A streaming company says its new blockchain will let viewers, streamers, and eSports tournament organizers participate in monetization schemes. Spectators can create their own content and earn rewards.
Play2Live, a streaming platform for gamers and eSports fans, announced that it is developing its own blockchain infrastructure called Level Up Chain, as the startup team reported to Cointelegraph. Founded in 2017, Play2Live aims to merge blockchain technology with streaming services. The company plans to launch the Level Up Chain Testnet in July 2018.
According to the company’s press release, creation of the new blockchain will let any participant – including viewers, streamers, eSports tournament organizers – benefit from monetization schemes. “Everybody can be part of the peer-to-peer interaction, and everybody, even the viewer, is able to earn money,” the press release states.
This means that spectators can not only watch the stream, but also create their own content and earn rewards, according to the project’s white paper. In particular, users are able to benefit from advertising, betting, sharing their internet channel via the P2P model, voting, and other kinds of contribution on the platform. Streamers can also instantly withdraw and spend money they earned without filling out multiple application forms.
The brand new blockchain
The key advantage of Level Up Chain is the ability to potentially provide unlimited bandwidth to users, the press release states. The main network will be able to process up to 500 transactions per second. Due to the wide functionality of the Play2Live platform, transactions corresponding to different services will be allocated in different functional blocks of the network.
The new blockchain will work with the use of sub chains, explains the press release. Thanks to that the entire Level Up Chain infrastructure will be able to provide 100,000 TPS or more and will carry out transactions almost instantly, even during periods of enormous strain like live broadcasts and eSports tournaments. The cost of transactions within Level Up Chain will be minimal, and the team at Play2Live estimates that the fees will be maintained at $0.01 per transaction.
"Working on Bitshares, we have faced complex scaling and risks of ‘bottleneck’ as the functionality of the platform expanded, and the amount of transactions increased. The peak power of Bitshares is not enough to cover all the activities of Play2Live. That is why we are realizing product architecture that will allow us to scale the project without putting it to risk of depending on the capacity of the third-party blockchain", commented Vladislav Arbatov, CTO at Play2Live.
In addition, Level Up Chain will use consensus protocol to reduce the cost of transactions within the network via special certificates. A consensus algorithm could solve the problems of processing power, giving each node an equal chance of being selected for a transaction confirmation process.
"Play2Live offers numerous tools for users. Each of them will be provided by our own reliable Level Up Chain blockchain. This will allow us to scale the platform and realize a huge number of opportunities unprecedented for the eSports market!" says Alexey Burdyko, CEO and founder at Play2Live.
Gathering millions of gamers
The platform plans to attract more than five million users by the first quarter of 2019. Play2Live aims to achieve this goal by working with content providers as well as collaborating with the world’s leading streamers and eSports tournament organizers.
The first major tournaments on the platform will soon be announced. As Cointelegraph reported earlier, in February 2018 Play2Live successfully hosted and broadcasted the world’s first eSport tournament with the main prize – 2 mln LUC (Level Up Coin) tokens, equivalent to $100,000. The tournament was broadcasted in 16 languages and gained 950K views, driving more than 120K unique users.
According to company representatives, in Q1 2018 Play2Live reached its hardcap, $30 mln, with $18 mln raised during the pre-sale period (January 26 – February 6, 2018), and $12 mln raised during the main sales period (February 26 – March 14, 2018).
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Lady Bacardi, the rum empire heiress, has invested $100 Mln in TaTaTu, a blockchain-powered tokenized social entertainment platform.
Lady Monika Bacardi of the Bacardi rum empire has made an investment valued at $100 mln in a blockchain-powered social entertainment platform, according to an announcement from the company shared with Cointelegraph today, May 11.
Lady Bacardi is quoted by the company as saying that the platform, dubbed TaTaTu, “reinforces [her] bullish stance on the promise of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.”
TaTaTu proposes to incentivize viewers using their platform – which is a hybrid of a Video on Demand (VOD) service and a social networking site – by rewarding them with crypto tokens for consuming and contributing content. The tokens also allow advertisers to pay for advertising on the platform.
TaTaTu argues that traditional video streaming services encourage illegal piracy, and that a blockchain system can offer higher levels of transparency for rights holders.
