🤷 Opinions Alexander Goborov

Current Market Shares of Exchange Platforms: Binance Still in Lead

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The latest independent statistics show that Binance is ahead of rivals with 15% of the crypto exchange market
Current Market Shares of Exchange Platforms: Binance Still in Lead

Today, we bring you independent statistics on some of the major crypto exchange platforms and their corresponding market shares this year:

Crypto exchange platforms

The Chinese Binance, now based in Japan, is in lead with 15% of the market, followed by OKEx with around 12%, then it’s Upbit with just under 12%, the Singapore-based Huobi is with just under 11%, the Hong-Kong based Bitfinex with around 8%, followed by other platforms, among them Bittrex (USA), Kraken (USA), and HitBTC (Hong-Kong), all with around 2% of the market.

Roughly a quarter of the market is unaccounted for, i.e. it is comprised of numerous small exchanges, both new and old.

More info can be found here:

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Crypto Invest Summit Pulls a Huge Crowd in LA: Blockchain’s Future Looking Good

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Speakers like Steve Wozniak and Tim Draper bring over 6,000 attendees to the second Crypto Invest Summit even in the midst of a bear market
Crypto Invest Summit Pulls a Huge Crowd in LA: Blockchain’s Future Looking Good
Contents

When the first Crypto Invest Summit was announced in the spring of 2018, the organizers did not mince words, positioning the conference as the biggest crypto and Blockchain event on the West Coast. As it came to pass, even they may have been surprised by the turnout of about 4500 attendees: a laudable feat that also manifested some organizational problems. Extremely long lines for registration, a pre-party that very few were able to get into, and the lack of capacity in the main stage hall prompted some attendees to quip about the “Blockchain scaling problem as demonstrated at Crypto Invest.”

Valuable lessons were learned, and this year the organization was significantly improved, despite the number of participants rising to an astounding 6,100. If crypto conferences could be compared to colleges–some that specialize in one subject, some that offer a nice atmosphere or an incredible location, some that are known as party schools–then Crypto Invest Summit is surely a big university with a large variety of offerings, impressing with the sheer numbers. An expo floor with over 80 booths, 3 stages, 5 tracks, and thousands of attendees seem like solid evidence that Crypto Invest was able to defy the bear market.

Attendee registration at the Summit
Attendee registration at the Summit

From ICOs to sustainable investment

In May, many panels addressed ICO investment and the differences between security and utility tokens. This time, in the aftermath of a dissipating ICO hype and a crashed market, the focus was on sustainable investment in Blockchain technologies. In the context of this summit, “sustainable” meant long term investment in real products that reduce friction in the token economy and give users an easy interface with transparent incentives.

A second stage featured 5 additional tracks, or sub-conferences, that discussed specific topics including: Women of Crypto, Security Tokens, Crypto Trading, the Builder Track, and Healthcare on the Blockchain. During these tracks, participants could delve into the specifics of their particular field of interest, be it understanding crypto market movements, redesigning healthcare, listing tokens on exchanges, or bootstrapping network effects. A pitch stage in the concourse hall gave companies an opportunity to present their project to media, potential partners, and investors.

One of the expert panels at the Summit
One of the expert panels at the Summit

Main attractions

One of the great attractions of the Crypto Invest Summit is the lineup of prominent speakers. Venture capitalists Tim Draper and Adam Draper, always favored by crypto enthusiasts eager for investment advice, returned to the summit, having also appeared at the May event. Adam Draper predicted a significant jump in adoption, stating that in one year everyone at the conference will have 3 applications on their phone that will use Blockchain and cryptocurrency without the user having to think about it.

Tim Draper, who calls fiat “political currency”, reframed Bitcoin volatility for the audience: “1 Bitcoin is still 1 Bitcoin, it’s all the other currencies that are very volatile against it as they disappear from our earth.” He encouraged entrepreneurs to take risks with crypto and not give into the scaremongering of the incumbents of the global financial system. He also referred to institutions as “sheep” that are hesitant to enter the space, looking to other institutions for guidance. For Draper, it’s “much better to be the wolf and go in first!”

