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A Primer On The Gig Economy

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Approximately 53 million Americans—1 in 3 workers—are considered freelancers, according to this 2014 report by independent research firm Edelman Berland. The so-called “gig” economy has garnered a lot of international attention. Even presidential candidates are commenting on it as an issue for the 2016 election.

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“Many Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing a website … even driving their own car. This on demand or so called ‘gig’ economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future,” Clinton said. Here is a list of the more prominent “gigs” available out there. But be forewarned, with the good comes some bad.

AirBnB – The well-known website helps people list and find temporary lodging. With more than 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries, AirBnB has been one of the fast growing companies in the world. Founded in 2008, the San Francisco based company has run up against regulatory concerns, but that has not necessarily slowed its growth. The firm has raised nearly $120 million. Want to list your space? Sign up here. AirBnB is a large company. There are opportunities if you have the right space to make some money. My neighbors use this app and each weekend a new group of college kids funnel in-and-out. They’ve never had any major issues.

Amazon Flex – Amazon Flex is new, having just been announced in September. Flex is a new on-demand delivery service set up in a peer-to-peer fashion. The online retailer says it will be pay between $18 and $25 per hour and deliver packages for Amazon.

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There is one catch: the service is currently only available in Seattle, though the company plans to offer more services. For now, the service is focused on hiring couriers for another service the company offers, Amazon Prime Now. Sign up for Amazon Flex here. Amazon Flex is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

Favor – Favor Delivery serves 14 markets in the US. The app-based delivery service is based out of Austin, Texas. Favor is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

“We’re going for something of a Texas takeover, at the moment,” Heileman told Austin Business Journal. “We hope to eventually be in every market in the state.” The startup has raised millions in funding. Sign up for Favor here.

Get Me – This rideshare service just launched in August and combines some of the others listed into one application.  The initial launch for Get Me limits the service to the Dallas area. GetMe is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

“We chose Dallas to be our launch pad because the idea, its development, and the team are from here. Get Me is a true local start-up, and we know that the people of Dallas truly crave convenience and flexibility,” stated Jonathan Laramy, co-founder at Get Me, in a press release. “Next, we plan to launch in Austin and Houston, with Las Vegas to follow by the end of the year. The expansion plan then grows more rapidly in 2016 including an International Launch in Q1 2016.”

The firm works to get you places you need to be or to deliver things you ordered online. Sign up for Get Me here.

Instacart  – The smartphone app Instacart is available on iOS and Android platforms, and connects people with driver’s who can procure accoutrements at a grover and deliver them. Customers can use Apple Pay. Instacart hires delivery workers and drivers. These are generally independent contractors, however, in some cities, the company is experimenting with giving these individuals the option to become part-time employees. Sign up here. Here’s a Facebook group for the service. Instacart is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

Lyft – Based in San Francisco, Lyft is a transportation network company (TNC) using mobile phones to get people rides in a peer-to-peer ridesharing manner. The company is smaller than Uber, and available in 65 US cities for now. Want constant information about Lyft life? Check out this Lyft group on Facebook. Get a prius. Sign up for Lyft here. It uses Facebook to identify you. This company is smaller than Uber, so there are fewer opportunities.

To be sure, there are horror stories about being in Uber. Like people throwing up in cars or one person getting in and sitting directly behind you which creeps people out. Some people are pet peeved by people getting in the front seat and some people have pens that break open and destroy the backseat of the car. Such is life when it comes to starting a business, however. Risk is everywhere. It can be bitter, but it beholds great lessons. There are still myriad questions about rideshare, like is it okay to date other drivers? Be forewarned.

Postmates – Postmates enables anyone to receive a product in under one hour via a peer-to-peer application. Someone purchases something from any restaurant or store in a city, then you pick it up and drive it to them. Sign up here. Postmates courier Facebook group is here. Postmates is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

Postmates1

Sidecar – Sidecar is a business-to-business delivery company. Sidecar offers three services – a ridesharing app, shared rides, a discounted instant carpooling app; and Sidecar Deliveries. Sidecar Deliveries is available in eight U.S. markets.

