October 23, 2018
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After raising $25M in XRP, Omni lets you earn it renting stuff out

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“I think any company scaling today has to have a crypto strategy. This is the start of ours,” Omni founder and CEO Tom McLeod tells me. His on-demand property storage and rental marketplace raised $25 million in XRP coins back in January in what some saw as an opportunist move to capitalize on the cryptocurrency boom. That industry has since gone bust, and XRP is in the cross-hairs of regulators who may classify it as a security with extra restrictions.

Now Omni has a way to get rid of some of its XRP. It’s beginning to let people get paid in the coin when they rent their stuff to fellow Omni users. Their balance of earnings is held in USD, but they can cash out to XRP at any time with no fee.

“In every other crypto investment scenario, you have to risk your cash — this way you can put items you already own to work for you and have them earn XRP while you relax,” says McLeod. “With this integration, you can basically double dip on ownership-as-investment by both unlocking liquidity early and investing some or all of the proceeds back into the crypto markets.”

Many users may not want XRP or to have anything to do with crypto. They can luckily ignore the feature. But they won’t be able to ignore Omni’s aggressive push to get people renting their stuff out.

Omni began as a just a storage service, now available in San Francisco and Portland. You schedule a pick up, its reps come to your place, they photograph the condition of your items, and haul them away to be stored in warehouses where space is cheaper than inside the city at users’ homes. The insane convenience of the service is you can request any of your items to be returned in as little as a few hours, so it’s almost like they never left your place. Most traditional self-storage units aren’t open 24/7 and it’s a big hassle to go pick up your stuff, often requiring a truck.

Omni is essentially Amazon Web Services for physical goods. And the thought is that once self-driving vehicles and warehouse robots improve, much of the work to schlep your stuff around would be automated. The monthly recurring storage fees created a reliable business model, and suddenly having to make room for all your goods at home kept users from churning.

But long-term, Omni sees rentals as its cash cow. Instead of the items you store just sitting in the warehouse, it’s created a two-sided marketplace where anyone can rent those items without causing any additional work for the owner, who simply gets paid while Omni keeps a cut.

Unfortunately, Omni is now trying to pressure users into storing goods separately so they can be rented instead of as plastic bins or suitcases full of goods. So at the start of 2019 it’s doubling the monthly cost of storing a large closed container, box or bag from $7.50 to $15 per month. That’s pretty steep, and a significant hike.

“Marketplace is driving Omni growth, and has always been the core of the long-term vision,” says McLeod. “Closed containers don’t grow the business, but move almost as much. We’re basically the same price as competitors now for them. It also makes it potentially more likely that small items will be itemized. We’re going to launch kits/playlists that will allow for grouping in the coming months.”

The XRP integration could potentially save Omni money on transaction fees. But the whole idea sounded a lot better when cryptocurrency was perceived as a gold rush rather than a gamble.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Coinbase now lets you buy and sell ZRX

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Coinbase’s newest asset is live. On Tuesday the popular U.S.-based cryptocurrency platform added support for ZRX, the token representing the 0x Project. On Coinbase, ZRX joins the rarified ranks of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and Litecoin.

Coinbase ZRX

The addition doesn’t come as a surprise. Last week, Coinbase added ZRX to Coinbase Pro, the so-called “evolution of GDAX,” Coinbase’s more feature-rich trading platform. Coinbase also previously signaled its intentions to “explore” the addition of a number of new cryptocurrencies including 0x (ZRX), Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM) and Zcash (ZEC).

By showing its hand well in advance and being more transparent about its regulatory hurdles, the platform will hopefully avoid another debacle like the volatile launch of Bitcoin Cash last December, which prompted an insider trading investigation.

“One of the most common requests we hear from customers is to be able to trade more assets on Coinbase,” Coinbase said in a blog post.

ZRX should show up soon for most users across the desktop, iOS and Android versions of Coinbase. At launch time, ZRX won’t be available in the state of New York or the United Kingdom due to unresolved regulatory issues.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Circle Invest lets you buy cryptocurrency collections

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With Circle Invest, Circle has been trying to make it as easy as possible to get started with cryptocurrency trading. And the company wants to go one step further with collections of multiple tokens.

When it first launched, Circle Invest was pretty straightforward. You could download an app, sign up and buy Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and Litecoin in just a few taps.

But the company then started adding more coins. And if you’re new to the cryptocurrency industry, it’s hard to understand the difference between Ethereum and Ethereum Classic if you weren’t looking at the market when the fork happened.

That’s why Circle introduced a feature called “buy the market”. In one tap, you can buy all the coins on Circle Invest, weighted depending on their respective market capitalization. For instance, the total market capitalization of Bitcoin is much higher than the market cap of Monero. So you’ll end up with a lot of bitcoins.

30 percent of Circle Invest users are using this feature. People who buy this package probably don’t invest as much as users who build their own portfolio, so it might not be 30 percent of Circle Invest’s transaction volume.

Coinbase recently introduced a similar feature called bundles. In just a few taps, you can purchase all the coins on Coinbase. Of course, both Coinbase and Circle Invest provide a limited selection of coins. But it’s clear that they both want to list more assets in the future.

