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Blockchain, Blockchain technology

What Is SALT Lending?

SALT lending is a platform that provides Blockchain-Backed Loans. SALT (Secured Automated Lending Platform) enables you to put up your crypto as collateral in exchange for a cash loan. This strategy is ideal if you need to pay-off an unexpected expense or want to make a big purchase without having to sell-off your blockchain assets.
 
 
In this SALT lending guide, we’re going to outline:

How Does SALT Lending Work?

SALT revolves around the company’s trademarked Blockchain-Backed Loans. Blockchain-Backed Loans are simply loans in which you hand over a blockchain asset, like Bitcoin, as collateral in exchange for traditional currencies. Unlike traditional auto or home loans, you can use these loans for any personal or business expense.

Membership (UPDATED)

Originally, to use the SALT lending platform, you first needed to pay to become a member. There were three tiers of membership:
  1. Base (1 SALT/year)
  2. Premier (10 SALT/year)
  3. Enterprise (100 SALT/year)
Higher membership tiers enabled you to borrow more money across additional currencies and gave you more flexible loan terms. Higher tiers also enjoyed a range of other perks such as early access to new products, portfolio management, and credit/debit cards.
SALT lending memberships

Original SALT Lending Tier System

UPDATE: As of this writing, the company is reorganizing their memberships, so you’re unable to sign up for one. However, you’re still able to take out a loan. And, you no longer need SALT to do so. If you stake SALT for your loan, though, you’ll receive a better rate and/or terms. You need to provide several pieces of personal information to create an account and become a member. This information includes your first namelast namevalid email address, and country. You’re also subject to Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) restrictions, so be prepared to upload an ID.

Lenders

On the other side of SALT are the lenders. Lenders have previously avoided dealing with cryptocurrencies because of the oftentimes complicated nature of the assets. SALT provides lenders with the infrastructure, compliance, and security they need to accept crypto collateral without adding additional costs to their current processes. In exchange for these services, lenders must also pay for a SALT membership.

Loan Process

Once again differing from traditional finance, SALT never inquires your credit score. Instead, the platform only uses the value of your crypto collateral to determine the terms of your loan. Lenders kick-off the loan process by posting the terms in which they’re willing to lend. As a borrower, you can look through the various terms and choose the one that’s best suited for you.
SALT lending process

SALT Lending Process

Once you pick a loan, the loaners commit the cash funds while you provide collateral to a smart contract. The cash funds are sent directly to your bank account. You then pay monthly installments based on the loan terms, and when your loan is paid-off, SALT releases your collateral from the smart contract and returns it back to you.

SALT Oracle

The SALT Oracle creates the smart contracts for each loan and triggers the events of the loan. To lower the risk of default, the Oracle also records loan payments and monitors the changing value of the crypto collateral. Every loan starts with a loan-to-value ratio that’s calculated from the terms of the loan. This ratio is effectively the amount of the loan divided by the amount of collateral. For example, a $100,000 loan secured by $125,000 worth of Ethereum would have an original loan-to-value ratio of: $100,000 / $125,000 = 80.0% As you pay off the loan, this ratio decreases because the amount of the outstanding loan decreases. However, if the value of your collateral decreases due to a decline in the market price, this ratio will increase. If the ratio ever increases beyond the initial loan-to-value ratio, you’ll be required to either:
  1. provide more collateral, or
  2. pay-off an additional amount of the loan
until the ratio returns to the original level. The Oracle autonomously tracks the loan-to-value ratios and notifies the borrowers when it becomes too high. The amount of time a borrower has to correct the ratio differs based on the velocity of the price decline
 

SALT Lending Team & Progress

The SALT team is over 15 members strong and was led by Shawn Owen as CEO. Owen is a serial entrepreneur with years of experience in hospitality operations. In July 2018, Owen left the company leaving CTO Bill Sinclair to take his place. The most notable member of the SALT team is one of their advisors, Erik Voorhees. Voorhees is the founder and CEO of ShapeShift – one of the most popular crypto-to-crypto exchanges. SALT reached a big milestone in January 2018 by officially beginning to provide loans for top-tier members. The platform already has over 70,000 loans and has funded over $50,000,000 in those loans. Plans for 2018 included launching credit cards, creating loan funds, and expanding collateralization to other alternative coins as well. The team only hit some of those milestones. The company expanded support, adding Litecoin and Dogecoin loans. But, it looks as if credit cards and developer tools are still some time out.
SALT milestones

2018 Roadmap

Competition

SALT is the current leader in blockchain-based loans; however, there are a few other competitors popping up in the space. ETHLend and Elix are two younger competitors that provide decentralized lending on the Ethereum blockchain. SALT differentiates itself by focusing on institutional cash loans that are backed by cryptocurrency while the other two projects appear to have taken a peer-to-peer approach. Both use-cases should have a solid place in the market. Additionally, SALT is competing with more traditional platforms that provide crypto-backed loans but aren’t using a specific token.

SALT Token

SALT tokens, also known as membership tokens, are ERC20 tokens that you spend to become a member of the SALT lending platform. Furthermore, you can redeem these tokens to pay down loan interestreceive better rates on loans, and purchase items from SALT’s online store. At one point, these tokens held a different value on the lending platform than what they were trading for in the market. They used to be worth exactly $27.50 on the lending platform while trading at a value below that price. You could also previously pay-down the capital of your loans with SALT tokens. So, this created an interesting arbitrage opportunity. If you had the bankroll, you could technically get an Enterprise membership for $1200 and take out a $1M loan backed by $1.25M of Bitcoin. You could then turn around and buy $1M worth of SALT tokens from the market (~83,333 SALT). Because the SALT tokens were worth $27.50 on the platform you would only need to spend ~45,455 SALT tokens to pay back your loan. This would leave you with a little under 40,000 SALT tokens plus the original Bitcoin you put up as collateral – about a 40% return. The SALT team must have caught on to this scheme because they’ve since removed the opportunity.

Trading

SALT held their ICO in Q3 2017 in which you could purchase a membership token for $3.00 – $7.00 depending on the time that you bought it. There are a total of 120M SALT tokens, and just over 80M are currently circulating in the market. The SALT price briefly experienced the common “post-ICO” dip before spiking back up to a little over $7 in October 2017. Shortly after, the price fell to the $2-$4 (0.0003-0.0005 BTC) range and stayed there until December 2017.  
 
 
Starting in December 2017, the price steadily rose and jumped to an all-time high of over $17 with the announcement that lending on the platform had finally begun. Since that high at the very end of 2017, the price has fallen drastically. Throughout 2018, the coin has lost over 98 percent of its value. It’s currently worth about $0.25. Because SALT isn’t required to use the lending platform, there’s not much that will cause the price to rise again. A healthy cryptocurrency market should help. And juicy enough membership incentives may also provide some positive demand-side pressure. Other than that, it’s tough to see this coin rising from the dead.

Where to Buy SALT

The most popular exchanges to purchase SALT are Binance and Bittrex. To trade for SALT on one of these exchanges you need to first have Bitcoin or Ethereum. If you don’t have either, you can purchase them with traditional currency on an exchange like Gemini and then transfer them over. For a full list of exchanges where you can buy SALT, check out CoinMarketCap.

Where to Store SALT

Because SALT is an ERC20 token, you have a few different options on where to store it. A popular online option is MyEtherWallet. The SALT website recommends that you use the Jaxx wallet and even provides instructions here. Jaxx is available on Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Linux, and as a Chrome extension. The most secure way to store your tokens is by using a hardware wallet like Trezor or the Ledger Nano S. Using hardware wallets keeps your funds offline and out of the reach of hackers and ill-intended software.

