London finally has a zero-waste and zero-plastic shop

The future of banking fits in the palm of your hand! But is it all that new?
Image: monzo

Banking doesn’t usually inspire chat-up lines in pubs, or nightclub-style virtual queues of young people looking for a quick way in. But one London-based startup has managed to become quite the conversation starter in London’s pubs and beyond. 

Monzo lives entirely on your phone and is geared toward a generation accustomed to doing everything with that device. Unlike many other apps, there’s no waiting until the next day to see what’s left in your account after a big night out, because the balance updates in real time.  

It’s not the only app-based bank out there, nor the only bank challenging traditional institutions. The actual product isn’t wildly different from what you can get at ordinary banks on the high street. “There’s no rethinking of product, not redefining identity,” said expert in emotional banking and Chief Growth Officer at Temenos’ Marketplace Duena Blomstrom

Yet somehow, Monzo has managed to use its distinctive hot coral-coloured card to garner a buzzy, dedicated fanbase who chat to each other on message boards and meet up IRL — which definitely isn’t happening for the old high street banks. And, it’s the startup that’s being lauded as potentially the UK’s answer to American tech behemoths Facebook and Google. 

It once famously crowdfunded a £1 million investment round in 96 seconds, and since its inception in February 2015 it has almost half a million users. All this just with a pre-paid card (current accounts are now being rolled out) and an app. The company reported almost a £7 million loss in it’s last financial year — and while that isn’t entirely unusual in the early years of new ventures, it can be risky for investors. 

Mashable met CEO Tom Blomfield at Monzo’s Shoreditch headquarters on a rainy Wednesday to find out more. The lobby smells like pulled pork from the street food vendor brought in for a twice-weekly employee lunch, and the young coders and designers queue up. 

Monzo CEO and co-founder Tom Blomfield.

Image: Monzo

“From the very early days we wanted to do a couple of things differently. One was involve our community in basically everything,” Blomfield said.

“Second is being really transparent about everything, whether it’s a product road map or around our license application, or plans for the future, or ATM charging. Community and transparency seem to go hand in hand,” he said.

Monzo’s transparency recently came into focus when the company made headlines for taking away a feature that had been there from the beginning — free ATM withdrawals abroad. Some customers were angry and threatened to leave the company over it…

…but other users pointed out that the community had voted for it.

Blomfield seemed to take that as a reminder that there are powerusers, and then there are the casual users, and Monzo can’t just cater to the most engaged. “Even the vote on the ATM fees, you had to register on the community forum, which something like 15,000 people voted, but we have a userbase of half a million now,” he said. The company is looking at ways to bring the community more into the app to remove the barrier of registering on a forum in order to participate.

The fees issue and sporadic outages will put Monzo in the mainstream press but according to Will Beeson, head of operations and innovation at Civilised Bank, Monzo’s continued transparency works in their favour. 

“There’s a level of openness — transparency, openness on how products priced and delivered, and how issues are resolved. With the few outages with the prepaid cards, they’re very quick to put up their hands and accept responsibility,” Beeson said.

While the commitment to transparency underpins everything they do, clever marketing that captures the zeitgeist has really boosted their profile.

“One of greatest challenges for fintech is getting the word out,” Beeson said. “I’ve seen millennials on the Tube — and even more on the Overgound [the main train line in hipster East London] — and it seems like every other person is tapping in and out with a Monzo card,” he said.

“Leveraging social media was really smart. You get the buzz, and other challenger banks playing on that aspect,” said Ghela Boskovich, head of fintech and regtech partnerships at Startupbootcamp.

Monzo’s Golden Tickets don’t look exactly like this, but you get the idea.

Image: REX/Shutterstock

One idea that generates buzz is the Golden Ticket. Normally there’s a waitlist for Monzo, but users can get a Golden Ticket (yes, inspired by Willy Wonka, according to Blomfield) which they can give to a friend to skip the queue.

This Mashable reporter can confirm that the Golden Ticket become a talking point in offices, at the pub, and online. It’s been a big success for Monzo.

“Something like 45% of our signups in any given week are driven by Golden Tickets,” Blomfield said.

Another feature that makes Monzo different is their fluency in emoji.Like other things at Monzo, it came about organically, but people really liked it so it stuck around.

“The emoji crept into our customer support language. That’s how our customers communicate,” Blomfield said.

Uh oh — emoji in action, and a warning.

Image: MONZO

As Blomfield tells it, Monzo co-founder Jonas Huckestein was working on a holiday Sunday afternoon and thought it would be funny to include an emoji on push notifications. So he wrote the code and pushed it out to the 3,000-4,000 users at the time. 

“It was just to sort of amuse people really but it was surprisingly delightful,” Blomfield said.

He spent a few hours going through the Mastercard-supplied list of merchants and matching up the emoji and it has continued from there.

“There are all these little easter eggs. Totally pointless, no economic benefit at all, it’s just sort of lovely. It makes me smile,” he said. There’s no masterlist at Monzo but developers might add custom combinations for places (certainly British pub names are ripe for that kind of thing). 

Not all features are 🔥.  

Blomfield said they had high hopes for the Monzo.me feature — a web link that lets anyone send a Monzo user money. “But it drives maybe a hundred users,” he said. 

Image: screenshot

As Monzo grows, it’s important to continue to appeal to a wide base of customers, and not just the superfans.

