These are the most anticipated ICOs in March. Are they worth your time?

2018 has seen an exponential increase in the amount of ICOs being launched. This influx of investment options makes choosing a high-quality ICO to invest in a difficult task, so my team at CryptoWeekly has done some of that work for you.

Today, I’ll be taking a look at the five most highly-anticipated ICOs that are open (or will be opening) in March, and am going to be brutally honest about outlining the pros and cons for each. Hopefully this rundown helps inform your crypto research and gives you some quality insight on this month’s most significant ICOs as well. Let’s get started.

Friendz

The Italy-based startup was founded in 2016 by a team of ex-software engineers and economists from across Central Europe. The company’s business model is executed through a mobile app that allows users to participate in digital marketing campaigns for various corporations by posting digital content related to their products.

Users are then given FDZ tokens if their content is approved for use on a given brand’s site. Previously, users were compensated with virtual credits, which will all be converted to FDZ tokens once the ICO is launched.

In short, the platform democratizes “influencer marketing”, and empowers anyone to be a brand ambassador for numerous well-known corporations around the world.

Pros:

By having a fully-functioning product (with 200k users) and a viable business model that brought in ~$2m last year, the team at Friendz is already ahead of most other proposed ICO launches.

In Facebook and Twitter, it already has established technology partners as well, which provide an opportunity to grow its user base even more after its ICO launch. The team is also 35 people strong, and growing.

With a functioning ecommerce network already in place, Friendz also has a marketplace on which users will be able to exchange their credits for tokens to buy products through retailers like Amazon or iTunes. This gives the service immediate value and will legitimize the use of tokens on the platform (as well as potentially support their value).

Cons:

As an established company, Friendz’s services can already be used by using a variety of payment methods – this may turn out to be a non-issue, but it’s equally possible this contributes to a dilution of value for FDZ tokens.

In addition, Friendz’s integration capabilities with 3rd party services are quite limited. Right now, only Facebook is an official partner, and this limited ecosystem may eventually prove to be a turn-off for some advertisers.

A lack of more content partners being brought onboard may eventually put downward pressure on the price of FDZ tokens as well. Growing the partner ecosystem will be critical to building Friendz’s customer base, so this will be a key area to watch once the ICO has been launched.

Lastly, the Friendz team hasn’t yet announced any plans to incorporate true blockchain technology into the platform. This could be a red flag for some investors, as leveraging blockchain technology would make the entire token usage experience significantly more transparent and full-featured.

Token Sale Details:

The Friendz ICO will be running from March 1-21, 2018, and is open to any crypto investors (with the exception of those located in the USA). Its native token is called an FDZ token (at the time of writing, 1 FDZ = $0.067).

FDZs will be the standardized tokens by which user interaction and online activity is measured. Upon purchase in the ICO, tokens will be distributed to users immediately. The total supply of tokens has a hard cap of ~$50M, half of which will be getting distributed during the ICO.

Learn More:

CoinMetro

CoinMetro is an Ethereum-based trading platform that allows users to use a native cryptocurrency to purchase other cryptocurrencies and invest in a variety of financial products. In particular, users will be able to invest in crypto trading funds and tokenized asset management.

The firm is partnering with FXPIG, a well-known forex broker, on sharing both technology and R&D resources to add additional financial functions that many other trading platforms don’t yet have.

CoinMetro will also have its own cryptocurrency wallet, which will support storage of the top five largest cryptocurrencies (in terms of market cap). The CoinMetro platform is designed to allow novices and experts alike to get involved in crypto trading, and it offers a streamlined, easy-to-use design that will likely appeal to many first-time investors.

Pros:

CoinMetro’s partnership with FXPIG will help its products reach a much larger audience, and if the duo’s R&D efforts continue, it may end up having a truly competitive financial services platform whose main value proposition is being able to use crypto to do almost anything in the financial world (provided it’s legal, of course).

In addition, CoinMetro already has a simple and easy-to-use user interface. This will endear it to first-time investors, and this combination of streamlined design and high-powered capability are one of its greatest competitive advantages. The platform provides an easy way for customers to do business between both crypto and fiat – this is something that surprisingly few platforms are able to do effectively today.

Cons:

The market CoinMetro is entering is already highly competitive, and many exchanges that offer a similar service already exist. There are numerous grammatical errors on the website and in the service description, leading one to believe attention to details may not be as high as that on some other teams.

