Category Archives: Markethive

Becoming the Expert

Becoming the Expert

The difference between success and failure

is often not in knowing what to do, but in doing it. One of the areas where the getting it done problem routinely arises is in living the firm’s positioning. When working with a firm I routinely see this pattern: We’ll narrow the focus of the firm, we’ll craft a consistent claim of expertise, we’ll identify the assets the firm has to support the claim and begin adding those it’s missing. Then, when it’s time to start selling, the business development person, whether principal or employee, will continue to bring back all the wrong types of engagements – from tiny tactical projects to assignments that have nothing to do with the firm’s new focus. The positioning has changed in language only; not in reality.

It’s in Business Development where the firm begins to live it’s new positioning (strategy) and transition from order-taker to expert. You can only reinvent your firm one new client at a time, and if the size or nature of the client engagements is not moving you toward your positioning, you’ll never get there. Sometimes the challenge is rooted in the innate hard-wiring of the individuals involved – asking them to do things they just cannot, but most of the time the challenges are institutional.

My colleague Cal Harrison at Beyond Referrals sites the 85-15 Rule from William Edwards Demming, the father of Total Quality Management. “Demming’s rule suggests that when things go wrong, there is roughly an 85% chance the system (management, machinery and rules) is at fault. Only about 15% of the time is the individual employee at fault.”  So, what is it about the system (firm, management, policies) that is impeding success in implementing the strategy?

For employees, it could be their compensation (pay) plan. I’ve previously written that the incentives in most business development employees’ pay plans are not properly aligned to the goals of the firm. But there’s more going wrong than poorly constructed pay plans. What is that keeps people and firms from making the positioning real?

Thankfully, the guru of all professional service firms has written a book on the question and its answers. David Maister’s Strategy & The Fat Smoker is all about, as the subtitle says, Doing What’s Obvious But Not Easy. For you as an agency principal and for me as a consultant, the million dollar question is How do we get you and your people to do what we both agree needs to be done? The short answer is meaningful measurement and a willingness to incorporate that feedback into performance appraisal and rewards. The shorter answer still is the Business Development Scorecard, described below.

The Scorecard

For every new client you bring in, large and small, ask yourself these few questions and grade the client/engagement to see if it’s moving you toward or away from your strategy. At the bottom, I’ll explain how to ensure that the feedback from the scorecard keeps moving you forward.

Does doing this work add credibility to, rather than detract from, our consistently articulated claim of expertise (positioning)?

Add Credibility?

Everything you and your firm does – everything – either sharpens the perception of the firm as an expert or muddies it. Generalist firms can try to claim that pretty much everything they do adds to their positioning, but they’ll suffer when answering the remaining questions. Any firm that has properly declared a true specialization will have less leeway when answering this question, but this is the gut-check question: does taking this work deepen our expertise or does it merely broaden our focus?

Is this client aware of our minimum level of engagement (MLOE approx. 10% of annual fee goal) and is he likely to meet it over the first 12 months?

Meet our Minimum?

This one is tricky to score; there are two variables. First, is the client aware of your MLOE, meaning, did you tell him that you’re not in the project business? Did you tell him you’re looking for a small number of new clients who will spend $x with you over the year? If yes, then you get to score at least zero. The second variable is the question, Is he likely to meet that minimum? If this is a one-time project that will not lead to other work or meet your minimum but you did tell the client about the minimum and he understood you made an exception for him, then score a zero. If the client understands your minimum and has committed to meeting it or says he is likely to meet it, then give yourself a point. No and no equals -1.

Were we able to direct or affect the buying process, instead of being forced to follow the client’s?

Affect the Process?

You can answer this question in one millisecond. Little control in the buying process means you were not seen as the expert and you will have little control in the engagement. Any short-term gains (money) came at the cost of impairing the firm’s ability to do it’s best work and move it toward the expert firm. You’ve probably left margin dollars on the table, too. If the client didn’t allow you to lead and didn’t make concessions in his own process for you then your firm wasn’t seen as different enough to merit the inside track. If you did lead or the client did make concessions in the buying process, score 1.

Were we able to secure the engagement without parting with free or poorly compensated strategic or creative advice?

Free Thinking?

Be honest. Free strategy is free pitching, too.