TaskRabbit – This gig is a bit different from the other ones. TaskRabbit is essentially a marketplace where users outsource jobs and tasks to others in the neighborhood. It’s kind of like Freelance.com but for non-digital world jobs. Sign up here. Here’s a TaskRabbit Facebook group. TaskRabbit is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

Uber – Surely you know about Uber already. The company has skyrocketed in value in the past year and has erupted controversy all over the world. Mexico City cab drivers have used violence on people, and there has even been a bit seen in Tijuana, as well as other places. Still, people are doing well in this portion of the “gig economy.” I’ve seen some people make $1,100 in 50 hours. Not great, but not bad either. The company is expanding into new services as well, having asked its drivers if they would like to do cross border trips or deliver items to people.

Check out my #uber car. It's a Delorean #backtothefuture

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Some advice? For one, get a prius. Gas efficiency is important. Also, put out a tip jar and accept cash. People in this industry turn down cash tips, which is insane. On Uber forums drivers who deny cash eventually learn from other drivers they are indeed insane for not accepting cash.

Sign up for Uber here. It uses Facebook and other options to identify you. Many drivers also sign up for Lyft to be more efficient. Some have signed up for Uber, Lyft and Postmates (see below) or whatever gigs are available in their town.  Search here for an Uber group in your area. This is one of the bigger companies and, if you’re in the right area or are willing to work the right shifts (weekends), you could make the most money with Uber.

Facebook Rideshare – Facebook has a community which is trying to do the above-mentioned in a somewhat more decentralized manner. Check out the Rideshare Community for potential money-making opportunities.

Conclusion

In the gig economy, a lot of people don’t make that much money. It’s hard work. The income ranges wildly depending on factors such as location and hours worked.

I have not come across someone who uses all of these applications together. Granted, you’ll need a lot of space for data on your mobile phone. Still, the power of all the listed services above could turn you into an entrepreneur overnight. Keep in mind these are generally car intensive gigs. Buying a special car – such as a Prius or other gas efficient car – could help you succeed in the gig economy.

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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Justin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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The Abyss Becomes First Startup to Test “DAICO” Concept

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An ICO by the name of The Abyss is looking to become the first project to test Vitalik Butrin’s “DAICO” concept. The founder of Ethereum outlined the new crowdfunding protocol in a post that appeared on the Ethereum Research Forum in January. If successful, The Abyss’ token raise could have profound implications on the budding world of ICOs.

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The Abyss Token Sale

Next-generation gaming platform The Abyss is developing a token sale based on Butrin’s Decentralized Autonomous Organization Initial Coin Offering, or DAICO for short. The company will launch a month-long token sale on Mar. 7, with early participation giving investors a bonus of up to 25%. A hard cap of $60 million has been placed on the sale, with 1 ABYSS token valued at 24 U.S. cents. Minimum investment in the project is 0.1 ETH.

According to a post that appeared on the project’s Medium channel last month, The Abyss token raise “will represent an advanced and improved ICO mechanism, allowing token holders to control the fund withdrawal limit, also providing an option to vote for refund of the remaining contributed money in case the team fails to implement the project. With all this, The Abyss project is to become the world’s first Token Sale, pioneering and promoting the DAICO concept.”

The Abyss essentially serves as a multi-level referral platform allowing gamers to participate in in-game and social activities. It also allows developers to lower marketing expenses by directly engaging the gaming community.

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As far as we can tell, no other company has adopted DAICO yet. As a member of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA), The Abyss could provide a valuable case study into the system’s viability and reception among investors. As it turns out, The Abyss is very well received by the blockchain community, with several third parties giving the company a favorable review.

DAICO Model

At the core of Buterin’s DAICO model is the need to minimize investor risk during an ICO campaign. The solution is to combine the current ICO structure with the DAO, The resulting DAICO system utilizes smart contracts to encode certain rules into the token raise that startups must follow from the very beginning.

For example, DAICO could stipulate that management receive “approval” from investors each time it wants to utilize funds generated from a crowdsale. In this case, the company would “tap” investors for approval, and the investors themselves would decide whether to grant the firm access to the funds.

