May 142018

Media Protocol
Media Protocol is a crypto project that is building ‘smart URLs’ using blockchain. These ‘smart URLs’ can be used throughout the web for things like paywalls, which can be leveraged by content creators seamlessly instead of trying to build custom solutions. It is not just a paywall though – content creators can actually incentivize the consumption of their content via the native Media Protocol token. Thus, content creators and content consumers can be locked in a two-way value exchange via the Media Protocol Tokens.

User Workflow and Crypto Token in Media Protocol

The workflow solves the issue of two-sided marketplaces for content. Some content creators will reward the users for consuming content. This is how the user will come into possession of these tokens. Then, the user can spend these tokens on sites that have paywalls that the user wants to spend tokens on. This means the user never has to leave the Media Protocol ecosystem, since she can consume content inside the platform – even content that is paywalled.

Publishers of paywalled content can use the system to get paid for their work. This can be high-quality journalists, music, or really any other work that the creator wants users to pay for. For the creators, this is an advantage in reaching out to a new audience but even more importantly, in getting paid for their content.

Then there are publishers that aren’t very well known and instead make their money through other means. For them, the number of people visiting their content is what matters. For this class of content creators, they would instead pay users to consume content. Think of the kinds of content that you see via Google or Facebook ads, for example. That is companies paying users to consume. These types of users can presumably buy up these tokens, and reward the consumers accordingly, thus making it cheaper to buy eyeballs than traditional advertising.

User Interaction and Data

The company plans to build the system on the blockchain, so that there is full transparency for all the parties involved in the transactions. The content creators, for example, will be able to see and track valuable data about the consumers that have consumed their content. To demonstrate this, the company is also building an app called CryptoCatnip. This app is built for the crypto community specifically. The app works as an aggregator of news, media, and other content specifically for the crypto community.

With the data, the system can also support third-party affiliate models. All of this incentivizes people to build content for smaller communities, since they can now get paid for it. The Media Protocol itself supports several third-party applications build directly on the protocol as well. CryptoCatnip should only be seen as one of the applications – almost as a proof of concept.

If you want to earn some MEDIA tokens, you can go and download the CryptoCatnip, start consuming some crypto content, and get paid in these tokens already!

There are already projects that want to make it as simple as possible to use blockchain apps. Media protocol wants to bring crypto to more mainstream consumers of content.

To learn more, check out the website and whitepaper. Remember that all token sales are highly risky. Never invest more than you can lose.

Photo Credit: inUse Experience

May 032018

Countinghouse is created by a group of traders with experience in the traditional Forex industry. This isn’t the first such project in crypto of course. For example, we previously wrote about TaaS when it launched, which has been managing investor money for over a year. Different teams come at this from different angles. The Countinghouse team comes at it from the Forex angle, and believes that the tools of Forex can be translated into crypto.

The team’s whitepaper claims that their algorithms backtested at 600% returns over the last 12 months, which can be misleading (back-tested results seldom mean anything and even more so in crypto) but also underperform the broader crypto market significantly. However, the question is, would investors have reason to believe that the fund would either be able to provide uncorrelated returns to the broader crypto market, or be truly a ‘hedge fund’ in that the returns come with lower risk. Otherwise, investors would be far better off with buying Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Countinghouse Fund and its Structure

The Countinghouse fund is structured to make three broad types of investments –

  • Crypto algorithmic trading (60% of the total fund)
  • Arbitrage strategies (30% of the total fund)
  • Passive investments (e.g. ICOs)

These seem quite reasonable, especially in a market that can be quite inefficient like crypto. For example, most savvy crypto investors would have noticed and taken advantage of price arbitrage among different exchanges. This happens quite regularly, especially among geographically distinct exchanges that trade fiat pairs. More recently, we’ve seen the price of Bitcoin on Korean exchanges go significantly higher than the US and European exchanges. Thus, a strategy like arbitrage makes sense for crypto. The returns might diminish as more players enter the market though.

ICO and Fundraising

Countinghouse is also creating or seeding its fund with the help of an ICO. The usual advantages to investors apply, i.e. better liquidity and lower barriers to entry, either due to geographic restrictions or other regulatory requirements. In general, investors also have the ability to make smaller investments. The funds raised in the ICO would be used to trade the markets based on the distribution of strategies described above.