Billionaire Tim Draper speaking at the Summit
Billionaire Tim Draper speaking at the Summit

While not necessarily an expert in the space, Steve Wozniak understandably drew a big crowd. He clarified his position on Bitcoin, saying that he invested at one point for the purposes of experimenting with it, and has since sold most of his crypto. Nevertheless, he is excited to see how this technology develops and has become a co-founder of a Blockchain-focused venture capital fund EQUI Global. Wozniak reminded everyone that the human is always more important than technology since the user experience trumps any other engineering considerations. When asked what he meant by calling Bitcoin a bubble, he explained:

“The Internet was a bubble, but the thinking behind it was correct, it ended up being integral to our lives. Maybe with Blockchain it will be the same: it is a bubble, but in 10-15 years its value will show.”

Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak during his talk at the Summit

The live taping of Ran Neu-Ner’s CNBC Crypto Trader show was a big hit in the spring, and this summit’s show turned out to be even more exciting. Besides featuring Steve Wozniak, the Drapers, and Dan Morehead of Pantera Capital, NeuNer created a sensation by hinting at the details of Coinbase’s upcoming IPO, referencing a source close to the company. In a conversation with the CNBC host, Adam Draper revealed that despite Coinbase’s $8 billion valuation, he believes that the company is still undervalued and will be “the largest company on the planet.”

Save the date

While 2019 may become the year of the STO, most speakers seemed to agree that the bear market is the best time to get work done, i.e. start projects, build frameworks, and gather communities. The investors echoed this sentiment, encouraging entrepreneurs to focus on completing products that provide valuable solutions and reduce friction in Blockchain applications.

The Summit’s after-party
The Summit’s after-party

At the conference, it was clear that the crypto community is coming to a realization: if we are to see widespread crypto and Blockchain adoption, the technology must be running invisibly in the background, leaving an easy and engaging experience for the user. When Crypto Invest Summit returns in April 2019, there will be a chance to evaluate how well those goals are being accomplished. Judging by the first two events, the conference will continue to attract crowds of crypto experts, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts no matter what the industry holds in store for us in the meantime.

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Coinbase’s Achilles Heel: Customer Service

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In the beginning there was Coinbase and not much else...
Coinbase’s Achilles Heel: Customer Service
Contents

If you plan on going into the business of handling other people’s money, then you would better have a strong focus on customer service, because if people can’t get their money, then there will be hell to pay. I can speak from experience.

First crypto exchange

Coinbase was the first exchange that I used for cryptocurrency. It was referred to me by a friend, it was quick and easy, and most people were using it, so it was trusted. I used it for almost a year without a problem except for the Bitcoin Cash caper, that is a story for another time, until just this past week, when I made a withdraw to my bank account.

Now, let me preface the story with the following: I routinely make withdraws from my crypto wallets at Coinbase and use ACH transfers to my bank account. Since December, the time to do this has decreased from almost nine business days to one day, despite the emails saying it could take between two to four days for the transfer to complete. Therefore, I knew it would only take one day.

Transfer gone awry

I made the transfer on a Friday in the morning and I expected the money to be there in the afternoon. The afternoon came but the money did not.

I thought, well my bank is always lazy on Fridays and pending transactions never clear until Monday sometimes Tuesday, another thing to get me up on the soapbox. It was the weekend, I decided to wait it out. Monday came and went and there was nothing.

On Tuesday, I called my bank, thinking the problem was on their end; however they had no incoming transactions. The problem is coinbase. I thought to myself, great, I heard all the horror stories about their customer service. I called and was baffled that phone support does not handle issues like missing funds. When money goes missing, I am sure you want to talk to a person on the phone, am I right? I mean my transfer never arrived, I want answers and I want them now. So, I sent the email to support. To my surprise, I got an email a few hours later. It read:

Hi, Eric.

I’m very sorry for any trouble with this.