Token Sale Details:

CoinMetro’s ICO is already open, and will be running from February 21 to March 21, 2018, and is open to all crypto investors. Its native token is called the COIN (XCM) token, and it is ERC20-compliant. There will be a total supply of 500,000,000 tokens available to potential investors.

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Biometrids

Biometrids provides a blockchain-powered platform that records facial recognition data for its users on the blockchain and allows users and businesses to recognize one another for commercial transactions.

Every face recognized by the platform is linked to a unique ID, and is stored on the blockchain in perpetuity. Facial recognition occurs through pre-existing technology on the user’s side (such as through a smartphone) and requires no extra hardware.

Biometrids is reportedly working on an API that will link their facial-recognition platform to other services that require identity verification (such as banks, real estate firms, or even public services).

In an ideal state, their platform could even be used by governments for law enforcement, but this would require a massive amount of scale to be practical.

By acting as a bridge between multiple data sources, Biometrids hopes to fill the identity verification gap between companies and individuals, all while preventing data leaks using blockchain technology.

Pros:

By leveraging machine learning to identify faces, link them with actual user data, and store them on the blockchain, Biometrids has a genuinely creative business model that could scale well if rolled out properly.

In addition, the team’s idea solves a real business need by removing the middleman for identity verification, while also allowing users to retain control and ownership over their data. As an added bonus, biometric and facial data will be able to be written to smart contracts, which adds a new set of possibilities for commercial implementation.

The Biometrids API, should it come to fruition, would also give the platform added value as it would be able to integrate with a wide array of commercial and government applications. The API is not available yet, but the prospect of having one on the Biometrids platform is exciting to consider.

Cons:

Despite storing user data on the blockchain, in some ways Biometrids is actually creating a centralized database of user data and faces, which is stored in a decentralized manner.

That said, such a setup may still be vulnerable to malicious attacks, and the Biometrids team hasn’t provided an immense amount of detail around the data security measures that will be used to ensure data leaks don’t occur.

Despite the product being in beta at the moment, the Biometrids team isn’t aiming for a go-live date anytime soon. Right now, the second half of 2020 is being targeted as a launch date, but if any snags in development crop up, this might prove too optimistic. To truly capture investor confidence and support the price of its tokens, the Biometrids team would do well to speed up their development timeline.

Token Sale Details:

The Biometrids native token is called IDS, and there is a total supply of 100,000,000 tokens. Investors can pay for tokens in Ethereum, and at present, one Ethereum is equivalent to 450-665 IDS. The ICO will be running from Feb 19 to Mar 19, 2018, and is open to all investors that are not US citizens.

Learn More:

GoNetwork

GoNetwork wants to use its mobile-first, off-chain transaction network to solve some of the scalability issues faced by Ethereum today while giving users a way to buy, sell, and exchange goods and services within videogames.

With mobile gaming growing at a rapid rate and more users than ever utilizing mobile commerce in daily life, the GoNetwork team saw an opportunity to innovate in the space and improve the Ethereum platform in one fell swoop. Most notably, with their new platform, GoNetwork recently won the ETHWaterloo hackathon, the world’s largest Ethereum hackathon.

As part of its ICO, GoNetwork plans to issue GOT tokens, which can then be used to purchase apps or make in-game purchases and upgrades. As such, the company will be competing with the likes of PayPal and Stripe, given this is another type of payment solution.

Pros:

GoNetwork plans to issue a debit card to its users, which they will be able to use to pay with GOT tokens at selected retailers – as of late last year, they had already built and tested a working prototype.

By leveraging their token and platform as a go-between for game developers and gamers themselves, GoNetwork could conceivably scale the technology up to cover a number of other industries as well. With an active and growing community, this might be possible, but the team will need to execute on its timeline in order for this to happen.

Cons:

The GoNetwork team has already been involved in several online mini-scandals, undermining its credibility even before launch. Their COO was accused by a Reddit forum member (with evidence) of orchestrating the ICO purely as a money grab so that he could raise another even larger ICO after GoNetwork’s.

In addition, both the team and its immediate advisors appear to have no previous experience with blockchain development. This should raise a red flag to investors, as GoNetwork’s underlying technology is supposedly based on the blockchain.

On top of that, the team doesn’t seem committed to executing within the deadlines set out in their original whitepaper. The GoNetwork ICO was supposedly going to occur in Q4 of 2017, but since has been pushed back to this quarter.