Did the engagement begin with us being paid to first diagnose the problem and recommend a strategy before we developed creative?

Paid to Diagnose?

If you were allowed to lead in the buying cycle then you will be allowed to lead the engagement, and it will show up right here. Were you allowed to begin at the beginning or were you forced to jump right into a creative brief and execution? Did the client dictate the working process or did you? The real proof is in your first invoice. If the amount billed ended with anything other than three zeros, then you were billing tactical work by the hour.

Using the Numbers

If you really want to live your declared strategy, simply use this report card for every new client, publish the scores within the firm, and tie incentives to it. Track your annual average and your moving 12-month average. Further, if your business development people have any incentives in their pay plan, make sure they are at least partially tied to the scorecard results.

The goal isn’t necessarily to score perfect every time, rather, it’s to drive continuous improvement, and to be aware of how each new client is either moving you toward the strategy of living your positioning or taking you away from it. There will always be compromises – project work, even when not actively pursuing it, and occasional prostitution where you do something just for the money. But the scorecard should help to reduce the compromises and keep your occasional prostitution from becoming your career.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Merchants No Longer Pay Merchant Fees. So Stop Paying Them.

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Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Merchants No Llonger Pay Merchant Fees. So Stop Paying Them.

Zero Fee Solutions Now has the absolute best program for merchants in the entire United States

We are a Michigan  based merchant  services company
changing the way  that merchants do  business.  

Our  program is saving merchants thousands  one swipe at a time.

Merchants can now pass on their merchant processing
fees to the consumer. Sit down with one of our reps to
hear about our ZERO FEE SOLUTIONS. We are powered
by one of the largest processing companies in the United States.
They process over $100 billion dollars in card volume per year.

 

With over 30 years of experience and
offices throughout the U.S., we offer a
simple solution to age old processing
experience 
Built on cutting-edge technology,
security, and always putting our
​ customers first. 
  • No gimmicks
  • No catches
  • No asterisk

Chris Corey

Zero Fee Solutions

(810)308-0872

ccorey@zerofeesolutions.com

 

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Poloniex Altcoin Exchange Review

Poloniex Altcoin Exchange Review

Poloniex Certainly Has Its Merits

Poloniex is by far the superior altcoin exchange, base don trading volume and the number of users. The customer support is its Achilles heel, though, and the verification procedure can take longer than needed. Moreover, a few recent server and API outages have caused a fair bit of issues.In this day and age of cryptocurrency exchanges struggling with their partnering banks, the number of platforms unaffected by issues are fairly limited. So far, the Poloniex exchange has successfully avoided most problems, which allows them to continue generating significant amounts of trading volume. They are also the premier cryptocurrency exchange for altcoins traders, but is everything as good as people want the world to believe?

Trading on a cryptocurrency exchange is always a matter of positive aspects and compromises. For the Poloniex exchange, it appears the benefits far outweigh the downsides as of right now. They list a good amount of alternative cryptocurrencies and also actively remove trading pairs that are no longer relevant. Poloniex is also offering multiple exchange markets, including Bitcoin, Monero, and Ethereum. Alternative trading markets are always interesting to take notice of, even though not all coins can be traded against these three currencies.

Poloniex has been around for some time now and even underwent a major overhaul in early 2015. Ever since that time, some notable features were added, including cryptocurrency lending. Speaking of the lending service, not all supported coins are listed here either, but it does cover the most prominent currencies as of right now. It is a useful feature for traders who want to earn a passive interest on their Poloniex balances, although one should never store too much money on an exchange in the first place.

On the security front,

Poloniex seems to check the right boxes as well. Two-factor authentication is possible – and advised – which is a positive touch. Then again, nearly every cryptocurrency exchange offers this feature, as 2FA has become somewhat of the norm in the crypto world right now. Volume-wise, Poloniex seems to generate a fair amount of revenue every single day, as it is way ahead of its closest competitor Bittrex.

Unfortunately, no cryptocurrency exchange is without its issues, and Poloniex is no exception. The platform has suffered from slow trading, order book issues and even plain outages every time there is an unusually high trading activity on the exchange. Most recently, the site and its API utterly crashed when Ripple was seeing significant trading volume all of a sudden. This affected quite a lot of traders and a fair bit of money was lost due to trades not executing properly.

