Canadian blockchain venture Decentral Inc. and its multi-currency digital wallet Jaxx announced the upcoming release of the new “Decentral Project,” along with some of its primary initiatives. At a lavish “United by Decentral” event held on the Cornucopia Majesty yacht, the company closed out Consensus 2018 in New York City with a series of presentations outlining their new initiatives.
In an animated video narrated by Decentral founder and CEO Anthony Di Iorio, the 2.0 version of its wallet — dubbed “Jaxx Liberty” — offers a gamified interface to assist newcomers in experiencing the blockchain arena. The redesigned Jaxx wallet will backend infrastructure to dozens of blockchains, while the module-based interface includes a portfolio, block explorers, markets, charts and graphs, and popular news sources.
Part of the interface will include a sort of “Wikipedia of decentralized tech,” which Jaxx has dubbed “Decentral Academy.” It will offer “a simplified means of explaining technologies, the projects, different coins and tokens in an objective, meaningful way.” According to the video, “projects will be explained in a non-biased fashion, terms will be defined and the masses will have a source for information in one place.”
“What Jaxx is creating is like the browser for the internet — a single place to discover and enable the blockchain journey,” Coinberry president Andrei Poliakov said to Bitcoin Magazine. “Coinberry [is] so excited to be an early exchange partner to help enable instant account setup and easy withdrawals for Canadian bitcoin and ether holders.”
Another consumer-engagement feature of Jaxx Liberty will include the Decentral Collector Cards: physical, unique, verifiable cards based on different communities in the blockchain space. They will be tied in with the platform’s gamification elements and sold in packs online to start.
The second announcement introduced Decentral Unity, the new loyalty system and coin for Jaxx Liberty and the entire Jaxx line of products. Among other uses, the Unity coin will reward users for engaging with the company’s numerous partners within the platform.
Jaxx’s incentive-based model is designed to instill confidence in its partners and encourage them to build on Jaxx Liberty. Decentral expects the project to garner as many as 10 million users per month.
“The old paradigm of unifying the world through centralization has failed,” said Justin Fisher, co-founder and CEO of VeriBlock, one of the Jaxx Liberty’s partner companies. “I believe that what Decentral is doing will ignite a revolution of empowerment and unity because they turn the old model inside out. This is a profound vision and we are excited to be a part of it.”
Here’s how the system will work. Users who engage with Decentral’s partners through the Jaxx Liberty interface will be rewarded with Unity tokens. The more they engage, the more chances they’ll have to level up and garner discounts on partner services. Users can also check their cryptocurrency balances through one streamlined portfolio and modify their interface pages with applications like avatars, charts, wallets and asset news.
Di Iorio told Bitcoin Magazine that Unity tokens are given to users as rewards for engagement with the Jaxx Liberty platform. There is no presale or token sale. They are intended to be used and have value within the platform itself.
According to a company statement, “The core objective of Decentral Project is to empower the ecosystem with unparalleled tools, enabling the masses to take control of their digital lives. We believe Jaxx Liberty is a crucial step in this journey, and we hope the platform — designed as an interactive game — will transform the way that everyday consumers interact with and secure their digital wealth. Jaxx Liberty will create wins for everyone. Our partners will have a broader network of engaged individuals, and the more users engage with our partners, the more Unity they can earn.”
The Jaxx Cube and Ice Cube
Finally, Decentral also announced its plan to release two new hardware pieces in the coming months: the Jaxx Cube and the Jaxx Ice Cube. According to Jaxx, the Cube is “your digital life in a box.” The console is designed as a complement to a home entertainment system.
“This design piece comes pre-loaded with nodes, empowering you to interact directly with a number of blockchains. With the Jaxx Cube, you’ll be able to push your own transactions and be part of the networks without having to rely on Jaxx for this.”
The Ice Cube is an offline cold storage wallet that looks like a miniature version of the Cube and will be made to work with the Cube or any other device that supports Jaxx. It is designed to be connection- and cable-free, and small enough to fit in a safe or safety deposit box.
