Earlier in the year, reports leaked that rideshare service Uber was surveying its drivers about their feeling on driving customers between the United States and Mexico. Hacked has learned that Uber continues with the survey to this day, as Uber drivers received requests to participate in such a survey as late as last week.
Uber intends to incentivize drivers for the trip with new trip requests and higher profits on international routes. Drivers remain less than enthusiastic about the option, although some are open to the idea.
“No thanks,” one Uber driver told Hacked.
“There are so many problems with Uber in Tijuana you have to be so be careful if you drop a pax out there,” noted another. “Pax” is Uberese for the passenger.
“Not a chance!!!!” said another driver. Some said they would possibly feel comfortable if they were Hispanic. Others would never do so.
“No way. The time to cross back is a nightmare, and the insurance issue alone cannot possibly make this a feasible idea,” said a driver. Citing it as a reason not to accept such rides, some drivers shared a video of Uber drivers being attacked in Mexico City. Some thought they might die while making the trip.
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“Have fun with that because of the legal issues and everything else. Not worth it. I choose to live and die old,” a driver told me.
“Nah! I Value my life too much.”
“Wow, that’s scary to drive across the border,” said another. “That’s risky driving.”
“Hell no!!” said another.
“That sounds like nothing but trouble,” said yet another.
“I haven’t heard this. I wouldn’t ever go into Mexico,” said one woman.
“No way, Jose. See what I did there,” said a clever male driver.
“You mean to tell me, Uber wants me to take the pax across to another country for $40, and best case scenario face a 5-hour wait to cross back? lol,” said a male driver. Some drivers are open to the idea although they didn’t view it as a feasible option for Uber.
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“I received the text recently asking if I was interested. I am comfortable driving into Mexico and have since I was 18, but there seem to be too many hassles with this idea: Internet, border wait, authorities,” she said. Would-be passengers, however, seem to think it is a good idea.
“I think this is an awesome idea to implement in the border cities of Juarez and Tijuana. I hope Uber makes this official soon, so the people in these twin border cities can enjoy better private transportation.”
“Great idea,” said another. One individual who lives in Baja California did not see how such a plan was feasible.
“I find the only time to come back to San Diego without waiting is 7 am latest. I hate the two-hour wait. Insurance is high. Don’t see how it can work…But I am listening to feasible possibilities as I do cross a few times a week.”
There could be some options for Uber, however. The US government’s SENTRI program cuts down the border wait. All you need to do is consent to a full background check, and pass said background check. Uber would likely have to target drivers with this card to ensure its drivers do not spend hours waiting at the border. Further, these drivers are likeliest to have international insurance and cell phone service.
New York-Based TokenBnk Launches Crypto Savings Account
The blockchain ecosystem is budding with innovation. TokenBnk has added its name to the list of most interesting blockchain startups when it launched a decentralized application that functions very much like a traditional savings account.
Traditional Finance Meets Cryptocurrency
New York-based TokenBnk is the world’s first Ethereum-based savings account. The general idea behind TokenBnk is that you can deposit tokens into your Savings Contract (instead of a savings account) and earn rewards in the same token you hold. It operates very much like a traditional bank account, only for cryptocurrency. That’s kinda what we’re all about here at Hacked.
To illustrate how the platform works, suppose you receive 1,000 TBK as a reward and hold 500 of them in ether and 500 in OmiseGo. You will receive the same proportion of tokens back into your Savings Contract, thereby boosting your position size.
To withdraw ether from your savings account, you must pay a predetermined fee using the platform’s native TBK token. The fee is distributed as an award throughout the network via smart contract. The amount network participants receive is proportional to the percentage of the Total Network Value they represent.
TokenBnk emerged-by-stealth on or about Thursday, much to the surprise of the author, who has been anticipating this project for quite some time. The release was accompanied by an 11-page whitepaper and plans for a Nov. 30 token launch.
The protocol is being audited as we speak before beta testing goes live. TokenBnk will launch via mobile app some time in Q1 2018, followed by a full platform launch later in the year.
The development team behind TBK is impressive, with the main website listing 14 young men who can’t be more than 35 years old. The team hails from some of America’s most prestigious universities, such as Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and NYU. Private sector experience is also exemplified with stints at Amazon, AngelList and J.P. Morgan. (We’re glad the former JPM employees at TokenBnk didn’t drink from the same Kool-Aid as Jamie Dimon.)
TokenBnk CEO Shayne Coplan makes a strong case for his platform, especially for those of us keen on investing in cryptos over the long term.
“Currently, most long term holders leave their tokens in their Ethereum wallet, but why do that if you can yield automated regular returns by storing them on the blockchain as part of the TokenBnk network?” Coplan told Hacked. “The idea of holding fiat currency long term and earning no ROI is considered foolish, and it will be no different for cryptocurrencies.”
Coplan was part of the ETH presale back in 2014. With ether prices recently surging past $300, most market participants probably regret trading it right off the bat.
“In hindsight, the buy and hold strategy massively outperformed even the most successful of traders,” Coplan adds. “With the new wave of tokens arriving in the market over the next few years, hopefully TokenBnk can help token holders avoid making that same mistake.”