Moreover, some users have complained about horrible customer support from Poloniex staffers. Exchanges have a big problem in this regard, as it appears a lot of platforms suffer from bad customer support at all times. That is not acceptable by any means, and we can only hope things improve sooner rather than later.  Especially considering how the platform supports fiat currency support, aiding customers in a quick and convenient manner becomes even more important.

Speaking of support,

Poloniex conducts a thorough AML and KYC procedure for all users, even if they do not deposit or withdraw fiat currencies. This means users will need to upload documents to verify their identity, a process that can take days, if not weeks, for some users. It seems evident everyone’s mileage will vary when dealing with the Poloniex exchange. For the most part, the company does the job just fine, but there are obvious areas that need improvements.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

This Is How Cryptocurrencies & Blockchain Could Solve Asia’s Financial Inclusion Issue

This Is How Cryptocurrencies & Blockchain Could Solve Asia's Financial Inclusion Issue

  

In 2016, staff members within the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

suggested that virtual currencies could promote financial inclusion. The IMF issued the standard cautions about how virtual currencies (VCs) might be used for money laundering, terrorism and other nefarious purposes. But it also wrote that, “VCs offer many potential benefits, including greater speed and efficiency in making payments and transfer–particularly across borders–and ultimately promoting financial inclusion.”

The “across borders” benefits have led to the launch of Bitcoin startups in places like the Philippines, where remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) contribute more than $26 billion to the economy. Such was the case with Coins, a mobile-first, blockchain-based platform that facilitates remittances, bill payments and mobile airtime top-ups. “I was initially looking for a way to solve the issue of expensive cross-border payments, which lead me to blockchain technologies and how they could be used to provide widespread financial access in general,” said Justin Leow, head of business operations for Coins.

Since its launch in 2014,

Coins has signed up half a million users and partnered with retail outlets, banks, and other financial service institutions to create a distribution network of more than 22,000 cash disbursement and collection locations in the Philippines. In late 2016, the company raised $5 million in a Series A fundraising round. “Our mission is to make sure our customers are able to access the financial services that they need, and building our platform on top of the blockchain has been an important component of that effort,” Leow said via email. “As long as people will continue to need cheap remittances [and] money transfers and access to financial services, we see blockchain technology as a growing area that would be able to affect positive change.”

Leow said Coins has been able to lower remittance costs from 7-8% to about 2-3% for its customers, including those who use it for bill pay and remittances, as well as merchants and service providers who accept bitcoin. The company’s ultimate goal is “to increase financial inclusion by delivering financial services directly to people through their mobile phones.”

Experts see remittances as an area that could be ripe for VC disruption. The Philippines is not the only country with a high population of overseas workers whose families depend on their remittances. High transaction fees and slow or inconvenient transfer services create extreme hardships on people who can’t afford to spend hours claiming one payment, or who live far from banks or shops that manage remittance payments.

The costs of these transactions 

which can average as high as 12% in Sub-Saharan Africa – hit the poor the hardest. Technological advances like cryptocurrency and distributed ledgers may offer a solution,” Dr. Garrick Hileman, a cryptocurrency researcher at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, told Phys.org. "It would be surprising to me if in 30 years from now we aren't looking back and saying yes this was a watershed moment for financial inclusion, and that cryptocurrency and distributed ledgers played a significant role in opening up access to the financial system in developing economies."

A 2016 KPMG article indicated that more than 70 percent of the population in Southeast Asia is unbanked, leaving hundreds of millions at steep disadvantages for achieving financial security. Not having a bank account excludes people from a range of financial products, but fintech companies see mobile technology as a means of closing that gap. Startups like Coins, which use cryptocurrencies behind the scenes to offer fast, low-cost services to their customers, may be on the front lines of improving financial inclusion in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. Thanks to growing mobile phone penetration, even low-income consumers can take advantage of their services.

“One of the important ways to increase financial inclusion is facilitating the transition from people being purely cash-based to be able to access and use [their] money online. In this regard, cryptocurrencies work very well as railways for seamless fund transfers and being able to pay for services,” Leow said. “The advantage that cryptocurrencies provide relative to other closed-loop systems is that anyone can be connected to the payment network very easily and services can be made available to anyone else on the network.” Remittances and mobile payments aren’t the only ways blockchain technology facilitates inclusion.

