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The Internet of Shopping: Blockchain Solutions to Consumer-Retail Challenges

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It’s possible that blockchain, as a disruptive tool for innovation, will successfully shake-up and improve upon the existing hegemony seen in consumer retail. We have already seen this happen in many other areas, like traditional finance.

Projects such as Ethereum stand testament to the fact that blockchain has far surpassed its original use-case (as a decentralized payment solution).

Furthermore, developments around the nascent technology are proceeding at remarkable speeds for the consumer market – at varying levels of accomplishment.

We would like to take this opportunity to further explore some of the more prominent examples, what their goals are, and how their teams seek to achieve them to give you an enhanced perspective on what we can expect in the future.

BC / AD: Before Cryptocurrency / Anno Decentralization (A Prologue)


Image Source: Pixabay

Consumerism and retail shopping have long been a cornerstone of modern civilization: with tangible benefits that apply to society, politics and the economy.

One of the greatest epitomes of this growth was reached in tandem with the growth of early commercial internet technology, through to Web 2.0.

Many new market leaders rose from the ashes of the burst dot-com bubble, as well as the Western economic recession of the early 2000s. All under the banner of ‘e-commerce’

Since then, we have arguably seen a stagnation in the traditional retail shopping sector. Brick-and-mortar stores are in constant decline in many areas of the Western world, as well as shopping malls closing down throughout the USA (dubbed by some the ‘Western Retail Apocalypse’).

Amazon currently possess 41% of US e-commerce retail sales, according to Statista. A number which is projected to increase to 50% by the year 2021.

1. Blockchain for the Unbanked and Borderless Payments

According to the data from The World Bank’s Financial Inclusion Database (or ‘Findex’) 1.7 billion adults were recorded to have been ‘unbanked’.

‘Unbanked’ denotes individuals who do not have access to traditional financial services, for the most part living in developing countries. The largest of these is China (225 Million), closely followed by India (190 Million).

Banking institutions have demarcated the differences of opportunity and accessibility between classes – both domestically and between the ‘first’ and ‘third’ worlds. They have also acted as gatekeepers to a broad range of valuable services and functions: such as international payment transactions, and currency conversions.

Being without a traditional centralized bank doesn’t have to mean you are ‘unbanked’ however, as blockchain and digital banking providers are proving. These populations alone provide a massive use case.

Shops, service providers, and many other possibilities have been left wide open, and we’ve already seen some examples of organizations attempting to resolve this issue….

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for example are a cheap and fast means to send money and furthermore, allows for those ‘unbanked’ to access digital consumer markets with ease.

IBM is another organization responsible for a unique solution to the issues of the ‘unbanked’ seeking to send cross-border payments by using peer-to-peer (P2P) blockchain technology.

Travelers and migrants are a great example of the potential beneficiaries for this type of project. This is because making international payments in developing countries can often be error-prone, costly with transactions in different currencies – requiring multiple-intermediaries to process them over days or sometimes even weeks

2. Shopping Loyalty Programs, by way of Blockchain.

Loyalty rewards programs have existed for a long time as a means of attracting a greater level of sales and custom in a repeat manner, as well as for the gathering and interpretation of shopping data to provide insights and historical data analytics.


Image Source: Deloitte Center for Financial Services – ‘Making blockchain real for customer loyalty rewards programs’. 2016.

Their age is telling however, as the lack of development on this front regarding the benefits offered to both users and program providers has remained somewhat static for a long time now, with little in the way of improvement or progress.

It has become a burgeoning issue, that these types of programs are perceived as unfulfilling to many, with a high level of market penetration when considering the percentage of households enrolled – however a low number of overall utilization of the points or cards by said households.

There are a number of interesting platforms which claim to provide a solution to this issue, which include some which we have covered ourselves in great detail before (see our review of Eligma for example), as well as others we would like to discuss more in the near future.

One of the latest of these is Gabrotech, which positions itself as a 6-in-1 solution. Its user-centric and comes with a multi-currency crypto wallet that offers seamless P2P transfers, and loyalty redemption capabilities among others.

The platform has a multi-currency conversion engine (MCCE) that allows for borderless payments in any place that accepts MasterCard. It utilizes a liquidity pool that converts ‘any supported blockchain asset to the appropriate fiat currency at market value in real-time’.

This brings empowerment to the swathes of unbanked peoples, representing a breakthrough moment for a gigantic population of the world.