“We’re building the decentralized world,” said Di Iorio, “all the while, doing it based on the unique guiding principles of not asking people for money, never holding or having access to customer funds and not requiring users to provide information about themselves.”
Founded in 2014, Decentral is headquartered in downtown Toronto. The company has hosted several blockchain community events over the last four years and has built several partner projects including Jaxx, which attracts over 750,000 monthly users from around the world.
Jaxx Liberty will officially launch on July 1, 2018, while the Jaxx Unity coin will be released over the following weeks.
This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.
Streamr, the blockchain-based data platform based in Zug, Switzerland, launched their real-time data Marketplace on May 16, 2018, during a presentation at Consensus 2018. This was followed by an announcement of partnerships with Nokia and OSIsoft.
The Streamr Marketplace connects data producers and consumers through a web-based application where data consumers can pay for access to real-time data streams listed by data providers. For example, a recent partnership between Streamr and Hewlett Packard Enterprise will allow vehicle data to be monetized in real-time. Vehicles generate data that is usable to third parties — it might be used to gauge traffic through a geographic region, or to fine-tune traffic signals, or to schedule road work, etc. Rather than just giving that data away for free, vehicle owners can make use of the Streamr Marketplace to monetize and trade that data.
Streamr’s agreement with Nokia — a multinational telecommunications, information technology and consumer electronics provider — will focus on developing the next generation of mobile base stations and allow Nokia customers to monetize their data through a range of IoT sensors and devices. The integration of Nokia’s Kuha transportable base stations into the Streamr Marketplace will allow users of the base stations to buy and sell data worldwide.
Martti Ylikoski, radio system evolution lead at Nokia, commented, “Providing smart mobile coverage for up to four billion individuals across the world is a major challenge and current solutions don’t go far enough.”
Ylikoski noted that there has been a growing movement of empowered mobile customers who want to control and monetize their own data. “Our partnership with Streamr reflects our firm belief in the platform, as well as our commitment to better serve our customers.”
Meanwhile, Streamr’s partnership with OSIsoft will aim to enable new business cases and data sharing solutions not yet available on the market. OSIsoft is an industry leader in operational intelligence, delivering an open enterprise infrastructure to connect sensor-based data, systems and people.
The OSIsoft PI System is a suite of data-collection software with the ability to analyze, visualize and share data, as well as compare historical and real-time information, resulting in key insights that help companies to improve, optimize and transform their business.
Richard Beeson, CTO of OSIsoft, said, “By integrating OSIsoft’s PI System with the Streamr Marketplace, we take a step toward offering our customers the ability to share and monetize their operations data. The partnership with Streamr demonstrates how the PI system can plug into an open source platform and highlights our commitment to empowering our customers to maximize the value of their business operations data. Together with Streamr, we can be the enablers of innovation in the ever-evolving data market.”
This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.
“Travel is expensive, but we are at the cusp of a revolution that will democratize travel and leisure for everyone,” reads the breathless white paper for HoweyCoins. “The Internet was the first part of the revolution. The other part is blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.”
“I’m all about HoweyCoins – this thing is going to pop at the top!” writes @boxingchamp1934, an official celebrity backer of the token. The website is full of beautiful beaches features a handsome team of international men and women and the technology is nowhere to be seen, buried under a sea of excitement. The white paper is complete and well-written, focusing on the upside that is to come. Riches await if you invest in HoweyCoin, the latest ICO opportunity from trusted folks.
Or do they?
They don’t. All that breathless optimism is a site created by US Securities Exchange Commission to warn investors of scams and issues associated with token sales. The site features all the trademarks of a scammy security token including tiered pre-sale pricing and an urgent countdown clock.
The site features a number of red flags that the SEC encourages users to watch out for including, most importantly, claims that tokens can only go up in value. They write:
Every investment carries some degree of risk, which is reflected in the rate of return you can expect to receive. High returns entail high risks, possibly including a total loss on the investments. Most fraudsters spend a lot of time trying to convince investors that extremely high returns are “guaranteed” or “can’t miss.”