DAICO systems can also implement KYC/AML standards and structure a campaign more transparently than current methods. Widescale adoption of this system could have a lasting impact on the blockchain economy by weeding out scams and other companies looking to generate easy cash to finance their business operations. Hacked covered the development of DAICO in a Jan. 19 article, which provides greater insight into Buterin’s thought process.

ICOs generated billions of dollars for hundreds of startups last year, but the parade may soon end as regulators begin clamping down on token raises. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken special interest in ICOs, warning companies that their definition of a “utility token” will come under intense scrutiny by federal regulators.

Although ICOs aren’t illegal in the United States, there’s a good chance they will be categorized as securities. Such a designation would make them bound by federal securities laws, something most ICO projects want to avoid entirely. Against this backdrop, many ICOs are electing to avoid the U.S. market entirely.

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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4.5 stars on average, based on 155 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Lessons From Venture Capital Craziness

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Financial technology or Fintech is a white hot area these days and lots of folks are after a piece of the action.  The payments business is one huge area of opportunity even before counting cryptocurrencies. When the global economy generates more than $90 trillion in GDP, that means lots of money constantly on the move.  Trouble is, these days, it moves slowly and at a high cost.

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With that much at stake, there is no shortage of entrepreneurs with the next disruptive idea.  As an analyst and investor, it is hard to choose who knows their stuff.   Revulut got my attention and here is how it happened.

Venture Capitalists are wrong on about 95% of their investments but to put a valuation of this magnitude was quite unusual, maybe even a little crazy. The crypto buzz had a lot to do with Revolut’s capital raising success.

Last summer, Revolut founders Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko raised over $66 million in VC funding and another $23 million from Crowdfunding. That is serious money considering the company was scarcely a year old at the time with hardly any revenues.  This placed the implied value of the company between $200-$400 million.

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It would be easy to declare insanity in the ranks of venture capital.  An equally plausible conclusion is that a major source of risk capital has done their homework on crypto and has given their seal of authenticity.  Just something to keep in mind as the price of crypto is soaring and the word bubble comes up.    

About Them

The Revolut app allows customers to open a current account in under 3 minutes, and includes a prepaid contactless MasterCard debit card.  So far there is nothing unusual about Revolut. Sounds like about any other branchless bank.

The company marketing offers freebees like free international money transfers that could save users 3% so that is good.  Also there is free access to global ATM machines although no mention is made of what networks are included or their location.  

And there is one other caveat; the free ATM access ends when you withdrawn $250 in any month.  That is chump change for most people.  If you average closer to $500 per month at the ATM, you will want to select the Premium service.  That will cost $6.99 per month.

OK so not everything is really free but still $6.99 per month beats the $25-$35 charged by conventional banks.

Offering freebees can be a great way to attract customers but read the fine print before making any commitments.  In Revolut’s case you really have to dig into the details such as the limit of free ATM withdraw before little charges start to creep in.  And if you are an American here is the most puzzling detail taken directly from the company website.

“You can transfer money to banks in the United States using Revolut. However, if you are currently living in the United States, you cannot make a bank transfer from Revolut to your local bank account due to licensing restrictions.”  Something must have been lost in translation: what does this mean?

The firm launched personal international bank account numbers (IBANs) across Europe last summer.  So if you live in the United Kingdom or one a a dozen or so Eastern European countries, Revolut offers real value added services.  For the rest of the planet, not quite yet.

Since then they have begun integrating  currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin.  Here is the sizzle to bring in new customers.  “Revolute will now be able to buy, hold and exchange Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum in just 30 seconds at the best possible rates.”  There is a 1.5% fee for this service which is competitive with exchanges like Coinbase and others.

Revolut is adding other new services beyond cryptocurrency to lending and pay-as-you-go travel insurance at the tap of a button.  Altogether, not a bad business plan but it is the crypto connection that moves the needle.

VCs Depending On Experienced Management

Storonsky is more than a slick operator with a pretty pitch deck.  He and his partner have deep experience in the global payments business.  Nikolay spent years as a currency trader with Credit Suisse so he understands the level of fees charged by the current system.  

