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ICO Raised With ‘No Strings Attached’ Led to Massive Abuse – iAngels Exec [Interview]

Bitcoinist spoke with Shelly Hod Moyal, Founding Partner and Co-CEO of iAngels, on why the ICO market popped and where the cryptocurrency industry is headed next. 

A Hunter College and Kellogg MBA graduate, Shelly is a recognized expert in the areas of Fintech and Blockchain, and is a sought-after expert at international conferences about Israeli tech investing. She serves as a board member of multiple iAngels portfolio companies.

Bitcoinist: Why did the ICO market experience such hype in 2017?

Shelly Moyal: This is a loaded question and there are a few things to unpack. First, most emerging technologies experience hype cycles in which excitement gets ahead of the technology but there are a few things that make the ICO boom and bust unique.

The two most important differentiators were, 1) the participation of retail investors, and 2) liquidity of the assets (i.e. the ability trade these assets on exchanges). Most hype cycles go unnoticed as they are experienced primarily by venture capitalists and due to illiquidity, implode gradually over several years vs. several months as VCs more easily hide behind book values when market pricing information I unavailable.

Before I go into the hype which was driven by a lot of BS and speculation I think it’s important to give the idealistic background that drives the interest in the technology.

There is a growing disenchantment of consumers with traditional institutions which are centrally controlled and therefore vulnerable to mismanagement, exploitation, failure and moral hazard.

Bitcoin has shown the world that it is possible for a group of strangers to reach consensus without anyone controlling the system. This unique feature “programmable trust” has sparked the interest of several academics and entrepreneurs who imagined the possibility of creating numerous applications based on this feature.

The most popular project set out to build an infrastructure for such applications is Ethereum. Similar to Bitcoin, the infrastructure is an open source protocol and it is possible to buy into the project by buying its access token Ether. Bitcoin and Ethereum are both early examples where technology meets capital in the sense that you can buy a token both as a user and as an investor, virtually enabling anyone to invest without restrictions.

The way protocols (like Ethereum and Bitcoin) incentivize adoption is through their access token which has speculative value. As the network grows, the token appreciates in value.

During 2017, the generated wealth of the early Bitcoin and Ethereum investors was readily allocated into additional startups (mostly ICOs) set out to build the ecosystem in pursuit of further capital gains. In turn, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide witnessed how early investors in Bitcoin and Ethereum realized incredible 1,000x+ profits and wanted a piece of it as well.

Entrepreneurs started creating protocols and adopted the ICO crowdfunding vehicle to raise millions of dollars of nondilutive capital for their “token” startups. With the lack of regulatory guidance and oversight around these tokens as well as the lack of institutional investors balancing price levels around fundamentals, prices were getting way ahead of themselves resulting in a large boom and subsequent bust.

Why did it subsequently crash in 2018? Regulatory clampdown? Lower Bitcoin price? Or a combination of factors?

The “crash” was the result of 1) the disillusionment of investors, and 2) the regulatory clampdown.

Most of the investment activity was driven by speculation and price movements were influenced by illiquidity and at times, market manipulation. As these projects were all early-stage startups that have not yet created value (a product and network) it was impossible to justify multi-billion dollar valuations.

The fact that many projects also turned out to be fraudulent didn’t help, and the high demand for these assets gradually evaporated over the course of 2018.

Furthermore, there is no coherent business model for these token investments. In other words, it was (and still is) unclear how value will be captured by the early investors of these networks. Most of the projects today do not have a token model which effectively aligns incentives between users and investors. There is an inverse relationship between velocity and network value.

Meaning that the more hands the currency changes, the lower the valuation of the network because if all demand is met by supply there is less scarcity. So a successful product could still result in little value captured by token holders. Many projects today are experimenting with different token models like mint and burn, governance, work tokens, TCRs etc expected to drive appreciation in the token but these are still unproven.

Furthermore, as regulators, specifically the SEC, made it clear that most token sales are considered security offerings (according to the Howey test and Hinman’s guidance) and started investigating projects that conducted an ICO, more and more entrepreneurs decided not to pursue the ICO path as they realized their tokens would be considered uncompliant securities.

What kind of lessons were learned during the past year?

There are no shortcuts to building a startup even if it’s decentralized. It takes time and for that reason, venture capital cannot be entirely replaced. The idea of startups trading in a liquid market is very nice theoretically but there is no reason for any startup that doesn’t have anything aside from a team and an idea to trade at something much more than zero.

Even today when startups raise money at a certain valuation, it doesn’t mean that the next day someone would be willing to buy the startup at that price. This pricing is just a mechanism for building partnerships between entrepreneurs and investors, not an indication of real fundamental value.

This brings me to another lesson regarding the importance of governance. The lack of self-governance of these startups requires regulation and corporate governance to protect investors and consumers until these networks can truly and fairly govern themselves.