Conclusion

The SALT lending platform is a great option if you want/need to make some real-world expenses and don’t want to lose the potential gains from your crypto holdings. Beyond that, the project works to solve a major problem of blockchain assets – illiquidity. By opening up an entirely new form of loans, the project brings more liquidity to the cryptocurrency market. The team has a solid foundation of blockchain experience and is advised by a leader in the industry. With a working platform in the market already, SALT is ahead of many other blockchain projects. That being said, there’s no requirement to use SALT tokens on the platform. So, it should make you wonder why the company has a specific token in the first place. Hopefully, the new membership tiers will make this more obvious. Editor’s Note: This article was updated by Steven Buchko on 12.04.2018 to reflect the recent changes of the project. This article was originally published at CoinCentral.com.
 
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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

To understand cryptocurrency, you first need to understand the history of the virtual coin. Virtual coin, or digital currency, differs from traditional fiat currency in that there is no physical representation to accompany each unit of value. Long before the crypto craze of 2017, there were the pioneers of electronic cash.

These early financial freethinkers shaped the market and prepared the world for the digitization of the economy. Fast forward to today’s crypto market, and thanks to the efficiency of blockchain technology, you now see digital money experiencing increased adoption globally.

Virtual Coin Before Bitcoin

Over the last twenty years, virtual currency payment systems have flourished. These systems existed long before the advanced blockchain technology of today made virtual coins, such as Bitcoin, a household name.

Virtual currencies are not considered a legal tender in most countries for many reasons. Governments do not issue these coins. Instead, virtual currencies are issued by the platform’s developers. Today, there are many ways in which companies release virtual coins. Before cryptocurrencies, bonuses were the most popular form of issuing digital currency.

 

 

Problems with Early Virtual Coin

The problem with these early virtual coins was that they were too susceptible to attack from hackers or scammers. Additionally, the lack of any form of material confirmation left many businesses skeptical of the true value behind these concepts. Remember, this was 20 years prior to the emergence of blockchain technology. Many people didn’t even own a computer at this time.

Netherlands, 1980s

One of the first examples of an attempt to create a digital cash comes from the Netherlands in the late 1980s. Gas station owners were fed up with their businesses being robbed. The problem got so bad that someone decided it would be safer to find a way to place money onto smart cards. Trucking company owners could load these cards and give them to their drivers. The drivers would then use the cards at the participating gas stations.

Flooz.com

Another example of virtual coin usage before cryptocurrency is the internet currency Flooz. Flooz.com issued these virtual coins in 1998 as part of a marketing campaign. Each Flooz equaled one dollar in value.

Users would receive Flooz coin for purchases made on the Flooz.com website. Users could then spend their Flooz on more products on the site, or they could take their bonus earnings and shop at numerous other participating vendors.

The concept was well before its time, and despite a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, Flooz never achieved the level of adoption required to sustain the project. The platform also took heavy losses after a combination of Russian and Filipino hackers made purchases using stolen credit cards. The company is now defunct, but the inspiration of their project lives on in the digital currencies of today.

Blinded Cash

In 1981, an American cryptographer by the name of David Chaum released his now famous paper titled Untraceable Electronic Mail, Return Addresses, and Digital Pseudonyms. Chaum described an anonymous digital currency system. In 1989, Chaum developed his protocol into a working virtual coin known as DigiCash.

David Chaum via Quartz

David Chaum via Quartz

The protocol was revolutionary and introduced the world to the concept of blind signatures. Blind signatures disguise the content of a message and utilize a combination of a public and private password to verify the validity of the participants. Today, this concept is used in major cryptocurrencies in the form of public keys.

B-Money

A decade after DigiCash entered the market, a developer by the name of Wei Dai made waves in the cryptographic community after publishing a paper called B-Money Anonymous, Distributed Electronic Cash System. This virtual coin concept utilized a decentralized network, which included private sending capabilities and auto-enforceable contracts. While the technical aspects of this virtual coin were far from blockchain technology, and the project never gained enough momentum to take flight, the concept greatly influenced the future cryptocurrency market.

Bit Gold

Longtime virtual coin advocate, Nick Szabo, pioneered the proof-of-work system used today by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin with his Bit Gold protocol. Bit Gold helped to cement the concept of a decentralized network and the elimination of third-party verification systems. Satoshi borrowed many of Bit Gold’s concepts. So much so, that many people believed Satoshi Nakamoto to be Nick Szabo. It took a public denial by Szabo to finally convince people otherwise.

HashCash

Many crypto enthusiasts consider HashCash to be the direct inspiration for Bitcoin. HashCash was introduced in 1997 by cryptographer Adam Beck. Beck incorporated a proof-of-work protocol to verify the validity of a transaction. HashCash’s proof-of-work protocol previously saw use as a spam reduction technique before being adapted for virtual coins. The concept impacted Nakamoto to the point that he cites Beck in the Bitcoin white paper. However, HashCash lost relevance after suffering scalability issues due to increased network congestion.

Enter Bitcoin and the Wonders of Blockchain

Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, labels the world’s most successful cryptocurrency as “a peer-to-peer electronic cash system.” Unlike the virtual coins before Bitcoin, Satoshi had the backing of powerful new technology, blockchain.

Blockchain technology stores information in duplicate over a vast network of computers. Prior to any changes to the blockchain, fifty-one percent of the nodes must agree on the validity of the chain. This validation process references the previous blocks. The longest verifiable chain of transactions remains the valid chain. In this manner, blockchain technology eliminates the need for third-party verification systems such as banks.

Advantages of Virtual Coins

The advent of blockchain technology increased the benefits of virtual coins significantly. Users can transfer cryptocurrency in near instant time, and at a much cheaper rate than the traditional methods of global money transfer. Cryptocurrencies eliminate the need for verification systems, which saves you big time.

To put the level of savings experienced by crypto users into perspective, look at the traditional international money transfer methods. Today, your funds require verification from potentially thirty-six different third-party organizations when sent globally. And, each organization tacks on a fee for their services.

Virtual Coins Are Here to Stay

Now, the world has multiple legitimate virtual currency options to consider. These digital currencies continue to shape the economics of the future. Today, virtual coins are more common than ever, and for the first time in history, digital money receives recognition from traditional financial firms.

 
 
  This article was originally published at CoinCentral.com.
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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

Post Oak Motor Cars, the luxury automobile retailer which stocks Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Bugatti vehicles has announced plans to accept Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash payments at its dealership. The retailer is reportedly the first one in the U.S. to embrace the use of popular cryptocurrencies for retail payments.

The auto retailer will operate its crypto payment service via Bitpay, a popular payment service provider. According to Tilman Fertitta, renowned American businessman, and owner of Post Oak Motor Cars, the company is moving forward with this new plan to enhance the buying experience for its customers who are cryptocurrency holders or wish to use digital currencies for their own reasons. He also stated that crypto purchases will make it easier and faster for people to buy cars from the dealership.

The statement by Fertitta reads:

“Being a premier luxury car dealer, I always want to offer my customers the very best buying experience and this partnership will allow anyone around the world to purchase our vehicles faster and easier.”

In 2017, Fertitta opened up to reporters concerning his thoughts on Bitcoin, stating that people will most likely not buy it since it is not exactly insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). However, Bitcoin adoption has grown considerably since that statement was made and various corporations have risen to the task of catering to the ever-growing population of crypto investors. Currently, Post Oak Motor Cars is no exception.

According to the press release, Bitpay is embracing the dealership’s plan due to its reputation and the popularity of the luxury automobiles it stocks.

The statement by Sonny Singh, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of BitPay, reads:

“We’ve noticed people prefer to make larger purchases with bitcoin since it is a simple way to make payments. This partnership is timely with the increasing popularity of Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Bugatti vehicles. Post Oak Motors has a great reputation for selling the finest cars, and we are thrilled to be partnering with Tilman.”

THE POST OAK MOTOR CARS LUXURY EXPERIENCE

Like other Tilman Fertitta companies, Post Oak offers a luxury experience to its customers, that seeks to integrate them into its ecosystem, making them return several times. At its prestigious uptown/galleria area of Houston, the dealership welcomes customers looking to purchase Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and Bugatti vehicles.

