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Funding the Blockchain Future of the Digital Media Industry

November 2, 2017 Benjamin Vitaris 0

Funding the Blockchain Future of the Digital Media Industry

BTC Media, the largest media group in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, announced the launch of BTC Labs, a venture studio focusing on launching and incubating blockchain applications for the digital media industry on September 25, 2017.  

BTC Labs, in turn, introduced Storyboard Ventures, a venture financing arm of the organization, seeded with $2 million to fund forward-thinking and promising media projects. According to BTC Media, Storyboard Ventures will be vigorously searching for those entrepreneurs who are “building use cases that leverage decentralization to disrupt longstanding inefficiencies” within the digital media industry.

“The internet drastically altered how we consume and distribute information, but the media industry has failed to adapt its underlying business model,” Jeremy Kandah, Storyboard Venture’s Portfolio Manager, said in a statement.

“Blockchain technology is revolutionizing the way that digital information is transacted, creating a host of new monetization models and connecting content creators directly with consumers. Storyboard Ventures will support the projects and pioneers shaping this media landscape of the future.”

On November 1, 2017, BTC Labs announced their second project, the MAD Network, a decentralized ecosystem for the ad tech industry designed to return lost value to advertisers and publishers. The MAD Network will become the programmatic advertising platform within BTC Labs’ decentralized media suite, a collection of blockchain-based tools for the media industry.

BTC Labs is working closely with the MAD Network to develop its technical architecture, as well as advising them on their upcoming token sale, which will take place on November 30th, 2017.

“The MAD Network is one example of the suite of decentralized media applications that BTC Labs will support through research, development and funding,” Tyler Evans, CEO of BTC Labs, said to Bitcoin Magazine. “It is a perfect use case for distributed ledger technology because it takes the value that is traditionally captured by middlemen and brokers in the digital advertising ecosystem and instead, redistributes that value to the stakeholders in the network.”

“BTC Labs has been instrumental in the development of the MAD Network,” Adam Helfgott, Project Lead at the MAD Network, said. “We’ve been able to leverage their breadth of expertise and knowledge in the blockchain space to help formulate our development plan and go-to-market strategy.”

The first project backed by the venture studio was, a protocol utilizing and implementing blockchain technology and timestamped metadata to accelerate solutions for the publishing industry. BTC Labs developed the core architecture behind and helped guide the organization through a successful token sale process. As Bitcoin Magazine is a brand of BTC Media, all content of the publication is verified via

Blockchain technology has allowed for increased innovation, resulting in more equitable ways of sharing data and exchangin value. These new benefits of blockchain technology can be also implemented within the media industry to tackle numerous issues, including intellectual property registration, content monetization, licensing, ticketing and ad-tech.

BTC Labs will focus on both the blockchain and media industries with an aim to support disruptive, open-sourced and decentralized networks. It recognizes that, in a decentralized network, every stakeholder can retain the fair value of their work. Thus, the innovation studio will develop decentralized networks to empower not just content creators but also brands and consumers.

Disclaimer: BTC Inc. is the parent company of BTC Media and Bitcoin Magazine.

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Filling the Demand: Cryptocurrency Job Postings Set to Triple From 2016

September 28, 2017 Benjamin Vitaris 0

Filling the Demand as Cryptocurrency Job Postings Set to Triple From 2016

AngelList,, the job board specializing in startup jobs, reports cryptocurrency job postings have nearly doubled in the past six months and are soon to triple from 2016. Companies in the crypto space have experienced “unparalleled investment and growth” in recent months. The organization stated that while many new technologies (self-driving cars and virtual reality, for example) are embraced by tech giants, cryptocurrency remains one of the largest non-corporate startup opportunities.

