Credit Suisse Former Exec Launching His Own ICO

Credit Suisse

Former Executive of Digital Banking and Platform Management at Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, is in the final preparations of launching an initial coin offering (ICO).

Marco Abele spent most of his career in the banking industry and just recently left this August. He is now at the forefront of his startup called Tend, which is an ethereum based marketplace for “timesharing” luxury assets.

As Abele explained in a statement, “Many people today are finding that there is more value in experience than ownership and that it is about access to fine things, not just possession of them. At the same time, conventional investments have become uninteresting for the modern generation. That makes meaningful, special assets increasingly desirable and hence valuable.”

Tend is aimed for individuals with wealth between $100,000 and $1 million who are overlooked by the private banking sector and underserved by the bigger retail banks. Abele estimated this group is in close numbers to 350m on a global scale.

Abele told City AM, “People are looking for more real investments that reflect passions or interests.” Which means investors would rather own a piece of art or a vineyard, so they could gain an investment over time but also be able to use it.

Under Swiss securities law, his token offering will be structured very much like a bond.

A pilot for this platform is in its final stages and is aiming to have over 100 users by Spring of 2018, to begin its testing phase. The long-term annual goal for that year is 400 users.

Featured Image: twitter

Ethereum’s Founder Lays Out “Modest Proposal” At Devcon3

Ethereum's Founder

What is a ethereum’s founder, a 23-year-old hacker, supposed to do after he’s created a multibillion-dollar cryptocurrency?

In day one of Devcon3, Ethereum’s annual conference, Vitalik Buterin unveiled the future plans for this project. In what he would call a “modest proposal,” Buterin disclosed he has been quietly working on long-term plans for the future of the blockchain. It’s better described as a three-to-four year agenda for the technical development of ethereum.

At the heart of this concept is a far-down-the-road technical alteration named “sharding,” which was always expected to be in the protocols plans but at the conference, he proposed his most solid strategy for this technique yet.

The biggest questions/concerns among most developers, is the scalability of ethereum and this new “roadmap” addresses that and other issues yet to be solved. Buterin, also addressed the potential expensive storage costs that nodes might face, as the system expands. He added that to the list of things needing to be solved as his plans scale.

The talk was what most developers anticipated it to be but he encouraged them to think about these issues extensively.

“The amount of activity on the blockchain is orders of magnitude larger than it was just a couple of years ago,” he said, indicating the daily transaction rate now at 5,000 per day and the more than 20,000 nodes are now part of the ethereum network. With the growth it’s at, he believes it to be running at its limits currently.

Buterin stated:

“Scalability is probably problem number one … There’s a graveyard of systems that claim to solve the scalability problem but don’t. It’s a very significant and hard challenge. These are just known facts.”

All about the details

Buterin believes that the “sharding,” is the best solution for the scalability issues.

It’s an idea of partitioning data into subcategories so that each node on the network has to hold only a small amount of data at once. Rather, the overall vision is that the base math would hold the system accountable and if completely necessary, nodes could rely on other nodes for data.

Currently, researchers are exploring their options as to how to execute this efficiently, so that nodes aren’t sending false information back and forth.

Buterin’s proposition to these potential complications is aimed to solve scalability and governance.

He presented a rough outline as to what it would look like in his presentation, splitting the blockchain into two of these “shards.” The main shard is the first part and would contain ethereum’s current network and then the other shards are what he calls other “universes.”

Most importantly, he believes the separation of the blockchains would permit more aggressive changes on the smaller share and smaller more cautious changes of the main network. Ethereum still would hold its platform stability but the developers are able to test newer changes more quickly on the other shards.

Or as Buterin said, “Other universes where all this stuff we’ve been working on these last few years can be rolled out much much faster.”

Smaller changes

There were other changes in Buterin’s roadmap that he didn’t focus on as much, such as upgrades to the EVM and the potential of running ethereum in a web browser. The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), is the technology that compiles all the smart contract code and communicates it to all the nodes. eWASM, the very down-the-road process, would focus on the potential to eventually one day be able to run ethereum in a web browser and ensuring the EVM has been implemented in the other blockchains.

More information should be emerging on ethereum’s future, as the rest of the four-day conference is stacked with all-day presentations.

Featured Image: twitter

Ethereum’s Swarm Moves On To Third Proof of Concept

Ethereum's Swarm

Announced today at Devcon3, Ethereum’s Swarm, a decentralized storage branch on the ethereum network, revealed their plan to move on to their third proof-of-concept stage.