The world of cryptocurrency is often characterized by the presence of millionaires, flashy cars and real estate. This is why it makes sense that Post Oaks sees an emerging class of cryptocurrency owners among its clients. By allowing this group of customers pay with their digital currency, the firm is retaining customers and opening its doors to even more customers within the field.

The firm aims to create the best possible automotive experience and in the past, this has meant post-delivery services, including major repairs, oil changes, brake repairs, and tire replacements. Now, however, this includes catering to its crypto crowd and ensuring that people are not restricted when paying for luxury items. This is especially convenient for investors since it is not easy to convert cryptocurrency back to fiat currency without any hassle.

Cryptocurrency acceptance is still minimal, seeing as there is still much development going on, in terms of stability, security, and regulation. This means that businesses accepting cryptocurrency are few. There are currently over 20 million active Bitcoin wallets and about 5% of Americans use cryptocurrency, so this presents a unique opportunity, just waiting for brands to snatch it up.

WHO IS TILMAN FERTITTA?

Tilman Joseph Fertitta is an American entrepreneur as well as the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and owner of Landry’s, Inc. With over $3.5 billion in assets, the company operates more than 500 restaurants, hotels, and casinos across various international locations, generating $3.4 billion in revenue annually.

Fertitta is also a TV personality, Chief Executive Officer at The Oceanaire, Inc., and Co-Chairman as well as Chief Executive Officer of Landcadia Holdings, Inc. He currently serves as Chairman at Houston Police Foundation, Houston Children’s Charity, Golden Nugget, Inc. and University of Houston System Board of Regents. He is worth an estimated $3 billion and is regarded as the richest restaurateur in the world.

Born in Galveston, Texas, in 1957, Fertitta spent part of his childhood learning the ropes at his father’s seafood restaurant. According to many reports, Tilman Fertitta began investing in stock as early as high school and successfully established his first business in his twenties. After graduating from high school he got into Texas Tech University and later transferred to the University of Houston, where he studied business administration and hospitality management.

By 23, a young Fertitta, still in college, took a loan of $6,000 to start a seaside hotel in Galveston. This was his first business. Soon, he was able to build a restaurant empire which he has continued to expand till date.

In September 2017, he signed an agreement to purchase popular NBA team, the Houston Rockets, for $2.2 billion. He is also credited as one of the original investors who helped shape the future of the Houston Texans as an NFL team although he eventually sold his franchise. He served as the director of NBA team, the Houston Rockets for a long time.

Tilman Fertitta was the star of the reality show “Billion Dollar Buyer” which aired on CNBC from 2016 and featured the businessman traveling across the country to test innovative hospitality products to be used in Landry’s, Inc.’s hotels and casinos. In 2004, Tilman Fertitta became the second-youngest Texan to be inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame.

WHAT ARE OTHER CAR BRANDS DOING WITHIN THE CRYPTOCURRENCY INDUSTRY?

Luxury Car,  Bitcoin

As cryptocurrency users continue to increase, the auto industry is making moves to promote adoption and incorporate blockchain technology into their operations. One example is Daimler AG, the Germany based automobile giant responsible for a range of luxury cars including Mercedes-Benz.

The firm recently created MobiCoin, its own digital currency, as a way to reward drivers for maintaining eco-friendly driving practices like low-speed driving. The vehicles will transmit data directly to Daimler AG which will allocate MobiCoins based on this data, all carried out via a mobile app.

Other examples are BMW, Renault, Ford, and General Motors, which are among 30 companies in the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), including IBM and Bosch. These companies hope to accelerate blockchain adoption and promote new use cases in areas like ride-sharing.

Recently, Ford also filed a patent for a vehicle-to-vehicle communication system, involving the exchange of cryptocurrency tokens as a way to facilitate traffic flow.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Brands continue to push for cryptocurrency adoption due to the rising demand and secure ways to purchase items with these currencies. For several reasons including anonymity, and transaction speed, many people find it easier to spend cryptocurrency. This is why it is important for companies to map out ways to cater to this portion of their customer base.

Post Oak Motor Cars is no amateur when it comes to the convenience of its customers. Under the leadership of Tilman Fertitta, the company is showing that it is more than willing to go to great lengths to improve the buying experience for them.

This article was originally published at MinDice.com.

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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

Unlike the period in which Bitcoin first emerged, it is a lot easier to buy cryptocurrency today. The major upside of this is that users do not have to break their necks searching for a way to buy their favorite coin.

There are numerous ways to go about it, including exchanges and Bitcoin ATMs, as opposed to attending crypto meetups and hanging around chatrooms in the hopes of meeting people who are willing to sell their tokens. However, most exchanges have not completely figured out how to make it easy for users to buy Bitcoin using fiat currency. In fact, this is a major drawback since people mostly have fiat currency as their starting point for acquiring cryptocurrency.

Normally, fiat purchases can be carried out through third-party applications like Paypal. However, users have found it nearly impossible to do something as simple as buying some Bitcoin straight from their Paypal accounts. With the Paypal active user base falling to 250 million, this is a far-reaching problem.

Currently, attempting to buy cryptocurrency through Paypal is difficult and expensive, mostly due to the potential for users to take advantage of chargebacks. For example, a user could buy some Bitcoins on an exchange, directly from their Paypal account and use its support system to charge it back so that they receive a refund. This can be problematic for exchanges since they can’t request refunds from the Bitcoin wallets they’ve credited.

WAYS IN WHICH BITCOIN CAN BE PURCHASED WITH A PAYPAL ACCOUNT

Although they are few, there are still some other ways in which users can purchase Bitcoin directly from their Paypal accounts, including direct trade, Bitcoin loans, and centralized exchanges and Specialized payment apps.

1. P2P DIRECT TRADE

Since most exchanges do not accept Paypal payments in exchange for BTC, direct trade is the most efficient way forward for those bent on using the payment app.

This involves sites that facilitate peer-to-peer agreements to sell and purchase Bitcoin using Paypal. Essentially, one user connects with another, either in person or through the use of a decentralized exchange like Localbitcoins, Paxful or Cancoin. After connecting, both users can agree on Paypal as a method of payment for their mutual benefit.

LOCALBITCOINS

Localbitcoins is easily the most popular way to buy BTC from a Paypal account. It is a peer-to-peer marketplace that aims to connect buyers and sellers who want to carry out their transactions using Paypal.

The platform method has continuously proven to be an effective way to achieve this. However, users must be careful when choosing sellers to avoid any fraudulent issues. Traders can be filtered by looking at their trade volume and feedback.

PAXFUL

This is another popular marketplace which links buyers and sellers as well as provides escrow services. The fees on Paxful are higher than the market rate but may prove to be worth it. Its user interface bears some slight similarities to Localbitcoins. Apart from Paypal, the platform also conducts transactions via Skrill, Payoneer and gift cards. The site will only accept verified U.S. Paypal accounts.

CANCOIN

Cancoin is a relatively new, decentralized peer-to-peer exchange for Bitcoin traders. It facilitates transactions between users and allows them to carry out these transactions using Paypal. Cancoin greatly emphasizes its security and range of tools to make the user experience more convenient.

Some features include multiple escrow orders, multi-signature transactions, custom alerts via email, SMS, desktop or browser and Interactive price history graphs. Creating an account on the platform is free but sellers pay a 1% fee on each transaction apart from the normal Bitcoin transaction fees. Buyers on the other hand, do not pay fees.

2. P2P BITCOIN “LOANS”

Bitcoin lending is becoming increasingly popular and since a large number of users receive money through Paypal, several bitcoin lending platforms accept it as a payment method. In these systems, users who hold Bitcoin can decide to lend their tokens to other users in hopes of generating profits from interest.

Since Bitcoin lending is still a growing concept, there are not many lending platforms. As a result, the chances of finding one that accepts Paypal as a payment method are slim. xCoins has managed to stand out in this regard.

