20 Crypto Companies in Dubai You Should Get to Know

If you’re interested in crypto, be sure to check out CryptoList – my hand-researched list of crypto nnectmpanies, and consider subscribing to CryptoWeekly, my weekly crypto newsletter.

Dubai is one of the world’s fastest-growing hubs for international trade, so it makes sense that it’s a big hub for crypto companies, too. It may not be immediately obvious, but some of the largest crypto companies in the world are now based here in this tiny emirate.

Crypto startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are flocking to the city due primarily to its supportive regulatory environment, political stability, and low taxation rates.

Its government is all-in on crypto too, with the Dubai Future Foundation and other regulatory bodies putting their full support behind initiatives to integrate blockchain technology into every facet of society.

1. Telegram

With over 200m users, Telegram is one of the largest encrypted messaging services in the world. It recently started getting into crypto in a big way, and its long-anticipated ICO became the largest of all time this year with $1.7b raised to date in its private token sale. Telegram plans to use the proceeds from its token offering to develop what it calls the “Telegram Open Network” blockchain, which if successfully executed, will be even faster and more secure than both Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Although Telegram has a global presence, its headquarters is in Dubai primarily due to the UAE’s tax-free zone, which allows the organization to grow without being encumbered by tax regulations.

2. BitOasis

Founded in 2015, Dubai-based BitOasis is one of the largest crypto exchanges in the Middle East market. The firm is targeting its crypto wallet and exchange services towards emerging markets and is taking a mobile-first approach to product development.

This year, the company plans to work more closely with the Dubai government to develop regulations around crypto as well, with an eye towards becoming a fully-licensed exchange by the end of the year. The company is also preparing to embark on a massive growth spurt this year, with regional rollouts planned for Saudi Arabia and other new markets later in the year.

3. BitPado

BitPado is one of Dubai’s newest and fastest-growing crypto exchanges. Founded by serial entrepreneur Omar Kassim (founder of ecommerce network JadoPado) and backed by a number of prominent investors, BitPado is aiming to be the highest-volume crypto exchange in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The exchange is presently in private beta, but is slated to open up to more customers soon. For its exchange services, BitPado currently supports Ethereum, Bitcoin, Ripple, and a wide range of other major cryptocurrencies. In addition to BitPado, Kassim also heads up Esanjo, a blockchain-powered property administration service.

4. Emcredit

Emcredit is a subsidiary of the Dubai Government’s economic department, and it’s responsible for developing the country’s first official cryptocurrency, called emCash. The cryptocurrency was developed in partnership with the UK-based Object Tech Group in late 2017, and it’s now being piloted as an official currency within the country. The Dubai government is hopeful that emCash can become the primary currency layer for the country’s blockchain initiatives, and so far, results have been encouraging.

In addition to being a crypto firm, Emcredit also serves as the UAE’s official credit information agency, which gives it a unique ability to establish groundbreaking public-private partnerships in the crypto space.

5. Palmex

Palmex is one of the UAE’s newest crypto exchanges, and it’s the first digital asset exchange in the Middle East. Launched early this year by parent company Arabian Chain, the exchange allows users to trade in Bitcoin, Ethereum, DubaiCoin (Palmex’s native token), and other major cryptocurrencies.

In addition to crypto trading, Palmex also supports a number of trading pairs, including AED to Bitcoin. Palmex has only launched in the Middle East and North Africa market to date, but has plans to grow beyond these markets this year with additional backing from ArabianChain.

6. Adab Solutions

Adab runs the First Islamic Crypto Exchange (FICE), the world’s first Shariah-compliant crypto exchange.  Fully compliant with Islamic law, the Dubai-based company launched in August of this year and plans to launch its first public token sale later this year.

As part of the company’s token sale, it will be issuing Adab tokens, which will be used for all commission transactions on the platform. The company is poised to do big business in the Middle East region, as Dubai is now the region’s indisputable hub of Islamic finance.

7. Verify

Verify is a distributed reputation protocol that runs on the Ethereum blockchain. The startup raised $2.5m in its ICO last December, which sold out in less than 90 minutes. The Dubai-based startup plans to use this fresh injection of funds to develop its ecommerce payments platform and reputation tracking system for buyers and sellers.

The Verify platform allows the reputations of both buyers and sellers to be tracked over time, which enhances trust between both parties. Transactions conducted through the platform use CRED, Verify’s native token, and each transaction completed gives buyers and sellers additional points for successfully fulfilled transactions.

8. OneGram

The Dubai-based OneGram has developed the world’s first Shariah-compliant cryptocurrency backed by physical gold reserves. The startup achieved its Shariah certification from Al Maali Consulting, and is aiming to make its cryptocurrency the online payment system of choice throughout the Middle East.

The startup has also inked a number of partnerships with property and real estate groups across the UAE that allow customers to purchase real estate using OneGram’s gold-backed tokens. Adding the its list of partnerships, the firm also recently announced that it would be partnering with online gold trading platform GoldGuard to build one of the world’s largest gold vaults inside Dubai Airport’s free trade zone.

9. ArabianChain

ArabianChain is one of the largest crypto firms in the Middle East, with projects ranging from crypto exchanges to developer APIs already in flight. The firm is headed up by serial entrepreneur Mohammed Alsehli, and raised over $1.5m from private investors last year to help it further develop its platform.