The investment targets described by the team are ambitious, to say the least. For example the team describes a target of 1000% return on the ICO price, which any serious investor should take with a grain of salt. However, the strategies tend to do well in volatile markets if done competently. There could be uncorrelated gains to be had with good execution of the trading strategies, given the general market volatility of crypto.

The tokens themselves are plain ERC20 tokens on Ethereum. This means if exchanges decide to list these tokens, you can start trading them. Alternately, newer decentralized exchanges like 0x may be used if centralized exchanges want to stay away from security tokens.

If you want to learn more, check out the Clearinghouse website and the whitepaper. Remember that these are extremely risky investments and you can lose all your money. Never invest more than you’re willing to lose.

Photo Credit: Flickr

May 012018

Zero Carbon
Zero Carbon is a project that aims to help with the problem of climate change facing our planet, with the help of a crypto token. The token helps incentivize people to be more conscious of their carbon footprint and consumption while promoting greener sources.

In a nutshell though, Zero Carbon is all about Carbon Credits on the blockchain. For those who don’t know, carbon credits are one of the most effective ways to tackle climate change. This is because carbon credits provide a direct financial incentive to pollute less, as opposed to many solutions that depend on changing people’s behavior. At the end of the day, people care about climate change, but would do very little personally to help the cause. Carbon Credits are a clever economic way to make people change their behavior, not because of the goodness of their hearts but because it is financially lucrative for them.

The Clean Energy Ecosystem

The Zero Carbon team sees the utility of carbon credits in choosing their energy source. The energy suppliers have an incentive to try and go for cleaner sources of energy. However, the suppliers are not limited to using clean energy only like solar or wind. This can be too restrictive and render them uncompetitive. Instead, these energy suppliers can use dirty fuels, but they will need to pay a premium when they do, as a ‘tax’ for their pollution. This makes them competitive and still work in a market system.

Each ecosystem is different of course. The success of a system like Zero Carbon depends on how much competition it can attract from energy providers. However, the world is already moving towards solar and clean energies. Mom and pop stores are becoming energy companies. In fact many home owners are becoming their own energy companies, and with some additional investment, can become effectively the grid and supply energy to their neighbors and others. The trend is clear.

Zero Carbon and the Energis Token

We’ve seen a good amount of effort directed towards the clean energy ecosystem, and several blockchain projects like Restart Energy Democracy are working on the energy side. Zero Carbon is taking the economic route with carbon credits instead.

The Energis token powers the Zero Carbon platform and ecosystem. The system has smart contracts built in that take a small transaction fee, and route that into a reward pool. This is then distributed to the holders. The actual collection of money offline happens via the company, since this cannot be automated. However, these smart contracts make sure that there is enough transparency in the system, and that there is no cheating going on behind the scenes. The rewards are accrued according to pre-set logic and cannot be changed arbitrarily by the team, which gives consumers and suppliers the confidence in the system.

If you’re interested to learn more about Zero Carbon, check out their website and whitepaper. The team is planning a token sale for the Energis token. If you’re interested, be absolutely sure you understand the risks – token sales are very risky and you can lose all your money. Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose.

Photo Credit: _gee_

Apr 222018

Global REIT Crypto

Global REIT is a blockchain based real estate investment trust that plans to use its own tokens to achieve superior means of raising investor money and other efficiencies in the investment process. However, before we look deeper into this, let’s first understand the REIT market and what it entails. REIT stands for Real Estate Investment Trust.

The REIT Market

Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs are a popular way for investors to invest and diversify in real estate. Any specific real estate property, whether a single family home or a large hotel, has idiosyncratic risk. This means that single properties suffer from a higher risk of something going wrong that is independent of the broader market. Why is that? Consider several factors, from changes in zoning laws to environmental laws to changes in the neighborhood. If a new airport is being built near your home, or worse, a sewage dump, then naturally the value would decrease.

REITs overcome this problem by means of simple diversification. Say a REIT consists of a hundred single family homes. Even if one of them encounters problems and needs to be torn down, you only lose 1% of your income. This is contrast to 100% if you outright owned it. Thus, REITs help investors diversify their real estate exposure and risk. It reduces the idiosyncratic risk associated with real estate in general.