XCOINS

xCoins is a cryptocurrency exchange, which also serves as a peer-to-peer marketplace, offering additional services including Bitcoin lending. It primarily exists to act as a bridge between Bitcoin lenders and borrowers.

When users fund their xCoins account, they can decide on what interest rates they would like to charge their borrowers, with a starting point of 15%.

Borrowers on the platform are matched with loans, according to the needs they specify.

xCoins guarantees a high level of security through its internal rating system. This way, the credibility of users can be verified easily.

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3. CENTRALIZED CRYPTOCURRENCY EXCHANGES

A handful of centralized exchanges have also developed their own systems for ensuring security while accepting Paypal as a payment method. They include Virwox and eToro.

VIRWOX

VirWoX, an acronym for Virtual World Exchange, is a centralized cryptocurrency exchange which accepts Paypal payments. It was launched in 2007 as a digital currency exchange even though it precedes Bitcoin.

Currently, the platform has over 1 million registered users and uses an automatic order system to match them. Like almost any other exchange, a user must create an account to use the platform.

After this step, funds can be deposited in a virtual wallet using Paypal, credit cards, and a host of other options. Subsequently, buy-sell pairs, market limits or order limits can be created on the exchange page and submitted.

ETORO

eToro is a popular social trading and online forex platform where users can invest in several digital assets. The platform offers a wide array of cryptocurrencies and ensures that all user assets are managed in a single place.

It also eliminates the need for a digital wallet and claims to use high-quality encryption technology to secure investors’ funds. Unfortunately, fees on the Etoro platform are relatively high.

4. SPECIALIZED PAYMENT APPS

Some payment apps act as intermediaries to allow Paypal users access cryptocurrency from their accounts. One example is WirexApp which is not an exchange, yet facilitates the purchase of digital currency.

WIREXAPP

WirexApp allows users to set up consistent Paypal cryptocurrency payments. Unfortunately, a user’s first transaction takes about 1-2 days but all transactions after that are carried out instantly.

It is available in several countries including Bahamas, Bahrain, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Malta, Philippines, Romania, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates among others.

To get started, users must create and verify a WirexApp account. This gets them a free virtual visa card which they have to deposit about $3 into. The card can be added to Paypal and used to pay for cryptocurrency transactions.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Buying cryptocurrency from a Paypal account has many upsides. But fraud, its major drawback seems to trump them all. Until major exchanges find a way around chargebacks, users may be stuck jumping through hoops just to buy cryptocurrency conveniently.

At the same time, platforms that currently offer this service are few and as a result, there is more profit to go around in the form of transaction fees. While this is great for these exchanges it does not do users any favors– since the scarcity of a Paypal payment option on cryptocurrency exchange will only drive up the existing transaction fees on the few platforms that offer this option. Hopefully, exchanges will become fiat-friendly in the next future and allow users to pay for cryptocurrency more conveniently.

This article was originally published at MinDice.com.

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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

What is Bitcoin Gold?

Only a few months after the Bitcoin Cash hard fork, the Bitcoin blockchain experienced another community-driven hard fork known as Bitcoin Gold (BTG).

Bitcoin Gold hopes to change the paradigm around mining on the Bitcoin blockchain. According to the founders, the Bitcoin blockchain has become too centralized. Large companies with huge banks of mining computers now mine the vast majority of Bitcoin. For the founders of Bitcoin Gold, having large companies control the Bitcoin network defeats the purpose of a decentralized ledger and peer-to-peer currencies.

In response, they’ve initialized the Bitcoin Gold project. It’s an alternate fork of the Bitcoin blockchain that implements changes that make mining more equitable. The goal of Bitcoin Gold is to create a network where anyone can become a miner with only basic hardware. As a result, Bitcoin Gold mining would be spread among many miners, instead of a few large companies.

In this guide, we cover all things Bitcoin Gold such as:


Decentralizing the Bitcoin Blockchain

In the very early days of Bitcoin, ordinary computers verified and completed the proof of work needed to power the Bitcoin blockchain. However, the past several years have seen rapid development in the hardware used to mine Bitcoin.

What started as normal computers on the original Bitcoin network soon graduated to specialized rigs with graphics processing units (GPUs) installed to hash the proof of work faster.

Today, the hardware has advanced even further. Application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) now perform nearly all of the mining on the Bitcoin blockchain. These are devices built specifically for Bitcoin mining that are 1,000,000 times better at mining than your home computer. Buying, installing, and running ASICs has a high startup cost, making it difficult for the average user to get involved.

[Editor’s note: The more expensive mining becomes, the fewer people can actually do it. This means that the mining network becomes that much more centralized. The argument Bitcoin Gold wants to make is to make mining Bitcoin something everyone can do, therefore keeping the mining as decentralized as possible.]

In addition, most successful Bitcoin mining operations today involve entire rooms or warehouses full of ASICs running 24/7. Small time miners simply can’t compete.

Mining Farm

Mining farm. Photo by Marco Krohn – Creative Commons

Bitcoin Gold’s motto, “Make Bitcoin Decentralized Again,” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Donald Trump’s election campaign slogan. However, it also references Satoshi’s original vision for Bitcoin of a peer-to-peer network where anyone could take part in the mining process. In order to change Bitcoin mining into something more equitable, Bitcoin Gold proposes changing the blockchain to eliminate ASIC mining.

SHA-256 vs Equihash

The fundamental change in Bitcoin Gold is choosing a different hashing algorithm that makes proof of work more difficult for ASICs. This is accomplished when a hashing algorithm requires more memory (RAM) to complete. Since ASICs are about pure processing power, requiring more memory bottlenecks their processing ability. This makes small-time mining on GPUs competitive once again.

The current, ASIC-driven Bitcoin blockchain uses a hashing algorithm known as SHA-256 for its proof of work. The founders of Bitcoin Gold instead use another algorithm known as Equihash. Alex Biryukov and Dmitry Khovratovich developed Equihash as an ASIC-resistant algorithm, and it has already seen success powering other cryptocurrencies, the most famous of which is Zcash.

Ultimately, changing to Equihash would make Bitcoin mining more distributed, and that’s really the only change that Bitcoin Gold proposes for the network. While mining centralization is an issue on the Bitcoin blockchain, with miners blacklisting some users or giving preference to certain transactions, there’s a limit to how much power these central miners can wield. It’s not clear that mining centralization has had an overly negative impact on Bitcoin.

If it ever did, the Bitcoin core developers could implement Equihash themselves, essentially firing all the current ASIC miners on the Bitcoin blockchain. The prospect of losing the hundreds of thousands of dollars they invested in their mining hardware with an algorithm change is enough to keep most miners on the network honest.


Who Received Bitcoin Gold?

Since Bitcoin Gold is a fork of the original Bitcoin blockchain, everyone who owned BTC before the fork received the same amount of BTG, at a 1:1 ratio. You didn’t need to do anything special to receive the BTG, but claiming it may have gotten tricky depending on how you had your wallet set up.

You’re able to trade BTG on nearly 20 exchanges. The most popular options are HitBTC, OKEx, Bitfinex, and Binance.

How to Mine Bitcoin Gold

If you’re interested in how to mine Bitcoin Gold, we’ve got good news. The set-up process is relatively simple, and you mine with just a GPU – no ASICs required.

First, you need to join a mining pool. You’ve got over ten to choose from with pool.gold as one of the most popular options. Next, download the mining software from the pool that you joined. Pool.gold has mining software available for NVIDIA and Radeon.

If you don’t have a BTG wallet, set one up. Your options include BTGWallet.online, the Bitcoin Gold Core Wallet, or any exchange that supports BTG.

Continuing with pool.gold as the example, you have separate instructions based on your GPU:

  • NVIDIA: Edit the start.bat file to include your Bitcoin Gold wallet address followed by the worker name.
  • Radeon: Edit the config.txt file to include your Bitcoin Gold wallet address followed by the worker name.

