Mar 28, 2018 Altcoins • ICO • Regulatory • Research • 1 Comment
Blockchain has become the emergent technology of the last few years. Artificial intelligence and CRISPR have high potential, but only blockchain technology has shown the ability to disrupt nearly every industry in existence by making so many new business models possible. Blockchain technology has many useful innovations inherent, such as trust-less networks or decentralization, but one of the most important factors is the use of tokens.
The Power of Tokens
Tokens are useful as an innovation because of how they allow for organizations to run and business models to be reinvented. Tokens are useful methods of changing how organizations run and equity is conceptualized, or they can work in certain use cases to make for fluid online commerce.Generally, tokens are classified as either utility tokens or security tokens. Utility tokens are used to control future access to a product or service. Examples of these are Filecoin or Younow, both of which present the token almost like a gift card.
Security tokens are a bit more complicated, as they are considered to be akin to an investment contract. Motivations for buying these tokens are for future profits or revenue sharing, which comes with a whole host of other considerations. An example of a securities token is Polymath.
See Also: CEO of Polymath, Trevor Koverko, Discusses Security Tokens.
Using the Howey Test to Define Tokens
Where things get complicated is on the regulation of these tokens. Appreciating assets are generally regulated by some entity because of the risk and rewards involved, which makes the test of whether a token is a security or not so important. No one would ever say you need to regulate Magic cards just because they have value and are traded for profit by some people, so there needs to be a limit to determine whether a token is a security or not.
The test is referred to as the Howey Test and has been in operation for several decades. There are two conditions the token must fulfill for it to be determined to be a security. The first condition is whether users are buying it with the expectation of future price appreciation, versus a certain use case. It is possible to buy something for a particular use but also generate a profit, but the primary reason for the purchase is what determines this condition.
The second condition is whether there is a single issuer, or if it runs under a network governance. This is basically asking if a certain person or group is in charge, or if it is a more democratic project with many stakeholders.
Comparison of Security Tokens and Utility Tokens
The main reason the distinction between these tokens matter is because of the regulation that is required for security tokens. Many companies have been issuing tokens with tenuous use cases in order for them to be referred to as utility tokens, but are really just security tokens in disguise.
The start-up community has seized the idea of an ICO and started to use it as a shortcut to raising venture capital. One side may argue that this is opening up the massive returns to everyone, but it is also enabling uninformed investors to throw money at risky endeavors.
For this reason, the difference between a utility token and a security token is becoming more and more important. We are even seeing utility tokens refer to their offerings as Token Generation Events (TGE’s) to avoid the worrisome language around ICO’s right now.
One of the main reasons companies would want their tokens branded as utility tokens is the trading restrictions present on securities. Think about the last time you tried to sign up for a stock-trading account and all the paperwork that was involved there. These restrictions slow down the fast-moving startups by hindering them with regulations and due diligence they don’t wish to participate in.
Alternatively, it is actually cheaper to issue security tokens under the current regulatory frameworks. Under Regulation D, Regulation S, Regulation A+, and Regulation Crowdfunding, it becomes cheaper and faster than structuring the offering for utility tokens. This is rather unexpected but can be explained by the lower legal risk that results from this not being as rare a process.
Right now, we are seeing a lot of regulators call out lawyers involved in some of the more suspect ICO’s to say that substance matters over form. Even if a token technically passes the Howey Test, the marketing around some of these projects gives the distinct feeling of a security. In the future we are going to see the need for self-regulation by the crypto community. FINRA is one example of an organization that does this and crypto is an even more complicated industry that is going to have to learn how to self-report and play the game the right way.
The ICO market will likely continue to heat up for a while to come, but when many of these securities in disguise begin to crash, there will need to be much definition between utility tokens and security tokens.
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Jan 22 2015, 9:45am
Dark Wallet, Now With Cash
The anonymous Bitcoin storage service has some new features, now all it needs are people to use them.
Screengrab: Dark Wallet
Dark Wallet, the anonymous Bitcoin storage and transfer platform, was intended to guide Bitcoin back to its anti-establishment, decentralized roots. But the platform was released before it was fully developed, making it hard to build an active user base and live up to the radical vision its developers held.
Now, with some brand new features—including an option for customers to anonymously convert and withdraw bitcoin into cold, hard cash—its creators are aiming to attract more people and push Dark Wallet to the comprehensive, anonymous, cypherpunk daydream they hoped it would be.
When Dark Wallet debuted its alpha version last year, it was still a work-in-progress, according to one of the developers who built the platform. Available as a browser plugin for Google Chrome (and soon, Mozilla Firefox), the team hoped that developers and hackers around the world would tinker with it and offer ideas for ways to improve.
“To be honest, last summer when we released it, it was just to get the basic platform online,” Amir Taaki, the British-Iranian software developer who helped create Dark Wallet, told me. “But that was just more of a taster and now we’re actually getting close to releasing the full platform. This is the point where we want people to download and to test it.”
The latest version of Dark Wallet. Screengrab: Dark Wallet
In the latest version, Dark Wallet now hosts an independent Bitcoin exchange. Users can buy and sell bitcoin within the system, with the Dark Wallet team serving as arbiters. And since Dark Wallet can be used without providing any personal information, the developers claim users will be able to buy, sell, save, and send their money anonymously.