During the period between 2017 and 2018, the ability of entrepreneurs to raise money with no strings attached led to massive abuse, which damaged the industry in many ways.

Ironically, this created a bad perception of the movement largely set out to build a better world with financial inclusion and more aligned businesses built on the values of fairness, transparency, and decentralization.

Why do you believe that the STO can replace the ICO?

We don’t believe STOs will replace all ICOs. STO is a broader category. Indeed, decentralized/utility token projects can take advantage of this route too but broadly speaking, STOs are simply an evolution of capital markets allowing us to tokenize any kind of asset. STOs will play an important role in the future economy as they provide infrastructure for trade and reduce inefficiencies in the current financial markets through disintermediation.

STOs are exclusively based on their regulatory compliance and vetting. How can this crowdfunding model attract the same amount of people that the relatively permissionless ICO model did?

It can not and should not. STOs, by definition, are subject to national securities laws and are thus treated like issuances of traditional securities such as equities and bonds. As a result, the investor universe is restricted and those that choose to market to the general public will be required to comply with heavy and expensive regulation similar to those required by companies wishing to raise an IPO.

STOs will thus more likely follow the trends and cycles of the financial instruments underlying tokens rather than those experienced in the recent ICO bubble.

How does your company iAngels help these projects to manage their capital?

We help them just like we help our other startups across various areas. Investing in startups is a long term partnership and we strive to give our entrepreneurs any support they need whether it’s in business development, fundraising, marketing, finance and/or strategy.

What projects have you invested in recently?

One interesting project is Spacemesh, which tries to create more fairness through a consensus mechanism: Proof-of-spacetime (PoST). Within PoST, storage space is utilized as proof for the verifier (as opposed to computational power in Proof-of-Work).

While nothing stops someone from buying huge amounts of storage space to increase their influence on the consensus, these actors face diseconomies of scale and such behavior is thus not economical. As a result, unused storage space on home computers can contribute to the consensus and if the technology works, the degree of decentralization can be high with low energy costs.

Like you mentioned, most of these projects experiment with new token models, building apps on unproven blockchains. Wouldn’t it makes sense to harness the biggest network effect, i.e. Bitcoin rather than try to build their base layer digital value networks from scratch?

Yes, definitely. Bitcoin and Ethereum have indeed managed to build strong networks over the years with large developer communities, and there is a lot of room to innovate on the layers above these blockchains. And indeed, over the last year, we have already seen several projects build promising applications on these blockchains, especially Ethereum, for example, Maker Dao and its stablecoin Dai.

However, as there are different types of applications, we believe there is no one size fits all blockchain and so there is room for other innovative and novel blockchains (e.g. faster, more secure, more decentralized) that can also emerge as leaders for certain applications.

What is the biggest barrier to cryptocurrency adoption right now?

We believe that the main barriers are technology and regulation. In terms of technology, the stack is not developed enough to build scalable and user-friendly decentralized applications (dApps). And currently, only tech-savvy people interact with them.

Interaction with a dApp, for example, requires you to download the Metamask browser extension, to create a wallet and to fund it with Ether bought through an exchange or broker. This is a lengthy process before you can even interact with a dApp. In order to achieve adoption, the blockchain must operate in a way that is just as seamless as the applications we use today and this will take some time.

We are still at a point in which entrepreneurs need to create breakthroughs at the first infrastructure levels of the technology.

It will take time until crypto will feel like Visa or Mastercard, which are much higher up in the technology stack. Think of the internet before broadband and mobile, much less useful.

Can CREDO Take Its Place Alongside Visa and Mastercard?

In terms of regulation, it is important for entrepreneurs and users to have clarity about the regulatory treatment of these assets, which they don’t have today. As a result, participants in the technology are exposed to potential legal and regulatory proceedings. This veil of uncertainty deters most risk-averse people and institutions from adopting the technology.

What are the opportunities in the industry?

Today the market has changed and what was possible in 2017 isn’t possible today, so what we are left with is actually what might be the biggest opportunity for the industry today.

Talented entrepreneurs and groups are sitting on piles of cash with a lot of time to work and focus on shipping rather than the next VC round. This is a significant advantage given that in VC, entrepreneurs typically raise money for 18 months and if they don’t hit their milestones they’re often out of business.

By removing this “timing risk,” theoretically, a team of talented people has a higher chance of succeeding. If even a few blockchain projects emerge as value adding from this wave, it will be a great win for the industry.

What do you think about Shelly’s view on digital token regulations? Share your thoughts below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock,

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Roger Ver Interview: ‘Of Course’ I Hold More BCH Than BTC

Bitcoinist spoke with Bitcoin Cash advocate and owner of, Roger Ver, about the BCH ‘hash war,’ his controversial website branding of Bitcoin (BTC) as ‘Bitcoin Core,’ and why he believes Bitcoin developers are “economically illiterate.”