Source: Presentation by Pani Baruri, ‘Blockchain Powered Financial Inclusion’

Gabro’s core strength lies within its token Gabro (GBO). It’s a utility token solely designed to work within its ecosystem. Users are rewarded with GBO through spending, conversion or friend referrals.

Through its Loyalty Central feature, it removes the requirement for multiple accounts to manage multiple loyalty programs and allows for the simple swapping and consolidation of loyalty points. This will allow for idle and / or lower credited programs to be topped up and utilized to their fullest.

Blockchain technologies are already disrupting the financial industries; unbanked and cashless societies are tipped to benefit the most from the technology. Interestingly, the loyalty market, worth approximately $500 billion USD, is also to have its full potential realized.

3. Account Data, Personalized Customer Experiences, and Product Recommendations

Research within the retail sector has long existed as a practice. The dawn of big data and other new technologies such as automated data processing, however, have led us into a new era of insights (best known as customer analytics).

Shopin is a token-based platform which seeks to use blockchain technology in order to create user data profiles / accounts which are transferable and inter-operable between different participating merchants across the web.

In addition to providing absolute security and empowering users through control over their data and its security, merchants are incentivized by having access to powerful on-boarding tools and deferred liability regarding data protection.

The platform also incorporates machine learning / AI systems and data relationship protocols to provide product recommendations to its users on the customer / consumer side.

If you are interested in learning more about this solution in particular, check out our ICO review from April this year.

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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Uber: $120 Billion IPO?

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Uber Technologies Inc., the global ride-hailing giant, is reportedly eyeing an initial public offering (IPO) worth as much as $120 billion. According to The Wall Street Journal, the IPO could take place early next year, giving investors ample time to prepare.

More Valuable than the Auto Giants

The $120 billion value proposal was delivered to Uber last month by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS), two of Wall Street’s largest banks. The banks were presumably advising Uber on how to position stock offerings to potential investors before underwriting the IPO.

The new valuation far exceeds the one Uber received from Toyota Motors Co (TYO), which priced the ride-sharing service at %72 billion.

At $120 billion, Uber would be worth more than the General Motors Co (GM), Ford Motor Co (F) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) combined. The Detroit auto giants have seen their valuations rise in the wake of the financial crisis, buoyed by a prolonged recovery and increased appetite for automobiles. However, their growth has paled in comparison to Uber’s, which was founded in 2009.

Uber’s expansion hasn’t been without growing pains. The company has been mired by regulatory bottlenecks, workplace scandals and the alleged theft of trade secrets from Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), Google’s parent company.

It is not entirely clear what metrics the Wall Street banks used to evaluate Uber’s potential value. The company reportedly told Morgan Stanley it won’t be profitable for at least another three years, though annual revenues are expected to reach up to $11 billion this year. That’s a marked rise over the $7.78 billion generated in 2017.

While there’s no guarantee that Uber will go public in the proposed timeframe, it must issue a public offering by the end of 2019, according to WSJ sources. That’s the agreement it has in place with investor SoftBank Group Corp.

Uber by the Numbers

Uber’s startling growth over the past nine years can be represented by a few statistics. As of May 8, 2018, the company had 19,000 employees. This doesn’t include the more than 3 million drivers who are getting paid through the ride-hailing service. Since inception, Uber drivers have completed some 10 billion rides. This averages out to about 15 million rides each day. Gross bookings in 2016 alone amounted to $20 billion.

As of June, 75 million riders were using the Uber app. In the U.S. alone, adult users are projected to reach 48 million by the end of 2018. The Uber app is installed on 21% of U.S. adult Android devices.

Currently, Uber owns up to 87% of the U.S. ride-hailing market. The growth and widespread adoption of the service has opened the door to other competitors, with Lyft being the biggest. Founded in 2012, Lyft is available in about 220 cities across the U.S. as well as in major cities across Asia.

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 647 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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Argo Mining as a Means of Diversification

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Buying Bitcoin (or any cryptocurrency) is something we talk about a lot, but earning crypto is just as interesting. There are many ways to earn crypto that allow for arbitrage-like opportunities, but the focus of this piece is on mining companies.

More specifically, Argo Mining, which is the first cryptocurrency mining company to IPO. That might not sound like a big deal, but it gives Argo a critical competitive advantage over other companies.

The Mining Industry

One thing is clear right now, the mining industry is still very opaque. Users are constantly worried about being scammed, which is very similar to how it was when trading exchanges were popping up left and right. There are numerous options out there for companies that will help you mine cryptocurrency, but it isn’t always clear what the best choice is.

