All posts by Captain

Media Protocol: Crypto Rewards for Sharing Content

Media Protocol is a new crypto system that is based on creating rewards for sharing content. How does it achieve such a thing? Mostly through its native ‘Smart URLs’ built by the Media Protocol that track the sharing of content. This creates a more direct economy for content creators, affiliates, and content sharers.

Through the Media Protocol, publishers can promote their content and reach a much wider audience. At the same time, the people who share the content can reap in some of its success. This creates an economic incentive to share good pieces of content that are subsequently more widely shared.

Protocol Value

The protocol value itself comes from different sources. For example, media creators can directly incentivize consumers to consume and interact with their content. How? With the help of the native token of the Media Protocol. And what do content producers get out of this? Simply put – data, and lots of it.

The end consumers who are savvy can benefit from using the Media Protocol, since they are usually ahead of the curve when it comes to trends, and publishers want to hear their opinions. The publishers record their data and preferences, and can now reward them for this participation.

Application and Protocol

The Media Protocol team is building their first application on the Media Protocol called CryptoCatnip. As the name might suggest, this is an app created specifically for the crypto community to learn more about specific cryptocurrencies and crypto-assets. This app is going to be like any other end-consumer app. The team hopes that the crypto community would visit the app as their first stop into the world of crypto news and media content.

This is a smart move by the team because the app provides a proof of concept for other third-party app developers to build other applications for other niches. Many of these protocols rely on the success of third-party developers using their protocols anyway.

Secondly, by focusing on the crypto community specifically, the team has lowered the barrier of entry, since they are preaching to the choir about the benefits of a crypto-token and blockchain. The sale to the consumers becomes much easier.

The CryptoCatnip app therefore serves as a proof of concept of the underlying Media Protocol itself. It is safe to say that very likely the protocol’s success will depend on the success of this proof of concept app, since if it fails, any other community will be harder pressed to use such a system.

If you’re interested to learn more about Media Protocol and the CryptoCatnip app, check out their website and whitepaper. Remember that token sales carry a considerable amount of risk and you can lose all your money. Never invest more than you’re willing to lose and always do your own research before putting any money into ICOs.

MobileBridge Momentum Token – Loyalty Points on Blockchain

Loyalty points is something a lot of businesses use. However, getting loyalty points right is harder than it appears. Got a punch card for getting your eight coffee free? Well, how many millennials do you think are going to carry your card in their wallet? There are apps today for loyalty points, but they come with their own set of challenges of trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. Why? Because you need to abide by the limitations set by the app developers.

Blockchain Solution

However, it does’t have to be like this. We have better technological tools today to do loyalty points right. That’s the aim of MobileBridge Momentum – taking a stab at the loyalty points industry with the help of blockchain.

One immediate drawback of using these points on the blockchain is going to be the transfer fees – it would take a lot of money just to send a couple of points for a small purchase, and may not be economical. However, in the future, as blockchains scale, this fees may very well come down and make this a usable application for small transfers.

For example, the MobileBridge Momentum team can hire some additional developers with the money raised in the token sale to build out a Plasma chain for all of the users of their platform. This will mean real fast confirmation times with little to no fees for these transfers, making it easy to issue these tokens for small purchases.

Loyalty Points Combined with Data

The MobileBridge Momentum pitch goes beyond just loyalty points and into the data plays as well. Customer data is valuable to businesses, or at least the businesses that understand marketing. It all comes down to knowing and understanding your customers, and targeting them appropriately. That’s why Facebook and Google combined are worth a staggering $1 Trillion today.

Of course, if you’re a small business, then you cannot really compete with the biggest advertising companies of our lifetime. Instead, you would want to get your customers to first reveal more data about themselves, and then be able to track them through the sales lifecycle.

The MobileBridge platform that exists today is already geared towards marketing automation for advertisers and marketers. This, integrated with loyalty points on the blockchain, can help small businesses learn more about their customers and in the process capture more value.