Bitcoinist: Bitcoin Cash just went thru a ‘hash war’ with Craig Wright/Ayre splitting off to a new chain called Bitcoin Cash SV. Can you share your reflections on the recent hard fork?

Roger Ver: Craig and I don’t have any disagreement. It seems strange that the media is trying to frame it that way.

What developments does Bitcoin Cash have in the pipeline now? What are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about that will be launching in full soon. It will result in censorship resistant exchanges, sports betting and much more. I’m also very excited about our Coin Shuffle privacy tool coming to the wallet very soon.

Is Bitcoin Cash open to a Lightning Network type of scaling solution, sidechains etc. in the future?

I’ve never been opposed to any of those things. In fact, I’ve provided more funding for both Lightning and Side Chains than just about anyone else. I’m only opposed to the insane BTC block space production quota still being advocated for by a bunch of economically ignorant software engineers who need to pick up an economics book.

Given your commerce adoption focus, how interested are merchants in accepting BCH right now? Why? How many currently accept BCH worldwide?

Obviously, they are very interested as shown by the fact that Bitpay has provided full support for BCH on their platform. More than 100,000 websites are currently accepting BCH, and likely more physical shops are accepting BCH than BTC now.

Many Bitcoin proponents argue that Satoshi’s anonymity and disappearance give it an advantage over other coins that have known founders or de facto community leaders. Do you agree? In this sense, is Bitcoin Cash at a disadvantage since many would consider Roger Ver a leader of sorts given your popularity?

I reject the premise. I didn’t start BCH, and I’m not the leader. I’m just one of many users although I may be louder than most.

You recently stated that “Bitcoin Core believes that Bitcoin’s goal is to become digital gold. Bitcoin Cash believes that Bitcoin’s goal is to become a global currency.“ But Satoshi wrote that Bitcoin is “more typical of a precious metal.” Why do you prioritize adoption in commerce over SoV? Doesn’t this also run counter to the evolution of money stages as a collectible->store of value->currency->unit of account?

I reject the evolution of money cycle that you have laid out. Money is simply the most commonly accepted barter good.  The dollar is the world’s most popular store of value because you can spend it anywhere. If Bitcoin had been allowed to continue to be spendable anywhere, it could have become the world’s most popular store of value.

Instead, the economically ignorant BTC camp have intentionally undermined BTC’s usefulness in commerce and unwittingly undermined its usefulness as a store of value.

I laid it out in detail very clearly in this video that has aged very well.

Your website Bitcoin dot com states: “Buy Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin Core (BTC) with a credit card.” Critics say you are intentionally mislabeling BTC as Bitcoin Core, the name of the Bitcoin software client, to get new users to buy BCH. There have also been reports of people wanting to buy BTC but mistakenly buying BCH instead. How do you respond?

BCH has more Bitcoin-ness about it than BTC, so it doesn’t make sense to call BTC Bitcoin. The website is labeled very clearly, and we have never had a single report from an actual customer making a mistake.

BTC fees have been at the lowest in years this year. Moreover, on October 16, a Bitcoin user moved 29,999 BTC worth $194 million with a $0.1 fee. Why do you state, based on your recent tweets, that Bitcoin (BTC) has “full blocks” and “high fees”?

By intentional design of the “Core Developers”, they want Bitcoin to have high fees and full blocks. If the fees are currently low, then they are failing at what they have set out to accomplish. Either way, they are incompetent.

BCH price is currently at record-lows in USD and BTC terms and down over 96% from all-time highs. What’s the reason? Hash war? Lack of adoption? Overall bearish crypto market? A combination of factors?

Obviously, it is a combination of factors. The market is made up of millions of participants with their own needs, desires, and goals.

Do you hold more BCH than BTC?

Of course. BTC’s future is dim with the misguided economic code being promoted.

What’s your BCH price prediction for 2019?

I don’t know, and neither does anyone else.

What are your thoughts on Roger Ver’s comments? Share them below!

 Images courtesy of Shutterstock,

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Roel Wolfert: ‘Cryptocurrency Will Just Be a Normal Part of Life’ [Interview]

Bitcoinist recently caught up with Roel Wolfert, co-founder of WHIRL, a socially driven crowdfunding platform built on the blockchain.

Roel Wolfert is an expert in digital payments and serves as the COO at Transtrack International, which provides software to banks, governments, and organizations to manage their cash supply chain. Wolfert is also an advisor to the Bancor Foundation, which manages the largest decentralized liquidity network in the world, BeamWallet, the UAE’s largest mobile wallet, and Genexi, a biochain blockchain startup. Furthermore, he is Senior Vice President Consulting & Analytics services at Visa Europe.