The SEC also notes that “it is never a good idea to make an investment decision just because someone famous says a product or service is a good investment” and that it is never a good idea to invest with a credit card.
They also warn against pump and dump language found on many ICO pages. “Our past two pumps have doubled value for the period immediately after the pump for returns of over 225%,” wrote the HoweyCoin “creators,” a giant no-no in the world of investing.
You can read the rest of the red flags here.
While the site is fairly comical, it is sufficiently complete and would fool the casual observer. The SEC also posted a real-looking white paper which makes it clear that anyone can string together a few buzzwords can write a passable investment prospectus. That this is now a service available to anyone – for a price – makes things even scarier.
The site is part of the SEC’s outreach efforts to help investors understand ICOs.
“Strong investor protection is part of what makes American markets so strong…and striking the balance, [between innovation and investor protection] is very important,” said Chief of the SEC Cyber Unit Robert Cohen at Consensus this week. During the same panel the SEC claimed its doors were always open for questions.
Ultimately there is little separating the scams from the real token sales. This is a problem. The SEC is framing this problem in their own way based on decades of dealing with pink sheet pump and dumps and bogus get rich quick schemes. While HoweyCoins may not be real there are plenty of scammers out there and at least something like this bogus website makes it easier to spot the warning signs.
Crypto wallets can’t remain crypto wallets for long. There is so much competition and so many scammers that value-added features like financial services are de rigueur. BRD knows this quite well and is putting $32 million behind the platform to grow out the features and cryptocurrencies supported on their popular app.
Founded by Aaron Voisine, Adam Traidman, and Aaron Lasher, the company started out as a side product called Bread Wallet. BRD, say the founders, was the first iOS bitcoin wallet in the App Store.
The team has 1.1 million users in 170 countries and 76% of those are iOS. They’ve received 71% of their customers in the past year, a fact that attests to the recent popularity of cryptocurrencies. They have $6 billion of crypto assets under protection.
The team has also partnered with Changelly to help transfer more tokens than Bitcoin and Ethereum – including their own BRD token.
How did they raise the money? By token sale, of course. They ran a $12 million presale and a $20 million crowd sale, resulting in a combine Seed and A round that would make most fintech orgs blush.
The team is most proud of their focus on decentralization.
“We’ve made our name around security, first and foremost. That’s what most the miners and dev crowd know us for, as the most secure way to hold and protect all their cryptoassets,” said Voisine. “The assets themselves are not stored in any centralized system within BRD. A transaction on BRD connects directly to the blockchain and are synced in real-time. There is literally nothing to steal from BRD, since we’re not holding a single asset ourselves… even though we have over $6B USD under protection.”
Further, they are offering BRD Rewards that will let BRD users get discounts and other benefits. This is an effort to “bring a much better balance between fees and utilization.”
“We want to be the service for first-time buyers of crypto. We want to be the most popular onramp for consumers into the crypto economy,” he said.
Lasher feels that his mission is far more interesting than just making an iOS wallet. He sees this as a philosophical change that will bring new understanding of the importance of crypto.
“If sending money globally as easily as an email doesn’t impress you, how about the ability to store your life savings in your head, then walking your family across a war-torn border to safety?” he said.
Digital identity company Netki just made it easier for companies launching token sales to onboard their customers in a way that keeps them compliant with existing security laws.
The Los Angeles-based company announced today, May 15, 2018, at Consensus 2018 in New York City that it is adding investor validation to its existing know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) solution. The service allows investors to upload requisite documents via a web browser or mobile app.
Compliance is a huge concern for ICO projects right now. Regulators are in the midst of trying to decide how to label virtual currencies, and it is looking as if they may rule that many existing tokens are non-compliant securities.
Earlier this year, for instance, Jay Clayton, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), said that, in his view, ICOs are “like a stock offering.” And, last month, at an MIT Tech Review event, Gary Gensler, former chairman of the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission, went so far as to advise virtual currency projects that “if you do an issuance now, in April of 2018, do it under the U.S. securities laws.”
