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Blockchain Utilitarianism: Solutions People Can Use

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Mainstream blockchain adoption is on the lips of many pundits and analysts due to the proliferation of token-investment.

For example, one in five university students in the US have been reported to hold either Bitcoin or another currency as of August 2018; whilst simultaneously there has been an incremental convergence of government and big industry with blockchain.

These are unions between traditional power-holders, and innovators within a new sector: with the demands of business being satisfied thanks to vast institutional funding and support.

Whilst these relationships present a potentially positive future for each party, they do not speak to the utilitarian value that crypto can offer to the average person – rather than its value as a currency alone.

For that reason, we have decided to present four of our favourite new projects which are seeking to offer solutions that have value derived from real people can do with them, rather than other machines or protocol.

#1. Blockfolio

Cryptocurrency portfolio management solutions are a competitive sector. Beyond ‘top 10’ clickbait lists, even a browse of community resources like Reddit result in a vast assortment of threads featuring individuals asking, “what is the best portfolio management software?”

Blockfolio (founded in 2014) is one of the most well-known offerings in the space and has amassed several million users. The company made headlines mid-October due to having raised a $11.5 million in Series A funding led by famed crypto hedge fund Pantera Capital.

Key features include support for tracking over 6,000 cryptocurrencies, over 300 exchanges as well as multiple portfolio capabilities. Another feature that has helped the project stand out from the pack is “Blockfolio Signal”, which is a feature that allows crypto teams to broadcast update messages to their communities.

Notable teams on-boarded amongst the 100+ actively utilizing the Signal beta platform so far include Ethereum Classic, Augur, 0x, Monero, and Dash.

#2. BitMart

BitMart is a cryptocurrency exchange which this writer has been following for some time. They have made bold attempt at implementing a community token-voting investment system, and one that has otherwise received dire controversy due to failed attempts by rivals – alongside a lack of community evidence to fully verify their integrity.

According to CoinMarketCap, Bitmart ranks at number 15th on the list of ‘Top 100 Cryptocurrency Exchanges by Trade Volume (adjusted)’.

Since last I wrote on the company, the response to ‘Mission X’ has been largely positive – with the team having established valuable partnerships with a wide range of tokens.

Though the consensus (like for many blockchain projects at present) is yet to be fully confirmed, BitMart has been pushing forwards nevertheless – with frequent detailed statistical reports being released on a weekly basis. Two of their most recent releases are fully-featured iOS and Android based apps – featuring highly accessible user interfaces and support services.

These mobile applications incorporate many of the core features present in its bigger desktop cousin, with the added functionality of push notifications and instant updates for the market as well as your chosen coin. Another appealing aspect of BitMart is their ‘Investment Lab’, a fundraising hub for new ERC-20, NEP-5 and Stellar Smart Contract tokens.

‘Investment Lab’ is intrinsically linked to the BMX market, which is an OTC exchange where investors can purchase and trade different fiat and crypto-assets. In fact, the site boasts 53 trading pairs at present with all new listings being thoroughly verified by an in-house coin review team

#3. Ares Tech

From arcade-machines, to home consoles and smartphone apps: video-games have had a long and storied history with digital currencies.

It began as the exchange of pocket change in return for ‘credits’ which could be exchanged for a round of play and has since become ubiquitous across all forms of interactive entertainment. More recent examples include ‘points’, and these are used to purchase from a library intellectual property and services. See Xbox Live, and ‘Free-to-play’ business models, as well as purchasable digital games.

The problem is that the market leading service platforms which facilitate these purchases are centralized (Steam, Xbox, etc), and the currency is complete non-fungible in most cases to comply with various legislation. The only exception for this is gambling.

Another symptom of a select handful of platform-holders is a monopolisation of hardware and software distribution and licensing rights, resulting in astronomical fees and barriers to entry for independent creators.

Ares Tech claims to have identified and created a solution for the disparate nature of ‘social game’ development in particular, producing a unified set of tools. Use and adoption of this framework will (if according to plan) allow for interoperability between different software titles. User data for example, and profile assets could be used to log-in to multiple games whilst protecting the participants data through blockchain storage and encryption.

It will be open source and with all games to be published on GitHub. Ares promises to allow for the browsing and management of assets and currencies in one unified interface and include BTC and ETH with protocols: ERC20, ERC233, ERC721, and ERC998.

#4. MenloOne

MenloOne is an open-source framework which aims to streamline the development process for decentralized applications (DApps) and resolve pre-existing constraints that are conducive to poor user-experience, performance and security.

Their latest news is the release of their first DApp to be built using their framework, entitled ‘Block Overflow’. It acts as a use-case and potential precursor to their MVP which apes ‘Stack Overflow’ which is a well-known Q/A website aimed at the software development community.