The intent to give users an opportunity to monetize the data they hand over as they consume content appears to be shaped by the context of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, which came into effect on May 25, and are referenced in the press release.
Last month, Cointelegraph reported on a European blockchain startup that uses an ECR-20 token to both incentivize and enable consumers to create a passive income stream by selling their personal data directly to corporations. Its creators claim that the global trading volume of personal data has reached $250 bln.
Upbit, the leading South Korean crypto exchange, is being investigated by local police and ten investigators for alleged fraud.
Upbit, South Korea's largest cryptocurrency exchange, is being investigated by local police and ten investigators for alleged fraud, local news outlet Chosun reports today, May 11. Upbit is a crypto-only exchange run by a subsidiary of Korean tech giant Kakao, and currently the fourth largest crypto exchange globally by 24-hour trade volume.
Chosun reports that police believe the exchange has faked its balance sheets and deceived investors. South Korea's Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) reportedly sent ten investigators to the exchange’s head offices in Seoul at 10 am this morning, and will access the company’s computer system to audit the exchange’s virtual currency holdings.
Upbit is not the first crypto exchange to attract the Korean authorities’ attention this spring. As Cointelegraph reported in March, the Korean Financial Intelligence Unit (KoFIU) and the FSC announced a joint investigation into crypto exchanges’ corporate accounts in Korean banks, citing anti-money laundering (AML) compliance concerns.
In April, major Korean crypto exchange CoinNest’s co-founder and chief executive were detained on charges of embezzlement and fraud, for allegedly moving “billions of won” in customers’ digital assets into their personal accounts. That same month, 12 crypto exchanges were ordered to improve customer protection in their contracts.
At press time, Bitcoin is trading at an average of $8,750, down about 7 percent on the day. Ethereum is down almost 10 percent on the day, trading at an average of $690.
Banks started by scoffing at crypto but now they are racing to be first to market with a crypto trading desk.
September 12, 2017 will go down in infamy when talking about the relationships between traditional fiat financial institutions and their views on cryptocurrency. It was the day that JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, called Bitcoin a ‘fraud’.
A lot has happened in the financial and crypto space in the eight months following that event, especially in terms of banking institutions and Wall Street’s perception of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. As Bitcoin started making a few waves in traditional finance, Wall Street-types were polarized. Some scoffed at the idea of digital, decentralized currency, while others took note and saw potential.
It has now come to a point where the financial fiat sector is dipping more than just a toe into the cryptocurrency world; with futures trading now well established and blockchain experts being hired left, right, and centre. There is a definite race on now for major banks to start offering clients the chance to trade cryptocurrency through their offerings.
On May 3, Goldman Sachs, a financial institution that has done a turnaround in terms of its attitude towards cryptocurrency, announced that it does not believe Bitcoin is a fraud. This was a hark-back to those famous words from Jamie Dimon, but more importantly, they also announced their plans to start trading crypto.
Commenting on the decision, Rana Yared, an Goldman Sachs executive involved in creating the offerings, said the bank had been “inundated” with client requests.
“It resonates with us when a client says, ‘I want to hold Bitcoin or Bitcoin futures because I think it is an alternate store of value.’”
Goldman’s path to potentially get its own cryptocurrency desk up and running has taken a long and winding path.
In early 2014, Goldman declared that Bitcoin was not a currency, and also said separately that it is too risky for banking companies investors. However in 2017, Goldman was starting to consider letting investors trade Bitcoin directly, and also one of the top five most active corporate investors in blockchain technology.
It was at the end of Jan. 2018 when Goldman Sachs also refuted rumours that they were starting a crypto trading desk, but as it turns out, their stance may well be softening.
There are also rumors swirling around Barclays Bank potentially opening a crypto trading desk, but these too have thus far been refuted.
Barclays Group CEO Jes Staley picked out compliance and regulatory barriers as their biggest issue, but also spelled out this growing race to be ‘in the forefront of technology improvement in finance’:
“Cryptocurrency is a real challenge for us because, on the one hand, there is the innovative side of it and wanting to stay in the forefront of technology improvement in finance… On the other, there is the possibility of cryptocurrencies being used for activities that the bank wants to have no part of.”