Wolfert is actively involved in tech mentoring and diversity initiatives — so we decided to pick his brain on WHIRL and the future of the blockchain and cryptocurrency markets.

Bitcoinist: WHIRL is a socially driven, pay-it-forward crowdfunding platform that’s built on the blockchain. What differentiates WHIRL from other crowdfunding platforms?

Several factors. Firstly, you only get to launch a campaign if you have already contributed to others. The number you have supported and the funds you have pledged increase your Karma, which makes you eligible to start a campaign of your own. So you know that anyone who asks for funding has already ‘paid their dues’ upfront.

Secondly, there’s only a limited number of campaigns that are active at any given time. That means there’s limited competition for supporters’ funds, rather than the normal situation where a large number of campaigns compete for the same pool of money – frequently meaning that none are adequately backed.

Add to this the fact we’re a crypto-based platform that operates across the world, the dramatically lower fees our users enjoy compared to those of conventional platforms like Kickstarter (fees from the platform itself, payment processor and withdrawals, taxes etc can easily total 20% of the money raised), and the large number of cryptocurrencies we accept, and that makes WHIRL absolutely unique and a very powerful proposition.

Bitcoinist: WHIRL brings the entire community’s attention on only a few active campaigns at once. Does this mean that the WHIRL platform isn’t decentralized? Who determines which campaigns are focused on?

Campaigns go into a transparent queue, based on the order in which they are submitted. Only community members who have enough Karma – i.e., who have supported enough campaigns in the past – can launch their own project. So the process is very straightforward, programmatic even. There isn’t a way to game it, since you have to prove your ‘worth’ by backing other campaigns before you start your own. Ultimately this makes WHIRL very different, both in terms of the dynamics of the platform but, more importantly, the kind of community and ethos we are seeking to cultivate.

Bitcoinist: By using blockchain technology, we may assume that all crowdfunding on the platform is transparent and accounted for? Who moderates everything?

We do have a moderation process that is intended to filter out projects that would be illegal in many jurisdictions, or otherwise problematic in some way – for example, we don’t allow members to launch drug or adult-themed campaigns, or those with a political or religious goal. But other than that, eligible projects go straight into the transparent queue, so everyone knows where they stand and which campaigns are coming up next for funding.

Bitcoinist: Which cryptocurrencies does WHIRL support for crowdfunding campaigns? Do you have plans to add more in the future? If so, which ones?

We currently support 12 cryptocurrencies: ADA, BCH, BTC, DASH, EOS, ETH, KICK, LTC, USDT, XRP, XML, and WRL (our own WHIRL token). This alone sets us apart from other crypto crowdfunding platforms, and integrating this many currencies is a testament to our developers’ talent and experience. We’re looking to add more soon, and we’ll also be including fiat deposits as soon as possible.

Bitcoinist: Tell us how the WRL token fits into the platform. What is the benefit for WRL investors or holders? What’s the difference between WRL and Karma points?

Karma is an internal scoring mechanism. It’s not a currency: you can’t transfer or exchange it. It’s tied inextricably to your user account, and you earn more of it when you back a campaign based on the dollar value of your contribution and other factors.

WRL is a crypto token, initially hosted on Ethereum but with the intention that we’ll move to EOS in due course. As our internal token, contributions made with WRL will be worth more in terms of Karma than other currencies – you’ll get a ‘WRL premium’ on your Karma score. As a result, we expect greater liquidity and velocity for WRL, and our most active platform users will probably use WRL exclusively or predominantly.

For investors, WRL will be in demand as that desirable currency. Additionally, we will be taking a small fee in WRL for each campaign, and some or all of those tokens will be burned – decreasing supply and helping to increase value over the long term.

Bitcoinist: WRL was built using the Ethereum ERC-20 standard but will migrate to the EOS blockchain later. Why EOS? Are you concerned at all with recent claims that EOS is too centralized?

Ethereum is the right choice for now since it’s the most mature smart contracts platform: it has the functionality we need and has been battle tested for years and with millions of developer-hours.

However, Ethereum has some drawbacks, including its throughput limit and transaction fees, and so we are looking to move to another blockchain in the future. At the moment, EOS looks like the best option for various reasons – speed, capacity, functionality, cost and so on. Of course we monitor relevant developments in the crypto space and will make a final decision based on the information available at the time. Many platforms have teething troubles or a bootstrap phase where they are not as decentralised as is ultimately desirable – including even Bitcoin, in its early days – so we look forward to seeing positive developments in the coming months.

Bitcoinist: What is, ultimately, the goal of WHIRL?