Another reason why investors like REITs is because they can get global exposure. Real estate, especially in emerging markets with fast growing economies, is more attractive to investors. However, most investors won’t be comfortable owning and managing a house in a country they’ve never been to. REITs simplify that process.

Global REIT and Blockchain

Global REIT is a new project based out of Dubai/UAE. It is similar to a traditional REIT, except it uses crypto-tokens on the blockchain for accounting purposes. It also provides other benefits, from loyalty points to ability to stay in one of their properties for a limited time, all tracked through the blockchain.

Global REIT will raise money through an ICO, and have 2 tokens sold to investors. These are Global REIT Fund Manager Token (GREM) and Global REIT Asset Token (GRET). The company currently plans to accept BTC, ETH, and ERC20 tokens along with fiat to buy these tokens. The dividends however are paid USD and USDT. Given the controversy around USDT, hopefully the team can be smart about paying in BTC or ETH instead.

A nice bonus that the team is throwing in is that for investors who hold more than 5,000 GRET or GREM tokens can avail free stays in their hospitality property each year.

As for the actual numbers, the returns are paid out as dividends for both GRET and GREM token holders. GRET pays out a stable 8% per annum dividend on the first acquired asset. The GREM token pays out a 2% AUM (assets under management) that decreases to 1.25% in 0.25% increments over time.

If you’re interested in this project and its ICO, make sure you really understand what you’re buying. The tokens are asset backed by real estate. Make sure you have thoroughly read the website and also their whitepaper. Remember that any token investment is risky and you should never invest more than you can afford to lose.

Apr 152018


Online games, and genres like esports are growing at a rapid rate. Esports in fact threatens the big-3 sports in terms of audience in the Unites States, just so you get an idea of how big this market is. You’re talking about a worldwide audience of over 200 million just to watch these games, let alone play them.

Online gaming itself as a genre is hugely popular especially among the younger demographics. At the same time, this popularity has attracted a huge swathe of competitors, which means it is increasingly harder to gain attention for your games from gamers. This is generally a hard problem to solve in such industries, given that the play time is limited. Can a crypto token help with this?

Crypto Token and its Utility

The utility of a crypto token in such an environment is that it can act as a layer of incentivization on top of existing games. That’s the proposition of Yumerium, in using its YUM tokens for this purpose. Games that integrate with YUM and the Yumerium token can add this layer on top of their existing games.

So how does it work? It helps the games attract more people and create more incentives for the players in that ecosystem. For example, games can use YUM to review games, and then use that token to buy in-game items in another game that also supports YUM. This is the ecosystem play here. Games can also award these crypto tokens for playing games to retain their loyal fans, and for sharing with their friends. Therefore, the token in this case is used for marketing purposes and user acquisition.

Yumerium Integrated Games

The play here is that all games that are part of the Yumerium network will benefit by other games joining the network, since it gives more value to the token being used in many different places. Take a given game, which allows you to earn some YUM. Now where do you spend it? You can of course spend it in that game itself, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go explore other games? That’s the network value here.

If there is a large enough user base based on the above, then other games would have an incentive to join the network. This attracts more users and the cycle continues. Of course, this is the classic marketplace dilemma of getting both sides on your platform. However, with crypto tokens, the problem of starting out is easier because you can incentive both sides to share in the upside if successful. We see this for many industries (e.g. we recently wrote about a marketplace for photo licensing).

The Yumerium team has already lined up their first partnership. A game called cryptomine will build integrating the YUM token. If it proves to be successful, it would attract other games to do the same. The team also has employees with experience in the VR realm, which is touted as the future of gaming. Keep an eye out on any VR enabled games to be built here as well.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Yumerium website. Also check out the whitepaper for more details. Yumerium will soon have a token sale. Remember that all token sales are hugely risky and you can lose all your principal. Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose and be responsible with your investments.

Photo Credit: hurov

Apr 142018

Smart Containers
Smart containers is a project that takes aim at the shipping logistics industry. Now that may not seem like the most exciting industry, but it is huge and forms the backbone of global trade. Smart containers uses temperature sensitive logistics and combines that with internet of things (IoT) devices. The company behind Smart Containers already has a history and experience in the containers space.