Finally, double-click “start.bat” and begin mining.


When Did It Go Live?

The Bitcoin Gold hard fork occurred on October 24, 2017, with block 491,407 on the Bitcoin blockchain.When that happened, Bitcoin Gold took a snapshot of all the balances and transactions on Bitcoin up to that point. The new blockchain began from there.

Is Bitcoin Gold a Competitor to Bitcoin?

Although Bitcoin Gold is a hard fork of the original Bitcoin blockchain, it’s not really a competitor to Bitcoin. While other hard forks, like Bitcoin Cash, cannibalized some miners from the Bitcoin network to work on the new blockchain, Bitcoin Gold’s anti-ASIC algorithm means virtually none of Bitcoin’s current miners will want to switch to mining BTG.

Instead, Bitcoin Gold competes with other anti-ASIC cryptocurrencies like Ethereum for mining power. Mining on such networks comes in the form of smaller-scale GPU mining. The problem for Bitcoin Gold is those other anti-ASIC cryptocurrencies have a longer history and are more predictable for miners. It’s not clear why a miner would want to switch to BTG, unless the price per BTG surges.

The one advantage that Bitcoin Gold has is wide dispersal. Everyone on the Bitcoin network received will receive BTG, so there’s potential for widespread adoption.

Bitcoin Gold vs Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, & SegWit2x

With so many forks on the Bitcoin blockchain in such quick succession, it can be confusing to keep track of the differences. Here’s a table to help you out:
 BitcoinBitcoin GoldBitcoin CashSegWit2x (cancelled)
PoW TypeASICASIC-resistant (GPU)ASICASIC
Block Time~10 mins~10 mins~10 mins~10 mins
Difficulty adjustment~2 weeksEach block~2 weeks~2 weeks
SegWitYesYesNoYes
Replay ProtectionYesYesNo
Total Coin Supply21 million21 million21 million21 million
Bitcoin Gold is the only Bitcoin fork to date to implement a new ASIC-resistant proof of work algorithm. Along with that new hashing algorithm, Bitcoin Gold implements a new difficulty adjustment with every block, gradually increasing the difficulty based on past block times. Finally, Bitcoin Gold is one of the only Bitcoin forks to support both Segregated Witness (SegWit) technology and replay protection. SegWit increases the number of transactions possible per block and replay protection prevents fraudulent parallel transactions on two forks.

Replay Protection After a Fork

hard fork

A hard fork.

Replay protection is critical when implementing a fork of an existing blockchain. The shared code and wallet addresses between BTC and BTG make it possible to implement a replay attack. Basically, if you want to conduct a transaction on both BTC and BTG at the same time, you’re fine. However, if you want to pay someone in BTC and keep your BTG, you’re open to an attack. An attacker could send a false signal between the forks that causes you to lose both currencies when you only meant to send one.

Bitcoin Gold offers full replay protection on BTG to prevent such attacks. The solution involves a SIGHASH_FORK_ID mechanism that rehashes transactions, meaning they can’t be transferred across from BTC to BTG.

What People are Saying About Bitcoin Gold

Most new cryptocurrencies involve ASIC-resistant hashing algorithms, and it’s becoming something of an industry standard to promote decentralization. In that respect, Bitcoin Gold holds a lot to be excited about. At its core, it’s about transitioning the Bitcoin network to more decentralized mining.

However, as we saw above, there’s not much evidence that the current Bitcoin mining system is broken. There have been some small complaints, and it’s not ideal that the network is so centralized. Nevertheless, miners on Bitcoin have a lot to lose if they wield their power too aggressively. There are also new entrantsto the Bitcoin mining community that are decentralizing control from a few key ASIC farms.

The general consensus from Bitcoin experts is there’s not enough new in Bitcoin Gold to warrant an independent investment. While it certainly doesn’t hurt to hold onto your free BTG that you receive as a result of the fork (if you owned Bitcoin before Oct 24), wait until the dust settles before deciding whether to buy more.

  This article was originally published at CoinCentral.com.
 
 
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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin was all the rave last year, with its high-profit margins and an influx of new investors. However, it is safe to say that over the span of one year, it has matured considerably. Like Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin told CNBC, Bitcoin may never have as much hype as it did in 2017 because so many people are now aware of cryptocurrency and how it works.

A lot of things have changed in the cryptocurrency sector since over-the-top forecasts were made in 2017, including a $160,000 price estimation for Bitcoin. One of such changes is the introduction of Bitcoin Futures which control the price of BTC by allowing large investors to exert pressure on it.

This means that predictions of large price values like the one above are unlikely to be met in the near future. Another change is the start of Bitcoin institutional investing. For example, both the Bakkt and the Nasdaq platforms claim to be open to offering cryptocurrency investing to institutions.

While stakeholders struggle to keep the BTC price at bay, one daunting question still looms: Will Bitcoin crash again in 2019 or will it peak and stabilize at a better price point than it currently has?

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE?

The last major cryptocurrency crash which followed the December 2017 peak brought about a need for an evolution in Bitcoin investment. Where Ethereum had ICOs as a new way to pour funds into the cryptocurrency industry, Bitcoin lacked one.

Soon, industry experts like the Winklevoss twins started looking towards exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to create long-term sustenance of Bitcoin as an investment vehicle. Unfortunately, these ETFs cannot function without approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission, so the industry is at a crossroads: evolve and survive, or continue at the same pace and end in a bubble burst.

 

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AN EMPHASIS ON NON-PHYSICAL BITCOIN ETFS

An exchange-traded fund is a security that tracks underlying real-world assets like gold, equities, oil, bonds, commodities or cryptocurrency. It allows investors to buy into it and earn dividends from their investment. Such shares are easy to trade like stocks and can get rid of any barriers faced by investors when trying to purchase those underlying assets themselves.

The submitted ETFs proposals describe funds that are primarily derivatives. They can be shorted or coordinated with a Bitcoin future. Only physical Bitcoin ETFs are currently a good fit for the Bitcoin market since derivatives bring about the unfavorable market to another state.

Bitcoin exchange-traded funds have been in the headlines lately, mostly for their rejections. Just recently, theWinklevoss twins faced a rejection of their own. This has not deterred other parties who are bent on seeing this new form of investment come to life.

Unfortunately, the SEC is building up quite a track record of rejections with a toll of up to 15 rejected Bitcoin ETFproposals since 2013.

BITCOIN PRICE FORECAST VS. BITCOIN USAGE     

One major factor to consider when looking at the possibility of another crash is the adoption rate of Bitcoin. Currently, ownership is still quite low, only a few points higher than last year. This implies stagnation and also that investors have found other coins which they deem more competitive. The younger generation is generally more bullish on Bitcoin usage since they consider it a product of their age, but the older generation remains skeptical.

However, this brief stagnation does not prove that Bitcoin will crash. If anything, the introduction of Futures and the demand for ETFs make up for it and shows that Bitcoin is here to stay.

It also shows that users are serious about integrating it into their daily transactions, which may eventually save the pioneer digital currency.

The introduction of stable coins like tether and application-tolerant platforms like Ethereum and EOS have given Bitcoin a serious run for its money. The high price point, which has been Bitcoin’s most attractive feature in the past has also turned out to be its Achilles’ heel.

Percentage increases in profit are simply not as good as those in cryptocurrencies with lower prices. For example, a user who buys $2000 worth of XRP at $0.3 can afford to purchase 6666 tokens while the same amount will only purchase about 0.3 BTC at $6000 per unit. While XRP can easily rise by 100% to $0.6, it will take a lot more for BTC to hit $12,000. This makes it more profitable to buy into smaller cryptocurrencies.

But what about the earlier forecasts of Bitcoin? How do they tie in with this new usage information? Simple, they do not. Several forecasts were made with assumptions of an ideal situation in which adoption would progress quickly and at a steady rate. Some of these forecasts have been revisited, with extended timelines that seem more realistic in light of Bitcoin’s recent performance.