The data shows that investments are on the rise. Cryptocurrency startups collected more investments in the first two quarters of 2017 ($467 million) than they did in all of 2016 ($325 million). According to AngelList, as the companies in the crypto space grow, and raise larger amounts of funds at higher valuations, their need for new talent has also grown. The two main reasons for the crypto hiring boom are the expansions of both Bitcoin and Ethereum to a mainstream audience and the popularity of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

In 2016, there were 442 cryptocurrency-related job postings on AngelList; however, the number of listings is projected to reach 1,255 by the end of 2017. The organization added that in the last six months, the number of job postings has nearly doubled. While experienced engineers in the crypto space are in the highest demand, startups are also looking for engineers with an interest in cryptocurrencies. There are also positions ready to be filled in the areas of marketing, business development, operations, customer support and other job functions in which no technical background is required.

The main reasons to join a cryptocurrency startup as either an employee or a team member include better salaries — up to 20 percent higher compared to the industry norm — more remote flexibility and employee liquidity in the form of tokens or coins, which is often an exclusive bonus offered at “new coin/token companies,” according to AngelList.

Preparing to Answer the Growing Demand for Talent

At a time when demand for crypto experts is on the rise, the blockchain and research development company IOHK has announced that the first cohort of its graduates has successfully completed training at the summer course hosted by IOHK, and are ready to start working within the crypto space and blockchain industry. IOHK plans to offer full-time positions to selected candidates from the training program in the firm’s newly created Athens Haskell Team.

IOHK offered the summer course free of charge to computer science graduates in Athens, Greece. The participants were personally selected by the university professors. The course primarily focused on Haskell, a programming language currently in high demand within the crypto space because of the language’s significant security advantages. The summer course was a little more than two months long, hosted between July 17 and September 22.

“Corporations and financial institutions are increasingly seeking Haskell developers, but are faced with a shortage of skilled programmers. IOHK is delighted to have trained seven talented students into proficient Haskell developers. Building on IOHK’s growing legacy of sourcing and training high-quality programmers and engineers from Greece, we are proud to have made several offers of employment to them,” IOHK Chief Scientist Aggelos Kiayias said in a statement.

In addition to attending lectures presented by notables like Dr. Lars Brünjes, Haskell developer at IOHK, and Dr. Andres Löh of the Haskell consulting firm Well-Typed, the students had to complete assignments and programming projects, such as creating peer-to-peer networks and performing a “handshake” with a Bitcoin node.

“By integrating several of IOHK’s internal project goals into the curriculum, students were given practical experience programming code that solved real, relevant industry problems,” Prof. Kiayias said.

IOHK is not the only firm offering blockchain courses for students. Blockchain software technology company ConsenSys recently announced that the first developer program class of ConsenSys Academy, consisting of more than 150 blockchain developers, will be flying to Dubai for a “three-day hackathon” followed by a graduate ceremony on October 22, 2017. According to the organization, the class represents the first group of successful candidates out of 1,300 applicants from 95 different countries. ConsenSys’s goal with the Academy’s program is to address the global shortage of blockchain developers.

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Change Healthcare Announces Enterprise Blockchain Solutions on Hyperleger Fabric

September 26, 2017 Benjamin Vitaris 0

Change Healthcare Dist Health

Today, at the Distributed: Health 2017 conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Change Healthcare announced blockchain solutions on an enterprise scale. According to the company, which is one of the major independent healthcare technology providers in the U.S., the utilization of blockchain technology will help their clients in boosting revenue cycle efficiency, improving real-time analytics, cutting down costs and creating “innovative new services.” Using the organization’s Intelligent Healthcare Network, Change Healthcare processes 12 billion transactions covering over $2 trillion in claims annually.

Change Healthcare CEO Neil de Crescenzo stated that the company is working together with both customers and organizations, such as the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, to make access to blockchain technology — and the benefits of the tech — and to develop “additional, advanced use cases.”

“We are excited to work alongside our customers and partners to make blockchain real in healthcare. As today’s healthcare system becomes more value-based, it’s essential that we aggressively and pervasively introduce new technologies into healthcare at scale — whether they leverage blockchain, artificial intelligence or other emerging capabilities with the potential to improve outcomes and efficiencies. We are initially introducing blockchain technology to create a distributed ledger that makes claims processing and secure payment transactions work more efficiently and cost effectively for all healthcare stakeholders,” Mr. de Crescenzo said.

