A Digital Streaming Blockchain Startup Wants to Mend Relationships between ‘Pirates’ and Fans

It is always good to see startups use blockchain technology to solve issues in the real world, or use the technology as a means to a better world. White Rabbit should qualify as one of those attempts.

Founded by a team of software professionals and movie professionals, it is geared at the creative industry. More specifically, the project aims to better the relationship between ‘pirates’ who stream digital media content, and the creators of that content, by ensuring that the right people get paid when media is streamed, without burdening the end user and without the need for third-party middle men.

The problems of ‘pirating’ are well known, but White Rabbit is making a bet that many of these so-called pirates are just fans waiting to discover the next great creative uproar. Pirating is easy and provides access to the content that the fans want. It is fast and efficient. However, in that process, the connection between the fans and creators can get lost with our current infrastructure.

Digital subscriptions don’t solve the problem completely, because each is its own silo. If you need content, you’ll need to sign up for Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and whatnot. This is not the most convenient option for fans to access content. Therefore, they look for alternatives, that don’t necessary reward the content creators. In addition, these closed ecosystems all have their own logins and monthly payments – something not always feasible for ordinary people.

So what’s the solution? It is partly philosophical – treating fans as fans and not ‘pirates’, and partly technological – make it as easy as possible to help out the creators you enjoy.

The White Rabbit solution is to completely separate distribution from payments. This means the manner and method of accessing content doesn’t have a direct bearing on the payments to the content creators. This is a powerful idea, and time will tell if it is something that catches on with both sides.

In addition, by using blockchain and cryptocurrencies to run the platform, the team has chosen technology that is inherently transparent and pretty much instantaneous. You no longer need to trust some shady third-parties telling you how you should get paid. You can audit every single transaction on the blockchain yourself, and know how many fans actually subscribed to your work.

In addition, the White rabbit solution offers a way to increase revenue for the content creators by engaging directly with their fans. Today, that is just not possible on traditional sites like Netflix and Amazon. However, creators can really tap into the long-tail of their fan base and make a living off of it. Remember the 1000 true fans concept?

If you like to learn more about White Rabbit, check out their website here and their whitepaper here.

Blockchains Enabling New Economies: A FCFL Case Study

If you draw an analogy between the early internet and world wide web of the early 90s with where blockchains are today, you can see many similarities. When the web was young and early in the 90s, everyone was just looking to do things they knew from other domains, and put it on the web. This is how you ended up with a lot of terrible ideas, which ultimately led to the dot com crash. We are seeing a very similar pattern today with ICOs. You take an existing idea or concept, and try to make it ‘on the blockchain’, similar to ‘adding dot com to your name’ before the dot com crash. No wonder then that there are terrible ideas being produced in the ICO markets today.

But don’t despair! The dot com crash didn’t mean the end of the web. Rather, it meant a refinement of the startups, their ideas, and a focus on what’s important and what matters. No longer were people looking to be lazy and just ‘do it on a website’. Instead, once you start treating the web as an organic whole, a complex system, which has characteristics different from what came before, you were able to create multi-billion dollar companies that have changed life on the planet.

Similarly, today many projects take the ideas of the old economy and try to do that on the blockchain. This doesn’t usually work, but will work in some cases.

However, the biggest advantage of the blockchain is that it is a new paradigm in and of itself. This is a powerful idea, and powerful ideas will be built on it in the future. You need to look at applications that make sense in a blockchain world, not the ones that are borrowed from the old economy. Blockchains and crypto-tokens enable a brave new economic world, and people need to get used to thinking in those terms.

That brings us to today’s project that we want to discuss with you – FCFL, or Fan Controlled Football League. We like bold ideas, even if they fail, because these ideas push the envelope of what’s possible. FCFL is definitely a bold idea, because it is trying to create a new sort of sporting experience that is hard to impossible without the blockchain backbone.

So what is FCFL building that gets us so excited? It is a new sporting paradigm where the fans are in control. Forget the days of sitting on your couch, with a beer in hand, yelling at the television screen because your team didn’t do what you wanted it to do. Instead, if you think you’re so good, why don’t you tell your team what to do? Seriously, what’s what FCFL allows you to do – direct your team’s plays. Everything is fan controlled, including the plays during the game. That’s pretty revolutionary for professional sports, and a new paradigm. Fans do everything from drafting to deciding plays during the game!

All of this is enabled with the help of the native FAN token. The voting power that you get is proportional to the number of FAN tokens you have, along with other things like how good you are. This is a nice use of the token, and it will find use among fans and sports enthusiasts in general. This gives it value to these people.

