Category Archives: Markethive

Reasons Why Bitcoin is Outperforming Everything

Reasons Why Bitcoin is
Outperforming Everything

   Bitcoin Rocket Outperforming

Bitcoin Rocket Outperforming

Favorable trade winds from the East are propelling Bitcoin’s price to new highs as the halving looms. There are numerous factors at play, however, that could create the perfect storm to test the all-time high. Let’s take a look at four major reasons why Bitcoin is outperforming other currencies and asset classes in what could be its breakout year.

It’s More Predictable

Bitcoin was officially the top performing currency of 2015. At press time, BTC price is up over 50% against the US dollar since Jan. 1, 2016. Meanwhile, traditional investors are scratching their heads. A hawkish Fed one day, then dovish the next. Current economic data is mixed at best and headed toward another global recession at worst as all eyes are on “stock whisperer” Janet Yellen.

“Market players are pricing in just a 2% chance for a rate hike this week and 23% for July, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool,” reports Investing.com. “September odds were at about 37%.” By contrast, one important feature of Bitcoin is its certainty. Not only is its total supply of 21 million bitcoins known and set in stone, but its block reward —the rate at which bitcoins are created — will be cut in half about 26 days from now. Presumably, pricing in odds of a Fed rate hike in a “casino gulag” economy is shaking investor confidence. Let’s also keep in mind that every fiat currency is not only uncapped but has failed throughout history.

‘Hot’ Money in China

It’s no secret economic trouble is brewing in China. Recent numbers show that a slowdown in private investment in May is overshadowing other, more upbeat economic data. This has resulted in a recent 3.2% drop in Shanghai shares. What’s worse is that European businesses are expressing “growing pessimism” about doing business In China, reports the IBTimes.

   Specifically, a recent EU chamber report found that 57% of respondents felt foreign companies were “treated unfavorably compared to their domestic counterparts,” and 56 percent said that doing business getting more difficult. At the same time, China has a lot of so-called “hot” money “that has to go somewhere,” explains Huobi CMO, Du Jin.

Moreover, the halving scenario is already being felt as we move closer to July, according to the Beijing-based exchange. “Bitcoin supply is limited, the soon to come production halve is generating reactions in the market, which is reflected in the price variation,” explains Huobi CEO, Leon Li. “[…] China’s stock market crashed in late April, the performance of futures and bonds were also not good, which pushed investors to seek for other investment products, such as bitcoin.”

It’s Gaining Legitimacy

As the regulatory landscape becomes clearer and security improves, confidence in Bitcoin exchanges is being restored in the post-Mt. Gox world. “There is a strong trust in exchanges and platforms for purchasing Bitcoin, such as Bitstamp, which recently got EU regulatory approval,” writes Civic CEO, Vinny Lingham. As a result, interest in Bitcoin seems to also be crawling out of the trough of disillusionment. Hype is jumping from buzzword to buzzword: from Bitcoin to blockchain, from permissioned distributed ledgers, but ultimately back to Bitcoin. This is because, in time, more and more people will realize the superiority of the open blockchain, much like an open internet. 

A continued increase in price also means more attention from traditional finance. Traders will not only find it increasingly hard to ignore such a performer, but also the clear frontrunner in the blockchain technology arms race. Incidentally, today’s sole Bitcoin exchange trusted fund (GBTC) is hitting new highs, boosting Bitcoin’s legitimacy in the process.

To boot, Goldman Sachs even admitted that Bitcoin is an “ideal vehicle” for public transactions while predicting that its blockchain technology could “disrupt everything.” 

It’s a New Store of Value

   Bitcoin offers unprecedented mobility and security of funds for the user. Today’s financial system makes moving money and gold around the world slow, costly and inconvenient due to friction and capital controls. Not so with Bitcoin. Whether a few pennies’ or a million dollars’ worth, transfer fees are negligible while your funds are always with you on your device. In fact, it is reportedly becoming a new favorite method for wealthy Chinese to move capital out of the country and as a store of value similar to gold.

But unlike gold and traditional money, you can easily secure your funds without a need for a vault. To wit, your gold, cash, and even your bank accounts can be stolen, hacked or even confiscated on a whim by the authorities, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. Your bitcoin funds, on the other hand, will always be under your control if your secret passcode is protected. In fact, there are numerous ways to safely store your bits.

Outperforming Paper

So why is Bitcoin outperforming everything along with its crypto counterparts such as Ether? Because they comprise a new niche that’s fostering real innovation in finance. It could soon add 4 billion unbanked individuals to the global economy as Bitcoin empowers every individual to be their own bank.

  

In the shorter term, however, the upshot of the soaring price is increased attention that will add a new wave of users and set the stage for mainstream adoption. Meanwhile, traditional investors will find it increasingly hard to ignore what Forbes calls a “new asset class,”  which is poised to outperform every fiat currency for the second year in a row.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

China to Play a ‘Leading Role’ in Bitcoin’s Future

China to Play a ‘Leading Role’
in Bitcoin’s Future

  China

An interesting report was recently written by Digital Gold author Nathaniel Popper in the New York Times about the relationship between China and the Bitcoin network. Popper states that the cryptocurrency has become a multi-billion dollar industry and that the Chinese have a significant amount of influence in this environment.

China’s Investors, Mining Farms, and Transaction Volume Shows the Country Believes in Bitcoin

  

Popper gives his readers an inside look at what is happening in China with the Bitcoin industry and how everyone in the region seems to be getting involved with its infrastructure. From the government to investors and miners, the cryptocurrency is quite popular in China. However, from companies and mining farms located in the region, Popper states, “despite the talk of a borderless currency, a handful of Chinese companies have effectively assumed majority control of the Bitcoin network.”