Token Sale Details:

The total supply of GOT tokens (which are ERC20-compliant) is 100,000,000. Of this supply, 50,000,000 will be available for purchase via Ethereum during the ICO, the launch of which is slated for late March 2018.

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Eximchain

Eximchain was originally started in 2015 as a blockchain project by a team of MIT students. The team’s goal is to create a worldwide supply chain network that, at its core, is powered by smart contracts and blockchain technology.

Since its inception, the project has been partially backed by MIT, which supports the group’s mission to transform the world of supply chain management. The Eximchain software aims to allow organizations to improve their supply chain financing using blockchain technology.

This can help companies reduce overhead by a significant amount, and as an added benefit, the platform will increase transparency for all parties and by extension, strengthen trust at each link in the supply chain.

Pros:

Eximchain was conceived within the confines of MIT, meaning the idea and its technology have been rigorously peer-reviewed and vetted. In addition, the Eximchain team is highly technical, and has previous experience working with blockchain technologies.

The goal as set out in the team’s whitepaper is both ambitious and achievable, and there are no obvious roadblocks holding the team back (aside from execution).

The team is already running pilots with some small partnerships with SMEs in China, showing that the business model is viable and not vaporware. According to the product roadmap, a larger-scale rollout will likely be occurring in Q1 2018.

Eximchain’s technical architecture also is extremely well thought-out, and its multi-party dynamic contracting feature will help organizations improve their operational efficiency and optimize their supply chain from beginning to end. This is a high-quality blockchain project with an experienced team and a superbly well thought-out roadmap.

Cons:

Eximchain’s project is surprisingly well thought-out, particularly when compared to most ICO projects, but the team suffers from a lack of well-established partners outside of MIT. Bringing a brand name partner of two on board would give help support the token’s value, and give the team some substantial use cases to work on.

Token Sale Details:

Eximchain’s native token is the EXC token, which is ERC20-compliant. The initial token sales period has ended, but this month the team plans to launch a second round airdrop of 1.5m worth of EXC for all potential investors that pass standard “Know Your Customer” guidelines.

Learn More:

Conclusion

All of these token sales, while widely anticipated, vary dramatically in terms of the quality and viability of their business models. Some (like Friendz) already have an established product and go to market strategy, while others are bordering on vaporware.

I hope this rundown of ICOs was useful and will prove helpful for your own crypto research. If you found this useful and would like to see more guides like this in the future, please let me know on Twitter, and be sure to subscribe to CryptoWeekly for a carefully hand-curated list of the best crypto news delivered to your inbox every week.

CryptoBasics: Litecoin

You can check out the other CryptoBasics guides here. For up-to-date crypto news and analysis, please consider subscribing to CryptoWeekly.

Background

Litecoin is a decentralized, fully open-source platform that was developed in late 2011 by ex-Google employee Charlie Lee. Its architecture is nearly identical to that of Bitcoin, however, Litecoin can conduct transactions faster due to a shorter block generation time.

An advanced algorithm called Scrypt is used to regulate the mining process, which makes more coins available within each block that is mined – this results in a lifetime coin supply that is around four times that of Bitcoin.

As of February 2018, Litecoin (LTC) was the 5th largest cryptocurrency in the world in terms of market capitalization, with a market cap in excess of $12b. Litecoin’s founders see their network operating as complementary to the Bitcoin network, rather than replacing it altogether.

Team Members

Litecoin’s team lead and founder is Charlie Lee, who has been heading development efforts since the project’s inception in 2011.

The project also has several full and part-time developer that are fully dedicated to developing the next-generation Litecoin protocol.

There are also over a dozen volunteer developers who donate their spare time to optimizing Litecoin’s code, testing new features, and resolving any bugs in the code.

Litecoin is also supported by the Litecoin Foundation, a Singapore-based organization that is focused on pushing the underlying technology forward for the good of society by developing cutting-edge blockchain applications on the platform.

What is Litecoin?

As a fork of Bitcoin Core, Litecoin is in many ways quite similar to its predecessor. The aim of releasing the Litecoin platform was to create a network that was complementary to Bitcoin, while also having increased performance across a number of metrics.

One of the key differentiators for Litecoin is its decreased transaction time and lower transaction fees. This is due to its highly efficient network, which has a shorter block transaction time than Bitcoin.

Litecoin is one of the most established cryptocurrencies in terms of trading volume, and has a large amount of industry support within the crypto community.

