All posts by Captain

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

Blockchains, Sovereignty, and Bitnation

Since the very first days of Bitcoin being released to the world, a few people saw the fundamental potential of such a technology. To them, Bitcoin was less about just money and more about sovereignty, but in the context of money.

For almost a hundred years, money has been in the control of governments. Governments declare what is legal tender, and how you can pay your taxes, i.e. in fiat money ordained by the government. No longer was money the realm of free markets where traders, buyers, and sellers come to an agreement on how to transact. It was instead a tool of the government.

Bitcoin changed all that. For the first time ever, it was possible to create completely digital money that can be transferred between parties without a central intermediary sitting between the parties. This works even if the network is made up of distrusting parties – all parties will trust the ledger that is decentralized.

This already had profound implications for self-sovereignty in general. After all, the ability to trade and exchange value with other humans is so fundamental to our being and survival that it is hard not to say that he who controls this process of exchange wields an ungodly power over us. Bitcoin was created to reduce this centralized power.

The ideas that Bitcoin unleashed cannot be put back into the bottle. Bitcoin was just the beginning, with the decentralization of money. What if we could follow along these footsteps to remove other central powers of government? What if, in the ideal, there was an overarching voluntary network that did most of everything we use the government for? A decentralized nation state, so to speak.

Enter Bitnation. That’s exactly what the goals of this highly ambitious blockchain project are. In addition, as opposed to most other projects out there, the Bitnation project tries to keep as close as possible to the original decentralization roots of Bitcoin, which founded the whole space.

Bitnation aims to create a ‘decentralized national passport’ to begin with, by abiding by its constitution. To be clear, this doesn’t have any legal jurisdiction per se. The whole idea is to create a voluntary organization that people are free to join only if they agree with the goals and aims of the group. If not, they are free to abstain.

Dispute resolution is primarily handled through reputation inside the network as opposed to the legal system – again, a case of decentralization coming first as opposed to central institutions and organizations.

Is such an entity even possible? It is a very ambitious project, so we’ll need to wait and see how it develops. If you want to participate, there is a token sale going on. Check out the website and whitepaper. If you invest in the token sale, be absolutely sure you’re only putting in what you can afford to lose – token sales are highly risky and you can lose all your money.

XYO Network and Proof of Location

XYO Network

Blockchains are powerful self-contained economic systems that, by creating the right incentive structures, can make a set of distrusting parties come to a consensus. They are self-contained in that all the information that the participants come to an agreement towards, is all contained inside the blockchain. This keeps the system secure, but also limits its usage. For example, the Bitcoin blockchain doesn’t know about the outside world – say whether the S&P 500 is up or down for the day, or how the USD/JPY market is moving. It doesn’t even know a lot about its own market, i.e. the BTC network nodes don’t know, for example, the price of BTC/USD.

This secure but self-contained aspect of blockchains make their use limited when it comes to the real world. Bitcoin, for example, is only pitched as a store of value and means of payment, not beyond that. However, as we enter the 10th year of blockchains in the real world, we are seeing more and more projects try and tackle this problem of getting real-world information into the blockchain. The XYO Network may very well be one of the most ambitious projects out there.

Real World Location on Blockchain

The XYO Network creates a way to encode real-world information on to the blockchain, which can then be used by other applications. Since XYO is built on Ethereum, other Ethereum projects can use its specialized ‘Proof of Location’ protocol for their own purposes, by integrating with the XYO network.

Why is this important? Think about the implications for a moment. The blockchain, a decentralized and trustless economic machine, can now know about a person or thing’s location. This is powerful, in everything from in-person discounts to drones navigating their way in space by creating a microtransaction to other drones to get out of their way, so they can reach their destination faster.

The application potential of such a universal proof of location protocol are endless. Of course, like with any startup, there is a probability of failure, but the ideas behind a proof of location protocol on the blockchain are especially appealing and powerful.

Actually Deployed Beacons

There are several upcoming projects that are also working on a type of location on the blockchain. However, one thing that the XYO Network has going for it is that it already has a lot of deployed beacons in the wild. In the real world – today. This isn’t vaporware.