Victor Tron, Swarm’s lead developer, spoke at the conference today and announced the proof-of-concept is completely compatible with Geth and Whisper, the project’s messaging protocol. This accomplishment for Swarm brings ethereum closer to its “holy trinity” in which three systems create a complete alternative to the internet.

Tron highlighted that their work aligns with the wider concept of ethereum. Their goal is for the users of the platform to be able to store its content and create/share folders with one another, similar to that of the google drive.

This third stage is also testing a new privacy layer, in which their lead developer states it will keep ethereum invulnerable to impulses of authorities.

The proof-of-concept is testing also a brand new privacy layer, which Tron said is key to keeping ethereum resistant to the whims of authorities.

Tron told CoinDesk in an interview, “If you operate it on Swarm, there’s no way for a jurisdiction to take that down because it’s this obfuscation method. Nodes can plausibly deny that they have the content. This is a very important feature because it’s censorship-resistant basically.”

The hottest topic surrounding Devcon3 is scalability and Tron’s newest proof-of-concept will test what happens when ethereum’s network when it grows to tens of thousands of nodes.

Swarm’s newest version is set to launch sometime after the conference.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© kwanchaidp

Blokur: Raises $1.2 Million In Hopes Of Progressing on Expanding the Music Industry

Blokur

The days of anxiously driving to the store to pick up a newly released CD, are over, according to Blokur.

With a million ways to stream music for free within in a split seconds producers, artists, and agencies are falling behind. Blokur, hopes to give money and power back to these groups. It’s essentially a rights management firm that uses the ethereum blockchain to record music rights.

Phil Barry, Blokur’s founder, started out first making electronic music as “Mr. Fogg” and ended up setting up his own label before founding the startup. The former Senior Product Innovation manager of Universal Music Group, Andres Martin-Lopez, has joined as the Chief Technical Officer and recently raised $1.2 million in seed funding. With this funding, they are planning on doubling their team while scaling their number of clients, with the help of Digital Currency Group, Ascension Ventures, media entrepreneur Remy Minute, and Innovate UK.

Presently, Blokur works with 3,000 music publishers and 10,000 songwriters, and its five-person team has already collaborated with Will.I.Am, Imogen Heap and Radiohead.

Synchronizing data

The first step in order to make sure publishers and musicians get paid what they’re due is consolidating information so that a consistent set of data can be added to the ethereum blockchain.

According to Martin-Lopez in an interview with CoinDesk:

“Reconciling all these different data sources, we’re using smart algorithms to resolve inconsistencies in the data automatically, and we’re capturing the data and writing a state on the blockchain for each individual’s music rights.”

If that sounds complicated to you, that’s because it is. Every record company, publisher, musician, music rights non-profit has its own list of the people, bands, song titles, and purchases. In many instances, those records have errors, with misspelled names or incorrect capitalization in band names, all errors that can lead to right holders not getting paid.

Blokur’s systematic foundation is based on machine learning software that helps the company catch these minor mistakes, and then fixing them on a new list that can be added to the blockchain. According to Martin-Lopes, this system makes music rights management as much as 70 percent more efficient.

In addition to the removal of inconsistencies, Blokur tracks the percentage stake each right holder has in a specific piece of music. They plan on paying them directly with cryptocurrency.

Growth

With music industry contributing $704 billion to the US economy in 2016 alone, Blokur, is starting to gain some strong competition as plenty of blockchain entrepreneurs have a piqued interest in this profitable space.

Even with its seasoned team, others in the market have advisers and founders with equally solid backgrounds. Viberate, a slovenia-based blockchain-based marketplace has two high profile advisors: Pinterest chief scientist Dr. Jure Leskovec and Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem. Ujo is a blockchain-based platform for music and Imogen Heap is leading its development.

After releasing its first beta project earlier this year to help music publishers manage composition right, Blokur plans on launching a commercial product very soon.

Currently, the company is negotiating deals with several large publishers and collecting data from early adopters on how to improve the platform.

Martin-Lopez, in an interview with CoinDesk states:

“We understand the problem that needs to be solved, and we’re using these participants to try to help us solve that problem.”

Featured Image: twitter

Devcon3 Cancun: Ethereum Gearing Up For Its Annual Conference

Devcon3

Set to start in Cancun, Mexico on November 1st, Ethereum is set to put itself to the test at its annual developer conference, Devcon3.

At one point, Ethereum was the most active and flourishing cryptocurrency market, in the last few months the excitement for this project has calmed down a bit. Despite its brief and sudden growth of the protocol rising to $29 billion in value, ethereum could possibly be underperforming opposite its own high expectations. Surprising as well considering the hundred of ICO projects that have or are planning on launching using the ethereum technology.