When you place a sell order or withdraw USD to a US bank account, the money usually arrives within 2-4 business days.

Again, I apologize for the trouble. Thank you for using Coinbase.

Regards,

Coinbase Support

That seemed rather copy paste. I wanted specific facts and dates. I pressed on and sent another email inquiring further. Coinbase responds, unbeknownst to me at the time it would be the last response I received:

Thank you for your message.

I sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.

Based on our records, your transaction is currently in process and it should arrive within 2-4 business [days] from the time that you have initiated the withdrawal.

Thanks for your patience.

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Poor excuse for service

So tell me something I didn’t know before? Ok, so I gave it till the end of the week and it never showed. I followed up with several emails and never received a response. Oh, I performed another transfer and it went through in one day. My money is clearly missing and Coinbase doesn’t seem to care about it one Iota.

For the time being, as Coinbase rides the wave growth they can hide behind the billion in revenue they make, but it only takes one mistake that is not rectified to lose a customer, and there are finally more alternatives to Coinbase out there. If Coinbase continues to have this terrible customer service, then it is going to lose customers to other exchanges, just as it lost me, and soon my friends, too, who stand in solidarity with me.

A word of warning

When you manage other people's’ money and you lose it, you better make good and pay it back, otherwise, you lose credibility and customers. Goodbye, Coinbase!

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The Deceptions of Space, or the Not-So-Great Combinators

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The Hollywood-worthy twists and turns of the space exploration business serve as fair warning to potential investors
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It is generally believed that outer space is the realm of honest business. However, like any field where big money is involved, the cosmic sphere breeds its own combinators – some are great, and some underwhelming. Some bring to market projects that are clearly unrealizable, earning points for cheap self-promotion. Others engage in open robbery, taking advantage of the overly credulous public.

“One Mars”ian Chronicles

In 2013, an unknown company by the name of One Mars launched a crowdfunding on Indiegogo, with the “modest” goal of creating an inhabited station on Mars. Investors were invited to contribute toward the first stage of the program: the launch of the landing station and satellite mission in 2018. The total amount required was set at $400,000.

The fact that the budget of similar Martian projects amounted to billions of dollars didn’t seem to faze investors. The project collected 78 percent of the goal, or $313,744.

The year 2018 arrived. In a March interview, the founder of the company Bas Lansdorp said that despite slight financial difficulties, the first phase of the project was successfully completed, and the second phase was set to begin in 2019.

So, what had One Mars accomplished in those five years? Conducted an online registration for enthusiasts who wanted to participate in the program (gathering 202,586 applications). Collected entry fees, which ranged from $5 to $73, depending on country of residence (4227 payments). That’s it. Oh, yes: also, every year, Lansdorp dutifully announced the postponement of the project for 1-3 years.

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What next? The participants have been gathered, all that remains are mere trifles:

  • launch a reconnaissance mission with a landing station and a rover;
  • send several missions for the delivery of building blocks to be used in the construction of the station (the blocks themselves also have to be created first);
  • consecutively deliver several groups of settlers to Mars.

It is not surprising that One Mars is not getting anywhere and never will.  What is surprising, is that so many people were able to take this nonsense seriously.

They were not concerned that a startup with $300,000 is puffing out its chest and entering a market populated by government agencies and international consortiums with a total capital in the tens of billions of dollars.

They were not bothered that the technology required for establishing a protected living station on Mars which could house humans self-sufficiently did not exist in 2013, nor does it exist now. In fact, it is a mystery what these people were thinking.

In the context of such glaring inconsistencies, allegations that One Mars was insufficiently thorough with selecting participants and paying for their interviews are particularly absurd. It’s akin to a serious discussion of the technical challenges of an automobile when only its horn is available for inspection.

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True Detective

The second story can readily serve as a script for a suspenseful drama series. HBO and Netflix are clearly missing an opportunity here.