Still, it has been reported that Barclays is gauging institutional demand for cryptocurrency to determine if the new business model is feasible. It has been said that a crypto-trading operation would require approval from Tim Throsby, CEO of Barclays International, and possibly Jes Staley.
A spokesperson at the bank later issued the following statement:
“We constantly monitor developments in the digital currency space and will continue to have a dialog with our clients on their needs and intentions in this market.”
Morgan Stanley is another major bank that looks to be in the race to open up this crypto-trading operation, more so, it looks to be focusing a lot of effort into being the first-to-market. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have a long standing rivalry, and in this ‘Arms Race’, the first to get a successful crypto trading desk up would take a lot of plaudits.
There are reports, from an unnamed source, that Morgan Stanley is focusing virtually all of its attention on cryptocurrency trading as of right now. The source from inside Morgan Stanley allegedly said:
“Several of us have been reaching out to what we would call ‘mid-tier’ money managers that we know are on the cusp of opening crypto focused hedge funds. We have done some work with pure-play crypto funds as well, but we’ve been more specifically tasked to engage with firms that are apt to add to their current portfolios as opposed to starting from scratch.”
“I can’t tell you who those are, as we are under NDA’s with several, but you can bet that things are moving quickly and deals are being struck. And you can guess why.”
“Goldman is taking a different track than we are and our directives seem to have them in our sights at the moment. If we are able to engage on a 1 on 1 basis, as opposed to through third parties [such as] Circle, then we ultimately lead in the space.”
The source goes on to liken this building towards crypto trading as an arms race between the two banks, but ultimately, they are not the only ones trying to reach the goal first.
“Truth be told this is the next arms race. Everyone is rushing into cryptos. Everyone. There isn’t a bank, a fund, a fund company, a former legend attempting to reclaim old glory, private equity, venture capital, lending, exchanges, consulting firms – everybody.”
Hitting the traditional exchanges
In this frenzy to appease customers and their want of cryptocurrencies, even the owner of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is considering letting customers buy and hold Bitcoin. It is again a bit cloak-and-dagger as the source article from the New York Times cites “emails and documents” as well as four anonymous sources.
The move by NYSE owner Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) is a little different in its approach too as there clearly is no defined path as to how to get Bitcoin to the traditional masses.
“[ICE] has had conversations with other financial institutions about setting up a new operation through which banks can buy a contract, known as a swap, that will end with the customer owning Bitcoin the next day — with the backing and security of the exchange,” the Times wrote.
NASDAQ has also hinted that it would be happy to put its hat in the rind, but only when the markets mature enough for it to be viable.
NASDAQ CEO Adena Friedman said to CNBC:
“Certainly, NASDAQ would considering become a crypto exchange over time.”
The CEO is of the opinion that cryptocurrencies will not be going away but that they are still far from being mature enough; regulations and government acceptance a big role player in determining when they will be ready for the likes of NASDAQ to get on board.
Everyone is getting onboard
What the Morgan Stanley source is saying seems to ring true in the world of banking. Not only is it the crypto asset that is attracting these institutions to try and be first-to-market, it is the development of the blockchain technology and all that can offer the financial world.
Farzam Ehsani, a former blockchain lead at Rand Merchant Bank and now co-founder and CEO of VALR, told Cointelegraph:
“All banks are realising they need to get onto this Blockchain boat, I don’t think many banks necessarily understand where the boat is going, but they realise that this is a development that is taking off and that if they want to be on this journey that everyone is going on, they need to be on the boat.”
NASDAQ CEO: #cryptocurrency is the “right next step in the space of currency” because a “globalized payment mechanism” is a natural fit for the cross-border digital economy.
— Farzam Ehsani (@farzamehsani) May 10, 2018
Futures leading the way
It was only a matter of time before these rumours and rumbling turned into a full scale sprint, and it looks as if it really is the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) who can be credited with opening the floodgates with their foray into Bitcoin futures trading.
The release of their futures tied in with the height of Bitcoin’s biggest rally towards $20,000 and although initial uptake in Bitcoin futures was tepid, this is expected to change as investors more averse to risk look for safer ways to enter the market.
