20 Crypto Companies in Zug You Should Get to Know

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Zug is an unlikely contender for the world’s foremost hub of crypto companies. Nestled in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, the low-key city has become a talent magnet for blockchain companies and is now home to dozens of crypto startups.

The Swiss city benefits from a local government that has taken an open approach to blockchain technology, as well as a vibrant startup ecosystem that’s attracting blockchain researchers from around the world.

With a low-tax environment and an ample amount of funding, Zug could be the ideal place to start up your next crypto venture. Read on below for some of the most exciting crypto projects that have already set up shop in this quaint, but technologically advanced city.

1. Ethereum

Ethereum has an outsized role in Zug’s crypto ecosystem. Not only is it owner of one of the world’s largest cryptocurrencies by market cap, but it also has a nonprofit arm – the Ethereum Foundation – which is wholly headquartered in Zug. The company also hosts numerous meetups and events in Zug and the surrounding area.

In addition, the company is getting involved in local government initiatives as well. Late last year, Zug’s municipal government began recording citizens’ digital ID registrations on an Ethereum blockchain in partnership with Uport, a self-sovereign identity and data management platform.

2. Tezos

Tezos is a self-governed, decentralized blockchain platform that has a “digital commonwealth” of members that work together to establish on key decisions related to the development of the platform. It’s also a platform for smart contracts that, unlike Ethereum, leverages the Michelson programming language to facilitate verification.

Its nonprofit arm, the Tezos Foundation, is also active in Zug’s crypto community while maintaining stewardship of Tezos’s finances. Tezos contributor Ryan Jesperson was recently named head of the Tezos Foundation after a recent reshuffle and is looking to grow the foundation’s presence in Zug even more in the months ahead.

3. Bitfinex

Bitfinex is the newest entrant to Zug’s crypto ecosystem, having just announced its intent to relocate its global headquarters from Hong Kong to Zug just weeks ago. Bitfinex is the 5th largest crypto exchange in the world by trading volume, and its pending move to Zug is likely to bode well for the crypto ecosystem there.

As part of Bitfinex’s relocation, its legal, financial, and technical departments will be moving to Zug. This significant geographic transfer of talent is likely to have a positive impact on Zug, which has historically been seen as a haven for founders and investors, but is less of a hub for blockchain development talent.

4. Monaco

With its Monaco Visa card and mobile platform, this Zug-based startup is set to transform the crypto payments landscape. Monaco’s mobile platform allows users to pay for nearly anything using crypto, and it most recently unveiled two new products – Monaco Credit and Monaco Auto invest, which will allow users to automatically invest in crypto on credit.

Although the firm is headquartered in Zug, it also has a significant presence in Asia, with offices in both Hong Kong and Singapore. Monaco’s native token, MCO, is also traded on most major crypto exchanges worldwide.

5. Xapo

Xapo was originally founded in Hong Kong, but recently moved its headquarters to Zug after noticing the influx of crypto talent into the region. Xapo is best known for its cold wallet crypto storage solution, which has set an industry standard for data security and is approved by FINMA to operate in Switzerland.

Xapo’s crypto vault is decentralized and is run by a network of servers in high-security, undisclosed locations around the world. Some of the firm’s technical operations are also headquartered in Switzerland and are run out of a network of World War II-era bunkers in the countryside around Zug.

6. Cardano

Cardano is a decentralized public blockchain organization that is wholly focused on preserving user privacy. Headquartered in Zug, it is backed by its nonprofit arm, the Cardano Foundation, which is also based in Switzerland. Cardano is one of the largest cryptocurrencies worldwide in terms of market cap, with a market cap in excess of $3.5b as of March 2018.

Cardano runs a multi-layer protocol that provides support for smart contracts and enhanced identity verification. In partnership with Emurgo and IOHK, it most recently launched futures for its native token, ADA, on the BitMEX exchange.

7. Feathercoin

Feathercoin has been around for more than five years, but in recent months its been making deeper inroads in Zug’s crypto ecosystem. Its nonprofit arm, the Feathercoin Development Foundation, moved its headquarters to Zug last year, and the firm has been active in attracting investment from several prominent Swiss investment groups.

Like many other cryptocurrencies, Feathercoin is fully open-source, and it was originally formed via a hard fork from Litecoin by the creation of its genesis block. Feathercoin leverages NeoScrypt for its encryption, making it significantly more difficult to crack and mine than other alt coins.