Episode 1

It began beautifully. In September of 2014, the non-profit company Spaceship Earth Grants announced the launch of a worldwide competition, the winner of which would go to space – free of charge. In the course of four months, anyone could register for the program by paying an entrance fee of $15 to $90, depending on the level of their country’s financial well-being.

In order to deliver the winner to space, the company was planning to use the services of the space tour operator Virgin Galactic – later, this was replaced by a vague statement to the effect that the journey would take place "on any ship that will be available." The participants were promised one space flight per every 50,000 applications.

It would seem that at this stage it would be easy to understand who we’re dealing with. Virgin Galactic sold space voyage tickets for $250,000 apiece. Given the formula "one per 50,000" and the average amount of the entrance fee ($50), it's easy to calculate that in an ideal scenario, the founders of Spaceship Earth Grants planned to collect at least $2.5 mln and keep 90 percent of that amount as profit (not counting insignificant expenses for internet PR).

But the principle of “free lunch” worked: several tens of thousands of people from all over the world applied to the program.

Over the course of six months, the organizers listlessly moved the participants through rounds of preliminary screenings and on June 12, 2015 suddenly announced a merger with the similar Rising Star program run by the Kruger Cowne company. SEG participants were encouraged to re-register on the site of the new program.

After that, Spaceship Earth Grants quietly left the stage. On Oct. 3, 2015, its Facebook account produced the last squeak of joy over the selection of Rising Star finalists, and hasn’t shown any signs of life since. Curiously, it still has 22,466 followers – either they didn’t bother unfollowing, or they remain believers in the possibility of a free lunch…

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Episode 2

The second participant of the combination, Kruger Cowne, comes to the fore.

The business model on which the Rising Star Spaceflight Contest was based was a carbon copy of the one used by Spaceship Earth Grants.

The only difference is that Kruger Cowne’s technical partner was XCOR Aerospace which had been working on the creation of the Lynx jet spacecraft, capable of climbing up to 100 km above the Earth's surface.

The Rising Star program went further: having joined its clientele with the participants of Spaceship Earth Grants, the organizers held a semi-final round of applicant selections, and announced the results at the youth forum One Young World on Nov. 25, 2015. The lucky winner was 24-year-old Hussein Manaver from the London suburb of Ilford.

Episode 3

It seemed that in just a little bit of time, and the fairy tale of The Little Prince in Space would become a reality. But then, it was time for the third act of the long game.

After six months, in May of 2016, XCOR Aerospace announced that it was suspending work on the Lynx spaceship and letting go 3/4 of its employees. In 2017 the company was declared bankrupt. In short, they all died.

According to the laws of the drama series genre, at the end of each season, there should appear an element of suspense, hinting that the next season is just around the corner. This rule has been followed in our story, as well. After XCOR’s bankruptcy, most of its assets went to the non-profit organization Build a Plane, which, by a strange coincidence of events, is not occupied with engineering and development, but ... with educational space programs for young people.

Any spoilers for the second season?

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Retail Sales Moving to Internet, So Money Will Too

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With the Internet pervading every aspect of our lives, including shopping and entertainment, it makes sense to give up physical money for digital currency
Retail Sales Moving to Internet, So Money Will Too
Contents

Have you heard? The Internet is winning.

Last year’s holiday shopping season was the first time more shoppers planned to go online than into a physical store. In 2017, 55 percent of respondents said they would be doing their shopping online, up from 45 percent in 2016, according to Deloitte.

Retail apocalypse

CNBC has released a list of 19 major retailers that filed for bankruptcy last year- some of them more than once. Included are familiar names like Toys R US, The Limited, RadioShack, Rue21 and other. Likewise, in an article entitled “Retail Apocalypse,” Fox Business reports that 23 major retailers have plans to close additional stores this year. CNN Money calls 2017 the worst year in history for retail store closings.

Everywhere you turn, things are looking bad for brick and mortar retail. On the other hand, e-commerce is booming. Walmart’s online sales increased by 47 percent last year, while Amazon by itself made up 43 percent of all e-commerce sales. During the 2017 holiday season, e-commerce sales increased by over 10 percent while brick and mortar sales grew by a paltry four percent.