Launched back 2014, ethereum supporters had been bound for becoming the first coin to pass bitcoin in its market value. There was big run in June but this passing of top currency never occurred

Source Image: coinmarketcap

Yet, the indications of the protocol struggling are seen only surface level, as described by those that are involved.

Investor, William Mougayar said in an interview with CoinDesk, “I think they are hitting on all cylinders, it’s a real platform with several pieces on top.”

Ahead of Devcon3, its attendees are anticipating a strong showing of technical based talks showing the project’s progress.

There are some who are hoping to get answers on the pace of development. In particular Andrew Keys, ConsenSys’s head of global business development.

Keys told CoinDesk:

“I think it’s time to put up or shut up. We’ve had enough proof-of-concepts. [It’s] time to get things into production.”

With all that said, others had an idea of what they hope the conference won’t be. A developer employed by the Ethereum Foundation, states the event is planned not to be centralized around “ICOs” which has been experienced a backlash as more projects seek to fund their ethereum projects.

Instead, Jameson expects the event to serve as a conversational forum for technical discussions, wth the majority of the time focused on efforts to make ethereum more scalable and private.

Conflict

Although some see Devcon3 as an illustration as to where ethereum is headed, others believe it will be a showcase of its limitations.

There have been several ethereum test-runs as of late but few are actually using the blockchain outside of the testing grounds, as it is currently a work in progress. The most noted testing the blockchain is the United Nations in its global humanitarians efforts.

Ethereum’s controversial upgrade, Byzantium, was one of the largest upgrades to the platform. It brought enhancement to the blockchain but it still lacked a lot that developers were hoping for.

Things that need to be implemented are the long-promised upgrades such as the top-level applications that would make the system easier to use and a more eco-friendly and egalitarian mining protocol.

Loi Luu, Kyber Network’s co-founder disputed that the hard-fork, while successful, didn’t meet many people’s expectations.

“I think many people were not happy with the recent hard fork since it wasn’t significant enough,” he said.

Further, it took longer than anticipated as it was divided into two upgrades to make it easier for its developers and then the fork was delayed to technical issues. There were others that were happy to focus on its positives, more specifically that it finally happened. It lays the groundwork for the bigger projects goals.

Still lots of questions

Ethereum’s current deficiencies will be Devcon3’s main focus. Scalability is one of its biggest hurdles, if all goes according to plan, it would like to take the place of centralized applications such as Twitter.

Luu emphasized the requirement for more examination in this area, expressing anticipation that Devcon3 will focus on this goal.

“Ethereum is getting more mainstream now, people are expecting some scalability solution to be deployed real soon,” he said.

Another noted pressure in the talks of the conference is the need for developers to move fast paced and in line with the expectations of the market.

Featured Image: twitter

Hydra: Incentivizing Against Ethereum Blockchain Hacks

Ethereum blockchain

Is an appropriate amount of incentives enough to push developers into better ethereum blockchain bug reporting?

Announced at Devcon3 Thursday, Hydra looks to do this very thing. This project is being funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and designed by a group of researchers from top academic schools such as Stanford and Cornell.

Hydra stands out in that its contracts are targeted to instantly and programmatically offer those that report the bugs a higher reward than they would get if they were to place the bugs themselves. If a user’s smart contract hack would have rewarded them 120 tokens, they would receive 1,200 tokens instead for reporting the hack.

Currently, there is a problem they are trying to solve with the current smart contract hack incentives that make the hacking far more lucrative than the incentive.

They’ve decided to tweak the incentive based on concepts of crypto-economics, thinking people would be more encouraged to report the bugs if given more of an amount.

A researcher on the project, Phil Daian, states they want to focus on the solution rather than condemning those that commit the hacks.

He said, “Let’s see this as a game. What would a rational attacker do with these systems? Say an attacker finds a bug: would they attack or would they claim the bounty?”

There are many at the conference that are excited and who want to start playing around with the new system. While it was released in its first phase today, Daian stresses it’s still a brand new product and might not be safe yet to store funds. He said, “The code is here for you to play with. But trusting funds with this baby Hydra we’ve spun up – not a good idea.”

Featured Image: twitter

Cryptocurrency Mining “Leveling Off”? AMD’s CEO Projected Forecast

Cryptocurrency Mining

AMD, a graphics card maker out of Sunnyvale, California reported considerable sales jump in their third quarter due to a significant demand for cryptocurrency mining devices.