Interested to learn more? Check out the MobileBridge website. If you’re interested in the token sale, make sure you read the whitepaper as well. Remember token sale investing is extremely risky and you can lose all your money. Never invest more than you’re willing to lose.

Photo Credit: Jeepers media

Quadrant: Decentralized Data Mapping on the Blockchain

Data is the lifeline of the modern economy. This will only continue to get more important in the future as more firms depend on data. Even more, whole economies are built on data, and these economies are bound to drastically increase their presence in the world. Whole new industries like AI and Machine Learning depend on vast troves of data.

As data becomes more important to the modern economy, the gap between the firms that have their own data and those that don’t is widening. Giants like Google and Facebook with vast data collection prowess are getting ahead of the smaller players. How do you make the playing field even?

Enter Quadrant

Quadrant Making Data More Open

The quadrant protocol is attempting to make data more open, which has many advantages for the smaller players. They can rely on other people’s data sets, other people’s expertise in evaluating the data, and build  their products. This is especially useful for smaller businesses that don’t have the capabilities of Google and Facebook in data collection.

In addition to making data more accessible to smaller players, the Quadrant Protocol is designed to keep data accuracy in mind. This is generally a big issue facing AI and machine learning models, since they are trained on data. If this is training data is inaccurate, the model will produce garbage or incorrect data in its prediction and ultimately prove useless for the real world. Quadrant makes the data vendors in the ecosystem accountable and more honest.

Finally, quadrant is designed to reward the data providers themselves. This is only fair considering they are the ones that have made all these algorithms possible in the first place.

How Quadrant Works

At its core, the Quadrant Protocol is a way to bring the owners of data and the consumers of data into a single platform for interaction.

There are of course many elements that need to come together before this happens. Take trust, for instance. Quadrant is perfectly suited to solve this problem, considering the use of blockchain as a public ledger of trust and provenance. In fact, that’s one of the core uses of a blockchain, as The Economist explained in their Blockchain – the Trust Machine feature.

Quadrant makes it such that any stakeholder in the whole chain can find the provenance of the data that they use. They can vet the sources first-hand instead of relying on third-party unscrupulous data vendors.

With the help of Constellations, the Quadrant Protocol makes it easy to bring disparate data sources into one place, while still maintaining trust as envisioned above. Among the many advantages of this, Constellations are intended to level the playing field so that everyone has access to the data that they need when they need it with the end goal to inspire a new generation of data scientists to discover revolutionary insights and form new businesses. Let the smart people building by themselves have a chance to get paid for their data products.

And that brings us to the final part of this protocol – remuneration. Using their own token, the protocol lets the stakeholders get paid for their efforts at each stage, thus incentivizing parties to be honest and also build useful products for the entire ecosystem, right from data collection to end products.

To learn more, check out the Quadrant website and Quadrant Whitepaper. There is also an ongoing token sale for QUAD tokens that you can check out. Remember that all ICOs are risky and you must do your due-diligence before investing any money. Remember you can lose everything and never invest more than you’re able and willing to lose.

Photo Credit: Eric Fisher

Countinghouse: Trading Crypto Like Forex

The crypto industry is fairly unique in its history, philosophies, and market structures. However, if there is one industry that a lot of the very short-term behavior of crypto can be compared to, that’s Forex. Don’t mistake this for the long-term though – I don’t know of any traditional currency that gains a 100% in a day like crypto can. However, if you’re looking at the very short-term, say minute-by-minute trading action, the charts resemble the Forex market in many ways, especially the leveraged Forex market.

Forex to Crypto Transition

For investors in the crypto asset class then, is there an advantage to have mastered Forex? That’s what the team at Countinghouse is betting on, with their new fund that trades exclusively in crypto using investor money.