The Digital Gold author is not the only observer of this relationship between Bitcoin and China with firms such as Goldman Sachs reporting in 2015 that 80 percent of bitcoin volume is exchanged in and out of Chinese Yuan. The report by the multinational finance company says the U.S. dollar follows second to the Yuan and Euros, with the Japanese Yen trailing behind them.

Goldman Sachs Group explains:

“Thus far, most merchant Bitcoin activity has been concentrated among US and European-based  merchants. Despite China’s higher trading activity, restrictions enacted by the PBoC to limit Chinese Bitcoin companies’ access to traditional Chinese payment processors have  prompted many large Chinese companies to stop accepting Bitcoin. However, in light of a somewhat stabilizing Bitcoin economy in China, a few payment processors have reemerged, such as BTC China’s JustPay.”

Alongside the reports from Goldman Sachs, and the latest post from Nathaniel Popper and the New York Times, the Chinese government is also moving closer to legitimizing the cryptocurrency as a “Civil Rights Object.” The drafted law proposal was released in China’s Congress hearings in Beijing on June 27. However, a new policy created by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) the region’s central bank will impose new fees on payment providers such as Alipay, and Wechat-Pay. Whether or not this will affect Bitcoin processors is unconfirmed at the time being.

In his editorial, Popper describes the vast mining farms located within the region. Chinese mining facilities have covered the landscape in the country who have quite a bit of power within securing the network. Popper says, “big pool operators have become the kingmakers in the Bitcoin world: Running the pools confers the right to vote on changes to Bitcoin’s software, and the bigger the pool, the more voting power.”

At first, the author details how miners in China had originally stayed with the small block Bitcoin Core developers who have stalled the software upgrade. However, miners such as Bitmain’s CEO, Jihan Wu, are becoming more vocal when it comes to expanding the network and some of them are straying from the Core alliance in search of alternatives to the block size.

  

Bitcoin’s growing popularity in China comes as the currency’s 
fiat value has exploded over the past two months.

Many believe this is due to the country’s strict capital controls, the recent devaluation of the Yuan, Chinese stock market turbulence, and very high speculation concerning Bitcoin’s block reward halving coming July 10. China indeed has a strong relationship with the Bitcoin network and continues to be a formidable player in the cryptocurrency industry. Investors in the region have also injected $60 million USD into the Boston-based Circle financial proving there are a vast amount of proponents within the Chinese borders.

Jihan Wu tells Nathaniel Popper that China will play an important role within the Bitcoin landscape, stating:

“The Chinese government normally expects its businesses to obtain a leading role in emerging industries — China’s Bitcoin businesses have achieved that.”

With financial giants like China at the helm of quite a bit of the Bitcoin network’s infrastructure, it’s safe to say the cryptocurrency is here to stay for the long haul. One can also assume the Chinese bitcoin miners and investors within the region will have a significant vote towards the block size debate and the future of the network.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Reports of China Banning Bitcoin Are Greatly Exaggerated

Reports of China Banning Bitcoin Are Greatly Exaggerated

China

On November 3 the Bitcoin price took a dive from a high of US$745 to a low of $675 with news of China circling the internet. A so-called report from the publication Bloomberg had other media outlets assume that China was planning on curbing Bitcoin use in the near future. However, the reports have remained unconfirmed, and many believe the headline was fictitious.

Rumors of China Curbing Bitcoin Use Goes Viral

The stories that surround China and Bitcoin are quite vast. From “secret” mining operations to “free” electricity, to a large portion of Bitcoin transactions being traded for yuan the list goes on forever. The fact is news from China plays a significant role in a lot of people’s speculation. The November 3rd fiasco is no different as the news spread through the market and the community went wild.

Early in the morning the publication ZeroHedge published the article “China Prepares To Impose Curbs, “Capital Controls” On Bitcoin.” The news outlet is well known for writing stories regarding the global economy and subjects like gold and Bitcoin. At times the publication writes editorials predicting the cryptocurrency’s value will pump. Many of these articles are very popular throughout the Bitcoin community.

The November 3rd article was also quite popular, and some believe it made a difference in the market. The anonymous reporter Tyler Durden states within the article, “According to Bloomberg sources, Chinese officials are considering policies including restricting domestic bitcoin exchanges from moving the cryptocurrency to platforms outside the nation and imposing quotas on the amount of bitcoins that can be sent abroad.” However, the Bloomberg report cannot be confirmed as legitimate, and the article in question does not appear on their website.

Reports Are Unconfirmed and Remain Rumors

What’s interesting is that many people within the Bitcoin industry have claimed the reports are false. For instance, the CEO of Vaultoro explains that the recent Chinese headline may be false. The Vaultoro founder says while speaking with a friend who works for the Chinese Bitcoin company BitBank he was told the reports are misleading.

The BitBank representative says that if anyone wants to know how Chinese authorities feel about Bitcoin to read this editorial. The article written by Bitcoin.com’s Jon Southurst detailed a blockchain conference hosted by the Chinese government. Within the editorial, it explains that Chinese officials had no problem discussing Bitcoin. In fact, Ji Xiaonan, of China’s State-Owned Asset Supervision and Administration Commission said some positive words towards Bitcoin stating it was “the only mature blockchain technology today.”

Questionable Sources Push Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

Another interesting aspect of the story is the controversial Bloomberg article has similarities to another published piece this past May. The headline for November 3rds article read “China Said to Mull Curbing Outflows Via Bitcoin on Yuan Drop.” This title and the paragraphs that follow it are very much the same as this article published in May by the Bloomberg news outlet. The story called “China to Mull Curbs on Domestic Backdoor Listing Valuations” has almost identical wording as the alleged Bitcoin article with certain words replaced throughout.

