I'm helping to hold the first ICO pitch-off in New York at Knotel on April 23 at 7pm. I invite all ICO and crypto startups to apply here and I'll pick eight to pitch. We'll hold a panel on ICO launches as well with a few well-known folks in the space. BYOB and snacks, please, as this is an unfunded community event. This is being held in conjunction with TokenReporter and Strike.
Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 7:00 PM
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A quick thought
NASA and the University of Akron are working on using ethereum blockchain technology to enhance space communication and navigations. The technology is meant to help spacecraft achieve more tasks and collect more data, and at the same time, it will give scientists the opportunity to respond to environmental threats, like space debris (a real problem. How many dead satellites are there? Lots.) We need to get beyond thinking of things as solely about currency, and think about how this touches every part of our world in ways that aren’t always obvious.
Two token sales to watch 👁️
Wi-Fi still matters. We hear a lot of noise about 5G and it replacing ISPs (meet the new boss, same as the old boss), and the truth is that none of that changes the utility in Wi-Fi being widely available. So how do we get there? There are a few ICOs pursuing this. Mostly, they all are some variation of the old ‘run a guest network, get credits for letting strangers use it’. The problem is that none of these ever really got enough of a network effect for it to matter. World Wi-Fi hopes this time is different. In their favor, they have two successful projects, a hotspot company, and an ad network focused on Wi-Fi advertising. The goal this time is to piggy back off those earlier successes by creating a decentralized Wi-Fi network supported by watching video adverts to gain usage on an access point. The token will be used to buy advertising and pay router owners for serving the video ads. The whitepaper should shed some more light on the project.
NKN (New Kind of Network) is (in their own words) “aiming to rebuild the Internet that will be truly open, decentralized, dynamic, safe, shared and owned by the community.” This is the sort of talk we’re hearing a lot today, but everyone has differing ideas about how to go about it. Jaron Lanier wants to remake the Internet into one where users pay micropayments for everything, so there’s no incentive to capitalize on user data. NKN thinks they can remake the Internet more in its original image, as a resource owned by everyone, for everyone. To mold a new reality, closer to the heart, in the words of Geddy Lee. The plan here is to use the blockchain to make sure the network layer is equitable, and reduce network inefficiencies, too. If anyone could create a scalable, secure, mesh network, it would be this team. The founders are all Google, Qualcomm, Nokia, Ericsson, and Microsoft alums, the lead is a Linux Kernel networking contributor, and their advisor is Whitfield Diffie, who invented Diffie-Hellmen public key encryption. What’s the token for? “We intend to tokenize the participators‘ data transmission capability”. As always, read the whitepaper, but this is one to watch.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 😊😠👹
😊GOOD: According to a report dated April 11th, Dubai’s leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid revealed the new direction of UAE’s industry. The country’s “UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021” aspires to become a world leader in adopting blockchain technology — an initiative, which is an extension of Dubai’s endeavor to become the world’s first blockchain city with its own cryptocurrency.
Sheikh Mohammed explains that “This technology will save time, effort and resources and enable individuals to conduct most of their transactions in a timely manner that suits their lifestyle and work.”
Applied on the state level, blockchain technology can save AED 11 billion spent on bureaucracy and spare countless hours of office work. UAE’s plan focuses on development of four areas: “citizen and resident happiness, government efficiency, advanced legislation, and global entrepreneurship.”
“UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021” comes at the toes of other blockchain-based projects that are a part of Dubai 10x initiative that aims to “always be 10 years ahead of other world cities.” Earlier this year Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority announced its vehicle lifecycle management system that would allow customers to track their car’s history in a transparent and simple way. Other projects include tourism industry’s revolutionary Tourism 2.0, the real-estate industry initiative, and immediate response by Dubai’s Ambulance Services.
Malta’s authorities take a similar approach. This small European island in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea is on its way to become a cryptocurrency hub. Malta Digital Innovation Authority is setting favorable guidelines for blockchain-based businesses, which are explained in detail in “Malta — A leader in DLT Regulation.”
A month ago, a major cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced its move to Malta. In a post Binance’s CEO and founder Zhao Changpeng explained: “After meeting with Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Silvio Schembri, we were impressed by the logical, clear and forward thinking nature of Malta’s leadership.”
“Malta’s Virtual Financial Asset Act is a solid foundation for the industry and the government to work together in fostering the nascent blockchain/digital asset industry,” says Tim Byun, OKEx’s Chief Risk Officer and Head of Government Relations. “Malta’s sound risk-based approach will help cultivate a responsible, compliant, and healthy ecosystem.”
On April 13th, Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) released a “Consultation Paper on the Financial Instrument Test.” The test would be a requirement in the context of ICOs and DLT assets to determine whether a DLT asset falls under EU and traditional financial regulations or Malta’s proposed Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFAA). The document takes into account a consultation period as MFSA is looking for feedback from the industry before implementing any regulations.
😠BAD: JP Morgan Chase & Co, a multinational investment bank and financial services provider, was sued for charging undeclared fees to customers who bought cryptocurrency. Back in January, the bank stopped letting its customers buy crypto with credit cards, and since then it began treating the purchases as cash advances.
JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Virgin Money, Citigroup had all banned their customers from purchasing cryptocurrency with credit cards. This move was a response to the dramatic fall in the value of Bitcoin.
The class action lawsuit is aimed directly at the extra fees and sky-high interest rates on the cash advances, accusing Chase of violating the U.S. Truth in Lending Act, which requires credit card issuers to notify its customers in writing of any significant change in charges or terms.
Brady Tucker, the plaintiff, claims the bank charged him $143.30 in fees and $20.61 in interest for cryptocurrency transactions in January and February.
👹UGLY: A crypto-exchange Bitfinex is under investigation over money laundering in Poland, Europe. Polish authorities seized over PLN 1.3 milliard ($382 million) from bank accounts. The laundered money is said to belong to Colombian drug cartels and a Panama registered company. Polish prosecutors are coordinating with both Europol and Interpol due to the international nature of the allegations.
“Bitfinex can confirm that it is aware of the current allegations that have been reported by Polish media over the past several hours,” the spokesperson said. “Bitfinex believes that these allegations are untrue and Bitfinex customers and operations are unaffected by false rumors.”
Darryn Pollock of CoinTelegraph comments: “While Polish police are unwinding a tale of drug trafficking and money laundering, the connections of those activities to Bittinex are tenuous at best.”
The investigation is ongoing.
Indiana-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinsecure revealed that 438.318 Bitcoins ($3.3 million) were stolen from its service. The company explained that on April 9th its CSO’s system was compromised.
Coinsecure accuses its chief security officer Dr. Amitabh Saxena for not following the standard protocol, which resulted in the hack. A cybercrime unit in New Delhi investigating the matter says, "We feel that he is making a false story to divert our attention and he might have a role to play in this entire incident."
In a letter issued on April 14th, Coinsecure promises to recover all of the lost BTC, but if that happens to be impossible, customers will get refunds.
On April 12th, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released Mastercard’s patent application that describes a blockchain-based system used to receive and store identity data. Its purpose is to prevent identity thefts and fake IDs by only permitting authorized nodes to submit and update the system data.
It is only one of many blockchain-related applications filed by Mastercard. Last September another filing proposed a solution that aims to speed up transition settlement times. In November the company filed a patent describing a system of guaranteed electronic transitions to record “purchase orders, invoices [and] transaction data.”
Mastercard is, no doubt, aiming to become a key player in blockchain-led innovation, recently looking to hire 175 technology developers.
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