“When we do product feedback sessions, we need to make sure these people are a diverse representation of our customer base, and not just tech nerds in Shoreditch. It’s easy to just grab three dudes with dodgy beards off the street and see what they think,” Blomfield said. 

He also said that the original categories for expenses reflected a very male perspective, and that going forward the categories would be more representative of a diverse set of needs.

While all these features seem pretty cool they haven’t yet resulted in a payoff. But Monzo has jumped into the fray at a good time.

In 2015, the European Union issued its second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) regulations, and the UK Treasury took those and just ran with them. On Jan. 13, 2018, nine big banks in the UK must disclose their data to licensed startups. (Wired has an excellent explainer on the topic, if you are interested in reading more.)

With that all that sweet, sweet data becoming suddenly available, of course there are questions of privacy and security. Blomfield is very much aware of this and its importance. He said that Monzo won’t share anyone’s data unless they want them to.

“But there might be times when it might be advantageous to do so like for a gas or electric switching site, so you can get a better deal. So we always try to give you that choice, that opt-in, and if you don’t opt in we won’t share your data,” he said. But he said that what happens to your data after it’s shared with another party is basically in their hands.

“It’s easy to just grab three dudes with dodgy beads off the street and see what they think.”

The Monzo machine got in the game early, and it’s in a good position to capitalise on this sea change in banking data. When asked if Monzo has the potential to be a Facebook or a Google, Startupbootcamp’s Boskovich points to the data.

“The user is really engaged with the app. It collects enormous amount of data, like Facebook and Google collect data. Monzo also sees the transaction and can overlay it with behavioural data,” she said. 

“But the regulations under PSD2 and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are still going to apply to Monzo, the same way as it would apply to anyone else,” she said.

So will Monzo and its crowdsourcing superfans get rich off the incoming treasure trove of personal data? Will it get absorbed into a Google or a larger bank? Will customers get tired of chatting about their brightly coloured bank cards and the relevant emoji on their push alerts?

It definitely feels like an exciting time to be in banking (who would’ve thought?) and we’ll see if the future comes up hot coral. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/26/monzo-bank-mobile-intro-startup-uk/

Sean Hannity fans are destroying their Keurig coffee makers after company pulls ads

As advertisers flee from far-right Fox News host Sean Hannity over his defense of Roy Moore, Alabama’s Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate who stands accused of child sex assault, Hannity fans have found a bizarre way of showing their support: Smashing their own stuff.

So far, as CNBC detailed Sunday, at least five brands will stop advertising on Hannity: Keurig, 23 and Me, Realtor.com, Nature’s Bounty, and Eloquii. This has inflamed Hannity’s fans on Twitter, who’ve been calling for nationwide boycotts of those companies in retaliation. In particular, they’re targeting Keurig, a company that produces home coffee makers.

In a nutshell, a lot of Hannity fans are supposedly boycotting Keurig now—and even replacing or destroying ones they already own—in order to show their sharp displeasure with the company’s decision to abandon the Fox News firebrand.

Of course, the Keurig boycott attempt has also been met with some derision and mockery by progressives on social media, with some clearly pleased that more companies are running away from the controversial right-wing host.

The current rush of companies pulling ads from Hannity’s show is related to his recent commentary on the sexual misconduct allegations against Moore, currently running for U.S. Senate as a Republican against Democratic challenger Doug Jones.

Moore, 70, has been publicly accused in a deeply sourced report from the Washington Post of having sexually pursued multiple teenage girls while in his early 30s, including a particularly detailed allegation that he molested a 14-year-old. In covering the allegations, Hannity―along with one of his guests, attorney Mercedes Colwin―questioned the motives of Moore’s accuser, speculating that she might have been lying and that she might be doing so for money.

Hannity also advised his viewers and listeners not to “rush to judgment” about the allegations and speculated that Moore’s alleged contact with teenagers could’ve been consensual. He later apologized, stating that he was only talking about his three accusers aged 16 to 18, not the 14-year-old.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/hannity-boycott-keurig-fans/

Bitcoin Plunges 29% From Record High

Bitcoin plummeted, extending its drop to 29 percent from a record high, on speculation some traders were buying its offshoot amid a struggle over the digital currency’s future.

Bitcoin dropped to as low as $5,605 on Monday, from a record high $7,882 reached on Wednesday, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Bitcoin cash rose to $2,426 on Sunday, before plunging to $1,379 as of 9:32 a.m. in Hong Kong, according to Coinmarketcap.com.

Bitcoin has slumped since the cancellation of a technology upgrade to increase its block size, amid speculation supporters of the proposal bid up bitcoin cash to undermine the original bitcoin.

“It’s the bitcoin cash pump,” said Arthur Hayes, chief executive officer of BitMEX, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Hong Kong. “It’s obviously a coordinated action of certain individuals who have a vested interest in bitcoin cash.”

At the heart of the debate is how bitcoin’s underlying technology can accommodate rising transactions as its popularity booms. While increasing its block size would help, opponents argue it would only concentrate mining power, undermining the decentralized nature of bitcoin.

    Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-13/bitcoin-plunges-29-from-record-high-as-civil-war-intensifies

    ‘$300m in cryptocurrency’ accidentally lost forever due to bug

    User mistakenly takes control of hundreds of wallets containing cryptocurrency Ether, destroying them in a panic while trying to give them back

    More than $300m of cryptocurrency has been lost after a series of bugs in a popular digital wallet service led one curious developer to accidentally take control of and then lock up the funds, according to reports.