We are always looking at project pushing the frontier. With FCFL, the pro-sports category is up for grabs. Any takers?

Check out their website and whitepaper to learn more.

The Application Layer DApps: FortKnoxster Case Study

FortKnoxster-On-Devices
There’s been a lot of debate about ‘protocol tokens vs. application tokens’ in the crypto community. Since the space is so new, no one really understands how it will evolve. However, some VC investors with a lot of money made some theses about the evolution of the space, declaring protocol tokens to be ‘superior’ to application tokens. We at Crypto Sailor reject that hypothesis. In fact, in a world of copy-paste altcoins, we like to see real applications. Real applications with real users. And real use case of course.

Today, we discuss one such application to prove our point – FortKnoxster. It is an application that makes clever use of a crypto-token. The token is used to drive the application. The application has a direct use of the token. The strength of the project lies not in creating a new blockchain protocol but in creating an application with real users, willing to use it because of a compelling selling point.

In the case of FortKnoxster, that unique selling point, or USP, is around privacy and variety of communications. All the data on the system is encrypted, which means no company has access to your private data, not even FortKnoxster. This is a real need for both businesses and individuals in a globally connected world that leaks a lot of data about users and systems through everyday conveniences like using a messaging app.

The variety of communications part is also interesting. It does a combination of many things you’ll do with separate apps today – from storing of files like a Google Drive to the chat platform, like Telegram. In fact, the team calls its product ‘Telegram on steroids’, so it does much more than what Telegram does. In addition, all of this is encrypted, which means no third-party can read or listen in to your work or conversations. This is important for trust and privacy, and is what will ultimately drive consumer adoption for the FortKnoxster application.

So why does the app need a token in the first place? Once there are real users using the system, based on the compelling use case of private communications, it is only a matter of time before the amount of data hosted and used by the app explodes. The token is used to ensure that the data is being adequately stored by the peers, in a peer to peer network of sharing data, like IPFS.

Also, the token is used for all the native functions in the app, like upgrading storage for example. As with other applications, it is helpful to have a native currency with the users that is controlled by the system and its users as opposed to external parties and sources. This gives more control to users and developers.

We see compelling projects at all levels – be it protocol layer like Ethereum or application layer like FortKnoxser. The industry is evolving at a rapid rate, and we should welcome applications that make use of the blockchain for their business case. Ultimately, after all, it is applications that end users will use, and that will drive the adoption of blockchain platforms.

Analysis of Crypto Asset Manager Tokens: Sharpe Capital

Sharpe Capital
Sharpe Capital is a new crypto project in the asset management space. It’s token, SHP, provides dividends based upon how well the proprietary fund performs. This might make you think it is similar to existing asset management tokens like ICN or TaaS. However, it is important to appreciate the differences in the token behavior and token value to fully appreciate what Sharpe Capital is all about.

First the similarities. The Sharpe Capital team will invest in the crypto markets through a proprietary fund. The profits are then shared with the holders of the SHP token. The ‘dividend’ is paid every month, depending on how many SHP tokens you own. This is very similar to what TaaS does with its tokenized asset management platform. Iconomi is similar but the method of returning capital to token holders is through a buyback and burn instead of an ETH dividend.

However, there are also considerable differences between the approaches of Sharpe Capital and other tokenized asset managers like TaaS. For one, the token holders actually need to perform work in order to qualify receiving their dividend. In this way, it is not a passive investment with expectation of profit. In fact, the better work you do, the more you get paid.

So what’s this work? Simple – it is crowdsourcing of sentiment data. If you predict the sentiment correctly, you’ll be rewarded more. The data collected with this crowdsourced intelligence of sentiment on assets is used in the algorithm that the team employs to generate profits.

Another difference in the approach that Sharpe Capital is taking is around the kinds of assets that it trades. The team plans to trade both traditional equity type investments and also crypto-assets. Also, remember that the token holders will generate their own estimates of crowdfunded sentiment analysis. This itself is a product that can be sold in the marketplace, if there is interest from financial industry players like hedge funds. Therefore, similar to Iconomi’s ICN, the SHP token holders also have multiple potential sources of return.

As the asset management space expands, it is important to keep an eye out on these tokens because they could be big winners. This is because they gain a lot when the crypto industry as a whole expands. We’ve seen in 2017 that the industry can grow incredibly fast. This is not just for Bitcoin or Ethereum but new ICOs and new tokens for promising projects as well. All of this provides plenty of sources of generating profits by pooled capital investment vehicles like TaaS, ICONOMI, and Sharpe Capital.