Despite these advantages, Litecoin doesn’t have the same capabilities of many of its competitors (such as running Dapps). As a result, despite the numerous improvements made to the protocol over the years, in many ways it’s still seen as a lightweight, streamlined version of Bitcoin.

Technology

The investment vehicle of the Litecoin platform is the LTC token. LTC tokens can be purchased on most major cryptocurrency exchanges and can be stored in most crypto wallets as well.

Litecoin’s platform and network architecture, while strikingly similar to that of Bitcoin, nevertheless possesses several key differentiators which distinguish it from other competing cryptocurrencies:

  • Litecoin has a higher transaction volume than Bitcoin, on account of its decreased block generation time, which runs about 2.5 minutes, as opposed to Bitcoin’s 10 minute block generation time.
  • Litecoin was one of the first cryptocurrencies to implement both Lightning and SegWit on its network. This has contributed to higher transaction speeds and decreased processing time.
  • The cryptocurrency is easier to mine than Bitcoin, because Litecoin uses a Scrypt algorithm to that enables parallel processing – this lowers the hardware requirement for those looking to mine the cryptocurrency, in addition to leveling the playing field for miners using different types of hardware. In addition, Litecoin has four times the total supply of coins as that of Bitcoin.
  • Litecoin benefits from a high degree of industry support, ranging from cryptocurrency ATMs to online merchants. It has a highly active developer community, which is constantly working on improvements to the platform.

Litecoin remains one of the fastest cryptocurrencies in terms of processing time, and its active developer community will likely ensure its performance continues to improve in the coming year.

Future Plans

In February 2018, a long-anticipated hard fork of Litecoin occurred, as a sidechain called Litecoin Cash (LCC) was created. Despite the hard fork, Litecoin founder Charlie Lee has himself called the hard fork a “scam” that offers no real value to the development community. Litecoin Cash’s creators, however, claim that transaction times on the new cryptocurrency will be significantly faster.

Despite the recent uncertainty, Litecoin’s development community appears active as ever, with several projects underway to make the platform even more efficient.

To truly break out as an innovative cryptocurrency, however, Litecoin’s development community will likely need to innovate even further on the current platform to create additional use cases for the cryptocurrency.

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CryptoBasics: Cardano

You can check out the other CryptoBasics guides here. For up-to-date crypto news and analysis, please consider subscribing to CryptoWeekly.

Background

Cardano is a platform that is led by Ethereum’s former co-founder, Charles Hoskinson. Most notably, it claims to be the world’s first blockchain platform that leverages academically peer-reviewed source code.

The platform was originally launched in late 2017 by blockchain startup IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong). The primary currency on the Cardano blockchain is ADA, which has a market cap in excess of $10.5b and was ranked the 6th largest cryptocurrency in the world in terms of market capitalization in February 2018.

Team Members

Cardano’s sole leader and head visionary is Charles Hoskinson, a co-founder of Ethereum who also founded the blockchain financial platform BitShares.

The project is primarily supported by IOHK, which has a vibrant and dedicated development team focused on the platform. In addition, the platform receives investment and expertise from Emurgo, a blockchain incubator and investment fund.

In addition to having the support of Hoskinson and IOHK, Cardano also benefits from having a broad network of researchers and academics around the world who have contributed to the development of the platform’s blockchain protocol. Indeed, this peer-driven, academic approach to development is one of the platform’s key marketing points.

What is Cardano?

Drawing on the learnings wrought from developing Bitcoin and Ethereum, Cardano is a so-called “3rd generation” blockchain platform that is powered by an advanced proof of stake mechanism known as Ouroboros, which is used to establish decentralized consensus on the network. In many ways, this technique of establishing consensus is often considered a competitor to Ethereum’s proof of stake methodology.

Cardano’s key differentiator is its highly rigorous, peer-reviewing process for its codebase. In contrast to many blockchain platforms that review and update their codebase based on user behavior and adoption, Cardano leverages its army of academic researchers and developers around the world to put its code through a rigorous peer review process before being deployed on the network.

As of February 2018, Cardano had a market cap of ~$10.5b, making it the 6th largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization.

Technology

The investment vehicle of Cardano platform is the ADA token. ADA tokens can be stored on Daedalus (the platform’s official wallet), in addition to a number of other cryptocurrency wallets.