    Unlike most cryptocurrency hacks, however, the money wasnt deliberately taken: it was effectively destroyed by accident. The lost money was in the form of Ether, the tradable currency that fuels the Ethereum distributed app platform, and was kept in digital multi-signature wallets built by a developer called Parity. These wallets require more than one user to enter their key before funds can be transferred.

    On Tuesday Parity revealed that, while fixing a bug that let hackers steal $32m out of few multi-signature wallets, it had inadvertently left a second flaw in its systems that allowed one user to become the sole owner of every single multi-signature wallet.

    Q&A

    What is cryptocurrency?

    A cryptocurrency is a form of digital asset, created through a canny combination of encryption and peer-to-peer networking.

    Bitcoin, the first and biggest cryptocurrency, is part of a decentralised payment network. If you own a bitcoin, you control a secret digital key which you can use to prove to anyone on the network that a certain amount of bitcoin is yours.

    If you spend that bitcoin, you tell the entire network that you’ve transferred ownership of it, and use the same key to prove that you’re telling the truth. Over time, the history of all those transactions becomes a lasting record of who owns what: that record is called the blockchain.

    After bitcoin’s creation in 2009, a number of other cryptocurrencies sought to replicate its success but taking its free, public code and tweaking it for different purposes.

    Some, such as Filecoin, have a very defined goal. It aims to produce a sort of decentralised file storage system: as well as simply telling the network that you have some Filecoins, you can tell the network to store some encrypted data and pay Filecoins to whoever stores it on their computer.

    Others are more nebulous. Ethereum, using the Ether token, is now the second biggest cryptocurrency after bitcoin and essentially a cryptocurrency for making cryptocurrencies. Users can write “smart contracts”, which are effectively programs that can be run on the computer of any user of the network if they’re paid enough Ether.

    Of course, to many, the purpose is secondary. The only really important thing is that the value of an Ether token increased 2,500% over 2017, meaning some are hoping to jump on the bandwagon and get rich. Bubble or boom? That’s the $28bn question.

    The user, devops199, triggered the flaw apparently by accident. When they realised what they had done, they attempted to undo the damage by deleting the code which had transferred ownership of the funds. Rather than returning the money, however, that simply locked all the funds in those multisignature wallets permanently, with no way to access them.

    This means that currently no funds can be moved out of the multi-sig wallets, Parity says in a security advisory.

    Effectively, a user accidentally stole hundreds of wallets simultaneously, and then set them on fire in a panic while trying to give them back.

    We are analysing the situation and will release an update with further details shortly, Parity told users.

    Hard fork

    Some are pushing for a hard fork of Ethereum, which would undo the damage by effectively asking 51% of the currencys users to agree to pretend that it had never happened in the first place. That would require a change to the code that controls ethereum, and then that change to be adopted by the majority of the user base. The risk is that some of the community refuses to accept the change, resulting in a split into two parallel groups.

    Such an act isnt unheard of: another hack, two years ago, of an Ethereum app called the DAO resulted in $150m being stolen. The hard fork was successful then, but the money stolen represented a much larger portion of the entire Ethereum market than the $300m lost to Parity.

    The lost $300m follows the discovery of bug in July that led to the theft of $32m in ether from just three multisignature wallets. A marathon coding and hacking effort was required to secure another $208m against theft. Patching that bug led to the flaw in Paritys system that devops199 triggered by accident.

    Parity says that it is unable to confirm the actual amount lost, but that the $300m figure is purely speculative. The company also disputes that the currency is lost, arguing that frozen is more accurate. But if it is frozen, it appears that no-one has the ability to unfreeze the funds.

    The Parity vulnerability was the result of an incorrectly coded smart contract used by the Parity wallet to store tokens on the Ethereum network, said Dominic Williams, founder of blockchain firm DFINITY. The vulnerability made it possible for anyone to freeze the tokens held by that smart contract, making them immovable. At this time, the only method we are aware of to unfreeze tokens held by the vulnerable smart contract would be to create a new hard fork Ethereum client that deploys a fix. This would require every full node on the Ethereum network to upgrade by the date of the hard fork to stay in sync, including all miners, wallets, exchanges, etc.

    Ethereum has rapidly become the second most important cryptocurrency, after Bitcoin, with its price increasing more than 2,500% over the past year. One token of Ether is now worth a little over $285, up from $8 in January.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/08/cryptocurrency-300m-dollars-stolen-bug-ether

    Op Ed: “We Never Thought of That” — When Venture-Backed Companies Undertake Reverse ICOs

    Op Ed: “We Never Thought of That” When Venture-Backed Companies Undertake Reverse ICOs

    With well over $3 billion raised this year alone, in very little time initial coin offerings (ICOs) have emerged as a major source of venture finance. Even companies that have already raised conventional venture funding will be tempted to raise additional funds through ICOs. Although not fully intuitive, some have labeled token issuances by entities that previously obtained equity financing as “Reverse ICOs.”

    One prominent example of a Reverse ICO has already occurred. Recently, Kik Interactive successfully completed an ICO of nearly $100 million. With over $3 billion raised in ICOs this year alone, ICOs are not unsubstantial. What made the Kik offering far more unusual is that Kik has already raised over $100 million from venture investors.