WHAT ARE THE BITCOIN PRICE PREDICTIONS FOR 2019 AND 2020?

The recent issues faced by Bitcoin have not stopped industry figures from making future predictions about its price. Industry predictions generally fall between $25,000-$29,000 as a realistic price point for Bitcoin.

This is especially because it has been trending in its transition band, in which it will trade most of the time, since May 2018. This signifies an imminent major bull run in the cryptocurrency industry.

Some other significant Bitcoin price predictions for 2019 include:

  • $28,000 by the end of 2019, according to Ronnie Moas, crypto bull and founder of Standpoint Research, in a report published by Cointelegraph.
  • $36,000 by the end of 2019, according to Sam Doctor, Quantamental Strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors, who based his prediction on the historical average 1.8x P/BE multiple.
  • $25,000 according to Thomas Lee, Co-Founder and Head of Research at Fundstrat Global Advisors
  • $1 million, according to John McAfee, Founder of McAfee Associates, who earlier predicted a $500,000 price point before modifying it. McAfee claims that he used the same model which was used to predict $5000 at the end of 2017.
  • $10,000-$100,000 in the next 5 years, according to Joe DiPasquale, CEO of BitBull Capital.
  • $10,000 by the end of 2020 according to Fred Schebesta, Co-Founder and CEO of Finder.
  • $61,900 by the end of 2020 according to Bobby Ullery, CTO of Waysay who also predicted a shared market capitalization of $4.5 trillion between Ethereum and Bitcoin.
  • $30,000 by the end of 2020, according to Matias Dorta, Founder of ICO Informer, who also sees several countries adopting Bitcoin as a reserve currency by 2030.
  • $30,000 by the end of 2020, according to Craig Russo, Co-founder of sludgefeed.com
  • $75,000 by the end of 2020 and a market capitalization of $1.3 trillion, according to Brandon Quittem, a cryptocurrency analyst & writer.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Due to all the factors discussed above, including pending ETF proposals, stagnation, the introduction of Bitcoin futures and the competition among cryptocurrencies, it is difficult to say whether Bitcoin will indeed crash again in 2019. Considering its current performance, the leading cryptocurrency is at a point where it could either crash again or blossom into a widely accepted medium of exchange and investment.

As with almost everything else in this relatively new industry, the future of Bitcoin is shrouded in unpredictability and falls heavily in the hands of investors and regulators. However, there is no denying that Bitcoin is evolving every day as more people become exposed to it, including those who are not direct users.

This article was originally published at MinDice.com.

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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

Have you ever thought about how blockchain could affect the diamond industry? Probably not, right? But now diamond blockchain technology could improve how we track diamonds, from the mine to the jewelry store.

But there’s an issue with diamonds. As with any popular industry, the diamond market isn’t exactly squeaky clean. Some diamonds, known as conflict diamonds, are illegally traded to fund wars abroad. You may not know this due to the high demand for diamonds. Almost 50 percent of the demand for diamonds come from the US — and it isn’t a surprise. After all, it is the go-to jewel of engagements and weddings. And because of its hardiness, diamond is ideal for industrial use.

That said, mining for diamonds can be a violent affair. The 2006 hit Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, introduced the travesties related to diamond mining in Africa to the world’s stage.

Regardless, stakeholders in the diamond industry rightfully want to stop the trade of conflict diamonds, and blockchain might be the solution.

What Is a Conflict Diamond?

For those who don’t know, a conflict diamond is an uncut diamond that is mined in an armed conflict zone. The diamond is then traded, and the funds are used to finance the fighting. These blood diamonds are usually associated with conflicts in central and western Africa.

According to CNN, about 4 percent of the world’s diamond population came from Sierra Leone during its civil war (1991-2002). And that’s from just one country! In an article by CBS, experts suggested that blood diamonds could make up 15 percent of the diamond trade.

Despite these statistics, there are measures in place that attempt to smother the illegal industry. The primary actor is the Kimberley Process. This certification scheme connects local governments and international organizations to solve the problem. Their solution: Ensure every shipment of diamonds from these areas has certification.

Does It Work?

The Kimberly Process says it does and claims a 99.8 percent success rate.

But with so many intermediaries, and so many steps between mining and selling the diamonds, fraud is still highly probable. Many believe the process could be more effective, including the diamond giant De Beers.

The Diamond Blockchain

The De Beers Group, which owns over 30 percent of the diamond market, has recently announced its intent to pursue blockchain tech. That’s right. One of the industry leaders wants to utilize the blockchain to curb conflict diamonds.

From what we knew about blockchain, it should work. Cataloging diamonds on the blockchain will create transparency. Only a select few will have access to the ledger, in order to ensure that each individual in the process does their job correctly. You no longer need to trust governments, the mines, the shipment team. If the diamond is certified on the blockchain, it’s legit.

De Beers plans to track the diamonds from initial mining to final sale. That way, you can trace every move of the diamond on the digital ledger.

Their blockchain venture, Tracr, launched in January 2018. Despite being founded by De Beers, the company stresses that it has no access to the data unless it’s shared by the data owner. Using the Kimberly Process as a guide, they’ve invested with diamond offices, producers, graders, retailers, and other stakeholders to make the project a reality.

Diamond Blockchain: A screenshot from the Tracr website, listing the problems of supply chain

A screenshot from Tracr’s homepage. These supply chain vulnerabilities are exploited by the trade of conflict diamonds.

But they aren’t the only ones using blockchain to kill conflict diamonds.

In 2015, Everledger was used to securely track diamonds. It came back in 2017 with a new Diamond Time-Lapse plan (DDLP). This new initiative tracks the whole process, from mining to certification, in real time.

But Everledger isn’t completely unrelated to De Beers, either. This tech was built by Dharmanandan Diamonds, a trust of the DDPL and a sight holder of De Beers. In other words, the creators of Everledger are authorized purchasers of rough diamonds by De Beers.

Is De Beers the Solution?

IBM joined the diamond-tracking trade in April of 2018, partnering with various jewelry firms, and they weren’t alone. In fact, a Canadian NGO, Impact, left the Kimberly Process altogether, citing that the De Beers solution was unsatisfactory.

If this is true, there could be more room for blockchain tech development in the diamond industry.

Summary

Saying conflict diamonds are an issue is an understatement. The funds from these illicitly traded gems are funding violence and terror. Blockchain offers a stunning solution.

So far, we’ve seen industry leaders accept the new tech with open arms, but there’s still room for the technology to grow, and the process can still evolve.

But one thing is certain: These initiatives are making us think about how we can prevent the trade of blood diamonds and pave the way to peace.

 This article was originally published at CoinCentral.com.
 
 
0

Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

Advertising has become an essential part of promoting any type of business available and even plays a role in driving the data market further. The world of advertising is worth billions of dollars and is on course to hit $120 billion by 2021 in the US.

Every company, no matter what they offer, cannot function without reaching their target audience– this is where advertising comes into the picture. Brands like Google live off consumer data which can be used to send targeted ads to the right audience. Unfortunately, there are several issues that make the process of reaching the right audience inefficient.

Currently, almost half of all ad traffic is generated by bots. This means that even though so many brands pay a lot of money to reach their potential customers, it does not guarantee that they will actually make any sales to real, paying customers. While the reach and even engagement generated by paid ads can translate to heavy figures, the useful leads are relatively low.

This situation can be fixed by creating platforms that will allow companies to target their potential customers individually and in a direct manner. This will ensure that bots can be filtered out and sales can be maximized.Blockchain and smart contracts are great technologies to base such a system on.

A blockchain is an immutable digital ledger that stores all the transactions carried out on the network it supports. It has already been described as an emerging technology that will disrupt the way several industries function. It is now clear that digital marketing may be one of those industries.

