How One Startup Is Leveraging the Power of the Blockchain to Disrupt the $90+ Billion-Dollar Gaming Industry 2 155

The nested potential of blockchain far exceeds what we see in today’s volatile cryptocurrencies.

If implemented effectively, this disruptive piece of technology represents a far greater opportunity to fundamentally change the way society organizes and secures its information.

At a high level, we can leverage the decentralized nature of blockchain in a variety of spaces to supplant the need for costly middlemen, eradicate fraudulent players, and instantly verify transactions – all of which are core benefits, inherent to blockchain, that can make industries radically more efficient. It is this exciting, not-so-distant future that is fueling entrepreneurs and investors from around the world to invest their time and funding in tackling real business problems with the power of the blockchain.

Gameflip, a vibrant digital goods marketplace with millions of users, recently announced their upcoming offering of FLIP, a crypto-token for peer-to-peer buying and selling of digital goods for games on all platforms. They are an example of an experienced team developing an innovative solution at the upslope of a hot market.

Perhaps most importantly, their solution is accelerating an inevitable shift in the marketplace that enhances the experience for all involved parties.

The digital goods opportunity is truly massive, and growing every year. Believe it or not, online gamers purchase nearly USD $100 billion in digital goods annually. The model works as follows: users play, invest, and compete in games to earn rare, digital collectibles, like weaponry and custom skins. While these items become illiquid (and practically valueless) once the game goes out of style or the user becomes disinterested, the digital marketplace has been booming as most casual and hardcore gamers obsess over earning collectible items.

Gamers spend immense amounts of time and money, building up their characters and harvesting special player upgrades…but if you cannot transfer the value of the assets after your hard work, then what is the true long term value?

The problem, however, is that the “gamer-earned goods” market is insanely underdeveloped, as there is no unified home for secure transactions of digital goods.

This is what initially inspired the launch of FLIP, as the Gameflip team had seen countless instances of passionate, dedicated gamers falling under the trap of losing their digital “investments.”

Other companies have identified and tried to work on this problem before. The popular Steam Community Marketplace attempted to address this problem by enabling the trading of digital goods on their platform. This, however, fell short – gamers want the ability to “cash out,” and not just earn market credits. So they turned to their only other option, which was random, unsecured forums such as Reddit, many of which were rampant with scammers and fraudsters.

The solution to this entire trust management problem is exactly what Gameflip is doing: using blockchains to create a secured, transparent mechanism for exchanging digital goods.

Already, Gameflip has a 2 million member-strong global digital goods marketplace for gamers. Of which, they have over 500,000 active monthly users who conduct millions of transactions each and every month.

FLIP, their tokenized product, leverages the Ethereum blockchain and ERC-20 Token interface to provide a decentralized ecosystem for transaction digital goods through smart contracts. Effectively, the contract will automatically confirm ownership of the digital goods, enabling gamers to transact safely without risk. More than that, for perhaps the first time ever, gamers can truly own their digital goods with real value. Meaning they finally have access to liquidity when and wherever they want it, as they can sell and trade digital items for cash without the threat of fraud.

The FLIP team, having been former publishers themselves, also plans to incentivize game publishers to adopt this new model by issuing FLIP network growth tokens, with a built-in commission for each transaction made through their games. Publishers are crucial to the network effect and, ultimately, will be the gatekeepers towards universal adoption.

While their strategy for growth is ambitious, the Gameflip executive team brings with them more than a century of combined business experience, including decades in the gaming industry. They have successfully built, managed and architected, global, free-to-play gaming businesses like Aeria Games, meaning they understand the mechanics of the industry from the ground floor.

They are also backed by world-class investors, like Lightbank, and already have strong interest and active discussions from a handful of top global publishers. It will be exciting to see FLIP, among others, develop as implementations of crypto gain mass appeal. They will have their FLIP ICO main sale on Dec. 4 (as their pre-sale ended at 112% of our goal with over 3k ETH raised).

As momentum around blockchain technology continues to develop, we will begin to see more and more of the potential get exposed. This is truly just the start, as more entrepreneurs see innovative applications just waiting to be built. The question in all of us, as consumers and professionals, is which implementations will most affect us? Which are most likely to disrupt the world?

This article was originally published in The Huffington Post on November 16, 2017.

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Starting her career on Wall Street at just 19 years old, Danielle went on to be one of the youngest equity traders in the industry. After a successful career in Financial Planning, she went on to found her media company What Vibes Your Tribe, which connects the worlds of digital marketing and public relations. Her experience in brand strategy along with successfully developing the thought leadership of C -level executives has played an integral part in her client's achieving prestigious awards such as Inc 500, Forbes Next Billion Dollar Startup, Entrepreneur 360 among other top level recognition.

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Kenya Looks to Blockchain for Affordable Housing Project 1 138

The “Silicon Savannah” is moving deeper in direction of tech. The Kenyan government has announced a plan to manage the property allocation and funding of 500,000 affordable housing units with blockchain technology.

The units, which the government aims to build by 2022, will be set aside for households with an annual income below 100,000 Kenyan Shillings, about $990 USD. The World Bank estimates Kenya’s gross national income per capita at $1,290, according to Business Daily.