Furthermore historically when the price of Bitcoin rises stories of China and other countries banning Bitcoin have appeared in  great number. When Bitcoin was on a tear in 2013 reaching close to $1150 per BTC, these stories came out often. Publications like Bloomberg reported on China cracking down on Bitcoin as well as Forbes, the New York Times, and many others. Typically when these reports published, the price took a dive, but government officials banning Bitcoin never materialized.

The price of Bitcoin has managed to regain its upward push slightly below the $700 range. Reports of China curbing Bitcoin outflows seems to be just another rumor that shook up the market. Many wonder if these headlines will affect the value of BTC again in the future. Moreover, the question is how much does China’s stake in Bitcoin really matter when it comes to this industry?

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Trump’s Trade War With China Could Boost Chinese Bitcoin Demand

Trump’s Trade War With China Could Boost Chinese Bitcoin Demand

  

U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to declare China a currency manipulator on day one of his presidency. During his campaign, he also repeatedly pledged to impose a 45% tariff on Chinese goods. His promises risk creating a trade war between the U.S. and China which could weaken the yuan and accelerate Chinese capital outflows. When the yuan falls, investors often turn to bitcoin.

Trump Has Authority to Act, but Will He?

According to former U.S. Trade Representative attorney, Michael Gadbaw, under the Foreign Trade Act of 1974, Trump could use his authority to impose tariffs on China. Many people, however, doubt that Trump will actually impose a 45% tariff on the United States’ biggest trade partner. Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma is confident that Trump will not make good on his threats against China. He told CNNMoney that Trump will have to work with China or risk a “disaster”. A Nomura investor survey revealed that 75 percent of respondents expect Trump to impose tariffs on exports from China, South Korea, and Japan. Meanwhile, 77 percent of those polled expect him to brand China a currency manipulator.

If Trump does impose trade barriers on China, Beijing can either accept weaker exports or respond in kind, said economists at Goldman Sachs. They wrote:

“One possible measure would be to allow a somewhat faster weakening of the yuan, although from China’s perspective this or other trade measures could carry the risk of escalation.”

Weaker Yuan Accelerates Capital Outflows

However, a weaker yuan could trigger an acceleration in capital outflows, as it has done in the past. The yuan fell to a six-year low on Wednesday. An economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Hong Kong, Nathan Chow, said “The yuan may be pressured by Trump’s win,” citing Trump’s trade barrier threats against China.

According to Goldman Sachs, as much as $78 billion may have left China in September. October outflows are also expected to be large. Analysts and investors say that one reason for an acceleration of capital outflows is because the yuan is weakening faster again against the dollar. This reignites “concern among Chinese individuals and businesses anxious to preserve the value of their domestic savings and assets,” the WSJ reported.

Bitcoin Helps Diversification

In the past, whenever there was a flood of capital outflows from China, a certain amount went into bitcoin. Other safe-haven asset classes also benefited, such as gold and foreign property. The WSJ wrote:

“Chinese investors looking for a refuge from the weakening yuan are turning to bitcoin.”

Delta Asia Securities’ chief operating officer, Victor Au, told South China Morning Post that when the yuan depreciates, Chinese investors seek to diversify their assets. His company is a subsidiary of Delta Asia Group (Holdings) Limited and provides investment banking services, including securities brokerage, underwriting, and trading services.

The currency’s weakness and expectation that it will fall further have significantly increased demand for asset diversification, Au explained, adding that bitcoin is one of the assets that have seen increasing demand. “Limited investment channels for Chinese investors drive them to seek all possible investment tools to preserve their asset value,” he said.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Using Blockchain to Keep Public Data Public

Using Blockchain to Keep Public Data Public

  
 

In early February, President Trump’s administration made a change to the White House website. The site’s digital updates are often small and insignificant — updating a photo, fixing a broken link — and therefore may go unnoticed. But this one was different, and it could have an impact on every single American. The update eliminated the White House’s open data.

On the surface, those 9 gigabytes of data sets may seem inconsequential: They include White House visitor logs, the titles and salaries of every White House employee, and government budget data. But that information helps to ensure transparency in government. It helps reporters and citizens figure out who has the ear of the president and his staff, for example. In response to this very issue, Democrats have introduced the Make Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act, or MAR-A-LAGO Act, legislation that would require the Trump administration to publish visitor logs for the White House and any other location where the president regularly conducts official business.

The Obama administration drastically increased the openness of government data, codifying it with an executive order that made open, machine-readable data the new default for government information, to ensure that we have transparency in government. So although the Trump administration’s moves are a return to the opacity of past administrations, it’s a move in the wrong direction. Perhaps most important is what this could mean for the U.S. government’s entire open data strategy, as the administration controls the information that so many businesses, organizations, and individual Americans depend on daily.

If you checked the weather this morning, you relied on information that was supplied by government open data. Used GPS to get to a meeting? That information was supplied by government open data. Received an alert that the baby crib you purchased was recalled? That, too, was supplied by government open data. Unfortunately, it’s not just the Trump administration that has been caught deleting or altering important data. Companies are doing it too. Volkswagen cheated on emissions tests. Uber showed fake information about available drivers to government employees. And Airbnb was caught purging more than 1,000 listings, which were in violation of New York state law, just before it shared its data with the public as part of a pledge “to build an open and transparent community.”

Data is under attack. And it is the leaders of our government and economy who are waging this war. They have made it acceptable to manipulate raw data in a way that benefits them financially or politically — and it has lowered public confidence in the veracity of information. These are institutions we rely on every day to make the policy and business decisions that affect our economy and society at large. If anyone is allowed to simply change a number or delete a data set, who — and what — are citizens supposed to believe? How can we get our data back? The answer lies with the public — public blockchains, to be specific.

