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What is UTRUST?

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There are now so many alt-coins out there that it’s almost impossible to keep track of which projects are legitimate and which are garbage.

This article is the third entry in a series I will write for Hacked which will give summaries and context around a specific crypto project.

The topic of today’s summary is Utrust.

So what is Utrust?

Utrust is basically trying to be the Paypal of the post-blockchain world.

They see two problems with the status quo of escrow solutions.

We can break these into two separate categories.

1. Centralized escrow solutions (Paypal, Venmo etc.)
2. Decentralized escrow solutions (Smart contracts, etc.)

The decentralized and somewhat nature of cryptocurrencies makes them a prime target for scammers who often can simply take funds and then disappear without delivering the promised good or service. More elaborate schemes like the so-called “Man-in-the-Middle” attack one are also a concern.

Another major security risk can also occur when a supposedly trustworthy third-party arbiter simply steals the funds they are ostensibly safeguarding and disappears. Many fake ICO’s did this exact thing. This fraudulent behavior is commonly referred to as an “exit scam.”

While there are escrow services one can use, these are often unreliable and expensive, complicating what should otherwise be a simple transaction process.

The lack of reliable and streamlined solutions to this problem has become a huge issue for the overall mass adoption of cryptocurrency to overcome. If this is then combined with the fact that cryptocurrencies already have a low entry barrier (where anyone can buy small or large amounts), then the overall crypto market transforms into a highly speculative space, with more investors than actual users of the platforms that tokens are supposed to be used on.

Utrust attempts to solve this by leveraging key points from traditional payment processors as well as the advances of blockchain technology.

Utrust works by allowing the user to purchase goods or services with their cryptocurrency or token of choice. The merchant on the other hand automatically receives their payment in fiat currency.

This, in theory, creates an ecosystem where users are not forced to exchange their coins and sellers are not forced to deal with the inherent volatility of cryptocurrency.

Essentially, Utrust is trying to force adoption of cryptocurrency as quickly as possible. Besides the simple interoperability of cryptocurrencies and their consumer-protection system, Utrust also differentiates itself by offering a competitive fee model.

In this model, a 1% fee is charged on purchases, which outcompetes PayPal’s 2.9% + $0.30 USD flat fee. This also has the benefit of allowing smaller transactions to take place in the platform.

One particular focus of Utrust that distinguishes them from their competitors is its consumer protection program.

Utrust employs a (controversially) centralized escrow system to ensure that the funds are kept safe until the buyer receives his/her product or service. Once the transaction is complete, the funds will be sent.

In the event of a dispute, the Utrust dispute resolution team mediates between the two parties to solve the dispute. This automated system allows users to enjoy the benefits of crypto without worrying about additional escrows or multi-sigs.

While this is arguably far more convenient for both buyers and sellers then escrow solutions with more steps to traverse, it should be noted that the very parts of security that are “annoying” are what make it secure in the first place.

The Utrust platform also features its own ERC20 token. It is reasonable to question why this platform needs a token at all, given that the model above even seems complete without it. This is a good question to ask, but Utrust thankfully provides a reasonable answer.

According to the official whitepaper:

“We decided to go a step beyond, and wanted to offer the chance for anyone in the world to become a backer, leveraging the power of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)….In essence, the UTRUST token will act as an investment stake from our backers, as a transactional token, that buyers can use in the UTRUST Platform itself alongside other major coins, and as a financial mechanism linking the Utrust token value to the Utrust Platform value – our strategic value-coupling mechanism.”

According to the project, the advantages of holding the UTK token are simple:

1. No fees charged when using the UTK token.
2. Part of the profits generated by the 1% fee will be used to buy-back and burn the UTK token, reducing its total supply over time. With a finite and ever-shrinking supply, the token should appreciate in value if the platform is successful.
3. The token can be bought/sold from many exchanges at its market price.

To summarize, In the view of this analyst, Utrust solves the issue of convenience when it comes to the everyday use of cryptocurrency. That is a major accomplishment and should be lauded. But this convenience comes at a price.

I have yet to see a method of security that is both the safest and the most convenient. Until one arrives, Utrust seems to offer a viable solution for the present and the future.

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 17 rated posts




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ICE Has Raised $182.5 Million for Upcoming Bakkt Trading Platform

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The downturn in crypto has not deterred high-profile investors from betting big on the future of the market. Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the world’s largest stock exchange operator, has raised $182.5 million in support of its Bakkt cryptocurrency venture.