These beacons are the ones that measure and transmit the location of objects or people, and their deployment is going to be critical for such a project to succeed. In fact, the proof of location protocol that becomes the de-facto standard will be the one that is able to deploy the most number of beacons, because that’s what gives trust and real-world applicability as opposed to some theoretical musings alone.

The XYO network would actually work as a complement to existing GPS system that is so commonly used for navigation. It will also be more trustless than GPS, since it is on the blockchain and not controlled by one agent like the US government. This may not be a problem in most cases, but in the 1% cases where it is, XYO network can act as a supplement to GPS.

If you’re interested to learn more, check out the XYO network site and the whitepaper to learn more. Make sure you’ve read the documents very carefully if you’re considering investing in the token sale. Remember that investing in token sales is very risky and you can lose all your money. Never invest more than you’re willing to lose in token sales.

Who will Fund the Upcoming IoT Sensor Revolution?

Databroker DAO

Today, we want to take a look at the possible ways to fund the upcoming internet of things revolution. This is a long-term play. Just like the internet took over 30 years before the world wide web really came along, so will the IoT world. The idea has been with us for decades now. However, for such a broad sweeping technology, everything else needs to be in place before it can truly penetrate our society. This is why our world is not unrecognizable today with the advent of IoT.

However, we know that the IoT revolution is coming. You can be a company in New York and get instantaneous weather data in Sydney. The power of this data can be huge. You can know the local conditions, traffic, preferences, etc. everything in real time around the world. It can potentially transform most aspects of human society.

Why is it not here yet? It is mostly because there are other technologies that need to ‘be there’ first before the IoT revolution can take off. Take internet connectivity for example. For an IoT to work, it needs access to high quality, high availability and high bandwidth internet connection. The whole world is just not there yet. Also, bandwidth and storage can be expensive still in many parts of the world, especially for large data transfers that are needed for the IoT revolution.

Then of course, the big challenge is the creation of the sensor itself. This is very subjective because it depends on the type of sensor. There are supplemental technologies like self-driving cars that are making the cost of manufacturing certain types of sensors go down over an exponential curve.

Still, the actual sensors themselves are no trivial engineering problem. After all, you need to ship millions to billions of such sensors, all collecting data and connected to the internet. That’s an immense amount of data that is being collected.

What’s the incentive for deploying these sensors? Right now, it is direct economic incentive, i.e. if Google’s self driving car needs weather conditions on a road, Google will deploy a sensor at that location. However, at scale, this is not a replicable strategy. There are just too many areas around the world to cover.

That’s where Databroker DAO comes it. It is building a decentralized marketplace for data from these IoT sensors. All kinds of buyers and sellers can get together on this marketplace and transact to get the data. So now, instead of companies deploying one sensor, they can effectively ‘rent’ thousands of sensors and get a better picture of the data on the ground, in real time.

Also, the problem of who will deploy the sensors becomes easier – if you think you can make more money via selling the data that the sensor collects, you may as well! Therefore, you don’t need to depend on large corporations. Instead, buy a sensor, deploy it to the network, and get paid for the data collected.

If this idea seems interesting, check out the databroker DAO website and the whitepaper.

Photo Credit: Nathan Chantrell

Enhance Your Privacy Using IPSX

Just browsing the internet today is fraught with perils of loss of privacy. Giants like Google and Facebook track your every move, on or off your website. If you’re using a mobile device and use Android, forget about any expectations of privacy whatsoever. Yes, there is a lot of convenience. But at what cost? Now some people may not care about their personal privacy too much, but that isn’t a universal given. Some of the best works in the world have been done anonymously.

The crypto community especially should be very cognizant of that. After all, the founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, is still a pseudonymous entity, and no one knows who that person in the ‘real world’ is.  Therefore, if you need more privacy when you’re using the internet in general, there are many tools out there from VPNs to the Tor Network.

Today, we want to introduce you to a brand new crypto project called IPSX for IP Exchange. What this platform does is to have a two-sided marketplace for buyers and sellers of IP addresses.

If you’re a regular computer user, then you will have access to a certain number of IP addresses. This is usually determined by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you just have a few devices, like a couple of computers, a couple of phones perhaps, then you still have plenty of available IP addresses on your network that are not in use. There is nothing you do with those though – they are just a wasted resource.

But now, thanks to IPSX, you can put these unused resource on their online marketplace. This will then be bought by other people who are looking for enhanced privacy solutions online.

