Here’s what’s next for bitcoin after the SEC killed the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust

Here’s what’s next for bitcoin after the
SEC killed the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday rejected a proposed rule change that would’ve allowed for the creation of the first bitcoin exchange-traded fund—a decision that has followers of the world’s largest cryptocurrency wondering what happens next. In its ruling, the SEC said it was unnerved by the lack of regulation in a market that is largely based outside of the U.S., and was worried about the potential for market manipulation.

Fortunately for investors who were hoping to buy into the fund, Friday’s decision won’t necessarily preclude the approval of other proposed bitcoin ETFs. Two other companies are vying to become the first bitcoin-focused ETF, but what might happen next is unclear. The New York Stock Exchange filed a proposed rule change with the SEC on Jan. 25 to allow the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust to trade on its ETF exchange, NYSE Arca. The agency now has until Friday, Sept. 22 to issue its ruling. Barry Silbert, the chief executive officer of the Digital Currency Group, Grayscale’s parent company, declined to comment on the Winklevoss decision.

NYSE Arca filed another rule-change proposal to list shares of the SolidX Bitcoin Trust, another product vying to be the first bitcoin ETF, back in July, but it is unclear what is happening and representatives for SolidX couldn't be reached for comment. One factor that differentiated the Winklevoss proposal from its rivals was the mechanism for tracking the bitcoin price. The Winklevosses planned to use pricing data gleaned from Gemini, a digital-currency exchange launched in late 2015 that commands less than 1% of the bitcoin market.

Both the Grayscale and SolidX proposals would peg the price to the TradeBlock bitcoin index. Grayscale’s proposal is widely viewed as the favorite within the bitcoin community, largely because of shares its trust GBTC, +5.88%  already trade over-the-counter, often at a premium to bitcoin’s net-asset value.

But some have expressed concerns about potential conflicts of interest at Grayscale. In a comment letter filed with the SEC, Jeffrey Wilcke, a representative of the Ethereum Foundation, pointed out the relationship between the Grayscale trust and CoinDesk, an online news service that covers the digital currency market. Both Grayscale and CoinDesk are owned by DCG. Wilcke couldn't be reached for comment.

Jerry Brito, chief executive director of Coin Center, a bitcoin advocacy group, said the SEC’s concerns about regulation create a “chicken and egg problem.” “How do we develop well-capitalized and regulated markets in the U.S. and Europe if financial innovators aren’t allowed to bring products to market that grow domestic demand for digital currencies like bitcoin?,” he said in an emailed statement.

When asked about what’s next for bitcoin, Chris Burniske, blockchain analyst and products lead at ARK Invest, said it is “clear that the SEC still has a way to go in terms of getting comfortable with the bitcoin markets.” Bitcoin market experts said the Winklevoss’s could modify their proposal to address some of the agency’s concerns, but that they would need to start the process again from the beginning, and that BATS would need to issue a new proposed rule change, which the agency would then have a maximum of 240 days to consider.

For their part, the Winklevoss brothers say they remain committed to bringing “COIN” to market. “We began this journey almost four years ago, and are determined to see it through. We agree with the SEC that regulation and oversight are important to the health of any marketplace and the safety of all investors,” said Tyler Winklevoss in an emailed statement.

Bitcoin US-BTCUSD  sold off sharply after the decision, with the price of a single coin losing $250 in a matter of minutes. But it quickly bounced back and was trading down 6.3% on the day at $1,116 late Friday in New York, according to the CoinDesk bitcoin price index. Spencer Bogart, the head of research at Blockchain Capital, said this is evidence that the ETF presented “no change to bitcoin’s compelling fundamental growth story.” “The drivers of bitcoin demand remain as strong now as they were two months ago before the ETF fervor arrived,” he said.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

U.S. regulators reject Bitcoin ETF, digital currency plunges

U.S. regulators reject Bitcoin ETF,
digital currency plunges

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday denied a request to list what would have been the first U.S. exchange-traded fund built to track bitcoin, the digital currency.Investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have been trying for more than three years to convince the SEC to let it bring the Bitcoin ETF to market. CBOE Holdings Inc's Bats exchange had applied to list the ETF.

The digital currency's price plunged, falling as much as 18 percent in trading immediately after the decision before rebounding slightly. It last traded down 7.8 percent to $1,098. Bitcoin had scaled to a record of nearly $1,300 this month, higher than the price of an ounce of gold, as investors speculated that an ETF holding the digital currency could woo more people into buying the asset.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that can be used to move money around the world quickly and with relative anonymity, without the need for a central authority, such as a bank or government. Yet bitcoin presents a new set of risks to investors given its limited adoption, a number of massive cyber security breaches affecting bitcoin owners and the lack of consistent treatment of the assets by governments.