“We want to make it easier and more efficient for health care as an industry to utilize this technology and make it a better experience for the consumers as well as the clinicians who don’t want to spend their time on the computer,” Aaron Symanski, CTO of Change Healthcare, told Bitcoin Magazine. “They just want to go out there and help more people every day.”

According to the company’s plans, blockchain technology will be implemented on the Intelligent Healthcare Network by the end of the year. Change Healthcare highlighted that their vendor partners and customers will not have to develop new code, interfaces or data formats.

Change Healthcare will utilize the Linux Foundation’s open-source Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 blockchain framework. Change Healthcare is a premier member of the Hyperledger Governing Board; therefore, the company will be contributing code innovations to the open-source community in order to improve blockchain applications in the United States and on a global scale.

“Change Healthcare is uniquely positioned to lead blockchain innovation for healthcare, and we are excited to participate in this transformative undertaking with them. With its security, transparency of transactions, and ability for all stakeholders to access the same information, blockchain technology has potential to increase payment accuracy and revenue velocity, which will benefit payers, providers, and consumers themselves,” Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Hyperledger, said in a statement.

According to Change Healthcare, today’s blockchain announcement is a part of a series of strategic actions taken by the company. In May, Change Healthcare joined Hyperledger’s premier membership as the first healthcare IT vendor. By implementing blockchain technology to the company’s services, Change Healthcare seeks to hold its position as a leading innovator along with accelerating the adoption and the development of blockchain and other innovative technologies.

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Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution

September 20, 2017 Benjamin Vitaris 0

Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution

 Stellar, a nonprofit decentralized financial network, and the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), the country’s dedicated fintech platform, have published a joint report on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

According to the report, organizations have raised over $1.8 billion through ICOs since January 2017. As this popular new fundraising method provides a simple and fast method to acquire serious funding, there has been “tremendous momentum” growing around ICO launches among new businesses in the blockchain industry, the report said.

On the other hand, the report also detailed that there are high risks associated with ICO investments. Since there is still a lack of regulation and control surrounding the industry, Stellar and LHoFT compared the current ICO sphere to the “Wild West” — a term that has become rather popular of late in reference to ICOs.

“ICOs raise issues for consumer protection, combating money laundering, and other regulatory compliance goals. Complications may arise from several sources, including the mechanism through which ICOs are conducted, the teams spearheading ICOs, the identities of contributors to ICOs, the quantity of money that is raised, the validity of ICOs’ technology and processes, marketing claims, and the impact that ICOs have on the greater cryptocurrency markets. All these factors must be scrutinized so that the heralded benefits of ICOs are balanced against market and legal risks as the model matures and gains broader acceptance,” the report states.

LHoFT and Stellar addressed both the upsides and the downsides of ICO fundraising. Organizations launching ICOs benefit from a built-in customer base, a committed group of customers that will stay with the product or service until it officially launches. Furthermore, according to the report, the fundraising method has positive effects on the network, can target global investors (or donors) in a non-discriminatory manner while providing a fast and easy fundraising mechanism. Additionally, retail investors are keen on participating in ICOs, and open-source projects can benefit from the fundraising method too.

Similarly, investors can benefit from the high liquidity of the tokens (sold during ICOs), in addition to being able to sell them through cryptocurrency exchanges or over-the-counter (OTC) transactions, which would allow the investors to transfer the tokens easily without the authorization of the token issuer (the organization launching the ICO).

Token holders are often offered bonuses, such as “gift cards” or “licenses” that will incentivize them to support the growth and the development of the project. ICO investors also benefit from the lack of “geo-lock” — they can invest in the project no matter the location (unless specified otherwise). Most importantly, ICOs have a high potential for big gains.

On the other hand, there are plenty of risks associated with ICOs, according to the report. Firstly, ICOs lack the formal process for auditing the organizations.The writers of the study highlighted a potential problem with smart contracts: If the contract is not programmed correctly, it could lead to unexpected transfers without the authorization of the token owner. Some tokens are not based on any fundamental value, thus, may facilitate bubbles and Ponzi schemes.

Furthermore, Stellar and LHoFT emphasized the issue of “investor education” — some investors are not informed well enough about an ICO project before investing in it. The report also detailed security problems, such as phishing scams and the loss of private keys, which can result in the investors losing their tokens.

