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Cryptocurrency: How We Hook the Masses

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Rich Svinkin is the CEO of Jaywalk.me, a startup that motivates increased physical activity with brick-and-mortar retail rewards.

In this opinion piece, Svinkin argues that using cryptocurrencies for rewards schemes can demonstrate the value of the technology and ultimately help bring mass adoption.


Before the hype and before the price explosions of the past year, I sat down and looked at cryptocurrencies from a UX perspective.

That post, published on CoinDesk, offered a simple central premise: the entire bitcoin project was envisioned, designed, built and released as a peer-to-peer value exchange system. It wasn’t supposed to be a standalone asset class or a messaging system for banks.

A year later, we’re in the midst of a hype-ridden initial coin offering (ICO) explosion. ICOs are another use case in the UX quiver, one we can add to the progress of the last few years. The ICOs (I prefer to call them token sales) are a great engine of growth but they do not achieve our ultimate goal: adoption of cryptocurrency by the masses.

Looking back

Prior to Jobs and Wozniak, computers were the domain of engineers, hobbyists, large corporations and government agencies. The dominant framework for users to interact with these machines, the command line, ensured low user adoption.

As Neal Stephenson noted, however, the wizards who held sway over the simple cursor and text interfaces later built the tools to drive mass adoption. From the command line, we moved into something relatable and simple, and, in the process, we hid all of the piping behind wall after wall of abstraction.

I don’t want to understate how big of a leap this was for my generation. You mean we can make the screen do what we want like an arcade game? We can “save” what we’re doing and come back to it later? We can put stuff on a disk and put it on another computer? Wow!

After we were hooked, we started learning heuristics for the things we’d need to master to get more out of the experience. We started implicitly understanding what a KB meant. We grew to “kinda know” how much would fit on a floppy disk.

Some of us started learning how to make simple animations and games. The computer was at first a toy then a tool.

I argue that, in the crypto space, we’re at the point in our evolution where the command-line is giving way to new and more generalized heuristics – with similarly explosive opportunities. Right now, the equivalent of the command line are things like wallet addresses, private keys, cold storage, and other obfuscating elements.

I wrote a year ago that I think we need a Steve Jobs in this space. No one has yet stepped up to the plate.

Crypto is no MacOS, yet

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Even if regular people were to learn all the terms of art, master using the exchanges, grow comfortable with identity verification and currency exchange rates, and accept the long wait times in transferring fiat in/out, we’d still have a problem that would keep the bulk of the planet off the chain in a meaningful way: risk.

Modern operating systems mitigate risk immensely. Every program we use has some sort of backup system and now you rarely lose work. With cryptocurrencies, the existential threat of losing everything is still there.

The best way to deal with risk, at least at the start, is to try to eliminate it. We must not treat crypto like a competitive currency at least not now. Instead we must treat it like a reward, something new.

We must allow people to buy it, but also allow folks to earn it, with their time, effort, attention, with non-monetary capital. Don’t force people to have to buy it with fiat.

Instead, let them earn it.

A user-first model

There are folks that are on a rewards-oriented path: Steemit, Brave, Bitwalking, Metal and others.

This is going to be a growing trend in the months and years to come. All of them want to reward you for something – Steemit for creating and engaging with digital content, Bitwalking just for walking. Brave is taking things to the next level: you get rewards just for using a secure browser and for engagement and attention.

Metal will reward you for converting, sending and spending.

All are trying to get to the same goal: they want the cryptocurrency they’ve issued to become valuable in the real world, to become the lifeblood of a new economy centered around a particular set of use cases.

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The success of these products is dependent on ultimately hooking the masses via a rewards-based introduction – points, miles, cash back – these are notions we all get, just like I did 30 years ago with writing, drawing and reading on the Mac.

But the final step requires users to make that leap from rewards to currency for this revolution to get to the next level. And for that goal, I – a true believer – am very hopeful with this recent wave.

The big fear

That said, I still have one hesitation. All of these solutions make progress on the various complexities and issues surrounding adoption.

But, the one thing they all do not do, is obfuscate the currency exchange problem inherent in forging ahead with something new right away. It can show the value of the new currency in terms of fiat, but even currency earned through effort will be at risk of losing credibility and lasting power.

There will always be fear that the $398 I have in crypto will one day be $0, or in an hour will be worth $118.

Sure, we could be at the start of a fiat currency collapse and not even know it, as the market cap of crypto currency rockets up. This may even be good for the whole system. But, even if the crypto world supersedes the money we know, it will be the option with the most perceived stability that ends up winning. Not the ones with the most speculative upside or interesting “applications.”