"Based on the record before it, the Commission believes that the significant markets for bitcoin are unregulated," the SEC said in a statement. "The commission notes that bitcoin is still in the relatively early stages of its development and that, over time, regulated bitcoin-related markets of significant size may develop." The regulators have questions and concerns about how the funds would work and whether they could be priced and trade effectively, according to a financial industry source familiar with the SEC's thinking.

"We began this journey almost four years ago, and are determined to see it through," said Tyler Winklevoss, CFO of Digital Asset Services LLC. "We agree with the SEC that regulation and oversight are important to the health of any marketplace and the safety of all investors." The Winklevoss twins are best known for their feud with Facebook Inc founder Mark Zuckerberg over whether he stole the idea for what became the world's most popular social networking website from them. The former Olympic rowers ultimately settled their legal dispute, which was dramatized in the 2010 film "The Social Network."

Since then they have become major investors in the digital currency, which relies on "mining" computers that validate blocks of transactions by competing to solve mathematical puzzles. The first to solve the puzzle and clear the transaction is rewarded with new bitcoins. Solutions to the puzzle come roughly every 10 minutes. Advocates of the currency and the technology it relies on to document transactions, blockchains, were dismayed by the ruling. "How do we develop well-capitalized and regulated markets in the U.S. and Europe if financial innovators aren't allowed to bring products to market that grow domestic demand for digital currencies like bitcoin?" asked Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center, an advocacy group.

Spencer Bogart, head of research at Blockchain Capital, said bitcoin's price could fall as much as 20 percent but that its long-term adoption will continue. A Bats spokeswoman said the exchange is reviewing the SEC's statement and would have no further comment. There are two other bitcoin ETF applications awaiting a verdict from the SEC. Grayscale Investments LLC's Bitcoin Investment Trust, backed by early bitcoin advocate Barry Silbert and his Digital Currency Group, filed an application last year. SolidX Partners Inc, a U.S. technology company that provides blockchain services, also filed its ETF application last year.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Despite Similarities, Is Blockchain Really The Next Internet?

Despite Similarities,
Is Blockchain Really The Next Internet?

 

The Blockchain versus The Internet

The Blockchain is often touted as the next Internet. A technology so important that it will revolutionize the way we live our lives. There is no lack of interest in Blockchain amongst big technology companies, financial institutions, governments and even the members of the public. The impact of the Internet on our daily lives is now so complete that it would be impossible to think of a world without it. Canada and Germany have even declared the Internet as “essential for life.”

Yet, we are not at a stage where Blockchain has assumed a similar role. So what will it take for Blockchain to get there? What steps does it need to assume a similar significance?

Making things work with each other

The Internet of today is universal. We do not really have to think twice about plugging things into it. At the moment we have different Blockchains, some of which are open-source public Blockchains and we also have private Blockchains and the interoperability between Blockchains simply has not reached the level of the Internet. As an example, if a user of Blockchain A wanted to buy an asset on Blockchain B, it would be difficult in the present scenario. A common format like the Internet’s TCP/IP would make things considerably easier. Then there is also the sticky problem of how Blockchains will communicate with legacy systems of yore.

The need for speed

Blockchains still have the issue of moving sludge up the pipelines. As an example, Hyperledger can only handle around 1000 transactions per second. Bitcoin transaction rate per second is limited to seven. David Gilbert of IB Times writes in his article: “The problem relates to how transactions are processed on the Blockchain, the decentralized, distributed ledger technology that underpins Bitcoin.The average time it takes for a Bitcoin transaction to be verified is now 43 minutes, and some transactions remain unverified forever.” Blockchain systems need to evolve to instant or near-instant levels to reach ubiquity.

Blockchain cauldron has too many cooks

It is basically a question of too many cooks spoiling the broth. The more participants in a Blockchain network, the difficult it becomes to change things. We have seen splits and hard forks, we have seen an inability to change things because of the lack of consensus, etc. It can get quite unwieldy to maintain a network or to scale it up in order to stay relevant with the times. This is a question that Bitcoin will have to face in the future as well. However, on the Internet side of things, the evolution of governance has been done by a number of global bodies such as ICANN, the UN and others.

Who do we trust?

It took the Internet a while to emerge as a reliable platform. This, of course, has required the intervention of government and some legislative effort across the world. The established financial networks of today enjoy a level of trust among consumers, merchants, and bankers as well. Blockchain systems have yet to garner the same level of trust as these established players.