The proposed hook is that the problem-solving process will be expedited by offering user queries as bounties with time-sensitive rewards. Block Overflow also utilises the ‘Townhall’ communication layer which was created to attribute token-based user rewards (as per the team’s technical roadmap).

With a strong team and whitepaper there, team has a strong chance is a strong chance that the team is poised for success in the accomplishment of their ambitious and disruptive goals.

Founder and CEO Matt Nolan is also known for his position as a speaker and resident at TED as well as having previously worked at blue-chip companies like JP Morgan and IBM; whilst COO David Dawson is a veteran engineer formerly of Microsoft where he worked on flagship projects such as Windows, Xbox and Office.

This project was brought to this writers’ attention when it was listed in articles such as a recent Forbes list comprising the ‘Top 10 New Blockchain Companies to Watch For in 2018’ – alongside the likes of Gameflip.

#5. Unification

Singapore based Unification is one such project and hopes to carry the torch of a blockchain based ‘sovereign identity.’ This is a concept that numerous “ICO’s” have tried and failed out, mainly because the predecessors have attempted to outreach to consumers directly or asked “DApps” to build within their proprietary walled garden.

Unification is doing it a little differently, focusing on the decentralized UVCID identity protocol and instead of asking companies to build from scratch – they are integrating with existing enterprises through a structured outreach program to non-blockchain based apps and enterprises.

It exists in a diametric opposition to the status quo – in which users submit their information to separate platforms (from market leaders like Facebook and Twitter, to smaller businesses, and e-commerce merchants like Amazon). What’s more, the storage of this information has been proven to be less than secure in many examples – with an opaque representation of statistics to customers, and absolute anonymity.

For example, you would be more likely to see the Unification team at CES or Mobile World Congress bringing over the uninitiated than to be meeting with the same people over and over again at the same crypto conference. This outwardly looking enterprise model is refreshing and indicative of our industry evolving past the initial speculative bubble into building toolkits for practical applications.

Earlier this year Unification debuted the prototype demo of its flagship product: an interface called ‘BABEL’ is aimed at businesses and utilises a C++ smart contract protocol to standardize interoperable data into a single and unified format which can be used on any participating platform. It also allows for the integration of existing mainstream applications and decentralized apps (DApps).

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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TD Ameritrade Backs Regulated Cryptocurrency Exchange

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One of America’s largest brokerage firms is betting big on the continued growth of cryptocurrencies. To that end, TD Ameritrade has announced it is backing a new platform that gives retail traders the ability to access both bitcoin spot and bitcoin futures.

TD Ameritrade Enters Crypto

The U.S. brokerage firm, which controls $1.2 trillion in assets, has made a strategic investment in ErisX, a regulated crypto exchange offering access to crypto spot and futures markets. According to CNBC, which broke the news on Wednesday, the exchange will be fully regulated by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). However, certain product offerings are pending approval.

ErisX will be backed by Virtu Capital, which provides high-speed trading infrastructure.

In addition to bitcoin and bitcoin futures, the new platform will allow traders to purchase Ethereum, bitcoin cash and Litecoin at spot prices. The narrow selection of cryptocurrencies mirrors that of Coinbase, a San Francisco-based exchange with more than 13 million users. Although Coinbase offers one additional cryptocurrency – Ethereum Classic – and is planning to add more, it only supports spot trading and not futures.

“It’s a young product in fast moving ecosystem, and while bitcoin may not have the same demand as it did in December, there is still demand nonetheless,” JB Mackenzie, managing director, told CNBC.

“We listened to our customers – what we continued to hear was that they wanted access to trade digital currency products.”

Crypto Markets are Here to Stay

TD Ameritrade’s crypto venture is the latest in a series of efforts by traditional players to establish a foothold in the enigmatic sector. Banks, hedge funds and stock exchange operators are all pivoting toward cryptocurrencies and blockchain despite the yearlong downtrend in prices.

The latest effort by TD Ameritrade is especially important given the broker’s focus on retail traders.  Until now, it has been assumed that the next great crypto bull market will be driven by institutional capital. This belief isn’t unfounded; after all, retail interest in crypto has dwindled over the past six months as the novelty of the market wore off. But a platform like ErisX could attract an entirely different segment to cryptocurrency: experienced stock and ETF traders looking to diversify into other markets.

As CNBC noted in its report, TD Ameritrade currently has about 11 million users who collectively execute 780,000 trades per day. As ErisX is rolled out, investors should keep tabs on whether existing Ameritrade users will be provided seamless access to the new platform.