8. Shapeshift

Shapeshift is a digital asset exchange that doesn’t require any private information from its users (nor does it create physical accounts for them). In addition, it distinguishes itself from other crypto firms by having a “no fiat” policy, meaning that traditional banks and currency are not used anywhere in the company’s operations.

Shapeshift was founded in 2014 by prominent crypto entrepreneur Erik Voorhees, and has been headquartered in Zug since its inception. Through its services, users can anonymously buy and sell a variety of tokens and crypto assets – all that’s required is a user’s receiving address in order to complete a transaction.

9. Cryptos Fund

Cryptos Fund is a relatively new entrant to Zug’s crypto ecosystem, and it’s already making a significant impact. Created by a team of researchers and academics based in Zug, the fund tracks the CCI30 Index, which indexes the top 30 cryptocurrencies worldwide.

The fund launched to retail investors earlier this year and requires a minimum of $100k to participate. Annual management fees are low, and the fund’s performance fee is 0%, the lowest in the industry. Over $100m in institutional investment has already been poured into the fund, which has already reached 10x its starting capital in just a matter of months.

10. Status

Status has built an elegant mobile Ethereum client for Android and iOS. The firm markets its offering as a “mobile Ethereum OS”, and offers a number of creative features – including support for decentralized apps, user messaging, and a hard wallet for storage of the cryptocurrency. The client also offers users the option to verify transactions with smart contracts.

Status’s R&D efforts are based in Zug, but its developer community is global in reach. The firm has been active to date in Zug’s crypto community and frequently participates in events and meetups there.

11. Omega One

Zug-based Omega One is building a “decentralized automated execution platform” that can automatically perform trades across the world’s largest crypto exchanges. Once the service goes live, users are set to see significantly lower trading fees (and likely higher returns as well) on the trading platform.

Omega One’s platform is intended to improve liquidity in the crypto market and will introduce intermediaries (agency brokers) to help facilitate this. Omega One’s trading protocol works through its native token, the Omega Token, which can be used by crypto investors to trade on the platform, make investments in crypto, or trade in the firm’s proprietary dark pool.

12. Etherisc

Etherisc is a startup on a mission to create a decentralized insurance platform that’s accessible to all. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, the platform is accessible to individuals and corporations and supports Dapps for different types of insurance (for example, the firm recently released a dedicated Dapp that automatically purchases blockchain-based flight insurance for airline delays).

The German startup moved its headquarters to Zug in 2017 and has formal partnerships with Lakeside Capital and Inacta, two other major players in the Zug crypto ecosystem. The firm also operates a nonprofit arm, the Decentralized Insurance Foundation, which is also based in Zug.

13. Sweetbridge

From its headquarters in Zug, Sweetbridge is looking to transform the world of global supply chain management through the blockchain. The startup is a member of the Liquid Value Alliance, which is seeking to collaboratively improve upon existing supply chain processes around the world by using blockchain technology.

The Sweetbridge protocol also allows users to receive low-cost loans on crypto assets without any need for an intermediary bank. The company is seeking to build the foundations of a new supply chain ecosystem built on the Sweetbridge platform, unlocking the potential of underutilized supply chains globally.

14. Bitmain

The China-based crypto mining giant recently expanded its operations into Zug, on the heels of news that the Chinese central government is preparing a major crackdown on crypto miners. The company has said that it plans to be active in the Crypto Valley Association, and will also be building data centers in the country as well.

Bitmain views its Switzerland subsidiary as a way to begin growing its presence in Europe and diversify its portfolio beyond just China. Upon entry into the market, it will almost immediately become the largest mining player in Europe by a wide margin.

15. Datum

Datum is a decentralized marketplace that allows users to store, sell, and trade data. The marketplace allows users to buy data by using the native DAT token, which is then stored on a network of decentralized storage nodes. The firm completed its ICO in late 2017, and has begun ramping up its presence in Switzerland in recent months.

Users have the ability to submit any type of data to the Datum network. That data can then be sold, shared, or distributed across Datum’s decentralized network. Datum customers are allowed to have granular control over how their data is stored and shared as long as it remains on the network.