This is what it all comes down to, and is the key difference between WHIRL and other crowdfunding platforms. Other platforms are solely about money: getting funded is the simple goal. And that leads to unintended consequences, because everyone is competing for funding and unfortunately, some people have figured out how to compete dishonestly. Capitalism, the free market – they’re great, but they are by nature amoral. When you make getting funded the highest goal, you necessarily push into second place every other factor, including the overall wellbeing of the community. We wanted to structure things in such a way that the free market works in favour of everyone.

WHIRL ensures that projects get funded – in fact, we’ve designed our platform so that campaigns have a 100% probability of getting the money they need. But instead of it being a dog-eat-dog world where anything goes to get the funding in the door, we flip the model on its head. You only get to ask for money if you’ve previously backed other campaigns. In our case, money is being used as a kind of social ‘glue’ that strengthens the community. And that’s essentially what we’re trying to build: a real community of like-minded people who will genuinely help each other, with financial incentives to help make it a reality. A genuine community, then, rather than the hollow way the term ‘community’ is generally used in the online world.

Bitcoinist: Where do you see the cryptocurrency marketplace in 10 years?

Cryptocurrency will just be a normal part of life, integrated into everything we do just as regular fiat money is today. The user experience will be much better, and most people won’t know or care what’s going on behind the scenes – much like they don’t care how their iPhone works or how TCP/IP powers the web. It will just be another form of cash. Most likely we’ll have lots of different currencies, and they will be easily exchangeable against each other. They’ll be used for different things and we’ll no doubt have many use cases across online and offline services. Overall market cap will probably be one or two orders of magnitude larger than it is today.

Bitcoinist: Where do you see blockchain technology in 10 years?

Blockchain will evolve rapidly, just like other cutting-edge technologies have done. When you think of where the internet and email were in 1995 – poor user experience, slow, awful interfaces – and then you look at the situation ten years later, you realise how fast things are going to change. By the mid-2000s we had fully-fledged e-commerce – and just a few years after that, almost all of us carry powerful computers, capable of accessing any information on the web and connecting with thousands or even millions of people via social media, in our pockets.

The foundations have been laid but blockchain will change hugely. We’ll see new systems that will support speeds and throughput that are out of reach today. We’ll see new decentralised protocols that build on the same principles but that can’t be considered blockchain. At the same time, it seems likely that some of the first blockchain platforms – including Bitcoin and others – will still be around. It’s an exciting time to be alive, and it’s great to be playing a part in the revolution!

Bitcoinist: What is your favorite part about working for WHIRL?

The great thing of WHIRL is that we give people an opportunity to do good in a transparent blockchain-driven environment. We’re using new technology to implement a new idea. None of this has ever been done before and it wouldn’t even have been possible ten years ago, or even five. And that’s pretty cool 🙂

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Qravity: Rewarding Entertainment for Everyone [Interview]

Qravity is a multi-functional tool for decentralized premium content creation with its own ecosystem, project management tools, and digital storefront.

Bitcoinist recently sat down with Qravity cofounder and CEO David Brandstaetter to discuss his project, the benefits it provides the community, and the state of the cryptocurrency market as a whole.

Bitcoinist: Qravity is a digital entertainment production and distribution platform where decentralized creative teams get royalties for making movies, games, music, and more. Explain to our readers a bit about how the platform works.

Brandstaetter: The platform covers a lot of different aspects, Qravity is a multi-functional tool for decentralized premium content creation; it also has its own ecosystem, project management tools, and digital storefront.

Creatives working in the content creation industry don’t usually receive their fair share of the revenue their work helps generate. In some respects, the industry operates in a way that discourages or even actively prevents new talent from entering it. At the same time, producers of larger projects like feature-length films need to find and hire creative team members; they also need to have distribution and marketing plans for their finished products in place. Qravity covers all these aspects and more.

Producers, or project founders, will be able to submit their content proposals to Qravity, where curators and, in the near future, community votes, will decide if and when a project will go into production on, and get distributed through, the platform. Once their project has been approved, a founder can set up the tasks required to complete their movie, video game, application, or other digital media. Task setup includes the allocation of project stakes in the form of QPT, the platform’s internal token, which tracks task progress and determines the revenue share that creators receive for task completion.

Content creators who have registered with Qravity can then offer to complete tasks for projects that interest them; alternatively, project founders can search the platform to assemble creative teams and assign tasks to each member. In this respect, Qravity functions like a job board.

The platform offers team communication tools, as well as the ability to upload, track, review, and revise task results. When a content creator completes a task, they immediately receive the QPT allocated to it. Based on the amount of QPT they hold, team members receive micropayments in the form of our external token, QCO, every time the content they helped produce is purchased.

Bitcoinist: What sets Qravity apart from the competition?

Brandstaetter: The platform’s extensive feature set, and the Qravity business model, make us truly unique in the blockchain and creative industry spaces. First of all, we’re focusing exclusively on premium content, including feature-length films, video games, and other digital content that consumers are willing to pay for. Second, we’re combining decentralized with centralized processes in a way that enables us to connect with traditional media organizations and their distribution models.