The stench of geekdom

The Internet, in the beginning, was a geek heaven – bulletin boards, terminal sessions, etc. The interface was simply not appealing enough for the common user. It was the World Wide Web that changed the Internet and made it more accessible to the average person on the street. Blockchain, unfortunately, still reeks of geekdom. We need an interface that will make Blockchain indispensable to everyone and we need it sooner rather than later.

As Dominik Zynis, advisor to Wings.ai, says with regard to Blockchain and the WWW:

“The World Wide Web democratized the content lifecycle (creation, distribution, rating, consumption). For example, we no longer get our news from two or three channels, instead, we get our news from friends and associates sharing on places like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. Likewise, Blockchain technology can democratize the money lifecycle; however, to do that Blockchain technology must enable and empower the unseen and unimportant.”

He goes on to say: “Just like companies like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and others capitalize on the long-tail of content creation empower cat owners to distribute cat videos, so too must Blockchain technology through projects like Counterparty creating PepeCash and BANCOR Network creating local coins enable the long-tail of coin creation.” While Blockchain is getting there, we are still far away from the day when it will be ever present. What we need is interoperability, simplicity, and standards that everyone can agree on. It is perhaps a matter of time.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

The gospel according to Blockchain, or is it the other way round?

The gospel according to Blockchain,
or is it the other way round?

Startup promises permissioned Blockchain-validated truth database

 

Analysis Startup Gospel Technology is evangelising the use of Blockchain to secure and verify shareable data.

Blockchain technology provides a way of doing this, claims Gospel, which says it's found a simpler way than any alternative methods. The early stage firm was founded in December last year by CEO Ian Smith, who was a co-founder, owner and CTO of Butterfly Software, a company IBM bought for an undisclosed amount in September 2012, for its data centre storage planning and migration tool software.

Smith, who was a storage transformation consultant at Dell before founding Butterfly, spent three years at IBM, finishing up as worldwide VP for flash and software-defined solutions. In May 2016, he became the owner and managing director of Kingwood Estate, an English vineyard making sparkling wines in the Thames Valley near Henley On Thames. The idea behind Gospel Technology is that a business has information chains with its suppliers, contracting agencies, partners, customers, regulatory authorities and so forth.

If it supplies information to other businesses then it has no control, except maybe contractual, over what that business does with it. An HR department could send hundreds and thousands of employee names to a travel agency which arranges business travel and that agency could send some or all if it to airlines who could do the same. As soon as the information leaves the originator’s premises, then, in today’s internet-connected world, there is effectively no control over its privacy, security, validity and correctness. This is where the firm claims Blockchain can provide the validity and correctness – and its product can the security and privacy.

Gospel Tech claims it’s is “pioneering the use of this immutable [Blockchain] record system to fully automate 'trust' into the interconnected global systems of the forward-thinking enterprise.” It is building an Enterprise Trust Fabric built on the Linux HyperLedger which features record immutability, cryptographic provenance and decentralised consensus. Gospel says it has enhanced the blockchain technology to enable it to operate with the stability and scalability essential to large enterprise businesses that operate in cloud-like environments. It enables the privacy, security, control and validity of a centralised system in a decentralised environment, it says.

Gospel claims its fabric offers:

  • A clear and transparent world state of data assets and key trust indicators within the ledger,
  • Real Time identification of abnormal behaviour and data breaches,
  • An immutable history of key trust indicators,
  • Scheduled erasure policies based on absolute expiry dates within the ledger.

Overall target use cases are business exchanging any kind of digital information that needs to be trusted and private, and the Internet of Things. Smith wrote an introductory article about the firm on LinkedIn in January, in which he said the “Enterprise Trust Fabric is based on a private, permissioned blockchain that has been engineered and enhanced by Gospel technology to deliver a platform that rethinks trust and confidence in a world that is essentially perimeterless and trustless.” We might expect more news from the firm later this year.

What is a blockchain?

As we generally understand it – meaning blockchain experts, be gentle – a block chain is a distributed database (digital ledger) holding a chain of data blocks in which the first block is composed of its data contents plus a prefix which is a hash of the data in the block. The next block in the chain has a data hash prefix which is a hash of the entire preceding block, and so on through the chain. It is a hashchain within a hashchain. Any data added to the chain of linked data blocks is appended. Nothing is deleted or over-written or has data inserted between existing data items. Data is immutable, which is great where that absolutely needs to be the case, and the blockchain can represent a proof of work.

In Bitcoin, a monetary transaction happens once and is spread throughout the database and its users in real time. A unit of the cryptocurrency, once spent, is spent and cannot be spent again. The acknowledgement of a bitcoin transaction between users is faster than the acknowledgement of cash transactions between bank users with cheques and simpler than digital transactions between banks. Bitcoin can disintermediate banks from financial transactions between users.

The verifiability and trust of blockchain transactions happens because parties involved compute the blockchain; each having a copy of the blockchain. Everyone thus verifies and audits transactions. Gospel reckons that in private sharing environments, less system overhead is needed to reach consensus because it can rely on fewer nodes being needed to arrive at a believable consensus. Reading and writing data to a blockchain database is CPU-intensive and network intensive and becomes more so as blockchains get longer and larger in number and users.

What is a hash?

In Blockchain a hash is a cryptographic number function which is a result of running a mathematical algorithm against the string of data in a block and results in a number which is entirely dependent on the block contents. What this means is that if you encounter a block in a chain of blocks and want to read its contents you can’t do it unless you can read the preceding block’s contents because these create the starting data hash (prefix) of the block you are interested in.

And you can’t read that preceding block in the chain unless you can read its preceding block as its starting data item is a hash of its preceding block and so on down the chain. It’s a practical impossibility to break into a blockchain and read and then do whatever you want with the data unless you are an authorised reader. A blockchain database is thus organised quite differently from a relational database.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Alzheimers Dementia Caregiver Training Videos

This is my Mom Joan Barbara.  She has alzheimer's.  Everyday she is anxious, depressed and scared.

One of the visiting nurses who came to the house showed me these videos.  Hallucinations and sundowning have been the biggest challenges so far.

Experience 12 Minutes In Alzheimers Dementia 
Caregiver Training Part I Introduction
Caregiver Training Part II Hallucinations UCLA Alzheimers and Dementia Care 
Caregiver Training Part III Refusal to Bathe UCLA Alzheimers and Dementia Care 
Caregiver Training Part IV Refusal to Take Medication UCLA Alzheimers and Dementia Care Program
Caregiver Training Part V Repetitive Behaviors UCLA Alzheimers and Dementia Care Program
Caregiver Training Part VI Repetitive Questions UCLA Alzheimers and Dementia Care Program 
Caregiver Training Part VII Sundowning UCLA Alzheimers and Dementia Care Program
Caregiver Training Part VIII Wandering UCLA Alzheimers and Dementia Care Program 

These videos have helped me and hope others find them useful.

Alan
Alan Zibluk
http://www.alzheimers-united.net

 

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Google’s DeepMind plans bitcoin-style health record tracking for hospitals

Google's DeepMind plans bitcoin-style health record tracking for hospitals

Tech company’s health subsidiary planning digital ledger based on blockchain to let hospitals, the NHS and eventually patients track personal data

Google’s AI-powered health-tech diary, DeepMind Health, is planning to use a new technology loosely based on bitcoin to let hospitals, the NHS and eventually even patients track what happens to personal data in real-time. Dubbed “Verifiable Data Audit”, the plan is to create a special digital ledger that automatically records every interaction with patient data in a cryptographically verifiable manner. This means any changes to, or access of, the data would be visible.

DeepMind has been working in partnership with London’s Royal Free Hospital to develop kidney monitoring software called Streams and has faced criticism from patient groups for what they claim are overly broad data sharing agreements. Critics fear that the data sharing has the potential to give DeepMind, and thus Google, too much power over the NHS.

In a blog post, DeepMind co-founder, Mustafa Suleyman, and head of security and transparency, Ben Laurie, use an example relating to the Royal Free Hospital partnership to explain how the system will work. “[An] entry will record the fact that a particular piece of data has been used, and also the reason why, for example, that blood test data was checked against the NHS national algorithm to detect possible acute kidney injury,” they write.

Suleyman says that development on the data audit proposal began long before the launch of Streams, when Laurie, the co-creator of the widely-used Apache server software, was hired by DeepMind. “This project has been brewing since before we started DeepMind Health,” he told the Guardian, “but it does add another layer of transparency.

“Our mission is absolutely central, and a core part of that is figuring out how we can do a better job of building trust. Transparency and better control of data is what will build trust in the long term.” Suleyman pointed to a number of efforts DeepMind has already undertaken in an attempt to build that trust, from its founding membership of the industry group Partnership on AI to its creation of a board of independent reviewers for DeepMind Health, but argued the technical methods being proposed by the firm provide the “other half” of the equation.

Nicola Perrin, the head of the Wellcome Trust’s “Understanding Patient Data” taskforce, welcomed the verifiable data audit concept. “There are a lot of calls for a robust audit trail to be able to track exactly what happens to personal data, and particularly to be able to check how data is used once it leaves a hospital or NHS Digital. DeepMind are suggesting using technology to help deliver that audit trail, in a way that should be much more secure than anything we have seen before.”