How Blockchain Works

The first public blockchain was conceived of as a way to record financial transactions, but people have started using it as a way to timestamp the existence of digital files, such as documents or images. The public blockchain establishes that a specific person or entity had possession of a file at a specific date and time. Useful for patent or copyright claims, the blockchain could also ensure that a government agency or company verifiably published its data — and allow the public to access and confirm that the file they have is the same one that was signed and time-stamped by the creator.

The timestamp and signature alone don’t prove that the data is accurate, of course. Other forms of checks and balances, such as comparing data against tax or SEC filings, can be added to ensure that there are legal ramifications for entities that manipulate their data. In the same way, government data, like employment or climate data, could be checked against local, state, or academically collected information that has already been time-stamped and signed by credible institutions.

How technology is transforming transactions.

Using the public blockchain in this manner would not only address our data access and manipulation issues but also lay the groundwork for a better system to more efficiently and effectively regulate the fastest-moving startups. Some tech companies, with their near-instantaneous feedback loops, believe they can regulate their ecosystems more efficiently and effectively than governments can, with its antiquated, in-person inspection efforts. And there’s some truth to that. Right now, many local and state governments regulate ride sharing and home sharing in ways similar to how they regulate taxis and hotels, with a combination of police officers, signs, and consumer complaints through 3-1-1 calls. At the same time, governments have watched these startups manipulate their data, and are therefore reticent to trust a company that might put its financial motivations ahead of regulation.

With each party wary of the other’s motives and practices, it’s been difficult to settle on a compromise. But if governments and emerging technology companies used the public blockchain, both parties could achieve what they want. Companies could move fast, and consumer safety and rights would be protected. As respected venture capitalist and author Tim O’Reilly says, “Regulations, which specify how to execute laws in much more detail, should be regarded in much the same way that programmers regard their code and algorithms — that is, as a constantly updated tool set to achieve the outcomes specified in the laws.”

Conceivably, companies would update their information to the blockchain, with secure mechanisms put in place to protect individual and corporate privacy, and the government would use this data, submitted in real time, to apply local laws to those companies, their employees or contractors, and consumers. The government agency responsible for overseeing the industry would then analyze data, such as consumer feedback ratings and other relevant information (for example, whether ride-sharing drivers take tourists on a longer route), to improve safety and better protect the rights of everyone involved. In other words, the government would use lightweight algorithmic regulation to protect local citizen rights and safety.

The public blockchain would fundamentally change the way we govern and do business. Rather than asking companies and consumers to downgrade their digital interactions in order to comply with the law, the government would create an adaptable system that would reduce the amount of paperwork and compliance for businesses and consumers. Rather than force emerging technologies and business models into legal gray areas, the government would use algorithmic regulation to create a level playing field for incumbent companies in their respective industries.

Unless we tackle our crisis of data now, distrust between government, businesses, and citizens will reach an untenable peak. The growth and innovation of our startup economy will be stunted, and the ability for local and state governments to effectively govern will simply erode. We need open data to keep making important business and policy decisions — and we need to put it back into the hands of the public. Our data problem doesn’t have to be a crisis. It can be an opportunity — a chance for our business leaders and policy makers to rebuild a foundation of trust in the critical data we all depend on.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Bitcoin Blockchain to Help Collect Customers & Activate Consumption in Japan

Bitcoin Blockchain to Help Collect Customers & Activate Consumption in Japan

  

Bitcoin Blockchain to Help Collect Customers & Activate Consumption in Japan

Loyalty schemes are regular marketing tools used by businesses to retain customers. However, when the system of collecting benefits is complicated and is not well-thought-through, the customer is left unsatisfied. In Japan, many credit card companies are giving loyalty award points to the end-users as an incentive to use their cards. End-users can exchange the loyalty points for services or products they want.

The main drawback is that they need to go through complex steps on a website or call an operator. As a result, the liquidity of the loyalty point is quite low. This observation has brought Digital Garage to the idea of creating a new marketing solution that will simplify the monetization of loyalty points. And here is where the adaptation of the Blockchain worked perfectly to realize the idea.

Blockchain and digital currencies as a solution

According to Taro Watanabe, operating officer at Digital Garage, the company is building a real-time exchange system that enables end-users to use the loyalty points just like a currency based on the Blockchain technology in conjunction with Blockstream and one of three major credit card companies as well as their business partner Credit Saison.

Thus, end-users can instantly exchange their loyalty points into other digital value which can be used at any location. The same system can be used for regional currencies. It means that the Blockchain-based Digital Garage product can work globally and potentially everywhere digital currencies exist and are accepted.

  

A solution that DG Lab will implement with Blockchain

Digital Garage also has plans to develop a system that will release machine automated contracts – i.e. help the execution of contracts based on the regulations and business practices in Japan based on the Blockchain technology. As for loyalty support service, they intend to partner with major credit card companies, local governments as well as local shopping districts so that they will encourage their customers to use their exchange service which runs on top of Digital Garage platform.

Users can exchange loyalty points and/or local currencies for a service and/or a product at their choice in real-time which is not provided so far in Japan. In addition to that, they are already providing many payment methods provided by third-parties including Alipay, PayPal or other standard payment systems.

Bitcoin is the most secure digital currency

Digital Garage is confident that Bitcoin is the most secure digital currency at this point since it is based on the Blockchain technology which has yet to be tampered with since its invention. Taro Watanabe believes that public Blockchain technology based on Bitcoin will bring fundamental change to the financial business model.

He says to Cointelegraph:

“Public Blockchain technology based on Bitcoin has a strong capability for security and stability; we believe the current situation is a transitional period that needs more scaling in functionality. Bitcoin Core’s open source community is challenging this and proceeding with the development of the scaling function for uses other than virtual currency.”