Internet of money

It seems to follow, that if the Internet is having such a massive influence on how we shop, how we are entertained and how we live our lives, that at some point the Internet is going to change how we interact with money as well. While credit cards have done a great job of bridging the gap between paper money and the Internet, something more is still needed. The Internet needs native currencies of its own.

Cutting out the middlemen almost always creates greater efficiency, speed and monetary savings. Using credit cards involves a half dozen or more different businesses working in tandem to make sure that your money eventually ends up in the hands of the retailer. This is fine for now, but a form of money that’s native to the Internet, that doesn’t have to go through the hands of numerous middlemen, that is the ultimate goal. In an era where cryptocurrency begins to take its rightful place as the money of the Internet, massive dumps of hacked credit cards will be a thing of the past.

Not dying, adapting

Brick and mortar stores still comprise 85 percent of retail sales, so there’s virtually no chance that you’ll see cities full of shuttered retail stores any time soon. However, Internet commerce is forcing brick and mortar companies to adapt to a changing landscape. They have to be more price competitive, sensitive to their customer’s needs and adaptable.

Cryptocurrencies aren’t going to destroy banks - not now, not ever. But they will eat into banks’ profits, and force bankers to change their ways. It’s amazing that in an era of instant global communication, near-instant peer-to-peer money transmission anywhere in the world, satellites and the Internet - traditional banks are still only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They’ve yet to adapt to people’s actual needs, seeing their customers as something to be exploited rather than cultivated.

As cryptocurrency continues to go mainstream, banks will have to find ways to actually accommodate their customers and provide good service, instead of just soaking them with fees. Banks will have to innovate, offer new products, be price-competitive and actually stay open during hours when their customers can come in.

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Ripple’s David Schwartz: What Bitcoin and Ethereum Should Do to Catch Up With Ripple

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Ripple’s Chief Cryptographer David Schwartz aka “JoelKatz” is one of the original architects of the Ripple consensus network. In an exclusive interview to CryptoComes, he talks about the Ripple’s next steps and the evolution of crypto exchanges.

Masha Beetroot: According to EToro study, Ripple’s XRP turned out to be the most traded coin by users of all age groups. What should Bitcoin and Ethereum do to catch up?

David Schwartz: I think the key they need to have is adoption for real use cases. Just a clear vision on what they are for, why would people use them, to do what.

I think Ethereum kind of built market share by this sort of broad idea that you can use it for anything with the smart contracts.

Now I think it’s time to answer the question like here are some very specific things. You have to have some example you can’t just say use it for anything.

Bitcoin I think has kind of painted itself into a corner a little bit as a store of value that you can’t easily transfer competing stores of value you can easily transfer. It just comes back again to use cases; people need a clear idea of what they are going to use it for.

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MB: What is the next step for Ripple after having Revolut coin added?

DS: I think the next step for XRP, the token, is going to be broader adoption for people who see advantages to the high-speed low cost and decentralized exchange. I think the next step for Ripple as a company is going to be proving that we can actually use XRP to settle institutional payments.

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MB: In what direction will the evolution of crypto exchanges go? Maybe it’s about consolidation or what do you think?

DS: I think interoperability is going to be the big focus. We have something like 1,500 cryptocurrencies right now that are aiming at different use cases. Whether one of them will be for trade finance or settling equities transactions or smart contracts.

If we have all these different tokens that are aimed at different use cases, then it becomes a pain point because if my money is on this one token and I need to pay you some other token, we need to solve the interoperability problem.

It’s very ironic a lot of people got into this business because they saw like liquidity or Silo, like some like dollars or they are on PayPal or they are on these different payment systems. So we said build these systems that will solve this problem.

And what happened is we built Bitcoin which is a Silo, we built Ethereum which is a Silo, we have XRP which is a Silo. We actually replicated a newer sexier version of the problem we were trying to solve.

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