The aim of the team is to build a blockchain-based logistics platform that is especially suited for this industry. There has been a lot of talk about utilizing blockchains for supply chains, but we are still in the very early exploratory stages of this. The more players tinkering with this, the better for the ecosystem. Also, many people in the blockchain world don’t know much about supply chains. Getting industry practitioners to build solutions is a great way for the community to learn.

Smart Containers ICO and Future Expansion of Operations

The company is looking to expand its two major areas – pharmaceutical transport and food shipment. This is being accomplished with the expansion of its two products – Sky Cell and Food Guardians. The company will use the money raised from the token sale for this expansion. This is a little different from traditional token sales that are more of the ‘utility token’ model so far.

The team is creating two new tokens, SMARC Coin and LOGI Coin. Each has a profit sharing component to it, to build the two above businesses for Sky Cell and Food Guardians. This includes any potential exit as well. Therefore, the team is looking to an ICO to raise money for these operations.

The company is based out of Switzerland and is already operating in the supply chain industry. It may become one of the first players in this traditional industry to raise money through and ICO for expansion.

Integrating IoT with Blockchain

The team’s value proposition is they would combine two emerging technologies of IoT and blockchain to build a solution for their market. We’ve seen other attempts to combine these two technologies in other products in the past. We’ve also seen blockchain specific projects in the space. However, the supply chain field is vast indeed. Teams would likely build technology solutions to their industry specifically.

Smart Containers team is in the containers and shipping niche, and that’s where their expertise lies. The company plans to launch in Europe.

If you want to learn more about Smart Containers and the solutions they are building, check out their website. The team plans to have a token sale to raise money for expanding its product line. If you want to invest in the token sale, remember that it is a highly risky endeavor and you can lose all your money. Make sure to do your due diligence and understand your risk appetite. Don’t invest more than you’re willing to lose. Don’t invest without reading the whitepaper.

Photo Credit: Håkan Dahlström

Apr 132018


Wemark is a peer to peer platform that lets photographers license their photos commercially. Photographers are paid in the native token of Wemark instead of Bitcoin or Ether. This can be another way for photographers to reach potential commercial deals. One of the advantages of Wemark is that it lets the photographer keep 85% of the revenue, which is more than twice that of major competitors like Shutterstock or Getty Images. Thus, photographers can find new deals and also try and port over their existing deals with willing customers to the Wemark platform, if they want to avoid the high fees.

Peer to Peer Marketplace Advantages

In general, peer to peer marketplaces can provide many benefits over their centralized counterparts. As discussed above, the fees is one of the big things in decentralized marketplaces. Already, true peer to peer marketplaces like Open Bazaar are becoming more popular for regular ecommerce and digital goods. Wemark aims to compete in that space but right now, starting only with photos.

To be clear, Wemark has a few differences compared to far more established platforms like Open Bazaar. Wemark is not really decentralized, since the company controls which photos can be sold, and decisions on accepting and rejecting them lies with Wemark the company. Another major difference is that Open Bazaar integrates with existing currencies like Bitcoin whereas Wemark has its own token. The advantage of using established cryptocurrencies for payment is that they have a higher liquidity and easier convertibility to local currencies.

However, even with those disadvantages, Wemark might find some success since it is operating in a narrow vertical i.e. licensing photos. If the company can reach out to commercial partners willing to work on its platform, there can be novel avenues for photographers to find new clients.

Creating Network Effects

The broader point however is that more decentralized marketplaces tend to be better if they can reach those network effects where people have an incentive to switch from centralized services. Users already have an incentive to switch because they get paid more – photographers in the case of Wemark, and other classes for other marketplaces. Ultimately, users would be able to use the decentralized web for all their needs, and they should be able to operate completely within this paradigm.

It is generally easier for photographers to port to a new platform, since there are already so many of them. However, the challenge would be get the commercial license users like large corporations, travel agencies, etc. to use the platform to discover photographs and pay for licenses. Wemark’s use of their own token limits how much commerce can be done on the platform, but at an initial stage, this shouldn’t be much of a limiting factor especially if there is enough exchange liquidity for this token.

The company has indeed mentioned that they plan to expand into other digital goods as well after tackling photography, so it should be interesting to watch. Ultimately, the whole space benefits the more decentralized marketplaces we have.

