From Digital Currency

Blockchain Based Bowie Bonds (1 min read)

Being well and truly wrapped up in the madness that is digital currency, i am often coming across what appear to be rather interesting projects, indeed i have even in the past tried to help others understand some of these unique adaptations of Blockchain technology. Check out the video i made on how to get hold of DAO tokens back in May 2016.

Although its next to impossible to vet all these individual projects unless you can commit full time or manage some sort of team, this latest catch SingularDTV – striked me as quite interesting indeed. What hooked me about the project – is mostly due to my search for a sustainable revenue model for video content that i am in the middle of producing, i would really like to monetise the distribution in a new way, and a way in which all those persons contributing in the production are satisfied with their compensation.

Another reason i was attracted by SingularDTV was the fact Zach LeBeau
the CEO shows up in all their PR materials, and appears to come across very genuine and engaged. He also shares his back story – which for me is super important to understand quickly – why is this guy doing this? – whats the motivation? To be clear this post is not to serve as an endorsement for SingularDTV as so far they are yet to launch anything however, i understand that will happen very soon, do your own due diligence, do not rely on others to do it for you.

For me owning some SNGLS (price at writing: 0.00009879) means i feel like i am contributing to something that is being built with which i can align some of my values, i appreciate and respect the people trying to build this platform however, that does not mean it will succeed no matter how good their intentions.

So this brings me to the main reason why i am excited by the idea of Singular DTV, and why i think this model could be helpful to other startups in the future. Zach LeBeau clearly presents his back story and inspiration, and most importantly – it’s simple to understand.

The concept for SingularDTV is rooted in a spectacular but lest remembered moment in history where in 1997 along with David Pullman, the person responsible for “Bowie Bonds – David Bowie tokenize himself using an asset-backed security which uses the current and future revenue from albums recorded by the musician as collateral, he then put out these bonds on Wall Street raising some 55 million USD. Bowie bonds represented one of the first instances of a bond that used intellectual property as the underlying collateral. Billboard have a great post on the story of Bowie bonds here.

As i have understood the Singular DTV platform so far, Zach LeBeau now suggests that soon this type of operation of issuing asset-backed securities for your creative endeavours will be available in an easy to use format through the Singular DTV platform. Being a wannabe filmmaker – this platform model comes across as very attractive to me.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to reach out to me on twitter @richtella

 

What’s the format Rich?

ANSWER: Just like the Pizza Burger BBQ Chicken, the format is not any one thing in particular, but instead all things all at the same time.

Its common knowledge that one is typically recommended to blog about a single particular subject of interest, but why? One of the top reasons as i understand it, is so that you can align yourself as a blogger/authority on your chosen subject matter. Another is so that you may have a way to monetise your content as you develop your voice within your chosen space i.e “influencer marketing”.

But what are the potential drawbacks of such narrowing down of ones blog? what if you simply do not want to narrow down your online content offering to just one single topic or subject?

From my observations it seems the bloggers that get away without zooming in on a single subject, typically themselves become the subject matter – think youtube celebrity types such as Casey Neistat. Perhaps they started out with a niche subject but eventually they themselves became bigger than the subject they set out to cover, when this happens, the audience has indicated to the blogger – or in the case of Casey Neistat ‘vlogger’ – and likely due to their interpretation of their channels youtube or facebook analytics, that they (the blogger) should share more of their personal life.

Those who typically enter down that path become very much a celebrity, and begin to develop their personal brand within that space. In doing this they are able to branch out in to almost any sub-genre they like, as they themself are now the reason people watch – no longer are people watching because the blogger is an authority on a specific subject.

A problem i have had, and as you can tell; continue to have, is that i have many interests, and they all tend to overlap. My very first blog was the MMMDo blog, where i would simply make things (typically furniture) film or photograph what i made, then attempt to stitch some sort of useful blog post together, i was surprised recently when i checked up on my blogs associated youtube channel to find one of my videos has nearly 25K views.  to bad i had not monetised the video as i had used some third party content which i had forgotten to remove.