The technical wizardry, however, rests with his partner Yatsenko. Vlad spent over 10 years building financial systems for major Wall Street investment banks.  He serves as the company’s CTO.

Conclusion: Why Is Revolut Unique?

The global payments business has long been a gigantic oligopoly controlled by a series of networks, governments, banks and a group of oversized corporations such as Visa, MasterCard, Fiserv and others.  

Taken together it is like a mafia of financial behemoths interested in nothing more than keeping the status quo.  Perpetuating the system enables them to maximize the amount of fees for the mindless service of money transfer.  Revolut could be one of many disruptive forces but will it take $90 million to get them there.  Evidence shows the answer is most definitely no.  The cache of cryptocurrencies in the Revolut business mix has attracted Venture Capitalist and others to pay outsized prices for access.  Bravo for crypto investors everywhere.

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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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4.3 stars on average, based on 21 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Are You Considering a Career in Crypto?

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In 2008, a bizarre and esoteric technology by the name of bitcoin was introduced to the world in a whitepaper penned by Satoshi Nakamoto. Just one decade later, that whitepaper would spawn a budding industry racing toward the trillion-dollar mark.

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At the time of writing, there are more than 1,550 cryptocurrencies trying to do a variation of what bitcoin has accomplished. Hundreds more are expected to be created this year alone. To bring these currencies online, startups, institutes and not-for-profits are depending on a talented workforce made up of engineers, analysts, marketers and business professionals.
That’s a long-winded way of saying the crypto-economy is hiring, and there’s no shortage of opportunity. Recently, freelance marketplace Toptal announced it was launching a blockchain engineering platform for talented technology professionals. As TechCrunch pointed out, this is a huge deal because Toptal represents about half of “on-demand engineering labor by revenue.”

Blockchain Talent Demand: By the Numbers

Blockchain engineering has quickly emerged as the fastest-growing segment on Toptal. Since January 2017, demand for professionals in this category has surged 700%. The company also reports that some 40% of fully managed software development jobs in the last month require blockchain skills and domain knowledge.

Toptal isn’t the only freelance community witnessing a surge in blockchain skills. Upwork also reported blockchain as the fastest-growing skillset in terms of revenue, with billings skyrocketing 35,000% year-over-year. For a site like Freelancer, bitcoin job posts grew 82% in the third quarter alone.

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It’s not just freelancing websites that are witnessing an upsurge in blockchain-related job posts. Last year, LinkedIn reported that finance companies saw a 900% increase in bitcoin-related job postings since 2014. There are now tens of thousands of users who list “blockchain” as one of their available skillsets.

At the time of writing, there are 1,060 “cryptocurrency” jobs listed on the U.S. section of Indeed.com, one of the world’s largest job boards. The “blockchain” job category had nearly 3,200 hits. Pretty much all of the jobs had a minimum salary of $70,000 per year and about 40% paid six figures.

Job Categories

From the author’s perspective, working in blockchain/crypto usually involves one of the following organizations:

  • startup company launching an initial coin offering (ICO)
  • an advisory service helping ICOs launch their product
  • a large technology or financial services company utilizing blockchain technology
  • an institute or not-for-profit researching blockchain applications and use case

In terms of job categories, you are mostly looking at the following:

  • Technical: Software developers, engineers, programmers and other IT specialists get the lion’s share of job postings.
  • Writing and Marketing: This is a fairly broad category that covers journalism, content development and copywriting. If you understand blockchain technology and the world of crypto and have good writing skills, there’s no shortage of opportunity.
  • Advisory Services: Domain experts can charge a premium advising startups on how to navigate the crypto sphere. Experts usually make it on to an ICO’s adviser page.
  • Legal: We are seeing a steady rise in legal services that assist token issuers navigate the regulatory requirements of cryptocurrency crowdfunding.

It’s clear from many of these categories that most people didn’t specialize in blockchain initially but have applied their skills and experience to the domain. Depending on how you view the future, specializing may or may not be a good idea.

In mainstream and institutional circles, blockchain is much more of a sure thing than cryptocurrency. That’s one place budding professionals can focus on if they do decide to enter the labor market.

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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4.5 stars on average, based on 155 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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