“I think payments will continue to be a key functionality for blockchain technologies with adoption continuing to increase as more businesses recognize its advantages,” Leow said. “At the same time, I think that there are also a lot of application-specific solutions using the blockchain for purposes such as digital identity management and smart contracts that are actively being explored that are causing us to rethink how many (typically expensive) business processes are being done.”

For instance, Acudeen, a Filipino fintech startup that helps small businesses by streamlining the invoicing process, uses blockchain technology to ensure that its clients’ contracts are secure. If cryptocurrency does become mainstream, it will likely do so quietly, at least as far as the average consumer is concerned. Luis Buenaventura,  chief technology officer of Bloom Solutions and author of Reinventing Remittances With Bitcoin, told me for a previous article that Bitcoin is “probably best off as a backend technology." Similar to the protocols behind email systems, blockchain technology may drive common services, but users won’t ever interact with it.

Leow shared a sentiment similar to Buenaventura’s. “The challenge from a financial inclusion standpoint is how to facilitate access to these technologies in such a way that easily transitions people from using purely cash,” he said. “We should remember that at the end of the day, people want to get things done and generally care less about the actual implementation of how that happens.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Meet Bitcoin Plus – The Next Great Cryptocurrency

Meet Bitcoin Plus –
The Next Great Cryptocurrency

  

Let’s face it,

Bitcoin is currently dominating the market, but altcoins cannot be just brushed off, they are maturing as well and are ready to provide a keen and tough competition. There is one coin, however, which, as claimed by its founders, cannot even be called an “altcoin.” Meet Bitcoin Plus – the next great cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin, but “reincarnated”

The history of Bitcoin Plus goes back to early 2014 when the coin was launched through an ICO held on the Poloniex Exchange. However, it turned out that the ICO was carried to fund not the cryptocurrency but holidays of the original developer who escaped with collected funds somewhere in the south direction. Later on, Bitcoin Plus went into rehab as a few truly dedicated community members formed a team, hired a coder to fix the wallet and introduced the sustainability plan.

Yule Mills, one of the team leaders at Bitcoin Plus, explains to Cointelegraph:

“The original developers created a great coin but it appeared they had ulterior motives, therefore they soon abandoned the coin. I was the original investor and have loved it since I first found out about it in May 2014. I think it is Bitcoin but reincarnated with many improvements and rarities, hence the added Plus in the name of the coin.”

How it will drive the market wild

The cryptocurrency has evolved greatly, especially during the last year. Originally, XBC was purely a Proof-of-Stake coin, however, a bunch of recent updates included the ability to secure the network using Proof-of-Work, therefore Bitcoin Plus is what is now known as a hybrid POS/POW. This means that if the network ever faces a serious issue, things can be moved along manually by switching on Proof-of-Work for a short period.

Bitcoin Plus has one mln coins to respond to 21 mln Bitcoins, it is characterized by a much faster block processing time and can handle eight times more transactions than Bitcoin. Mills points out that the best feature of Bitcoin Plus is the 20 percent annual staking until all one mln coins have been staked. In his opinion, this feature alone is currently driving the market wild.

Mills comments:

“Bitcoin Plus went from $.08 in January 2016 to a high of $131 just last month. That's serious.”

Bitcoin Plus, scalability issues minus

There is an opinion that what is good for Bitcoin has a positive impact on other cryptocurrencies. But what about the problems currently faced by Bitcoin, are they any relevant in the rest of the cryptocurrency space? Scalability has always been an issue for Bitcoin but recently the network has been running out of capacity, transaction fees have been getting higher, while the speed of processing was significantly decreasing.

The SegWit vs. BU debate has been going on and on for months and it doesn’t look like we are going to see a conclusion any time soon. How do these block games affect Bitcoin Plus? Well, XBC has a much shorter average block processing time – 60 seconds compared to that of Bitcoin, therefore the Bitcoin Plus network is able to handle 10 times more transactions every 10 minutes. Besides, the block size limit of Bitcoin Plus is much larger standing at 1.5 MB. The average transaction size of Bitcoin Plus is very similar to its predecessor, therefore every block is able to fit as many as 3,030 transactions or 50.5 transactions per second.