The company released their earnings and reported they made $819 million in their computing and graphics division alone. This is a 74 percent increase from 2016’s third-quarter revenue.

Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) have been primarily used by avid video gamers but recently hardcore cryptocurrency miners have been seizing up them up for mining. AMD states the increase in revenue resulted from strong sales of its Ryzen and Radeon GPUs processors, both of which are used for cryptocurrency mining.

Compared to other products, Vega 56 and Vega 64 are the most popular among devices as their processing power far surpasses any on the current market. AMD also noted an increase in their sales of these products this quarter.

The company has seen static growth in its other core business sectors, but with the current surging sales in their GPU’s, it fueled a 26 percent boost in total revenue to 1.64 billion, year-over-year. This growth made it the company’s high-grossing quarter since the year 2011.

Although, the company’s shareholders aren’t very impressed with these results.

AMD shares dropped to 12 percent, at $14.25 to close out the end of the month. With AMD closely linked to the volatile and potentially fleeting crypto market, investors have taken a precautionary role when it comes to investing in AMD.

Also, AMD’s fourth quarter projected forecast showed its cryptocurrency revenue decreasing by 15 percent, give or take 3 percent.

CEO Lisa Su said on their earnings call, “In terms of the headwinds … we’re also predicting that there will be some leveling-off of some of the cryptocurrency demand.”

Overall the call left mixed emotions, while she issued bearish statements about cryptocurrency mining as it relates to her company’s earnings, she also left the door open for other opportunities, except those seemed less understandable.

“There’s also [a] commercial blockchain component that we believe is interesting and likely to continue into the medium term,” she said.

Featured Image: twitter

Devcon3: Big shakeups as Corrupt Cancun Cops Arrest Attendees.

Devcon3

Leading up to Ethereum’s annual conference, Devcon3, in Cancun, Mexico, several attendees arrived days ahead to settle in and soak in the scenery. A few of them have described various violent encounters with locals and more specifically local authorities. One developer and entrepreneur, Julien Bouteloup, in particular, describes this incident in detail after being pulled over outside the airport for going 91km/h in a 90km/h speed zone.

In his blog, Bouteloup describes the incident:

“I was really shocked. Firstly, because the speed limit was 90km/h and I was going to be fined for 91km/h. Secondly, according to Waze on my phone, I was driving at 81km/h (yes, like a grandpa) and all the cars on the left were passing me. So it didn’t make any sense. I told the cops that it was impossible as my Waze was showing 81km/h and all cars were passing me. But he asked me for my driving license and told me that they were going to confiscate it and I will need to go to the federal police station on Monday, which meant that I had to leave the car there. I felt a brief moment of panic and then he asked me if I had money to pay the fine immediately because he explained to me that if I was paying the fine on Monday at the federal police station would be really expensive. “You can leave now if you give me 5000 pesos ($260 US dollars)”.”

“I told him that I had only 500 pesos. He started arguing while showing me his hand resting on his gun and said that was not possible and I would need to go to the federal station on Monday. Meanwhile, they stopped another car which was a big 4×4 truck. It was a white man, probably European or American judging by his style. They asked him to get out of the car and put his hands on the car. I was starting to get a little bit scared. I took my 500 pesos and asked him if I could leave right after giving him the money. It looked like they were more focused on the other guy, or I should say the big fish! It was a chance for me but I was a little bit worried about the other guy.”

Since posting the blog post after the shakedown, Bouteloup has been getting similar reports from other event attendees and his main objective was to warn those heading into Cancun about such events.

He also recollects on obtaining his rental car and in the process of looking for the car, the attendant made it a clear point on three occasions to state that the rear license plate was present and also asked him a number of times where he was headed. After his run-in with the authorities, he noticed that all the foreigners/tourists rental cars did not have rear license plates, which with further digging is a 3000 peso fine if the car is returned without it. Bouteloup’s conspiracy is that locals are tied in with these rental companies looking to make a profit and the locals get a share of the 3000 fine.  

The Festy team from Ireland also described their incidents with locals via a blog post as well. They described checking into their hotel and the staff required a scan of their credit card, in which they describe a simple millisecond scan could completely deplete all the funds from your bank account. Another incident they described was when they first arrived and tried to get an Uber. Like many airports in the US, taxi drivers and Uber/Lyft drivers have continuous tension. The Festy team was instructed by their Uber driver to meet them at a specific location outside of the taxi bay and to watch out for being “followed.” As they were spotted by two taxis drivers claiming to be airport security, it got a little hectic from there.

