Although greater progress has been made toward expanding financial inclusion, the majority of the world’s population still lacks access to a bank account. According to the World Bank, roughly 51% of the world’s adult population had no bank account in 2014. That’s down significantly from 62% in 2011, but still leaves 2 billion adults with no access to financial products and services.
Unbanked populations represent one of the biggest opportunities for financial institutions. The growth and widespread adoption of mobile devices has opened many doors for financial inclusion. Large swathes of the unbanked and underbanked want to achieve financial inclusion, but only if it makes sense for them. According to Accenture, there are three value propositions these populations need to enter institutional finance:
- Easy access: alternative distribution methods to physical banking infrastructure will go a long way to attracting the unbanked. That’s where mobile comes in.
- The right products: Financial products and services must be designed specifically to cater to the needs of emerging markets.
- Attractive to use: Services must address the dormant tendencies of low-income consumers.
It is against this backdrop that we evaluate LALA World, the blockchain company that seeks to use innovative technology to help unbanked populations achieve financial inclusion. The company has identified this as a $380 billion opportunity by the year 2020, so there’s plenty on the line.
To achieve its goals, LALA is developing an ecosystem centered on the following concepts:
- No regulation
- Instant settlement
- No branches
- Digital payments
- Low costs and fees
When we evaluation these markers against the points set out by Accenture, we see a lot of promise. The company’s whitepaper lays out this ecosystem using the following diagram:
When it comes to the unbanked, much of the solution that LALA is offering will be based on the forthcoming wallet service, which includes money transfer, crypto and fiat exchange, bill payment and lending services.
The company is launching an Ethereum-based token that will be the catalyst for the entire LALA ecosystem, which is itself backed by the LALA wallet platform. This single interface aims to connect the unbanked population with several development initiatives that extend far beyond the financial system. This includes employment, digital identification, government partnerships and health.
This concept is further elaborated in the whitepaper:
“LALA World (“LALA”) is a wholesome ecosystem for the unbanked, starting with the migrants and their families back home. The ecosystem not only revolves around financial inclusion, but also bringing together communities at grassroots level, solving real life issues faced by this population and using the most advanced technology to bring everyone together.”
Although the company is leaning heavily on the ERC20 protocol, it is also looking at ERC223 and may one day launch its own blockchain. No definitive steps have been laid out in the whitepaper.
Purchasers of the first 125 million LALA tokens are eligible to receive a loyalty bonus on their initial investment. This bonus is as high as 25% for the first 25 million tokens.
LALA’s team is headed by founder Sankalp Shangari, an ex-banker who has had stops at Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan Chase. He appears to have a solid track record dealing with government, banks and other financial institutions. This sort of preparation is needed for a project of this nature.
Shangari has four other core team members spanning revenue, technical, partnership and AVP technology domains. The advisory team is even bigger, and consists of blockchain experts from around the world. This may offset the lack of demonstrable blockchain experience at the main organizational level.
LALA is a highly ambitious project that seeks to go beyond bringing the unbanked online. It aims to revolutionize the way people, businesses and entrepreneurs transact, make payments and borrow money. The ICO has a solid profile, but may run into implementation risks as the size and scope of the project expands.
- Naturally, one of the biggest risks for this project is competition from the major financial institutions. Big banks have been eyeing the unbanked for quite some time, and are beginning to mobilize efforts to serve this massive market. This partly explains the huge uptake in bank enrollments in emerging markets in recent years. Investors are reminded that, although the unbanked population is huge, it has declined significantly as a percentage. -2.5
- For a project of this magnitude, implementation is a huge undertaking. LALA is pretty much looking to transform emerging markets with its platform. With a highly ambitious roadmap in place, investors need to consider implementation challenges building a platform that meets its lofty objectives. -2
- Although the core team is solid, we would have liked to see more blockchain experience at the top. This isn’t a huge risk given the blockchain expertise retained in the advisory role. That being said, this takes away slightly from the overall score. -1
- The company has a clear roadmap for implementation, including the launch of LALA 1.0 in April 2018. This will form the basis of the token’s mass adoption. The platform will be launched in ten countries initially. +3
- LALA already boasts strong partnerships with government, industry and community organizations, putting it one step closer to implementing its vision. +3
- LALA is offering an entire ecosystem of financial products and services. The more we look at it, the more it seems like an identity verification system for people in emerging markets. Each of the seven products outlined in the whitepaper has a clear business model with a definitive revenue stream. In other words, you know exactly how this company intends to generate revenue. +4
- In addition to early participation incentives, the ICO seeks to add value for long-term investors. Rewards, discounts, referral programs and voting rights are all part of the LALA investment opportunity. +2
When it comes to ICOs, LALA World is as solid as they come. A clearly defined business strategy aimed at a good cause should generate plenty of interest once the ICO launches in the new year. The author feels that a score of 6.5 out of 10 is warranted. This figure could easily rise should LALA convince local populations to adopt its services.
