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Merchant Mining and the Proof-of-Commerce Protocol

Bitcoin Magazine -

The “mining” industry is bursting with innovation, right now. It started as a way to incentivize people to support the Bitcoin network without allowing any one entity to take control, but has grown with new blockchain technologies. Cryptocurrencies are now being used to incentivize contribution to all kinds of initiatives, like solar energy adoption and the race to cure diseases like cancer. Instead of mining bitcoins by solving a cryptographic math problem, you can mine solarcoins or curecoins by generating photoelectricity or folding proteins, respectively, rather than by wasting processing power. Society could accomplish a lot of great things this way without the need for a central authority, but if we want to have a real impact, we need to get more people using cryptocurrency.

Merchant mining is the process of doing exactly that. Merchants are “mined” by convincing them to adopt cryptocurrency; the idea was conceived by MerchantCoin, which plans for miners and merchants alike to be rewarded with XMC for Bitcoin adoption. This still requires another mining mechanism to secure the blockchain, which in the case of MerchantCoin is handled by Bitcoin miners that utilize the Master Protocol in return for Mastercoins. MerchantCoin tokens are automatically redeemed when a merchant has transacted at least $25 in in BTC, thus stimulating the Bitcoin economy with a supplementary altcoin.

This could do great things for merchant adoption of Bitcoin. MerchantCoin can verify it has signed up many miners (or “advocates” as they call them) via their website, already. The founder has real estate platform and development experience and has already facilitated the sale of some large properties for cryptocurrency. Their team is also developing some other co-projects, such as a decentralized point-of-sale platform, exchange, and multi-coin wallet as they search for a way to generate revenue in the process.

This still leaves unanswered one very important question: how can we validate that cryptocurrency-based commerce has occurred? This led to the development of another new concept called proof-of-commerce. Rather than proving to have solved a SHA256 function or held coins for a certain amount of time–as in proof-of-work or proof-of-stake — proof-of-commerce is the process of validating the use of Bitcoin. Although the technology for this has not yet been developed, several hypothetical methods exist, and the MerchantCoin team is in a convenient position to do this.

Since MerchantCoin runs on Mastercoin, which runs on the Bitcoin blockchain, it can see all bitcoin transactions (and therefore account balances). Bitcoin miners embed information about the Merchant Coin network in blocks alongside Bitcoin data; link a MerchantCoin address to a Bitcoin address, and XMC can be granted to an advocate and merchant when one or more Bitcoin transactions totaling over a certain amount are detected. If Mastercoin was integrated with other cryptocurrencies’ mining networks, it could detect commerce conducted in those, as well, potentially in a trustless manner.

The exact manner in which they plan to proceed isn’t clear yet; although I was given the chance to look at the draft of their white paper, it’s not yet ready to show to the general public. The talk I heard about a decentralized POS system seemed to be a step in the right direction, though. The concept behind it is sound, and if Merchant Coin is going to be as successful as Bitcoin, it will follow the same open source and trust-free principles.

The post Merchant Mining and the Proof-of-Commerce Protocol appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

BTC2B Congress Brussels Is Close & Thanks to Platinum Sponsor Transaction Coin, Tix are Cheaper!

Bitcoin Magazine -

The Congress has a new Platinum partner that is sponsoring cheaper tickets!

Bitcoin 2 Business Congress Brussels will take place on 16-17 October in the B19 Business Club. The event is mainly focused on Bitcoin business and monetary future, debates, speeches by key players in the industry, B2B meetings, networking and start-ups. The event is designed for 100-150 attendees. The main aim is to accomplish more of a personal and friendly atmosphere where everyone will be able to meet with anyone.

From the beginning the organizers setup the prices higher to make sure they will be able to cover all expenses. “It was against our idea of having friendly atmosphere and make our events accessible to everyone. Every Bitcoin Conference has a high ticket prices which goes against the philosophy of the Bitcoin” says the organizing team and concludes that “thanks to a great cooperation with the Transactioncoin, we´ll be able to reduce the prices and make it available to the people that normally wouldn´t be able to pay that amount of money”. The current ticket price is now being only 99 €.

So the company that made this possible is a relatively new coin Transactioncoin. Txcoin is a P2P Crypto Currency with a hybrid proof of work (PoW) system. Txcoin supports two hashing algorithm: SHA256 and SCRYPT. Each algorithm has its seperate difficulty, both targetting 2 minutes. Txcoin can be merged mined with either sha256 or scrypt based altercoins. Now what is interesting and exciting about the merged mining phenomenon is that Txcoin is a “mining side-effect eliminator” a medium that eliminates the side-effects of mining, such as a huge electricity consumption, cost of mining hardware, etc.

Among other things, the attendees can look forward to a friendly atmosphere, great networking, meeting the key players from the industry and enjoying their time in “de facto” heart of the European Union. Among other speakers we can expect Vitalik Buterin from the Ethereum, Moe Levin from BitPay, Lutz Auffenberg, Christian Ander or Stan Wolf. This is officially one of the most accessible events in the Bitcoin world and it is always great to see the growth of the Bitcoin community, especially in Europe.

So come and support the community in Brussels. You can register here and buy your ticket with credit card and with Bitcoin of course. Tickets will be available on place as well but the organizers strongly recommend getting your ticket advanced since the BTC2B Congress has a limited number of attendees and tickets will be more expensive when buying at the venue – 150 €. Get more information on the website http://btc2b.com/

The post BTC2B Congress Brussels Is Close & Thanks to Platinum Sponsor Transaction Coin, Tix are Cheaper! appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

A New Way to Fund Ideas: Crowdfunding, Crypto-Assets, and the Future of Decentralized Investments

Bitcoin Magazine -

With the rise of Kickstarter, the average person now has a greater opportunity to raise money for his or her ideas than ever before. The Kickstarter model, in which campaigners solicit donations to support a project that produces something they can share with their funders and others at large, is a new technological take rooted in an old idea. For instance, in 1713 Alexander Pope rallied funding to publish English translations of Greek poetry by offering generous donators credits on a page in the finished translated publication, once enough funding was gathered to bring the project to fruition. The crowdfunding method was also employed in 1783 by Mozart who developed a campaign to fund the performance of three new concertos he scored by offering funders copies of the manuscripts, in exchange for live performance funding. And finally with the rise of the Internet, Kickstarter democratized the funding of projects even further by allowing unprecedented connectivity to the common person’s creative endeavors—and by leveraging funding from backers across the world. The site offers streamlined simplicity that empowers the common person located in any of 10 countries throughout the world the ability to quickly raise funding to bring their idea to life. From the standpoint of investors, one advantage of Kickstarter’s funding platform is that funding requires that a project is completely funded before the backers are charged for their contribution. In this fashion, backers are not left on the hook for a partially funded project that may not produce the intended results outlined in the campaign. Kickstarter currently takes a 5% cut of the total funds raised for a particular campaign, and Kickstarter’s credit card processor, Amazon, levies another 3-5% charge on the total funds raised in a campaign. An additional value added tax (VAT) of 1-2% on the total funds raised will also be applied if you happen to run a campaign in the UK. Despite the usual 8-10% charge on the total funds raised in a campaign, the requirement that campaigns need complete funding before backers are charged results in nearly 42% of projects being successfully funded. Additionally, the campaign requirement that something must be produced for others to experience adds a tangible deliverable to the campaign. However, it is important to realize backers’ investments are donations in nature that primarily add capital to the store of human knowledge and innovation—as opposed to offering the investor a share in the equity of a project. One recent success story on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform involved Ladar Levinson’s “Lavabit Dark Mail Initiative” campaign that raised upwards of $200,000 to deliver open-source, PGP strength encrypted email that also hides message metadata. However, for those who want the freedom to fund any idea they may have, the folks at Kickstarter do place more restrictions on what projects are deemed appropriate for funding, compared to the campaign restrictions placed on a similar crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo.