16. LoyaltyCoin

A Swiss development team led by Thomas Goetschmann founded its Ethereum-based startup to put retail shopping loyalty programs on the blockchain, while tokenizing the entire concept of customer loyalty. Users can sign up for loyalty programs with a number of vendors, and earn tokens that can then be exchanged for crypto and tracked in the LoyaltyCoin mobile app.

Late last year, the team also won third place in a major blockchain startup competition at the inaugural Blockchain Summit held in Zug (the judging committee was made up of subject matter experts in the fintech and legal spaces).

17. ClimateCoin

ClimateCoin is a cryptocurrency that allows anyone to invest in the fight against climate change. Based in Zug, the startup looks to encourage businesses to be environmentally sustainable while giving back to their investors in the form of tokens.

In December of last year, the firm inked an agreement with the Carbon Trade Exchange (CTX) to build the first P2P decentralized network for the trade and exchange of carbon credits. Carbon credits are attached to each coin sold or traded, and these credits are applied whenever a transaction occurs.

18. UBEX

UBEX advertises itself as a “global decentralized advertising exchange” that allows publishers to tokenize the engagement that happens with marketing assets on their sites. The company uses AI to calculate future ad revenue based on engagement and token activity, and is a relatively recent entrant to Zug’s crypto ecosystem.

Uber’s head office is in Zug, but the team has developer talent located around the world. The firm is presently working on developing its smart contract protocol, which will form the underpinnings of its advertising analytics platform.

19. Crypto Valley Association

The Crypto Valley Association is one of the key players in Zug’s startup ecosystem. As a nonprofit focused on fostering a healthy crypto ecosystem in Zug, the organization routinely holds meet ups and events around blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

This organization is one of the primary places members of Zug’s crypto community come to network, exchange ideas, and recruit new talent. The organization also tracks the token metrics and successes of its members on its website, and recently helped draft a set of ICO regulations for its member organizations.

20. Proxeus

Proxeus enables almost anyone to build high-impact blockchain applications that integrate with existing enterprise systems. The Proxeus platform is targeted towards large enterprises looking to add a layer of blockchain technology to their business processes and can be integrated with a number of 3rd party applications as well.

Earlier this year, the Proxeus team won first place in the Early Stage category of the Swiss Fintech Awards, in conjunction with the official launch of its native token, XES. The tokens can be transferred via Ethereum, and will be listed on most major exchanges later this year.

These 20 podcasts will take your crypto knowledge to the next level

If you’re interested in crypto, check out TokenDemoDay, my upcoming virtual event featuring token projects I’m really excited about, along with CryptoWeekly, my weekly crypto newsletter.

Amidst the fastest-growing industries on the planet, crypto and blockchain exist in an ever-expanding universe of knowledge, information, and insight. Massive technological breakthroughs are happening at breakneck speed, and it can be easy to get lost in the noise. Fortunately for you, I’ve done the hard work of identifying the twenty crypto and blockchain-focused podcasts you should add to your listening queue right now.

Let’s dive right in.

1. Unchained

Headed up by crypto and blockchain journalist Laura Shin, Unchained is quickly becoming the go-to resource for crypto investors around the world. Focused on emerging ideas in the world of crypto and blockchain, Shin interviews individuals from multiple industries that are doing interesting work in the space.

The show has seen a diverse lineup of guests, ranging from Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin to Zooko Wilcox, CEO of Zcash. By examining blockchain’s impact on numerous industries through the course of her interviews, Shin reveals to listeners why this technology is here to stay – and how it will likely change the underpinnings of society forever.

2. Block Zero

Block Zero is hosted by Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, Pownce, and an array of other other Bay Area startups. The show focuses primarily on Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies that have high usage, but Rose occasionally interviews founders of blockchain-related startups (such as Bancor co-founder Eyal Hertzog) as well.

Rose is a seasoned podcaster, having headed up both the legendary DiggNation podcast, as well as the Revision3 podcast – and it shows. Every episode of Block Zero is packed with insights, and Rose knows how to ask the right questions to get his guests to open up about their projects.

3. Unconfirmed

Also hosted by journalist Laura Shin, Unconfirmed is an ongoing dialogue with crypto experts on the latest developments in the field. For each episode, Shin selects a timely topic in the world of crypto and brings on one guest to quiz about it – most recently, Ari Paul of BlockTower Capital joined the show to talk about the recent downturn in crypto, and what it means for the market.