Learn more about Wemark on their website, and also check out their whitepaper. If you want another take on the project, check out Amity’s Wemark summary. The project will have an ICO for their token. If you want to invest, do so responsibly and remember that any ICO is extremely risky and you can lose all your money.

Photo Credit: Adam Levine

Apr 122018

Essentia Crypto
Essentia is a new project that aims to make the use of decentralized web, including blockchains, easy for everyday users and consumers. This is a noble goal in and of itself – today, more than ever, we need power back in the hands of the users and away from the large corporations like Facebook and Google. Users should be able to control how they share their data, their identity, and how they reveal it to third-parties. This should not just be scooped up by third parties without user consent. The decentralized web helps users take power back. However, it is still a challenge for ordinary people to use.

The cryptocurrency and crypto-asset movement is one aspect of this decentralization movement. Crypto lets users interact and transfer value among themselves without relying on trusted third parties. With projects like Blockstack, the movement towards apps honoring data that the users provide and nothing more is upon us already.

The Value of Essentia

Essentia wants to play a part in this future. Essentia helps users access this whole decentralized world through a single point of entry, via the Essentia ID. This is a powerful user experience tool, and can help spur adoption of these technologies as real alternatives to the web today.

The way to think about Essentia is as follows – it generates and hold a seed or key for you, which is then used to sign into any number of different decentralized applications. Therefore, if you hold an Essentia ID, for example, it can generate a public-private keypair for Ethereum for you in a deterministic manner from your key, i.e. your ID. You can then use this to send and receive Ether on the Ethereum blockchain.

Another powerful aspect of this design is the ability to port over and interoperate. Since everything flows from the seed, it is easy to recreate everything on the user side. This happens without needing to trust third parties. Such a design architecture is especially appealing for better user experience.

Essentia Today and Beyond

Already, the team has created several integrations into the decentralized world. The users of the platform can start using those today. Already, many of the largest projects that the crypto community would likely use in the future are compatible with Essentia. These include Ethereum for smart contracts, Bitcoin for value transfer, IPFS for storage, and Mysterium for VPS-like services. It also integrates with other popular services like Status and Akasha in the future.

With these types of integrations, Essentia can become the single point of entry into the decentralized web. There is a high switching cost for ordinary users, but this is now lowered. It can be like the ‘browser’ into this world, where once you sign into it, you can just magically access this whole world. The ugly technical details are abstracted away. The user only sees and uses their services. Behind the scenes though, Essentia integrates with all these services, and provides full control to the user.

In the future, for the vision of true decentralized web is to be possible, the user experience side is going to become increasingly important. We have dreamed of humans and machines working together on the blockchain. Essentia is a first step towards realizing this future.

You can learn more about this project, check out the website. There may be a token sale in the future. If you decide to participate, be very sure to read the whitepaper and only put in what you’re willing to lose. All token sales are extremely risky and you can lose your entire principal.

Photo Credit: Andrea Kirkby

Mar 102018


Bitnation is one of the oldest projects and ideas in the crypto space, and came out of a natural extension of the philosophy behind the early Bitcoin community. What would a world look like where citizenship itself is voluntary and association is by choice, not by force? Could the ideas behind Bitcoin help unleash such a world? If so, how would it look? These are some of the many questions that were answered by the Bitnation team over the last few years. Today, we take a deeper look into the project, as the team decides to do a token sale.

Blockchain and Sovereignty

Since the very days of blockchain, when Bitcoin was the only game in town, it attracted a lot of forward thinking movements that imagined the world for the better with the help of this technology. After the launch of Ethereum, a lot of these ideas actually began to take shape. Bitcoin has a limited smart contract functionality whereas Ethereum lets you write arbitrary complex smart contracts on the blockchain. This enabled Bitnation to further develop from an idea to a product.

The vision of blockchain and sovereign identity is related because blockchains give you the power to associate with groups that you wish, and not with others. Trust is intermediated by the blockchain even among distrusting parties. It lets all people involved to come to a consensus based on the ledger state.

The Bitnation Idea

Bitnation’s main idea is that people can manage their own identities and choose to associate with other people of their choosing outside the nation state. Bad actors are weeded out through the human trust network as opposed to government or law enforcement. The identity itself is usually part of a larger group of people who attest to your identity, usually through in-person meetings.