We’ll know we’ve “won” when a cryptocurrency becomes woven into the daily lives of the majority of people on earth. That people recognize finally that the fiat they know is also volatile and purchasing power is dynamic and ever changing, and cryptocurrency has many other benefits the analog doesn’t have. Or simply that a cryptocurrency finally becomes more stable so people run to it to escape losing all their value in government-backed money as a crisis looms or is underway.

Until then, it’s hard to say what we’ve accomplished truly, but the goal is ultimately that we move belief in fiat money to belief in cryptocurrency.

To me, the best way to start that transition is to get people used to and interested in this new phenomenon by utilizing familiar bridges like air miles and minimizing fear and risk to allow for everyday use to come to bear – and even bring some fun to the strange world of cryptocurrencies.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Brave.

Mac computer image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk strives to offer an open platform for dialogue and discussion on all things blockchain by encouraging contributed articles. For more details on how you can submit an opinion or analysis article, view our Editorial Collaboration Guide or email [email protected].



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Antshares Rebrands, Introduces NEO and the New Smart Economy

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At a gathering at the Microsoft headquarters in Beijing on Thursday, with about 200 people in attendance, Antshares, the first open-source blockchain platform developed in China, announced a complete rebranding of its blockchain solution, as well as a number of other developments detailing their ambitious plans forward.

One of the revelations was the platform’s new name and brand, NEO, which in Greek means newness, novelty and youth. The developers also highlighted the strengths of their advanced smart contract code, which will support decentralized commerce, digital identities and the digitization of many different assets. This rebranding of Antshares represents a new direction for the development of China’s blockchain community.

Currently, holders of ANS can now automatically generate Antcoins (ANC) in their Antshares wallets, which will be used as gas on the platform. The ANS asset symbol will become NEO in the 3rd quarter of 2017; meanwhile, the NEO team is working on new clients and a UI for the new NEO brand.

Throughout the day, there were presentations from participants including Microsoft representatives, NEO platform developers, and founders of partner platforms. Among the select attendees were several major potential investors, industry experts and blockchain enthusiasts, as well as members of the Chinese financial and mainstream media.

Presenters at the conference included: 

Da Hongfei, founder of NEO

After announcing NEO’s new brand and strategy, Da Hongfei elaborated on the future of blockchain technology, where every asset will be digitized and programmable with smart contracts. Calling for the transparency and openness of data, he introduced concepts of the “Smart Economy” and new smart contract system, and announced that he is building a new multi-chain protocol for interoperability.

Da Hongfei’s top revelations at the conference were that:

  • NEO is collaborating with certificate authorities in China to map real-world assets using smart contracts;

  • NEO has received a new patent for cross-chain distributed interoperability;

  • NEO’s recent new startup partners include Bancor, Agrello, Coindash, Nest Fund, and Binance, with more partner announcements to come.

Erik Zhang, Core Developer of NEO

In his presentation, Erik Zhang discussed the evolution of Smart Contracts 2.0, and explained the main differences between NEO and Ethereum. One big contrast of these competing platforms is their programming languages. Ethereum requires developers to learn to program with Solidity. Neo, on the other hand, will support almost all programming languages via a compiler, including those on Microsoft.net, Java, Kotlin, Go and Python, greatly lowering the difficulty for developers to write smart contracts. By making its programming languages more inclusive, NEO hopes to attract a larger community of developers. Zhang also explained the mechanics of the NEO Virtual Machine, its execution engine and interoperability.  

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Slide Of The NEO Virtual Machine

Tony Tao, CEO of NEO and Founder of Nest Fund

Based on the concept of Ethereum’s The DAO, a blockchain-based investment fund, Tony Tao is about to release a whitepaper for a similar project. Called Nest Fund, and built on NEO’s blockchain, this fund will make improvements on the failures of The DAO. By offering a global bounty reward for any hacker who finds bugs, Nest will be audited by a worldwide peer review, and will then release its token for decentralized investing.

Srikanth Raju, Microsoft’s G.M of Developer Experience and Evangelism for the Greater China Region 

According to Mr. Raju, blockchain technology will lead us into a new digital age, displacing traditional businesses and middlemen throughout many industries. He said that Onchain (the company that founded NEO) is “one of the top 50 startup companies in China”, and offered his support for their endeavors going forward.

 Mr. Han Feng, Tsinghua University I-Center 

Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship at the top university in China, Tsinghua University’s I-Center focuses on the large-scale integration of technology resources. Speaking for the university’s growing interest in supporting blockchain technology, Mr. Han Feng said that current systems of commerce are “outdated and insecure,” and that the internet is ready for an upgrade to a blockchain-based operating system. Calling for a fully-automated, blockchain-based, decentralized economy, he said we can expect a digital revolution in the years to come. This will include digital currency, decentralized storage, secure smart contract codes, IoT, AI, and many more innovations.