You can go one of two routes: have a mining application operate on your computer, or pay for a rented service. Honeyminer is an example of a native application that works well and pays out cryptocurrency, and Argo is an example of a “shared service”. Argo operates much like Amazon Web Services does. You pay to rent computational capabilities, but your goals end up being slightly different. The business models are sound, but very different.

Where Argo’s Advantage Comes From

Argo is the first mining company to IPO, which adds a level of trust that no other company can currently command. There are so many potential risks for users that they tend to shy away from these companies. They are worried about their payment information being ripped off, withdrawal of the coins, and the costs being greater than the revenues.

By raising $32 million in their June 11th IPO, Argo has alleviated many of these worries, and added a degree of trust to their brand. They started off mostly mining altcoins such as Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Zcash, but have recently announced Bitcoin mining packages as well.

The overall goal of Argo, as stated by their CEO, Jonathan Bixbay, is to democratize mining so everyone can participate. Right now, most of the mining is done by a select few of the elites, and Argo is enabling the wealth to be spread here.

Can Argo Actually Make You Money?

The big question to answer about Argo is whether you can actually make money doing this. The costs per month could potentially be higher than the value of the crypto you mine. Sure, you don’t have to pay trading fees on them, but it is important to calculate exactly how much you are coming out ahead.

It depends on the package, but you could potentially end up paying more for the fees than you earn. The trick is to remember that the crypto market isn’t like other markets – it isn’t perfectly efficient – and there are always arbitrage opportunities if you look hard enough.

An Alternate Route to Being Long Crypto

With much of crypto mining currently being done by elites because of the massive investment involved, it is clear that Argo has tapped a massive market. The company had a waitlist of 50,000 in September, and with the funds from the IPO, they can finally finance the expansion of their operations in a way that will speed up the number of people they can bring online.

If you believe Bitcoin (or cryptocurrencies in general) is coming out of a rut soon, then this is a good way to diversify into the market. Do your own tests and make sure that you are coming out ahead after the fees, but it should be a simple way to make some extra money in what is currently an inefficient market.

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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Ripple Price Analysis: XRP/USD at Risk of September Bull Run Being Completely Deflated

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  • Ripple’s native token XRP is at large danger of totally giving back the big September bull run gains. 
  • XRP/USD is capped to the upside at $0.6000. Vital near-term support seen tracking from $0.4550-0.4350.

Ripple’s native token XRP price has further been sent down to the burning south. This comes after the chunky and excessive bull run observed at the back end of September. XRP/USD had run higher by some 190%, from lows of around $0.27. Bulls managed to see a spike up, just short of $0.8000, within the early $0.7900 territory. Since this initial big trek to the north, up to mentioned highs, the price has dropped around 40%.

September Recap

There was not one catalyst behind the rocket move of around 195% in September for Ripple’s XRP. A few developments are worth recapping. Fintech heavyweight in Japan, SBI Holdings, announced their plans to launch a Ripple-powered mobile payment application known as MoneyTap. Elsewhere, London-based firm TransferGo announced they are using Ripple’s blockchain. This will be to facilitate digital currency transfer from Europe to India.

Furthermore, the litigation between R3 and Ripple Lab announced that they have reached a settlement of all outstanding litigation between the parties.  To top all the above, there was huge anticipation ahead of the xRapid product launch. This is now live, available for commercial use, allowing both individuals and businesses to access instant liquidity and low fees, using Ripple’s XRP. This trumps the traditional process of a 2-3 day wait. A sense of buy on the rumor sell on the fact was definitely observed here.

Technical Review

XRP/USD is on its journey south, looking to completely give back September’s run higher. Starting off with resistance, as can be seen the price upside has been capped at $0.6000. There hasn’t been enough momentum since the exhausted rally, to clear this chunky supply cap. Firm rejections have been observed at the mentioned resistance block since the bull run. If life kicks back into the bulls, they will need to comfortably settle around $0.7500, before then conquering $0.8000. Ripple’ XRP is still a long way away from of reclaiming the big psychological $1.00, with much supply even seen within the early to mid $0.9000 region.

XRP/USD 4-hour chart

Given current downside momentum, near-term support is now eyed from a range of $0.4550-0.4350. This is a demand zone, having proven to be the case during the fall on 25th September. The price managed to receive a bid within this area, moving back towards the $0.6000 resistance, before again faltering. Should the demand zone fail to hold, there will likely be a very fast move, back down to 0.2700-0.2500 area. XRP/USD had been within consolidation mode, for much of September, it was floating around this territory.

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 31 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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