Friday, December 28, 2018

Building for Bulls, Bears and the Crypto Revolution

 
It seems fitting to start my review this year with the same statement and observe how its meaning kaleidoscopes in the new light of 2018.

For context, in December 2017, the price of bitcoin had just hit its all-time high of $19,783.06. The price of ether was about to hit its all-time high of $1,417.38. CryptoKitties were running rampant all over the ethereum network, thousands of ICOs had launched in 2017 and hundreds of dedicated crypto funds opened their doors.

Today, the environment is a bit different. Those crypto funds are starting to shut down. ICOs that raised capital in crypto in 2017 have seen their runways halved and halved again. The price of bitcoin hovers around $3,500 and the price of ether plummeted below $100. CryptoKitties has a meager 378 daily active users, down from over 15,000 daily active users this time last year. Ouch.

What I failed to mention with last year's statement is that the runway isn't always smooth and it isn't going to be at a constant incline.

As Meltem Demirors so gracefully put it, "Tech that changes industries and markets doesn't get built overnight. There are fits, starts, and failures." Obviously, this market is throwing a fit. Furthermore, us builders should talk about it.

But Builders Don't Talk About Price
For as long as I can remember, it's been a significant taboo for builders in the space to talk about price. The market conditions shouldn't affect our attitudes or how we build. We actively avoid getting caught in the hype on the way up and avoid falling into depression on the way down.

We transformed "HODL" into "BUIDL," and there was also short-lived talk of "SHIPL."

However, refusing to engage in "price talk" doesn't mean we can, or should, ignore the swings of the market. This ecosystem is highly speculative and our roadmaps, runways and design choices are affected by larger macroeconomic conditions. Denying that the market conditions affect your work, company, financials, and culture is willful ignorance and is dangerous in the short and long term.

2017: Unprecedented Hype
As we saw in 2017, the bull market garnered previously-unseen hype, which led to new, inexperienced users entering the space en masse. Coinbase was adding hundreds of thousands of new users per day. Companies were hiring support teams by the dozens in an attempt to tread overflowing inboxes.

The things we did in 2017 were reactionary. Building for the short term was prioritized over the long term.

We didn't have refined processes or roadmaps — we had fires that needed to be put out yesterday. We hired those who were willing to wear many hats and didn't require much sleep. We put band-aids on the most glaring user experience issues as they cropped up, and we promised to iterate later. The market's ambitious upswing wasn't tied to the technology and experience being delivered.

2018: The Downward Spiral
2018 was a whole new world. The number of support tickets dropped as fewer new users entered the space. The types of questions we fielded about ICOs plummeted and more technical questions emerged once again.

The members of my team who were solely fueled by the adrenaline of 2017 had to evolve or move on to different projects. Some even left the crypto-space entirely. Our hiring and recruiting practices evolved, and the skills and personality traits we looked for became more refined.

The actions users are taking in 2018 have changed as well.

Whether it was taxes, the SEC, a more bearish market or the realization that the scope of blockchain use cases is still limited, people aren't doing much these days. Even when we look beyond the trading and investment activity via DappRadar and Dapp.com, we can see just how little activity is happening.

The market is questioning how "decentralized" applies to a world beyond us cypherpunks and early adopters. It's a valid question that us builders should ask too.

2019: Blood in the Streets?
To steal from Anthony Pompliano (who likely stole it from someone else), there is no "blood in the streets" yet. The blood is coming, but it isn't only from the individuals who have portfolios that are down more than 100 percent.

It is from anyone and everyone who failed to anticipate just how long this revolution would take. It is from people who didn't believe in the possibility of a market crash or a long winter. It is the ICOs that had all their holdings in crypto. It's from those who measure growth and value in terms of months, not years or decades.

More robust companies can reduce the sizes of their teams and cease throwing extravagant parties to lengthen their runways.

Less seasoned companies will have no choice but to shut down. And the most important companies are likely the ones you haven't yet heard of or are yet to be created.

2019 & Beyond
The coming years have the potential for people to create real, revolutionary value. This will not be the short-term capital creation that ICOs brought in 2017. It will be significantly deeper, take significantly longer and it will spawn from unlikely sources.

Reacting to new users and irrational exuberance is a different ball game than building products that break down the barriers of cryptocurrencies. In order to be relevant and stay relevant, you have to do more.

Those that will have a lasting impact and create the most value will be those who can build for both the bull market, the bear market and beyond the market. They will have the foresight to expect the unexpected, the hindsight to learn from the past and the insight to solve problems in unprecedented ways.

They will use their teams, tools, knowledge and communities to not only build for the next wave of users, but also help bring in the next wave of users. They will not build "on the blockchain" or "for the blockchain." They will build better solutions that happen to utilize the blockchain.