In addition to discussing current events in the market, Shin and her guests often cast their eyes forward to the future of crypto, and have meaningful discussions around what’s coming next in the space. Like Unchained, make this podcast a priority in your listening queue – it’s worth it.

4. Noded

Noded is hosted by engineering students Michael Goldstein and Pierre Rochard, who are both pursuing technical degrees at the University of Texas. Together, the duo co-founded the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute (an organization that is analyzing the elusive inventor’s body of work) and are software engineers by trade.

The podcast focuses primarily on current events in crypto and blockchain, with the duo providing analysis and commentary along the way. Goldstein and Rochard frequently have guests on the show as well, ranging from developer Jimmy Song to crypto engineer Jameson Lopp.

5. Let’s Talk Bitcoin

Let’s Talk Bitcoin is a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Adam Levine and a rotating cast of guests. The show focuses on the top individuals and ideas that are reshaping the future of money, and also includes analysis from prominent individuals in the crypto community.

The show distinguishes itself from other podcasts by putting an emphasis on crypto founders, and it’s already built up a wide range of interviews with founders in its archive. Each episode is fascinating, with great questions asked throughout. Well worth a listen.

6. The Bitcoin Knowledge Podcast

The Bitcoin Knowledge Podcast is hosted by entrepreneur and monetary scientist Trace Mayer. The show format alternates between episodes hosted by Mayer himself, and interviews with other entrepreneurs in the crypto space. This podcast has been running since 2012, making it one of the more established shows on this list.

While Mayer and his team issue podcasts on a fairly irregular basis, they’re always high-quality and packed with valuable content (the most recent episode includes an extended discourse on the ideological foundations of Bitcoin).

7. Coin Mastery

Coin Mastery is a podcast that teaches anyone how to be an expert in crypto and think more deeply about the blockchain technology behind it. Hosted by crypto entrepreneur Carter Thomas, the show spends equal amounts of time analyzing current trends in the crypto space, while offering tips and resources to retail crypto investors looking to boost their knowledge.

In addition to his podcast, Thomas is also active on YouTube, and produces a video series on crypto investing as well. Given Thomas’s timely analysis on developments in crypto large and small, both are well worth a listen if you have the time.

8. Off Chain with Jimmy Song

Published by legendary Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song in partnership with The World Crypto Network, Off Chain is a video podcast that breaks down the latest trends in crypto and shares tips for becoming a more effective crypto investor.

In addition to dissecting market forces, Song also does an excellent job of explaining arcane, but necessary crypto terminology to a mainstream audience. Ever wondered what a full node is, and how it works? Song helps break all of this down and more, making his podcast an indispensable resource for many crypto investors.

9. The Bad Crypto Podcast

Hosted by Internet pioneers Joel Comm and Travis Wright, the snarkily-named Bad Crypto Podcast is anything but. Comm and Wright do an excellent job of not taking themselves too seriously, and it shines through in their nearly-daily show – which alternates between analysis of current events in crypto, and interviews with other entrepreneurs in the space.

The duo takes on serious issues in crypto with their signature mix of hard-nosed analysis and humorous diversions, making each episode a light-hearted (but incredibly insightful) journey into the world of crypto.

10. Daily Crypto

Daily Crypto is a podcast focused on informing its listeners on the latest news around cryptocurrencies, blockchain, ICOs, new regulations, and more. Hosted by crypto investor Jose Mota, the show is run on a daily basis and includes Mota’s expert analysis on the latest trends in crypto, as well as the occasional interview.

Recent episodes have covered IBM’s efforts to create a central bank digital currency and the recently discovered anonymity flaws in Monero. Well worth listening to for a daily rundown of crypto news and insights.

11. The Bitcoin Podcast

The Bitcoin Podcast is run by the Bitcoin Podcast Network, an independent media organization that analyzes the worlds of crypto and blockchain. Run on a bi-weekly basis, the show hosts long-form interviews with numerous individuals in the blockchain community, all moderated by the group’s several long-time hosts.

In addition to The Bitcoin Podcast, the BPN also publishes a number of other niche podcasts related to crypto – such as “Buy or Sell, What the Hell”, which focuses on the economics side of cryptocurrencies and the forces that are driving recent trends in the markets.