Blockchain will help ensure that the affordable housing is in fact going to those who fall below the average income bracket. Land title fraud has caused problems for Kenyans, as land grabbers target homes and even schools for illegal sales and development. Blockchain’s ability to store verifiable proof of title could help safeguard against fraudsters.

“Kenya will use blockchain technology to ensure the rightful owners live in government funded housing projects,” said Principal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Charles Hinga, speaking with the World Bank on Monday.

Hinga said the plan will be financed by the National Housing Fund, which will raise over $59.5 million per month to get the project underway. But Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development James Macharia said it will take $31.7 billion to build a million homes, each of which will cost between $3,000 and $30,000. Macharia called for support from private sector financing.

Under the financing plan, working Kenyans will contribute 1.5 percent of their salary, which will be matched by their employers. “On affordable housing one should not spend more than 30% of their disposable income for housing,” Hinga tweeted yesterday. “Anything above 30% is not affordable.”

A Trustless Relationship Between People and Government

The initiative represents a considerable push to solve housing and title problems for the nation’s lower income families. But how will the government decide to whom the housing units will go? With so much talk about financing underway, people are already calling on the government to outline a plan for how they’ll distribute the affordable housing units.

The government will need to deliver the housing projects in a time when, Hinga acknowledges, the public is skeptical. Earlier this year $78 million went missing in a corruption scandal involving the National Youth Services. Where there is little trust between the people and their government, Kenya hopes to establish transparency through the blockchain’s distributed ledger system.

Kenya’s Move Toward Tech

In March, Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology appointed a blockchain taskforce to explore the ways the nation could use blockchain technology in the public and private sectors. They called it the Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence taskforce, and by September its chairman, Bitange Ndemo, was calling on the government to tokenize the economy.

Ndemo also proposed government implementation of blockchain to certify the authenticity of retail goods, so consumers can be sure of where their food is coming from, for example.

Governor of Kenya’s central bank Patrick Njoroge has also voiced support for the use of blockchain technology to strengthen service delivery, although he’s opposed the use of tokens and digital currencies.

But the affordable housing initiative could be the Kenyan government’s first real world implementation of the blockchain.

There’s an Inflatable ‘Bitcoin Rat’ Staring Down the Fed 1 124

Someone has put a giant inflatable rat outside the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

It’s covered in Bitcoin code, printed in rainbow colors, and is apparently a piece of installation art aimed at subverting the federal institution that controls the US dollar. Or is it pale, puffed-up pariah a commentary on Bitcoin bros themselves? Or does it have something to do with Warren Buffett, who earlier this year called Bitcoin “rat poison squared”? According to CoinDesk, who first reported on the inflatable rat, the meaning is intentionally ambiguous.

The artist behind the puzzling prank is Nelson Saiers. He describes his own work as “mystifying” and “singularly original”, notwithstanding the long history of rats being inflated as protests or used as economic and political icons in art and entertainment around the world.

“It’s art, so I hope they’re entertained by it,” he said, apparently implying that art is entertainment. “It’s informative, I hope people will learn [and] I’m hoping it’ll at least help people understand bitcoin better and be kind of faithful to what Satoshi would have wanted,” he added, citing the mysterious pseudonym of Bitcoin’s founder with a touch of reverence.

A $50 Million Artist

Saiers, a phD in theoretical mathematics, was a hedge fund manager who did that thing where you give up all the money to chase your dream of being an artist.

His financial experience includes a stint as managing director at Deutsche Bank’s prop trading desk, before becoming CIO of Saiers Capital, the hedge fund that bears his name. His creative career gives credence to the theory that working as an artist is more and more a privilege of the very wealthy.

CNBC estimated Saiers’s wealth to be around $50 million at the time of he departed from the financial industry to pick up his paintbrushes.

The Rat Joins a Tradition of Sculpture-as-Commentary in FiDi

The Bitcoin rat, which stands on Maiden Lane, isn’t the first pop up sculpture to grace Manhattan’s financial district. Last year, Kristen Visbal’s 50 inch bronze ‘Fearless Girl’ statue made waves by staring down the famous ‘Charging Bull’, to the outrage of ‘Charging Bull’ sculptor Arturo Di Modica. The 3.5 ton ‘Charging Bull’ itself was left on Wall Street in the middle of the night when Di Modica originally created it, obstructing traffic and drawing the curiosity of passers by.

When Saiers placed the Bitcoin rat, he initially set it up on private property and was promptly ushered off by security guards, who he says were good natured about the situation. He expects the sculpture to be more temporary than the aforementioned Wall Street bronzes, and will probably only be around for a few days.

A Critique of the 2008 Bailouts

The placement of the rat on Maiden Lane seems to be no accident, but rather a reference to the Maiden Lane Transactions, more commonly known as that time when the Fed bailed out the big banks after they all caused the 2008 market crash. The Bitcoin crowd’s antipathy towards the Fed and the big banks is palpable in Sairs’s rat sculpture, and while a more specific meaning eludes, perhaps the success of the piece depends upon its ability to start conversations about the state of finance.

We’ll leave it to the viewers to decide who’s the rat—the Federal Reserve, or Bitcoin itself—and what that means for the future of currencies.

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