It's easier to build products for your existing environment and existing users, but it is shortsighted and will leave you straggling in the long term. Look outside this space for inspiration. Learn from traditional companies who have been around for decades or even centuries. Take the time to understand the motivations and needs of people around the globe. Don't make product decisions based on the graveyard of activity today. Don't create personas based on a Twitter poll you spun up yesterday.

Look to the future and anticipate. Your job is no longer to react to the current conditions. It's to be a fortune teller of tomorrow's landscape.

Sparking the Revolution
Many point to the dot-com bubble when analyzing the cryptocurrency markets in 2017.

Both saw 1,000 percent returns, rampant day-trading, fraud, capital flowing to any company with ".com" or "blockchain" in its name, and the creation of overnight millionaires even when those millionaires had neither delivered products nor profits. It's an easy comparison. But it's only one slice of history.

The repetition of history won't manifest as a carbon copy of itself, so it's hard to know exactly how this decentralized revolution will play out in totality. The revolution will be simultaneously subtle and profound. What we are building cannot be measured in months or judged by the hype cycles. We are aiming to transform nearly every industry that exists, starting with the financial industry.

The blockchain has come a long way since Satoshi's white paper and it will take at least that long to disrupt life in a meaningful way.

We have to keep zooming out to keep our perspective wide. The dot-com bubble isn't what transformed the internet, nor will the last two years be what transforms the blockchain. We need to look at the entire history of the internet and watch how it evolved over time. We need to examine how the Industrial Revolution managed to touch almost every aspect of daily life. We need to remember The Renaissance's lasting influence on intellectual inquiry.

And, as we do, we should be intimidated by what we have yet to accomplish and inspired by the opportunity to forge the runway ahead. Remember, the real lift off has yet to occur.

Judge Denies Craig Wright’s Motion to Dismiss Billion-Dollar Bitcoin Lawsuit

 

On Dec. 27, court documents from the case against the Nchain chief scientist, Craig Wright, explained a large portion of his recent dismissal motions were found "not warranted" and were denied. Wright is being sued for 1.1 million BTC in a legal case in Florida that alleges he manipulated David Kleiman's family.

The Lawsuit Against Craig Wright for 1.1 Million BTC Moves Forward
According to case 18-CV-80176 Kleiman v. Wright filed in South Florida, Craig Wright is accused of allegedly interfering with David Kleiman's bitcoin assets after he died. Kleiman's family believes David and Wright played a role in the early days of Bitcoin and possibly created the technology. This assumption was bolstered back when Kleiman, a forensic computer investigator was featured with Wright in tech publications such as Wired and Gizmodo, because they too thought the duo were possible Satoshi suspects.

Kleiman died in 2013 with very little money after fighting with MRSA, a bacterium infection that spreads in different parts of the body. His brother Ira Kleiman alleges Wright of plotting to "seize Dave's bitcoins and his rights to certain intellectual property," according to the legal documents filed last February. Kleiman's estate is suing Wright for approximately 1.1 million BTC ($3.9 billion) or the coin's fair market value and damages associated with IP theft.

Wright Accused of Grifting the Kleiman Family and Transferring David's Bitcoins to Various International Trusts
Nchain's Craig Wright and his legal representation, Rivero Mestre LLP, attempted to dismiss the case earlier this year. Wright's motion emphasized that Kleiman's lawsuit was full of "supposition, speculation, conflicting allegations, hearsay, and innuendo." The decision published on Dec. 27 explains the Florida district Judge Beth Bloom has granted Wright's motion to dismiss counts III, and IV. However, Wright must answer to counts I, II, V-IX of the amended complaint and he has until Jan. 10, 2019, to respond. For instance the 40-page court document states:   

[The] court finds that plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged a claim for conversion — The Amended Complaint alleges that defendant converted at least 300,000 bitcoins upon Dave's death and transferred them to various international trusts, was an unauthorized act that deprived the plaintiffs of the bitcoins therein — Accordingly, plaintiffs' claim for conversion (Count I) survives defendant's motion to dismiss.

The Kleiman complaints further allege that Wright took advantage of a family who didn't know too much about the technology. According to the lawsuit, the Kleiman family was unaware of certain property and IP assets that existed. Allegedly, Wright reached out to Dave's elderly father 10-months after he passed and said, "he was not seek[ing] anything other than to give [him] information about [his] son, and offering to help the Kleiman family recover what Dave owned."  