Cardano’s peer-reviewed platform offers several key differentiators which distinguish it from other cryptocurrencies:

  • A smart contract platform that is arguably more advanced than Ethereum’s, powered by Cardano’s revolutionary proof-of-stake mechanism, Ouroboros. The system randomly selects nodes to confirm successive blocks, but token holders can also “vote” for nodes by using their tokens. In this respect at least, Cardano is more advanced than both Bitcoin and Ethereum.
  • The platform leverages an academic, peer review-based approach to development. Many projects struggle to scale using traditional software development approaches, and Cardano’s take on the problem is a unique one. Put another way, the peer-review process goes a long way towards supporting the platform’s legitimacy and the quality of its code.
  • Cardano was not developed as a derivation of an existing blockchain, but was built from the ground up after an in-depth academic review of the strengths and weaknesses of existing blockchains.
  • The platform is looking to allow two parties to conduct a transaction on a “side chain”, which allows a given transaction to essentially be made off the main blockchain, while still being tracked.
  • Following its rigorous approach to code review, Cardano’s proof-of-stake protocol is arguably the only one in the world with mathematically proven security.

In addition, the Cardano platform is fully open-source, and it boasts an active developer community.

Future Plans

In 2018, the Cardano team plans to continue expanding awareness about the platform through its Cardano Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the crypto community about the platform, while coordinating with governments to draft clear regulations around the use of cryptocurrencies. In addition, the foundation will continue collaborating with IOHK to accelerate its R&D efforts on the Cardano Platform.

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CryptoBasics: Stellar

Background

Stellar is an open-source, fully distributed network that aims to enable anyone to seamlessly make international payments, cross-border transactions, and transfers of value. While it is first and foremost a crypto platform, Stellar also has a nonprofit arm, the Stellar Development Foundation, whose stated goal is to give everyone easy access to banking services, even to those who are presently unbanked.

The Stellar platform originated from a hard fork of Ripple (XRP) that occurred in 2014, and is run on a hybrid blockchain. Its currency is the lumen (or XLM), which has a total supply of 100 billion lumens on the network (presently around 18 billion are in circulation). Transaction fees for Stellar are minimal, with a fee of just 0.00001 XLM per transaction.

Team Members

Stellar was jointly founded by Joyce Kim and serial crypto entrepreneur Jed McCaleb in early 2014. While McCaleb remains an active developer on the project, Kim has transitioned into being an active board member within the organization.

Stellar’s development team consists of 5-10 core developers, as well as an active open-source development community.

The group also has a distinguished board of eight advisors – ranging from Stripe CEO Patrick Collison, to Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator.

What is Stellar?

Stellar’s platform is fully distributed, open-source, and decentralized. Their decentralized servers around the world drive the platform’s distributed ledger, which records all transactions on the blockchain for transparency.

The network also has its own unique consensus methodology that keeps the platform decentralized and improves performance.

Lumens are the Stellar network’s native asset. As of February 2018, Stellar (XLM) was the 7th largest cryptocurrency in the world, with a market capitalization of over $6.4 billion and over 18 billion XLM presently in circulation.

The Stellar network also has a fixed lumen inflation rate of 1% annually. Lumens can be held in a variety of different wallets, and are also supported by most hardware wallets as well.

The Stellar organization has explicitly stated its primary goal is not profit, and that it wants to focus on bringing the unbanked “online” while making the Stellar platform critical to performing value transfers in developing markets, particularly when cross-border transactions are involved.

This piece of the organization’s vision is unique from most other cryptocurrencies, and it’s a primary driver of the group’s development roadmap as well.

Technology

The Stellar platform distinguishes itself from other cryptocurrency platforms by being incredibly efficient. While Ethereum takes around 3 minutes to complete and verify a transaction, Stellar takes around ~5 seconds to settle a transaction. This is because Stellar’s decentralized servers are constantly syncing, which builds consensus every few seconds (reference this white paper on the Stellar Consensus Protocol for the full technical breakdown).

The Stellar Consensus Protocol is a key differentiator that separates the platform from Bitcoin, which uses proof-of-work to establish consensus. As such, that means there is also no incentive to do mining on the platform, since prospective miners would not be rewarded with additional lumens for their efforts.

Stellar’s protocol is also more cryptographically secure, and addresses many of the security concerns that experts still have about Bitcoin and similar platforms.

