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 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

Feb 062018

With the gold rush of crypto, it is no wonder that the people selling the shovels make the most money. In the Bitcoin world, this is the miners and chip manufacturers that are making a killing.

In the broader crypto world, it is the exchanges that trade these cryptos. After all, an exchange gets a small fraction of every trade, no matter whether the market is going up or down. Literally billions of dollars are traded today on crypto exchanges, with volumes rivaling those of NYSE and NASDAQ. That’s serious money, and we are no where near peak adoption.

However, one big problem with the crypto exchanges has always been trust. Decentralized exchanges are far from production ready today, and therefore have very little trading volume. However, with centralized exchanges there is always the fear and risk of something going wrong. After all, many storied exchanges have failed outright and taken user’s money with them (Cryptsy, Bter, Mintpal … the list goes on). Also, as the space matures, it needs more regulated exchanges that are doing things the right way, and not the amateurish way. Regulators are also keeping an eye out on this space, and will step in if they see too much misconduct.

Enter GBX

With this backdrop, let’s look at GBX. GBX stands for Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange. It is building a truly institutional grade crypto exchange and ICO platform.

ICOs raised over $3.5 billion in 2017. Let that sink in for a moment. This is an industry literally born a few years prior, and the amounts raised used to be in the order of a few million dollars a year. ICOs have seen an incredible amount of growth. Even as the hype grows, new ICOs haven’t really stopped much. It has become a problem of discoverability of course – it is hard to separate the signal from the noise. How do investors find new ICOs? This has become a big challenge amidst the scams.

With an ICO platform like the one GBX is building, investors can be more confident that there has been some level of due-diligence already performed. Plus, some of the basic functionalities, like keeping the funds safe, would likely be more reliable with GBX than with each ICO by themselves. ICOs will also find a one single place to list. GBX can really build up a network effect here if it can attract enough popular ICOs and investors on the same platform. This way, investors can find new ICOs new ICOs can find investors easily.

This will benefit projects in other ways too. With regulation catching up, some ICOs need to do basic AML/KYC operations (Anti-Money Laundering/Know Your Customer) on the investors. This is hard to do for individual projects. There is also a lot of sensitive data collection and storage requirements that small teams are not very good at. If they can use an overarching service like GBX for this, they can raise money from investors without that point of friction.

Finally, GBX has its own token called the Rock Token (RKT). This is an access token, which is required for new project listings for projects and early access to ICOs for investors.

RKT is currently undergoing a token sale. If you’re interested to learn more, check out their website. If you want to invest, make sure to read their whitepaper.

Photo Credit: Agent Smith

Jan 052018

Restart Energy Democracy RED Crypto

Restart Energy Democracy, or RED, is a new crypto token for the retail energy markets. The reason it caught our attention is that it is created by a company that already has an existing energy business in the EU, and has built an energy retail franchise. The company is now expanding to include a blockchain offering for a decentralized energy market on the blockchain, using its RED MWAT tokens. Once it launches, the project won’t have to go out and find a use case, since it is already in business and has an existing customer base to use its product and token.

Let’s take a deeper look into what the RED project and platform are all about, and where the RED MWAT tokens fit into the picture and ecosystem. This will help the readers better get a sense of the project, the company, and where it stands in both the energy and the blockchain ecosystems.

RED Platform, or RED-P

Before we discuss the tokens and crypto aspects of the project, let’s first look at the platform itself.

The RED Platform is a peer-to-peer energy trading platform. This is important to note, since it means that the nodes of the network, i.e. the ultimate users, are both the producers and consumers of electricity. For example, suppose you have a solar panel installation on your rooftop, you can, in a way, sell this energy to your neighbors who also use the RED platform, and get paid for doing so.

There’s no need for an involvement of the grid, which may or may not be feasible (i.e. selling energy back to the grid) depending on the jurisdiction and geography. However, having neighbors who need energy is very much a given. That’s where the peer to peer value proposition comes into play for the RED Platform.

The other important feature of the RED Platform is that it allows the issuance of green certificates to consumers using renewable energy. This is an important direction towards future-proofing the energy generation and consumption business, because the world is heading towards a green energy future anyway. The RED Platform helps combat the pressing energy and environment needs of our generation through this program.

RED’s MWAT Tokens and a ‘Crypto Battery’

To fully understand and appreciate the utility of the MWAT token, let’s first think of what cryptocurrencies traditionally have done. A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin takes energy to mine, and in a way, stores it in a unit of Bitcoin. It therefore acts as a virtual battery, storing energy as it retains its value. That’s why we have crazy proposals like space solar production that can be transmitted back to earth as Bitcoin instead of regular energy.