My second blog was bitjoin.me where i took what i had learned about video production on the MMMDo blog and attempted to apply it to the subject of digital currency, i stuck mainly to interviews with people working in the space and also some ‘How To’ videos this blog helped me learn more about the technology used in digital currencies as well as improving my video production skills. From the very start my mind was on producing a documentary in this space, due to the unique and fascinating subject matter and the fact that those early days were so all over the place (thanks to the ongoing scaling debate, to some extent they still are)

As part of thebitjoin.me blog i also published video diary entries from the early days of starting a company, the video series originally entitled Starting Up loosely documented my progress as an entrepreneur just when i had begun doing entrepreneurial things, the concept went through several adaptations as i tried to find the best format, but eventually i put the concept to bed on a youtube channel called Start Up Slam.

I went on to start blogging for Qwids, a startup company i founded with a group of amazing people all working to develop a service that lives at the crossroads between (old world) loyalty points and (new world) digital currency. Blogging for a corporation proved rather demanding, and i know i know – one must blog regularly; but the research involved for this subject is very demanding, and although really fun as i learned a lot about the subject matter – in a startup there is only so much time to go around. The last post i made was in March, I do intend to pick this blog up again as soon as we have made the necessary changes to our UX and gotten the traction we need in the market; hopefully by August 2017 : )

This brings us to now, and here, this blog. What’s the format Rich? What’s the niche? Who’s your target Rich? Truth is, i don’t have any of those things. I am just writing about stuff i do, linking to past blog posts and sometimes writing about stuff i am interested in, but not so knowledgeable on. That’s all.

Sergej Kotliar clip 2017 (BitJoin Cross-Post)

In April 2017 i began following up with the 6 founders featured in my first documentary short – Founded. I started by catching up with Sergej Kotliar of BitRefill. In the past i have published the full interviews on the BitJoin youtube channel, however this time i intend on publishing these interviews solely on Popchest in order to help raise funds for the production of the follow up documentary to Founded. If you know of a better way to raise funds don’t hesitate to contact me at rich@bitjoin.me

New Money Old Problems

Money’s funny isn’t it, I have always been somewhat intrigued by the way people think about money and how it motivates them to get what they want. But what happens when the money you have collected is suddenly worthless and unable to get you what you want?

Demonetisation is happening in both Sweden (where i reside) and India where in November 2016 the fairly new prime minister Modi, announced the demonetisation of all ₹500 and ₹1,000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series. The government claimed that removing 86% of the currency in circulation would “curtail the shadow economy and crack down on the use of illicit and counterfeit cash to fund illegal activity and terrorism.”

I am not sure how they plan to prove that (if ever), or if anyone else could prove otherwise due to the difficulties in acquiring concrete statistics on the shadow economy, but now, after several months of demonetisation many thing appear crystal clear; the poor in India are the ones that end up worse off, and it appears in parallel those with the capacity to provide digital infrastructure to Modi’s new vision for the rupee are the ones that have prospered most.

Listen to this BBC podcast for a more in-depth report on the fallout from the demonetisation situation in India.

How does India’s Demonetisation differ from Sweden’s recent efforts?

I write this post as Sweden enters its final phases of demonetisation, (which for some reason is being called the “major money changeover” by the Local.) It means that old 1-, 2- and 5-kronor coins, as well as 100-kronor and 500-kronor banknotes, will become invalid after June 30th 2017.

One noticeable difference between the two countries is the pace in which the demonetisation has occurred, India’s transition appears to have happened rather quickly in comparison to Sweden, which began in 2015. Another difference is that Sweden has replaced the old notes with new notes; so the medium of exchange has remained the same, in contrast India’s Modi has pulled the cash out of society and replaced it with an entirely different kind of money which is heavily reliant on digital infrastructure to function properly.

This struck me as quite curious, surely the hard physical cash would have been better in the hands of the Indian population – a society that lacks good reliable digital infrastructure nation wide. Wouldn’t they have benefited from a more accessible currency form? And Sweden – a supposedly already cashless society – introduces new cash notes. Something feels back to front here.