We’re like a traditional film or game studio, the differences being that Qravity creative teams are 100% decentralized, and every producer and content creator earns immutable project stakes, meaning they continuously receive royalties as long as the content they helped produce is monetized and commercially relevant.

On top of all that, Qravity includes a suite of project management tools to help project founders and their creative teams complete content, and the platform’s storefront makes it unique and revolutionary – Qravity is about to provide the creative industry with a wealth of new opportunities.

Bitcoinist: With a fairly large percentage of ICOs being labeled as ‘scams’ these days by various analysts and figures in the industry, what assurances can you provide readers that Qravity’s ICO is legitimate?

Brandstaetter: We are still in a sort of “Wild West” with ICOs, but there is already far more regulation in many countries than there was a year ago. Qravity is based in Austria, where regulation for ICOs is fairly complex, but the regulations we need to follow make both the process and the company transparent, and ensures security for our token sale participants. We have also dedicated much of our efforts and budget into legal consultations and website security, as well as smart contract auditing, which RIAT handled. Last but not least, the Qravity team is standing behind the project every step of the way, putting our faces and business reputations out there for all to see. Our main intention to truly change the way creatives work together and profit from their contributions.

Ultimately, we hope that people will put their trust in us and see the potential of Qravity as clearly as we do.

Bitcoinist: What’s next for Qravity after its token sale?

Brandstaetter: We will continue developing the platform until it is ready for its commercial launch, which should take place by the end of this year. We will also promote the platform through content markets and trade fairs, starting with MIPCOM in Cannes in October. The first project that will be produced on the platform is a feature-length 3D animated film called Lizzard Maddoxx; this will also demand a lot of attention, as we will use this project to beta test the platform’s functionality before we open it to project submissions early next year.

Bitcoinist: What can you tell us about the QCO token? What value does it provide investors?

Brandstaetter: QCO fuels the economy of the Qravity platform. It is distributed as payment for creatives, and is required to licence, purchase, or rent content on the platform. QCO creates transparency in purchases for all the stakeholders. As a blockchain technology, the token ensures that every content creator and project founder, and Qravity, is paid their allotted share of the profits. QCO smart contracts make tampering with profit-sharing impossible, and automatically create and protect a complete, immutable history of activities and transactions.

Bitcoinist: Where do you see the value of QCO in the medium to long-term and the ultimate benefit for token holders?

Brandstaetter: The value of the QCO token depends not only on factors like speculative trading, but above all on the number of projects that are completed and consumed on the platform.

QCO token holders will benefit from a unique feature set, including QCO Boost, which will give Qravity community members the opportunity to contribute to promising projects at an early stage, helping drive these projects to completion and provide content creators with advance payments against their royalties. The low entry barrier for both creators and consumers will eventually lead to a paradigm shift in the digital entertainment industry.

The continual addition of new projects and content consumers supports and reinforces QCO: As more people consume the digital content curated and distributed on the platform, and more content is created on the platform, the demand for QCO will increase.

Bitcoinist: There already are similar tokens in the space, does Qravity really need its own tokens?

Brandstaetter: Qravity is aware of the competition from blockchain-backed companies with similar approaches. However, all competitors cover only specific aspects of what Qravity does. As a result, Qravity is able to provide content creators and content consumers with more extensive benefits than all the current competition combined.

Qravity’s biggest advantage over all its competitors is the platform’s all-in-one project development suite, which features an extensive set of professional project management tools. Qravity also actively supports its projects with an adequate marketing budget to ensure that Qravity content will be positioned prominently on the market and attract global awareness.

Bitcoinist: How does the Community Rewards program work?

Brandstaetter: We designed Qravity to continuously incentivize people. Consequently, the Community Rewards program has allocated a set quantity of QCO to distribute to community members who actively support the platform. Members can receive a portion of these tokens according to their level of activity, and there are plenty of opportunities for them to participate. They can earn QCO by, for example, tweeting about the project, or participating in and translating our ANN and bounty threads at BitcoinTalk, which contain information and instructions for participating in the Community Rewards program. We’re also available to provide further details and answer questions in the Qravity Telegram channel.

Bitcoinist: Can you share further details about the team, and how they are complimenting the project?

Brandstaetter: Christian Sascha Dennedst, our CFO, is a prolific entrepreneur and angel investor who operates across a wide range of industries, including biotechnology and medical diagnostics. He has set up several successful global biotech startups, and co-founded Tectonic Slide Entertainment and Qravity. With knowledge gained through his studies in the University of Nicosia’s MSc course in Digital Currency, Christian initiated, and is overseeing, the integration of smart contracts and digital currency into the Qravity platform.