For the people seeking more private solutions, this is a big win because there will be a ready supply of IP addresses to choose from. This product is geared towards a freer internet. There are also many cases where ordinary people want to mask their IP or tell a specific website that they are from a different country. Think of content that is blocked in your jurisdiction, for example. All these problems can be overcome by using a different IP address than the one that has been allocated to you. Tor doesn’t always work, because many of the Tor exit nodes are known and such sites ban those IP addresses already.

IPSX gives you a quick way to rent an IP address, do whatever it is that you were trying to do, and just pay for it conveniently. VPNs can in fact integrate into the IPSX service, and provide their customers with a huge range of IP addresses now to choose from. The reason there are likely going to be a huge number of IP addresses to choose from is because most people don’t actually use anywhere close to the number if IP addresses that they have been allocated, and therefore putting it up on the IPSX marketplace makes sense because you can send up making some money that way.  All payments are made in the native IPSX token for the platform.

Check out more about IPSX and their token sale on their official website.

Equi Lets the Crypto Community Play Venture Capitalists

The crypto market has seen some stupendous results in 2017. Although 2018 isn’t turning out to be the best year for returns, it is still too early. The crypto community has invested a lot of money into new projects and experimentation. Sometimes this results in overheated markets. Other times, it results in great innovations. After all, the most widely used crypto platform today, Ethereum, was itself created out of an ICO with mostly Bitcoin investors putting their money into an unknown idea.

So what does the future hold? While we don’t have a crystal ball to answer that question, we can take a guess. The community likes to invest in early stage projects. That’s why even a project like Tezos got fully funded. However, as the space matures, there will only be so many new foundational projects. After all, you don’t need 20 Ethereum clones to get the job done.

So what should the community do? How can they continue making those early investments into foundational projects? Well, today we’ll discuss a project called Equi that provides one such out for crypto investors and the broader community.

How Equi Helps you Diversify

Equi can help you diversify from crypto into more long-term investments, very similar to venture capital. It is a clever mix of crypto and venture industries. The project uses its native token called the EQUI token, which is used to make investments and also get returns from successful projects.

The process itself looks very much like a venture capital investment. There will be projects listed on the platform, and if you like the opportunity, then you would invest. The one drawback though is that the money isn’t liquid unlike tokens, i.e. you will only get your money back when there is an ‘exit’ event for the company (e.g. it goes IPO or gets bought out). We still don’t know what kinds of projects will get listed though. It may very well be projects with tokens, so you can get more immediate liquidity.

The model allows for investors to get 70% of the profits generated by an exit event. 5% is given to holders of the EQUI token who may not have invested in the platform, and the remaining 25% is taken by the company as fees. Although this seems like a very high fees to charge, these opportunities may not be available elsewhere and may therefore be worth it if the returns are adequate for investors.

The clever thing about the EQUI token is that even if a smaller subset of investors make some really good investments, the whole community will benefit. Why? Because even if you don’t make an investment, you are still eligible to get that 5% return. That’s not too shabby in our view.

The crypto community is already used to investing in very early stage companies. Maybe they can reach beyond tokens and into more traditional venture.

If you want to learn more, make sure to read the Equi website and whitepaper.

Photo Credit: wuestenigel

A Consumer Layer on the Streaming Economy with Current

Current Media

Do you listen to Spotify? Soundcloud? Do you watch YouTube? How about listening to Podcasts? Audiobooks? Go old school with the Radio perhaps? Or just regular TV? There are so many ways in which you can access media today. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a single consumer application that connects to all these services, and lets you watch whatever you want, anything you want, on a single platform that is created for your benefit? No more issues with logging into a dozen websites to search for what you want. Just everything delivered to you in one convenient place.

Yes, we hear you, what’s the catch? Well, the catch is, you get paid to do this! That’s the promise of Current Media, a crypto project building a layer on top of regular media channels. In fact, the regular media channels can be replaced by blockchain-based productions too – say SingularDTV for instance. It all comes combined into one neat package that you can access – think of it as a single app that you need to access all your media.

The Current platform hosts all the features that you would normally need for your media needs – searching, for instance. It then directs you to the place where you can access that media content. No need to log into twenty different sites to find what you’re looking for.