We’re not in the business of picking winners, but the asset and industry trend is your friend. Check out Sharpe Capital and also their pretty detailed whitepaper to learn more.

Building the Infrastructure Around Blockchain-Based Data Markets

Datawallet DXT
Blockchain-based data markets are going to be the new emerging trend from 2017 onwards. I’d give it a period of 5-10 years to mature, but would give the trend 10-20 years to play out. Why? Because people are starting to care about their data, and blockchain markets are significantly more powerful than existing solutions.

We have already discussed about blockchain data markets in the past. Readers will remember the project Loomia that we discussed. The problem with such projects is that the data markets side of the equation is ad-hoc. This isn’t entirely bad. After all, the business model of Loomia is to build a physical product, not a data exchange protocol.

However, astute readers would have seen that demand for the market already. What about other blockchain projects in the future? If they want to make a data play, how do they create data markets? Should every project use its own separate blockchain based market? The answer is no – we need a standardized solution that can help trade all kinds of individual data. This is the only way these data markets can scale – attracting both sides of the marketplace in one location and therefore building the necessary network effects to attract other players.

Datawallet: Building the Market Standard

With this backdrop, let’s look at a new project called Datawallet. The team is building the much lacking data markets standard on the blockchain. The protocol itself is agnostic to what kind of data is being traded on the marketplace. This is different from the other projects we discussed, like Loomia, which are project-specific data schemas.

Datawallet is trying to become the de-facto standard in this fast emerging trend where advertisers and data brokers no longer have unfettered and unrestricted access to the data we generate. Instead, it is us, as producers of the data, who benefit from it by allowing companies to bid for it, and sell the data to trusted entities. This is ambitious to be sure. It turns a lot of current business models on the web upside down.

But Datawallet is part of a larger emerging trend where people care about the data they generate. Therefore, I’d expect less headwinds and more tailwinds in this area.

Also, remember that blockchains enable really great marketplaces to be built, which are global and without geographic boundaries. This is true of data today as well. This is a big reason why such data markets need to be built on the blockchain instead of as yet another centralized third-party marketplace. Therefore, a researcher in Norway can now access data about Australian social media users, to build a model to predict how to make social media less addictive and more educative for children under 16. This would all be possible with the right data markets in place.

If you’re interested to learn more about the team’s thinking on this matter, they have a fairly good blog that you can check out. Blogs are good because they help clarify the team’s high-level thinking on the subject matter. You can see if you agree or disagree with them. If you want to learn even more, check out the whitepaper as well.

Blockchain Enabled Data Markets – A New Frontier

Loomia

There’s an interesting emerging trend that will become more dominant in the crypto landscape over the next 5-10 years. If you identify and play the trend well, you can make some really good investments for your future. The trend we’re talking about today is data markets on the blockchain.

Think of how valuable data is. Facebook is valued around $500 billion today. What does Facebook have really? Simple – data. That’s literally it. Now go calculate your worth to Facebook.

Data as the New Oil

The Economist recently wrote a fascinating article about how data is the new oil. If so, the companies that own your data today are running you dry, and not even paying you for it. But today is just the first step of a multi-decade evolution where increasing amounts of data will be collected, with or without your consent. In such a scenario, how is it ever possible to empower the individual to hold on to her data and benefit from it, instead of selling it for pennies to some multinational corporation?

The simple answer is data markets. If you own your data, you can benefit from it from a marketplace of data. Just as you can buy rare stamps on eBay, companies will be able to buy data  that they need directly from individuals instead of just getting it from free as they’ve done historically this century.

Blockchain and Data Markets

The cryptocurrency revolution is a perfect use case for data markets where it is the individuals who hold on to the data and its rights of use, and they sell it only if they want to. Individuals select who they want to sell the data to. Think Google is too creepy? Don’t sell them the data. Like what a new Swedish machine learning startup is doing? Sure, share your data with them. The point is, you are in control, not anonymous corporations.

The blockchain gives you all the tools to do that, from encrypting your data, to using your keys to selectively provide access to some companies. But most importantly, the crypto-economy enables a ready marketplace of individuals and potential buyers, who can interact at a global level and create a marketplace with ease.

Loomia Case Study

While studying the current data markets on blockchain, we came across the project Loomia. It seems to fit the data markets hypothesis presented above pretty perfectly.

One reason is that their product, embedded into everyday fabrics, collects a lot of data, so it is valuable enough for researchers and third parties to have access to. Another reason is they take privacy seriously. If this wasn’t the case, there is no need of a market because third-party companies can get it for free. The Loomia Tile is a product that stores all the individual’s data, and no third party has access to it. All of a sudden, the data generated by an individual is actually valuable and the individual benefits from it. Lastly, it is using crypto and blockchain to sell access to this data to third-parties, keeping the individual in control at all times.