To facilitate the transferring of fiat currencies on the network, Stellar uses “anchors” to mediate between fiat currency accounts and the ledgers for each individual user. This ensures that users’ wallets and the account details held on the Stellar network are kept in sync.

When a user deposits fiat currency into their account, Stellar’s anchors will automatically ensure that the correct Stellar network asset is also deposited into the user’s wallet.

Stellar’s infrastructure makes launching ICOs incredibly easy, and the platform is poised to become a major player in the ICO space during the upcoming year. Most tokens can be created in just hours, and the process for launching an ICO on Stellar is more streamlined than on most other platforms.

Notable ICOs that are either pending or already complete include messaging service Kik, Mobius Network, and the Nigerian remittances firm SureRemit.

Future Plans

Partnerships are key to Stellar’s future plans. The organization recently inked a partnership with IBM to pilot its technology for cross-border payments. Settlement of payments will be conducted on the Stellar network, while the actual transaction clearing will be handled by IBM’s in-house blockchain solutions.

Presently, the pilot program is limited to a select number of currencies, but both parties are watching the results closely and hope to expand the program in the future.

In 2018, Stellar will be looking to accelerate the growth of its Partnership Grant Program, and is now offering up to $2M USD to grant recipients who are working on innovative, business-based use cases for the Stellar platform.

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CryptoBasics: NEO

This is my first attempt at a mini guide for a cryptocurrency that’s aimed to be easily digestible for anyone. If you would like to see more of these mini guides, please let me know on Twitter.

Background

NEO is a blockchain platform developed by Da Hongfei and a team of Chinese developers, and it’s rapidly grown in popularity due to its potential as a platform for virtual exchange of real-world assets.

The platform originally launched in 2014 as Antshares, and spent nearly a year in stealth mode before issuing a landmark whitepaper in late 2016, which detailed the group’s vision for a universal, blockchain-powered economy.

Team Members

Da Hongfei and Eric Zhang are the primary visionaries behind the NEO platform. Hongfei is also the CEO of OnChain, an organization that is separate and distinct from NEO (but nonetheless, remains closely intertwined with its community).

Hongfei remains the primary developer on the project, whose development team has now grown to roughly 20 people as of early 2018.

Around the same time as founding Antshares (which eventually was rebranded to NEO), Hongfei founded OnChain, a blockchain technology development firm that provides consulting services to other enterprises looking to leverage blockchain technology to set up decentralized networks.

What is NEO?

At its core, NEO is a blockchain venture aimed at utilizing blockchain technology to digitally track and secure assets, primarily using smart contracts. The team at NEO are focused on realizing a “smart economy” that has a fully distributed network, which is entirely trackable using regulation-compliant smart contracts.

Originally branded as Antshares, Hongfei’s project was rebranded to NEO in June 2017 and has experienced rapid growth since then. The main differentiator between NEO and its primary competitor, Ethereum, is its emphasis on creating a “smart economy”. In NEO’s parlance, a smart economy will be driven by a massive database of digitized physical assets that are tracked on the blockchain in real-time. Their ownership and usage can be tracked and validated through a decentralized public ledger at anytime, while remaining regulation-compliant.

As of February 2018, NEO had a market cap of ~$7.5b, making it the 8th largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization.

Technology

The investment vehicle of the NEO platform is the NEO token, also known as Antshares (ANS). Distinct from most cryptocurrencies, NEO is not divisible, and its smallest unit is always 1.

NEO’s protocol has a number of key differentiators which set it apart from platforms like Bitcoin and Ethereum, most notably:

NEO has a lower transaction latency and higher throughput than most crypto platforms, leading to dramatically increased performance overall.

Inherent in the NEO platform is NEOX, which allows collaboration between private and public blockchains. NEOX allows users to swap tokens without performing any physical exchange, and will be key to NEO realizing its vision of a Smart Economy.

NEO offers support for a number of programming languages (including Java, C++, and others). This lowers the barrier to entry for developers and allows nearly anyone that knows how to code, to contribute to the NEO platform.

To achieve consensus, NEO uses delegated proof of stake, rather than mining.

NEO uses digital certificates that are regulation-compliant to verify transactions (and the ownership of physical assets) on the blockchain.

That said, unlike Ethereum, NEO doesn’t presently have a large number of Dapps running on it. The team has recently upgraded the platform to allow smart contracts to work with website interfaces, indicating that this is likely to change in the near future.