    The standard documents used for angel and venture investing predate the current ICO craze and, not surprisingly, do not expressly address ICOs. Understandably, these documents are all “share-centric.” The question that needs to be addressed, therefore, is: What rights, if any, do existing investors have when their company elects to undertake an ICO?

    What makes the analysis particularly difficult is that, broadly speaking, there are three types of ICOs:

    • Equity Tokens — these tokens are essentially digital shares with the issuer specifying equity participation, voting rights and other token/shareholder rights.

    • Non-Equity Security Tokens — these tokens do not grant equity rights but under the Howey test are nonetheless classified as securities.

    • Utility Tokens — these tokens allow the purchaser to buy products or services from the issuer.

    Although not the subject of this article, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued initial guidance with respect to the securities law status of tokens issued in ICOs. The SEC’s Chief Accountant has also put out guidance detailing some of the accounting issues raised by ICOs.

    This article will identify several issues raised by ICOs under commonly used SAFE, Convertible Note, Series Seed and Series A documents.

    Why Existing Investors Might Object to Reverse ICOs

    On the surface, Reverse ICOs would seem to be a net positive for existing investors. Except for equity tokens, ICOs provide non-dilutive financing to companies. Even when tokens are classified as securities, they generally are not issued as equity  —purchasers do not have a share in the issuer, do not receive dividends and do not get voting rights. However, there are several reasons why existing investors might be concerned:

    Multiple “Plays” on the Same Company

    After a Reverse ICO, a venture-backed company will have both tokens and equity in the hands of investors. Prior to the ICO, the only way an investor could invest in the company was by buying its stock. After the ICO, the investor would have a choice of buying the stock or buying tokens.

    At least in the current environment, there is reason to believe that demand for tokens will be greater and drive up relative prices for tokens. Equity holders may find reduced demand for their equity. Further, if the tokens remain outstanding at the time of an exit, it is difficult to predict the impact of outstanding token pools on exit valuations in either an acquisition or IPO scenario.

    Impact on Follow-On Venture Funding

    Many venture funds make relatively small initial investments, anticipating that they will deploy significantly more capital in subsequent rounds. ICOs may reduce companies’ needs for future equity raises. As a result, venture funds may have reduced opportunities for follow-on funding.

    Delay or Elimination of Conversion Events

    For holders of Convertible Notes and SAFEs, under most currently used form documents, ICOs typically will not be considered an event that triggers a conversion. In some cases, ICOs may also delay or even eliminate subsequent equity financings. Further, in successful companies, ICOs often will raise the pre-money valuation at which conversion occurs, thereby diluting SAFE/Note holders (although conversion caps in many of these instruments may mitigate the impact).

    Avoiding Pre-Emptive Rights

    Under the current agreement forms, tokens sold in an ICO would not trigger the pre-emptive rights of existing shareholders — thereby denying them an automatic right of participation in the ICO.

    Absence of Transfer Restrictions

    Under the current agreement forms, tokens sold in an ICO would not be subject to the rights of first refusal, co-sale rights and the transfer restrictions typically applicable to shareholders in venture-backed companies.

    ICOs Do Not Trigger Other Typical Preferred Shareholder Provisions
    • Anti-Dilution Protection. If a company underprices its tokens, its impact on valuation could be similar to a “down round.” However, unless tokens are issued as equity, they would not trigger the anti-dilution protection clauses in the standard forms.

    • Liquidation Preferences. If token holders are given equity participation in an issuer, the issuing documentation will need to specify where they stand in the liquidation stack. For utility tokens, if the claim against the company is viewed as contractual (i.e., the holders of a pre-payment for products/services), token holders may be unsecured creditors instead of shareholders — in which case they would rank ahead of all equity classes.

    • Mandatory Conversion of Preferred Shares. Venture documents typically provide for mandatory conversion of preferred shares in an IPO of a specified minimum amount raised and minimum share price or approval by what is typically a supermajority of preferred shareholders. Several ICOs have raised in excess of $100 million. If these companies go public, it is possible that some may not need additional funding and may do so without a public offering of additional shares (i.e., a direct offering). However, if not all shareholders agree with the decision to go public, the mandatory conversion provision could not be utilized unless approved by a supermajority of the preferred shareholders, which in some circumstances could impede the ability of an IPO to proceed.

    Impact on Future Cash Flow

    Many ICO issuers are positioning their tokens as “utility tokens” that can be used in the future to buy the issuer’s product or service. As a result, these tokens constitute pre-pays for the future delivery of goods and services. In the future, when the products/services need to be delivered, the venture may experience cash flow issues because no new funds will be coming in to pay for the product or service.

    Impact of Regulatory, Tax and Accounting Uncertainty

    Currently, the regulatory status of ICOs is unclear. Issuance of tokens in a manner that does not comply with the eventual regulations that emerge could create liabilities for the company and/or limit its ability to issue equity in the future. In addition, the accounting and tax rules for ICOs have not been established, and as a result, there may be ambiguity with respect to several representations and warranties the company typically will need to make in future financings and liquidity events.

    Fiduciary Uncertainty

    Officers and directors of companies have fiduciary obligations to maximize shareholder value. When companies are insolvent, these duties shift to protection of the interests of creditors. What, if any, fiduciary duties a board has with respect to token holders has not been explored. If a company is facing a decision that would benefit shareholders at a cost to token holders, do board members have any fiduciary obligation to the token holders? Investor representatives on boards of companies that have conducted Reverse ICOs will not only have to deal with uncertainty but also potential conflicts of interest if they have not participated in the Reverse ICO.