As an alternative to doing an initial private offering (IPO), which requires projects to register with the SEC, many virtual currency projects are opting to structure their ICOs under exemptions, like regulation D and others, that limit token sales to accredited investors who can bear the risk of buying an unregulated security. These investors have to meet certain financial and economic requirements as spelled out by the SEC.
Netki’s existing structure allows an investor who wants to participate in a token sale to use their phone or computer to take a “selfie” along with photos of their driver’s license or passport to show they are who they say they are. Netki now goes a step further by also making it easy for an investor to upload documents that prove his or her income and asset holdings to show they are accredited.
Without an automated solution like Netki’s, virtual currency projects would otherwise have to onboard customers manually or outsource the work to lawyers.
“Doing it with their lawyers would be super expensive; doing it in-house would be slightly expensive and quite tedious and also prone to error,” Netki CEO and co-founder Justin Newton told Bitcoin Magazine.
He explained that Netki also uses algorithms to make sure the IDs are authentic. “We have a computer vision machine learning system that looks at every pixel of the ID for evidence of tampering,” he said.
Once the financial data is collected, Netki has a network of third-party lawyers and professionals who can validate the documents and provide letters of attestation.
Netki says it never sees investors’ income data. “We just know that they met the standard and the only person that saw that was the professional who was doing that validation via confidentiality,” Newton said.
Once the customer onboarding is completed, Netki wipes the ID and income data from its system. “We don’t want to become a central PII [personal identity information] repository,” Newton said.
Netki was founded by Justin Newton and wife Dawn Newton in July 2014. The following year, the duo launched a product called Wallet Name Service, which allows people to send bitcoin to human readable addresses. That product is still alive and kicking, says Newton. Over the last few years, however, Netki’s development efforts have focused on identity solutions. A year ago, it launched its digital ID service for KYC and AML.
“We saw identity, and specifically identity as it relates to risk and compliance, as one of the key enabling technologies for blockchain,” Newton said. In moving toward that goal, Netki raised $3.6 million in seed funding in July 2016.
This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.
Peer-to-peer marketplace Paxful has announced plans to construct a blockchain technology incubation hub in Lagos, Nigeria. The project — set to be launched this coming fall — will provide a coworking space for company staffers and offer services like networking for ICO advisors, corporate and individual blockchain training, and mentorship for Nigerian blockchain developers.
In recent years, Bitcoin’s popularity in Africa has experienced massive swells. Many residents do not have applicable access to traditional finance options due in part to inflation, strict monetary regulation and government corruption, and Bitcoin has provided them with the freedom and support they need to survive and purchase daily necessities.
Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, CEO Ray Youssef commented, “Paxful is committed to fostering economic growth in Africa and helping the unbanked and underbanked gain access to the opportunities they have been denied for so long. The incubator is simply a starting point to help driven entrepreneurs in an industry that has shattered boundaries all over the world.”
The company has also brought Chuta Chimezie — based in Nigeria — on board to serve as the company’s regional director of Africa. His duties will include facilitating local and international brand awareness, conducting business operations, recruiting and overseeing the incubator’s day-to-day dealings, and developing the company’s educational content.
“It is a privilege to work with an organization that believes in investing in countries with great potential such as Nigeria,” he explained. “Paxful’s initiatives have not only helped those in great need here, but are also helping African entrepreneurs achieve their full potential. Paxful is using Bitcoin to do good in the world.”
Prior to his newfound role, Chimezie founded the Blockchain Nigeria User Group — an organization of both blockchain entrepreneurs and advocates committed to furthering blockchain use within the country’s borders. He has also developed reference texts for African regulators to help them better understand cryptocurrencies and how they work.
Currently, Paxful is planning to sponsor several blockchain events in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Kenya. Previously, executives launched the #BuiltwithBitcoin charitable program to persuade cryptocurrency enthusiasts to fund ongoing humanitarian projects in Africa, and began the initiative with a $50,000 donation toward the construction of a new nursery school in Rwanda.
Paxful has over 1.7 million monthly users and operates on open-source Bitcoin and blockchain technology. The platform allows users to purchase, sell or accept bitcoin almost instantly, while its global wallet works to exchange or “translate” funds regardless of type. Entities like gift cards, for example, can be converted to other gift cards, cash or cryptocurrency.