In addition to having a robust platform, the NEO team has also forged a number of partnerships with key players in the industry, including Microsoft China and several regional governments in Mainland China (such as the Guiyang city government).

Future Plans

In 2018, Da Hongfei and team plan to continue forging strategic partnerships with relevant parties, including both government and private entities. They’re also working with Microsoft on connecting NEO to their Azure blockchain platform, primarily as an enterprise service.

Additionally, the team will continue to work with a number of Chinese government agencies on leveraging its digital certification system to verify the purchase and transfer of real-world assets within the country.

With NEO presenting at multiple blockchain events and consulting with key government agencies, the firm seems poised to continue being a key player in China’s blockchain industry. By partnering on key initiatives with the Chinese government in particular, NEO (and its close affiliate OnChina) can continue to build out its digital identity platform while inching closer to its goal of realizing a fully distributed, transparent Smart Economy.

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Books to read in 2018

Check these great lists out if you need help deciding what to read this year:

  • Barack Obama shares a list of his favorite books that he read in 2017.
  • Jason Zook has just launched a great list of books he read in 2017 with emoji ratings.
  • If you haven’t seen Derek Sivers excellent “Book Notes”, you can do so here and is highly recommended.
  • And no list of lists of good books to read is complete without recommending Ryan Holiday’s “Reading List“.
  • Don’t want to read a book? Check out this great Mark Cuban interview with Kyle Bass discussing A.I, wealth management, cryptocurrencies and more.

Happy reading,

Chris

P.S – There’s still a few hours left to register for the NewsletterWorkshop (session one starts in a few hours)!

2017 Year in Review

2017 was all about gearing up to settle down after 12 years of full-time travel. This has been stressful for me personally for a long time – both with getting ready to settle down mentally after moving around when and where I want for so long, but also sorting out the visa aspects, which to be honest, has been a total nightmare (thanks, Spanish embassy!).

But as of today, I’m 100% ready and dare I say it, I’m now really excited about settling down. We arrive in Barcelona on the 25th January and we’re ready for apartment viewings which we already have lined up. I can’t wait to settle into our first family home – and have a small office nearby.

If you visit BCN anytime soon, be sure to drop me an email.

As for work, I had many ups and downs, but I’m happy with how the year has ended with a clear path of spending next year solely focused on cryptocurrencies (more of that below).

Let’s take a look at what I got accomplished:

FoundersGrid

I sent out 89 editions of the FoundersGrid newsletter in 2017, grew the subscriber count by 900 subscribers (which is a little disappointing), changed the site design and email format, and sold almost every sponsorship opening.

GrowthList

I changed the GrowthList design way too many times in 2017 which looking back was a total time sink. Not recommended. Sales were down compared to 2016, but GrowthList sales still represented my largest source of income in 2017.

Mastermind Group

I started the year with a small paid mastermind group, but I ended up liking the guys I was talking with every week so much, I dropped the fee’s and we transition from a weekly Skype call to communicating in a Facebook messenger group. There are now 15 or so of us bouncing ideas around with each other every day. If you don’t have your own mastermind group, I highly recommend setting one up.

A WordPress theme and a WordPress plugin

I launched a premium WordPress theme called Plex and a WordPress plugin called ExiPop, which is an exit-intent plugin that leverages testimonials. Sales with both were not so good – mainly due to a lack of marketing (if you’re interested in taking these over, please reach out to me).

Facebook Ads

The one new skill I picked up and really honed in on in 2017 was getting heaps and bounds better at setting up and monetizing Facebook Ads (mainly for GrowthList). I’ve since scaled back Facebook Ads but I’m glad I put the hours into learning how Facebook’s ad manager works.

BlackFridayTech

48 hours before Black Friday was due to arrive I mentioned in my mastermind group that someone should create a curated list of the best Black Friday deals in tech. With the help of 2 others from the group, we managed to get the site ready in time and over 8,000 people used the site the following day. Andrew, one of the guys who I built the site with, has a good recap of how the project went down.

CryptoWeekly

In late October I launched CryptoWeekly, a new weekly newsletter focused on decentralized technologies, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The feedback over the past few months has been amazing and new subscriber growth is steady and consistent. If there’s just one project I could take away from this list into 2018, it’s CryptoWeekly.

Crypto100

I spent the majority of December on Crypto100, a curated list of the 100 most influential people in crypto. I plan to launch it next week.