    Can Investors Prevent a Company from Undertaking an ICO?

    While it is difficult to believe that a company would undertake an ICO without board approval, in many early-stage companies, investors do not have control of the board. However, commonly used investment documents may leave shareholders with limited recourse where boards back an ICO. In general, in SAFEs and Convertible Notes, holders do not have protective rights and, as a result, they do not have the ability to prevent an ICO.

    The protective provisions in the Certificate of Incorporation for Series Seed financings would not provide Series Seed holders with the ability to prevent an ICO. In the NVCA Series A documents, ICOs do not easily fit into any of the matters for which the investor director’s approval is required. The same applies to the protective provisions for the benefit of preferred shareholders detailed in the Certificate of Incorporation.

    What Now?

    For blockchain startups, ICOs have become the dominant form of fundraising — far exceeding venture capital financing. Given the strength of the ICO market, “Reverse ICOs” are likely to become even more pervasive. For investors this could be very challenging. Existing form agreements in the venture space are likely to be revised to address the possibility of Reverse ICOs. However, the regulatory, tax and accounting uncertainties around ICOs may not be quickly resolved, leaving uncertainty around some of the concerns raised in this article.

    Revising the form agreements will not address the thousands of venture-backed companies that were financed using pre-ICO forms. For existing investors the path forward is more difficult. Where investors control the board or have blocking rights, they will have the ability to prevent ICOs or influence their terms. For other investors, particularly in early-stage ventures with founder-dominated boards, ICOs have the potential to overturn several assumptions under which early investors funded. These investors may have to wait for situations in which their approval is needed for unrelated corporate actions or their funding is necessary and leverage that position to insist upon amendments to existing investment documents to address some of the investor challenges resulting from Reverse ICOs.

    This is a guest post by Dror Futter. Views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine.

    The post Op Ed: “We Never Thought of That” — When Venture-Backed Companies Undertake Reverse ICOs appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Makes Off with $375k of ICO Funds

    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO Funds

    Confido, an ICO startup whose name means “I trust”, has done a bunk with 1,235 ETH. The company was supposed to have been creating a trustless payment system using smart contracts. Instead, it was the project’s founders who have proven themselves trustless after deleting all their accounts and going dark. The $375,000 exit scam highlights the risks that are inherent to the still largely unregulated ICO market.

    See also: Cracks Appear as Critics Label Bitconnect a Ponzi Scheme

    Trust Less, Question More

    As a since-deleted Medium article published by Confido explained:

    Confido takes away the trust barrier in exchanges involving cryptocurrencies, while also staying decentralised and trustless.

    After protesting of “legal issues” over the weekend, however, the startup hastily scrubbed its online presence. Google still has a cached version of the site and a who.is enquiry pulls up the following information, citing a residential Berlin address:

    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO Funds

    Joost van Doorn is also the project’s founder and CEO supposedly. It is unlikely that the company information is correct, although the name might be, given that van Doorn has since deactivated his personal Facebook account along with Confido’s. The confido.io domain was registered with Namecheap, who accept payment in bitcoin.

    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO Funds
    Joost shut up and take my money.

    An FAQ on the company’s cached website poses such questions as “Why is the hard cap so low?”, to which they reply: We think the current ICO space is messed up; companies are raising millions without a fully working product or existing customers. We have talked with financial analysts and we simply don’t need more than $400,000 to develop and market our project.”

    Irony Upon Ironies and Insult to Injury

    The Confido contract address currently has a balance of 0 ether and just 676 CFD tokens, worth a total of $21. As word broke of the exit scam on November 19, the token’s value plummeted by 94%. It’s currently trading on Kucoin, Etherdelta, and Mercatox, though suffice to say there aren’t many buyers.

    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO Funds

    Google webcache also reveals a snapshot of the team’s now deleted Twitter, where the ironies continue to stack up:

    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO Funds

    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO Funds

    The 4.5 million CFD the team refer to currently sit in this address. On 4chan’s /biz/ messageboard where traders gather to troll, shill, and occasionally dispense sound investment advice, there was an abundance of pink wojaks as the despair sank in, and it was a similar story on Reddit.

    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO Funds

    What Hope of a Happy Ending?

    There remains a slim chance of a happy ending to this sorry story. Tokenlot, who had promoted the Confido sale on their site, reportedly issued the following information after the exit scam came to light:

    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO Funds

    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO FundsDays earlier, some of the /biz/ forum’s more astute users had posted warnings that the team behind Confido didn’t seem to exist, but were shot down with one sceptic jibing “You sold the future of online crypto commerce at 5 M market cap OP. You sold too early and you will have to live with that”.

    In a thread on November 19, someone posted:

    wait a second, is this real? I woke up not too long ago and I am down over $54K on my investment in CFD…I bought in with almost everything I had when it was .94 cents. What is happening? I am seeing rumors that the developers did an exit scam. Is this true? Does anyone know why their website is down? I’m not getting any responses from email or anything. I feel really f*****g sick. Can someone tell me please what is happening?

    The Confido scam arrives the same day a survey revealed that 15% of institutional traders won’t go near ICOs until tighter regulation arrives. While the vast majority of initial coin offerings are conducted in good faith, all it takes is a few bad apples to ruin things for everyone.

    Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO Funds
    The Confido team that never was.

    As Confido were posting news of “legal troubles” which have been widely interpreted as the Trustless Payment Startup Confido Does a Runner with $375k of ICO Fundsfirst phase of their planned exit, one Twitter user highlighted the fact that Coinmarketcap is running a trio of ads for projects which are dubious at best and fraudulent at worst. Bitcy, Resonance, and Bitconnect all promise “guaranteed returns”, which should be an instant warning sign. As the Confido case shows, however, it doesn’t require unrealistic claims to hook investors: all it takes is a plausible sounding ICO with a modest hard cap.

    Trustless indeed.

    What do you think can be done to protect investors from ICO scams? Let us know in the comments section below.


    Images courtesy of Twitter.


    Bitcoinocracy is a free and decentralized way to measure the Bitcoin community’s stance on a given proposition. Check vote.Bitcoin.com.

    The post Trustless Payment Startup Confido Makes Off with $375k of ICO Funds appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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    PR: German Fintech Company Naga Group to Launch Token Pre-Sale

    German Fintech Company Naga Group

    This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.

    The NAGA Group, creators of the first blockchain-based ecosystem for decentralized trading, investing, and education in financial markets, virtual goods, and cryptocurrencies. has announced the launch date of their NAGA Coin (NGC) token pre-sale.

    Who is The NAGA Group?

    Founded in 2015, The NAGA Group AG broke records earlier this year, launching the fastest-performing German IPO in the last 15 years. Listed on the German Stock Exchange in Frankfurt, NAGA Group shares are currently trading at nearly 500% above their original issue price. The company employs a team of over 120 people and has a market cap of over $250 million USD.

    The NAGA Group’s flagship product is SwipeStox. Combining social features like chat channels, timeline updates, following and watching other users, etc… with a robust trading platform, SwipeStox is designed to take the confusion out of trading. Launched in 2016, SwipeStox boasts tens of thousands of active users, millions of dollars in annual revenues, and a total trade volume of over $49 billion to date.

    Switex, another NAGA Group product, is the first independent legal virtual goods exchange platform. It allows video game players to buy in-game virtual items from other gamers as well as from the game publishers themselves. Other virtual items, such as concert and movie tickets, e-gift cards, etc…, can also be bought and sold on the platform. Currently in alpha, Switex is expected to launch in Q4 2017.

    Biggest Names in the Crypcommunity Join NAGA Group

    As if NAGA Group wasn’t stirring up enough excitement already, on November 14,2017, they announced that two of the biggest names in cryptocurrency – Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver and COO Mate Tokay – had joined the project’s Advisory Board. In addition, it was also revealed that the founder of the Evercoin cryptocurrency exchange and Limited Partner with Pantera Capital, Miko Matsumura, had joined the Advisory Board as well.

    All three men bring a wealth of cryptocurrency and financial knowledge and experience to the table and it will be interesting to see how their influence and guidance will help shape the project’s future.

    NAGA Token Pre-Sale

    The NAGA token pre-sale will begin on November 20, 2017 and will end on November 27, 2017, or when the pre-sale token supply (20 million NGC) sells out.

    • Start Date: 20 November 2017 (00:00 CET)
    • End Date: 27 November 2017 (23:59 CET)
    • Ticker Symbol: NGC (NAGA Coin)
    • Token Price: 1 NGC = $1.00 USD
    • Minimum Purchase: 15 NGC ($15.00 USD)
    • Bonus: 30% bonus NGC during pre-sale ONLY
    • Accepted cryptocurrencies: BTC, BCH, ETH, LTC, DASH
    • Accepted fiat currencies: EUR, USD

    For more information about The NAGA Group AG, please visit their company website. You can learn more about the NAGA ecosystem and token sale at nagaico.com and by following them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, BitcoinTalk, and Telegram.

    Supporting Link
    https://www.nagaico.com/
    Contact Email Address
    [email protected]

    This is a paid press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release.

    The post PR: German Fintech Company Naga Group to Launch Token Pre-Sale appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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    Futures Markets: What They Are and What They Mean for Bitcoin

    As bitcoin gains worldwide attention, there’s lots of discussions lately about futures markets. With companies like LedgerX and some pending bitcoin-based derivatives products coming soon from CME Group and Cboe, leading to some people scratching their heads wondering — What are futures markets and what do they mean for bitcoin?

    Also read: Internet Archive Adds Bitcoin Cash and Zcash for Donations

    Everyone Keeps Talking About Bitcoin Futures Markets

    Over the past couple of years, a few companies have been trying to apply derivative market trading into the world of bitcoin. Lately, people have been following the news of LedgerX swapping a few million worth of bitcoin-based futures products. Further, observers have heard about two of the world’s largest options markets, Cboe and CME Group, trying to build their own futures options tethered to the bitcoin economy. Many people are curious about how these types of trading markets will affect bitcoin’s price and volatility.

    What are Bitcoin Futures and Derivatives Markets?