ArabianChain’s vision is to create a decentralized, blockchain-based platform that anyone can run applications on top of. ArabianChain’s network is primarily designed for enterprises, and the team is already working on several commercial use cases for its platform. In line with its commercial vision, the firm is also partnering with the Dubai government to achieve its stated goal of securing all government documents on the blockchain by 2020.

10. Regal RA DMCC

Regal RA DMCC is the first company in the UAE to become a fully licensed and government-sanctioned crypto trading firm. The firm, which is also one of the most well-known gold dealers in Dubai, recently expanded into the crypto storage space, and now offers its clients cold storage vaults for their crypto holdings.

The vaults are located at the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, one of the fastest-growing economic free zones in the UAE, and are open to all Regal RA clients. With an eye on the future, the firm is also working on building its own online gold-backed crypto exchange, which will be regulated and overseen by the Dubai government.

11. Evareium

Launched just last month, Evareium is a platform that allows anyone to make real estate investments using crypto. Users can invest in all or part of numerous properties across the Middle East, and then sell their holdings for tokens which are held on the platform. By solving the illiquidity problems of the real estate market, Evareium hopes to empower an entirely new generation of real estate investors.

Evareium’s ICO was launched last month, and runs through the end of April 2018. The firm is hoping to raise $150m in its first round of funding, and plans to use the capital to build out its platform, accelerate hiring, and expand further in the region.

12. UAE Exchange

UAE Exchange is one of the largest foreign exchange and remittances firms in the Middle East, and it’s recently started leveraging blockchain technology to improve its service offerings. In February of this year, it announced a landmark partnership with Ripple that will allow the exchange to use RippleNet to facilitate payments and remittances globally.

The exchange does not use Ripple’s native token (XRP) for transactions, but is instead opting to exclusively leverage the RippleNet technology stack. UAE Exchange is hoping that the partnership will give it a competitive advantage in the increasingly crowded payments space, and early adoption indicators have been positive so far.

13. Al Kasir Group

The Dubai-based Al Kasir Group offers publicly-traded crypto assets backed by IGI-certified diamonds. The project, which is a joint venture between an arm of the Dubai government and a local jewelry trading portal, launched earlier this year and is scheduled to make crypto assets available for trading later this month.

Crypto assets purchased through Al Kasir’s proprietary exchange are backed by diamonds, but can also be used to purchase other luxury goods on Al Kasir’s platform, ranging from precious stones to lifestyle products.

14. Loyyal

Loyyal is a Dubai-based startup that’s in the midst of rapidly growing its blockchain-based universal loyalty platform. The firm is focused on tokenizing the world of loyalty programs, and already counts a number of Fortune 500 firms (such as IBM and Deloitte) as clients.

Last year, Loyyal closed its Series A round of funding and partnered with Smart Dubai to develop the incentivization program for DubaiNOW, a mobile app that gives users access to a full suite of government services. The firm is also partnering with the Dubai government on several other blockchain-based initiatives aimed at improving the accessibility and security of government data.

15. Global Blockchain Council

The Global Blockchain Council is an arm of the Dubai Future Foundation, a government agency that seeks to use emerging technologies to prepare Dubai’s workforce and economy for the future. Launched in 2016, the GBC is a public-private partnership that’s already made significant progress towards solving some of the country’s most critical data-related problems.

Right now, the GBC is focused on bringing its experience to bear on seven key projects, ranging from digitizing its thriving diamond trade to incorporating new businesses on the blockchain. The council remains highly active in Dubai’s crypto community, and often hosts events in the area as well.

16. ArabCoin

Still in private beta, ArabCoin is looking to launch the first fully regulated crypto commodities exchange in the United Arab Emirates. The project was launched as a joint venture between a private group of Emirati investors, and several members of the royal family’s investment fund.

The gold-backed cryptocurrency will be traded on crypto exchanges throughout the region, and will be issued by DUCCX, “a fully licensed crypto commodities trader in Dubai”. The firm also has announced plans to partner with brick-and-mortar retailers across the UAE on rolling out crypto payments supported by the ArabCoin platform.

17. Etherty

Etherty is another one of the many Dubai startups looking to tokenize the world of real estate investment. The Etherty platform allows users to buy, sell, and trade property-backed cryptocurrency on a secure, decentralized real estate exchange. Properties can also be purchased outright through Etherty using the platform’s native tokens.

Etherty’s public token sale launched earlier this year, and is scheduled to run through April 30th of this year. The firm is targeting an initial funding round of $5.3m, the proceeds of which will be used to fund development of the platform.

18. Block Gemini

Block Gemini is the leading crypto and blockchain consultancy in the Middle East and North Africa region. Its team consists of a diverse team of crypto researchers, blockchain developers, and investors that are passionate about helping startups integrate blockchain technology into their business processes.

The consultancy offers clients a mix of both consulting services and bespoke software solutions, ranging from crypto wallets to digital asset exchanges. The firm is also quite active in Dubai’s crypto community, and frequently participates in the city’s event circuit (such as the Future Blockchain Summit, happening from May 2-3 later this year).

19. RightBTC

Headquartered in Dubai and founded in 2014, RightBTC is one of the world’s leading digital asset exchanges. A true pioneer in the Middle East’s crypto ecosystem, the exchange was the first to launch a coin-to-coin exchange in Dubai, and the firm remains active in the city’s crypto community.