Like any project, especially one that trades in the crypto markets, we’d add a risk premium that can go both ways. In a bull market, the returns can be amplified, and in a bear market, the returns can be decimated more than the market. Why? Because the fund still needs to pay fixed costs even if the money in the bank has gone down like 80% in a full cyrpto bear market.

So, it’s a double edged sword. If you’re in crypto and think the markets are not exciting enough, the funds generally make sense. Countinghouse’s strategy is a little different than other funds though.

Strategy and Fundraising

On the strategy side, the Countinghouse fund isn’t doing the traditional ICO investing like many other funds do. Sure, it allocates 10% of the fund for this purpose, but that’s not the majority by any means. Instead, the majority of the money is allocated to algorithmic trading and arbitrage strategies.

What’s the advantage of this? For starters, the team has expertise in Forex. The Forex markets can be quite choppy like crypto especially when you add in leverage. The team is hoping to translate that expertise from Forex to crypto.

Then, crypto is a unique beast. We all know how the market structure is inefficient. During the recent bull run you might remember how the price on Korean exchanges was consistently higher than others. The Clearinghouse team realizes this, and is trying to take advantage of it. Sometimes, these arbitrage funds can make a lot of sense.

For investors then, the expectation is to make profits in both bull and bear markets. Arbitrage, for example, should work in both types of markets. In fact, the strategy should perform well as long as there is volatility in the markets, and we know how that works in crypto!

Clearinghouse also has a different strategy to raise investor money than other crypto hedge funds. It is doing a straightforward ICO for this purpose. Investors give money to the team, and get their tokens. These are security tokens representing ownership in the fund managed by Clearinghouse. You get the benefits of more liquid markets. You also pay less minimum fees, because of granular divisibility.

At the end of the day, you’re making a bet on the team to deliver, so make sure to do your research. Check out the website and whitepaper as the starting point. Remember, investing in tokens is risky business and never invest more than you’re willing and able to lose completely.

Can Blockchain Help with Climate Change?

Climate change is one of the biggest long-term threats that the current generation faces. It is also one of those threats with a very long-term impact not just on individuals or societies, but on humanity as a whole. It is no wonder that people need to marshal all the resources they can to help solve this for the future generations. The current path we’re on isn’t sustainable. The data is clear and unambiguous.

So why don’t we do something about it, if everyone agrees it is a big problem? It is because solving climate change generally requires a sacrifice. Those of us in the developed world consume and emit way more carbon that the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the rest of the world aspires to the standards of the developed world. If we are not to go down this road, people will need to make sacrifices. No one wants to voluntarily lower their standard of living. It’s a deadlock. No wonder nothing substantial gets done, other than the feel-good pats on the back people give themselves for extremely trivial ‘achievements’ in reducing emissions.

The Way Forward

Then what’s the way forward? We need to consider incentives. People will not voluntarily cut emissions, but they can be incentivized to do so. This is a powerful idea that economists have been advocating for a long time anyway. However, the question is, where does this extra reward come from? The usual answer is governments, but we all know the kind of dysfunction that happens there especially in today’s world. Combine that with the political inclinations of the party in power in the world’s largest economy and all of a sudden the prospects don’t look so good.

So what’s a good free market solution to this, and can crypto really help? The answer lies in carbon credits, and it can indeed be implemented on the blockchain. The idea is to reward people for using cleaner energy sources and punish people for using the dirtier sources like coal.

And that’s exactly what a company called Zero Carbon is trying to do – carbon credits on the blockchain to help with reducing emissions on the planet.  They accomplish this with the help of their native token – Energis Token. The way it works is simple – if you’re an energy provider and you use clean energy as part of the system, you get rewarded. Otherwise, you pay a penalty.

The energy suppliers may want to buy Energis Token to manage demand and have the ability to use fossil fuels sometimes. Why? Because we’re not yet at the point where renewables are as reliable as traditional fuels. This is like a ‘bridge’ solution, but it works.

Energis token is a neat attempt at mimicking carbon credits on the blockchain. Let’s see if it works in the marketplace.