To be perfectly frank, there is nothing wrong with the token raise – it merely has a big vision that will take a lot of work to actualize. It also faces stiff competition from traditional finance.
- Type: Crowdsale
- Symbol: LALA
- Token Sale: Jan. 5, 2018 – Feb. 5, 2018
- Platform: Ethereum
- Total Amount to Sell: 150,000 ETH worth of LALA
- Payment Types: ETH, BTC, LTC
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
ICO Review: Rentberry
Rentberry is offering a decentralized home rental platform for long-term rentals, allowing for tenants and landlords to complete all rent-related tasks in a single location, while also eliminating the need for third-party middlemen and all.
The Rentberry ICO aims to transform the existing Rentberry platform, which has been around since 2015. The current long-term rental platform manages every step of the rental process, including everything from open houses to rent payments.
Rentberry increases transparency for renters employing an auctioning protocol, where tenants can customize their offers based on the competition and demand for a specific property. The protocol also provides landlords a tenant score that is calculated based on reviews, public information, and rental history.
Rentberry uses the blockchain to deploy their token (BERRY) to the existing Rentberry ecosystem. BERRY is to be used to pay rent and other third party services such as maintenance and housekeeping, as well as allowing roommates to split rent.
Rentberry plans to use the raised funds to fuel their international expansion and development of new features including the tenant scoring system, advanced apartment search algorithms, and crowdsourced community expansion.
Price: 1 ETH = 2,500 BERRY
Accepting: ETH, BTC
Minimum investment: 0.1 ETH / 250 BERRY
Soft cap: 3,000,000 USD
Hard cap: 30,000,000 USD
Rentberry has been around since 2015, and is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.
The CEO, Alex Lubinsky has history as a financial analyst at Cisco, a consultant at Deloitte, and worked at several investment firms.
The CTO, Aleksey Perfilov, studied Computer Science at UC Berkeley, then received a degree in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. He has experience as a software engineer at Phoenix Technologies, Hi5, Altera, and Amazon Music.
- The Rentberry team has quite a bit of work on their hands when it comes to onboarding new tenants. Their proprietary tenant scoring protocol is likely going to need a bunch of data to actually be effective. Being one of the main selling points for landlords, the tenant scoring system is heavily reliant on tenant adoption, which could pose to be a bottleneck to the process. They’re aiming to process 500,000 rental applications with 1,000,000 rental properties in 2018, and then 3.5m rental applications with 6m rental properties in 2019. -3
- I’m a bit wary of their ICO bonus structure. I understand use of bonuses to push incentivization, but as new investors hear about the ICO moving forward seeing that they’re getting less favorable terms, they’ll be less likely to buy into the platform. The ICO bonus structure is as follows (-2):
- Dec 5 – Dec 19 : 1 ETH = 2,500 BERRY + 33% Bonus
- Dec 20 – Dec 26 : 1 ETH = 2,500 BERRY + 27% Bonus
- Dec 27 – Jan 16 : 1 ETH = 2,500 BERRY + 20% Bonus
- Jan 17 – Jan 30 : 1 ETH = 2,500 BERRY + 13% Bonus
- Jan 31 – Feb 13: 1 ETH = 2,500 BERRY + 7% Bonus
- If you’ve ever rented a place or owned a rental property, you’re likely aware of the headache that comes with each new location or tenant. What I like about Rentberry is that it aims to make the process much smoother. +1
- As someone who lives in New York City, the concept of rental transparency is hazy at best for me. The city is littered with people on leases who happen to be subleasing to other tenants for more money than the lease is worth. Cities like NYC such as San Francisco are all undergoing their own housing crises for whatever reasons, and a lack of transparency in the rental system isn’t helping at all. If Rentberry can change that, it’ll solve a huge issue. +2
- BERRY makes it possible for expats and migrants living in other countries to facilitate the process of renting out their properties. +2
- Rentberry has been around for a few years and has established itself as a relatively successful business. It has over 110,000 users and 180,000 properties. +3
- The company has also raised over $4 million from a handful of VC funds and high-profile investors from 11 countries. +2
- Rentberry also noted that it will use 15% of the token sale proceeds to buy short-term rental properties, and everyone who participates in the ICO is going to become a member of the “Rentberry Club.” Buying physical real estate makes sense for this company and it’s a proactive approach to grow their network of assets. It’s also a pretty cool perk for ICO investors. +2
We arrive at a +7 for Rentberry.