The CBOE is now even championing the cause for Bitcoin ETFs, this comes after the Winklevoss twins failed in their bid in 2017. Dennis O'Callahan, CBOE’s director for product development, spoke to Cointelegraph in March, indicating that they are not stopping at just Bitcoin futures.
“Being in product development our task is to look for new products all the time, so we are constantly evaluating that market, and we are evaluating other cryptocurrencies too, among other items.”
The banking sectors rush towards cryptocurrencies has clearly been predicated on the pick up of interest in Bitcoin as a valuable and investable asset. There’s enough evidence out there to suggest that many institutional investors are planning to venture into cryptocurrency.
In Nov. 2017, Triad as well as Datatrek Research conducted a survey, garnering responses from 317 institutional traders on whether or not they have interest in investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
According to the research, 36 percent of institutional investors were considering buying Bitcoin while 19 percent already had.
Image source: Datatrekresearch.com
An untapped market
The so-called ‘arms-race’ to be the first to bring out a crypto trading desk makes sense, the institutionalised investor market is clearly hungry for a safe, regulated, and familiar way to be involved in cryptocurrency.
This has been proven by surveys, by the interest in Bitcoin futures from CBOE and CME, and by the way in which banks, and financial institutions are putting their foot in the door.
There is no doubt that whoever does get their product out first will be highly profitable, and if the response is anything like the build up to the release of futures, Bitcoin could be in for another huge rally.
Nvidia shared its crypto sales data for the first time, which made up 9 percent of overall revenue in the first quarter.
Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA), an American graphics processing units (GPUs) manufacturer, has recently reported that the company generated $289 mln from processor sales to the crypto market, Bloomberg reports May 10.
This is reportedly the first time Nvidia shared information regarding its revenue from chip sales to the crypto mining market. According to Susquehanna analyst Christopher Rolland, Nvidia’s first-quarter sales from mining hardware were anticipated to be much lower, around $200 mln.
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang explained that they were able to exceed expectations due to increased demand for GPUs from crypto miners, resulting in higher prices. “Crypto miners bought a lot of our GPUs in the quarter and it drove prices up,” Huang claimed, adding that high prices prevented other consumers, such as gamers, from buying into the newest GeForce graphics card series.
Nvidia’s first-quarter crypto sales amounted to over 9 percent of overall revenue for the company, which stood at $3.2 bln. Chips for crypto mining made up 76 percent of (Original Equipment Manufacturer) OEM revenue, which was up 115 percent from the last quarter. In manufacturing, OEM components are those, which are made by one company and then used in a product that is marketed by another.
Nvidia said in an earnings call that sales to the crypto market will likely decrease by two-thirds in the next quarter. Revenue for miners decreased earlier this year, when cryptocurrency markets underwent a correction following record highs in December 2017. Hashrates have continued to grow however, indicating that the mining pool continues to grow globally.
The main competitor of Nvidia, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) revealed in April that the company generated 10 percent of overall sales from crypto and Blockchain-related sales. The company’s CEO Lisa Su noted the potential of blockchain technology, but stressed that it is not the main growth factor.
“We feel we have a very good idea of what people are using our products for. It’s a nice growth factor [blockchain or mining], but it’s certainly not the dominant growth factor in our story.”
The anonymous creator of the all-Bitcoin charity Pineapple Fund has announced that the fund’s work is complete and all bitcoins have been donated.
Pineapple Fund, a Bitcoin-only charity, has reportedly accomplished its ultimate mission and donated 5104 bitcoins (BTC) or $55 mln to various nonprofit organizations, the fund’s creator wrote in a farewell post on Reddit May 10.
In December, when the BTC price approached its record high of $20,000, an anonymous donor who goes by the nickname Pine set a goal to give away 5057 bitcoins worth around $86 mln at the time. The amount turned out to be worth $31 mln less than they had initially anticipated due to the dramatic drop of the crypto market in early 2018. The donor later described the market downturn in terms of a cryptocurrency “bubble”.
“Timed with the 2017 crypto bubble, 5104 BTC was turned into $55 million for charities. I'm happy and proud of the impact that will come, mostly thanks to the amazing charities and the dedicated people behind them.”