In the past few years, since the emergence of bitcoin, the buzz surrounding blockchain which underpins most cryptocurrencies has increased considerably. There are already more than 2000 cryptocurrencies, all with their own unique use cases and projects. The appeal of blockchain lies in the number of useful applications it has. In advertising, a blockchain platform would be able to target the users on its network without allowing bot activity to thrive. It could also change current the world of advertising by making the process more transparent and private.

HOW CAN THE NEW BLOCKCHAIN PROCESS BE USED BY ADVERTISERS?

Mostly, blockchain can be used to improve the process of running digital ads and paying out publishers as well as distributors. When implemented, the technology can improve the following:

FRAUD PREVENTION

Advertising has a fraud problem perpetrated by human accounts as well as bots. Usually, bots are created to crawl web pages carrying out helpful tasks, but they have become a medium for carrying out cybercrime.

Popular platforms like Twitter where advertising plays a huge role have reported a bot problem that they’re actively trying to combat. In fact, Twitter has begun making plans to implement blockchain technology in solving this problem.

According to “What Happens Next: How To Reverse The Rising Tide Of Ad Fraud,” a 2017 report, up to $16.4 billion of global advertising revenue was wasted on ad fraud in 2017. Unfortunately, this figure may continue to increase if nothing is done to fix the situation. There are several factors that make blockchain well-suited for fraud prevention, including:

  • Immutability
  • High levels of security due to its decentralized mode of operation, verification mechanisms and encryption.
  • Transparency since transactions can be authenticated.

Overall, blockchain systems make it difficult to commit fraud because transactions are in the open. Also, blockchains do not have a single point of failure and as such, it is difficult to hack them. This can potentially save advertisers and publishers millions each year by protecting them against cybercrime.

DIRECT TO CONSUMER DIGITAL MARKETING

Platforms like Google and Facebook have come under fire recently for consumer-data distribution issues. Because such platforms make a lot of revenue off advertising, they collect consumer data to better target the right target audience. Unfortunately, this could feel like a violation of privacy for many users who would rather have more control over how their data is collected and what it is used for.

Usually, enterprises that run digital ads on larger platforms like Google and Facebook have to pay for this service. Blockchain gives them a way out. Since the information stored on blockchain networks are secured using various encryptions that can only be decrypted using the owner’s private keys, users retain control over their data. As a result, the services of middlemen will no longer be needed in the advertising data collection process. These blockchain platforms create a direct connection between consumers and enterprises.

Companies can also use blockchain to show people who their data is being sold to since the information cannot be deleted or manipulated. This will make consumers feel at ease without having to constantly worry about their data.

PROVISION OF EFFICIENT CROSS-PROMOTIONAL B2B CONTRACTS

Smart contracts are lines of written code in the form of distributed apps on a blockchain network. They are created to set up a binding agreement between parties based on their conditions. The conditions can be external events, like a price point, set of obligations or time limit with an expiration date. Since blockchain transactions can easily be verified, smart contracts cannot be forged and all involved parties can follow up the transaction.

These contracts can be used in any system from voting to app subscription and digital marketing. They help advertisers bypass lawyers and other middlemen by conducting the process of exchanging money, shares or any valuable assets. These contracts are created with conditions that are self-executed in a transparent and conflict-free way.

Influencer marketing is popular among brands but there is currently no regulatory third party to determine how terms are created and followed or even how payments are made. Using blockchain, businesses will be able to clearly state obligations that must be met for payments to be made, and a smart contract will enforce it.

This will make B2B cross-promotional marketing more efficient since several contracts change hands between marketers, writers, bloggers and even social media influencers daily. Ultimately, businesses will protect themselves and save money and time in the event of a contract breach.

TRANSPARENCY IN CONTRACTS AND WITH CONSUMERS

There are lot of cases in which advertising lacks transparency, such as platforms that show advertisers false metrics. For example, a platform could claim to gain millions of impressions on each ad they put out. Normally, there would be no good way to verify this information and find out the truth.

This presents an easy way for platforms to defraud enterprises through false advertisement. However, since a blockchain records such data in a way that cannot be tampered with, it can easily be verified.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Advertising will continue to be the backbone of commerce because most people will not buy a product if they are not given a reason to. However, like many other industries, it is due for a technological reform that will make it more efficient for all relevant stakeholders. Blockchain not only makes the advertising process easier, it makes it faster, more secure and transparent. As this emerging technology continues to develop, there will gradually be more stable versions of it that may become more valuable to advertisers.

This article was originally published at MinDice.com.

 

0

Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

Coin Dance is a community-driven platform offering statistics and services for Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. Along with other prominent sites like Bitfire, a new wave of sites are challenging models not even strictly in the field of cryptocurrency. It appears that decentralization is sparing no area of business, not even statistics.

What is Coin Dance?

The platform tracks all sorts of metrics surrounding Bitcoin, from block mining to volume statistics, and even worldwide sentiment. The coin dance meaning actually comes from the word coincidence. As with many other interesting internet memes, the words became popular after smartphones started auto-correcting user typos.

A wide selection of stats and services on the Coin Dance portal

A wide selection of stats and services on the Coin Dance portal

The Vision

Coin Dance wants to open up the statistics space by freely providing access to information, particularly with regards to Bitcoin. The team believes how Bitcoin evolves as a protocol should be up to the community. In addition, anyone should have the right to contribute to information sharing regardless of their technical background, social standing, or the number of bitcoin they have in storage.

The Strategy

What makes Bitcoin special is it’s fairly transparent nature. By maximizing data sharing, Coin Dance gets the community to engage with each other and make key decisions based on this shared data model. According to Coin Dance,

Our mission is simple: to empower the community and grow the ecosystem.

Services

Volume Charts

Coin Dance provides volume charting primarily for peer-to-peer marketplaces. Community members update charts on a weekly basis so that useful trading insights move in tandem with the markets. The peer-to-peer marketplaces featured are Bisq, LocalBitcoins, and Paxful.

Developers recently updated the platform to add trading data in several different currencies worldwide. This update will save a lot of time for many users outside the US who often have to convert to their local currency first.

Vanity Service

The platform also offers a vanity naming service for those who want to add a bit of swag to their Bitcoin address. You can personalize your Bitcoin wallet instead of using the hex or QR code that comes with a standard address. Setting up your own personalized wallet is not that difficult, and there’s a useful Steemit tutorial link to get you started.

Politics & Opinion

The politics section keeps track of the decision-making process on the world’s largest cryptocurrency by governments around the globe. However, at the time of writing, no Bitcoin proposals were being voted on, but expect this to change as crypto continues to evolve. This political map provides a useful overview of how Bitcoin is doing on the global stage and allows users to keep track of the changes.

This section not only lists where Bitcoin is restricted but also how it’s classified. For example, in India, Bitcoin is currently considered property, but in China, it’s recognized as a commodity.

Coin Dance: How Bitcoin is faring on the world political stage

How Bitcoin is faring on the world political stage

Statistics

The statistics area is no doubt the place where traders, coders, and Bitcoin auditors come to verify all things factual regarding Bitcoin. You can find your typical price statistics on Coin Dance.

However, it’s more interesting to browse through the blockchain data available, which you won’t typically find on other trading websites. Dig down into details about block sizes, mined blocks, Google Bitcoin searches, community demographics, and more. You can also find a cryptocurrency ticker based on market capitalization, similar to CoinMarketCap, towards the end of the page.

Bitcoin Node Summary

For the more technical amongst us, there’s the Bitcoin node summary. This comes chock full of information on the estimated 10,000 nodes worldwide that run the Bitcoin network. This section even keeps track of nodes upgrading to deal with the recent inflation vulnerability that was spotted on the network.

Have a look through our Bitcoin Full Nodes article to get a better understanding of nodes and how to set one up for yourself.