12. Epicenter

This weekly podcast hosted by Meher Roy and Brian Crain offers up in-depth interviews with some of the brightest minds in crypto. The podcast focuses on the decentralized technology space, which naturally means crypto and blockchain receive ample coverage. In addition, the duo also runs a YouTube channel, which includes additional video content and interviews.

Epicenter was originally founded back in 2013, making it one of the longest-running crypto podcasts out there. The show’s focus is global, and the team has already brought on dozens of bright minds in the crypto community to share their thoughts on the space.

13. Blockchain Insider

This weekly show, hosted by crypto enthusiasts Simon Taylor and Colin Platt, provides listeners with a weekly digest of the most critical headlines in crypto. Blockchain analyst Sara Feenan frequently joins the duo as a guest host, and together, the group provides compelling commentary on the direction crypto and blockchain are headed.

Blockchain Insider has been running for well over a year and brings on a diverse range of guests – from Blythe Masters (CEO of Digital Asset Holdings) to Joe Lubin (co-founder of Ethereum). It’s an easy-to-understand podcast that makes it accessible to both crypto newbies and experts alike – well worth checking out.

14. Chat with Traders

Sydney-based Aaron Fifeld is the charismatic host of Chat with Traders, a weekly podcast that covers the world of cryptocurrencies from all angles. While most podcasts interview exclusively individuals who’ve already established themselves in crypto, Fifeld has conversations with everyone – from retail traders just starting out, to giants of the crypto world.

Along with his podcast, Fifeld is also the producer of a number of other assets targeted toward crypto traders – including guides to crypto trading mentorship, lessons learned, and transcripts from previously unreleased interviews.

15. The Third Web

The Third Web is hosted by Bitcoin enthusiast Arthur Falls, and is focused on covering the full gamut of decentralized technologies – from Ethereum, to blockchain, and everywhere in between. As part of his podcasting efforts, Falls is also developing video content and a mini-documentary on cryptocurrencies that he hopes to release later this year.

Prior to launching The Third Web, Falls also was the Director of Media at blockchain firm ConsenSys, and the creator of two other crypto podcasts – The Ether Review (an exclusively Ethereum-focused show) and Beyond Bitcoin.

16. The Blockchain Show

Launched in mid-2016, The Blockchain Show is a weekly podcast that seeks to advance the adoption of cryptocurrencies and decentralized technologies. The show is headed up by sound engineer Ethan Kinderknecht, who is accompanied by an ensemble of four other co-hosts who discuss the latest developments in crypto each week.

The Blockchain Show generally alternates between discussing current events in crypto (the latest developments on the hardware wallet front was a recent topic) and interviewing crypto luminaries like Brian Gallagher, CEO of Insights Network.

17. The Crypto Street Podcast

The Crypto Street Podcast focuses on covering the latest news around Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other major cryptocurrencies. The show initially started through several crypto enthusiasts getting together for regular chats via Twitter, and has since evolved into a weekly show with crypto analysis and interviews with key influencers in the crypto community.

The Crypto Street Podcast is relatively new on the scene, but has already gained a massive following. Most recently, the team at Crypto Street interviewed the co-founders of Tap Project, a decentralized gaming community, about the development of their coin and the firm’s upcoming token sale.

18. CryptoRadio

CryptoRadio is a podcast about the top news in crypto and blockchain, hosted by a team of four crypto investors and entrepreneurs. The show is conducted in an interview-style format, with a different focus for each series of episodes (past series have included interviews with thought leaders in crypto, as well as interviews with crypto founders).

In addition to regularly recording new shows, the team at CryptoRadio has also done an excellent job of putting together a huge number of free crypto-related resources, infographics, and case studies on their website.

19. What Bitcoin Did

The What Bitcoin Did podcast is hosted by crypto trader Peter McCormack. Although his podcast only started less than 6 months ago, McCormack has already landed some hard-hitting interviews (such as a fascinating back-and-forth with Lyn Ulbricht, mother of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht) that make for gripping listening.

As part of recording What Bitcoin Did on a semi-regular basis, McCormack has also invested a significant amount of time in building some valuable resources for crypto investors, including a beginner’s guide to crypto trading.

20. Bitcoins and Gravy

Bitcoins and Gravy, hosted by lifetime podcaster and communications specialist John Barrett, is a down-to-earth, no-nonsense guide to the world of crypto. Unique to most crypto podcasts, Barrett takes on current events in crypto with a sense of humor, and frequently injects his own jokes into the show.