In fact, Digital Garage has all the cards at hand to be a trigger in the development of Bitcoin usage and boost Blockchain in Japan. They plan to contribute to the Bitcoin Core open source community, expand the developer community first in Japan and then promote the idea of Blockchain as a social infrastructure through development and education.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Sweden’s blockchain-powered land registry is inching towards reality

Sweden’s blockchain-powered land registry is inching towards reality

 

Just another set of numbers on a blockchain.

Keeping track of who owns what pieces of land is still a low-tech affair, involving mountains of hand-signed documents, envelopes, and couriers. That is if a country is lucky enough to have a functioning land registry—the World Bank estimates that 70% of the world’s population lacks access to land titling. Getting everyone to agree on every stage of a property transaction, and to record it permanently somewhere, is a feat of security, coordination, and trust.

Enter blockchain technology, the technical concept behind bitcoin, which is designed to solve precisely those problems, or so its boosters say. Land titling has long been one of the most talked-about uses for the tech. The argument, made by everyone from the British government to consultants at PwC, is that the current outmoded systems are susceptible to forgeries and simple clerical errors. It’s one reason why the US has a massive title insurance industry, which the New York Times has called a “scam” (paywall). Putting transactions on a blockchain makes all that paper go away; and it becomes much more difficult, if not impossible, to forge records.

A blockchain is a digital registry that can’t be tampered with. It provides a mechanism for various parties to agree on a set of facts. It prevents those parties from making false statements since everyone else can check the facts; it also prevents statements from being changed after they’ve been recorded, since all parties are alerted to these changes. With bitcoin, for instance, the blockchain acts as a ledger of every transaction, thus providing proof of who owns how many bitcoins.

But while bitcoin is an example of a public blockchain, where all transactions are open to the public, financial and other institutions are trying to create private blockchains, where some data is available only to certain participants.

The Swedish experiment

Sweden is the country that’s furthest along in putting land registries on a blockchain, and it’s entering the next phase of its experiment. It’s also notable because it’s one of the few wealthy countries taking this seriously; in places, with well-developed land registries there’s usual resistance to adopting a new system. The already highly digitized Swedish land registry gives the country a shot at making this work.

Sweden’s land registry authority is called the Lantmäteriet. Since last June the body has been testing a way to record property transactions on a blockchain. This could save the Swedish taxpayer over €100 million ($106 million) a year by eliminating paperwork, reducing fraud, and speeding up transactions, according to an estimate by the consultancy Kairos Future, which is also involved in the project.

The blockchain experiment concluded its second phase of testing on March 31. This also involved the phone company Telia and two Swedish banks. Whereas the first phase was essentially a presentation of the technology’s potential, this latest phase involved the creation of smart contracts that automate transactions on a blockchain. For instance, instead of the buyer and seller signing a bill of sale at the agent’s office, this can now be done with digital signatures that are verified automatically. “We thought there was a solution [in the first phase],” said Magnus Kempe of Kairos. “Now we have a solution.”

The Swedish system operates on a private blockchain. This has the land authority and others, like the banks, holding copies of the records. When a land title changes hands, each step of the process is verified and recorded on the blockchain (full details in this pdf). The system acts as a highly secure and transparent verification and storage service for property transactions, but it stops short of a full-blown cryptocurrency where land can be bought and sold as easily as a bitcoin. “There is no risk you will lose your land like you lose bitcoin,” Kempe says.

Digital trust

A blockchain is a good solution to the particular problem of trusting other parties, says Mats Snäll, the Lantmäteriet official in charge of the project.”Blockchain technology offers real digital trust,” he says. “It’s the only solution so far that handles digital originals, verifies both legal actions and processes, and secures transparency.”

But for all of Snäll’s bullishness on the technology, Swedes probably won’t be getting their title deeds checked on a blockchain anytime soon. Legal obstacles, like the validity of digital signatures, need to be resolved. The soonest this system will be in place, if ever, is 2019, Snäll says. The project’s next phase, starting in May, is to integrate other Swedish public bodies, like the tax authority, Kempe says, who have expressed an interest in a permanent ledger of their own.

Yet the Swedish project may have an impact beyond its shores. Henrik Hjelte of Chromaway says land authorities from other countries have approached him for a blockchain solution of their own. Similar projects have been announced, with little public progress, in places like Georgia and Honduras. The steady work on the Swedish system might provide the technical assurances other states need to implement the technology. “We are replacing paper that has been around for several thousands of years,” says Hjelte. “It will take some time.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Must-Do’s for Effective Social Media Marketing

Must-Do's for Effective
Social Media Marketing

Marketing experts give their best advice on how to grow an audience,
regardless of your budget.

 

A lot of businesses do social media marketing wrong.

They hear everyone screaming, “You must have a social media presence,” but what that entails isn’t always spelled out correctly. Social media marketing should be effective and affordable, and when done correctly, it can help scale businesses of all sizes. Just like with traditional channels such as television commercials, radio spots, and print ads, your results are going to be minimal at best if you broadcast your message to the wrong audience. To help you execute a successful social media marketing campaign, I spoke with six entrepreneurs to put together a list of must-dos.

Dedicate time to learn how social media works.

There are a lot of social media marketing tips available online, from free content on websites like this one to paid courses you can complete at your convenience. It’s not very complicated if you take the time to educate yourself. Charles Gumbley, Director of Flower Telecom, explains, “It’s important that you take the time to learn how social media marketing works for your specific business. While the fundamentals are similar across the board, different businesses will have to alter their strategies slightly in order to capture the attention of their target audience. In the beginning, consume as much content and free resources as you can. From there, you can then focus on your specific goals and objectives.”

Listen to your customers.