The attendees describe the incident here:

“I kept my poker face as taxi’s hailed and shouted at my colleague and I until we noticed that we were followed by two taxi driver’s claiming to be airport security. As we tried to lose them they understood we were looking for an Uber driver. In a fit of rage, the taxi driver shouted at my female colleague warning that “things would get messy” for us if we didn’t take a regular taxi. He then ran towards a random parked car on the street and warned us he would ‘kick the shit out this guy if it turns out to be an Uber’.”

There have been multiple reports after the initial blog post of many ethereum startups/companies have canceled their venue space at Devcon3, due to security concerns. The most notable dropout is ConsenSys, a New York-based decentralized software service that operates on the Ethereum blockchain.

On a Reddit post the moderator of ConsenSys stated:

“ConsenSys people were very excited to go to DevCon3. So excited that we planned to take the whole company to Tulum right after for our annual company-wide offsite. We became aware via travel warnings that the Caribbean coast — traditionally very safe — had become twice as dangerous over the last year. We hired a security company composed of Navy Seals and after weeks of research and discussion, it was decided that this was too high profile an event in a slightly dangerous locale. The Navy Seals were relieved as protecting a large crew like that would have been difficult in that context (corrupt police, etc.). I would be happy to take a large group to Cancun/Tulum (I spent a chunk of time in Tulum — it is wonderful) on another date, but during an event that is globally advertised to have lots of millionaires present who could easily give up instant access to large instantly disposable wealth, gave us pause. When the security firm let us know that the cartels had people on payroll at each hotel and knew exactly what was going on in the region, our company-wide discussion yielded an agreement that we should not make it a corporate sponsored event. Many ConsenSys people will be there of their own accord and they are free to use educational stipends from the company to defray costs if they choose to.”

“We expect and hope that everything will go well and smoothly and look forward to watching the videos.”

Despite the unfortunate events that have occurred with some of the attendees, the kickoff to the event is still in place on November 1st. Devcon3 is a four-day event and is anticipated to be a huge success on the conceptual side of things.

Featured Image: Pixabay

OpenBazaar: The Startup Behind the New Online Bitcoin-Powered Marketplace

OpenBazaar

OpenBazaar, the startup behind the popular bitcoin-powered marketplace, has officially released version 2.0.

Initially launched in 2014, the software update marks a monumental milestone for startup OB1, which coins its product as a decentralized eBay or Shopify for cryptocurrency fans. With its fresh new design prioritizing the user experience, OB1 has high hopes for its reinvigorated

CEO Brian Hoffman stated: “We found very quickly that doing things in a decentralized fashion is not always super intuitive for people. You have to design around it. You have to make it really really good.”

In September, the company had released a beta update that still required a few bug fixes. By contrast, version 2.0 has since be refined to handle real trades.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the design itself.

The most noticeable feature on version 2.0 is its smoother design and workflow. Second, the updated search is backed by three different search engines. Installation is also easier than it was, through integration with the Onion Router and the Interplanetary File System, offering stronger privacy to store owners and shoppers.

In the future, OB1 looks forward to developing the mobile and web versions of the product, as well as allowing its users to use cryptocurrencies aside from bitcoin.

Nonetheless, OB1 remains steadfast on its focus to provide usability, not technology. In other words, Hoffman argues that “OpenBazaar is a simple way to get a store up and running that accepts bitcoin. For consumers, they can find things on OpenBazaar that aren’t available anywhere else.”

Mastercard Enters B2B Market, Leveraging Blockchain Payment Tools

Mastercard Enters B2B Market

With hopes of diversifying its consumer base to banks and merchants, credit card giant Mastercard is pushing forward a set of blockchain payment tools first unveiled last year.

In an official press release, the company announced its collaboration with B2B tech transactions, as part of a bid to “address challenges of speed, transparency, and costs in cross-border payments.”

The credit card company first released its blockchain work in October 2016, detailing systems aimed at smart contracts and payment settlement processes. At the time, blockchain lead Justin Pinkham stated that the company was seeking collaborators to work with the company’s platform.

Now, the company is encouraging firms alike to begin utilizing blockchain APIs to settle transactions.

Mastercard Labs’ executive vice president, Ken Moore said: “By combining Mastercard blockchain technology without settlement network and associated network rules, we have created a solution that is safe, secure, auditable and easy to scale.”

Further, Mascard also alluded to its efforts to seek intellectual property rights around its use of the tech, as well as its work with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance on use cases “well outside the scope of Mastercard’s traditional payments environments.”

Featured Image: depositphotos/jurisam