This also might be the first crypto podcast with a completely original soundtrack. Barrett writes and composes all of the music for each episode himself, resulting in a show that’s equal parts educational and refreshingly light-hearted.

20 Crypto Companies in Singapore You Should Get to Know

If you’re interested in crypto, check out my upcoming virtual event, TokenDemoDay, featuring token projects I’m really excited about, along with CryptoWeekly, my weekly crypto newsletter.

As one of the world’s most dynamic hubs for crypto and blockchain innovation, Singapore is already home to dozens of like-minded startups, with more and more popping up each month.

These twenty crypto companies are on my radar for being key participants in the local ecosystem that are innovating relentlessly and helping make Singapore a great place to run one’s crypto company.

Let’s get started.

1. Litecoin

Litecoin is an open-source cryptocurrency that is one of the largest cryptocurrencies in the world by market cap. Originally founded in Singapore by ex-Googler Charlie Lee, Litecoin is well-known for having markedly faster transaction times than Bitcoin – in some cases, its network is 3-5 times as fast.

Its nonprofit arm, the Litecoin Foundation, is also headquartered in Singapore and organizes community meetups and events around the region on a regular basis. Its charter is to advance Litecoin for the benefit of society, and identify new nonprofit and commercial use cases for its technology.

2. TenX

TenX seeks to connect a user’s assets stored on the blockchain with “real-world” payment platforms through an all-in-one, blockchain-based crypto platform. Users can leverage TenX’s app to store numerous different types of blockchain assets (including cryptocurrencies all in one place), and use its debit card to pay with crypto at retailers around the world.

In the future, the service also hopes to roll out tools for retail banking and conversion of cryptocurrencies to fiat as well. In addition to having a promising hard product, TenX also has a star-studded board of advisors, including Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum.

3. CoinHako

CoinHako is one of the fastest-growing crypto exchanges in Asia and has seen an influx of users after high-profile hacks at several other Asia-based crypto exchanges in recent months. The service started out as a Bitcoin trading platform and has evolved into a crypto wallet and exchange service that supports both Bitcoin and Ethereum.

CoinHako stores users’ crypto funds in a cold wallet at all times and was one of the first crypto exchanges to fully ensure its user deposits. In addition to trading services, CoinHako also provides blockchain consulting services and organizes crypto workshops in Singapore for its users on a regular basis.

4. CoinPip

CoinPip is a Singapore-based international remittances startup that aims to disrupt the remittances industry by allowing customers to make payments and transfers overseas by using Bitcoin to facilitate the transactions on the backend. Presently the service offers support throughout Asia, and any transaction can be conducted for just a 2% fee.

To date, the team has landed investment (and advisors) from the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), PayPal, Visa, and others. The service is presently B2B-focused, but CoinPip’s CEO, Anson Zeall, has gone on the record he would like to expand the service into the consumer space as well.

5. Attores

This firm is looking to empower large enterprises to leverage blockchain technology for building secure smart contracts. Founded in 2015, Attores is the creation of entrepreneurs David Moskowitz and Gaurang Torvekar, and it helps companies develop, test, and roll out smart contracts within their own business processes.

The company has run several pilots of the technology with major banks in Singapore, and has already started building a client base of primarily SMEs that are looking to begin leveraging smart contracts for their businesses. By offering the service through a SaaS model, Attores has become one of the first to offer a truly turnkey smart contracts solution designed for medium-to-large businesses.

6. Quoine

This crypto fintech firm was founded in Singapore and has since moved its headquarters to Tokyo, but it maintains an outsized presence (and a large sales office) in the city-state’s crypto ecosystem. Quoine is focused on developing an entire suite of blockchain-driven fintech products for the consumer market, starting with its web-based crypto exchange, QUOINEX.

The firm raised $105m in its ICO and token sale late last year, and the funds will be used to further develop its Quoine Liquid platform, which aims to solve for the present illiquidity in the crypto economy. Quoine is also partnering with crypto exchanges around the world to develop what it calls a “Global Liquidity Alliance” to collaborate on the issue.

7. Acronis

Headquartered in Singapore, this data protection firm is an industry leader in developing innovative, blockchain-driven data backup and securing solutions. In 2016, it became the first data protection company to invest in blockchain, and the firm now has a dedicated team working on bringing blockchain technology to its full suite of products.