Perrin said the approach could help address DeepMind’s challenge of winning over the public. “One of the main criticisms about DeepMind’s collaboration with the Royal Free was the difficulty of distinguishing between uses of data for care and for research. This type of approach could help address that challenge, and suggests they are trying to respond to the concerns.

“Technological solutions won’t be the only answer, but I think will form an important part of developing trustworthy systems that give people more confidence about how data is used.” The systems at work are loosely related to the cryptocurrency bitcoin, and the blockchain technology that underpins it. DeepMind says: “Like blockchain, the ledger will be append-only, so once a record of data use is added, it can’t later be erased. And like blockchain, the ledger will make it possible for third parties to verify that nobody has tampered with any of the entries.”

Laurie downplays the similarities. “I can’t stop people from calling it blockchain related,” he said, but he described blockchains in general as “incredibly wasteful” in the way they go about ensuring data integrity: the technology involves blockchain participants burning astronomical amounts of energy – by some estimates as much as the nation of Cyprus – in an effort to ensure that a decentralised ledger can’t be monopolised by any one group.

DeepMind argues that health data, unlike a cryptocurrency, doesn’t need to be decentralised – Laurie says at most it needs to be “federated” between a small group of healthcare providers and data processors – so the wasteful elements of blockchain technology need not be imported over. Instead, the data audit system uses a mathematical function called a Merkle tree, which allows the entire history of the data to be represented by a relatively small record, yet one which instantly shows any attempt to rewrite history.

Although not technologically complete yet, DeepMind already has high hopes for the proposal, which it would like to see form the basis of a new model for data storage and logging in the NHS overall, and potentially even outside healthcare altogether. Right now, says Suleyman, “It’s really difficult for people to know where data has moved, when, and under which authorised policy. Introducing a light of transparency under this process I think will be very useful to data controllers, so they can verify where their processes have used or moved or accessed data.

“That’s going to add technical proof to the governance transparency that’s already in place. The point is to turn that regulation into a technical proof.” In the long-run, Suleyman says, the audit system could be expanded so that patients can have direct oversight over how and where their data has been used. But such a system would come a long time in the future, once concerns over how to secure access have been solved.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

The Promise of Blockchain Is a World Without Middlemen

The Promise of Blockchain Is a World Without Middlemen

  mar17-06-block

The blockchain is a revolution that builds on another technical revolution so old that only the more experienced among us remember it: the invention of the database. First created at IBM in 1970, the importance of these relational databases to our everyday lives today cannot be overstated. Literally every aspect of our civilization is now dependent on this abstraction for storing and retrieving data. And now the blockchain is about to revolutionize databases, which will in turn revolutionize literally every aspect of our civilization.

IBM’s database model stood unchanged until about 10 years ago, when the blockchain came into this conservative space with a radical new proposition: What if your database worked like a network — a network that’s shared with everybody in the world, where anyone and anything can connect to it? Blockchain experts call this “decentralization.” Decentralization offers the promise of nearly friction-free cooperation between members of complex networks that can add value to each other by enabling collaboration without central authorities and middle men.

How Blockchain Works
Here are basic principles underlying the technology.

Distributed Database
Each party on a blockchain has access to the entire database and its complete history. No single party controls the data or the information. Every party can verify the records of its transaction partners directly, without an intermediary.

Peer-to-Peer Transmission
Communication occurs directly between peers instead of through a central node. Each node stores and forwards information to all other nodes.

Transparency with Pseudonymity
Every transaction and its associated value are visible to anyone with access to the system. Each node, or user, on a blockchain has a unique 30-plus-character alphanumeric address that identifies it. Users can choose to remain anonymous or provide proof of their identity to others. Transactions occur between blockchain addresses.

Irreversibility of Records
O
nce a transaction is entered in the database and the accounts are updated, the records cannot be altered, because they’re linked to every transaction record that came before them (hence the term “chain”). Various computational algorithms and approaches are deployed to ensure that the recording on the database is permanent, chronologically ordered, and available to all others on the network.

Computational Logic
The digital nature of the ledger means that blockchain transactions can be tied to computational logic and in essence programmed. So users can set up algorithms and rules that automatically trigger transactions between nodes.