The Bitcoin Plus team assures that it will take a long time before users have to start worrying about any scalability issues.

Mills says to Cointelegraph:

“Regarding scaling issues, the original Bitcoin can handle, as fact, less than seven transactions per second compared to Bitcoin Plus which can handle 50+ transactions per second. We are keeping a close eye on SegWit vs. Unlimited and, truthfully, I don't think either idea is a good one. The thing about Bitcoin Plus that works is we have a team that agrees on things. If Bitcoin Plus needs to scale we will scale to Visa level if needed.”

Engaging community into development of the coin

The current team of Bitcoin Plus consists of several community members who run the website, BitcoinTalk Forum Thread, Block Explorers, 24/7 nodes and ensure the sustainability of the coin. The team is open, accessible and their intentions are transparent. It also seems that they are trying to engage the community in the development of the coin, offering ideas for updating of the network for voting and extensively reporting on the completion of upvoted ideas.

Isn’t it what the cryptocurrency space is all about? Absolute freedom, flexibility and the ability to reach consensus? With all this packaged in Bitcoin Plus, it is expected that the project will attain great success.

Mills concludes:

“Bitcoin would be an altcoin if it wasn't so successful. I don't consider Bitcoin Plus an altcoin. It's a force to be reckoned with, and you are going to see Bitcoin Plus on a mass scale soon.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Q1’s Top Performing Cryptocurrencies Saw Big Gains

Q1's Top Performing
Cryptocurrencies Saw Big Gains

   The first quarter of 2017 saw dramatic price gains

for the top cryptocurrencies, as the total market added nearly $7bn in value. The so-called 'blue chip' cryptocurrencies – those with a market cap greater than $30m – saw aggressive growth in the first quarter, as bitcoin's waning dominance set the stage for new players to assert themselves. Others, too, saw impressive gains that occurred relatively quickly in recent weeks. All told, the cryptocurrencies posted a median price increase (in USD terms) of 180.56% over the course of the quarter.

Top performers

The two top performers from Q1 2017 were Decred (DCR) and Golem (GNT), which gained 2,410.6% and 835.5%, respectively. Decred is a cryptocurrency that uses a hybridized consensus system instead of relying on either solely proof-of-work (POS) or proof-of-stake (POW). Similar to bitcoin, the DCR protocol sets a 21 million cap to the number of coins generated on the network.

Currently, the largest trading pair for DCR is DCR/BTC. Poloniex serves as the largest marketplace for DCR trading. The majority of DCR’s gains came toward the end of the quarter, and the highest daily volume was achieved on 27 March with $14.03m. As for Golem, most of its gains came during the latter half of Q1. Cryptocurrency exchange announced markets for the token on 17th February, and following the announcement, the price rose approximately 100% with 48 hours, from $.02 to $.04 on 19th February, with a volume of $6.67m.

Prior to the Poloniex announcement, average daily volume was between $20k and $100k per day. A second spike in price occurred on 21st March, following the release of news that GNT would be integrated into Shapeshift.io, an altcoin exchange platform. That particular day, the price increased approximately 22% from $0.045 to $0.055 on $5.28m in 24-hour volume. The final day of Q1, Golem developer Grzegorz Borowik published a blog post announcing Golem for macOS. The news buoyed the market, which boosted GNT to an all-time-high of $0.094 on volume of $11.4m.

Bitcoin struggles

Bitcoin's performance in the first quarter was more muted. The CoinMarketCap's Bitcoin Dominance Index – which measures bitcoin's market share relative to other cryptocurrencies – shed nearly 20%, ending the quarter at 68%. A weakening Bitcoin Dominance Index points to investor preference for alternative cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin (BTC) gained just 7.8% over the course of the quarter. This was a noticeable decrease from its 35.4% gain in Q4 2016.