“The only way you are going to know what your customers want is by listening to what they have to say. It’s important that you use your social media platforms as an extension of your customer service. More customers are going to voice their opinion on social media than via email or over the phone,” says Ryan Koechel, VP of Marketing for ABODO. When you listen to your audience, you open the door to other opportunities as well. For instance, when my influencer marketing agency plans campaign strategies for a brand, we often audit their social media followers to identify key influencers. Learn to listen to your audience — it can provide you with valuable information.

Use automation for consistency.

There is smart automation and then there is spammy, ineffective automation when it comes to social media marketing. You don’t want to blast out promotional offers all day long — that’s a quick way to lose all of your followers. Use social media as a way to communicate with your audience and provide them valuable information. When you do that, you create happy brand supporters you can eventually convert into sales.

“If you have a full-time social media employee, make sure they are consistent and push out content across all of your social media profiles. There are several pieces of automation software, like Hootsuite, that offer a free plan that can greatly increase your efficiency. If you schedule your posts in advance it gives you more time to dedicate to replying and engaging with your social media followers,” advises Daniel Moravec of StreetSaw.

Engage with and delight your audience.

“It’s one thing to fill up your social media feed with posts, but it’s another thing to actively engage with your audience and turn them into satisfied customers. I see a lot of small business owners posting a couple times a day, thinking that they are doing the right thing when it comes to social media marketing. You can’t just post and walk away. If you do that, you are missing prime opportunities to engage with your audience and convert them,” explains Roy Surdej of Peaches Boutique.

Engaging your followers allows you to uncover problems or issues other customers might be experiencing as well. Then, you can be proactive and address those issues quickly before they turn into fires that are difficult to put out. When your communication lines are always open, you will often discover problematic situations before they spiral out of control.

Don’t spread yourself too thin.

It’s nearly impossible — and almost always ineffective — to be active on every single social media platform. I always suggest new brands should start with two or three social media platforms they are certain their target audience is active on. Master those, and then expand your social reach as the business grows and more effort can be allocated to additional social platforms.

Jasper Hillaud, Managing Partner of elf925 stresses the importance of focusing on the social media platforms that complement your brand, explaining, “While Pinterest marketing might not be effective for some businesses, it is one that we put a lot of energy into because we see that it works first-hand. Just because it wouldn’t be a preferred social media channel for a law firm, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It’s important to pick where to focus your social media efforts based on what works for your specific customer base.”

Track and measure everything.

“You will never run a successful social media marketing campaign if you don’t measure your results. It’s important that you lay out clear goals with benchmarks that allow you to determine whether or not your social effort is paying off. The data you collect and analyze can then be used to make changes to your campaign. You must be willing to constantly optimize and test your efforts if you want to develop a truly successful campaign,” explains Eric Ritter, Founder & CEO of Digital Neighbor.

It doesn’t matter if you are working with a $10 daily social media budget or six figures. The objective is the same — put your message in front of the correct audience and trigger engagement. In order to do that, you need to track and measure everything.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Inbound Marketing for Startups: The All-Star Playbook

Inbound Marketing for Startups:
The All-Star Playbook

 

Helping Build an Audience

It’s often hard for startups to get their name out there and build an audience, especially when they are starting from scratch, sometimes with a lean team and an even leaner budget. However, inbound marketing for startups can help bring customers to you through relevant and valuable content.

What is Inbound Marketing for Startups?

The inbound marketing approach focuses on attracting customers through relevant and valuable content and interactions, rather than interruptive methods. HubSpot describes inbound marketing methodology in four stages: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. This is how you take strangers and turn them into brand advocates.Inbound marketing focuses on reaching prospective customers during each stage of the buyer’s journey through targeted content. By developing compelling and useful content tailored to top, middle, and bottom of the funnel prospects, you can give consumers the information they need when they need it to guide them through the purchasing process.

This approach to marketing works for startups because the expense is typically low with a potential for high ROI, allowing companies to maximize marketing spend. Inbound marketing is also all about connecting with consumers and educating them, which is important for startups that typically work in niche markets.

How Can Startups Use Inbound Marketing to Begin Generating Leads?

The ultimate goal of inbound marketing for startups is to bring in more interested and qualified leads. There are a variety of inbound marketing tactics that startups can start using to get the lead-generation process started:

Content Marketing

Content marketing is an essential part of the inbound marketing method. This is how you attract, convert, close, and delight your ideal buyers. With content marketing you are creating and sharing interesting, relevant, and consistent content that adds value for your leads and customers. This content should not be purely promotional, but rather informative and compelling.

  

Here are some examples of content you can start creating today to help you bring in more leads:

  • Blogs
  • Images and Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Presentations
  • E-books
  • Whitepapers
  • Case Studies

… and the list goes on! Consistency also important when it comes to content marketing. You need to maintain a consistent voice across content and publish often to hold your audience’s interest. Once you have content assets, you also need to have a plan for promoting them, whether that is through your website, social media, paid ads, or through some other promotional channel. If you want to continue to improve your content to maximize impact, you will also need to have a plan in place for monitoring content marketing success.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is another important part of inbound marketing. If you want to bring more leads and consumers straight to you then you’re going to have to go through the search engines. In fact, 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. You cannot afford to miss out on that many opportunities to bring in new leads, so you need to optimize your content and website for search engines like Google.

The single most effective SEO technique is content creation. Though there are many intricacies involved with search engine optimization, one thing remains true – the more consistent and quality content you produce and promote, the better you will rank in the search engines. Though it is worthwhile for startups to work with an SEO expert to ensure that their site and content is optimized for search engines, you don’t have to have a complex SEO strategy in place to start creating the type of content that will help you generate more leads. Focus on creating quality content that emphasizes keywords and phrases in your industry. By creating content that addresses your consumers’ biggest challenges, you are already working toward content that adds value.