Acronis has a number of crypto-based data storage products available, including Acronis Storage, which stores, secures, and authenticates user’s data through Ethereum’s public blockchain. It also offers a service called Acronis Notary, which can notarize certificates and store a time-stamped record of the certification on a public blockchain.

8. Blockchain Foundry

Blockchain Foundry is a blockchain consultancy firm that helps large enterprises set up their own “Blockchain Innovation Labs” and experiment with the technology for their own commercial purposes. The firm primarily focuses on working with partners in Singapore and Southeast Asia on developing blockchain solutions to pressing business needs.

Blockchain Foundry is also a member of the SG Innovate ecosystem, which is funded and run by the Singapore government to encourage startup innovation within the city-state. The firm frequently hosts events in Singapore, and is an active member in the larger startup ecosystem as well.

9. CoinGecko

CoinGecko is fast becoming crypto investors’ go-to resource for the latest market data, coin prices, and more. The startup was founded in 2014 by TM Lee and Bobby One, and provides real-time data for nearly all cryptocurrencies across a wide range of metrics. Uniquely, CoinGecko also gives users price data for cryptocurrencies across multiple exchanges as well.

The quickly-growing startup also has a proprietary algorithm that ranks coins using a number of other variables (including social media following, outside investment, and others). The service also provides detailed metrics around community and investor engagement, which is critical when doing market research for informing one’s investment decisions.

10. FreshTurf

FreshTurf simplifies the process of package delivery in Singapore using blockchain technology. In partnership with IBM’s Bluemix team, FreshTurf has created a blockchain-based solution that can store data for individual parcels on an open registry, and allow package deliveries to be recorded and verified on a distributed ledger.

The service helps logistics management companies more efficiently verify the identities of both senders and receivers, and is presently exploring technology partnerships with the US Postal Service, Russian Post, and Australia State Post.

11. Ducatus

Ducatus is a crypto firm that offers an alt coin (known as the Ducatus coin), and may seem conventional at first glance – but in actuality, it also runs Singapore’s first entirely cashless cafe, known as the Ducatus Cafe. The cafe is quickly becoming a hub for members of Singapore’s crypto ecosystem, and only accepts payment in either Bitcoin or Ducatus Coins.

In addition to having a crypto cafe, Ducatus also has a sizable crypto mining operation, Ducatus Global. Users can purchase Ducatus Mining Credits to join the mining pool, which also has a profit sharing arrangement contingent on any profits generated from mining.

12. Aditus

Aditus bills itself as “the world’s first integrative platform for crypto affluents”. It’s effectively a way for crypto investors to securely purchase luxury goods by utilizing smart contracts and blockchain technology. The service also offers membership in a concierge program and access to exclusive lifestyle activities.

The platform, called Aditus Pay was most recently rolled out at Art Stage Singapore 2018, one of the city-state’s premier art festivals. Festival-goers were able to purchase art pieces using the platform’s native ADI token, as well as other cryptocurrencies. In total, four paintings were purchased with crypto during this year’s edition, and the firm hopes to roll out its payment platform to other festivals in the coming months.

13. Miners at Work

This crypto startup provides Singapore’s crypto community with an easy way to get started in the world of crypto mining. The firm, which had its ICO earlier this year, is presently building out its virtual currency infrastructure to allow anyone to become a virtual crypto miner.

Miners at Work’s recent ICO raised a significant amount of funding that will be used to develop its mining infrastructure, purchase additional mining servers, and roll out FastCoin crypto ATMs around Singapore. Miners at Work (MAW) also has its own native token, the GINNI coin, which will soon be listed on major exchanges around the world.

14. Electrify

Electrify is Asia’s first decentralized retail electricity marketplace. It allows consumers to choose where their energy comes from in a blockchain-based solution, and in doing so, aims to liberalize Asia’s energy markets. The platform will go live in the second half of 2018, and will be available to residents of Singapore initially, with other countries coming online soon after.

Despite being launched only last year, Electrify raised over $30m in its ICO earlier this year. The funds will be used to accelerate hiring, increase the rate of product development, and expand the product further into international markets (Japan and Australia, in particular, are on Electrify’s radar).