I really like the application of the blockchain here to encourage international property owners to interact with their properties anywhere in the world. Rentberry’s team may be capable of solving several issues in the long-term rental space, and if executed correctly, would make life much easier (and more cost and time effective) for hundreds of thousands of tenants and landlords.
The Rentberry ICO launched on December 5, and will continue until March 1st, 2018.
Check out their website to learn more.
ICO Analysis: Deepbrain Chain
Deepbrain Chain will provide a low-cost, private, flexible, secure, and decentralized artificial intelligence computing platform for artificial intelligence products.
Coming out of China, based on NEO, Deepbrain Chain is an incredibly difficult whitepaper to read. Many concepts are both lost in translation on paper, and in my simple brain.
I came across a Reddit post from a man named crypto_oxford, who does a great job summarizing.
“It is a data computation platform and a Data trading platform that uses distributed spare computing ressources, makes AI computational demands cheaper, protects against data leakage via hacking, secures the seperation of data ownership and usage rights, and secures intellectual property for the data and for the products.”
They figure to reduce the cost of AI by 70% by making it minable on the blockchain. I cannot verify these claims, I am no expert in this field. Here’s a good example possible investors face when trying to learn about this project. It sounds great, but what does it really mean?
“The founding team believes that DeepBrain Chain is a project that has been verified by the market, has huge market scale and significant application value, lets the process and economic value associated, and is gradually issued with the core business sharing storage and the mechanism of computation capacity of mining. Each token corresponds to the computational value of the service provided during its issue, and is a truly valuable asset and digital currency that has already landed. Due to the difficulty of issuing, the value of the flow needed by every new token will increase. The earlier one holds, the more the expected value of the market will be.”
- NEO platform (nep 5 token)
- A max hard cap of $15 million,
- There’s a total supply of 10 billion Deepbrain Chain (DBT) tokens. 50% of these will be mined over time.
- 1.5 billion tokens will be for sale
- 600 million sold during the Presale, which ended 10 days ago, and was almost impossible to get in.
- Token sale stars Dec 15th. You must fill out a KYC form to be eligible. No USA or China allowed
Only 1.5 billion of the total 10 billion tokens will be for sale.
600 million in the presale, and 900 million in the public sale
Use of funds. 55% R&D, 25% marketing, 10% daily operations, 8 % incentives, 2% patent fees
Based in China? The team is doing things. They recently won 1st and 2nd place prizes in Academic Sector & Enterprise of SMP, at the Chinese Man-Machine Dialogue Field Authority Evaluation Contest. This contest had over 30 of Chinas best competing.
Their resume’s check out pretty well. And just look at these faces… JACKPOT!
When it comes to the technical side of this project, I am out of my element. They have a hard cap of $15 million, $6 million of that already came from private investors, one of which being NEO, who funded them $1 million.This gives them serious street cred.
AI data computation, neuro networks, machine learning, all these concepts are no doubt where our world is going. On Deepbrain Chains platform, one can compute and trade data. They have a working platform with more than 1,000 semantic skills.
- This being a Chinese project, on NEO, makes it more susceptible to regulations than other projects. It doesn’t seem likely, but is a risk nonetheless -1
- The token metrics are funny. Only 15% for sale. They have a whitelist for the presale (which may be filled up by the time readers see this.) They didn’t limit the amount people bought during the presale, and won’t for the public sale either. This could lead to whales owning most of the supply. -2
- They are having KYC implementation difficulties with their sale. It has been a huge issue in their telegram the last 24 hours. What looks like is happening, is there is no way to verify what customer is connected to what KYC. This could be an in for investors who currently aren’t signed up for the KYC to buy these tokens. These issues could be a bad sign of things to come.-2
- The Deepbrain whitepaper states; there have been over 5k startups since 2012, collecting over $22 billion. This is without counting the money large existing companies put into ai, which makes the total amount of money over $100 billion. It is certain that this is just the beginning.+4
- NEO partnership. NEO alone has an endless amount of growth potential. They have a large community that gets exdcited and involved with the projects NEO backs. This partnership is worth a lot. +3
- The ICO has a strict KYC rule. This is going to create a tremendous amount of demand for this once it hits exchanges.+2
- This is a $20 billion industry, that is only growing from here on out.+2
The 10 billion supply with only 1.5 billion being sold is scary. However, the rest of the ICO seems to make up for this. 5.8 out of 10
Sale starts Dec 15th, however, you need to fill out the whitelist/KYC app in order to get in. This application is having technical issues which may allow anyone to buy in without previously being KYC whitelisted. It’s worth a shot, but need to hurry!
