Dec 152017
 

WePower crypto

WePower is a green energy trading platform built using the power of crypto-tokens and the blockchain. I hope our readers don’t need to be told about the importance of new, green energy sources to the world at large. However, as the crypto folks know, it is all about the economic incentives. So how do you ensure that green energy projects are funded adequately, so that the research and development effort can take us into a new era of energy generation and usage that is clean, green, and can supply humanity with all our energy needs of the future (no, coal/oil/gas don’t count, since they are still finite – over hundreds of years, they are not reliable energy sources for humanity to survive and thrive).

The traditional approach in green energy has been through government subsidies. This top-down approach usually doesn’t work as well, since something so decentralized and research oriented will hardly be able to be understood by the powers that be. Besides, the bureaucrats are likely not the best people to make micro-level decisions about the industry. Instead, what we need is a bottoms-up approach to green energy that comes from the people and marketplace as opposed to top-level governments. Both these approaches can of course join forces and create powerful incentives for the industry as a whole to move towards green energy.

Financing Green Energy Projects Using WePower

WePower is a new platform that leverages the power of crypto-tokens and blockchain to solve the above problems. It is creating a platform where green energy projects can finance renewable energy projects using their token. This is a marketplace based approach, i.e. the incentives are not coming from a high-level government bureaucrat but instead from the grass-roots people. Such financing model is far more sustainable and not susceptible to abrupt policy changes.

The financing comes from every day regular energy consumers and investors. Again – we should emphasize the decentralized nature of this, since anyone can participate in the WePower network. This makes the models more sustainable and subject to market forces instead of political forces.

The trend towards green energy should also be obvious. Here’s its progress so far, and the pace is only accelerating:

As new projects come online, especially in countries where these energy sources are not yet fully developed, there is a huge scope for regular people to invest, contribute, and profit from this trend. The world is going to need more clear energy in the future – that’s undeniable. So how are we going to get there?

Understanding the Energy Tokens in WePower

WePower works by letting projects create their own financing tokens. However, these tokens are not produced and denominated in local currencies like the US Dollar. Instead, these tokens represent energy. More specifically, each token represents a share of the future energy to be produced by a green energy project.

This is a novel way of financing, which lets consumers and investors get what they’re looking for – green energy, while letting the capital intensive green energy projects keep any rewards for producing green energy cheaply and more efficiently, thus giving them an incentive to be as good as possible. Projects can also thus invest accordingly into research and development resources, which can help increase the yield and the project can thus promise a higher amount of energy output.

Blockchain and WPR Token

The WePower network connects directly with the energy grid and the energy wholesale markets. Since the project uses the blockchain, everything is transparently recorded for anyone to audit, and there’s no ‘funny business’ going on behind the scenes. This empowers the power generators and consumers to deal with each other directly instead of going through middle men.

The WPR token will accrue a portion of the energy generated by the network, that can then be either used directly by the WPR token holders, or sold on the WePower energy trading platform. Therefore, by helping fund this network, you can ensure a supply of clean energy for yourself. To be more specific, projects on the WePower network will donate 0.9% of their energy credits to the WPR token holders.

WePower green energy

The WPR token is fairly unique amongst other crypto tokens, in that the unit of value accrual to the WPR token is literally energy – power that is donated by the energy producers on the WePower network, to help maintain, build, sustain, and grow the WePower network. If the token holder resides in an area that already has a WePower power producer, they can just use the energy accumulated to their WPR to power their own homes and businesses. However, if you are a WPR token holder and don’t live in one of these areas, that’s fine too. Since it is just clean energy, you can just use the WePower energy trading platform to sell this energy to someone else that can use this energy instead.

Also, the WPR tokens will use the Bancor Protocol to ensure that WPR tokens are liquid. You don’t need to wait for the WPR tokens to be listed on an exchange to trade them (although for high volume trades, we’ll still recommend buying/selling from exchanges). You get liquidity from the get go.