The natural expansion of this idea of course is the creation of content exclusively for the Current network. That’s the original content strategy that Current is aiming for. Why might it work better than other efforts? Simple – the people using Current are already used to earning and paying for media, very unlike the traditional, e.g. YouTube viewers.

Current has its own native crypto-token, called the CRNC. This is the main currency used in the Current ecosystem. When you stream media through Current instead of direct websites, you actually earn some CRNC. How? Simple – through advertising and data.

Advertising and data collection is something that happens on platforms like YouTube anyway. The difference is, with YouTube you will never see a dime of that money whereas with Current, you get paid in CRNC.

CRNC gets its value through the whole ecosystem. For example, if advertisers want to pay Current Media for ads, they need to pay it in CRNC. Listeners get paid in CRNC as well. In the future, content creators will get paid in CRNC too. This creates a thriving economy around content, rarely found in the more traditional media consumption.

If you’re intrigued by this idea of Current and CRNC, check out the website for more details.  Also check out the whitepaper with even more details.

Cardstack: Using Crypto to Pay Open Source Developers


Cardstack is an interesting new crypto project that, among other things, has a plan to let open source developers get paid for their work based on the popularity and usage of their applications. If you’re not in the development community, you may not realize how big and important this is if it takes off. Some of the largest and most widely used software is created by open source developers (such as Linux, which has a virtual monopoly on the server market, for example). You may find it strange that the systems that underpin a huge swathe of the internet are created and maintained by unpaid developers.

The open source movement (similar to Wikipedia) was never supposed to work, but it does. And it works great for the most part. Developers can work on things that they like to work on and solve challenging problems. They create out of passion, like art. However, like art, just creating something doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table.

Open source projects are notoriously hard to monetize, because you are putting the entire code in public domain for everyone to see. If you charge for the code, then the people using it will just copy the code that you have in the public domain and run their own instance. This is a problem because the most talented developers of our time are working on problems without getting paid.

The Cardstack Solution

Cardstack itself is an open source platform. It connects the end user with underlying infrastructure in a seamless manner. What this means is that the user can pick and choose the services on a whim, and use the best one suited for a task. All this is without requiring any programming skills.

As a simple example, think of all the lockups in services that you have, such as email. Wouldn’t it be nice if you can just change providers? Keep all your data, but wake up tomorrow and choose another provider, while you can still do everything like search through emails, contacts, etc. That’s the power that Cardstack wants to give to the end user.

The idea itself is powerful for the blockchain space, because the underlying infrastructure can be abstracted away behind ‘cards’. Need a storage solution? Use Dropbox today, but over time, simply replace it with Filecoin. That’s how blockchain is going to get adopted anyway – one single replacement at a time until it is ready for prime time.

So if you’re developing these open source apps that other users are using through the Cardstack platform, you can get paid in the CARD token, which is the native token of the Cardstack ecosystem. Cardstack also has a unique ‘metering’ system which ensures that the proceeds are fairly distributed among the various applications that are being used. This is a boon to open source developers, because they can still continue working on these projects and solving challenging problems, but now they can get paid in CARD for their efforts.

The Cardstack platform itself has strong network effects if it takes off, so all these open source developers can benefit from each other’s work.

Check out the cardstack website here for more information.

Photo Credit: NCinDC

PumaPay Aims to Invert Crypto Payment Method with Pull Mechanisms


PumaPay aims to change the paradigm of crypto payments. The way crypto in general works, and that is by design, is described as a ‘push payment’. What does this mean? It means if I want to send you Bitcoin, I will send Bitcoin from my wallet to your wallet. I need to ‘push’ the payment. There is no way for you to ‘pull’ the payment from my wallet.

This works well for small one-time purchases, but businesses in general want to have pull capability. For example, Netflix ‘pulls’ payment via the credit card on file each month, without any interference from you at all. Imagine if you had to log in every month and click on ‘Send’ to send money to Netflix if there was no way for the company to take money directly.

The push vs. pull paradigms have undergone lots of debate in the crypto community. However, from a merchant point of view, it is clear – they would rather have pull payments than push payments.

PumaPay and Merchant Flexibility

If Crypto is to truly become a global payment means, it will need to adopt to certain existing payment paradigms. PumaPay offers that bridge. PumaPay is a set of smart contracts that let merchants pull payments from your wallet, instead of you pushing payment from your wallet. Obviously, the first transaction is subject to your approval.