Capacity and its team of highly experienced blockchain developers and cryptoeconomics specialists are committed to designing the best possible incentive-based token ecosystem for the Qravity platform. Their Managing Director, Andreas Petersson, is providing Qravity with his expertise in smart contracts to ensure transparency, fairness, and security for Qravity project founders, content creators, distributors, and consumers.

Franz Eigel is a cryptoeconomics expert and project manager, who helps Qravity with the design of the tokenomics as well as its business operations during and beyond its token sale.

Our Chief Product Officer, Chris Barber, is an accomplished project manager, blockchain consultant, and business analyst with 10 years’ experience managing large engineering projects. With his deep understanding of blockchain’s evolution and emerging market opportunities, Chris is framing the real-world application of smart contracts as they relate to Qravity’s goals and mission.

Sergey Shevchenko, our lead UI/UX designer, has over five years of practical experience. Over this time, Sergey has delivered incredible results for several fascinating and challenging projects. Sergey created Qravity’s stunning look, and made it logical and user-friendly.

Dr. Oliver Völkel heads up our Legal Department. He has extensive experience in structuring new types of financing such as initial coin offerings and initial token offerings.

Our team is, in many ways, a model of a typical Qravity creative team – decentralized and all contributing to the completion of a unique and transformative digital product.

Bitcoinist: What is your opinion on the current state of the cryptocurrency market?

Brandstaetter: As of this writing, crypto is in a bear market, with ETH at its lowest point since January; the situation is similar for most other tokens. We’ve seen this type of bear market several times in recent years, and we strongly believe there will be a recovery period, which may not get going as quickly as token holders would like; however, in the long run, crypto will prevail.

Many ICOs are building companies that require payments to be made in fiat currency, resulting in large amounts of ETH being traded for fiat, and negatively influencing exchange rates. However, the use cases for smart contracts, and blockchain in general are still as good as they’ve ever been, despite the bear markets, and this is what counts at the end of the day.

Bitcoinist: Where do you see the cryptocurrency industry in five years?

Brandstaetter: Cryptocurrencies will be a part of everyday life for a continuously growing number of people – we can already see their adoption and use cases increasing as entry barriers are gradually being lowered. I believe that consumers will be able to use crypto to pay for anything, and the average person will find it easier to manage and use cryptocurrencies. Adoption comes with the lowering of entry barriers.

Unfortunately, the media has been covering crypto in a rather negative light, which is influencing public perception of it, scaring many people off the thought of trading in it. This year’s extreme volatility hasn’t helped – it is going to take some time and reliable functioning use cases for crypto to win back the public’s trust.

Bitcoinist: And the blockchain industry?

Brandstaetter: Disruptive technologies will continue to emerge out of the blockchain industry. The question is when the tech will go mainstream and take over legacy industries. At which point did the Internet become an everyday tool, a network so powerful its absence from everyday life is practically unthinkable?

As many have said, blockchain is currently in its infancy, at a stage that is analogous to the Internet’s Dot-Com Era of 1997. Both then and now, we’ve got lots of start-ups and innovative ideas, enormous growth potential, and potential for bubbles.

Decentralization is actually a different approach to social constructs and society as a whole; it is a response to often worrying emergence of monopolies and their impact on business, politics, and society. The counter-technology truly is blockchain decentralization and we are most likely living in a critical time where some fundamental principles will shift through this technology.

Bitcoinist: What is the most exciting part about working on Qravity?

Brandstaetter: Being part of an emerging industry is very exciting, and building a new company from the ground up from comes with endless challenges – every day brings new and different ones. I am mostly looking forward to the projects we’ll see being made on the platform, and providing people with the tools and empowerment they need to bring their creative ideas to life will be a great experience.

What do you think about Qravity? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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‘We Don’t Accept Shady Coins’ – Baltic Honey Badger Conference [Interview]

This ain’t your typical Bitcoin and Blockchain conference. Bitcoinist spoke with the organizers of the Baltic Honey Badger Conference who explained what makes this event special and what to expect at this year’s event in Riga. 

Bitcoinist caught up with Max Keidun and Roman Snitko, CEO and CTO of HodlHodl, the organizers of this year’s Baltic Honey Badger conference that will be held September 22-23 in Latvia’s capital, Riga.

Keidun and Snitko explain that since the Baltic Honey Badger event attracts some of the brightest minds in Bitcoin since it doesn’t accept ICOs, shady coins or blockchain snake-oil salesmen.

Max Keidun

Bitcoinist: What makes the Baltic Honey Badger conference different from other Bitcoin/blockchain conferences? 

HodlHodl: We do not accept ICOs, shady coins or blockchain projects as sponsors. But the most important point, we wanted to capture that cypherpunk spirit, gather all the best people in the industry to share their knowledge, wisdom, and ideas. It’s not a promotional event. We do have some sponsors, but not too many.