Interestingly, the WPR token holders don’t even need to wait for too long in order to start seeing some energy accumulate to their WPR tokens, since the WePower team already has partnerships with potential energy producers in the works.┬áThe WePower network is first launching in Estonia and then expanding to Spain, Italy, Germany, and Portugal.

WPR tokens will be sold in a token sale/ICO. You can check out their website here to learn more. If you plan to invest, make sure you’ve also read the whitepaper.

Dec 142017
 

CoinMetro

 

CoinMetro is a new crypto project that has a lot of elements of the crypto economy packed into it, so bear with us as we go through its value proposition. Before we proceed into the nitty-gritty details, let’s look at a high level bird’s eye view of the project. What CoinMetro is trying to do is to be a one stop shop for the entire crypto economy. No wonder it’s a complex project – the crypto economy is a fairly complex machine.

CoinMetro isn’t the first project with such an ambitious plan, however. So why do they warrant a serious look? Because of the team’s experience and background in traditional Forex markets. If you’re not aware, Forex is a huge market already, and a lot of cryptocurrency and crypto-asset trading has an overlap with the traditional forex markets. First, just to get an idea of how large the Forex market is, here’s the market compared to more traditional asset classes like stocks. Notice anything?

Specific Offerings

Now let’s dive into some specifics. At its core, the CoinMetro platform is an FX like platform, which Forex traders would be familiar with. However, there are lots of extra features specific to the crypto world. Here are some features that stand out –

  • Low fee, high-availability crypto exchange.
  • Ability to trade with fiat, i.e. buy your favorite crypto-asset with your local government money like USD.
  • Lots of different crypto-assets to choose from, with secure custody of funds (partnered with BitGo).
  • A crypto debit card that lets you withdraw your money for regular, everyday purchases, with a crypto to fiat conversion that happens in the background without you knowing or being involved in.
  • A lending-leverage platform that lets long-term traders lend their crypto to traders looking to leverage their crypto bets. Makes savers earn interest and traders leverage to amplify their profits (and losses too!)
  • Trading tools and analytics platform, similar to what Forex traders are used to, i.e. more sophisticated analysis and charting tools than what crypto traders are used to.
  • Ability to add complex order types instead of just standard types like Limit and Market. Again, something Forex traders may be more familiar with rather than regular crypto traders.
  • High leverage OTC crypto trading, with leverage of up to 1:50, similar to what traditional forex markets offer instead of traditional crypto markets.
  • Easy diversification for long-term investors via an ETF-like crypto investment product that investors can easily buy to diversify their crypto wealth without paying huge fees.
  • A tokenized asset management platform with the help of Ethereum smart contracts, so that a ‘hedge fund like’ model of crypto investments can be implemented by the CoinMetro platform.
  • An ICO platform that lets investors buy new ICO tokens with ease, and benefits the projects in that the tokens can gain instant liquidity and price discovery on the CoinMetro platform.

Whew, that’s a lot of features to list out! The point is not to make a huge list though. It is important to know how all these fit into the platform as a one-stop shop for crypto traders and investors. Today, all these different features are highly segmented in various exchanges. There are custody risks, exchange hack risks, inability to trade during high volumes, and a bunch of other issues with the crypto markets that we are all familiar with. What CoinMetro is trying to do is bring them all under one umbrella. In addition to the single umbrella policy, the team is trying to take cues from the more established Forex markets, and bringing that level of quality and professionalism to the crypto trading world, which has been lacking so far.

The appeal of CoinMetro’s platform is that if the team executes on the vision, then crypto traders don’t need to go anywhere else for their needs. The platform covers everything from ICOs to Bitcoin, from crypto-trades to fiat-trades, from long-term investing to short-term trading, from earning interest to leveraged trades. There’s something for everyone, and if the community adopts the platform, over time, the network effects can be strong and the platform can become the preferred ‘home’ of crypto traders and investors. Obviously, there remains execution risk, but the vision is a product that the community can immediately benefit from.