If you’re interested to learn more, check out their website and whitepaper.

Real Estate on the Blockchain with Proper Diversification via Global REIT

Global REIT

Real estate on the blockchain has been a hot topic for at least a year now. The real estate industry sees the writing on the wall that their outdated ways to buy and sell real estate won’t last forever. The blockchain provides a perfect launching pad to streamline the industry for investors, owing to its transparency and ability to get multiple parties on the same page. In addition, blockchains are inherently global, and as much as real estate is local, the investors today especially in top cities in the world are from around the globe.

However, this whole blockchain real estate needs to be done right if it is to succeed.

REITs and Property Backed Tokens

Global REIT is taking an interesting approach here, which is from the get go creating a REIT-like instrument for the tokens that it sells. Essentially, it isn’t a platform play but really a real-estate backed crypto token here. So if you like the team and investments, it makes sense to consider the token. The tokens are based by real estate assets in specific locations and verticals, and accrue cash flow accordingly.

Cash flow of course is the name of the game when it comes to real estate. Using Ethereum based tokens, it is easy to track ownership and changes of ownership over time. This makes the accounting easier. The big win is for global investors. For example, Global REIT is buying its first property in UAE. How many, say Australian investors have exposure to real estate in the middle east? Now it is possible through their tokens.

Of course the UAE property is the first step. The company has plans to expand to other markets including the UK. Crypto payments make it easier to go through the paperwork and compliance for ownership and transfer of these rights. The company intends to pay dividends on these tokens in Tether, backed by the cash flows of the actual properties on the ground.

Real Estate Tokens

There are two tokens at play here – the GREM and GRET tokens. These will be sold in an initial crowdsale to investors, very similar to an ICO. The GREM token pays out a 2% AUM (assets under management) that decreases to 1.25% in 0.25% increments over time but never below 1.25%. The GRET token pays out a stable 8% per annum dividend on the first acquired asset, which is the UAE property for Global REIT. Each property will have its own GRET token and contract.

More numbers for you. The company plans to start with $75 million in AUM and reach $2 billion in AUM in 3 years. Yes, that’s a highly ambitious goal, but could provide some real diversification to real estate investors if they succeed.

The team isn’t limiting its investments to a geography or asset type. Its roadmap has everything from a hotel in UK to a shopping mall in UAE. But since GRET tokens are different for each property, investors can build their own collection of real estate tokens if they so wish. Otherwise, they can just invest in GRAM tokens as described above.

If you’re a real estate and/or crypto enthusiast and want to learn more, check out their website and whitepaper. Be very careful if you invest any money in the tokens, since it is a risky investment and you can lose all your money. Do your due diligence and never invest more than you can lose.

Photo Credit: michaela loheit

Yumerium Building a Crypto Layer for Online Gaming

Yumerium crypto

Yumerium is building a crypto layer for online gaming. This would help new games and game developers easily add a layer of crypto in their existing games, and also simultaneously be a part of an ecosystem.

The idea is that Yumerium builds a crypto token, called YUM, which can then be integrated by existing online games into their products. This is easier when the game is being developed, but developers can also do this integration after the fact, i.e. after the game has already been developed.

Advantages of Yumerium

So why should online games add Yumerium? There are many reasons for this. Firstly, games can use the YUM token to create incentive structures for influencers. This will help them reach a wider audience than without their help. They can also pay people in YUM to play their games and share it with their friends, thus helping the peer to peer aspect of gaming and marketing. They can also pay people to write about their experience, thus reaching out to the broader gaming community.

But why use YUM for this? The answer lies in the network. If Yumerium can create a thriving ecosystem of players, developers, and influencers, then YUM becomes valuable. This is because you have access to this network. It is no longer just a payment means now.

Game development is a competitive endeavor, and therefore developers look for an edge to promote their game. A crypto layer is another advantage for the game. Gamers can pay in crypto, i.e. YUM token for in-game items. This is a huge revenue source for games already.

