How One Startup Is Leveraging the Power of the Blockchain to Disrupt the $90+ Billion-Dollar Gaming Industry 12 406

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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Bitcoin Uses As Much Energy As Austria, Could Add 2°C to Earth’s Atmosphere 2,179 9063

Bitcoin mining, it turns out, damages the earth more than more traditional environmental assaults like actual mineral mining.

According to a paper published Monday in Nature Sustainability, the power-hungry Bitcoin mining process consumes more than triple the amount of energy needed to mine the equivalent amount of gold, more than quadruple what’s needed for copper, and more than double what it takes to mine platinum.

Other coins didn’t fare much better. By their measurements, Ethereum and Litecoin consume 7 megajoules of electricity to produce the equivalent of $1, the same energy expenditure as copper mining but more than that of platinum or gold. Monero eats up 14 megajoules to produce $1.

Naturally, these measurements refer to the notoriously variable dollar valuations of such tokens. “While the market prices of the coins are quite volatile,” write researchers Max J. Krause and Thabet Tolaymat, “the network hashrates for three of the four cryptocurrencies have trended consistently upward, suggesting that energy requirements will continue to increase.”

Bitcoin’s Growing Electricity Bill is Bigger Than Some Countries

We’ve long known that Bitcoin is unsustainable. In a 2015 article for Motherboard, Christopher Malmo pointed out that a single Bitcoin transaction used 5,033 times as much energy as a Visa swipe, and could power 1.5 American homes for a day.

The electricity used to crunch Bitcoin code—and its environmental cost—has been growing with its increasing popularity. Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index shows Bitcoin currently consuming 73.12 terawatt hours (or 263.232 billion megajoules) of electricity annually. To put that in context, it’s comparable to the amount of energy it takes to power Austria for a year.

That means there are 175ish countries on earth using less energy than Bitcoin (to say nothing of crypto on the whole), while 66 countries consume less energy per capita than one Bitcoin transaction (it takes 94 thousand kilowatt hours of electricity to mine a single Bitcoin).

Iceland, a major hub of Bitcoin mining farms, spends nearly as much energy on Bitcoin as it does powering its residential homes. In this case, the damage is mitigated because most of Iceland’s power comes from renewable energy.

Canada’s Bitcoin emissions are also on the lower end due to renewable energy sources. They’re using this to court mining companies from China, where mining emissions are about four times that of Canada’s. Montreal International attracts foreign investment by calling Quebec the land of “green bitcoin”. This has caught the eye of some Chinese mining companies looking to go overseas as the Chinese government has discouraged expansion and shut down some mining operations altogether.

Depending on Bitcoin’s growth, some have projected that it could use as much energy as the entire world by 2020.

Digital Currency Has a Real Carbon Footprint

Krause’s and Tolaymat’s research reminds us of the sobering reality that all this invisible wealth has real world costs.

For the 30 months they measured between January 2016 and June 2018, they estimate their four featured tokens collectively belched out at least 3 million tons of CO2 emissions, possibly as much as 15 million tons.

These findings follow another study, published last month, which determined Bitcoin alone could add two degrees Celcius to global warming within the next three decades. That’s enough to raise ocean acidity by 29 percent.

Solving Bitcoin’s Energy Consumption Crisis

So what is the solution? If the world were to switch to 100 percent renewable energy overnight, the problem would be moot. But we can’t hold our breath for that. There could be ways of incentivizing clean energy so greener mines reap more coins, or of implementing clean energy in other ways.

It’s also possible to adopt less computationally intensive mining algorithms so the mining computers don’t guzzle as much juice. This would disappoint a lot of old school Bitcoiners who have invested in hardware, but their feelings don’t really outweigh that 2 degrees celcius that everyone will have to live with (or die by).

Whatever the best solution turns out to be, something needs to change soon. Bitcoin is growing up, and it’s time for it to mature into something more sustainable.

Kenya Looks to Blockchain for Affordable Housing Project 9 9306

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.

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