The Amended Complaint also says that Wright promised shares to David's family for a company called "Coin-Exch" and detailed the shares were "worth millions." Wright is also accused of "several fraudulent omissions and misrepresentations" to the Kleiman family and related to the property and assets David may have owned. Judge Bloom explains that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has not decided on whether or not bitcoins are considered "money." But Bloom emphasized the court still takes alleged victims and injury that occurs on home soil very seriously.   

"This controversy concerns a Florida company, regarding Florida assets (bitcoins mined in Florida) and intellectual property developed by a Florida company, where both the injured parties are Florida citizens," Bloom's decision states. "Therefore, the Southern District of Florida undeniably has a strong interest in adjudicating a case in which its residents claim that harm was committed against them."

The court documents assert that with counts I, II, V-IX still standing, Wright has not met his "heavy burden" against the opposing Kleiman estate and "dismissal on forum non-conveniens grounds is therefore not warranted."

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Waves Platform Raises $120 Million for Private Blockchain

 

Waves Platform, a public blockchain network that has helped digital startups create tokens, said it raised $120 million for itself to roll out a private version of its Vostok system for corporations and governments.

Private investors were tapped in the fundraising round led by London-based financial services group Dolfin, Waves said in a statement Wednesday. The company's own cryptocurrency, known as Waves, jumped almost 50 percent to $3.80 in the past 24 hours, according to CoinmarketCap.com prices at 9:40 a.m. in London.

Founded in Switzerland by Russian engineer Sasha Ivanov, Waves Platform has benefited from a recent boom of initial coin offerings that let firms create and sell tokens via its distributed-ledger technology, which it describes as a fast and easy-to-use blockchain.

The Waves token has a market value of about $383 million, down from as much as $1.7 billion in December 2017, close to the speculative peak for cryptocurrencies, according to CoinMarketMap.com.

"The cryptocurrency rush is over now, while the idea of using a decentralized network to store data and cut costs is still relevant," Ivanov said in an interview in his Moscow office.

Large firms and state entities often find the speed and security level of public blockchains to be insufficient, he said. So-called private blockchains, which have limited numbers of users, protect data better, according to Ivanov.

Vostok, similar to the International Business Machines Corp.-led Hyperledger in the U.S., will focus on Europe, Asia and the former USSR, expecting its first projects in the beginning of 2019, Ivanov said.
 


Russians to Be Allowed ICO Investments up to $9,000 per Year
Russian lawmakers have revised another bill regarding the regulation of the industry built around cryptocurrencies. In its latest version, the draft law on crowdfunding sets the maximum amount of money ordinary Russians will be permitted to invest in projects such as ICOs at less than $9,000 per year.     

Investments Limited to $1,500 per Project
The bill "On attracting investments using investment platforms" is one of the three pieces of legislation aimed at regulating the crypto industry that were adopted on first reading by the State Duma in May. The initial text approved by the lower house of Russia's parliament did not contain such limits. It only read that they should be determined in sub-statutory acts issued by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR).

According to the revamped draft law, private individuals will be allowed to invest through crowdfunding platforms up to 600,000 Russian rubles (less than $9,000) per year only, and a maximum of 100,000 rubles (~$1,500) per project RBC reported, quoting a copy of the document. Any investment exceeding 600,000 rubles, made by qualified investors or financial institutions, will be subject to mandatory oversight by the country's financial watchdog, Rosfinmonitoring, in order to prevent money laundering.

The new restrictions will limit the access of ordinary citizens to initial coin offerings (ICOs). The authorities in Moscow claim they want to protect Russians from the associated risks. In a statement, the CBR warned that investing through crowdfunding platforms can lead to the loss of all invested funds. However, the limits will not apply to social and charitable crowdfunding initiatives.

No Restrictions for 'Qualified' Investors
Professional investors will not be restricted in their participation in crowdfunding projects. Private individuals can be treated as "qualified investors" provided they meet certain criteria detailed in the federal law "On the securities market." For example, they must control assets worth at least 6 million rubles (almost $90,000) and prove they have been employed in the securities industry for at least two years.

The revised crowdfunding bill is likely to be voted on second reading in the Duma in January revealed one of its authors, the chairman of the Financial Markets Committee Anatoly Aksakov. Before the parliamentary summer vacation, deputies approved two other drafts – a bill amending the country's Civil Code to introduce a legal definition of "digital rights" and the main draft pertaining to the regulation of cryptocurrencies, the law "On digital financial assets."

The latter bill also underwent serious revision, with lawmakers dropping key terms like "cryptocurrency" and "mining." Representatives of the crypto industry protested and proposed an alternative bill granting cryptocurrencies "special status." However, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov recently stated that authorities do not plan to introduce any more significant amendments to the texts. The crowdfunding law has also lost important terms related to the crypto economy such as "tokens" and "smart contracts."