15. CoinHub

Launched just last December, CoinHub is a relatively new entrant to the crypto exchange landscape. The exchange allows investors to purchase cryptocurrencies using fiat, and any purchased tokens are then stored in a cold wallet for enhanced security. Most notably, CoinHub also charges zero transaction fees for any transfers or withdrawals.

CoinHub is presently looking to expand its “Ethereum market and pairing options”, but it also offers support for a vast number of cryptocurrencies – far more than most exchanges running today. The service also supports firms looking to run an ICO on its platform, and has recently begun ramping up this line of business as well.

16. LATTICE80

LATTICE80 is Singapore’s largest fintech hub, and it has become a key player in the island’s crypto ecosystem in recent years. At the most recent Money 20/20 conference, it also revealed plans to launch its own altcoin futures product, which will be rolled out after its “Smart Crypto Indexes” are introduced to the market. The firm’s push into R&D is relatively recent, as its historically played a supporting role in the city’s tech scene.

On the heels of announcing its plans for an imminent ICO, the fintech hub also recently made a major push into South Korea, appointing a major Korean regulatory expert as an advisor and making plans to open an R&D branch office in Seoul.

Update: LATTICE80 let me know they have shifted their HQ to London, but are still pretty active in Singapore.

17. Crowd Genie

Crowd Genie is a P2P lending platform founded by Akshay Mehra that is making a big push to roll out an entire suite of financial products powered by blockchain technology and machine learning algorithms. The platform matches SMEs and investors, and facilitates transactions using CGCOINS, the firm’s native currency.

The firm is one of the few P2P platforms fully licensed for lending by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, having received a Capital Market License for lending within the country. Since its ICO late last year, it’s also raised more than $2m to date.

18. Global Crypto Offering Exchange

The GCOX brands itself as “the world’s first cryptocurrency exchange that helps celebrities create, list and trade their own cryptocurrencies”. It’s a blockchain-driven way for fans to get closer to their favorite celebrities, and the exchange has already inked major partnerships with several high-profile athletes (including boxing legend Manny Pacquiao) to offer exclusive content that can be purchased through the exchange.

Crypto investors are now able to purchase crypto on the exchange, and then exchange their tokens for GCOX’s native coins, which can be used to purchase exclusive celebrity content (and at times, direct access) that isn’t available anywhere else.

19. Change

Change is a Singapore-based financial services startup that recently closed $17.5m in funding from its most recent ICO. The firm aims to become a “one-stop shop” for crypto users around the world, with a full suite of products ranging from crypto trading services to a debit card that can be used to make retail purchases using cryptocurrencies.

The platform’s native asset is the Change Token (CAG), and it’s presently running pilot programs around borderless business banking with both the government of Estonia’s e-residency program and Finnish fintech startup Holvi.

20. Helvetic Investments

The Singapore-based firm recently announced that it would be launching Asia’s first institutional-grade crypto fund for retail investors. The multifamily office, which has historically been focused on more conventional investments, is branching out into crypto as a way to diversify its portfolio and take advantage of the capital flowing into the space.

The fund has brought on several crypto fund managers, who will be investing primarily in stocks of blockchain-focused firms, as well as investment products from countries that are early adopters of blockchain technology.

Productivity

I read heaps of content for my newsletters, but rarely do I read an article I think could be life-changing – and that’s what happened when I read Sam Altman’s take on being productive this morning. I practice many of points listed in this list and I’m sure I’ll be sharing it with my peers for many years ahead. Highly recommended.

Other cool stuff I’ve discovered recently:

  • The Five Minute Journal – Such a cool idea
  • Notion – A project management system covering all the bases you’ll need: notes, docs, spreadsheets, databases and more
  • Osome – This looks like a great service to incorporate a company in Singapore
  • FlightList – Search cheap one-way flights (also, if you haven’t checked out Google Flights in a while, do – it’s grown heaps and bounds recently and is now my default flight search engine)
  • Castello di Fonterutoli – I recently went on a road trip through Tuscany with my family and we stayed here for a night for the wine tasting/lunch experience. It was amazing – easily one of the best things I’ve done in the past decade

P.S – I’m about to sell the 100th copy of CryptoList – and when reached, we will increase the price from $299 to $499. If you’ve been on the fence, now is the time 😉

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.

Learn More:

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.

Learn More:

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)!