For example, say you have a Netflix or Netflix like subscription that you want to pay with crypto. You don’t want to have to remember to make a transaction each month to pay the service or face disruption. Instead, you decide to use PumaPay with the explicit understanding that you want to continue paying for this service. You are still in control – if the payment fails, the service ends. However, you’ve now removed the friction from this process.

This mechanism makes it easy for merchants to go all in on crypto adoption.

Even more interestingly, PumaPay and its payment protocols are not limited by current transaction modes. Remember, we are dealing with smart contract here, which means you can encode fairly complex logic in your payment process. This flexibility is what may ultimately attract larger merchants towards crypto payments. It is because you can do things with smart contracts that you cannot do otherwise in normal debit-card like transactions.

PumaPay Platform and Token

Along with the set of smart contract suite discussed above, PumaPay comes with its own Software Development Kit (SDK) and API for merchants to integrate PumaPay into their existing payment and billing solutions. On the consumer side, there is a PumaPay wallet application.

The payments and the economy created here run on the PumaPay native token, called the PMA token. This is the token used for conducting commerce between the end user and the merchant. If you’re a merchant, you can convert the PMA tokens into local fiat or BTC or ETH through regular channels, or just hold on to the PMA tokens.

If you’re interested to learn more about PumaPay, check out their website and read the whitepaper. It is undergoing its token sale at the moment as well.

OnLive and the Expertise Marketplace

On the surface, OnLive is a decentralized video broadcasting marketplace. However, in reality, it is an expertise marketplace, which has a high potential addressable market. It also comes at an opportune time right when people in general become comfortable with video broadcasting, especially the newer generations of millennials and Gen-Zs.

Expertise Marketplace

So what is expertise marketplace? Simply put, everyone is an expert in something. Now some might think they are not really experts, but you need to take the definition of an ‘expert’ more broadly. This is because people learn well from others. This means if you know something – anything – better than someone else, then from that person’s point of view, you’re an expert.

Think about everything you do in your daily world. Good with cars? Lawyer? Understand financial information well? Like to play the guitar? Good in social situations? Good with video games? Hell, know how to trade crypto well? Then you’re an expert!

If someone is new to crypto trading, for example, than for him, you’re an expert. You don’t need to be pulling in millions of dollars with that trading, but you can help with the basic stuff at least – which tools to use? Which sites to use for research? Where to find the charts? etc.

People are willing to pay for this information. Why? Well, think about it. If someone were new, they could go and research all of this themselves. It will take them weeks of research. That’s a lot of time, and time has value to most people. So if they need to spend 40 hours researching this versus paying you say $50 for an hour to answer all specific questions they have, then which one do you think they will prefer?

Today’s Market Difficulties

Expertise has a market value. Unfortunately, the costs are very high. For example, how do you find the people who will pay you for your expertise? There isn’t a good way today. However, with a decentralized system, like OnLive, you can potentially find all the people in one single place that isn’t controlled by one startup that will close shop as soon as their venture capital funding runs dry.

That’s why something like OnLive has a lot of potential. It addresses a market that matters, and people can start using it immediately because there is a need from both sides. Best of all, you don’t need to rely on a single company for all this infrastructure – the entire broadcasting industry being built by OnLive is decentralized. You will pay for the broadcast (to the nodes that provide the infrastructure) but that’s minimal compared to the value that you will generate. Truly, a win-win for all sides.

The ONL Token

This is the native token for the OnLive network. You will get paid for your expertise in ONL token, which you can use to pay someone else in the future, or just convert back to ETH.

In fact, the system allows both private and public broadcasts. The case study we described above is for a private broadcast, but it might as well be public. Say you’re going to cover a hot topic today that lots of people are interested in. Well, charge them a small amount to see you broadcast! You can make money that way, and the people can get value out of the material that you provide.

ONL token provides ways for both pay per view and pay per minute type systems. For example, in the above case, say you don’t like the public broadcast, then you can just end it anytime and you will only be charged for the time that you were watching live, not the whole show.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of expertise marketplaces, visit the ONL website and read the whitepaper.

Photo Credit: Flickr