Check out the CoinMetro website here. If you’re looking to invest in CoinMetro’s token sale, be sure to read the whitepaper.

Nov 302017
 

White Rabbit Crypto Content Distribution
White Rabbit is a new crypto project aimed at making digital content distribution profitable for the artists, by making use of technological advances introduced in crypto-tokens and smart contracts. White Rabbit is building a contend distribution platform that is open, as opposed to the silos today, even as the industry fragments, and new players like Netflix and Amazon enter the content creation and distribution game.

The goal of White Rabbit is to allow access to any movie or show to the fans. The artists get paid via crypto-tokens, locked in a smart contract. The payment happens behinds the scenes, so it is abstracted away from the user. Fans can now watch content as they like, and artists get their fair share as well.

Underlying the idea of White Rabbit is a philosophical underpinning around content consumption by fans. Let’s explore than next.

Philosophy of White Rabbit

Every company starts with a philosophy about the current state of the world, and what it could be. This thesis could be proven to be true or false. Successful startups have a thesis that not many believe in, but the founders believe strongly in it. Peter Thiel calls it your startups’ secret – something you strongly believe in, but the competition doesn’t. For successful companies, that ‘secret’ will get revealed over time, as they continue building on that vision of the world.

So what is White Rabbit’s philosophy or underlying belief? It is that fans don’t wish to pirate content, and would gladly pay the artists for their content. The reason they pirate content is due to ease of access and convenience, not for a lack of willingness to pay. If the content creators or artists wish to be paid by directly engaging with their fans, the fans would oblige and pay them, as long as access is really convenient, and without limitations imposed on them.

At its core then, White Rabbit aims to separate content distribution from payment. Fans are going to try and watch their favorite content no matter what. Now, with the help of blockchains, the artists can get paid for it.

How it Works

White Rabbit has a browser plugin that recognizes the content that fans already watch. While the fans are watching the movies and shows that they like, in the background, White Rabbit works to deduct a payment from the users, and send it to the artists – more specifically the rights holders. The payments are all made on the blockchain, and are therefore auditable. There is no trickery or middle-men taking their cut here. Also, the rights holders get paid immediately, which is a huge plus from the way things are done traditionally.

Since White Rabbit is building a platform, it needs to overcome the network effects inherent in the platform economy. That is also the way of the token – well designed crypto-tokens can solve the initial network effect problems for such platforms, by providing the right incentives to multiple parties involved in a transaction – in this case, the fans and the rights holders or artists. That would be the primary use case for the token as well, to seed the network and provide the relevant smart contract infrastructure to run the platform.

However, once a platform is established and it attracts artists and fans outside direct incentivization, i.e. only to watch content or promote themselves to their fans, White Rabbit can then expand the scope of what the platform does. This is because all parties are already coming to the platform to interact with each other. Some of the ideas the team has include access to exclusive content, like directors’ cut, and direct interaction between film makers, show makers, artists and their fans.

However, you should not take this as the extent of the ideas. Once a platform is established, it takes on a life of its own, and is hard to predict how it will evolve. This is because people’s desires are unpredictable. However, if White Rabbit succeeds in creating such a platform and is successful in attracting both sides of the equation, sky is the limit in terms of ‘extra’ revenue generation opportunities and providing elements that traditional media experience doesn’t provide, like going to a theater to watch a movie.

If this idea interests you, check out more about the project and the team on their website. There is no whitepaper yet, but there’s a ‘light paper‘ that has more information. There is also a token sale that you can participate in with Ether (if you want to, you can buy Ether for token sales).