The exchange allows users to trade amongst a basket of popular cryptocurrencies, which users can then store on the firm’s proprietary digital wallet. RightBTC distinguishes itself from other crypto exchanges by continuously performing risk control on all tradable assets to avoid fraud or unsavory trading activity on the platform.

20. KEYRPTO

The Dubai-based KEYRPTO is a blockchain-based ecommerce platform currently in private beta. The service, which bills itself as “crypto’s answer to eBay”, empowers buyers and sellers to exchange cryptocurrency for products – all through smart contracts, which are securely stored on the KEYRPTO platform.

25 Startups Disrupting Asia’s AI Landscape

If you’re interested in tech and startups in Asia, be sure to check out AsiaTechList – my hand-researched list of 4,000+ fast-growing tech companies in Asia.

With arguably the world’s largest and most active online population, Asia isn’t lacking for data nor scale. But with massive scale has come a number of complex problems that are difficult to solve for.

From rapidly aging populations to traffic congestion, there are numerous opportunities to use data to alleviate the pressures that are endemic to many parts of the world. That’s where artificial intelligence comes in.

Asia is also leading the world in research and development in the AI space – a fact that’s backed up by the numerous innovative startups that have come out of the region in recent years.

Read on to learn more about Asia’s fastest-growing artificial intelligence startups, all of which are already in the process of transforming the region. What’s more, many are already expanding internationally – meaning that these leaders of the AI space are poised to have a global impact as well.

1. SenseTime

SenseTime is one of the fastest-growing AI startups in the world, and is quickly becoming a global leader in the space. The company is focused on developing highly-advanced deep learning and AI capabilities that are being used in everything from autonomous vehicles to closed-circuit surveillance cameras. SenseTime has already raised more than $1.2B this year, valuing the startup at nearly $5B and making it the most valuable AI startup in the world.

SenseTime is perhaps best known for its AI-drive facial recognition technology, which is being used by China’s government to police its citizens and identify traffic offenders – but it’s also used for research and development by other institutions, such as some of Singapore’s top universities.

2. ByteDance

ByteDance is the little-known parent company that’s behind Toutiao, one of China’s most popular news apps. The company puts AI at the center of all of its software development efforts, and has established a formal partnership with Berkeley’s AI Research Lab to work on AI-related research efforts that will feed into ByteDance’s product roadmap.

Earlier this year, ByteDance announced that it would begin developing its own AI chips, which will be able to be used by partner businesses to interface with its cloud solutions and enterprise applications.

3. Appier

Appier is a Taipei-based startup which develops AI software to help companies improve their marketing efforts. The company has raised more than $80M to date (most recently a $33M Series C round late last year), and its AI solutions are primarily targeted towards enterprise-level marketing and data intelligence departments.

Earlier this year, Appier announced a landmark integration with LINE, which will see its AI-powered intelligence solution integrated into the analytics functionality for LINE Business Connect, its enterprise-grade service offering.

4. Insider

Singapore-based Insider bills itself as the world’s first AI-driven integrated growth management platform. Its solutions help digital marketers identify opportunities to generate additional demand across the funnel, as well as use AI to improve customer retention. Insider uses a proprietary AI algorithm to inform marketers of potential demand generation opportunities before they arise, and has already built a sizable customer base across the region.

Earlier this year, Insider raised $11M in Series B funding in an investment round led by Sequoia. It plans to use the additional funding to continue building out its growth management platform and further expand in Southeast Asia.

5. Sero.ai

Sero is using AI technology to solve for what’s become a pressing problem in many parts of Asia – inefficient and undependable crop production. Its crop intelligence platform enables farmers to optimize their agricultural production using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.

Founded just two years ago, the Vietnam-based startup currently runs off of seed funding and is testing its AI platform with agricultural producers throughout the region. It recently was a graduating member of Zeroth, an accelerator that focuses on developing artificial intelligence startups in Asia.

6. Mobvoi

Mobvoi is a Chinese startup that’s using AI to revolutionize the world of voice recognition and language processing. The company has raised more than $75M to date, and is currently based in Beijing. In addition to its AI hardware products, Mobvoi also has a partnership with Google’s Wear OS that will equip the operating system with AI capabilities specifically designed for use in the Chinese market.

Earlier this summer, Mobvoi released four new products that leverage its best in class AI technology, ranging from an AI-powered smart speaker to an AI voice chip that’s designed for use in smartphones, robots, and smart TVs.

7. Tricog

Singapore-based Tricog has developed the country’s first AI-powered heart care solution. Its cloud-based platform uses AI to predict a patient’s risk of heart disease, and is able to suggest personalized treatment plans based on each patient’s vital health indicators. The startup is now working to roll out its platform with a number of medical institutions in Singapore and across the region.

Earlier this year, Tricog landed $4M in funding in a Series B investment round led by the University of Tokyo’s venture arm. Tricog plans to use the funds to further develop its predictive heart care platform and refine its AI algorithms further.

8. LeapMind

LeapMind is a startup from Tokyo that’s using artificial intelligence to build out embedded neural networks that live on chips designed for home computers, as well as deep learning software solutions for large enterprises. Chips that leverage LeapMind’s technology are primarily designed for IoT devices that require a higher degree of computational power.