This will likely prove to be an interesting experiment, and we look forward to following Loomia’s progress. You can read more about the specifics of the project in their whitepaper.

BankEx – Bank as a Service on the Blockchain

Banks have been talking about using ‘blockchain technology’ for several years now, with several proofs of concept in the works, but never something compelling. This is because a lot of blockchain technology was pitched as a means to cut costs in back office and settlement/reconciliation. What if this is backwards? What if the best way for banks to adopt this technology is not through cost cutting but through new revenue generation? That usually gets banks much more excited than saving some money.

That’s what BankEx is aiming to do. Not just make blockchain technology interesting to banks, but also be able to compete with them, via fintech banking services delivered on the blockchain. This is the start of Bank as a Service, or BaaS as the team calls it.

This will immediately appeal to banks and financial institutions because now they are going to see blockchain not as just another database to reduce costs of reconciliation, but as a source of new business and revenue generator. This is what is powerful about the approach that BankEx is taking with their crypto project.

What else does the platform provide? A big concern revolves around liquidity and transparency in the markets. This is not always obvious to outsiders, but people inside the industry know how difficult it can be to parse what goes on behind the scenes, and how all the assets and agreements come together.

As a simple example, consider the Lehman Bankruptcy that shook the world financial system in 2008, the precursor to the global financial crisis. The way it was entangled in the system was not obvious to any single entity on Wall Street – not even Lehman itself! This is because the instruments are not transparent but opaque. If an entity looks into the system or books, they don’t get much information. How do you solve for this issue of transparency in banking assets in the system even today, 10 years after the financial crisis?

The answer is blockchain, which naturally lends itself to transparency from investors and other market participants. This greatly helps the capital markets and banking both at the same time – which is important for adoption of the technology.

BankEx also hopes to inject liquidity into the marketplace, so it aims to bring different banks on the same platform to trade with each other. This greatly helps with liquidity in the banking system. This is important because now banks can sell their assets more easily, and also due to price discovery. Instead of having to go out and look for a seller, which is usually another bank or financial institution in the same country, the bank can now open it up to literally every investor and financial institution in the world, therefore opening up to a much larger pool of investors than ever possible previously.

If BankEx succeeds in its mission, it can redefine how banks and banking in general operates. Check out the site here and the whitepaper here.

Crypto Working with an International Central Securities Depository? It’s Possible with CyberTrust

CyberTrust logo

Clearstream is one of the two European International Central Securities Depositories (Euroclear being the other). A Central Securities Depository, CSD for short, is responsible for the custody of securities that trade in the markets or over the counter. A CSD is responsible for the administration of a security – for example a dividend paid by a stock or a reorg of a bond issue. They therefore play a central role in the financial system’s value chain.

Today, Clearstream holds custody of assets over $15 trillion in value. Let that value sink in for a moment. That’s $15,000,000,000,000 – 15 followed by 12 zeroes. It is naturally a behemoth when it comes to size and importance in the financial infrastructure not just in Europe but globally.

One big advantage of Clearstream over other local CSDs is its ability to hold a variety of assets – it can hold Swedish bonds and German equities both with equal ease for investors. This is especially attractive to global banks and hedge funds, who can use the services of Clearstream for a global portfolio.

It is with this background that we’d like to delve into the importance of crypto-asset based financial instruments that can settle in Clearstream. The largest global banks, custodians, and financial institutions participate in an economy where the likes of Clearstream are central to their investing models. Therefore, wouldn’t it be great if you can somehow trade, say Bitcoin, at Clearstream instead of going to say a shady exchange like Bitfinex? The financial industry certainly thinks so, which is why it is still hard to find them actively involved with the crypto markets, even though there is a lot of money to be made in these markets.

Enter CyberTrust. The company is doing exactly this – allowing global banks, hedge funds, and other financial institutions to gain exposure to crypto as easily as they would gain exposure to German bonds. This is done via a clever legal structure that is tax protected via Dutch foundations, and which takes the help of a non-operating SPV, which enables the issuance of an Exchange Traded Note.

One pre-requisite for this entire structure to work is the creation of an ISIN – International Securities Identification Number. This is required for any security that trades in such international markets and settles in a CSD like Clearstream. For example, Apple has an ISIN of  US0378331005, which uniquely identifies Apple to the market participants. No other financial instrument in the world has the same ISIN. Similarly, if you’re going to trade crypto with the help of Clearstream’s custody services, then you need an ISIN, which can be a challenge.