Photo Credit: Aimee Ray

Nov 292017
 

FCFL Fan Controlled Football/pro-sports
FCFL is truly an incredible experiment in fan-controlled sports. The premise of fan-controlled sports is that fans have an active role in the game, not just a passive viewing experience. This is of course is a radical departure from the way traditional sports are consumed, which is almost entirely passive. With fan-controlled sports enabled by FCFL, you will make active decisions before and during a game. You’re no longer sitting on your couch watching the game. Instead, you’re part of the decision making process of how your team should play the game! With the current model, the best you can do is don your team’s jersey and cheer for the play at a bar. With FCFL, you get to direct your team’s play, much like a coach would.

This is a great experiment to run, in my book. Best of all, we are happy to see this experiment use a crypto-token for fan engagement. Why? Because we’ve seen many sorts of projects in the crypto-verse that don’t make much sense, or are just a money grab in token sales. However, when there are radical experiments being run, we are all for it. If it succeeds, it could usher in a new way of consuming sports which isn’t purely consumption but participation as well. That’s almost a new genre of entertainment if you think about it. Since new technologies like blockchains enable us to run these experiments, it is a worthy use of a crypto-token to accomplish this.

History of the FCFL Idea

One remarkable aspect of the FCFL project is that it isn’t a pie-in-the-sky idea someone dreamed of sitting on their couch. It has a real world proof of concept in a real football (American) game. This is a welcome relief, since in this space, very few ideas have a proof of concept. Let’s explore the history and PoC of this idea a little bit.

In February 2017, the team unveiled a platform that allowed pro-sports, specifically football in this case, to be controlled by fans. The fans decided the team’s name and even the team’s uniform. But most surprisingly, the fans also decided the team’s plays during the game. This, usually reserved for the coach, was outsourced to fans. And it was a rousing success. Thus was born the eFL – Electronic Football League, where fans are in control. They even decide who gets to be in the team and who doesn’t. If it isn’t obvious, the idea opens up a whole new category of sports entertainment.

Impressively, the first proof of concept of this idea was extensively covered in media heavyweights like NYTimes, GQ, and even the Wall Street Journal.

You can imagine this being quite a social experiment more than a technology one. This is why the proof of concept was very important. It showed there’s appetite for this kind of play. We already know fans like immersive plays, whether via Twitch or eSports. If pro-sports has to compete with these, it needs to deliver a better experience. Sports is huge business – billions of dollars a year. Experiments of this scale have a potential for high impact.

FCFL’s Fan Token

This is where it gets interesting for the crypto crowd. FCFL has a native crypto-token called the FAN token. This stands for Fan Access Network Token. The decisions that fans make is dependent on the number of FAN tokens that they hold. This gives these FAN tokens immediate value to the fans of the games. The fans are rewarded when they make good plays, which means the utility is a combination of number of FAN tokens and skill.

In addition, the FAN token will include many other functions, such as voting rights, access to exclusive content, access to exclusive experiences, merchandise, etc. Since sports combine so many experiences in one, the role of the token is likely to grow in the future, as the team adds new experiences and experiments into the game. The whitepaper, linked below, discusses more details on its use. However, we anticipate the future roles of the token to constantly evolve, as this is all a pretty neat experiment, which could grow much larger with time.

The token is built on Ethereum as an ERC20 token. If you want to participate in the token sale, you can buy Ether and send it to the crowdfunding contract to get your FAN tokens.

To learn more, check out their website. If you’re interested in the token in the token sale, make sure you also read the whitepaper.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Nov 262017
 

FortKnoxster
FortKnoxster is a platform for private communications. The platform ensures all communication is private by using end-to-end encryption on the data that is transmitted. The FortKnoxster platform supports a huge variety of communication methods, from plain old email and attachments inbox to private chat functionality. In addition, it also supports voice communications, which is becoming a must-have feature for many chat applications. FortKnoxster provides support for regular calling, voice messages, and conference calling. All of these features are present within its end-to-end encrypted service, so everything remains private.