General fear, uncertainty, and doubt has permeated the bitcoin community and can arguably be blamed for the anemic performance of the cryptocurrency in comparison to alternatives. Furthermore, bitcoin's volatility has tapered off as a result of its maturation, coupled with the evolving narrative that the cryptocurrency is a safe-haven asset.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

OneCoin Claims To Have Largest Cryptocurrency Market Cap After Doubling Event

OneCoin Claims To Have Largest Cryptocurrency Market Cap After Doubling Event

OneCoin Is A Scam Regardless Of What They Tell You

Yesterday was quite an interesting day in the world of Bitcoin scams and Ponzi Schemes. OneCoin, the world’s biggest pyramid scheme to date, doubled all user coins last night. This brings the total supply of “coins” to 2 billion, which is ridiculous. In fact, this means that OneCoin is now a bigger cryptocurrency than Bitcoin, according to OneCoin CEO, Ruja Whatsherface. The allure presented by this global pyramid scheme should not be underestimated. People from all over the world are falling for what OneCoin promises, even though they have no blockchain or coins in existence to speak of. The scheme entails the distribution of incoming funds to early investors, whereas new members have to recruit hard to make money.

Now that all of the non-existent Onecoin balances have been doubled, the Ponzi Scheme camp is over the moon regarding its success. Creating a 100% value increase out of thin air is ludicrous, yet millions of people seem to fall for it anyway. In fact, the team claims that their market cap is now bigger than Bitcoin’s. To put this into perspective, OneCoin’s new “blockchain” will allow for 50,000 new coins to be generated every minute. The team is also planning to “go public” with the coin come 2018. How this will be achieved is anybody’s guess, as there is no OneCoin blockchain or coins to speak of in the first place.

What is rather worrisome is how every OneCoin is valued at nearly 7 euros per piece. Keeping in mind how this is all vaporware, one can see that the team is making big money off the backs of gullible people. In this day and age, fooling people with financial promises has become very easy, especially when it’s related to “virtual currencies”.

Anyone who still believes OneCoin is a legitimate scheme will be in for a rude awakening very soon. Governments and law enforcement agencies all over the world are looking to investigate what this cult is offering its members, and it will be shut down sooner or later. Everyone who has funds in OneCoin should pull them out as soon as possible and see if they can pay out. In most cases that will not be possible.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

From Here To Where? Bitcoin And The Future Of Cryptocurrency

From Here To Where?
Bitcoin And The Future Of Cryptocurrency

  

There’s a number of reasons why cryptocurrencies

are so inherently popular. They are safe, anonymous and utterly decentralized. Unlike conventional currency, they are not controlled or regulated by some singular authority, their flow is determined entirely by market demand. They are also nigh impossible to counterfeit, thanks to the paranoidly complicated code system that encrypts each and every transfer, ensuring complete anonymity and utter safety to each and every user. They even make for a genuinely rewarding, if risky, investment endeavor, despite the fact that any financial advisor in their right mind will caution you against them. Therefore, despite the admittedly high stakes that this sort of dealing entails, not to mention the lack of any government agency to lend credence to them, cryptocurrencies can only thrive and multiply.

If I were to tell you of the history of cryptocurrencies, I would have to begin with cryptographer David Chaum, who in the 1980s devised an extraordinarily secure algorithm that allowed for the kind of encryption required in electronic fund transfers. Chaum’s “blinding algorithm” laid the groundwork for the future development of all types of digitalized currency transactions, be it alternative currencies like Bitcoin or just plain old digitalized cash transfers.

“I am personally excited for the future of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in general. Current innovations such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others are just the beginning for this technology that can help revamp many industries. There is plenty of opportunity in this space.”

In the later part of the 1980s, Chaum relocated to the Netherlands, and, with the help of a few fellow enthusiasts, laid the foundation of DigiCash, a for-profit cryptocurrency network based on his “blinded money” algorithm. Unlike newer cryptocurrencies, DigiCash exercised full monopoly over its supply, a far cry from being a decentralized mode of transaction such as Bitcoin. While DigiCash was founded with the idea of trading directly with individuals, the Netherlands government imposed severe restrictions on the company, forcing it to sell only to licensed banks. This seriously curtailed the company’s profits, and after a decade of struggling and being partnered with by Microsoft, the company finally closed doors in the 1990s. Chaum did go on to try his luck on a few similar cryptocurrency startups at the time, though none of them were really successful, to begin with.

Fast forward to 2008, when a whitepaper was released under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, detailing what would be widely regarded as the first modern cryptocurrency initiative. The idea combined concepts such as decentralization, perfect anonymity, finite supply and blockchain technology to pave the way for what we know as Bitcoin. Nakamoto, a pseudonymous individual or individuals operating under a fake name, released Bitcoin to the public in 2009. This idea was soon taken up by a gazillion different startups such as Litecoin. In 2010, Bitcoin received recognition as a proper currency after merchants such as WordPress, Expedia and Microsoft began accepting it as a mode of payment.