 Chen Cheng Qiang, founder and CEO of Innospace

Located in Shanghai, Innospace is a business incubation company, with office spaces, meeting spaces, cafes and living spaces. At today’s conference, Innospace CEO Chen Cheng Qiang announced a ¥200 million CNY ($29.3 million USD) incubation fund, a collaboration between his company and the NEO blockchain team. Plans for the fund include the establishment of a new blockchain space in Shanghai, combining working spaces, startup incubation and acceleration services. According to Mr. Qiang, his company plans to provide the most successful entrepreneurship acceleration services in China.

 Alex Norta, founder of Agrello

Coming all the way from Estonia, Alex Norta announced that his startup Agrello will be partnering with NEO to develop smart contracts for automation, self-execution, accuracy and transparency. Powered by AI, Agrello will be a platform for non-programmers to create their own legally binding blockchain-based smart contracts. Use cases for Agrello’s tech include renting and sharing, freelance contracting, orchestrating production flows, and reducing administration costs for multinational corporations.

Adam Efrima, COO of Coindash

With offices in Israel and Shanghai, Coindash will be a social trading platform for crypto assets, offering portfolio management tools for digital asset investors. Features of the platform will include portfolio statistics and management tools, investment automation, an ICO dashboard, and insights into other traders’ successful investing strategies. In the upcoming development of Nest Fund, a blockchain-based smart fund by the developers of NEO, Coindash will offer advisory and prediction tools for Nest’s modern investors.

Mr. Zhao Chang Peng, CEO of Binance 

The former CTO of OkCoin, Mr. Zhao Chang Peng is starting his own digital asset exchange, hoping to compete with platforms like Poloniex. Calling his new platform Binance, this new exchange will only deal in coin-to-coin transactions, avoiding fiat pairs and therefore avoiding Chinese regulations. In order to maintain a standard in mature digital assets, Binance will only list coins that meet its strict criteria. With a launch planned for later this year, the platform’s first traded assets will be bitcoin, ether and NEO. 


From the looks, sounds, and energy of the event, NEO has built up some strong momentum going forward. They have one the top blockchain development teams in all of China, with 50 million ANS ($325 million) to support their funding needs and a growing list of partners now aligning by their side. While it may take some time to steal the spotlight from Ethereum, we are sure to see more from this platform in the months to come.  



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Analyst: Like Amazon, Bitcoin Offers a Lucrative Multi-Decade Investment Opportunity

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shutterstock 435688966 640x444 Analyst: Like Amazon, Bitcoin Offers a Lucrative Multi Decade Investment Opportunity

A financial analyst looked closely at the spikes in Amazon’s stock price and bitcoin recently. While detailing similarities between the two investments, he explains why bitcoin may be one of the most lucrative trading opportunities for decades.

Also read: Most Popular Contactless Smart Cards in Japan Adding Bitcoin Hardware Wallets

Bitcoin is Most Lucrative

Education consultant and analyst Gordon Scott published an article on Wednesday explaining how “bitcoin looks a lot like an early Amazon,” referencing the massive spike in Amazon’s stock price that started in 1997. While citing bitcoin “holds real risks,” he believes “there is a real opportunity for traders right now”, adding that:

Bitcoin may be the most lucrative trading opportunity since internet stocks such as Amazon.com Inc. in the dot-com era.

Scott is the Managing Director of the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) program for the Market Technicians Association, a non-profit organization of professional technical analysts headquartered in New York City. Previously, he worked for IBM and TD Ameritrade and spent over 10 years as a trading coach and e-learning consultant.

Similarities to Amazon

amz 300x104 Analyst: Like Amazon, Bitcoin Offers a Lucrative Multi Decade Investment OpportunityAfter explaining the importance of blockchains and the tremendous impact they are likely to have on our society, Scott compared a few of bitcoin’s price spikes to that of the huge Amazon spike during the dot-com boom. He felt that the two spikes are similar because in each case investors are seeing a new technology that could change their world. “The latest run-up in the price of bitcoin is an indication that many more people are starting to believe these promises could actually be fulfilled,” Scott said.

Amazon went public in May 1997 at $18 per share in an initial public offering (IPO) which valued the company at around $438 million. Citing Amazon’s groundbreaking business model, Scott recalled that “investors were not able to fully and accurately quantify Amazon share value at first.” In 1997, people knew that Amazon had a great idea but they still could not fully give a proper valuation to its shares, he detailed, noting that “consequently, investors had to guess at the company’s value.”

chart 2 Analyst: Like Amazon, Bitcoin Offers a Lucrative Multi Decade Investment Opportunity

Scott compared the price of Amazon shares from 1997 to 1999 with bitcoin from 2016 to 2017 as well as from 2009 to 2010. The marketplace giant rose more than 6,000% in its first two years after its IPO, he described, noting that “18 years later the peak price from back then looks cheap by comparison today.”