As with most cryptocurrencies, tokens also tend to be volatile. According to the report, ICO cashouts may create price distortions on the market. Furthermore, the market can be subjected to manipulation, such as the “Whales” method, in which the token issuer organization holds back a percentage of the tokens and distributes them between the team members. Both investors and organizations can experience network lag during popular ICOs, while some token distribution mechanisms can cause unpredicted difficulties for both parties.

The lack of regulations within the ICO space presents various problems for both the investors and the organizations, such as being subject to the financial regulations of multiple jurisdictions. The anonymous nature of the cryptocurrency sphere can result in many of the investors being seen only as pseudonyms, which could cause issues for law enforcement and regulators. Since there is uncertainty about the taxation of tokens, both investors and organizations could face legal issues, such as tax evasion charges. Furthermore, the report discusses that there is an increasing concern that ICOs can be used by criminals for money laundering or terrorist financing purposes.

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How One Blockchain Startup Is Combatting Centralization of the Credit Industry

September 12, 2017 Benjamin Vitaris 0

How One Blockchain Startup Will Combat Centralization in Credit Industry

Startup company Bloom seeks to take advantage of blockchain technology’s perks to create a platform where the participants will have global access to credit services.

According to Bloom, the traditional methods of credit checking leaves billions of people without basic credit services. The stats of the company show that fewer than 9 percent of the citizens in developing countries have ever taken a loan from a financial institution. The lack of access to credit services forces numerous people to take loans from the shady underworld of illegal lending, the company states. Bloom believes that, no matter the country or the region, access to credit “is a fundamental cornerstone of social mobility” since it is the key for individuals to reach their economic goals.

Bloom also pointed out the problem of governmental monopolies in credit checking. According to the startup, 90 percent of the top lenders in the United States use the FICO score, which is in the hands of the U.S. government. Bloom stated that, despite the popularity of FICO, the credit system leaves over 45 million U.S. citizens with no credit score, thus, they are not allowed to — or they have to work hard to — take loans from financial institutions. The blockchain startup also highlighted the issues of other countries:

“In China, your credit score is affected by your political opinions. France, Portugal, Spain and the Nordic countries do not have credit scores, opting to only report negative information to your file. In the United Arab Emirates, religious restrictions on lending have prevented the development of a consumer credit reporting system. In the United Kingdom, you will have trouble getting a high credit score if you are not registered to vote.”

With its Ethereum-based platform, Bloom seeks to migrate all lenders to the blockchain. The company is currently developing an end-to-end protocol for identity verification, risk assessment and credit scoring, all kept on the blockchain. By implementing blockchain tech, Bloom strives to find solutions to the issues within the credit system. Furthermore, the Bloom platform will offer cross-border, global services for 7 billion individuals, the company wrote.

Implementing blockchain technology within the credit system would also provide solutions to security issues. Equifax, one of the three largest U.S. credit agencies, was recently breached by cybercriminals, leaving approximately 143 million Americans exposed. The FBI is currently investigating the hack; however, the Equifax cyberattack ranks among the three largest data breaches of all time, according to The Wall Street Journal. The publication reported that the current breach could be the most dangerous of all since the attackers were able to acquire key personal identification documents — names, addresses, Social Security numbers and dates of birth — all at once.

“It’s certainly the worst single breach of personal information that I know of. This data is the key to everyone’s files and interactions with financial services, government and health care,” Avivah Litan, vice president of the industry-research firm Gartner Inc., said in a statement to the WSJ.

Equifax reported that the credit card details of approximately 209,000 U.S. customers were compromised in the hack. According to independent security researcher Andrew Komarov, the financial details could be sold for $500,000 on underground markets, such as dark net marketplaces.

Bloom published a blog post in response to the Equifax breach. The company seeks to solve the security issues within the credit industry by creating their own decentralized protocol. Bloom strives to implement globally federated, secure IDs on the blockchain. This way, according to the startup, they can “dramatically mitigate” the risk of identity theft by reducing their reliance on single-source forms of identity verification.

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