NewsletterWorkshop

Updating my newsletters have literally changed my life. Both have allowed me to network with so many smart people, make enough money to travel around the world with my family and sending every edition brings a huge sense of achievement over me.

I have advised a few startups on their newsletters in the past privately, and I wanted to extend this to others, hence is why I created NewsletterWorkshop. It’s a 3-week live training program covering everything I know (I plan to be totally candid) about setting up, curating, growing and making money from a newsletter.

Travel

While we traveled extensively in 2017, it feels like a lot less than we traveled in 2016. When we were not traveling, we were either based in Bangkok or Ubon Ratchathani.

Here’s what 2017’s travel schedule looked like:

  • Tokyo x 3
  • London x 3
  • Saigon x 2
  • Hong Kong x 2
  • Barcelona x 2
  • Chiang Mai x 1
  • San Sabastian x 1
  • Paris x 1
  • Mallorca x 1
  • Copenhagen x 1

Goals for 2018

The goals for 2018 are fairly simple:

  1. Get a family home, school and a small office set up in Barcelona
  2. Rein back my current projects so I can solely focus on crypto (both trading and CryptoWeekly)
  3. Find really smart people to work with and learn from

How did 2017 work out for you? Let me know on Twitter.

Notes from attending the Blockchain World Conference in Bangkok

I’m not overly keen on attending events, but I had the opportunity to attend the Blockchain World Conference in Bangkok this week, and I’m so glad I did.

I learned heaps. In fact, I walked away from the event feeling I have so much more to learn about the crypto world – especially around other coins, security, and legislation.

Here are a few notes I scribbled down throughout the sessions:

  • An interesting way to evaluate ICO’s is following the 4 T’s: Timeline, Team, Token and Technology (not necessarily in that order).
  • A company that has held an ICO can currently sell the company and its assets without the need to sell the “ICO assets” due to little governance, which is worrying for many.
  • Many speakers agreed that Gibraltar, Austria, and Switzerland are the best countries to setup Crypto companies right now.
  • One speaker had the opinion Bitcoin would see a huge surge in March due to Chinese New Year.
  • Another speaker had the opinion that more VC’s would be pushing their portfolio companies to launch an ICO, mainly for faster liquidity for the VC’s.
  • Governance was a huge topic at the event, with many agreeing A.I will have a huge play over the next few years.
  • I personally learned more about NEO thanks to Da Hongfei speaking at the event, which on paper has some clear benefits over Ethereum.
  • I also came across the Blockfolio app as a result of attending, which I’m really impressed with.

40 Ways To Live A Full Life

I really enjoyed reading this list form Ryan Holiday this morning.

2 points out of the list that really hit home:

Have a Kid
I used to see people in restaurants with kids and sort of pity them. The other day I was in a restaurant with my kid, having a great time and then I realized: Shit, these people have been having all the fun. I was the one being an idiot. Obviously I would like to live until I’m 90 so I can spend as many years as possible with my son, but as Paul Kalanithi says in When Breath Becomes Air, every minute you do have is a blessing and comfort.

It’s true. Having my son literally made my life 100x better in every sense.

A To-Do List Every Day
Every day have a to-do list. Even on the weekends. Not because it’s about drowning yourself in work, but so you can always be moving forward. Check the stuff off, don’t wing it. Use Tim Ferriss’s question: “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”

Something I have been doing for 10+ years now, and it makes me smile when I witness my wife write down her to-do’s – something she never used to do before we met. A to-do list makes such a difference.

50 Cryptocurrency Projects Disrupting The Blockchain Ecosystem

The cryptocurrency world has evolved massively over the past few years, transforming itself from a Bitcoin-driven ecosystem into a diverse collection of currencies and technologies that offer the potential to change how we live our lives and do business.

With the huge amount of attention cryptocurrencies have received in 2016 and 2017, it’s no surprise that plenty of new startups have appeared aiming to capitalize on the potential that blockchain offers.

Below, I’ve listed 50 of the most interesting, popular and exciting cryptocurrency projects and companies that are currently disrupting the blockchain ecosystem, from established currencies to technology companies offering crypto-related services, up-and-coming currencies and more.

Please note: I update CryptoWeekly, a weekly newsletter with a carefully hand-curated list of the best crypto news and resources.

If you don’t want to miss out on what’s happening in the bitcoin/crypto/blockchain ecosystem, feel free to subscribe (it’s free, and you can always unsubscribe with one click).

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