In addition, Paxful offers over 300 different payment methods, the most popular being bank transfers, Amazon Pay and PayPal.
This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.
As we plunge into our baffling future, it is believed that, at some point, we will be trading in cryptographically secure kittens, monsters, and playing cards. While it is unclear why this will happen, Rare Bits and their new service, Fan Bits, is ready for the oncoming rush.
Founded by Daniel Lee, a former Zynga/FarmVille employee, the company trades in digital goods. Lee brought in a team of ex-Zynga and other digital platform creators to build a blockchain -based solution for buying and selling digital collectables. For example, on Rare Bits you can buy this monster and battle it against other monsters on the Blockchain. Further, with their new platform called Fan Bits, you can buy actual collectables that are tied to the Blockchain. For example, you can sell collectable cards and give some of the proceeds to to charity. If the new owner resells those cards then some of the resell price also goes to charity, an interesting if slightly intrusive use of smart contracts.
The team has raised $6 million in Series A. Fan Bits launches on May 17.
“To date, collectible content has only been created by developers for their own dapps – which I suppose could be considered our competition,” said Lee. “Fan Bits is the first to let anyone, especially people who are not technical, to create collectibles. It will create an abundance of supply that didn’t exist before.”
“We started Rare Bits to let people buy, sell, and discover crypto assets. We believe that assets on the blockchain mark a fundamental shift in how we own and exchange property. Our overall mission is to enable the worldwide exchange of online and offline property on the blockchain,” he said.
Lee sees this as a Trojan horse of sorts, allowing non tech-savvy creators sell digital art and designs online without having to understand the vagaries of blockchain.
“For creators, it’s a DIY platform to turn their content into unique collectibles and earn Ethereum on every sale,” he said. “For the first time, a creator can go from idea to published cryptocollectible on a live marketplace without having to have any technical knowledge.”
Given the popularity of other digital collectables – including in-game gear for many multi-player games – things look like they’re going to get pretty interesting in the next few years.
On May 4, 2018, at EDCON in Toronto, Canada, the Huobi Group announced its plans to expand to the Canadian market with a fully operational office in Toronto by the end of the year. This expansion marks the blockchain asset company’s second move into North America this year after setting up operations in San Francisco, and it comes just weeks after Huobi announced it would be opening European operations with an office in London, as well.
The expansion will include “all the arms of the Huobi Group,” General Manager of Huobi Canada, Ross Zhang, told Bitcoin Magazine. As such, besides its cryptocurrency exchange, Huobi Capital’s investment funding, Huobi’s Ecofund and Huobi Labs’ consulting services will be available to Canadian blockchain startups to foster innovative solutions and accelerate adoption.
We want to build a strong ecosystem. We want to make the ecosystem bigger and stronger for this industry.
With offices in Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and the United States, the Huobi Group represents Huobi.Pro exchange, Huobi Labs blockchain incubator, Huobi Capital investment fund, and Huboi’s international brands. The Group’s exchange arm, perhaps its most recognizable brand, consistently ranks in the top ten digital asset exchanges by 24hr volume, and according to Huobi Group records, it saw some $981.5 billion in trades in February alone. In response to the Chinese government’s tightening regulations, Huobi shut down exchange services in October of 2017.
Now, as the Huobi Group extends its reach into Canada, the organization is making a point to “recruit Canadian talent,” Zhang indicated, working with a variety of organizations to enrich local and global blockchain ecosystems alike.
“Even though we started in China in 2013, we (Huobi Canada) are a Canadian company. We want to be as local as possible,” said Zhang, who has himself worked in Canada for the past 10 years. “We want to work with local communities — not just dev communities but also fintech, local businesses, funds and financial service companies.”
Huobi chose to add Canada to its growing base of operations for its favorable regulatory environment and its policy makers’ dedication to fostering a safe trading environment for investors. In order to do its part in representing its clients’ best interests, said Zhang, “Huobi Canada plans to work with law firms, accounting firms and regulators, on the exchange side and on the whole ecosystem.”