Think of MWAT as a ‘crypto battery’ that stores energy. What this ‘battery’ lets you do is to have access to energy on the network. If you hold one MWAT token, then you will have access to some energy produced by the RED network. At the initial stage, each MWAT token holds 0.11 kWh of energy consumption, which can go all the way up to 1 MWh. This means that the entire network can trade in these MWAT tokens, but each token isn’t just an ERC20 token backed by nothing – instead, it gives you the right to a specific amount of electricity capacity that you can actually use for your house or business.

MWAT Token Utility for the Electricity Ecosystem

Once you’ve gotten an idea of what the MWAT token does, you can look for use cases beyond just energy production and peer to peer trading. In fact, the MWAT token can kickstart a whole energy economy within its ecosystem, all powered by the MWAT token. How is that, you might ask. Let’s look into those dynamics.

One immediate benefit of the MWAT token is that it can be used to finance new power generation by individuals and companies. This ‘debt’ is easily denominated in the MWAT token. The reason this is appealing is because the power generators can easily hedge the risk of energy prices falling in the meantime if they finance with the MWAT token. The repayment terms would be in terms of energy, not dollars or euros.

One way this can really help the crypto ecosystem is if someone is building a new power facility for use by a crypto miner. Both the miner and energy producer can denominate their debts and credits in terms of energy units, or MWAT tokens, instead of USD. This would be a win-win – the miner would get energy at a fixed rate, and the energy producer repays the cost of creating the production facility based on the energy that the facility itself produces, thereby significantly lowering the risk.

This of course is just one scenario. There are lots of other potential interesting use cases of using a constant-energy crypto token on Ethereum.

To learn more about the RED Project, check out their website. Also, if you’re looking to invest in the RED token sale, check out their whitepaper before making any investments.

Photo Credit: Kimco Reality

Jan 042018

Today, we’ll discuss a project that combines two of the technologies of the future – the blockchain and autonomous vehicles. The project is called DAV – Decentralized Autonomous Vehicles. The company is building a software platform that includes the element of payment in the autonomous vehicles world. This is important because previously, there wasn’t a way for machines to conduct commerce.

However, as we discussed the ideas of decentralized and autonomous corporations a few years ago on this blog, with the invention of Bitcoin, for the first time ever, machines can own digital assets that are valuable to humans, and therefore create an entirely new economic network. The reality is catching up to the ideas and we should soon see applications of crypto in the autonomous vehicles niche.

The ideas being worked on by the DAV team don’t involve the concept of self-ownership of a network, i.e. the autonomous part, as in autonomy of ownership. However, it is specifically targeted towards the autonomous vehicles space, as in autonomy of operation without human involvement in operations. This seems like the right time, as we are seeing autonomous cars in real cities now.

Creating an Entire Machine Economy of Driverless Cars

The idea behind DAV is to create an entire machine economy, but not in the ‘virtual’ world. This is autonomous vehicles that ply our roads. How does that economy look like? Today, it is the largest corporations – Alphabet (Google/Waymo) for example building its autonomous vehicles. It will work the city like a regular taxi service, and take payments. The profits go to Alphabet, the mothership.

However, how will this allow the everyday people to participate in the economy? As of now, this won’t, unless in the indirect way of making transportation cheaper and more convenient. With DAV, you can participate in this autonomous vehicles economy yourself, by providing services to the network. Not you per se, but your driverless car, for example.

The DAV Token, therefore, would be the currency of this economy. If you let your driverless car go out and give rides to people, you earn some DAV Token via your autonomous car.

DAV Tokens for All Economic Transactions on the Network

However, it is not just about you earning some DAV tokens if you let your autonomous car out. The whole ecosystem around driverless cars will be carried out in DAV Tokens. For example, the network will need service providers. The job of the service providers is to maintain the autonomous cars on the DAV network. This includes all the maintenance and upkeep required to keep the fleet of driverless cars fully operational and in the best health – from charging to cleaning to fixing any major operational issues or upkeep.

Therefore, if you want to earn some DAV Tokens to participate in the network, you can do so easily even if you’re not rich enough to buy an autonomous car – by simply becoming a service provider for the network.

As a platform, DAV is a fully open source software and hardware solution and architecture for the autonomous car segment of our economy. This will appeal to the hackers and tinkerers in the niche. The token gains value based on the software and platform that the team is building and providing, but should be an economy in and of itself.

DAV is one of the few blockchain/crypto projects that goes beyond the virtual world into the real world. There will be challenges in this transition – no doubt about that. However, if the team succeeds, the project can make a difference to our cities, our mobility, and how we operate in the real world.

If you’re interested to learn more, read their whitepaper.