Last year, the startup raised $11B in funding in an investment round led by Intel Capital. LeapMind will be using the funding to continue developing its deep learning technology as it accelerates hiring for its international sales force.

9. APEX Technologies

APEX Technologies is an AI startup headquartered in Shanghai, with office throughout the greater China region. The company’s platform combines artificial intelligence with blockchain technology to help enterprises take their personalized marketing efforts to the next level.

Though still a startup, APEX already works with some of the largest brands in the world to integrate AI into their marketing efforts, ranging from carmakers like Volvo and McLaren to tech companies like DiDi and Wanda.

10. AIDA

AIDA is a Singapore-based artificial intelligence startup that’s using AI to make the insurance claims industry more efficient than ever. Its proprietary algorithm is able to identify potential inconsistencies in insurance claims and alert officials of potential fraud attempts before they cause significant damage. AIDA’s technology is already deployed at several of Singapore’s largest insurers, and the company has plans to expand further in the region over the coming months.

Last month, AIDA landed a strategic investment of undisclosed size from SG Innovate, a deep technology research firm owned by the Singapore government.

11. AdMov

AdMov is an in-vehicle advertising platform that uses AI to identify potential high-value riders, and then market to them. The technology is used by taxi and limo services to market to high net worth clients through advertising partnerships and branded content (Uber and Grab are also major customers in the Philippines, AdMov’s home market).

In addition to serving up advertisements, AdMov is able to tailor in-vehicle content to its users by using a combination of facial recognition and artificial intelligence.

12. Cambricon

Chinese startup Cambricon is quickly becoming a world leader in the growing AI chip industry. It recently raised $300M+ in a funding round led by a Chinese government investment fund, and at a valuation in excess of $2.5B, it’s now the highest-valued AI chipmaker in the world.

In May of this year, Cambricon unveiled the MLU100, its first AI-driven cloud computing chip. The chip is able to support even the most cutting-edge deep learning models, and it’s already being used in enterprise servers (like those of Lenovo, an early adopter of Cambricon’s technology).  

13. Preferred Networks

Japanese startup Preferred Networks is using artificial intelligence to transform the Internet of Things (IoT) industry. With a valuation at more than $2B, Preferred Networks is presently Japan’s most valuable startup, and its developing revolutionary algorithms that are being used in everything from smart appliances to driverless cars.

The startup recently received $110M in funding from Toyota to help it build an AI-based algorithm that the carmaker hopes will help it compete with Google in the autonomous vehicle space.

14. Roadstar.ai

Roadstar.ai is a startup that’s leveraging artificial intelligence to build a new generation of autonomous driving software. This summer, the Shenzhen-based startup landed $128M in new funding from Shenzhen Capital and Wu Capital Group – the largest ever investment in an autonomous driving startup in China – to help it continue developing its AI-powered autonomous driving software.

Roadstar.ai offers car manufacturers a software suite called Aries, which uses artificial intelligence to help a vehicle navigate roads while in adverse conditions (such as rain, sleet, or nighttime).

15. Datanest

Indonesian startup Datanest helps businesses harness the power of big data to improve their operations using artificial intelligence. Though the startup was only founded late last year, it’s already working with several partners in the fintech industry to offer customers enhanced services, like auto loan-matching programs and the like.

Datanest’s AI engine architecture supports most major cloud-based computing solutions, such as Amazon Web Services, and its planning to use these capabilities to plot a major expansion into the retail sector early next year.

16. Yitu

Yitu is a Chinese startup that specializes in using artificial intelligence to make sense of facial recognition data on a grand scale. Its proprietary facial recognition technology is already deployed in tens of thousands of ATMs across China, as well as surveillance cameras throughout the country.

The startup recently opened its first international office in Singapore, which it intends to use as a research and development testbed for the region. Yitu is now hiring aggressively to fuel the expansion, and is hoping to add an additional 50-60 staff to its team by the end of the year.

17. Seventh Sense

Seventh Sense is a small-but-growing Singaporean startup that aims to help governments and large businesses use AI to analyze facial recognition data more efficiently. The company is developing a visual intelligence platform that customers can use to parse vast amounts of facial recognition data with ease.

The Seventh Sense platform leverages advanced deep learning models to optimize data collection for any systems that require visual recognition data (such as surveillance systems, online user profiles, or ecommerce solutions)

18. DeePhi

DeePhi is a Chinese startup that’s developing AI chips designed for use in large data centers and surveillance systems. It recently landed an undisclosed investment from Korean tech giant Samsung, which it will be using to continue developing its Deep Neural Network Development Kit (DNNDK), which helps enterprises simplify the running of deep learning applications.

Though a relatively young startup, DeePhi already has a diverse range of technology partners, including China’s Alipay and Amazon Web Services.

19. ViSenze

Singapore-based startup ViSenze is a startup that’s creating cutting-edge technology which allows brands and retailers to use AI to transform the visual shopping experience. ViSenze’s proprietary technology uses advanced deep learning algorithms to surface shopping recommendations, customer reviews, and more to shoppers within a given app.

The startup has raised more than $14M in funding to date, and has a diversified client base across the region. It was founded in 2012, the product of a collaboration between the National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University.