So far, Huobi does not have an established on-and-off ramp for fiat deposits and withdrawals for their exchange, but Zhang says that they are in the process of working out their banking relationships in Canada.
Even as major credit card companies have shuttered payments for cryptocurrency services and investments, Canada continues to see record-high trading volumes in 2018, as citizens are turning to over-the-counter exchange options like LocalBitcoins for cash-in-hand, person-to-person transactions.
This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.
Nearly every aspect of the current ICO market is pay-for-play or otherwise tainted. I do not paint the industry with such a broad brush lightly but this sort of chicanery hasn’t existed since the heyday of print media when journalists – myself included – took long, convoluted trips to distant headquarters where they enjoyed, as I wrote back in 2007, “suckling on the sweet teat of junket whoredom.”
The ICO market is hot right now and there is money flowing from hand to hand in a torrent. One litigious company I spoke to took $10,000 to write a white paper and then returned a two page squib, refusing ultimately to refund a founder’s money. Another company, below, is sponsoring an all-inclusive trip to Seoul for a press conference. Other companies take $400,000 or more to manage your ICO, offering PR and services look to have been cobbled together in a rush yet promise millions in returns.
Any time there is a gold rush there are carpet baggers. Any time there is a bubble there are those who would take advantage of it. And anywhere there is a new, unregulated way to make – or raise – millions of dollars you’d better believe there is someone skimming.
Arguably not everyone knows the rules. They are, quite simply: don’t take free stuff in exchange for positive coverage and don’t take trips. Most tech journalists have a closet full of junk that needs to go back to manufacturers but they should never expect cash from a manufacturer to smooth things along. Junkets are dangerous primarily because they cloud a journalist’s judgment. You can imagine Syria sponsoring a fancy junket into its war zone to understand the extreme chilling effect and bias this would introduce.
Further, the other services – legal, PR, social media – that are cropping up in the market are taking a huge cut and often stand unchallenged. ICOs are hard work and very confusing. Instructions, to say the least, are unclear and anyone who has done one successfully – including this team that simulated and exit scam to send people to their ICO consultancy – is considered a global expert. It’s as if someone discovered a working Bloomberg terminal an abandoned building and then began telling everyone they could make them millions. It’s not that easy.
Ultimately these barnacles will be shaken off. TechCrunch was born out of the confusion of the second startup boom and, in turn, this created the modern VC industry, the modern pitch-off, and the accelerator. The good guys, so to speak, outnumbered the pay-for-play “incubators” and the rapacious investors and created what you see to day: a tame but useful system for unlocking wealth. Now that that system has been supplanted – and make no mistake: VC is over – the new organism has its own parasites and none of them are particularly new.
This does not mean the current system is perfect. Angel funding is almost impossible to find outside of major cities. Team and a dream has been replaced by team and multi-million dollar revenue. VC has become a spectator sport and its practitioners are – or feel like – rock stars. There is plenty of nastiness in that business.
But crypto is a different beast entirely.
“Everyone I talk to in this space is corrupt,” railed one founder to me last week. He didn’t know where to turn so he did it all himself. It worked, but not without much trial and error.
Another founder is handing out legal documents his legal team produced for him because he was sick they cost so much. Given that the average equity investment in a startup requires one document and a handshake, to spend upwards of $100,000 for documentation galls. Add in an opaque, hype-filled market and a secretive investment class and you get an explosive mixture.
This will not lost. The barnacles will fall off. But until then it’s sad that such a promising technology will be tainted by the behavior of a few growth marketers who are using the techniques they learned selling penis pills to sell securities. Don’t expect financial authorities to cut these cheaters down, either. That can only be done by the market, a market that knows when enough is enough and that it shouldn’t cost dumb money to raise smart money.
You can’t pay for coverage. You shouldn’t charge to pitch. You shouldn’t make profit on wild inequity. But people will do these things and more and things will not change until the entire industry – from the founders to the service companies to the investors to the media – agrees to scrape them off.