New Market Potential

The idea behind Yumerium is that of a network. The network, powered by YUM, could do better than an individual game can. If this proves to be true, what Yumerium is building can become very valuable for game developers.

In addition, don’t forget the new frontiers. We already know that crypto is heavily dominated by the young people i.e. Millennials and Gen-Zers. This is also the prime demographic for crypto. Therefore, gaming and crypto can easily benefit each other. New games can appeal to the crypto community specifically. This is beneficial because the crypto community tends to have money to spend for in-game assets as well. If you don’t believe me, check out the prices of digital cats on Crypto Kitties!

Yumerium plans to build a network of games that can collectively benefit each other just as networks tend to do. Gamers can explore new games, write about them, and share with their friends and get rewarded for it. New games have a community to build into.

To learn more, check out the Yumerium website. They are doing an ICO, so if you  want to invest, be sure to read the whitepaper and understand that investing in token sales can be very risky.

Photo Credit: xmodulo

Wemark: Photo Licensing Platform with Crypto Payments

Wemark crypto

We are generally interested in niche applications for crypto. This is the best way to capture the market, after all. Get the first initial users who are passionate about the product and also see great value. Then expand beyond the initial use case. This is the tried and true model for startups, and should be adopted more by blockchain/crypto startups too.

Today, let’s look at one such company – Wemark. It is a project in a very specific niche – photo licensing. And that industry could definitely use some new technological disruption. After all, photographers hardly made a third of the revenue these companies generate! It is a huge oligopoly because it is a two-sided marketplace. The big ones – Shutterstock and Getty Images, have cornered the market for paying clients, so photographers are left with no choice but to play ball and go with whatever they offer.

There are all sorts of competitors in the space, as is expected, given these profit margins. However, none has succeed in replacing these behemoths. Could a crypto startup do it?

Wemark provides 85% of the revenue to the photographers. That’s around 3 times what they can share with the larger companies. The sell for photographers is a no-brainer. The biggest question is, will Wemark be able to attract the commercial deals that these large companies specialize in? We’ll have to wait and see how that turns out, since it is only now beginning to operate and offer photos to such clients.

Wemark offers payments to photographers in its own native token, which may be an issue for more mainstream photographers down the line since it would be harder to convert into fiat, but as a first step in acquisition, it should be manageable or the company itself can run some sort of informal exchange for the photographers.

We originally talked about dominating one industry and then going on from there. If Wemark is successful in the photography business and can actually provide value to both sides of the marketplace and more importantly actually see parties on both sides of the marketplace, then there is no reason why it cannot go beyond. The company already plans to enter the digital asset space using a similar model. This can be anything – doesn’t need to be photos, after all.

How the company performs in the photography market remains to be seen. The company also needs to provide value and utility to its native token, since that is what is being used for payments, and shouldn’t have too high of a velocity, which would cause the market cap to remain small.

Overall, the photo licensing industry is one that is definitely in need for some disruption. Wemark approaches this using a crypto token for payments and providing a higher percentage of payment to photographers. Whether these are enough to attract buyers remains to be seen.

To learn more, check out the Wemark website and whitepaper.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Kennedy

Essentia: The Single Entry to the Decentralized Web

Essentia

Essentia is one of those projects that benefits the entire crypto ecosystem if it were to succeed in its mission. In fact, not just crypto specifically, but the entire ‘decentralized web’. Today more than ever, the importance of a decentralized web cannot be overstated. We should do everything in our power to make the move away from centralized behemoths – the Facebooks of the world, towards a decentralized web where users are in control – the Blockstacks of the world.

Problem of ‘Too Much’

So where does Essentia fit into this picture? On the user and adoption side. To start off, just think of just the crypto-asset space, i.e. your favorite tokens. If you were to hold the keys, which is how you should do crypto, how many wallets do you need to download? What if a new crypto interests you? Is each of them secure enough to download on your own computer? What a user experience nightmare! No wonder people just don’t bother and leave their coins on an exchange, which has been a terrible idea throughout the short history of this industry.