Sign up here https://www.deepbrainchain.org/pc/kycEnglish.html
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.
ICO Analysis: The Game Machine
In recent years passionate gamers have been exploited by huge game development companies that hold a monopoly over the industry. The recent EA Star Wars Battlefront catastrophe brought a lot of attention to an issue that gamers are all too familiar with.
Gamers have to dig deeper and deeper into their pockets to pay for the expansion packs, DLC, and additional features that are excluded from the main game. And these games aren’t cheap.
It’s increasingly becoming apparent that there are fundamental issues with how the gaming industry works today. Fortunately for gamers, the blockchain is already beginning to form a new paradigm in the way games are funded, developed and purchased.
The Game Machine is an open source platform that seeks to decentralize the gaming industry. It aims to provide sleek software that will empower gamers and game developers alike.
How are they planning on doing this?
The platform has four foundational layers that are stepping stones for this innovative new project. The first layer is the game machine client. It will work as a wallet to store and send Gamefuel tokens and will come with a built in mining interface so that all users can participate in securing the Game Machine’s blockchain.
The second step is to develop their “Rise Machine” that will allow members of the Game Machine community to invest funds into games they see promise in – funds that go directly to the developers so they can create their game independent of the EAs and other oligarchies.
This is perhaps the most powerful innovation suggested by the platform. It gives everyone from the small game studios, with a only a few developers, to the prominent developer, who wants to deviate from the script, the chance to create and sell great games to the community at a fair price when they otherwise could not.
The third layer of the platform is the “Ads Machine” a decentralized advertising market that will live inside the Game Machine client so that game publishers or advertisers can market their products to a gamer specific demographic. Advertisers have been experimenting for years with in-game, native advertising, and it’s a powerful use case for the game machine, just as a stand alone feature. Expect this element of their platform to bring in huge revenue if they can build up their user base.
The last layer of development in their platform is the “Exchange Machine”. This will simplify the process of buying and selling tokens for gamers who use or hold multiple ingame currencies. This way, gamers can sell their Gamefuel and easily move a variety of coins in and out of the game machine.
The Game Machine team is using an Erc20 token called GMIT, which stands for Game Machine Initial Token. Each token is currently valued at 2,500 GMIT per ETH, or $0.32 USD. The token will be tradeable for actual Gamefuel at a ratio where 1 Gamefuel= 0.5 GMIT. Thiswill occur once the platform officially launches in May or June of next year.
The GMIT token is issued by Game Machine OÜ, incorporated in Estonia. A total of 140 million tokens will be created during the various stages of the token sale. The pre-sale has already been conducted and an equivalent of 751 Ethereum were invested, which means roughly 1,870,000 GMIT have already been bought. There are bonuses for early investors during the crowdsale where day 1=+15%, day 2=+10% and day3 =+5%.
There is also another coin that can be mined called GMC or Game Machine Client token, which will be exchangeable for GMIT tokens before the official platform launch at a ratio where 1 GMC = 0.0002 GMIT. The GMC token is given to miners who are being rewarded for securing the network during the Game Machine’s beta testing stage so they can earn Gamefuel. The official Gamefuel token will have its own blockchain that runs on two key components, Limited Proof of Work, and Proof of Authority. Limited proof of work is an energy friendly implementation of the traditional proof of work protocol that bitcoin uses.
Proof of Authority is used to enable faster confirmations of crowdfunding transactions where the authority level of a user confirming transactions is determined through analyzing metrics such as time of use, the amount of purchases and sales of games on the platform made and how positive or negative the feedback of other users were about their contributions to the platform. This can also include how long they have been mining for and how fast. One can imagine this is useful for fending off bad actors that might just try to crowdsource Gamefuel and then commit an exit scam without contributing anything. This blockchain is inspired by the Scorex 2 framework devised by the Scorex foundation, which was also implemented by the Waves decentralized exchange platform.