Email

Email marketing is another popular inbound marketing strategy that works well for startups. Here are just a few reasons why email marketing works:

  • It’s an easy way to stay connected and keep leads and customers informed.
  • You can drive sales with coupons and special promotions.
  • It’s an effective way to reach mobile users who are on-the-go.
  • Email integrates well with many other inbound marketing tactics.
  • Email marketing is inexpensive, which is great for startups with lean budgets.
  • It’s easy to deliver personalized and highly-targeted content through email.

Not only does email help you improve lead generation, but it is also a great tool for nurturing leads and current customers. Again, it’s important to provide your leads and customers with valuable and relevant content if you want to hold their interest.

Social Media

Startups can use social media to reach out to consumers who may be interested in their product or service. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great places to promote your content and reach new audiences that you may not have been able to access through search engines alone. The key to effective social media marketing is to be social – respond to visitor questions, comments, and feedback. Don’t be afraid to spend some time in the comments section talking to your leads and customers. Not only will this help you establish better relationships with your followers, but it may also help you gain important insight into their needs, wants, and motivations.

When it comes to social media, do not try to be everywhere at once. Most startups have minimal time and resources to dedicate to tasks outside of their core business, so it’s not worthwhile to spend time on channels where very few of your ideal buyers spend time. Instead, focus on the social media platforms where you can have the biggest impact. Research which channels your target market frequents and which types of content are most popular and effective on these channels. Targeting your social media efforts will help you save time and money while maximizing lead generation success.

Landing Page And CTAs

Landing pages play an important role in guiding your leads toward conversion. Landing pages are web pages that help you capture a lead’s contact information through a lead-capture or conversion form. You can send leads to a landing page to redeem an offer or download unique content. Since landing pages allow you to target your audience and offer them something that they will find valuable, they often convert a higher percentage of your leads while allowing you to get important lead contact and demographic information.

Calls-to-Action also play an important role in lead generation and conversion. A CTA is just what it sounds like – it calls on your audience to take a specific action. CTAs can be used on your website and across content offerings to help drive visitors to the next step in the conversion process. The key to developing effective CTAs is ensuring that they are clear and specific so that there is no question about where you want your visitor to go next.

Combining Inbound Marketing with Paid Ads for Immediate Impact

There is no question that inbound marketing for startups can help you effectively generate more leads over time. However, some startups need to start seeing results sooner rather than later. Paid advertising campaigns can help amplify your inbound marketing efforts. By combining inbound campaigns with paid ads, startups can maximize their marketing spend and start seeing results much sooner.

Inbound Marketing + Social Media Ads = Winning Combination

Social media ads are one type of ad platform that can help you amplify your inbound marketing efforts. For example, let’s say that you have spent time and resources creating an interesting and valuable e-book that your target audience will really love. You’ve put the e-book up on your website and shared it across social, but you aren’t seeing the kind of traffic that you’ve hoped for with the e-book. It is most likely because you’ve just gotten started and your SEO and social media efforts haven’t had time to work their magic just yet.

Here comes paid advertising to the rescue! You know that many of your target buyers are on Facebook, so you can use Facebook advertising to target your ideal customers with an ad for your e-book. The ad takes them to a landing page where you gather their contact information in exchange for the e-book. Next thing you know, the leads are rolling in. Though these buyers were always interested in the type of content that you were providing, it just wasn’t visible to them until you invested in the paid advertising.

When Paid Search and Inbound Marketing Efforts Work Together Best

You have many paid ad platforms at your disposal, but one of the most effective digital marketing ad channels is paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Here are just a few ways that paid search ads can support your inbound marketing strategy:

  • Boost traffic to inbound marketing materials. You can create a paid search campaign with keywords that center around your content offerings to increase traffic to these lead-generating inbound materials.
  • Fill in the gaps in your SEO. Search is highly competitive, and it sometimes benefits you to bid on keywords that your competitors are bidding on in order to let their audience know that you are providing an alternative.
  • Test new landing pages and keywords. When you develop new landing pages or consider new keywords that you’d like to rank for organically, you can use paid search ads for testing. Create paid search campaigns targeting your new keywords and direct them to the landing pages that you’re trying to test. Then, review the data to see where you stand.

The key to maximizing impact and spending your marketing budget wisely is being strategic in your approach to paid ads. Though you can work on developing PPC ad campaigns on your own, many startups will outsource PPC management to an agency. That is because there are many intricacies involved with paid search ads, and if you don’t know how to navigate the world of PPC, you may end up wasting a lot of time and money. It is often more cost-effective and efficient for startups to entrust a PPC agency with their paid campaigns.

The Common Challenges Start-Ups Face

When it comes to inbound marketing for startups, there are some common challenges that many entrepreneurs and startup marketers will face in getting their inbound campaigns up and going successfully:

Building a Conversation-Focused Website
It’s important for startups to create a website that encourages conversation while also clearly explaining your offering. Not to mention, you will need to optimize your website for SEO so that more consumers can find you in the search engines. There are a lot of moving parts to your website, and it takes time, expertise, and complete focus to ensure that all these pieces come together to create an effective website. Creating Good Content

Developing strong content is one of the most important parts of inbound marketing for startups. Creating a data-driven content strategy and consistently crafting informative, interesting, and useful content takes time. This is something that most startups just don’t have. Not only do many startups not have the time to research and write effective content, some also may not have a person on their team who is a talented and dedicated writer or content creator.

Building Effective Nurturing Campaigns

Once people are interested in your brand, you need to keep them interested. This is where nurturing campaigns come in. However, nurturing your prospects and encouraging repeat business from customers requires knowledge of things like email frequency, subject line optimization, and other marketing expertise that some startups may not have. Not to mention, nurturing campaigns require you to already have an established body of work to offer, which many startups don’t have either.