Bitcoinist: How did the idea for a “conference driven by the cypherpunk movement” come about? Who was responsible for it? 

HodlHodl: It was just me and my co-founder. We were sitting in the kitchen together and I was telling him about how cool the 2013 San Jose Bitcoin conference was and that there’s nothing like it anymore. We thought why not have it in Latvia? Surely it’s a small country but it’s right there in the middle, between Europe and Asia, it’s beautiful and not expensive. And so the Baltic Honeybadger was born.

Bitcoinist: Did you expect last year’s inaugural event to be such a huge success? 

HodlHodl: Not really, took us by surprise it was so well received.

Bitcoinist: Who was your favorite speaker? 

HodlHodl: Favorite speaker? Don’t think there’s a favorite, but it was very exciting to have all those people, whom you mostly know from Twitter and YouTube, come to the conference and talk to them and see what they’re like in real life. There are all sorts of interesting details to learn about them: some of them only eat meat while some of them are vegetarians, for example.

It’s very cool that it’s not just Bitcoin that defines us all, but there are always so many different dimensions to a person that you can only see when you meet face to face.

And we are grateful for this chance to meet them all.

Bitcoinist: What changes can we expect this year compared to last year? 

HodlHodl: Day 1 and 2 will be held at the same venue. It’s not downtown, but it’s much larger to accommodate a larger audience. We also learned our lesson from the afterparty last year, the music was too loud, so that’s not going to happen this year. And, of course, it’s going to be much much warmer this year, because it’s September and it’s really the best time to visit Riga.

Bitcoinist: Why is Riga the host city for the second year in a row? 
Do you have plans to host it somewhere else in the future? 

HodlHodl: Why change the location that absolutely worked last time? I think the current idea is that we’re going to hold (or hodl, really) Honeybadgers in Riga exclusively. After all, it’s a Baltic Honeybadger.

Bitcoinist: How bitcoin-friendly is Latvia in general? Would you recommend using BalticAir, for example, which was the first airline to accept bitcoin directly? 

HodlHodl: I wouldn’t say there are a lot of merchants but there are a couple of places downtown you can pay with BTC. And there’s certainly quite a number of Bitcoin projects that originated in Latvia and the Baltic countries.

Some apartments in Riga accept BTC and yes, Airbaltic accepts bitcoin directly. I would recommend using either AirBaltic or CheapAir though because AirBaltic doesn’t cover all flight destinations. There are no Bitcoin-accepting hotels, but there are few apartments that accept BTC.

Bitcoinist: There’s probably less sponsors for an event like this given the absence of altcoins, blockchain snake oil salesmen,  ICO shills, and banking institutions. Is it difficult to fund such an event? Who are the sponsors? 

HodlHodl: The sponsors that we have are all listed on the website. It was more difficult to fund the even last year. This year it’s slightly easier because we already knew the demand for tickets was there and we actually sold our first 100 tickets in the first couple of days after the announcement.

Bitcoinist: Can you give a sneak peek of what the agenda will be? In other words, what are the most pressing issues that should be in focus at this year’s event? 

HodlHodl: The full agenda was just published on the website.

Bitcoinist: What speaker(s) do you look forward to the most this year? 

HodlHodl: I think Saifedean Ammous and Eric Voskuil will be interesting to watch, they have some opposing views on the idea that Bitcoin will become the new reserve currency and both are very smart and intelligent people, albeit coming from different backgrounds. And their talks are scheduled on the first day in the morning, one after another.

Bitcoinist: Do you think the typical ‘blockchain’ conferences frequented by bank reps, ICOs, and blockchain ‘influencers’ have been beneficial or detrimental to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies? 

HodlHodl: I think it’s fine. People who go there realize, sooner or later, it’s all useless. Kind of a learning experience.

You can pitch your ICO or your blockchain projects to other ICO guys or blockchain guys, but hardly anyone is interested in anything other than their own project.

At Baltic Honeybadger we actually discourage pitching. That’s not what the conference is about.

Bitcoinist: Your event strives to be informative and educational to new Bitcoin users. What is the most important thing that newcomers should understand about Bitcoin before anything else? What do you tell people to get them interested in Bitcoin? 

HodlHodl: My personal experience is that different people are interested in Bitcoin for many different reasons. If you want to get someone interested, find out what really matters to them and if Bitcoin can offer something that would change their life for the better, then that’s what you need to explain.

Bitcoinist: Anything else you’d like to add? 

HodlHodl: Yes. We still have student tickets which go at 100 EUR. If you’re a student, you get a significant discount, so come join us and learn about Bitcoin.

Will you be attending this year’s Baltic Honey Badger conference? Let us know below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock