How One Startup Is Leveraging the Power of the Blockchain to Disrupt the $90+ Billion-Dollar Gaming Industry 12 1364

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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Freelance Terrorist Carried Out Hundreds of Bomb Threats in Exchange For Bitcoin 44 6370

An American-Israeli teen is sentenced to a decade in prison after a Tel Aviv court convicted him for a series of fake bomb threats he carried out in exchange for Bitcoin.

The 19 year old began making threats professionally at the age of 16. He is convicted only for crimes committed while over the age of 18. These include making false threats and reports, extortion, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit a crime.

While the Israeli courts withheld the defendant’s identity because some of his alleged crimes occurred while he was a minor, the Guardian identified him as Michael Kadar at the time of his arrest. He was originally indicted for over 2,000 bomb threats, carried out between 2015 and 2017.

Kadar Targeted Children and Jewish Community Centers

The targets of Kadar’s threats included Jewish community centers, the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, elementary schools, shopping centers, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, airports and airlines.

A threat to an El-Al flight resulted in the deployment of fighter jets for an escorted emergency landing; another threat to a Canadian airport left six people injured during emergency disembarkment; a Virgin flight dumped eight tons of fuel before landing because of a threat; and another threat went to a plane carrying the Boston Celtics.

Kadar also targeted Republican Delaware state senator Ernesto Lopez, who he threatened with blackmail and the murder of his daughter. After Lopez ignored the demands, Kadar ordered drugs to have sent to Lopez’s residence.

Dealing Terror From Mom and Dad’s Apartment

His reign of terror operated from his parent’s fifth floor apartment near the beach in a posh neighborhood in Ashkelon, about 30 miles south of Tel Aviv. But his threats landed in over a dozen countries, including Ireland, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark, Great Britain, Belgium, Australia, Norway, Argentina, Israel, the United States, and Canada.

“One can easily imagine the terror, the fear and the horror that gripped the airplane passengers who were forced to make an emergency landing, some of whom were injured while evacuating the plane,” read the verdict by judge Zvi Gurfinkel, “and the terrified panic caused when there was a need to evacuate pupils from schools because of fake bomb threats.”

The Judge also divulged Kadar’s fees for his services: $40 for a threatening phone call to a private residence, $80 for a bomb threat to a school, and $500 for an airplane scare. Kadar operated on the dark net and disguised his IP address, using a powerful self-installed antenna to tap into remote networks, and software to mask his voice. According to an indictment filed against him in Florida, he spent some of his calls going into graphic detail threatening the deaths of children in American Jewish centers.

A Small Fortune in Bitcoins

At the time of his arrest, Kadar had amassed around 184 Bitcoins for such services—about half a million dollars at the time, and closer to $680,000 today. He also dealt in bomb making manuals, drugs, and child pornography.

Kadar is the son of an American mother, and his father is an Israeli engineer, and has dual citizenship. The US Department of Justice has also indicted Kadar for 32 crimes, including hate crimes, cyberstalking, giving false information to the police, and making threatening phone calls to around 200 institutions. A separate indictment also accuses Kadar of threatening the children of a former CIA and Pentagon official with kidnapping and murder, and links him to over 245 threatening calls.

When Kadar was arrested, he tried to escape by grabbing a pistol from a police officer, but was wrestled to the ground. Thursday’s conviction follows a cooperative investigation by the FBI and Israeli authorities, who have not been able to recover Kadar’s Bitcoins.

Teen’s Mother Calls Conviction ‘Cruel’

Kadar’s mother spoke outside the courtroom after her son’s sentencing, saying “This is the most cruel, cruel thing in the world. I’m very sorry, but I am ashamed that the country acts this way.” She insisted that her son needed treatment, not prison.

In an earlier interview she told Israeli TV her sun was suffering from a brain tumor, which made school difficult for him. Because of this and his autism, Kadar was homeschooled.

Defense lawyer Shira Nir said these conditions made Kadar unfit to stand trial, as he could not distinguish right from wrong. A medical panel confirmed the defendant’s autistic condition, but concluded he was capable of understanding the consequences of his actions. Judge Gurfinkel said Kadar’s conditions were taken into account, lessening the sentence from 17 years in prison to 10.

Bitcoin Uses As Much Energy As Austria, Could Add 2°C to Earth’s Atmosphere 2,187 13925

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.

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