Let’s start by examining the potential effects of this on an industry that touches all of our lives – banking. The banking industry is filled with shared resources. Consider ATM machines: each machine is owned by a single institution, but accepts cards from a huge network. This sharing requires a complicated management apparatus, mostly provided by VISA. That central entity owns the database and transaction processing layer, which makes everything else possible. If the process of using an ATM had been invented today, with the blockchain as a state-of-the-art database technology as an option, we would most likely not need an administrative entity like VISA to manage the process. Instead, the technology itself would do the heavy lifting of uniting the interests and business processes of the member banks. One can easily imagine a single global blockchain network for managing the interoperability of bank cards. Rather than creating hub-and-spoke methods for organizing our shared resources for mutual advantage, this new technology would provide solutions without any central oversight.

In a world without middle men, things get more efficient in unexpected ways. A 1% transaction fee may not seem like much, but down a 15-step supply chain, it adds up. These kinds of little frictions add just enough drag on the global economy that we’re forced to stick with short supply chains and deals done by the container load, because it’s simply too inefficient to have more links in the supply chain and to work with smaller transactions. The decentralization that blockchain provides would change that, which could have huge possible impacts for economies in the developing world. Any transformation which helps small businesses compete with giants will have major global effects.

Blockchains support the formation of more complex value networks than can otherwise be supported. Normally, transaction costs and other sources of friction associated with having more vendors keeps the number of partners in a value network small. But if locating and locking in partners becomes easier, more comprehensive value networks can become profitable, even for quite small transactions.

How technology is transforming transactions.

Consider the problem that small manufacturers have been dealing with giants like Wal-Mart. To keep transaction costs and the costs of carrying each product line down, large companies generally only buy from companies that can service a substantial percentage of their customers. But if the cost of carrying a new product was tiny, a much larger number of small manufacturers might be included in the value network. Amazon carries this approach a long way, with enormous numbers of small vendors selling through the same platform, but the idea carried to its limit is eBay and Craigslist, which bring business right down to the individual level. While it’s hard to imagine a Wal-Mart with the diversity of products offered by Amazon or even eBay, that is the kind of future we are moving into.

As we outline in “The Internet of Agreements,” our paper for the World Government Summit in Dubai, “the incidental complexity involved in business operations could go down by a very large factor, into a domain where a much more complex, contingent and interwoven business environment will emerge. Such an environment might be as different from today’s business environment as container shipping is superior to packing boats by hand.” (Disclosure: I’m the founder of Hexayurt.Capital, a fund which invests in creating the Internet of Agreements.)

For example, imagine the overhead involved in renting temporary furnishings for a house. Right now, this is not a very common practice (particularly for short stays) because of the overhead involved — insurance of each rented item, dozens of vendors, coordination costs getting everything in and out and so on. But if those transactions came down in cost by 90%, it is easy to imagine sites like AirBnB starting to offer custom furniture options in the spaces people are renting. Add robot delivery trucks to that future, and even short stay homes might have custom furnishing options. Making the kind of logistical complexity that is common to (say) theater productions or aircraft maintenance accessible for smaller events like weddings is just one area where falling transaction costs open up new kinds of business as complex value networks integrate to offer services that simple value networks cannot.

We’re going to see the potential for a trajectory of radical change in all industries. As a society, we’re experiencing a time of unprecedented technological change. It can feel like an insurmountable challenge for leaders to stay on course in such rapidly changing tides.  And yet, with each passing generation, we are acquiring more skill and expertise in navigating a high rate of change, and it is to that expertise that we must now look as the blockchain space unfolds, blossoms, and changes our world

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Competitive Research Who’s Your SEO Competition?

Competitive Research 
Who's Your SEO Competition?

Now that you've brainstormed a long list of potential keywords, you may be wondering which keywords are most important. Good question! We'll spend two lessons on competitive research to help provide some answers. First, you'll learn who's your SEO competition among the top-ranked websites.

Identify the Top-Ranked Websites for Your Keywords

In this step of the SEO tutorial, you begin to evaluate your potential keywords by finding the websites currently ranking for those terms. Knowing these "keyword competitors" helps you determine whether your site belongs in the competition for that keyword.

search query changes the game and the opponents entirely, depending on what the search engine perceives the searcher's intent to be. Identifying who's competing for a particular keyword topic can tell you what type of game is being played and whether you should even step on that field.

Some keyword competitions just won't be your game.

Since your keyword choices influence who can find your website, optimize your pages for the phrases and terms that buyers, not just masses of window shoppers, might use to find what they need. You must select keywords that interested site visitors would search for (and then make sure the content on your page answers their needs AND uses those keywords). Whatever you hope your site visitors will do (whether to make a purchase, sign up for your newsletter or other), you need to figure out which keywords those people will search for.