To be sure, this is a big problem. People who are new to crypto for example cannot be expected to download a hundred wallets and store them safely on their computers with appropriate backups. It is just not feasible for mass adoption.

The Essentia Solution

Now, what something like Essentia does is still let the user be in charge of all the crypto, data, apps, etc. but through a single master seed. Everything else flows deterministically from this seed. The user has the seed and keeps that one single seed secure and backed up. This would automatically keep everything else the user does secure and backed up as well. No need to trust a third-party to manage keys or data anymore.

Already, Essentia has integrated several of the most prominent crypto-assets and crypto-applications into its platform, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, IPFS, Status, Gnosis, etc. This means that a user who wants to transact in Bitcoin, pay for a DApp in Ether, store some data in IPFS and participate in some prediction markets can do all of that via a single entry point through Essentia.

This is a powerful way to interact with this new and emerging decentralized web, because the user doesn’t need to follow every single isolated app in isolation. Instead, for the user, they can just log into their Essentia, with their ID, and everything else just flows naturally from there. It brings down the user experience gap between centralized and decentralized applications.

If you’re interested to learn more, check out the Essentia website and their whitepaper.

Photo Credit: Georgie Pauwels

Decentralizing the Travel Agent Business Model Using Crypto

Cool Cousin Crypto

The travel agent business model is a strange one for the newer millennial and Gen-Z audience. They are used to doing everything by themselves on the internet. Travel agents, to this generation, sounds really anarchic. Why would they need one?

Actually, there are many advantages of having a travel agent arrange your trip. They know more about the local on the ground conditions to where you’re traveling better than you. It is true that services like TripAdvisor and AirBnB are second nature to the younger generations. Still, in a new city, especially a new country, there are enough differences than someone more experienced than just reading words online can provide better on-the-ground intelligence towards local norms, traditions, and customs.

The newer generations then have a dilemma. They never really feel the need for a travel agent, since they are happy using the online tools that they have. However, it would still be nice to have the ability of a travel agent when it comes to on-ground intelligence.

Enter Cool Cousin

Cool Cousin is a new take on the travel agent market. Why go to a boring stodgy travel agent when you can find a cheery next door neighbor when you visit? That’s the premise of Cool Cousin. Instead of going to a brick and mortar agent and get charged a lot of fees, how about just connect people locally in the area with visitors? Thus the name – it is like having a cool cousin living in the city you visit!

The idea of Cool Cousin is a natural extension of the ‘sharing economy’ that became popular in the US and elsewhere after the financial crash of 2008-09. This period gave us companies like Airbnb and Uber that brought together two sides of a marketplace on a single platform. The users have complete freedom and flexibility of work, including whether to accept a gig or when to be available for one.

Peer to Peer Meets Crypto

Cool Cousin is already an app that is for the peer to peer economy, and is being used today. Therefore the company already has a big set of users that use the platform today for finding that perfect peer to peer travel agent on the ground in their travel market.

Imagine, however, how much move powerful this can be if it also incorporates a crypto token for payments. In fact, the token lets you do much more, and in a way ‘drives’ the users of the platform towards certain tasks. The token is also used to incentivize user behavior.

With the rise of crypto, it is only natural to see the ‘sharing’ economy mix with peer to peer currencies, i.e. cryptocurrencies. We are seeing a rise in number of tokens that facilitate such behavior and allow platforms to scale.

Cool Cousin is, in a nutshell, using crypto to advance the usage in the travel industry.

If you’re interested in learning more, make sure to check out the website and read the whitepaper. It also has a token sale, but please note that investing in token sales in extremely risky and you can lose all your money. Never invest even a penny more than you can afford to lose.

Photo Credit: PictureKat