Yuri Molchan

US Authority Offers $800,000 to DLT Startups for Anti-Counterfeiting Solutions

The Department of Homeland Security, USA, intends to sponsor blockchain startups that will create anti-forgery solutions
US Authority Offers $800,000 to DLT Startups for Anti-Counterfeiting Solutions

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its scientific unit Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) intend to find and sponsor blockchain startups that are able to provide solutions that will protect licenses and certificates from being forged.

This move is part of the Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP). The best part for startups in this is that they do not have to offer their securities or equities to DHS to get the money.

Blockchain can help protect licenses

This funding scheme is being conducted within the DHS initiative called “Preventing Forgery and Counterfeiting of Certificates and Licenses”. This is the way the governmental authority wants to increase its chances of preventing fraudsters from forging documentation by means of the open ledger technology.

The managing director of SVIP said in a recent interview that DHS requires some innovative solutions and technologies to make sure it can prevent current threats to national security.

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Who can get the grant?

To be able to get the aforementioned grant, DLT firms have to show the required solutions that can be used in various practical cases, which would include the emittance of digital documents for travelling, gaining citizenship, immigration and employment permits. Documents are also required for selling oil and raw materials between countries.

Only those startups that have not been bound by a contract with the government during the last year for a total amount of $1 mln or more will be eligible. Besides, their staff must be fewer than 200 people.

The reps of DHS added that their goal is to issue licenses, entitlements and certificates for a large number of purposes, including citizenship, supply chain security, as well as those that are mentioned above.

DHS and blockchain

The agency has been looking into the DLT for a few years now. Since 2015, it has been getting offers related to research in this area from small startups in order to provide DHS with a better understanding of blockchain.

Among the recent interests of the agency is the question of whether it is possible to trace transactions in such privacy-oriented crypto coins as Zcash and Monero.

Not the first case

Earlier, U.Today reported that separate US states have also begun to encourage blockchain startups with cash incentives for working on cases to do with the government. In particular, one of these states is Ohio.

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Let’s Talk Stablecoins: Interview with the Co-Founder of Cred and Former GM at PayPal, Dan Schatt

With many HODLers and crypto enthusiasts looking for investment advice, insights from a top expert in the fintech field, Dan Schatt, are sure to come handy
Let’s Talk Stablecoins: Interview with the Co-Founder of Cred and Former GM at PayPal, Dan Schatt

Dan Schatt is the Co-Founder and President of Cred, former General Manager of Financial Innovations at PayPal, and a bestselling author of Virtual Banking: A Guide to Innovation and Partnering. Earlier this week, we sat down with Dan to talk about the crypto market in general and stablecoins in particular.

From Mainstream to Crypto

U.Today: Hi Dan. You had a solid career in mainstream finance, including a leading position within PayPal. Why did you decide to go crypto?

Dan: I became interested in the Blockchain technology and crypto space in 2012, back when I was working at PayPal. While PayPal hoped to become the Internet of Money, my “Aha” moment was that crypto would become the Internet of Value, eclipsing PayPal in every way, i.e. Blockchain would prove more secure, transparent, and allow for the tokenization of all asset classes. It is unbelievable to me how quickly we’ve moved to a legally permissible, tokenized version of the US Dollar!

I believed crypto would also attract a larger developer community than PayPal could ever hope for. You just can’t compete with a world computer or a non-inflationary world currency that can be used by anyone with Internet access.

I later published a book in 2014 called Virtual Banking, with a chapter on Bitcoin and crypto. I’ll never forget my interviews with Wences Casares, who really opened my eyes to the power of Bitcoin.

U.Today: Please tell us a bit about your present company that you, as we understand, also co-founded. What does Cred do exactly?

Dan: What is the best possible loan you can get, other than a free friends and family loan? Probably a home equity line of credit. The problem is most people can’t get a home… Replace the home with crypto and that is essentially what Cred has created: the world’s first Crypto Line of Credit (C-LOC™). We allow people the ability to use their BTC, ETH and XRP as collateral and get cash. Cred has amassed over $300 million in lending capital to provide liquidity against crypto assets. We are set to revolutionize the lending industry by merging an established global lending network, a diverse fintech team, machine learning, and the power of the Blockchain technology.

U.Today: It seems that education, among other fields, is moving onto the Blockchain. The UC at Berkeley now has its own Blockchain, and your company is somehow connected to it through a third entity, is that right?

Dan: Yes! Cred and Blockchain at Berkeley, are two of the founding members of the Universal Protocol Alliance. Howard Wu is Cred’s Chief Scientist and a Founder of Blockchain at Berkeley, the largest US University Blockchain associated in the United States. They have an incredible amount of talent coming through their program and we are lucky enough to benefit from their thought leadership when we created the Alliance, which is dedicated to bringing important pieces of infrastructure to the crypto community and act as a bridge for the next 100 million users of crypto.

Stablecoins and the Current Market

U.Today: What are your thoughts on Bitcoin’s collapse last month? Did it come as a surprise to you? Where does this situation leave us now?

Dan: I guess it all depends on your time horizon. I’m a big believer that crypto assets will become the preferred store of value and means of exchange in the future. As a store of value, just look at BTC and gold in 2011. Gold is down roughly 30% since 2011 while BTC is up ~118,000% but is still just 1% of gold’s market cap. And how many times has BTC “collapsed”?  

Price volatility is massive at this time because wealth is highly concentrated and institutional involvement is still limited. This will evolve as the Internet did. Development of infrastructure and practical applications takes time… You can’t rush a pregnancy to 1 month by adding 9 doctors. It will still take 9 months.

U.Today: Let’s move on to stablecoins. Certain critics claim that some of them, e.g. Tether (USDT), are a disguised form of centralized fiat currency since they are pegged against the USD. How would you rate this assessment?

Dan: For the last few hundred years, governments have legitimized fiat currency by backing it with gold. Eventually, as trust grew in government currencies, there was no longer a need to connect it with gold. The same is now happening with crypto stablecoins. Will it matter at some point if they are “backed” by fiat? Probably not. At some point, the trust will be in the finite supply, greater transparency, stronger security, increased utility and ability for it to travel as far and wide as the Internet. Governments will eventually work to tokenize their own fiat currencies, but there will always be demand for a store of value or means of exchange that cannot be controlled by any government.

U.Today: Do you think businesses should strive to move away from governments? Then isn’t there a dissonance pertaining to how this ideal can be achieved with stablecoins which by default rely on central banks?

Dan: Governments and businesses will increasingly be pulled in a direction by the Blockchain, i.e. a path toward more transparency, inclusion, and the democratization of financial services. It will become increasingly difficult for governments to close their borders, impose capital controls, and attract talent if they do not support crypto. And, crypto communities need to leverage some of the valuable components of the existing financial ecosystem—the role of professional custody and basic investor safeguards—because inheritability and token recoverability are needed if we are to provide crypto services that will appeal to the next 100 million users.

U.Today: For better or worse, do you think the demand for stablecoins is bound to increase since they seem to demonstrate more stability during crashes?

Dan: Absolutely, but not just because they are stable. They will ultimately be used as a better means of exchange, remittance vehicle, and as core component in automated commerce.

But, not all Stablecoins are created equal. They’re more likely to be ‘stable’ if they are pegged 1:1 and verifiable on-chain, and can allow for anyone to review how the value is substantiated, not just a professional auditor.

The Future Talk

U.Today: What are your predictions for 2019? Will we see more widespread adoption of stablecoins? If yes, do you see it as a positive thing?

Dan: We are building to deliver practical use cases. There are many examples of this: an Argentinian who needs to get out of an unstable fiat currency, or a Turkish expat looking to make a remittance more cost effectively. Stablecoins can deliver on these use cases. I may live in a country with an unstable currency, and I’d like to move into something stable as soon as I can. I may not have access to a US bank account, to buy USD, but now I can buy a better version of the US Dollar. There are now lots of opportunities that broaden the use cases and bring more people in… So yes, a very positive thing!

U.Today: Some claim that DLT is the future of commerce: the fintech sector will change the global economy, drastically reshaping how we do business. Your thoughts on this?


Commerce needs more than a distributed ledger to function. Cred, for example, is providing low cost credit to be used in commerce. Others are providing core banking services such as payroll for crypto companies. The future of commerce involves a host of next generation financial services. How those ingredients are combined with DLT is the secret sauce.

U.Today: Finally, what advice would you give to those who are thinking about entering the crypto world? How should one behave in order to succeed in this still largely unexplored domain?

Dan: Keep your ear to the ground and listen for real problems that need to be solved. The more specific, the better. Tools and infrastructure are still needed to allow crypto to go mainstream. Think years vs. months. We’re headed in the right direction, so make sure not to get caught up in the hype cycles, whether crypto is on the way down, or on the way up!

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Dealing With Intangible Assets

When it comes to company assets, intangible ones are dynamic and fluid, and are becoming vitally important when considering blockchain tokens
Dealing With Intangible Assets

Assets, commodities, and possessions in a business and financial setting have come a long way. From bartering crops and selling goods to stocks, bonds, and equities, the digitalizing of the globe has led to assets changing their face, and even their tangibility.

Now, companies and corporations are being valued on abstract concepts that fall under their intangible assets, and even determining that value through these intangible assets is starting to change. Company evaluations are shifting — they are no longer based just on pure equity but rather much more on their IPOs and publicly traded stock. This gives insight into a company that has a rich bank of intangible assets.

To this end, it is unsurprising that Blockchain assets for companies operating in this new space are starting to be viewed as a truer evaluation of the company. Cryptocurrencies can be viewed as an intangible asset, and as a new way of representing the value of a company. As these digital tokens grow in value and worth, they lend that growth and value to the overall stance of the business.

The way these intangible assets are shaping up and moving with the help of a new technological wave like Blockchain, it will eventually lead to a more distributed, transparent and thus truer and fairer reflection of a company's worth through these inclusive and attainable assets.

New intangible assets emerging

As a pure definition, an intangible asset is simply an asset which has no physical qualities to it. To be intangible means that one cannot touch, see, smell it, etc. But looking deeper into it, anything from goodwill, brand recognition and intellectual property — such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights — are all intangible assets.

However, even these assets are starting to be overtaken by another intangible asset that is emerging alongside a new technology. Blockchain companies are springing up, much like tech companies, with a solution to new problems, but these Blockchain companies come with their own assets.

Cryptocurrencies are the new intangible asset that is not only clearer and more transparent in terms of valuing their worth, but also generally better for the entire marketplace. The cryptocurrency worth of a Blockchain company can represent a much truer valuation than another company with traditional intangible assets.

In fact, the model of capitalism itself is in a state of flux. Tech companies have already tested its bounds in terms of equity and valuation, but as things move forward and more Blockchain companies spring up, the general idea of capital in a capital-free system will make valuations incredibly difficult and inaccurate. However, a cryptocurrency allows for market value to be attributed as a new form of intangible equity of a said company.

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A change in valuation

Companies are starting to be valued on much more than simple Assets - Liabilities basis. With this change comes the difficulty in valuing intangible assets. Putting a figure against brand identity is really an estimation and prone to purposeful inflation or deflation.

Tangible assets are easy to value, and thus easy to use to determine the equity of a company, but then there are some companies like Microsoft and other Tech giants that really own very little in the way of tangible assets. Their wealth is in intangible assets.

As Microsoft's founder Bill Gates puts it: “Products you can’t touch have a very different set of dynamics in terms of competition and risk and how you value the companies that make them.”

A lot of intangible assets are valued on the basis of public sentiment, and the metric for this is derived from things like IPOs and publicly traded stock. But the difficulties in determining the public sentiment from the excitement around stocks is equally difficult and often purposefully inaccurate.

Issues with the new standard in valuation

With IPOs and the resulting publicly traded stocks, the level of distribution and sentiment is often not a fair reflection. The system leaves the door open to big company investors like VCs and fund companies as well as big and wealthy individual investors that can use their money to move the markets.

These types of players always influence how the publicly traded companies work and how much their intangible assets are worth. Investment groups and companies can help prop up and lift companies, thereby influencing their true worth through their intangible assets in a way which can bring a swell of false public hype and frenzy.

In many ways, this is a form of market manipulation, as big money has all the power to pick and choose its own desirable companies to inflate. But, if stocks are being cherry-picked to inflate in order to grow the intangible assets of a company and thus give it a higher evaluation, the same cannot be said for cryptocurrencies.

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A Blockchain company’s desire is to distribute and include a vast and different arrangement for people to buy and invest in its cryptocurrency. Thus, if we take the same metric of a stock and use it against a cryptocurrency, the public sentiment is a far truer reflection because it is also on a market, but its price is heavily influenced by public sentiment.

And again, that public sentiment moves on an almost daily basis as this distributed group of ‘investors’ can easily buy and sell and trade their cryptocurrencies dependant on positive or negative news surrounding the blockchain company.

Inclusive, achievable intangible assets

Publicly traded stocks for traditional companies are technically open to all, but they are a lot harder to get one’s hands on as there is a level of exclusivity and exclusion that surrounds stock trading. Additionally, the model is not community oriented or decentralized, nor well distributed.

The more one looks at it, Blockchain assets are a much stronger and truer metric of company value. They are an intangible asset which is firstly easier to value as they operate on an open and transparent market, and secondly, they are a way to measure sentiment and growth in a company as they are far more distributed and liquid.

It allows these buyers of the token to be vested in the potential and possibility of the company; cryptocurrency assets often correlate strongly to the success of a company.

If a company is moving forward and hitting its targets on the way to its final goal, this is often predicated on the growing value of their token. It is also linked to an increase in interest and hype as more individuals buy the open and freely available token, which is then also well distributed.

So, if we consider these coins as intangible assets because they are not part of an asset which would determine equity, but they are a marker of success and sentiment in a company like a publicly traded stock, we can start to understand them a little more.

They do not have the difficulty of exclusivity, and thus are much more communal and therefore much truer as a metric by which to value a Blockchain company.

A decentralized community evaluation

People often call the cryptocurrency space a bubble since so many people are drawn to it and have bought into it, especially when it comes to ICOs and Blockchain companies. However, this is probably an unfair assessment of the space.

There is a creation of decentralized communities which are learning to accurately assess the intangible assets of companies. The shrewdness of a true distributed and decentralized collective is a determining metric that many mainstream tech companies cannot say they have as their basis for value.

Many tech companies may have had their value propped up by VCs and investment firms that helped kickstart them to success, but those in the Blockchain space have nowhere to hide. Their every move can be tracked and traced by the value of their tokens, which plays a part in their intangible asset worth and thus really in their total actual value as a business.

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Crypto Commerce and Its Future: Interview with Uphold’s CEO, J.P. Thieriot

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With the world of Blockchain ever evolving and changing pace, a top level executive lays out his vision for what the future has in store for the crypto market
Crypto Commerce and Its Future: Interview with Uphold’s CEO, J.P. Thieriot

J.P. Thieriot is the CEO of Uphold, a cryptocurrency platform offering a multitude of services, which was launched in 2015. A graduate of Yale University, before going crypto, J.P. Thieriot managed a number of companies in the tech sector, as well as real-estate and agriculture, including Estancia Beef, one of the largest grass-fed beef companies in the United States. Today he agreed to sit down with us to discuss where the crypto business is at, as we’re approaching the New Year.

Why Crypto?

U.Today: Mr Thieriot, tell us a bit about yourself please. You have a substantial amount of experience in many business sectors. How did you find yourself doing what you do today?

J.P. Thieriot: My first exposure to Bitcoin came as a result of having investors’ funds trapped in Argentina in 2013. Despite statements from PWC stating that a given LP’s account was worth $X, attempting to take the money out of the country meant the LP would receive $.5X. It was a perfect example of how a third world country can use monetary games in pursuit of short-term gains, while ultimately thwarting real value creation and holding a populace hostage to incompetence. We tried every conceivable (US legal) way of getting the funds out. That’s when I came across Bitcoin. Unfortunately, we didn’t take the plunge. Seemed too precarious. BTC was at around $15 at the time!

U.Today: Tell us about the company you are currently heading. What services does it offer exactly?

J.P. Thieriot: Uphold is a global digital money platform. We have about 1m users. In some respects, this side of our business could be compared with Coinbase, i.e. not exactly an ‘exchange’, with direct links to legacy money networks like US and EU banking through rails like ACH and SEPA. Where we’re very differentiated is in having a big lead over everyone in the context of our open APIs for third party digital money applications. We do not just ‘list’ tokens like an exchange, we are deeply integrated into some of the ecosystems of the companies behind the tokens, like Brave-BAT, DASH and Cred-LBA. 2019 will be the year that some amazing utility tokens emerge from the rubble of hundreds of silly ICOs. I’d like to think Uphold will be an integral part of those likely to be the most successful.

U.Today: Uphold recently received close to 60 million USD from Greg Kidd, a former Ripple executive. Are you now partners with XRP?

J.P. Thieriot: We have a large XRP community on Uphold. They are passionate and active. We try to make them happy. Certainly, there are a number of possibilities with Ripple down the road.

The DLT Business Today

U.Today: In addition to yours, there are many companies based in San Francisco, among them Kraken, Coinbase, and Blockchain Capital. Has Silicon Valley now conquered the crypto world as well?

J.P. Thieriot: Digital money is an Internet phenomenon. It stands to reason that ‘Internet’ geographies would concentrate Blockchain companies in the early going. Ultimately, I imagine regulatory regimes will skew the array. Hopefully, the US will be able to maintain a light hand and perpetuate its early advantage over other regimes.