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Crypto Price Watch: Waves, Tezos and Maker See Green Despite Dwindling Market Prices

 


Even as a majority of the top 10 altcoins within today's crypto market continue to see red, there are digital currencies like Waves, Maker, and Tezos that have witnessed an upward surge of 9%, 3%, and 2.5% respectively over the course of the past 24 hours.
Waves Continues Its Strong Performance

As can be seen from the chart below, around a week back the price of a single Waves token jumped by over 50% to touch an impressive price point of $2.32. In terms of what could have sparked this massive uptrend, many experts believe that the recent Waves Mobile app update could have had something to do with the increase.

For those not aware, the Waves dev team recently announced the launch of their much-awaited 'operational protocol upgrade' which allows customers to seamlessly "deposit, store and withdraw their altcoins" in a safe and secure manner. Not only that, but users can now also trade and lease out their assets on the Waves DEX with the touch of a button.
#WavesPlatform has had a great November with the release of our new mobile app and several other developments! We're continuing to build some outstanding tech to bring #blockchain to the mainstream. Here's what we've been up to in the past month: https://t.co/OcrvMyvkwn$WAVES

— Waves Platform (@wavesplatform) December 11, 2018

Additionally, it is also worth noting that the latest iteration of the Waves app will introduce several new exchange listings as well as provide users with full integration support with the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet.
Tezos (XTZ) Surprises Everyone With its Strong Performance

While many had relegated Tezos (XTZ) to the peripheral fringes of the crypto world recently, it now appears as though the project is making a steady comeback (especially since the currency has been showcasing a lot positive financial momentum over the course of the past week or so).

For those who may not remember, Tezos is probably most famous (or infamous) for having raised a whopping $232 million during its ICO phase as well as the scandal that rocked the project straight after.

Lastly, it is also worth pointing out that the XTZ token is currently trading below its original ICO price of $0.51 for around $0.375 (at press time). However, this drop is not as significant as the one witnessed by Ethereum as well as some of the other premier cryptos like BTC, BCH.

In this regard, a market analyst for iBuyTezos.com pointed out that Tezos was not even listed on a single exchange at the start of the year. The reason given for this delay was that the project's native blockchain network had not gone live till like mid-2018.

Tezos wasn't even on an exchange in Jan of 2018.
— Jovan Smith (@JvdollaJovan) December 6, 2018

Final Take
While many of the top crypto coins in the market have struggled to stay afloat throughout the year, there are some lesser-known assets that have continued their strong performance recently. It now remains to be seen how the future of smaller tokens such as Maker, DEX, Revain, Tezos plays out in the coming few weeks.

Former Mt. Gox CEO Could Face 10 Years in Jail Over Embezzlement

 


Japanese prosecutors are seeking a 10-year jail term for Mark Karpeles, the former CEO of Mt. Gox. The embattled Frenchman, who has been previously accused of diverting company money for prostitutes, business acquisitions and luxury items, is facing charges of transferring $3 million of client funds to his own account for investment in a software development business.

Karpeles Pleads Innocence But Authorities Aren't Buying It
According to prosecutors, Mark Karpeles falsified Mt. Gox's trading system to make customer balances appear healthier than they in fact were. He also acted in violation of the country's corporate law, Japanese daily The Mainichi reported on Dec. 12.

Karpeles has sworn his innocence and says the money, moved in the last four months of 2013, was meant to serve as only a temporary loan. He also argued, earlier in the trial, that the funds in question did not belong to clients but were his now-defunct company's revenue.

However, prosecutors have argued there is no evidence that this diversion of funds was merely as a temporary loan. "There was no documentation of loans and there was no intention of paying back," reads their submission at the Tokyo District Court. Karpeles, prosecutors argue, must be slapped with a harsh sentence for betraying the confidence of investors who trusted him with their money.

The Great Bitcoin Heist
Mt. Gox went from handling 70 percent of global bitcoin trades in 2013 to bankruptcy in 2014 after about $400 million was supposedly lost to hackers, with 200,000 bitcoins recovered two weeks later. The current lawsuit is not investigating the cause of this theft.

As the effects of the discrepancy became apparent, the exchange initially delayed withdrawals for up to three months before completely ceasing them altogether, ostensibly over the theft of bitcoins. The company entered bankruptcy proceedings in 2014 but has since undergone civil rehabilitation processes to enable it to pay bitcoin still owed to investors. It has yet to be determined how much users will be repaid, given the numerous fluctuations in bitcoin's trading price since 2014.