The big idea behind Bitnation is that of a ‘voluntary nation’. The only thing you need to do, pretty much, is accept the Bitnation constitution. Again, remember there is no coercion in joining this, and in what capacity. If you disagree with the Bitnation constitution, you should not join the network. It is as simple as that really.

All the usual bookkeeping that is done by centralized governments are now done on the blockchain in the Bitnation system. For example, marriage certificates are put on the blockchain for everyone to see. The deed to your house is the same. More powerfully, Bitnation is floating the idea of a ‘blockchain passport’ which is not an “officially” recognized passport, but is instead a passport to your Bitnation community. Obviously, this blockchain passport is also issued on the blockchain.

An Alternative System

The goal of the Bitnation platform, as you can see, is to create an alternative system to the existing top-down hierarchical government structures and bureaucracies. The services that the State provides and we are so used to are now facilitated on the blockchain through a common consensus of all the voluntary ‘citizens’.

You could classify Bitnation’s approaches as a ‘social libertarian’ category, or at least find some overlap. However, it is hard to categorize such a novel approach anyway. The idea is to empower individuals to come together and build voluntary institutions usually powered by technology. In this case, the technology is blockchains.

Bitnation wants to give individuals the freedom to choose their economic and governance systems as opposed to those being selected for them based on their region or birth. If you want to live in a commune or if you want to implement basic minimum income, you can. If you want to go hyper-competitive capitalist, you can. The point is to give this choice to the individuals.

Instead of the legal system adjudicating disputes, it is a reputation system that acts as an incentive for people to resolve their disputes. This reduces the burden on courts and legal systems and encourages people to work out solutions by themselves. This is just one of the ways the Bitnation system differs from traditional nation-state style of living.

The vision of Bitnation is quite grand. We shall wait and see how much of that vision the project can realize. Bitnation is having a token sale that you can participate in. This is for the PAT tokens. Check out the website and whitepaper before you invest anything. Remember that any token sale investing is highly risky and you can lose all your money. Invest only what you can afford to lose.

Photo Credit: shaire productions

Mar 062018

XYO Network

The XYO Network is building a really useful protocol on the blockchain, which would likely be used by all sorts of projects and developers – an oracle system that provides a ‘proof of location’ on Ethereum. Such an oracle system would invariably have a different set of security parameters than a blockchain itself. However, it is much more decentralized than the centralized options available today. Better still, the XYO Network, by building on Ethereum, can simply be used as an API for location data into DApps (Decentralized Applications) that run on Ethereum. This can actually provide a powerful set of tools for developers.

Developers Rejoice!

The creation of an oracle system is a powerful addition to the blockchain system, which doesn’t have any native information about anything outside the blockchain. The answer today is via an Oracle. An oracle is any program that can be queried by another program, and which returns a value that represents a current truth. For example, a DApp can query a stock market API provider like Yahoo! Finance to get the current price of Facebook, and if it is over $100 per share, do a certain task. The blockchain or DApp by itself would never know such information as the price of Facebook stock by itself without the help of an oracle.

XYO Network is building a very special kind of oracle – a location oracle. Developers will find the XYO Network easy to use in their DApps, because it provides native location data. They don’t need to rely on third-parties, even GPS, if they can get this information directly from the Ethereum blockchain. The trust properties and risk is already outlined, so depending on the level of accuracy required, this can be a powerful addition in the Ethereum developer toolkit.

Location Oracle

Now, on to the location oracle. Oracles are powerful systems. The first examples built in a decentralized way on Ethereum include the likes of Augur, which hasn’t released its product yet. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that DApps won’t be much useful without also including some real-world information in them in addition to merely using the blockchain state. Location is an obvious example of an external data point.

Location and location-based commerce are already powerful concepts. They provide a way for the blockchain to know about the ‘real world’ and its state. It lets apps know the change of this state, i.e. how the real-world is changing and evolving. Again, all of these are powerful concepts.

In the same way that Augur or Gnosis can be used to pass data about a football game results to the blockchain, XYO network can be used to pass the geospatial data about an object to the blockchain. This data can then be used in any number of ways by various DApps built on the blockchain that require a location component for their functionality.

Interested to learn more? Check out the XYO Network website and the whitepaper. There is a token sale soon. Make sure you understand the risks before participating. Token sales are highly risky and you can lose all your capital.