Fortunately, the search engines are trying to figure out the same thing — what people really want — for every search query. So the best way to tell whether a keyword could lead to a conversion on your site is to see what kinds of results the search engine delivers. If at least some of the top 10 websites offer the same types of products, services or information that yours does, then that's probably a relevant keyword worth putting on the list. But don't worry. We have another free SEO tool to make your competitive research easier.

Here's how to use the Top-Ranked Websites by Keyword tool:

  1. Enter a keyword or phrase below and click "Research Keyword."
  2. View the list of URLs returned for each search, which may be your keyword competition (more on that in a moment).
  3. Keep these lists of keyword competitors in your spreadsheet (next to each keyword), as these are sites you may want to analyze later.
     

What the Competitive Keyword Research Shows

The Top-Ranked Websites by Keyword tool lists the sites with the most top-25 rankings and shows the specific pages that rank highest for the keyword you entered.

The numbers represent each site's current (real-time) ranking position in several search engines (1 means the First position, 3 is third, etc.). Keep track of the individual page URLs that are ranked best and are your major competition (we'll identify your true competitors in a moment). The example to the right shows the top-ranking web pages for the keyword "campsites in Southern California."

Can't I just run a search? If you search directly on Google or Bing, your results are biased by your personal settings, city, and previous searches and clicks. Using our SEO tools eliminates almost all bias and personalization. This unbiased ranking information provides helpful benchmarks for SEO competitive research.

However, if you're a local business or service, you'll want to run your keywords through the search engines directly (with personalization turned off, but your location set to the market area) to see the local competitors.

Know Your True Competitors

Are all the top-ranking sites really my keyword competition? Well, yes and no. In the above example, one result is the Parks Service, an authority .gov website. Will your campground ever be able to compete against it? Probably not for this keyword. You may not consider the government or other high-clout sites (like Wikipedia) to be competitors. Nevertheless, where these and other search result giants are competing for the same SERP space, they're among your keyword competition.

Still, the results reveal what kind(s) of pages search engines think are most relevant to this keyword's perceived user intent. If ALL the top-ranking sites serve a different kind of visitor from the person you want to attract, then maybe you don't want to compete for that keyword.

 

 

For example, if your business designs go-kart tracks, should you optimize for the keyword "go-kart racing"? Looking at search results shows the answer: none of the top-ranked websites offer what your company offers. The search engine assumes that everyone searching for "go-kart racing" wants to go for a ride, so it will probably never consider your design company a relevant match.

You'd better keep doing keyword research looking for more relevant keyword phrases whose top-ranking websites include some true competitors. You can see how keyword research leads to competitive research, which leads to more keyword research, and so on. Now that you know who's your SEO competition for the important keywords, keep their URLs handy.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Keyword Research, How to Select Keywords

Keyword Research
How to Select Keywords

The first and most important search engine optimization step is keyword research. What is keyword research? Simply put, it's figuring out what people might search for in order to find what your website offers — what keyword topics best identify your website content. In this step of our SEO tutorial, you learn the basics of how to do keyword research, try out some free keyword research tools, and start your SEO plan of attack!

Getting Started with SEO Keyword Research

The first task is simply brainstorming. Ask yourself some basic questions to select keywords that might make good targets for search engine optimization, like:

  • What is your website content about?
  • What would you ask a search engine to find what your website offers?
  • What do you think other searchers would ask for?
  • What are your most popular pages/items about?

Most people can make a short (or long) list of keywords that might be used to find their own site. But ask other people these questions and write down their keyword suggestions, too. Doing so will help you go beyond the jargon words that only you and insiders know. When doing keyword research for SEO, you want to discover what real people in your target audience would call what your site offers.

Don't limit your ideas; brainstorm whatever subjects and phrases could lead the kinds of visitors you want to your site. Type them into a spreadsheet. Your brainstorming will "prime the keyword pump." This initial list will be expanded upon and refined in the next few steps, but start with the logical keywords.

Find Keywords People Already Use for Your Business

If your site is already live, you may have hidden keyword gold just waiting to be dug up.

  • A good place to look for keywords is your internal site search. Offering visitors a search box within your site is good for users but also good for you, because it collects search query data. Looking at these queries primarily helps you improve usability (since it reveals what people want to see, what website content may be missing, and where your site navigation is weak). But you may also find nuggets of keyword gold, useful phrases that people search for. Add those to your list.
  • You can find valuable data using Google Search Console (formerly called Webmaster Tools). This free service from Google gives website owners a wealth of information about their own sites (especially with Google Analytics set up, too). Particularly useful is the Search Analytics report; when you look at it by Queries, you can see what key search terms are bringing up your web pages in Google searches. Google also uses Search Console to notify you of errors or penalties, and you'll need the diagnostic SEO tools offered there to keep your site in good health. So don't miss out. (Here's how to set up Google Search Console.)
  • Dig through your customer communications to find additional, actively used keywords. Talk to your customer service people to find out what customers are asking about (in their words). Also check social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to read what your community has said, and search for your primary keywords to discover how people are currently talking about your products, services or subjects.