20. Dayli Financial Group

Dayli Financial Group is a startup that’s making a significant impact on Asia’s fintech industry with its patented AI technologies. The Seoul-headquartered company offers enterprise-grade analytics solutions for financial firms, and raised upwards of $30M in its ICO earlier this year.

Late last year, the startup inked a partnership with Ripple to bring its blockchain-based cross border payment solution to customers in Japan and Korea.

21. Westwell Lab

Westwell Lab is a Chinese startup that is developing an AI chip that interfaces with the human neural system. The company’s homegrown AI chips use neural processors that simulate the human brain by virtually stimulating “brain neurons” within the chip itself.

While it all sounds rather science fiction, the science itself is real – and so is the investment Westwell has received to date. Last year the startup raised its Series A funding round for an undisclosed amount (the funding round was led by Fosun Tunghao).

22. SmartPeep

SmartPeep is an AI-driven medtech startup based in Singapore. It’s developing a platform that uses artificial intelligence to help monitor Asia’s growing population of elderly while reducing the risk of falls or other unnecessary injuries. Its system can notify caregivers when high-risk activities are detected, as well as when a fall occurs.

23. UCARE

Singapore-based UCARE is a healthcare startup that’s using artificial intelligence to streamline healthcare organizations and reduce unnecessary costs along the way. The startup leverages neural networks to predict health patterns in patients, as well as operational constraints within healthcare systems (such as a hospital network or even a specific surgery ward).

This May, UCARE raised $8M in Series A funding (the round was led by Walden International and Great Eastern) to accelerate hiring and continue its expansion throughout the region.

24. Face++

Face++ has quickly risen to become one of the world’s leading facial intelligence startups. Using the power of artificial intelligence, Face++ products are already being used across China in everything from surveillance cameras to “new retail” shopper marketing displays.

The startup has already raised more than $500M in funding (much of it from the Chinese government), as well as significant amounts of funding from Alibaba’s Ant Financial.

25. Sigtuple

India-based SigTuple is a relatively recent entrant to Asia’s increasingly crowded medtech industry. The startup uses artificial intelligence to make more accurate diagnoses of potential medical conditions, and specializes in analyzing blood tests.

Last year, SigTuple announced that it had raised $5.8 in Series A funding to help it scale its operations and further expand internationally, making it the best-funded AI startup ever to come out of India. The funding round was led by Accel Partners.

20 Crypto Companies in Tokyo You Should Get to Know

If you’re interested in crypto, be sure to check out CryptoList – my hand-researched list of crypto companies, and consider subscribing to CryptoWeekly, my weekly crypto newsletter.

The city of Tokyo has a long and storied history in the world of crypto. Many of the earliest crypto exchanges were based in the city, and even the doomed Mount Gox was for a time based here.

These days, the crypto ecosystem in Tokyo is more vibrant than ever. Recent improvements in the regulatory environment have opened the door for crypto startups once again, and the city is now home to more than two dozen crypto exchanges. Add to that a robust base of technical talent and capital, and Tokyo just might be one of the best places to start up a crypto company.

1. BitFlyer

Founded in 2014 and now the largest crypto exchange in Japan, BitFlyer has long been a true innovator in Tokyo’s crypto ecosystem. The platform is now looking to go global, though, as it recently received a payments license from EU regulatory authorities and plans to open up a Bitcoin-only exchange there.

In addition to its crypto exchange, BitFlyer also offers crypto developers an API that allows anyone to connect to the platform using third party software. Unlike many crypto exchanges, BitFlyer doesn’t support most alt coins, and instead has opted to only offer the highest-traded coins by market cap (including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin).

2. BTCBox

BTCBox is one of Japan’s leading crypto exchanges, and it distinguishes itself from the competition by specializing in Bitcoin to Japanese Yen trading. As a newly-minted member of Japan’s self-regulating consortium of crypto exchanges, BTCBox now has considerable influence over crypto regulations in Japan, and it actively participates in crypto events in the Tokyo area.

BTCBox sees its crypto exchange as just one piece of a multi-layered ecosystem, spanning from mobile payments to real estate. The firm is actively collaborating with some of Japan’s top cybersecurity platforms to ensure its exchange has best-in-class security infrastructure, while also consulting with Japanese authorities on future crypto regulations.

3. Bitbank

Tokyo-based BitBank, which initially started out as a crypto wallet service, is now one of Japan’s largest and longest-running crypto exchanges. The exchange is a charter member of the newly-established Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association, which is seeking to establish self-regulatory guidelines around crypto trading within the country.

Leveraging their proprietary platform, Bitbank also offers “Bitcoin for Brokers”, an API connector and software layer that provides financial institutions and banks with the ability to seamlessly connect with Bitbank’s crypto exchange and integrate it into their own financial products.

4. LINE Financial

The Japanese messaging giant recently announced a significant push into cryptocurrencies by establishing a subsidiary firm called Line Financial Corporation. Announced in January of this year, the independently-run organization will collaborate with its sister company, Line Pay, on a number of crypto-related initiatives – including a crypto exchange, and potentially a crypto mobile payments service.

The firm is presently applying for a crypto exchange license with Japanese regulatory authorities, and once it has been approved, plans to start operations immediately. LINE Pay envisions eventually integrating crypto into every corner of its business (including its messaging platform), and starting a crypto exchange is its first step on that journey.