Indiegogo also empowers the common person by providing the ability to raise funds for ideas that might otherwise fall on deaf ears from the more traditional capital raising institutions. Indiegogo leverages the ability to draw backers from around the world and accepts PayPal in addition to credit cards, as opposed to Kickstarter which only accepts donations via credit cards. Furthermore, Kickstarter only allows campaigns located in 10 select few countries, as opposed to Indiegogo that enables even greater access to the common person by allowing campaigns in over 200 countries. Another interesting feature Indiegogo employs is its use of two campaign funding models. One model requires the campaign to reach its funding goal for any funds to be dispersed and the other allows any funds the campaign brings in to be received by the campaign creator–with the latter involving a higher fee paid to Indiegogo to incentivize reaching the initial funding goal. Once again, it’s time to run the numbers. Under the all-or-nothing campaign model, Indiegogo charges 4% on the total funds received and additional credit card or PayPal processing fees ranging from 3-5%. The flexible funding model, where funds are still released despite the funding goal not being reached, involves an Indiegogo fee of 9% on the total funds raised and credit card or PayPal processing fees ranging from 3-5%. Albeit Kickstarter and Indiegogo do not allow backers a stake in the equity, or ownership, of the finished product of the campaign, they are still powerful tools that allow access to otherwise nonexistent capital that enriches the innovation ecosystem. Overall, Indiegogo offers a compelling comparable crowdfunding option. On the other hand, the future of decentralized crowdfunding and the introduction of crypto-assets beckons on another front.

Swarm is a crowdfunding platform that takes a decentralized approach to the idea of crowdfunding. Simply put, the platform runs on a cryptocurrency known as Swarm Coin that allows campaigns to issue their own separate campaign cryptocurrency tokens that act as shares of equity in crowdfunding campaigns. The Swarm founder envisions the platform will allow vetting of campaign ideas through a decentralized voting process that helps determine which campaigns receive funding on the Swarm platform. A decentralized reputation system will help establish credibility of those who backed successful campaigns in the past and will help guide newer users to decide on what campaign ideas to fund. The campaigns that receive backing by credible members in the Swarm community are in turn given more weight. As for the funding process itself, campaigners generate unique campaign cryptocurrency tokens that are then sold to project backers as assets in the campaign. If a project is successfully funded and the finished product does exceptionally well out in the open market, then the holders of the campaign tokens will share in the wealth of the success via increased valuation of the crypto tokens they purchased. As a result, the added equity incentive in crowdfunding campaigns may help drive the success of future campaigns. Joel Dietz, the founder of Swarm, points to one crowdfunding equity debacle involving the Oculus Rift campaign on Kickstarter that successfully raised over $2 million dollars to develop a virtual reality headset and subsequently a little over a year later the Oculus Rift company sold to Facebook for $2 billion—leaving some of the Kickstarter backers wishing they had the option to invest in an equity arrangement instead.

Another admirable contender in the decentralized crowdfunding ecosystem is the NXT currency platform. It is important to realize NXT is not just another alternative cryptocurrency because it actually makes decentralization possible through a proof-of-stake model, as opposed to the Bitcoin proof-of-work model. On the decentralized NXT platform, anyone can create their own unique asset tokens and sell shares that can support a crowdfunding campaign, among other things. Asset tokens can also be used to represent physical assets, a culmination of other assets known as asset bundles, and can be used to represent a whole range of other assets. Currently, it costs 1,000 NXT, or roughly around $30 worth of Bitcoin at the time of this writing, to issue asset tokens for any particular crowdfunding campaign. Furthermore, the NXT platform also touts a decentralized marketplace that allows anyone to sell any kind of digital good. Overall, it appears the future of commerce and investments will come in a decentralized, cryptocurrency form if the recent trends are an indication of anything.

Regardless of which crowdfunding method is employed, we are entering an age of unprecedented innovation—and the age seems to be one focused on individual empowerment.

The post A New Way to Fund Ideas: Crowdfunding, Crypto-Assets, and the Future of Decentralized Investments appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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