As the donor reported on Pineapple Fund’s website, the fund donated $55,750,000 to 60 charities around the world, supporting a variety of projects from clean water supply in sub-Saharan Africa to digital rights protection.
In January, Pineapple Fund announced the donation of $4 mln to the non-profit organization Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) to apply MDMA as a psychotherapy treatment for PTSD patients. In April, MAPS director Brad Burge reported the drug was showing “promising results for treating PTSD, claiming that the new treatment “involves only 3 administrations of a drug that’s been around for over 100 years."
In February, UNICEF launched a charity drive that asked PC gamers to mine Ethereum (ETH) with the unused capacity of their high level graphics cards. Gamers could turn on the UNICEF ETH mining program when they were away from their computers, and the mined proceeds would go to support humanitarian aid for Syrian children.
Huawei smartphone users will be able to access BTC.com’s Bitcoin wallet on the pre-installed AppGallery, potentially easing access to crypto for Chinese users.
Huawei Technologies Co., a Chinese multinational communications technology company, has announced that mobile phone users will be able to download Bitcoin (BTC) wallets on new Huawei devices starting Friday, Bloomberg reported May 10.
Huawei is releasing BTC.com’s Bitcoin wallet in its AppGallery app store, which will be pre-installed on all new Huawei smartphones, according to Alejandro de la Torre, vice president of business operations at BTC.com. It will reportedly be the first digital currency app offered on Huawei devices.
Access to apps like BTC.com’s is limited in China as the government blocks Android’s Google Play Store and some parts of Apple’s App Store. While Chinese authorities shut down cryptocurrency exchanges and banned initial coin offerings, people can still own cryptocurrencies. De la Torre told Bloomberg:
“It’s a good opportunity to tap into the Chinese market. The use of cashless payments with apps is very big and the traditional banking system is lacking, so there’s a good use case for crypto payments to grow there.”
In March, it was reported that Huawei is planning to develop a smartphone that will support decentralized applications (DApp) running on blockchain technology. Last year, Huawei shipped 90.9 mln units in the Chinese market, where it enjoys a dominant market share of 20.4 percent. Huawei’s global market share was 11.8 percent in the first quarter of 2018. Jaime Gonzalo, vice president of Huawei’s mobile services said in a statement:
“From our leadership position in China, the tip of the spear of mobile payments, we expect to see massive growth in global cryptocurrency adoption habits in the near future.”
Last month, Huawei announced the launch of a Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform focused on smart contract development, “a high-performance, high-availability, and high-security blockchain technology platform service for enterprises and developers.”
Meanwhile, China is planning to release nationwide blockchain standards by the end of 2019. A dedicated working group has reportedly already begun work on the project.
Wenn Digital, the developer of blockchain-based KODAKOne platform, seeks to raise up to $50 mln in its token offering.
Wenn Digital, the developer of a blockchain-based image rights platform licensed by Kodak, announced Thursday that it plans to attract up to $50 mln in a combined public and private token offering, Reuters reported May 10.
Wenn Digital has developed an image protection, monetization, and distribution platform secured via blockchain called KODAKOne, which is designed to protect the copyright of images or photographs registered on the platform. Kodak reportedly owns a minority stake in Wenn Digital.
The public offering of Wenn’s token KODAKCoin will begin May 21. Initially the offering was scheduled for January, but was delayed in order to evaluate the status of potential investors. When Kodak announced the partnership with Wenn Digital, its shares surged to a high of $13.25, but fell after the token offering was postponed. The stock closed at $5.15 on Thursday. Cam Chell, chairman and co-founder of KODAKOne, told Reuters:
“We really took a step back and decided that we would ensure that all T’s were crossed and I’s dotted before we embark on a public sale. We wanted to make sure that we got it right.”
Chell stated that KODAKOne’s coin offering will be registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, using an instrument called the Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT). Under a SAFT offering, the token is issued when the blockchain platform is launched which, according to Chell, is expected to be later this year. SAFT offerings are limited to accredited investors.
Wenn Digital has already run a pre-sale of its SAFT to accredited investors and reportedly raised nearly $10 mln. Chell told Reuters that demand is greater than the developer’s capital requirement of $20 mln, “I think $50 million is our sweet spot.”