Blocks

The blocks section helps viewers verify the latest blocks mined and get a better overall picture of the mining health of the network. Mining centralization has become more of an issue in recent times. Because of this, various members of the Bitcoin community use the pool statistics to keep track of Bitmain‘s dominance in this area.

Resources

The resources section has many goodies for the cryptocurrency and Bitcoin beginner. There are a couple other of great resources out there, but this would be a good starting point if you’re a bit unsure about where to begin.

Poker

And finally, last but not least, what would crypto be without adding some pure fun into the mix? Blockchain poker is already a thing, and Coin Dance allows you to jump into a game without having to sign up. Add a few free Satoshis to your bankroll, and presto, you’re up and running.

Play Texas hold'em poker with free Bitcoin on Coin Dance

Play Texas hold’em poker with free Bitcoin on Coin Dance

Challenging Big Data Capture?

Big data is a term used to describe the increase in information arriving with greater variety and at greater speeds. This phenomenon continues to grow as more people come online and create their own content.

Big data forecast

Source: Statista

Companies like Google and Facebook can provide extensive free services because of the value they capture from the data we provide them.

That information is not available to the public, though, which presents two problems. Firstly, it creates privacy issues. Secondly, it cannot be used by the community that provides it if they want to build their own value-added services on top.

It appears that Coin Dance is directly challenging this model. By democratizing this process and opening up statistical sharing to the public, they are allowing members to have a direct stake in the development of the network. This is, of course, early days and we’ll have to wait a few more years to find out if this approach can thrive amongst established businesses who firewall collected data.

Conclusion

Community-based models have huge upside potential. The sharing economy is more of a buzzword in businesses like Airbnb and Uber since these companies do not share captured value with their users. It’s all about the move to an open world, where transparency and co-operation will probably be the tools of the future.

Coin Dance is providing a valuable statistical service to members of the Bitcoin community. It will be interesting to see how projects will be built based off of their services.

 This article was originally published at CoinCentral.com.
 
0

Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency

The emergence of peer-to-peer (P2P) cryptocurrency lending platforms in China has swiftly increased over the years. This is happening at a time when the nation is stuck in the middle of the latest liquidity crunch. The digital foreign currency markets are also seeing a long bearish period that has driven people to embrace P2P lending as a solution.

In 2007, PPDAI Group, China’s first online lending platform was launched and went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2017. Since then, the industry has grown rapidly, boasting more than 3,000 online lending platforms processing monthly transactions of up to 130 billion RMB.

WHAT IS PEER-TO-PEER (P2P) CRYPTOCURRENCY LENDING?

Peer-to-Peer lending, or online lending, is a common method of debt financing that connects borrowers, who can be individuals or companies, with lenders. Zopa, the world’s first online lending platform, was founded in the United Kingdom in 2005 and since then, other countries have adopted the practice.

It has even been modified to embrace cryptocurrency lending,  where users can borrow Bitcoin and other popular digital currencies and pay back with interest. However, it is risky for the lender since these platforms do not control the transactions that occur between its users. Typically, participants only use them as a means of reaching other people who either want to borrow or lend cryptocurrency.

These platforms are operated and maintained solely by specialized software, allowing market participants to borrow, lend and trade directly with each other without third-party mediation to process the transactions. They are aimed at eliminating some of the challenges with direct intermediary-aided lending.

Such challenges include interest rates and the time taken to mature. Users are also free to set their preferences which will serve as criteria when connecting them with other users. P2P lending platforms are highly beneficial because they are private, cheap, easy to use, resistant to transaction censorship and secure. But they also have their drawbacks, including lower liquidity and a high possibility of fraud since users can simply decide not to pay their loans back.

BENEFITS OF P2P CRYPTOCURRENCY LENDING SYSTEMS

It is no surprise that the rate of cryptocurrency lending in China is increasing since it was one of the first countries to adopt digital currencies when they first emerged. The nation didn’t just embrace cryptocurrency lending, but mining as well. More than 70% of the total Bitcoin hashrate is concentrated within China.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have had their fair share of bears and bulls. However, there is an opportunity for investors to make extra profit by lending out their assets to those who do not wish to spend theirs, in expectation of a bullish period. These lenders charge interest rates during this period and accrue profits from there. There are several reasons why P2P lending is considered an attractive investment option:

  • Cryptocurrency loans from this form of investment usually promise investors at least 8-12 percent interest rates within a year. This is a high rate compared to the 2.75 percent rate on three-year fixed deposits offered by banks.
  • It is friendly to small businesses because banks in China stand to gain more from lending to larger corporations or state-owned enterprises. As a result, they favor these corporations over the small businesses that eventually turn to P2P lending. According to a 2016 report by the Development Bank of Singapore and Ernst & Young, only about 25 percent of bank loans were awarded to small and medium enterprises. This occurred despite the fact that such businesses accounted for roughly 60% of China’s gross domestic product.
  • It caters to the needs of not just small businesses but individuals as well. China’s financial system is largely dominated by banks, especially the ‘Big Four’ (the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, the Bank of China, and the Agricultural Bank of China). According to Technode, commercial loans account for 70% of all issued bank loans in the country while individual loans account for 30%.

WHY IS P2P CRYPTOCURRENCY LENDING SURGING IN CHINA?

Amidst regulatory issues due to exchange thefts, a fall in cryptocurrency liquidity and a bearish season that has dragged on since the beginning of 2018, China is upping its P2P lending rate.  One major reason for the surge is the P2P rectification campaign that should have been concluded in June.

As Shen Wei, Dean and Professor of Law at Shangdong University Law School told Technode, “The due date of rectification has passed, but many P2P platforms have not met the requirements,” he said. “Strict regulations have propelled a break-out of the compliance issues.”

The directive for all lending platforms to register with local authorities by June 2018 was issued in late 2017 to stop some of their activities which the government disapproved of. This registration was aimed at ensuring that P2P lending platforms remain intermediaries without exceeding their duties of matching potential borrowers and lenders.

Under these regulations, lending platforms cannot pool funds from investors, grant loans to clients or provide credit services to them. Most of them were already partaking in these activities before the directive was issued.

According to Robin Hui Huang, professor of law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in a recent research paper, the P2P lending surge in China can be attributed to three factors:

  • A high rate (56%) of internet penetration by 2018 as cryptocurrencies and their use cases, underpinning technologies, and investment methods continue to increase in popularity.
  • A large supply of funds from investors who are willing to lend these funds out in hopes of gaining profit at a later date.
  • The financial demands of small-to-medium-sized enterprises that are not catered to by the existing banking system in China since the banks prefer larger companies.

TROUBLE IN P2P PARADISE

China’s $192 billion P2P lending industry is facing trouble in light of regulation uncertainties since the government has focused its efforts on getting rid of bad actors. Bloomberg reports that about 118 platforms have failed in just August 2018, a sharp increase from a July count of 57.

These failures include platforms that have stopped all operations or have fallen under police investigation. Although the clampdown began about two years ago, it has intensified in the past few months due to the tighter credit markets.

The failure of several P2P lending platforms was triggered by a warning issued by the bank regulator to savers who were advised against the possibility of losing all their money in high-yield products. Naturally, this triggered the spread of panic and fear among these users, leading to investors withholding their funds.

FINAL THOUGHTS

China has always been one step ahead when it comes to cryptocurrencies, a fact that is evident in their mining facilities and adoption rate. The same can be said for cryptocurrency regulation which the nation has been stuck on for a while. A cryptocurrency ban in February 2018, followed by the release of a firewall to block its citizens from accessing cryptocurrency on foreign platforms are just some of the steps the nation has taken so far.

However, this has not deterred the rapid development of P2P cryptocurrency lending which is providing a way for individuals and small businesses to access funds. Unfortunately, several of these lending platforms are under scrutiny by the government, with the aim of weeding out bad actors. Watching these events unfold, it is difficult to tell what the future of P2P lending in China will look like.

This article was originally published at MinDice.com.

 

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