5. BitArg

BitArg is one of the largest exchanges in Tokyo, and is primarily owned by parent company CMD Corporation. In recent years, it’s struggled against rising competition in the Japan market, but it recently received a lifeline via a 40% stake in the company purchased by Yahoo Japan (CMD Corporation will still own the majority of the crypto exchange, according to the deal terms).

The motivation behind the deal is unclear at the moment, but many in the industry are speculating that Yahoo Japan is preparing to leverage BitArg’s technology to launch its own crypto exchange sometime next year.

6. GMO Coin

GMO Coin is the cryptocurrency exchange subsidiary of Japanese internet behemoth GMO. The crypto exchange recently upgraded its system-wide security after updates were ordered by Japan’s chief financial regulator, and is now embarking on an ambitious business improvement strategy that will see it establish a “Group Information Security Audit Office” in order to better safeguard customers’ data.

The firm made waves in the crypto industry earlier this year when it announced that it would begin paying its staff in Bitcoin for a portion of their monthly salaries. In addition to its crypto exchange, GMO recently announced that it also plans to spin off a crypto mining unit of its business later this year.

7. BitPoint

Founded in 2016, Tokyo-based BitPoint is one of Japan’s most active crypto exchanges. The firm (formerly known as BITpoint) has made a significant push into the crypto payments space, and is presently in discussions with one of Japan’s largest retailers about bringing its crypto payments platform to thousands of retail locations around the country.

In March of this year, BitPoint announced that it would be partnering with Peach Aviation (one of Japan’s largest low-cost airlines) to roll out payment by Bitcoin as an option across its network. The move would make Peach one of the first airlines in the world to adopt BTC as a payment option, and solidify BitPoint’s role as one of Japan’s most innovative crypto exchanges.

8. SBI Virtual Currencies

SBI Virtual Currencies is the crypto-focused subsidiary of Japanese banking firm SBI Group. The firm is preparing to launch its long-anticipated crypto exchange later this year, which will exclusively be listing Ripple’s XRP at launch. The firm is also looking to join Ripple’s xRapid system, which is an enterprise-grade solution that helps financial institutions improve liquidity for cross-border transactions.

SBI Virtual Currencies holds the unique distinction of being Japan’s first exclusively bank-backed crypto exchange. As a result, more scrutiny has been placed upon the exchange prior to launch, and SBI’s founders have delayed the exchange’s launch to later this year as they make additional security upgrades to the platform prior to its public debut.

9. Soramitsu

Soramitsu is a fintech-focused company that’s passionate about bringing innovative blockchain solutions to the world of finance. The firm is working on developing a token-based digital identity platform that runs on the blockchain, and it’s already partnering with some of the biggest corporate names in Japan (including Odakyu, Glocom, and others).

The firm has also developed a proprietary distributed ledger technology that it’s licensing out to third-party organizations. Last year, it even announced a partnership with the National Bank of Cambodia to utilize its hyperledger technology for establishing a secure settlement infrastructure for the bank.

10. Credify

This Tokyo-based startup bills itself as a “decentralized counterparty credibility protocol and service”. Credify’s platform is targeted towards crypto companies that need a protocol-level, blockchain-based reputation tracker that need to verify transaction at scale.

That said, the firm sees applications for its platform beyond just the world of crypto, and it recently pitched its new platform at Slush Tokyo in March of this year. Credify is continuing to build out its platform and hasn’t launched its ICO yet, but it could turn out to be one of the most anticipated token offerings in Japan this year if it comes to fruition.

11. Ginco

Ginco is one of Tokyo’s newest startups, having launched just months ago, but it’s already making headlines for its streamlined multi-coin crypto wallet and crypto consulting services. The wallet, which presently only supports Ethereum, will also be expanding its support for other currencies (including Bitcoin) in the near future.

The startup recently closed its seed round of funding, and landed $1.5m in funding from VC investment firm Global Brain. The firm will be using the fresh injection of funding to continue developing the Ginco platform and accelerate hiring on the R&D front as it looks to scale globally in the upcoming year.

12. Tech Bureau

Tech Bureau was founded in Tokyo in 2015, and it initially started out as a crypto exchange provider (launching the Zaif Exchange was its first crypto project). After launching Zaif, Tech Bureau has diversified into other areas of crypto, and last year saw it launch COMSA blockchain and ICO platform for crypto startups looking to launch their own token offerings.

In November of last year, the firm landed nearly half a million dollars in investment from Japan’s Shinsei Bank,
the funds of which will be used to continue developing the COMSA platform. In addition to Shinsei Bank’s investment, Tech Bureau also recently raised $14.7m in funding from Japanese software firm Infoteria.

13. BitTrade

BitTrade is one of Japan’s largest crypto exchanges, and it’s also a founding member of the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association. The platform supports trading amongst most major coins (including Bitcoin, Ripple’s XRP, Ethereum, and others).

Notably, BitTrade is also one of just a handful of crypto exchanges licensed to do business by Japan’s chief financial regulator. The company is highly active in Tokyo’s crypto community, and frequently hosts and participates in crypto events throughout the year.

14. Fisco

Fisco has traditionally been known as one of Japan’s largest investment research firms, but now it’s making headlines for its recently-launched $2.66m crypto investment fund – reportedly the first of its kind in Japan. The firm also runs its own crypto exchange, which has been running since 2016, and regularly invests in other crypto startups in Tokyo.