A possible reason could be that, by Modi forcing a new form of money through it may help to encourage development of those needed infrastructures that otherwise are not being built, that’s a bold and disruptive move but could well turn out to be great long term thinking for the country. With those sorts of bold moves there will always be unforeseen side effects in the economy, and from what i have observed so far – for India’s poorest – the worst is yet to come, it will likely be years of downwards mobility before it starts to pick up again, but what gets me, is how many media outlets talk as if its over – it has been done – it’s in the past, try telling the people affected everyday that; I doubt they would agree it’s over, i think they know quite well it has only just begun.

Sweden’s “major money changeover”

So what does Sweden get out of their “major money changeover” or more accurately, their demonetisation plan. Sweden often makes headlines around the world for being such a fantastically cashless utopia and that’s fine if you are pro-cashless, i am not – yet. My own experiences here in Sweden trying to deal with cash have been infuriating to say the least. I have heard numerous stories of persons trying to deposit cash into their own bank account (of which they had been a member since almost birth) and being treated like a suspect in a line up; and the banks will point at the regulators – and the regulators will point back at the banks, or at the EU or some other such entity. Whats apparent is that the bank is the gate keeper, they own and run the channels, therefore they have absolute power over how the channels are used. K.Y.C and other similar regulations are unenforceable if you are the right kind of customer, as we have seen numerous times across the world when it comes to bad banking behaviour; not to even mention the question of data ownership when it comes to the transactional data we all create (big or small) every day.

The Riksbank tells us on its FAQ’s page”

“The banknotes have new security features to make them harder to counterfeit. The older banknotes were designed around 30 years ago and need to be modernised.” For the coins they say: “Firstly, the new coins are much smaller and lighter, which means that the handling costs for coins will be lower than they are now. Secondly, the new coins are completely nickel-free. This eliminates the risk of nickel allergy, which is a problem for many people. Thirdly, there is less environmental impact as fewer transports will be needed for the same value of coins. The new coins are also much cheaper to produce, which means that the Riksbank, and thus the state, has lower costs. By introducing a 2-krona coins, fewer coins will be needed as the 2-krona coin will replace two 1-krona coins in many payments.”

So, some fairly obvious benefits to using the new Swedish Krona coins for the citizen right? Although i was not aware nickel allergy was such an enormous problem in Sweden that it would actually help determine the makeup for the country’s new currency, i certainly learned something today (especially relevant to a film project i am working on at the moment.)

But the counterfeit argument for the notes, i have seen this one time and time again from many well developed modern societies, from Australia to the UK, this idea that you can make a note any more secure than it wants to be seems more theatre than anything else. Counterfeit or not, bad people will keep finding ways of exchanging value, putting an intelligent strip in the note or a GPS beacon on it (which we already have thanks to mobile banking) will likely not deter any criminals from business as usual.

So why do it? why go through that process if it will not necessarily provide immediate improvements for the lives of the citizens of these countries? My theory – for India, it’s a combination of appearing to be both innovative (High tech) to outsiders, and becoming more growth oriented, (Privatisation) regardless of the immediate consequences.

For Sweden, it is likely about reduction in circulation, being able to take a bunch of these notes out of circulation, making it more likely for people to transition over to digital payments, coupled with the appearance of doing something new, everyone seems to get excited when a country issues new currency, i am unsure many bother to think why it’s happening, especially if it does not directly or immediately affect them personally.

Open Letter – BitJoin re-post from 2016

This is a re-post from my bitjoin.me blog posted here on Apr 28, 2016

A letter to the University of Nicosia

Hey guys, i would like to tell you a little about the project i have been working on for the past 18 months. I was also on the MOOC back in 2014 and found it really insightful, i came to the course due to my own interest in trading cryptocurrencies on the exchanges through the winter of 2013/14, eventually getting bored with that i wondered if i might build something useful with this new technology known as blockchain. My idea stems from my time trading all those funky named coins and learning all about the communities behind them and the individual value-twist a new coin would bring to the table, it was a rather wild west time for alt coins and it was fun investigating the various projects and ideas.

Somewhere down the line during October of 2014 i began to realise that there were so many coins being added all the time and the barrier was so low to entry (even i was asked if i wanted my coin registered on Bittrex when all i had was a domain registered and a twitter handle) it made me realise that this technology was going to have a long and troublesome road ahead towards the mainstream especially if a) currencies are so easy to publicise you don’t even need to have one running on a blockchain to be approached by a major exchange and b) validating the persons behind the currency brand, whether a community of enthusiasts or a group of experienced engineers it still remained rather difficult to identify which brands were valid amongst a tidal wave of different coins.