The developers have also paired up with Chip Chap, a currency conversion app, to make converting Bitcoin and withdrawing money seamless and anonymous too. Chip Chap can convert euros to Bitcoin and vice versa, and users can withdraw their converted bitcoin as cash at thousands of ATMs located around Europe without a bank card, just a phone.
“You enter your phone number and the quantity you want to withdraw, then you are given an address and you send the Bitcoin there. After you send it, you will receive a code. You can use this at the ATM to receive cash through a system called Halcash which is widely deployed in Spain and throughout Europe,” Taaki explained.
Users can go to any participating ATM, enter the code they’ve been given (no cards required), and have cash in their hands instantly. It’s one of the only systems in place for turning bitcoins into cash without revealing your identity.
The ChipChap function for Dark Wallet. Screengrab: Dark Wallet
But Dark Wallet is still use-at-your-own-risk, even in its updated alpha version. And after more than a year of build up without a final product to show for it, it’s hard not to get a whiff of vaporware around the whole thing. The US government and the European Central Bank are taking Dark Wallet seriously as a potential venue for money laundering, especially after ISIS recommended the service. Taaki assured me they are very close to the final iteration of the software. They will release a beta version in a few weeks once they get more users and plan to have a complete, final version within a month or two.
But he also said Dark Wallet is just one project of many his team—which includes Cody Wilson, best known for creating plans for 3D-printed guns—is working on as part of their crusade to change the way people think about government and society as they live and work at a small villa in Spain.
Other projects include plans for a site called Dark Leaks, which would use a mathematical algorithm to break up, encrypt, and distribute classified documents and provide a way for people to pay money to get access to the information. Wilson is also launching a campaign to get elected to and then disband the Bitcoin Foundation, which his team feels is unnecessary and counterproductive to Bitcoin’s original goals of decentralization.
Even if Dark Wallet never becomes the go-to for Bitcoin users, Taaki said the attention and funds it has garnered created enough momentum for the team to keep going.
“To be honest, I’m not too worried. A lot of opportunity came with [Dark Wallet] as well,” he said. “Even if it’s not with Dark Wallet itself.”
A Real Estate Token on the blockchain
So you want to sell your property. We will put its provenance on to the blockchain after doing a title search.
But, why would you go this route?
#1. It’s easier to find a buyer . Why?
#2. You get your asking price. How?
#3. The transaction is transparent and bullet-proof secure. Why?
#4. It’s cheaper; much cheaper. How much?
Here’s how it works. As an example, if you are asking 1 million dollars for the sale of your property,
- you are required to put 2 million dollars into an escrow account in good faith. It is 100% refundable upon performance.
- We advertise your property.
- A buyer sees our advertisement.
- The buyer signals an interest.
- Buyer puts $2 million dollars in escrow (just as you did) as good faith; 50% refundable to the buyer upon performance. The other 50% will be in the form of the property.
- Buyer confirms and takes delivery ( in other words performs ).
- Your escrow is 100% released back to you.
- Buyer takes delivery of escrow + purchased property
- Buyer now has $2 million value ( $1 million in property + $1 million in escrow )
- You have an equal value : $2 million ($1million in released escrow + $1million revenue).
- Everybody has now been made whole in good faith. There was no need for a referee.
- We provide a real estate transaction Exchange called Real-T. Just as a dollar bill symbolizes an underlying “thing of value” so does the Real-T token. We convert the value of your listing into a token of equal value.
- The Buyer requires title to your property in exchange for equivalent Reat-T. Seller (which is you) acquires the buyer’s token amount. You, the seller, can then convert if you want into Cash. Why would you convert? In its token form, property has an advantage over any other format. Firstly, because one or many buyers can acquire your tokens piecemeal. Secondly, it is in a format that is secure and private and incorruptible.
- In conclusion, this has been a different way to buy and sell real estate as made possible by a peer-to-peer computer network that runs online. Xdale Properties writes smart contracts in a language called Solidity on the Remix I.D.E and we test this contract on the Robstein Exchange. We then deploy it for real on to the ethereum blockchain in the form of an Erc20 token, which is a smart contract.
The rise of cryptocurrency in the Caribbean
March 8, 2018 5
By Mary Ann Callahan
Caribbean News Now guest contributor
In 2017, cryptocurrency made itself heard. It’s clear that cryptocurrency and blockchain in general are not just fads but are here to stay. Organizations from governments to banks to small startups are racing to get ahead in what’s seen as an exciting new field that could be as revolutionary as the Internet itself. Even J.P. Morgan Chase Chairman and CEO, who called Bitcoin a ‘fraud’ back in September, has retracted his hard stance on digital currencies and stated in January of 2018 that ‘blockchain is real’. J.P. Morgan Chase itself has invested in the research and development of blockchain technology that will improve its global payments system by reducing transaction times from weeks to hours.
Although J.P. Morgan Chase is a clear leader in the global financial system, organizations and people in other parts of the world that aren’t necessarily as predominant have looked at blockchain and cryptocurrency in order to improve poor economic conditions or try to assert leadership in an area that is still very much up for grabs.