Amazon Analyst: Like Amazon, Bitcoin Offers a Lucrative Multi Decade Investment Opportunity

While Amazon’s price surge is still larger than any single bitcoin price surge, Scott pointed out that it happened over a longer period of time than any one of bitcoin’s surges. “Surprisingly, bitcoin’s performance in its first two years only achieved two-thirds of Amazon’s original run-up,” he conveyed, then concluded:

It’s possible that cryptocurrencies are not only here to stay, but potentially a life changing mechanism for all of us. If that’s the case, then bitcoin offers investors a multi-decade investment opportunity, rising like Amazon’s market cap — and a price — that defies logic.

Do you think bitcoin will continue to be a great investment opportunity for decades? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Gordon Scott, Investopedia, Microtrends


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$13: Ether Prices Plunge in GDAX Exchange Flash Crash

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ETH GDAX $13: Ether Prices Plunge in GDAX Exchange Flash Crash

In yet another instance of just how volatile the cryptocurrency markets can be, the price of ether plummeted to $13 today on cryptocurrency exchange GDAX.

The steep decline, observed at roughly 20:30 UTC, had an outsized effect on the market for the digital token that powers the world’s second-largest blockchain. Overall, the value of ether fell to this price after trading at as much as $365.79 earlier in the session, according to GDAX data.

As a result, the flash crash represented a more than 96% decline from the daily high.

The move was so severe that Coinbase, the US-based operator of the exchange, opted to disable trading of the ETH/USD pair and block withdrawals of ether.

Further, the price of ether suffered this loss amid signs that the ethereum network has been struggling to cope with the demands of its rising use. Data provided by Etherscan reveals that more than 300,000 ether transactions were broadcast on 20th June, an all-time high for the two-year-old network.

As such, it remains unclear whether the decline and network congestion will be enough to stem enthusiasm, as until recently, many market observers were so bullish on the asset’s potential they believed it was on track to bypass bitcoin as the market leader.

At press time, ether was trading at roughly $300 across global exchanges.

Disclaimer: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Coinbase.

Correction: An original version of this article miscalculated ether’s decline. This has been corrected. 

Skydiving image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at [email protected].



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Here’s What Just Went Down

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A few days ago, just before a 25% market pullback, ETH-USD reached all-time high values upward of $420 as ICO investors desperately tried to accumulate ether to purchase Bancor tokens. The Bancor ICO was single-handedly responsible for congesting the Ethereum networks as users scrambled to get their ICO orders in time. This created a scenario where individuals were spending large sums of ETH to expedite their transactions and push other transaction times further and further back — the sheer volume of which could not be handled by many exchanges and wallets.

%name Here’s What Just Went Down

Figure 1: Coinbase Ethereum Transactions Delayed

Across multiple exchanges, messages like the one above began popping up yesterday as the perfect storm of ICO congestion from “Status” met a flood of ETH being sold off to BTC via the ETH-BTC markets (shown in yellow in the figure below). At the time of this article, the aftermath of the Status ICO is still being felt as many wallets and exchanges still have Ether-related services disabled. %name Here’s What Just Went Down

Figure 2: ETH-BTC, 1 HR Candles, GDAX

Once the services begin to open up and allow cold storage holders to get their coins on the market, one can only speculate how far the price will continue to be pushed down. Given the long-term, bearish indicators on the ETH-USD markets, it is entirely possible that we will see further tests of the lower support levels (shown in brown). The relatively low volume on this recent dip indicates the real price action has yet to truly begin. Because of the backlogged transactions from the Status ICO event, the volume we have seen thus far has mostly likely only been by those who held their coins on the exchange. The MACD and RSI (indicators of market momentum) are showing no sign of divergence (market momentum reversal) and there is very little upward pressure to keep the price aloft.

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Figure 3: ETH-USD, 6 HR Candles, GDAX

Where the bottom of this bear run truly lies remains to be seen. However, for the first time since the double-digit values, the 1-day candles are showing a bearish trend on the MACD (shown in purple), and the RSI is showing a loss of momentum (divergence shown in orange). As it stands, ETH-USD is sitting on the first Fibonacci Retracement Line at ~$315 where it is flirting with the idea of lower values.

%name Here’s What Just Went Down

Figure 4: ETH-USD, 1 Day Candles, Kraken

Bancor and Status set record transaction volumes and accumulated millions of USD in the form of ETH. Is $300 the bottom of this Bear Run? Maybe. But one has to ask, “What would you do if you just had two of the largest ICOs in history, where the value of the ETH used to fund your project is at all time high values? Would you watch your capital dwindle away under bearish conditions, or would you cash out?”

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTCMedia related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTCMedia and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.



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