This, coupled with the numerous pump and dump schemes, constant developments of genuine new technologies i.e ColoredCoins / SmartContracts etc, and the just plane inability to understand from the mainstream media made it a super interesting place to be.

I decided the problem i would try to solve is that of having clearly recognisable currencies on exchanges, so that even the laymen could look at an exchange full of cryptocurrencies or hear about a currency and instantly recognise that currency. They key was putting recognisable brands behind those currencies, and its what i have been working on for the last 18 months. Along with five other guys, two in Germany, three including myself in Sweden and one guy in China, we are now beta testing with several small companies here in Sweden, we have soft launched, are facing the market and are set to fully launch in the 3rd quarter of 2016.
To learn more about the project from a brands perspective go to qwids.biz
or as a user you can grab a wallet at qwids.co
we are also building a dedicated test community at qwids.me
We are currently testing the service in Sweden and so the brands available as of now are Swedish but we are looking for people and brands to test the service outside of Sweden also.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
RichTella
rich@qwids.co
qwids.biz

Coin Magnet

If you had asked me in 2013 if I wanted to become a magnet for every other Blockchain Startup pitching their ideas over LinkedIn I would likely have told you hell yeah! However, now in 2017 that has become true, I receive offers and pitches to join the next big thing in crypto almost every day now. 

It takes a substantial amount of time to vet a new idea in the crypto space. You have to read a hell of a lot, and be constantly aware of who is writing and how their values may be aligned in the space. I am also acutely aware of the massive amount of scams in the space and that the number one way of getting fucked over is through conditioning; so called social engineering. 

Being early to the space and spreading out my interests among multiple coins has been both a blessing and a curse. It has allowed me unique perspective sure, but it also opened me up to a lot of bull shit, not so much due to the technology itself, but more the people and companies providing service around the various projects. 

The landscape has never been so overwhelming for a new comer to enter, I myself have trouble staying up to date with all the various developments and opertunities. Over the years, numerous times I have decided to quit trading only to start up again 6 months later. 

I am currently in a not-trading state and every time I do stop I get almost instantly more happier. Trading crypto is exhilarating don’t get me wrong, but you need to be rigid in your attentiveness, for me I have been on a trading hiatus for many months now, but now – a new wave appears to have arrived, and I feel myself being sucked back in to the emotional rollacoaster that is trading crypto.

On top of this, these days I am also hit up with IPO offers left right and center. Not to mention all the partnership offers, the problem for me is finding the time. 

The first time I got board with trading back in 2014, I decided I wanted to build a company in the space. For me it would be much more fulfilling than just moving money around at the right time,  a practice I still am in two minds about. (Create no value and get rich)

Recently, the company I started building back in 2014 permenantly unhooked from the Blockchain. It was largely due to the protocols we were using no longer being relevant to our case, partly tied to the block size debate and cost of transactions and party due to concerns for the future of the Bitcoin Blockchain by those in our core team. 

Leaving that tech behind that so Inspied me to start down this journey left me with an odd taste in my mouth.  Part of me knows it’s the right thing to do right now, and part of me is a little upset that all the potential applications of the technology that inspired me, appear to be constantly hitting man-made obstacles. 

I foresee a future where if successful we will bring back the technology and perhaps at that time the applications for the tech will be more plug and play. 

FOUNDED – My first micro- doc

After much grappling with the art of story telling and many years of experimentation with video production i have now published my first short documentary.

It is based around interviews i conducted in 2015 with Bitcoin founders, back then i was just starting with producing video; the audio and video are a little sub-par, but i have been informed that viewers will watch if the story is strong enough to hold their attention.

I am hoping to use this first short to raise funds for a follow up film with the same six founders in an effort to show how the landscape has changed since these six founders set out on their journey to build successful companies in the Bitcoin space.

Viewers can help fund the follow up film by donating bitcoin to the documentary fund found here: https://bitjoin.me/bitjoin-documentary-fund