One region where cryptocurrency has surprisingly been on the rise is the Caribbean, a region that has been plagued by slow economic growth and high levels of debt in recent years. While governments of more developed nations, such as China and the United States, have shown their reluctance when it comes to embracing cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin exchange regulation, governments of Caribbean nations like Puerto Rico and members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) have shown their eagerness to embrace and learn about cryptocurrency in order to improve their countries. Moreover, the public and private sectors alike have been exploring cryptocurrency for the purpose of improving regional trade, which has been hit hard by the pulling out of big international banks and lack of foreign reserves. Lastly, since much of the Caribbean is underserved when it comes to banking services, Caribbean countries are turning to cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, to provide better financial services for its citizens.
Caribbean Governments Show Cryptocurrency Initiative
Perhaps the biggest impediment to cryptocurrency adoption is government regulation. Since governments control the financial system and general flow of money, crackdowns, such as the Chinese government ban on ICOs, can have a huge impact on cryptocurrency adoption and usage.
Caribbean governments, on the other hand, have shown surprising initiative in welcoming cryptocurrency and exploring its uses to improve local economies as well as the Caribbean’s presence in a field where there is yet to emerge a clear leader.
In particular, one government that has shown its willingness to lead is the Puerto Rican government. In 2017, Puerto Rico was absolutely devastated by the monster Hurricane Maria. Infrastructure throughout the island was wiped out and even today, hundreds of thousands of people are without food, power, and more.
Puerto Rico is in desperate need of a miracle, and cryptocurrency could be the boost it needs to get the economy as well as country back on track.
In many countries, cryptocurrency is still somewhat of a fringe movement, with discussions on the topic taking place amongst small groups of enthusiasts in informal settings. On the other hand, in Puerto Rico, Governor Ricardo Rosselló himself will be a keynote speaker at Blockchain Unbound, a conference coordinated by the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and the Governor’s office that brings together Puerto Rican officials and top blockchain and cryptocurrency luminaries like Alena Vranova, Managing Partner of Satoshi Labs, which makes the popular cryptocurrency hardware wallet TREZOR and runs Slush Pool, one of the world’s biggest Bitcoin mining pools.
It’s not just Puerto Rico though. Eight Caribbean Island economies, which comprise the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), are even considering issuing their own cryptocurrency called the Digital Eastern Caribbean dollar (DXCD).
Cryptocurrency to Improve Regional Trade and Consumer Prices?
When it comes to regional trade, the United States Dollar (USD) is king for the exchange of goods and services. However, “de-risking”, or the pulling out of big international banks from the Caribbean region in response to US authorities labeling the Caribbean a money-laundering haven and levying fines on banks who aid money-launderers, has left Caribbean banks and businesses with a shortage of foreign exchange reserves (USD), which has hurt regional trade tremendously.
In response, startups, such as Barbados-based Bitt and Caribbean central banks, have been exploring the creation of digital currencies to boost regional trade, which could also ultimately lead to better prices for consumers since the foreign exchange costs associated with exchanging local currencies for USD and back in the traditional trade system would be eliminated or reduced significantly with the use of digital, blockchain-based currencies. Improved profit margins from less foreign exchange costs could mean that businesses would offer better prices to customers.
Ryan Peterson, General Manager for Economic Policy at the Central Bank of Aruba has forecasted that the introduction of a digital currency system would lead to 4-5% GDP growth for Aruba alone, which is significant, considering the region hasn’t seen more than 0.5% growth for over 20 years.
Cryptocurrency as a Way to Fill the Void in Caribbean Banking Services
According to a 2015 World Bank report, about half of the Caribbean population is unbanked. In other words, 1 in 2 people do not have basic banking services, such as a bank account. Combined with the news of de-risking throughout the Caribbean, this situation doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better.
Interestingly enough, in countries where traditional finance is failing, cryptocurrency is stepping in as a legitimate alternative.
In 2016, UK-based startup Caricoin launched a Bitcoin wallet in the Caribbean for those who don’t have access to basic financial services. Users are able to send and receive Bitcoin without fees and even top-up their mobile phone minutes.
While this doesn’t seem like a big deal for people in countries with developed financial institutions, this is huge for regions like the Caribbean, because now people can access, store, and move around their wealth securely rather than do something like stuff their money in their mattress.
Most agree that it’s still very early in cryptocurrency. 2017 really saw interest explode with the meteoric rise in price of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as more and more people are seeing the potential of what the technology can do for the world. While one would expect global leaders like the United States to take up the cryptocurrency mantle, this has not been the case. For example, US citizens can’t really invest in initial coin offerings (ICOs) because most blockchain and cryptocurrency startups don’t want to deal with the onerous regulations of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and risk getting fined millions or even billions of dollars.
Instead, regions like the Caribbean have surprisingly taken the lead on exploring cryptocurrency uses and benefits with top leaders in government taking part in crypto-promotion, governments and businesses working together to use cryptocurrency to improve the embattled regional trade system, and cryptocurrency startups looking to fill the void in traditional financial services for Caribbean citizens. print