    A bitcoin futures contract is a forward agreement to purchase or sell a specific amount of bitcoin, within a specified time frame for a set price.** So if you buy a bitcoin futures contract at a set price at say $10,000 per BTC; you agree to purchase the coin at the contracted rate, on the agreed upon date and the same goes for selling. Futures markets are the exact opposite of spot markets, and exchanges people traditionally use to trade bitcoin these days. Traditional types of spot trades occur immediately, in contrast to forward agreements scheduled for a specified payout date. Bitcoin-based futures derive their price according to the movement of bitcoin’s value, and these markets are very much correlated with the spot price markets.

    ** Its important to note there is no real bitcoin being exchanged within futures contracts. Futures products are cash-settled daily.

    Futures Markets: What They Are and What They Mean for Bitcoin
    A forward agreement to purchase or sell bitcoin at a future price.

     Spot and Futures: How Profits and Losses Are Tethered to Arbitrage

    Now you may ask yourself why traders would want to agree upon purchasing an asset in the future utilizing a contract. The reason is that individuals and organizations make a lot of money off of arbitrage or taking advantage of the spread between two market prices. The future of bitcoin’s price is always bound to have a different value. For instance, a person could gain profits by practicing a method called ‘cash-and-carry-arbitrage.’ This means a person could take a long position using bitcoin spot markets and a short position in bitcoin-based futures. The same individual could purchase the bitcoin at $9,000 spot, and a BTC futures position at $10,000 and sell the futures contract before the expiration. If the bitcoin’s price reaches $11,000 by the end of the contract you just pocketed $1000 for taking a risk. Of course, you would lose money if bitcoin’s price went below $9000 by the contract’s expiry.

    Futures Markets: What They Are and What They Mean for Bitcoin
    Arbitrage is taking advantage of the spread between two market prices.

    The History of Futures Markets

    Active futures markets have been around since the Ancient Mesopotamia times back in 1750 BC. The first known derivatives market was initiated by the Babylonian king Hammurabi. Futures trading has also been found in Aristotle’s writings as well. The first modern derivatives market include the Dojima Rice Exchange in Japan (1700s), the London Metal Market (1800s), and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME Group-1900s). Currently, CME Group is the largest futures marketplace worldwide and is one of the big names bringing bitcoin to the world of derivatives.

    Futures Markets: What They Are and What They Mean for Bitcoin
    The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME Group) trading floor back in the early 1900s.

     Nearly Every Commodity, Product and Stock Worldwide is Played on the Derivatives Markets

    Now some people think futures markets will be great for bitcoin as it may streamline more mainstream exposure. Speculators think it might even help with bitcoin’s price volatility as its assumed others are taking on the risk and reward aspect of a turbulent buyers market.    

    Some people don’t like derivatives markets and think that it’s basically a roulette game. Skeptics believe futures are no different than placing a wager on a horse race, but these days every single world commodity, stock, bond, debt, and now even bitcoin is traded on the roulette table. Because spot markets and futures are so intertwined people believe markets can be manipulated. For instance, people buying futures could also be purchasing bitcoin at spot to make some quick gains. While others may play futures markets, because they know some ‘big bitcoin whale’ might dump next month. Maybe insiders know about some hedge fund about to purchase large quantities of BTC spot, and they bet on a long contract that turns a significant profit. Even though derivatives are somewhat illusionary, they become very real with arbitrage, as outside forces utilizing spot markets can still be used as a correlated tool.

    Will Futures Markets Affect Bitcoin Spot Markets? The Answer is Yes

    So futures markets could theoretically ‘tame’ bitcoin’s price volatility, but also amplify both bearish and bullish sentiment on spot exchanges. In less than two months some of the biggest financial players in the world will be shooting the dice with bitcoin’s value, and there will likely be an impact on spot markets. If bitcoin futures become more prevalent, then everyday markets will feel the tremors. We just don’t know if that impact will be positive or negative.

    What do you think about bitcoin futures markets? Let us know what you think about this type of trading in the comments below.


    Images courtesy of Bitcoin.com, CME Group, and the film Back to the Future.


    Have you seen our new widget service? It allows anyone to embed informative Bitcoin.com widgets on their website. They’re pretty cool, and you can customize by size and color. The widgets include price-only, price and graph, price and news, and forum threads. There’s also a widget dedicated to our mining pool, displaying our hash power.

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    Rublix Is Reimagining Crypto Trading

    RBLX thumb


    The soaring fortunes of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is attracting massive amounts of media attention worldwide. This has led to a steady stream of traders flocking to the space amid record prices and subsequent asset returns.

    In some circles, this exuberance has to raise concerns about a bubble akin to the great global recession of 2008. On a weekly basis, a seemingly endless stream of new crypto projects, many predicated on little more than a hastily developed white paper and website, are being launched and creating a crowded array of options for would-be traders.

    Enter Rublix, a Canadian blockchain and smart contract technology startup that aims to eliminate many of the common concerns and uncertainties arising in the prevailing world of decentralized markets or speculative asset classes. Charting a course of transparency, while nurturing a world-class ecosystem of problem solvers and supporters, Rublix endeavors to create a new normal for trading performance among cryptocurrencies or any asset class. Bolstered by highly astute technology and investment experts, Rublix is actively unveiling a suite of products tied to an ambitious roadmap with a series of launch dates.

    The Rublix platforms are being developed in collaboration with some of the top designers and coders in the world and the team is seeking to attract professionals in the finance space who desire to actively participate in the world of decentralized markets. Its target market? Traders of any sophistication level in any industry including people who believe that cryptocurrencies and the blockchain have barely scratched the surface in terms of its growth potential.