However, the CyberTrust team already has an advanced application for this, and will likely get it approved even before the ICO is finished! That’s great news not just for banks but also CyberTrust investors. Each time someone creates this SPV to trade Bitcoin or Ether, they need to make use of CyberTrust’s token, which is what gives it value. The more assets it holds, the higher the value of the token will be.

This is one of the few crypto projects that is building bridges to the existing financial system rather than naive talk about disintermediating them. If this appeals to you, check out their website and read the whitepaper.

Arcona Brings Digital Property Rights to the AR World Using Blockchain

Arcona is going for a showdown – how big can the virtual property market get? Could it one day rival the real estate market we have today, which is estimated to be at $217 trillion. That’s 217,000 Billion Dollars, an unfathomably large value. Compare that to the entire market capitalization of the crypto market today at just $225 billion and you get an idea.

But real estate is just one form of property rights that we exercise in the world today. There are many such possibilities, such as patents. The blockchain can work as a solution for many of these possibilities, since it keeps a history of ownership along with proof that it was recorded at the time. It also tracks its sale and transfer throughout the history – an invaluable resource.

So what exactly is Arcona building? An entire new economy in the AR world. AR, which stands for Augmented Reality, mixes the real world with the virtual world to provide never before seen experiences. AR can be a gamechanger is technology broadly speaking – even the largest publicly traded company on the planet, Apple, is betting huge on AR with ARKit and the CEO Tim Cook has pegged the future of his company to AR.

In the AR world, there is only virtual property, but property anywhere behaves the same and has the same needs. Trading. Renting. Protection against fake proofs of ownership. History of transfers. The Arcona team is building out that marketplace to perform all these tasks but in the AR world.

Crypto and blockchain provide the perfect technology to accomplish all of these. Trades can be peer to peer and recorded on the blockchain, so no one can steal your virtual AR property from you. Everything is recorded on the blockchain. What’s more, all trades take place in Arcona’s native token, Arcon Token. This gives the tokens immediate and instant value. This is in stark contract to many other current projects especially in the ICO market that have no conceivable use case for their token whatsoever.

The project is ambitious for sure. It is high risk but the returns are potentially very high too. The market is wide open. AR can be the next big tech trend that will drive the market forward for the next decade or so. See you common smartphones are today? Ubiquitous 4G? That could be AR tomorrow. The growth opportunities are truly exponential for the company that gets this market right.

Could Arcona be the one?

A Blockchain Based on Bank Accounts? Yup, that’s BABB

BABB
If you think you’ve seen it all in crypto, think again. Or at least, the project BABB will make you think again. Traditionally, crypto is viewed as a way to bypass the traditional financial industry. That was essentially the origin story of Bitcoin. But what if the crypto industry can work with, instead of work against, the traditional banking system, while still retaining the main decentralized, and peer-to-peer payments ethos? Well, that’s the goal of an ambitious London-based project called BABB, which stands for Bank Account Based Blockchain (i.e. a blockchain based on bank accounts).

The goal of the BABB project is to  create a decentralized banking platform. To that end, the use of crypto and blockchain is only one part of the equation. The team leverages blockchain, sure, but also other nascent and emerging technologies like AI and biometrics.

We tend to like business-driven projects that use technology to achieve their goals and not the other way around.

The methodology of going about this is quite interesting as well. The team wants to give global and universal access to UK bank accounts, but in a compliant way. The product is specifically geared towards peer-to-peer commerce, a fast emerging branch in the world today.

Let the gravity of the project sink in though – the ability for anyone in the world to have access to UK banking is pretty new and revolutionary. This would greatly help people in the emerging economies, especially those in the informal sectors of the economy, and the ‘gig economy’. They would now be in full control of their finances, and be able to participate in markets that are global as opposed to local.

Business would benefit from this as well, because they can now integrate BABB’s technology stack into their own payment workflows, and all of a sudden, it is as simple to hire and pay someone from halfway around the world than it is to pay the employees in your office.

An interesting product that the team is also building is the Black Card. It is a card that allows you to pay for goods and services anywhere in the world, in both fiat and cryptocurrencies. Essentially, it is like a bank in your wallet, but it does more than simple money transfers by being compatible with a variety of different forms of payment, including fiat.

This is therefore different from the more traditional approach some crypto ‘debit card’ companies are using, which is to use a via or mastercard network to transfer payment while selling cyrpto on the backend. With the Black Card, the existing payment rails completely go out the window, so you’re never relying on that network at all. Pretty cool if you ask me.

BABB is having an ICO. Check out their website for more details.