Let’s Talk Privacy

Let’s discuss privacy for a minute. Bitcoin and crypto users should inherently understand the need for privacy in communications. After all, Bitcoin is created as uncensorable money, which requires some level of privacy. As the web has evolved, some of its original design flaws are becoming apparent. One of the prime flaws is around not making things private by default. Don’t take my word for it – that’s what the founder of the world wide web, Tim Berners Lee, believes.

Some of the newer advances in peer to peer communications technology and cryptography are allowing a smooth experience over a completely encrypted channel, so there’s no massive data leaks like what happens today in ‘walled-gardens’ of the world, most notably Google and Facebook.

As more internet and web users throughout the world understand the scope of data collection by corporations and governments, they are looking to more to alternatives that respect their privacy. These products can sometimes be hard to find because there’s not much money in advertising with this model. They need to find alternate business models and revenue models.

That’s a big advantage of using a crypto-asset on the blockchain – the users are able to pay with their wallet for the services they want to consume, instead of being a product being sold to advertisers. The project is in line with other projects emerging in the space where users are in control of their data rather than third parties.

The FortKnoxster Product

The FortKnoxster team describes their product as ‘Telegram on Steroids’, perhaps to give you a sense of what they do via existing products users may be familiar with. The team has already built out a demo that’s live on their website today to play around with.

In terms of features, it combines the usual communication app features – instant messages and voice calls, with an inbox for email, and a place to share files aka Dropbox style. All these features – a combination of Telegram, Skype, and Dropbox type functionalities are built on top of the fully end-to-end encrypted platform. This means once you’re inside the FortKnoxster ecosystem, you know your data is secure irrespective of the type of data, be it files or voice or text.

The team uses the blockchain for digital identity and encryption based on public key cryptography, with the identity registered with a public/private keypair on the blockchain.

The FKX Token

FortKnoxster has its own native token, FKX. The main purpose of the token is to provide storage and bandwidth to the network. As you can imagine, such a messaging platform will need a lot of storage to store an encrypted copy of all the files and communications. In order to incentivize people to store this data for the network, the FKX token is used.

Thus, the data in the ecosystem is stored in a peer to peer fashion, and the FKX token is ‘mined’ using a proof of storage algorithm as opposed to proof of work that’s common for many other crypto-assets. The token ensures that peers in the distributed network retain copies of data as needed, and provides them with payment in the form of native currency to do the same.

The same token is also used to pay for services, such as an upgraded storage plan. This is needed because otherwise it would be trivial to overwhelm the network with huge amounts of data.

The team is doing a token sale for the FKX tokens. Check out the website for more details. If you want to participate in the token sale, you should also read the whitepaper.

Nov 232017
 

Loomia IoT Blockchain
We at BTC Geek aim to bring you the latest trends in the world of crypto before they become apparent to the general public. This is how we went early on concepts like Autonomous Corporations on Blockchain that have become a cornerstone today in the Ethereum community. Another trend we’ve been discussing of late is the combination of IoT with blockchain and crypto. This is going to be more of a longer term play and potentially trillions of dollars worth of economies created.

There are several blockchains working towards concepts of IoT payments on the blockchain. This is an interesting approach, to be sure, but is higher risk because of the network effects and winner-take-all effects this may have. The other side of the equation is building application layers that are functional today in the real world, and use the power of crypto and blockchain to improve the value of the IoT product and application.

The Loomia Product

This latter approach is what Loomia is taking. The team is building an embedded layer that can be used in everyday clothing. The product is technology that can be used by clothing manufacturers without restricting the ability of the fabrics to bend and fold. In a nutshell, the Loomia product makes any fabric into a ‘smart fabric’. This is useful because it can turn the smart fabric layer into a clothing layer that you wear everyday.

So what does this electronic layer in your clothing do? It is a data collector that is very intimately tied to your biology and physiology. You can collect all sorts of useful data. If you thought your Apple Watch was a must have to track your activity, wait till you start using something so intimate, which should also be much more accurate. This is data about you throughout the day. You can use it to better your lifestyle, make yourself more productive, or simply use it as a repository of your life.