Cryptocurrencies can better adapt to the prevalent challenges of both funding and the emerging digital economy in addition to being a way to engage communities through P2P tech and crowdfunding platforms. There are over 2 billion people without access to the financial economy and even basics of modern civilization. Here at Humaniq, we are a blockchain fintech startup aiming to tackle some of these challenges by tapping into the power of digital currencies to leverage social impact. Approaching these issues from the angle of Initial Coin Offerings, we have so far managed to secure over 10,000 investors and $4M in investments in the last two weeks.”

Speaking for 2017, we’re still far from Bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency initiative, being officially recognized by a state government as a preferred mode of currency. Mere months ago, Bitcoin saw a 35% fluctuation in price range after a proposed exchange-trade fund by the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust was denied by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission due to concerns that the currency could be used for illegal purposes such as black market trading. However, hope is anything but out, and 2017 will be a year to watch out for as far as alternative currencies are concerned.

While Bitcoin experienced a drop in its prices, a cheaper cryptocurrency by the name of Ether reached its all-time highs at $40 a unit. While Ether’s current setup prevents it from being used as a direct method of payment, the cryptocurrency still seems to have a bright future ahead thanks to the concept of smart contracts. In the meantime, more privacy-concerned cryptocurrency alternatives are starting to gain prominence in favor of institutions such as Bitcoin, which despite their vigilant security measures, continue to have loopholes that could be exploited for access to personal data.

“In a reminder of just how fickle the market for such newfangled assets can be, just after 4 p.m. Friday, the Bitcoin price took a U-turn and plummeted to lows not seen in months, dipping below $1000 to as low as $980, after Bitcoin investors received some bad news from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.” – Jen Wieczner, Fortune Magazine

Another interesting turn of events is the acceptance of Bitcoin in the educational industry, what with the University of Ohio hosting classes about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a part of its MFE curriculum. Several colleges have even begun to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment, a move which will clearly help bring this alternative currency to the mainstream. The acceptance of Bitcoin, in general, has already led to a few companies considering genuine investment opportunities in the currency, further fueling its journey to mainstream.

Will cryptocurrencies be the new norm after 2017? Perhaps it is too soon to tell. But if there is one thing we know for sure, it is that the currency seems to have a wide appeal with a particular section of technologically-savvy individuals, a point that is sure to soon work in its favor.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

AT&T Explores Cryptocurrency Car Payments in New Patent Filing

AT&T Explores Cryptocurrency Car Payments in New Patent Filing

  

Digital currency payments in motor vehicles

may not be far off, if the ideas in a new patent application from telecom giant AT&T enter real-world use. Yesterday, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released the application, dubbed "Vehicle System with System Report Generation and Methods For Use Therewith". Within this innocuously titled document, however, is a concept for integrating cryptocurrency payments into vehicles, attributed to AT&T Mobility, a subsidiary of the firm.

Here’s how the patent’s description explains it:

"A processor is configured to perform operations including generating a vehicle report based on the vehicle data; generating in accordance with a cryptocurrency protocol, a digital currency record that is unique to the vehicle report, wherein the digital currency record indicates a digital currency value associated with the vehicle report. The digital currency record is stored in a memory and communicated in conjunction with a purchase of goods or services by the user, wherein the digital currency value is credited to a purchase price of the goods or services."

Notably, the application distinguishes between blockchain-based cryptocurrencies and other iterations of electronic money – though, in the case of Beenz and e-gold, some them are currencies that did not stand the test of time. Specific cryptocurrencies mentioned include bitcoin and monero, among others. The application goes on to conceptualize what these payments may actually entail, including what are essentially micropayments that occur depending on what happens during a drive.

"For example, an hour highway driving may be worth only one dollar, but identification of a pothole, a damaged road sign or malfunctioning traffic signal may increase the value by differing amounts, based on the condition detected," the application explains. The submission is AT&T’s second related to the technology. In October, the USPTO released a patent application for a kind of home subscriber server that utilizes a blockchain.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

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