Mark Karpeles
"I never imagined things would end this way and I am forever sorry for everything that's taken place and all the effect it had on everyone involved," Karpeles said earlier during the bankruptcy saga, although he has consistently maintained his innocence. In November, a Mt. Gox trustee sought to defer the deadline for filing civil rehabilitation claims, initially slated for October, until this month.

Regardless of how the matter plays out in Japan, Karpeles faces more legal trouble in the U.S. where former Mt. Gox clients filed a lawsuit against him several months ago. Karpeles' lawyers want the lawsuit dismissed on the basis that a U.S. court has no jurisdiction over the matter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Waves revamps mobile wallet

 


The Waves Platform, a decentralized blockchain ecosystem, has announced a comprehensive update of the Waves Wallet mobile app which is now available for download on the App Store and Google Play.

Launched over a year ago, the Waves mobile app was up to the task of enabling users to connect to the network and make transactions. However, as Waves' blockchain developed, the mobile team saw opportunities for improving the app by adding new features.

The result of many months of the mobile development team's effort is a comprehensive, all-in-one app for mobile devices with an absolutely unique feature set, including a crypto wallet, the Waves DEX and fiat gateway.

"We believe our app provides a step forward for crypto and blockchain community, a better experience for iOS and Android users than they can get elsewhere," says Sasha Ivanov, Founder and CEO of Waves Platform. "The new mobile app incorporates the most popular features of the desktop Waves Client going far beyond the functionality of the wallet. At the moment no other platform offers anything like that."

In the new app all traffic is encrypted, which is important for privacy and security. Private keys are encrypted and never leave user's smartphone and are never exposed to the web. A range of further security measures is added, including Face ID, Touch ID and Fingerprint scanning.

Users can trade on DEX, with the great tools and charts they've come to expect, but with the convenience of mobile. There's also access to fiat and crypto gateways, so users can deposit, store, trade and withdraw other assets.

The most popular digital asset management tools from the Waves Platform are also available. Users can send tokens to their address book contacts, lease WAVES, receive warnings about suspicious tokens and burn any spam assets. 

P2P Markets Report: Dumping Drives Record Volume Across Latin America and Asia

 


Japanese public company Money Forward, operator of a personal budgeting app with 7 million users, is preparing to launch a crypto exchange. Three cryptocurrencies will be supported. A representative of the company has shared some details with news.Bitcoin.com about the platform and the company's future crypto projects.

New Crypto Exchange
Money Forward Financial Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed Money Forward Inc. (TYO: 3994), has announced some details of its upcoming cryptocurrency exchange.

A representative of the company confirmed to news.Bitcoin.com that the exchange will initially support three cryptocurrencies: BTC, ETH and BCH. There will be live order books and trading charts but margin trading will not be offered at launch. In addition, the name of the exchange is not yet disclosed.

The new crypto exchange will be "linked to our personal financial management service called Money Forward Me," the representative added. This flagship product has 7 million users, according to its website. The company describes this app as one that "automatically aggregates statements of bank accounts, credit cards, securities accounts, fx accounts, pensions/points and compiles a household accounting book."


A Money Forward app.
Established in May 2012, Money Forward Inc. has nine subsidiaries and seven offices across Japan. The Tokyo-headquartered company offers a wide range of products including an automatic savings app and a financial services portal for individuals as well as accounting, tax return, invoicing, payroll, and information management systems for businesses. Its shares have been listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange since September last year.

In terms of future cryptocurrency projects, the representative said, "In future years, we would like to cover money transfer and payment services."

Registering With FSA
During a press conference on Monday, the president of Money Forward Financial, Junichi Kanda, talked about the challenges of registering a crypto exchange business with the Financial Services Agency (FSA).

In the beginning, registering with the FSA is a "relatively light" process, Kanda described. However, after the hack of Coincheck in January, the regulator has tightened its oversight and evaluation of crypto exchanges and no company has been granted registration since then.

Noting that his company has been in consultation with the FSA, Kanda said that he expects his exchange to be able to register and launch by the end of March next year. In addition, Money Forward Financial announced on Monday that Yamane Hidero, a former FSA inspector, has been appointed as head of the company's internal control department.

Yamane Hidero
The Money Forward representative confirmed to news.Bitcoin.com:
We would hopefully like to start the [exchange] business between January and March 2019, though it depends on the FSA's [registration] procedure.

Japan's revised Payment Services Act requires that all crypto exchange operators register with the FSA. Currently, 16 operators have been granted registration and three, including Coincheck, have been allowed to operate exchanges while their applications are being reviewed by the agency. The FSA previously revealed that more than 160 companies have expressed interest in registering to operate crypto exchanges.

What do you think of Money Forward launching a cryptocurrency exchange? Let us know in the comments section below.