Developments like ErisX give long-term holders of cryptocurrencies more reason to be optimistic about the future. With the exception of Tom Lee and a few others, most market participants have come to terms with the idea that an imminent bull market is not in the cards. In the absence of eye-popping returns, investors can still take solace in the fact that crypto adoption is growing in all the right circles.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 701 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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Coinbase Closer to SEC Registration Following Purchase of Keystone Capital

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Digital currency exchange Coinbase is “on track” to obtain federal securities registration after it acquired Keystone Capital for an undisclosed amount. For all intents and purposes, the acquisition could allow Coinbase to operate as a broker-dealer in the fast-growing market for initial coin offerings (ICOs).

 Coinbase Acquires Keystone

In a statement released late on Wednesday, Coinbase announced it had obtained a broker-deal license, an alternative trading system (ATS) and a registered investment advisor (RIA) designation through its acquisition of California-based Keystone Capital Corp. In doing so, the exchange moves one step closer to offering blockchain-based assets such as cryptocurrencies and security tokens.

The licenses are still pending regulatory approval of the Keystone sale. Once cleared, Coinbase intends to seek approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to begin offering security tokens.

“There are now many types of blockchain-based digital assets, from cryptocurrencies to security tokens to collectibles,” wrote Asiff Hirji, Coinbase’s President and COO. “In the United States, some of these assets will be subject to SEC oversight. With this in mind, securing these licenses will bring us a step closer to our goal, which is to be the most trusted way for our customers to buy, sell, and use many different types of crypto assets.”

Quest for Institutional Capital

The acquisition of Keystone comes less than a month after Coinbase launched a suite of products targeting institutional investors. By introducing Coinbase Custody, Coinbase Markets, Coinbase Prime and The Coinbase Institutional Coverage Group, the exchange aims to unlock as much as $10 billion in institutional capital currently sitting on the sidelines.

Coinbase believes that the future of cryptocurrency will be driven by institutional capital compared with the first bull market that was largely attributed to retail traders. This is certainly consistent with the seismic shift toward blockchain technology currently underway on Wall Street and Main Street.

Although mainstream crypto adoption is still a long ways away, major institutions like Goldman Sachs have already announced they are entering the market. Several others, such as Barclays and Deutsche Borse, are still investigating consumer appetite for blockchain-based products.

Efforts to bring bitcoin under the umbrella of exchange-traded funds (EFTs) are also ongoing. On Tuesday, VanEck submitted another application to the SEC for a new bitcoin-linked ETP that is backed by actual units of the virtual currency. About a dozen or so similar applications have been rejected or withdrawn since January.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 701 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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Coinbase Instant Buy Program May Be Fueling Bitcoin’s Meteoric Rise

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As bitcoin’s market value surges past $92 billion, a key announcement by cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase could be a driving factor behind the dramatic rally.

Coinbase Announces Instant Buy Program

Coinbase, the world’s most funded digital currency exchange, announced Thursday it is enabling U.S. investors to make instant purchases of up to $25,000 worth of bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. Previously, users had to wait several days to receive their coins.

“Reducing the time to receive digital currency has been a highly requested feature and we are pleased to provide this improved experience for our customers,” David Farmer, the director of Coinbase Communications, said in a Thursday blog.

The decision to go instant was also announced by Coinbase co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong via Twitter.

The San Francisco-based Coinbase was founded in 2012, and has more than 11 million users. It is widely considered to be one of the most accessible trading platforms enabling widespread access to the digital currency market.

Bitcoin prices peaked above $5,800 Friday, with prices fluctuating significantly before the Coinbase rollout.

IMF’s Lagarde Comments on Cryptocurrency Revolution

The International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde is closely monitoring the bitcoin market, and says the global lending institution should play a role in regulating the fin-tech industry going forward. The Managing Director of the Washington-based organization said financial institutions must carefully evaluate and understand the digital currency sphere without jumping to conclusions.

“I think we should be aware of not categorizing anything that has to do with digital currencies in those speculation, ponzi-like schemes,” she said, in reference to Jamie Dimon‘s assertion that cryptocurrency is equivalent to “fraud.”

“It’s a lot more than that as well,” she added.

Lagarde said that it was possible for the IMF to develop its own cryptocurrency at some point in the future. The protocol may operate in a similar fashion to the IMF’s Special Drawing Right (SDR), an international reserve asset.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 701 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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Hacked.com and its team members have pledged to reject any form of advertisement or sponsorships from 3rd parties. We will always be neutral and we strive towards a fully unbiased view on all topics. Whenever an author has a conflicting interest, that should be clearly stated in the post itself with a disclaimer. If you suspect that one of our team members are biased, please notify me immediately at jonas.borchgrevink(at)hacked.com.

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