Ether trails only bitcoin in the race for market cap and is widely considered one of the most promising cryptos from a development point of view.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Blockchain, Insurance and the Crisis of Trust
Blockchain has been described as the modern-day cure for many ailments facing industry. For insurers, the ledger technology can change the way businesses process claims, share data and prevent fraud.
Blockchain for Insurance
Fin-tech disruption has played an important role in reshaping the insurance industry. The internet, mobile devices and even data analytics have become indispensable to modern-day insurance providers. What’s more, the industry full expects this disruption to intensify in coming years.
A survey of financial service providers conducted by PwC found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of insurers identified their own industry as the most likely to undergo significant change as a result of technology. That survey was conducted long before blockchain was even a thing for the average observer.
Fast forward to today, and blockchain is all the rage. Beyond the hype, the ledger technology has radically transformed our perception of record-keeping and trust. As a self-managed system, it can help insurers coordinate claims and boost efficiency without the need for an intermediary.
Most people have or at some point will interface with the insurance sector. It is here that they will likely experience the crisis of trust that have caused many to go uninsured. Recent earthquakes in California revealed that only 17% of the state’s homeowners have insurance to cover the natural disaster.
Of course, everyone in the state knows about the San Andreas fault. The choice to go uninsured is a rational one aimed at circumnavigating an industry plagued by a lack of trust. Blockchain isn’t some magic bullet that will fix this problem. But what it can and will provide is transparency.
More transparency can create a more efficient insurance sector by reducing or eliminating all together the need for manual processes. As anyone who has tried to switch healthcare providers knows, manual data entry is prone to huge risks, not to mention fear of losing personal data. Through blockchain, personal data may be controlled by an individual, but verification is registered on the immutable ledger book.
Blockchain also provides smart contract capability, which can greatly enhance claims processing. By recording and verifying contracts on the ledger, insurers can guarantee that only valid claims are made. For consumers, it also means not having to fill out cumbersome paperwork.
Insurers are also leaning on the blockchain to detect fraud, which drains businesses out of tens of billions of dollars annually. The blockchain’s permanent record provides a decentralized repository insurers can use to verify every customer, policy and transaction. Before the blockchain, this would have required extensive cooperation between various actors.
There’s already a budding community of blockchain companies involved in the insurance industry. Together with other finance companies, they are among the biggest draws of the ICO market. According to CoinSchedule, more than 9% of the total funds raised via ICOs this year have come to finance companies.
When it comes to blockchain, insurance is another sector investors should carefully monitor. It is highly lucrative, but suffers from huge flaws that these new technologies can help fix.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Gizer and Gaze Coin Join Forces to Shape eSports Future
Global gaming network Gizer has joined forces with VR platform Gaze Coin in a bid to transform the eSports economy. The companies are expected to boost monetization channels while providing new opportunities for virtual reality-based gaming.
The strategic partnership, which was just announced via Gizer’s Medium channel, appears to be centered on delivering gaming events in virtual and augmented reality. That’s a powerful concept for the rapidly growing eSports segment.
Gizer launched its crowdsale last month amid much fanfare, and has been ranked one of Hacked.com’s best ICOs of the year. The gaming network made headlines last month after it brought on blockchain heavyweight David Drake to its advisory board. Drake is the Chairman of LDJ Capital and is regarded as an influential blockchain leader.
Gaze Coin’s ICO is coming down the pipeline for Nov. 28. It will be hosted on the Ethereum platform, with a total supply of 100 million tokens.
Both companies appear to be synchronizing their development roadmaps to deliver games in virtual and augmented reality. Gizer plans to unveil its marketplace in early 2018. That’s around the same time Gaze Coin intends its launch the mixed-reality game Dream Channel, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival this past May.
eSports Industry Is Booming
The eSports ecosystem is growing at a rapid rate, according to various research reports that peg it as a billion-dollar industry over the next two years. Earlier this year, Newzoo said it expects eSports revenues to reach $1.5 billion by 2020, with brand investment doubling over that period.
Clearly, the idea of creating professional leagues out of multiplayer games is gaining in popularity. Given the number of users already playing online, the need for an integrated network that connects all the dots and provides incentives has never been greater. The blockchain can greatly enhance the end user experience by creating a stable infrastructure to handle all transactions. This not only improves the platform, but ensures toxic members are kept at bay. (How many times have you played your favorite EA Sports game only to have to deal with members abusing one another and cheating? The blockchain is a potential remedy.)
Greater community involvement and more opportunity to grow the ecosystem are the other major benefits offered exclusively by the blockchain. And because this environment can be monetized, there’s huge incentive to grow and improve it over time.
In reality, eSports is just one of a myriad of industries currently being developed by the blockchain community. A total of 27 industries have been represented by the ICO universe this year alone, according to CoinSchedule. Gaming and VR token raises have been among the most lucrative, drawing in more than $120 million through the first ten months. That’s roughly 4% of the $3.25 billion in ICO funding raised this year alone.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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