Get Keyword Suggestions

Take advantage of free keyword research tools to find additional keywords. Our Keyword Suggestion Tool below shows you keyword ideas that are related to any seed word you enter. Type in one word or phrase at a time. The resulting suggestions come from actual search query data, so select the keywords that match your website content and add them to your growing keyword research list.

What the Keyword Data Tells You

With our tool, you can see keyword suggestions with data on the average click-through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) for advertisers bidding on that keyword. It also reveals how many web pages contain those words in their Title tag (not necessarily as an exact phrase) under AllInTitle. These metrics indicate how competitive a keyword phrase may be.

You can also see an Activity column, which shows the approximate number of monthly searches for that keyword (also known as "search volume"). CAUTION: Don't get greedy looking at keyword activity counts. Record this statistic with the keyword in your spreadsheet. But keep in mind that a keyword's search volume should not overly influence your choices, especially at this point. You want to select keywords only if they reflect what your website is truly about. Going after high-volume keywords that don't relate to the rest of your content would be deceptive and even punishable as spam.

 

 

How Should You Use Search Activity Data?

Search volumes do cast light on your keyword research. They reveal what people actually call things, and they help you prioritize similar keyword phrases.

For instance, a retail site might choose to use "rolling backpacks for kids" (1,600 monthly searches) rather than "wheeled backpacks for kids" (320 monthly searches) because the first keyword phrase gets searched 5 times more often. However, that retailer should not pin its hopes on ranking for the broad term "backpacks," no matter how attractive that word's sky-high search volume looks.

The moral: Don't be tempted by the huge numbers for broad keywords. With enough time and effort, you might be able to rank for them, but you'd be battling large, established brands for unfocused visitors that might not even be ready to buy.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Bitcoin Apps You Need to Know About

Bitcoin Apps You Need to Know About

If you are a bitcoin enthusiast, there are a few bitcoin apps you need to know about, as they might come in handy. Whether you want to earn a few free satoshis playing games in your free time, or whether you want to constantly keep track of bitcoin’s price, there is an app out there that will take care of your needs. Here are a few examples:

Cryptonator

This free app allows you to check conversion rates for over 500 different cryptocurrencies, in over 40 different exchanges. Essentially, Cryptonator makes it easy for users to find out how much cryptocurrencies people own are worth.

It also includes a portfolio tool that allows users to see how their selected coins perform over a specific period of time, as well a “winners & losers” section that show which coins are doing good, and which aren’t.

Bitcoin Ticker Widget

Bitcoin Ticker Widget is exactly what it sounds like it is: a widget that gives you bitcoin’s price directly on your home screen. Widgets with the price of other cryptocurrencies can also be set up, showing conversion rates for a few different fiat currencies. The prices shown in the widgets are taken from some of the world’s top cryptocurrency exchanges, such as BTCC and Bitstamp.

 Blockchain Game

If you want to introduce someone to bitcoin, you need to show them this game. Not only will it give you context to explain what blockchain technology is, but it will also help the other person earn a few satoshis and start playing around with bitcoin before they get serious about it. The game itself is pretty entertaining, and killing free time while earning bitcoin makes it a lot more enjoyable.

Bitcoin Map

Bitcoin Map is a free app you can install on your smartphone that shows you where you can spend your bitcoins. This way you will be able to know whether the local burger joint accepts bitcoin or not. Even if you know every brick-and-mortar store accepting bitcoins in your area, the app may still come in handy when you decide to go for a road trip. There are other Bitcoin map apps out there, but most of them only give you the location of bitcoin ATMs, not actual brick-and-mortar stores accepting the cryptocurrency.

Blockfolio

Blockfolio is a free financial app aimed at cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Not only does it show price information for bitcoin and over 800 altcoins, it can be set to send the user a notification whenever a specific currency reaches a price threshold. Moreover, as if that insane number of altcoins wasn’t enough, it also features over 30 different fiat currencies so it can reach a global audience.

zTrader

zTrader is the trading client app every cryptocurrency trader needs. It features information from most major exchanges and can show in-depth analysis on different currencies, giving the user a great market overview. The app is pretty complex and gives users tons of information that can, at first, be overwhelming. It will, however, make traders’ lives easier. The app features secure, encrypted storage of API keys, and even though it’s free to download, there is also a pro version.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Be As You Are ….