel and make campaign-based decisions.
Digital transformation is not as straightforward as a one-touch fix. To deliver consumers a personalized marketing experience, brands need better control over their channels and performance. The rise of machine learning and automation has given way to incredible platforms for attribution modeling and optimization. By using these technologies, marketers can now track and measure their interaction with customers across all mediums to see where their ad spend is most effective and how customers are receiving and interacting with their marketing message.
Marketers must mine the endless mounds of data.
Across the board, companies increasingly understand that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to marketing can’t win anymore. Brands will be connecting with consumers in a more innovative, data-driven environment — especially in retail — by tapping into marketing technology platforms for better insights into consumer buying habits. Those brands with campaigns that are data-driven with location intelligence and analytics are more apt for stronger data and greater personalization. In this strategically intricate dance, consumers will be continuously touched by brand messaging, experiences and influencers that, when optimally layered together, drive better results.
Besides easing operational processes and increasing efficiency, marketers must leverage the potential of artificial intelligence-driven tools to power through data and effectively engage with their customers — and with better success after every instance. AI can also help identify the best engagement points in the buying journey. Innovations in AI like chatbots and augmented/virtual reality are changing the way brands plan campaigns, envision touchpoints and enhance customer experiences, all while generating actionable data insights throughout the process.
The power of search has voice.
Last year marked a huge shift in the power of voice in search marketing. If consumer brands haven’t gotten on board with SEO strategies catered to voice search, they need to get in the game before it’s too late. Google insights reveal that, on a daily basis, more than half of American teenagers and 41% of adults are talking to their phones via voice search. Amazon is said to have sold more than 20 million Echo units to date, with Google Home gaining ground and taking up to 24% of market share since it entered the game in 2015. By 2020, ComScore predicts voice search could account for up to half of all queries. This trend has been happening in the SEO world for some time, and with the growing appetite for search bots (i.e., Alexa, Cortana), the transition to a voice-search world is progressing every day.
SEO marketers should make note of this, given that optimizing for voice search requires different tactics compared to the traditional method and having insight into this new normal could help brands provide better customer experience. Optimizing for voice search technology allows for marketers to create more conversational campaigns and provides a natural way for people to interact with brands. Voice search will continue to explode as more predictive machine learning technologies advance this particular AI evolution. Looking forward, the voice search market is wide open and it’s possible that the strongest user group hasn’t even been born.
Content transformation will be king.
By 2021, an eMarketer report (registration required) predicts there will be more than 2.7 billion people around the world using mobile phones, with more than 87% of those using smartphones for internet access. The report alsodescribedthe dominance of tech titans Google and Facebook in the U.S. digital ad market and digital ad revenue worldwide. In this attention-driven duopoly, with ever-changing algorithms and updates, businesses are competing against friends and family for attention. The demand for mobile-ready, shareable content has never been more relentless. Every aspect of content marketing will become more user-centric and personalized, and brands must be willing to adapt.
In order to scale authenticity in this crowded environment, some brands are heavily investing in video to connect with customers to help share ideas, products, purpose and personality. Likewise, influencers will continue to play a role in content but with a new requirement of stronger return on investment. No matter the industry, your brand must steer away from vague, overly expensive programs and partnerships and opt for relevant, data-driven influencer strategies. The challenge in digital content for today’s marketer is to remain authentic while achieving campaign goals. Brands that create experiences that inspire, educate or entertain through content and messaging efforts will continue to win in 2018.