Bakkt: Institutional Support Grows

The Bakkt startup has raised $182.5 million from more than a dozen high-profile investors and venture capital firms, CEO Kelly Loeffler announced Monday. First-round investors include: Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, Pantera Capital, PayU, Naspers’ fintech arm and Protocol Ventures.

“Our work today is centered on driving institutional access for digital assets, along with merchant and consumer uses, and we’re already expanding on this vision, collaborating with great companies like Starbucks in these efforts,” Loeffler said.

Further details on Bakkt’s 2019 objectives will be announced sometime next month, though Loeffler indicated that the focus is on developing new infrastructure for the nascent market. This includes the “industry’s first institutional grade regulated exchange, clearing and warehousing services for physical delivery and storage.”

What is Bakkt? Preparing for the Physical Bitcoin Futures Market

Bakkt is scheduled to launch its bitcoin futures market Jan. 24 but delays in regulatory approvals could see that date get pushed back by a week or more. Further details can be found in the following article from Dec. 22.

Disrupting Traditional Finance

Bakkt has been described as the world’s first physically-backed bitcoin futures market, but its mandate stretches far beyond that. When ICE first unveiled the crypto startup in August, the goal was to broaden institutional access and consumer adoption of digital assets. Through high-profile partnerships with Starbucks and Microsoft and with the support of early investors like Susquehanna International and Fortress Investment, Bakkt is aiming to bring “regulated, connected infrastructure together with institutional and consumer applications for digital assets,” according to Jeffrey Sprecher, the founder and chairman of ICE.

NYSE Owner Is Betting Big on Cryptocurrency with Bakkt

The launch of a physically-settled bitcoin futures market as early as next month means institutional investors can access digital assets through a trusted custodian. On the consumer side, Starbucks will be the flagship retailer of Bakkt with the goal of developing practical applications for commercial use. According to Starbucks senior executive Maria Smith, consumers will one day be able to convert cryptocurrencies into dollars at various Starbucks locations.

Starbucks will play an important role in helping Bakkt disrupt the traditional payments market. One of Bakkt’s stated goals is to move consumers away from credit cards toward crypto applications.

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 736 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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Projects Built on Stellar and Possible Investment Ideas

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In this article, I will speak about five projects that have chosen Stellar blockchain as opposed to the Ethereum network. A distinctive feature of Stellar (https://www.stellar.org/) is that it is sharpened for micropayments and has a throughput of up to 3,000 transactions per second and confirmation within 3-5 seconds. So it is not surprising, that many projects like a Stellar as a solution for their projects.

SmartLands

SmartLands (SLT) is a platform for issuing security tokens and tokenization of real estate. Since the ICO in November 2017 it has raised slightly more than $1.7 million at $0.50/SLT. The product, designed for business use, is ready and works.

I do not see any entry points here although the coin has provided 7x returns in USD over 6 months.

Mobius (MOBI) – “connect the world with the blockchain” – is their slogan. It provides integration of tokens and smart contracts into any existing applications, as well as m2m (machine-to-machine) payments. During the ICO it raised $35 million at $0.16/MOBI. The token itself is used for payment in dApp store and stacking.

The asset does not seem interesting for me for investing.

SureRemit

SureRemit (RMT) is a specific niche product sharpened for quick and cheap remittances targeting migrant workers, as well as micro-payments for utilities. During the ICO it raised $10 million at $ 0.02/RMT. The application is ready, about 700 reception points are open in 5 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

  • SureRemit Price: $0.00458187
  • Market Cap: $2,290,759
  • Trading Volume: $587.40
  • Website: https://sureremit.co/

No entry point since there is virtually no volume.

Ternio

Ternio (TERN) is the “fastest blockchain in the world,” according to the website, with a bandwidth of up to 1 million transactions per second. During the ICO it raised $3 million at $0.02/TERN. The project is designed for online advertising, but according to the developers, can apply to any area where high transaction speed is required.

Maybe a good point to open some minor positions to play against ETH for short term with an aim of 20%.

SIX Network

SIX Network (SIX) is the brainchild of the Thai giant OOKBEE, offering “blockchain integration into everyday life.” During the ICO it raised $42 million ($ 0.1/SIX). The team released a universal wallet and founded a blockchain fund. Beta version is scheduled for the third quarter of 2019.

  • SIX Network Price: $0.01072694
  • Market Cap: $2,924,708
  • Trading Volume: $157,785
  • Website: https://six.network/

Here could be a good option to play against BTC. Currently, the price is around 250 Satoshi, and the target could be in a range of 400-450. Volumes are increasing, but no major exchanges are present.