    Hedge

    Rublix’s flagship product is called Hedge, a platform which assists those who are interested in, yet unacquainted with, trading in making thoughtful, informed and educated decisions. Users will have the ability to track and mimic trades made by sophisticated investors on the platform with a verified ranking. The more accurate a trader, the higher their corresponding rank. The platform features an advanced block explorer that displays and records real-time trading predictions on the Rublix chain. The result is that novice traders will be able to rapidly assess and learn from more experienced counterparts with proven track records.

    “The problem with many trading platforms that allow entry level traders to follow ‘successful traders’ is that they employ a month-by-month portfolio model,” said Rublix co-founder and CEO David Waslen. “Unfortunately, portfolio growth is only one piece of the puzzle when analyzing performance. A twenty percent increase in one’s portfolio is not an accurate measure as to whether a trader is highly skilled or not. Perhaps they got lucky with one trade while the balance of their portfolio is mediocre or poor.”

    The goal of Rublix, Waslen added, is to change this dynamic.

    “Rublix, therefore, aims to expose each trading prediction both before and after the event to increase transparency and accountability,” he said. “By making each blueprint public information with blockchain immutability, we give users a secure tool that will aid in making calculated decisions on which information to trust the we hope will help them enter the cryptocurrency space and successfully trade.”

    Cryptocurrencies, with prevailing volatility in a marketplace that never closes, provide an abundance of opportunities for any trader. What is needed is a trusted source of advice to help professional and novice traders develop their knowledge base and hone their skills. That is why through integration with three inherent components of blockchain technology – transparency, decentralization, and immutability – Rublix’s Hedge platform debunks market manipulation while providing a trusted source of trader information.

    “The blockchain aids in keeping our data secure and unsusceptible to intrusion or manipulation,” Waslen said. “It’s obviously a foundational element in helping us create a reliable, unbiased data source that will allow users to make calculated decisions on how to trade appropriately. A decentralized database of users’ past trade history paired with smart contract verification will give us a significant competitive advantage over other trading networks.”

    Waslen goes on to note that the platform rewards users with the company’s native RBLX token on an exponential scale based on how many times they are “accurate” in their predictions. Hedge is targeted for release in Q1 2018.

    TradersEdge

    Rublix’s next product for helping new traders enter the cryptocurrency market is called TradersEdge. Set to launch in Q3 of 2018, it will feature a suite of tools that offer a similar feel and aesthetic to that of many well-known modern trading platforms. This attention to user experience is seen as a vital cog to building long-term interest and user adoption in the crypto-sphere as many cryptocurrency exchange platforms lack a user friendly interface.

    Centurio

    Finally, Rublix is building a tool called Centurio which will assist newcomers in getting up to speed with how to use cryptocurrencies for daily transactions and savings. This cross-platform solution, which doubles as a wallet and contract organizer, is targeted for release in early 2018.

    Unfriendly platforms, difficulties in finding trusted information and general hesitation are what limit the growth and proliferation of cryptocurrencies. Recognizing this, Rublix is laser focused on bringing a whole new cast of entrants into the marketplace by mitigating a number of common concerns that hinder adoption. Rublix’s goal is to create an environment where embracing the blockchain and owning cryptocurrencies feels second nature.


    The post Rublix Is Reimagining Crypto Trading appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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    PR: Crypto20’s Autonomous Crypto Index Fund Passes $15 Million

    Crypto20 Index Fund

    This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.

    CAYMAN ISLANDS – CRYPTO20 is continuing to gaining momentum as it hits $15 million for its Cryptocurrency Index Fund. Over 5,000 contributors are part of the fund which, unlike competitors, is a finished product with a range of investor tools.

    With just 10 days left to run, the team behind CRYPTO20 is expecting to build even further and cross the $20 million mark in the coming week. The fund’s token, C20, is a representation of an investor’s share of the fund, and the fund’s value is equal to the combined value of its assets.

    Actively managed funds consistently fail to beat the market index despite decades worth of data, billions of dollars and hundreds of analysts at their disposal. When they have, their fees dilute investor returns to less than if they had simply held the index.

    Daniel Schwartzkopff, CEO & Founder of CRYPTO20, stated:

    “We have known for a long time that the crypto world should benefit from the introduction of the most proven, practical, tried and tested investment vehicle – the index fund – and we are pleased to share this outlook with over 5,000 contributors.”

    CRYPTO20 has released trading tools and insights that are generated live from the eight exchanges connected to the system via a simple, unified API. The trading tools are available in the fund investor portal and include information on slippage, the best price, and trading pair to acquire assets with and the volume by exchange.

    The fund is fully AML/KYC compliant and operates as a registered LLC in the Cayman Islands, a popular fund jurisdiction.

    The CRYPTO20 fund mitigates risk and volatility and historically has provided better returns than the market cap leader, Bitcoin, alone.

    ABOUT CRYPTO20

    CRYPTO20 is a Cryptocurrency Index Fund that will use the token sale funding to buy the underlying crypto assets. No broker fees, no exit fees, no minimum investment and full control over your assets. Full blockchain transparency.

    WEBSITE: www.crypto20.com
    SLACK: https://goo.gl/rNBdVJ
    CONTACT: [email protected]

    This is a paid press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release.

    The post PR: Crypto20’s Autonomous Crypto Index Fund Passes $15 Million appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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