While Fisco is fairly new to the world of crypto, its new investment fund marks its second foray into the space. Last year, the firm issued its first-ever Bitcoin bond, which also was one of the first of its kind in the country.

15. Nayuta

Nayuta is a Tokyo-based blockchain startup that’s building a Lightning Network solution for IoT devices. The firm recently began partnering with city governments in Japan to test its technology directly on the power grid, allowing customers to pay their utility bills using Bitcoin, with all transactions conducted through the Lightning Network.

Last year, the firm raised $1.3m in seed funding from Jafco, a Tokyo-based VC firm. Nayuta plans to use the fresh round of funding to continue developing its next layer of blockchain-based IoT technologies, while accelerating hiring in the coming year.

16. COMSA

Tokyo-based COMSA bills itself as an “ICO solution for centralized businesses”. Its platform allows crypto founders to launch their ICO within the COMSA ecosystem (which includes listing coins on the Tech Bureau-owned Zaif Exchange). In addition to providing a platform for ICOs, COMSA also offers bespoke consulting solutions for crypto founders in Tokyo that are looking to get their projects off the ground.

In September of last year, COMSA landed $15m in VC funding to help it expand operations, led by Tokyo VC firm JAFCO. The firm is now focused on getting its ICO platform fully vetted and regulated under Japan’s Payment Services Act, which will give it full governmental approval to continue growing its operations.

17. ZBM

ZBM (also known as Zerobillbank) is a blockchain startup based in Tokyo that’s focused on providing best-in-class corporate blockchain solutions. The firm allows any company to issue its own digital tokens, and its platform incorporates advanced community management tools that are rarely found in most blockchain-based solutions.

ZBM recently partnered with Benefit One, one of Japan’s largest welfare services providers, on an initiative that will see the corporation integrate the ZBB Core platform into its employee incentives program. Employees will be able to earn corporate tokens based on performance, which they can then use to purchase rewards and earn recognition from their colleagues.

18. Yenom

Yenom is a Bitcoin Cash wallet app that was recently launched by Japanese software firm Mikan. Strangely enough, the firm started out as an English language translation platform before spinning off part of its company as a crypto startup.

The Yenom app is presently available for both iOS and Android, and the functionality is designed entirely around Bitcoin Cash’s use case as a currency, rather than an investment vehicle. Transactions can be conducted between users on a P2P basis, but the company is also looking into how it can leverage its technology for retail payments as well.

19. Coincheck

Coincheck is one of Japan’s largest crypto exchanges (and likely one of its most embattled), but after a high-profile hack that saw it lose over $500m in customer funds, it’s been given a new lease on life via an acquisition by financial services giant Monex Group. The firm was acquired by Monex for $34m in mid-April of this year, and will be operated as an independent entity under the Monex umbrella.

Along with making some adjustments to key executive personnel, Monex plans to transform the ailing crypto exchange by making it a key part of its financial services empire. The firm will retain its branding and continue to run independently, but will likely begin integrating some of its crypto functionality into other Monex products as time goes on.

20. Orb

Orb is a distributed ledger firm based in Tokyo that is currently developing a decentralized cryptocurrency management platform. The firm has a number of established enterprise customers using its technology already, and has raised over $5m in funding to date to help it build out its platform.

Orb’s decentralized crypto management system allows anyone to authentic the purchase and transfer of digital assets on the blockchain. The firm is led by serial entrepreneur Masa Nakatsu, formerly the founder of social lending platform Maneo (which has raised over $140m in funding to date)

Meet this year’s most innovative Ethereum projects

If you’re interested in crypto, be sure to check out CryptoList – my hand-researched list of crypto companies, and consider subscribing to CryptoWeekly, my weekly crypto newsletter.

Ethereum is perhaps best-known for being one of the world’s largest cryptocurrencies by market cap, but it’s easy to forget it’s also a fully-fledged platform that’s home to some of the most significant innovations in the world of crypto.

Using decentralized apps (better known as Dapps) has become one of the most popular ways to launch a token project, and the number of high-quality Dapps on the market is quickly approaching critical scale.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most innovative Dapps we’ve seen out there, and explain why you should care. Ethereum is finally coming into its own as a platform, and it’s great to see the amount of innovation happening on this front. Ready to see which platforms are the kings of the Dapp ecosystem? let’s get started.

1. uPort

uPort is an Ethereum Dapp that aims to provide a decentralized identity for all, with all data stored on the Ethereum blockchain. Users are able to register their digital identity on the blockchain, and use their digital identity to sign and receive smart contracts, as well as use their digital identity to login across a number of 3rd-party services.

The Brooklyn-based startup is looking to turn their platform into a “single source of truth” for the world of digital identities. The core technology of the Dapp, while operating entirely on-chain, can also have functionality that can run off-chain as well.

2. Ethlance

Ethereum bills itself as the “world’s first job platform running entirely on Ethereum, with zero fees”. Any user with a MetaMask wallet can sign up for the platform, which is governed by Direct0x and allows jobs to be applied to (and posted) with zero fees. Users are able to complete tasks exclusively in exchange for ETH, and membership in the platform is free.