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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4.9 stars on average, based on 41 rated postsVladislav Semjonov has a legal and financial background. He has been involved in crypto space since early 2017 in both ICO advising positions in several ICO consultancy firms, and as an ICO analyst for VC. He began contributing for Hacked.com in April 2017.




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What is Bakkt? Preparing for the Physical Bitcoin Futures Market

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As interest in the global cryptocurrency market grows, the need for a safe and efficient way to use digital assets grows with it. This article will focus on the Bakkt platform, which will allow institutional customers to perform various operations with digital assets as part of a seamless global network.

Investors and Team

The brains behind Bakkt is none other than Jeff Sprecher, head of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the world’s premier stock exchange operator. The project’s CEO will be Sprecher’s spouse, Kelly Loeffler, head of ICE’s digital assets department.

Behind the development of the project is Intercontinental Exchange itself – the operator of global stock exchanges and data services. Bakkt will cooperate with such giants in the field of emerging consumer fintech, like BCG, Starbucks, Microsoft. The main goal is to form an accessible ecosystem capable of supporting the growing needs of the digital assets market. Investors of Bakkt include Fortress Investment Group, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Horizons Ventures, Pantera Capital, Protocol Ventures, Susquehanna International Group, LLP, as well as British billionaire and hedge fund manager Alan Howard.

Main Objectives 

Bakkt is supposed to integrate institutional level markets with a custodian services system through trade and consumer applications. The first phase of the project will focus on trading and exchange transactions with Bitcoin and fiat currencies. The choice in favor of Bitcoin is explained by the fact that it still has the highest liquidity in the cryptocurrency market.

By combining consumer and institutional applications with a regulated infrastructure, project founders seek to ensure transparency and trust in digital asset markets. This will provide the project with a key role in increasing institutional, trade and consumer participation in the field of digital assets.

As part of the initial offer of Bakkt, ICE plans to release non-digital Bitcoin futures with custodian services in the first quarter of 2019, subject to review and approval of by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Future regulated trading platforms will establish new protocols to manage specific security requirements and transactions with digital assets. In addition, the clearinghouse will form a special guarantee fund, financing of which will be provided by Bakkt.

As Hacked previously reported, Bakkt was originally scheduled for launch by mid-December. The date has since been pushed back to Jan. 24, but this too may face a slight delay. Read more: Bitcoin Pulls Back from Three-Week Highs After Rapid Ascent; Bakkt Postponed Again?

Benefits

This project is considered capable of engineering a global revolution in the field of digital assets and cryptocurrency technologies. This is provided by strong support from technological and financial giants mentioned above.

The main strengths of the project are identified below:

  • Availability of sale, purchase and storage of digital assets to end users.
  • Increase confidence, efficiency in the use of digital assets in commerce.
  • Development of new open ideas for connecting the traditional market liquidity and trade infrastructure to blockchain technology.
  • The company has been operating in the financial market since 2000 and is on the Fortune 500 and Fortune Future 50 list.
  • Its wide range of services includes customer service in investment and trading in global financial markets through exchanges, clearing houses and information services.
  • ICE Data Services is a leader in market data, providing the necessary information and connectivity to virtually any type of asset.
  • ICE is the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, which has helped many companies increase their capital more than any other exchange in the world, stimulating economic growth and transforming markets.
  • Owns the world’s largest market for ETF Arca and the leading platform for mid-tier companies NYSE American.
  • It is a leader in almost all categories of futures for “soft” agricultural products (sugar, coffee and cotton).
  • ICE Futures Europe tops the list of global markets for the sale of Brent crude oil.
    At the end of 2017, it received revenue of $ 4.6 billion.
  • ICE’s powerful trading infrastructure can become a platform for the development of Bakkt, providing it with everything necessary for successful development.
  • The project has enormous potential for ensuring wide recognition and use of digital assets, which in turn will have a positive effect on the overall capitalization of the digital assets market.
  • The project is planned to be launched in early quater 2019 with the participation of the 12 largest world exchanges and a wide range of exchange instruments that will ensure the introduction of Bitcoin into the fiat market as a global digital currency.

The Bakkt project can provide a significant boost in the development of the digital asset market and the expansion of its use. In this regard, the year 2019 can be considered as the year of the merger of two segments of the financial world on a global scale – the fiat market and the sphere of digital assets.

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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4.9 stars on average, based on 41 rated postsVladislav Semjonov has a legal and financial background. He has been involved in crypto space since early 2017 in both ICO advising positions in several ICO consultancy firms, and as an ICO analyst for VC. He began contributing for Hacked.com in April 2017.




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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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