The Waiting Game

The truth is that inbound marketing for startups takes time. A lot of inbound tactics like SEO and social media need to be established early and given time to take root before a company can really start to see results. Most startups need to focus on their core business, and they may not be able to dedicate time to establishing and nurturing these inbound marketing strategies.

Conclusion

To overcome these challenges, entrepreneurs and startup owners can look to partner with an established inbound marketing company that has the time and resources to dedicate to their marketing efforts. Even those startups that have a lean marketing budget can work with an inbound marketing agency in the initial stages to ensure that they are on the right track for inbound success. In the end, inbound marketing will help bring more consumers to your brand through targeted content, which saves you the hassle and cost of finding new leads. Whether you hire an inbound marketing agency to handle all your marketing efforts or just get help with a few aspects, your startup with ultimately benefit from a team of dedicated professionals focused on your inbound marketing efforts.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

What Does A Biz Dev Person Actually Do?

What Does A Biz Dev
Person Actually Do?

Theory of Business Development
According to the Grand Unified Theory of Business Development, Biz Dev is simply about pursuing opportunities for long-term growth from customers, markets, and relationships.  Sounds simple enough, but has anyone ever set out to describe what a “Biz Dev Person” actually does?  How do they spend their day?  What should you look for when hiring someone for a Biz Dev role?While Business Development may still mean many different things to many different people, at its core I believe a Biz Dev job is focused on 3 activities:
  • Customers: Find new ones and extract more value from current ones.
  • Markets: Figure out where new customers “live” (both geographically and in terms of "buying mindset") and find a way to reach them.
  • Relationships: Build and leverage relationships founded on trust and integrity to facilitate opportunities.

“Well,” you might say.  ”That sounds pretty straightforward.” Yes, it does sound that way.  In the simplest of terms, business development may be about figuring out how to sell more to customers or finding new customers to whom to sell.  But to suggest that “that’s all there is to it” is to suggest that running a marathon just requires putting one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles.  Of course, training for and running a marathon requires a unique approach to making sure you don’t peter out before the finish line.  Similarly, business development requires a unique combination of skills to ensure that the value you derive from an opportunity persists for the long haul:

The Biz Dev Skillsets: Strategy, Sales, and Relationship Management

  • Strategy: How should you go about pursuing an opportunity?  How do you know which path is best?  Just because an opportunity is in front of you, doesn’t mean it’s a good one.  Understanding the fundamental drivers of your business, and the business of your customers, partners, and competitors is critical to being able to make wise decisions in the pursuit of long-term value.  Being able to assess an opportunity for its potential to create long-term value, determine the paths available to you to pursue it, and understand the trade-offs and risks of one path vs. another, are core Biz Dev functions.
  • Sales: Whether you're selling a product or the idea of a partnership, almost every business development role has some element of sales.  The process of navigating through an organization, identifying decision-makers and uncovering their unmet needs, and concisely demonstrating the value of what you can offer are core sales skills needed whether you're selling a product, service, or partnership.
  • Relationship Management: From How to Win Friends and Influence People to Never Eat Alone, much ink has been spilled on the importance and value of strong, respect-based relationships.  Business development requires not only having an expansive network to help you facilitate a deal, but also a deep understanding of how to build and maintain new relationships to leverage them when needed.  Relationships with partners, customers, colleagues, and even the media, can all be crucial factors in not only getting in the door to a biz dev opportunity but keeping it open.

“Wait a second,” you’re asking.  ”You forgot about partnerships?  Isn’t business development all about partnerships?”  In short, no, it's not. Partnerships are a common course to pursue a given business development opportunity, but they are but one option amongst many when evaluating the path to creating long-term value.  And though scouting, signing, and developing partnerships is an everyday task in many business development roles, the skills required for partnerships are really an amalgam of all other Biz Dev skills – a mix of sales, relationship management, and strategy.  As frequently as they arise in the day job of business development, partnerships are only one potential outcome of Biz Dev done right.

How Biz Dev Roles Change by Company Size

Do the role of business development change as a company matures from a startup to enterprise?  Yes and no.  In the early stages of any company, the role of business development is often left to the founder, CEO, or an early hire.  The role of forging partnership deals does take on an increased priority, as the decision of which potential path to pursue an opportunity often favors the sharing of resources that's incumbent in partnerships.  But the day-to-day activities of business development remains the same: at a startup or a large company alike, whoever plays the role of "biz dev guy/gal" must be constantly evaluating the best path to create long-term value, whether it an option built in-house or pursued in partnership with others.

At larger companies, the role of business development may be divided across a broader array of individuals.  Sure, teams of people with "Business Development" on their business cards may focus on the full spectrum of activities, from sourcing business development opportunities to evaluating the opportunity's potential to create long-term value and following through on the execution.  But just as often, the individual functions of the business development role may be split across an organization: a member of the sales team may source feedback from customers, who passes along an opportunity to create a new product to the Product Management team, who works with Finance to size and evaluate an opportunity and Operations to assess the resources needed to pursue it.  Perhaps none of those individuals consider themselves to be serving a "Business Development" function, but in total they are a collective BD team that seeks to create long-term value for their organization in very much the same way as an individual who plays every part.

Pure Biz Dev

In my view, a “pure” Biz Dev job will have some combination of all of the above skillsets – identifying and strategically assessing an opportunity to create long-term value and then executing on a path to pursue that value.  But whether you're playing Biz Dev as a team sport or an individual contributor, the interplay between Strategy, Sales, and Relationship Management informs the potential for a company's growth path.   Business Development is a function that is varied, complex, and exciting – although the nature of Biz Dev may be ambiguous to some,  the importance of the role should be clear to all.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Be As You Are ….