With collections, you can buy a subset of the tokens available on Circle Invest. There are three packages for now — Platforms, Payments and Privacy. For instance, you’ll find Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Stellar and Litecoin in the Payments collection. Once again, collections are weighted by market cap.

News Source = techcrunch.com

A former U.S. President walks into a blockchain conference…

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In a sign of the major cryptocurrency players’ continued influence and ability to pay premium speaking fees, the keynote speaker for Ripple’s two-day Swell conference was none other than former President Bill Clinton.

In what felt like a very odd cameo for Clinton, the former President largely meandered through an hour-long conversation about his new James Patterson book, gun regulation, backroom stories regarding the Oslo Treaty, and a couple loosely-connected points about the cryptocurrency space tossed in there for the audience.

Clinton expectedly did not dive into the regulatory intricacies facing multi-billion dollar enterprises like Ripple (the company), but he did offer a bit of caution to those responsible for where the industry moves next through the lens of what he experienced in the late 90’s dealing with internet companies.

“I think it’s very important that people like you who live on the edge of this will not get so carried away with the immediate financial rewards and sense of empowerment that you forget that one rule nobody’s repealed is that if things sound too good to be true they probably are,” Clinton said. “In a modern world you need a way of determining that and hedging against it without killing the goose that laid the golden egg. That means you have to be clever about what regulatory or other structures that you set up.”

While Clinton certainly did not appear to be a Shingy-esque blockchain evangelist onstage, he delivered a targeted amount of enthusiasm about new technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence in enhancing accessibility and shaping the country’s economic future.

“This whole blockchain deal has the potential it does only because it is applicable across national borders and income groups, the permutations and possibilities are staggeringly great,” Clinton said.

XRP year-over-year via CoinMarketCap

It’s an understatement that Ripple (the company) has had a staggeringly great calendar year since its last Swell conference as XRP has come to rest 3x where it was a year ago, though, in the meantime it surged astronomic multiples beyond the growth seen by other volatile cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and dove downward nearly as quickly.

Though Clinton was verbose on plenty of topics unrelated to the conference’s topic at hand, his  few words regarding “not killing the golden goose” with premature or overreaching legislation seemed to be a popular point with investors and entrepreneurs in the crowd who have bought into the concept that XRP is perhaps the “safer” choice for betting on a future financial structure shaped by cryptocurrencies.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Report: Most ICO project financing unaffected by crypto market crash

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Despite a bear market that has seen the price of Ethereum drop by over 80 percent since the start of the year, most projects that raised money via an ICO remain unaffected, according to the findings of a new report.

Bitmex, best known for a crypto trading service, claims to have crunched the numbers on over 200 of the biggest ICOs and found that, on average, most projects have already converted what they had raised in crypto into fiat currency. That’s not to say that they did so immediately or that 100 percent of the proceeds have been converted — many projects didn’t, and haven’t — but the general trend is that most have reaped the paper gains of their ICO without being stung by the crash.

One Ethereum — technically an ‘Ether,’ the crypto token associated with the Ethereum Foundation and the Ethereum Blockchain — was worth nearly $1,400 in January, a then record. That valuation has plunged during 2018, to the point that the cryptocurrency ducked below $200 during September, raising alarm among some in the community over its long-term sustainability.

Ethereum’s rollercoaster ride over the last twelve months including a record valuation of nearly $1,400 in January 2018

It’s easy to assume, therefore, that ICO projects — which raise the majority of their funds in Ethereum — have been hit hard. But the Bitmex research appears to suggest that many projects managed to convert their crypto and also retain a decent amount of Ethereum, too. It’s, of course, important to remember that this is a report, not gospel truths, but there’s plenty of insight to dig into.

Bitmex suggests that the projects it looked at collectively still hold 3.8 million Ethereum, or around one-quarter of the crypto total that they originally raised. If that’s true — and the accuracy will vary from project to project — then it’s a big win. Not only do projects get the money they thought they’d earned from their ICO, but they also retain some ‘skin in the game’ and are thus incentivized by the future value of Ethereum.

According to Bitmex, the deficit between total Ethereum value raised and the total amount of Ethereum cashed into fiat is just $11 million. Spread across over 200 projects, that’s quite low and it leaves plenty of Ethereum for future opportunities. Estimated unrealized Ethereum gains — i.e. crypto raised that hasn’t been cashed out — stands at $93 million, and that’s based on the current ‘low’ value of Ethereum.

The Bitmex data is fairly skewed by the huge EOS ICO — which raised around $4 billion in crypto earlier this year. Not only does the EOS project inflate the numbers, but it also continuously offloaded Ethereum during its year-long token sale making it tricky to track value.

Nonetheless, even taking EOS out of the acquisition, the shortcoming between ‘paper’ ICO raises and the net conversion to fiat is $79 million and that’s padded out by the $93 million in estimated unrealized gains.

Despite the industry-wide figures, there are examples of companies who quickly cashed their crypto into fiat in order to plump for a sure thing, and others who held off converting the pile or cashed out small bits when needed. The situation is certainly more challenge for any ICOs happening right now, although — as we wrote recently — the market has shifted towards private sales which makes tracking the flow of money a great detail more challenging.

You can read the full report on the Bitmex blog here.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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