Most notably, Ethlance is a charter district of the Direct0x Network, which is an organization of decentralized online marketplaces and communities. Unlike many token projects, the team Ethlance has truly embraced transparency, and they issue regular quarterly reports on the platform’s progress and key development milestones.

3. VeChain Thor

VeChain Thor is a Dapp that allows the authenticity and quality of any product to be tracked all the way through the supply chain, with all product data stored securely on the Ethereum blockchain. The firm was originally a supply chain firm, but it recently rebranded to become a Dapp-first, blockchain-focused startup.

VeChain Thor is unique in that its customers have been using a working version of its product for years. Blue chip clients from numerous industries (including pharmaceuticals, luxury retail, and logistics) are already using the VeChain platform to store and track their product data on the blockchain.

4. Augur

Founded by entrepreneurs Jack Peterson and Joey Krug in 2014, Augur was one of the first widely-known Dapps within the crypto community. The Augur platform acts as a decentralized prediction market, allowing anyone to create prediction markets (and place futures investments on those predictions) with ease.

Augur’s network is entirely decentralized and runs on the Ethereum blockchain. It allows users to feed data about “reporting events” (events on which there are predictions) into the platform, which then rewards users with REP tokens in exchange for providing accurate data. Users are financially incentivized to keep data accurate on the Augur platform, and so far, the strategy appears to be paying off.

5. EtherTweet

EtherTweet is a creative Dapp that acts as an uncensored messaging platform run on the Ethereum blockchain. While strikingly similar to Twitter, EtherTweet distinguishes itself from the competition by storing all user messages on the blockchain, and removing all forms of censorship from the platform.

In addition to public messaging, users can also send and receive Ethereum using the service’s donations function. As of right now, the platform is only available on a web client, which is primarily designed for power users – the interface is essentially command line-only – but efforts to create a full featured mobile app are already underway.

6. TenX

TenX is a Singapore-based firm that allows customers to use Ether (or other cryptocurrencies) to pay for goods at nearly any retailer or point-of-sale in the world. This is achieved by using TenX’s own line of crypto debit and credit cards that link up with its proprietary crypto wallet (which supports all of the top cryptocurrencies). Most recently, the firm partnered with Litecoin to launch a LTC debit card, which will allow customers to use LTC for payment at any point-of-sale that accepts credit cards.

All customer transactions conducted using TenX’s technology are recorded on the blockchain, and will be a key part of TenX’s forthcoming COMIT Network, an off-chain multi-transaction network that will allow nearly any app to communicate across multiple blockchains.

7. Etherisc

Munich-based Ethereisc is a platform that’s looking to build a decentralized, open market for insurance. Through the Etherisc platform, consumers can purchase insurance policies recorded on smart contracts, which lower overall costs for both insurance providers and customers alike. The Etherisc platform is already available worldwide, and can be accessed through the firm’s standard desktop application.

The first major use case for Etherisc has turned out to be its flight delay dapp, which is a decentralized insurance application that can automatically issue policies and pay out for airline insurance claims completely anonymously.

8. Alice

Alice is an Ethereum-based Dapp that enables charities to collect and track their donations directly on the blockchain. The open-source platform allows users to see all of their donations in one place, as well as a transparent view of how their donations were used. Users can also choose receive a refund if a given cause fails to achieve its goals stated on the platform.

Donations are submitted and secured via smart contracts, and each organization that solicits donations on the platform must outline a clear set of measurable goals that must be performed in order to receive users’ donations. All donations are executed in fiat, but are tracked on the blockchain using a stablecoin that is pegged to the donations’ value.

9. Everex

Singapore-based Everex is looking to create a platform that supports a P2P payment system pegged to fiat. Users are able to transfer, lend, or trade any fiat currency in just seconds, with all transactions recorded on the blockchain. In addition, users with limited credit history are able to participate in a microfinancing program in exchange for limited borrowing capabilities.

As part of its ICO, Everex raised ~$20M in funding, which will be used to accelerate development of the platform and increase hiring for its growing sales team. The firm is also working to build its own form of “crypto-cash”, which will run on Ethereum’s P2P network.

10. Aragon

Aragon is a platform for managing decentralized organizations and companies. Its Ethereum-based Dapp uses the proprietary AragonOS architecture, which allows organizations to seamlessly upgrade to newer versions of the platform. The platform’s native token is the Aragon Network Token (ANT) and can be used to make payments on the network, or purchase digital assets within an organization.

Several months ago, the firm released the alpha version of its AragonOS, which features an entirely rewritten codebase, as well as improved voting technology (which allows decentralized organizations to quickly establish consensus around any given topic).

CryptoBasics: Litecoin

If you’re interested in crypto, be sure to check out CryptoList – my hand-researched list of crypto companies, and consider subscribing to CryptoWeekly, my weekly crypto newsletter.

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.

Stay Updated

CryptoBasics: Cardano

If you’re interested in crypto, be sure to check out CryptoList – my hand-researched list of crypto companies, and consider subscribing to CryptoWeekly, my weekly crypto newsletter.

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.

Stay Updated

CryptoBasics: Stellar

If you’re interested in crypto, be sure to check out CryptoList – my hand-researched list of crypto companies, and consider subscribing to CryptoWeekly, my weekly crypto newsletter.

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.

Stay Updated

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.

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).

Continue reading “50 Cryptocurrency Projects Disrupting The Blockchain Ecosystem”