Privacy for Data

The big question that should occur to you immediately reading the last section is who owns the data. In an increasingly complex world where increasing amounts of data is being collected about us and our behavior, who is in-charge here? Is this one of the cases of ‘you are the product’? The answer thankfully is NO! With Loomia, you are in fact in complete control over your data, i.e. you own the data and no one else. Not even Loomia will have unfettered access to your data.

The way the company accomplishes that is with the help of a physical device that stores the data, called the Loomia Tile. This device stores all the data that is gathered by the electronic layer throughout the day.

Loomia and Data Markets

The device doesn’t just store data, but also lets you sell it to researchers on your own terms. This is where the power of blockchain and crypto becomes apparent. First, you are in full control of your data. Second, your data is private. Third, you can actually monetize that data, but again, on your own terms.

The best thing is, the data is very valuable to researchers because Loomia is able to tie your real identity to your digital identity. The ‘real identity’ comes from usage and behavior that the device already tracks.

Loomia therefore is more than just an IoT meets blockchain company. In fact, it is a way to create one of the first personal data markets on the blockchain. This is quite a powerful tool, which can be useful for many different brands. Especially the ones that want to stay ahead of the curve. The users are in complete control over how they want to sell the generated data. This makes the data valuable. It is also forward thinking as newer generations are more cognizant of data collection and related privacy issues.

We think Loomia is a longer term project that has a lot of right elements for success if the team can execute on their vision.

To learn more, check out their main site. Also, if you plan to invest in the token sale, read the whitepaper.

Photo Credit: wintersoul1

Nov 152017
 

BABB

BABB is one of the more interesting blockchain projects coming out of the “fintech” (financial technology) space. The project is located in the famous Level39 space in Canary Wharf in London, which is the hub of Europe’s fintech innovation.

So what is BABB? BABB stands for Bank Account Based Blockchain. The project aims to create a banking platform for the peer to peer economy. However, it is more than just another blockchain project. It allows users access to a UK bank account, based on biometrics and AI technologies in addition to blockchain.

Banking Services

Once you have your bank account, BABB has a special product called the “Black Card”. This is linked directly to your BABB bank account. The Black Card lets you spend any cryptocurrency or fiat in any country. All this is done in a peer to peer fashion via blockchain. This isn’t another one of those “crypto debit cards” that have become popular of late. The Black Card works independent of the legacy payment systems, so it isn’t a visa or mastercard. Instead,┬áRetailers can accept payment using the BABB card by simply downloading the BABB app and scanning the QR code or via NFC. Payment is made instantly into the retailer’s bank account.

So why does all this matter? It matters because there are billions of unbanked people today in the world that can only dream of being able to have access to the financial services provided by the banks, especially ones in ‘desirable’ locations like the UK. The project is built for those people who rely on micro-payments for small tasks. These small payments from the first world mean much more to a person living in the third world scraping a living. The goal is to bring those billions into our economy.

Peer-to-Peer

Another aspect of BABB is its peer-to-peer nature. Now if you think every blockchain is essentially peer-to-peer, you’re right. However, BABB goes beyond just that. It has an element of ‘Social KYC’ built into the platform, which allows for faster on-boarding and adoption of the technology. This means no more cumbersome paperwork and proofs for everyone. Instead, you can rely on vouches by your friends that have undergone the process.

This may seem small from a first world point of view where identity is easy to prove. However, it is a boon for the developing world where identity information isn’t as easy to obtain. Someone else vouching on your behalf makes the process much smoother for you.

An added element to this is the creation of network effects in the process. When you have a social vouching system, you create the right network effects and incentives for others to onboard their friends. This building of network effects is crucial when a project aims to start from the ground up and build a network.

End of the day, BABB is one of the more interesting projects coming out in the space. You should check out their website for more information.