U.Today: What do you think it takes to “make it” in the DLT world as an entrepreneur? Is it about the savviness, i.e. the know-how, or simply the right attitude, i.e. being the go-getter type?

J.P. Thieriot:

Perseverance first. Execution second. Blazing insights a distant third. Building the right team is also critical... I have a pretty dim view of humanity :), specifically in that I’d choose to work again with perhaps 10% of the people I’ve worked with.

After four years at Uphold and many purges and reorganizations, we’ve arrived where that number is, for the first time in my work experience, inverted. 90% of the people working at Uphold today are rock stars. Work hours don’t exist; the creativity, initiative, and energy thrown at every problem is unbelievable. It feels more like (an ideal) family than a workplace. We all believe we are doing something important and exciting, and we’re unlikely to come across a similar opportunity in our lifetimes.

U.Today: Are you a believer in decentralization? It seems that this is how the Blockchain got started in the first instance. Yet, according to some, this domain has now become very centralized, from pegging to market dominance by a select few. What are your thoughts?

J.P. Thieriot: ‘Decentralization’ has become the buzzword du jour. Yesterday it was ‘Blockchain’. Obviously, these are novel and important facets of our burgeoning ecosystem, but it’s funny to me how people can get religious and sanctimonious around these banners. The idea here is that an Internet of Money has become possible… ne inevitable.

Decentralized and Blockchain technologies, methods and protocols will likely have a lot to do with the evolution and outcome; however, being theologically absolute, really about anything, strikes me as ridiculous. The Internet is decentralized; Amazon, Google and Apple are not. For this industry to jump the rails into the mainstream, particularly given how money is regulated, is going to require clusterings of human beings doing things like support and marketing for quite some time.

I’m not sure a pure peer-to-peer network, serviced by a distributed automaton is either possible or desirable. In the meantime, the more distributed, less concentrated, more collaborative things become, the better, i.e. less risk, higher output.

U.Today: While some networks openly attack one another, Ethereum and EOS being the prime example, others prefer to unite instead. Uphold is part of Universal Protocol which attempts to do just that. Is it a union created simply in order to increase profits, or is it more than that?

J.P. Thieriot: The UPP is an industry utility, the purpose of which is to mitigate a number of the current restraints on the growth of our ecosystem. We’ve identified those restraints as: 1) the lack of a common language, 2) the lack of conventional user safeguards, and 3) the lack of products built for mass adoption.

The question about Ethereum and EOS goes to the first of the above factors. It does nothing for the benefit of the ecosystem when competing protocols throw mud at each other. It debases outside opinion, puts a grin on the faces of the ossified naysayers—the Dimons and Buffetts of the world—and perpetuates confusion and uncertainty among potential new entrants.

UPP’s purpose is to usher in the next 100 million users of crypto. We can do this by disrupting a hidebound legacy financial system that has been a festering backwater in terms of innovation, soundness, fairness, equal access, and transparency. Bickering amongst ourselves is a destructive waste of time.

Ongoing Crisis and Predictions

U.Today: We simply cannot not ask about the current Bitcoin crisis. Does it complicate business, or can this low tide be treated as an opportunity to dig out whatever gold was left buried in the sand?

J.P. Thieriot: Speculative bubbles always form around the advent of revolutionary technologies. This technology happens to relate directly to money, and it has benefitted from significant Asian participation on the trading front; ergo, the ups and downs are likely to be super-charged.

We’ve been expecting a shakeout. There’ll be a lot less noise in the market. Meanwhile, nothing will deter the inexorable march of the coming Internet of Money.

U.Today: With so much on the market today, what is it that the customers are after exactly?

J.P. Thieriot: Quite simply, quantumly wider and more convenient access to better financial products and services.

U.Today: Can you make any predictions for the future? How is the market going to be different in, say, five or ten years from now?

J.P. Thieriot: 2019 will be the year of “The ICO is dead, long live the STO”. The first real utility tokens will start to show their stuff, foremost Brave’s BAT token. The general market will remain below the $200b mark as the weaker offerings perish and very few strong projects accumulate value. In five years, we will be well into the process of tokenizing/digitizing every single traditional asset class in existence.

In ten years, the use of banknote cash will at least have diminished by 50% from today’s levels… And my guess is―because one way to look at BTC is as a shorting of the monetary system’s status quo―BTC will be above $25k.

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