The three co-founders of Game Machine have over 17 years of combined experience in project development, IT consulting, video game marketing and development.
The entire team consists of 19 full time employees who are busy working on many different parts of the Game Machine platform. If that’s not impressive enough then look at the history of two of the co-founders Taras Dogval and Alexandr Isaev who were both previous board members of Hakk, which is an interactive agency that has done marketing for huge European companies such as Volvo, Tallink Silja Line and Neste. The other co-founder Maria Suvorina has six years of experience in marketing and promoting games on computers and phones. She’s worked for companies such as Suricate Games, TMA and AminiLab.
Although these companies aren’t that well known, most of their work is out of the public’s eye, and they have actually made contributions to famous games. Aminilab for example has participated in development for games such as Alone in the Dark, FIFA, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Doodle God and Doodle Devil.
The Game Machine is an extremely ambitious project that, if successful, will truly revolutionize the industry. The team behind the platform is experienced, has a great track record and is big enough to polish and refine the Game Machine into a fantastic platform for gamers and developers. However, the existing industry players already have huge advantages when it comes to funding, marketing, development and most importantly building a big reputation and brand awareness. It’s difficult to predict if a community driven effort from gamers and developers combined on an open source platform, will be enough to break into the existing market and convince everyday gamers to switch to an entirely new platform.
- One risk for this project is the quality of its design in terms of how friendly the user interface will be. If the platform is too difficult for technically illiterate people to use then it will not have wheels to get going anywhere. -1
- Another threat to the game machine is the plethora of other competitors that are already working on blockchain innovations in the gaming industry. For example, Enjincoin is an existing game development company founded in 2009 that recently completed its ICO, raising $20 million to kick start a platform that boasts features very similar to the ones offered on Game Machine. -2
- Besides the long list of other game-based ICOs that have been launched this year, there is also stiff competition from massive conventional gaming markets. In addition, newer platforms such as Steam have already attractive hundreds of millions of users. -2.5
- The Game Machine has a lot of potential for quickly stacking up a big user base, and one reason is due to the strong alignment of incentives between gamers and game creators. The traditional game development giants on the other hand are ignoring what their consumers and even some of their own developers have had to say about how games should be created, distributed or sold. Instead of focusing on quality and a fair deal for customers, these development companies have opted to lined their pockets instead. This is why gamers and developers would flock to the Game Machine overnight if the platform works well. +3
- The project’s potential for increasing the value of the underlying gamefuel token is actually quite immense in scope. Just the crowdsourcing and kickstarting mechanism built into the platform would induce a scenario where a large sum of people would continually purchase gamefuel tokens to lock into smart contracts. Once enough gamers are participating in this process the money locked in gamefuel tokens at any given time will only rise, thus reducing the supply of tokens in circulation and consequently increasing gamefuel’s value.+3
- With the plans to integrate a digital advertising market directly into the platform, gamefuel has a secondary source of revenue because advertising slots on the game machine platform can only be purchased with gamefuel.+3
- The “Exchange machine” that’s built into the Game Machine client is a nice approach to sourcing liquidity that will allow many other game based cryptocurrency holders to sell their tokens to purchase gamefuel. Attracting a wide range of gamers who are interested in different blockchain based gaming platforms is a unique approach to marketing that many readers may not have considered as a form of advertising. +2
The Game Machine is a solid project overall; the team is large, has experience and will have raised additional funds to expand their efforts once their crowdsale is completed. That being said, stiff competition from new and existing gaming avenues, not to mention luring a dedicated gaming community to an entirely new platform. These risks must be weighed carefully before entering into Game Machine. As such, this ICO has been granted a score of 5.5 out of 10.
Unfortunately, the presale period of the Game Machine ended a few days ago; however, the final crowdsale period will open for everyone to participate from Dec. 14 through Jan. 31, 2018..
There will only ever be 140 million gamefuel tokens created in the ICO, and 70% of them will be available for token sale participants. The rest of the tokens will be divided into portions and used to fund various parts of the project:
- 14.2% token storage for starting in-game items withdrawals.
- 1.4% for bounty program.
- 1.4% for advisors.
- 4.5% for referral program.
- 7.1% for team.
The team’s portion of tokens is utilized to pay for development and split in the following arrangement below.
- 10% Legal maintenance.
- 5% Operating expenses.
- 35% Marketing and PR.
- 50% Development of a product.
You can learn more about their token and ICO here.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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