Another Blow to ICOs as Google Bans Crypto Ads 4 1294

Following an electric 2017, this year has hit like a slap in the face for many an ICO. The latest blow to the cryptocurrency community comes as Google bans crypto ads. The giant search engine decided to come down hard on any content related to ICOs, trading exchanges, and wallets. The ban is effective from June of this year.

In what feels unnervingly like censorship (something Google knows about all too well), we’ll no longer see crypto ads appearing on our screens. More than 40 percent of millennials already use adblockers. However, the rest of us may miss seeing news and opportunities from this mysterious world.

And it will certainly take the wind out of ICO sails.

Facebook Also Banned Crypto Ads

Google isn’t the first major tech company to ban crypto ads. In fact, Facebook led the way earlier this year, citing responsibility to its users.

But the Google announcement may come as a shock to many, as they reveal a major update to their financial services-related advertising policy.

Scott Spencer, Google’s Director of Sustainable Ads, quoted in CNBC, said, “We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution.”

Rather like China’s sweeping ban on cryptocurrency of all stripes, Google’s ban of crypto ads is also comprehensive. Even legitimate cryptocurrency offerings will no longer be allowed to use their advertising services. That includes the search engine’s own websites, as well as third party sites.

The Crypto World is Uncertain

While cryptocurrency has made a lot of people wealthy, it’s still a largely volatile place. Regulation for the most part is absent, and scam artists have already claimed as much as 10 percent of all ICO funding.

Google, like Facebook, claims to have a responsibility to its users. In 2017 alone, it removed more than 3 billion adverts that were in violation of their policies. More than 80 percent of Google’s parent company revenue is made from advertising. Assuring advertisers that the ecosystem is safe is vital to the company.

The Silence is Deafening

Google’s ban on crypto ads will surely shine a light on the other elephant in the room. If cryptocurrencies and blockchain are so revolutionary, why haven’t they gotten on board with the technology yet?

While there is no definitive answer to this question of yet, some speculate that it is because the blockchain fails to live up to the marketing hype surrounding it.

However, Paul Brody, global blockchain innovation leader at EY, stated,Cryptocurrencies – and the blockchains they run on – are a technical revolution that should enable a transformational set of new business technologies… We think everything from the digital media business to supply chains will be transformed with this technology in the coming years.”

Whether blockchain is a revolution or not and Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon are missing out remains to be seen. But it’s going to be an interesting show.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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Why Is Everyone Talking About NFTs? Comments Off on Why Is Everyone Talking About NFTs? 51911

In this writer’s opinion the NFT hype is warranted — but not for the reason most people are investing. 

For those who’ve been in the space since Bitcoin’s early surge, you’ll remember the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) boom of 2017. The crowdfunding vehicle, which mirrored an IPO on the public market, brought with it massive amounts of investment into the blockchain space that seemed to mirror Bitcoin’s rapidly increasing value. 

In retrospect, none of it made sense. 

With all the hype, the investment in the space didn’t match due diligence. As of August 2018, investors had lost nearly $100M in ICO exit scams, a major reason we no longer hear about ICOs. 

From there, crowdfunding through token sales was rebranded alongside SEC regulation as Security Token Offerings (STOs). Additional fundraising iterations to enter the scene are Initial DEX Offerings (IDOs) and Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs).

NFTs are having a similar moment to the immature and potentially reckless ICO market of 2017. The danger can be credited to a mix of hype and a widely unregulated environment with various points of entry and gatekeepers that are not incentivized to shore up fraud. 

As a result, many purchasers of NFTs are falling victim to a spectrum that spans undeserving projects on the mild end and outright scams at the extreme. Meanwhile, hackers are exploiting the unregulated environment. 

Just yesterday, $3 million in NFTs were stolen via an Instagram phishing scam. 

This writer, however, is still bullish on NFTs — just not the ones that are getting all the attention.

NFTs represent a concrete entry-point into the blockchain with a tangible utility and infinite disruptive implications. 

Here are a few.

Digital Assets as Social Proof 

As a Millennial, I personally have a hard time understanding the notion of owning and assigning value to a digital asset, but my kids don’t. 

I’ve written about how Gen Z has already adopted the concept of social proof in digital environments by assigning socially relevant value to digital assets like video game skins. 

As Gen Z ages and becomes an increasingly powerful consumer population, this experience will matter. Whether or not their purchase behavior translates to adulthood remains to be seen, but our kids are already leveraging digital assets in the metaverse to exhibit their position in the social hierarchy in the same way that my generation assigned value to Jansport-brand backpacks. 

Their concept of digital assets will be fundamentally different from ours, and NFTs are likely to benefit. 

But Why Are NFTs Relevant to Me Now?

Social proof is far from the most interesting use case for NFTs. 

In the near-term, NFTs can be utilized to store sale information of physical goods on the blockchain in order to eliminate nefarious actors in fraud-riddled industries like fine wine and art. 

Moreover, NFTs can disrupt any industry with a substantial secondary market. By coding royalties into the smart contract of NFTs, original sellers of wine, art and other trade-susceptible brands and industries can ensure they’ll capture a fee anytime an item is transferred. 

This solves a major problem for creators like photographers, artists and musicians that are notoriously underpaid in comparison to the value they create for brokers. It also has the potential to cut out middlemen like auction houses, record labels, and galleries to democratize the creator economy. 

Other Innovators Have Introduced Creative Use Cases for NFTs

Gary Vaynerchuk utilizes NFTs as tickets for events and other value-adds to his community. Forbes introduced a series of NFT Billionaires that will update alongside the real-time NYSE to gamify their user’s NFT experience in a way that’s brand-relevant. Foxies.art is using a gamified version of NFTs to fundraise blockchain education for women. 

The utility of NFTs is confined only by the imagination of our innovators. Whether or not NFT headlines today will remain relevant is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain: the disruption is only beginning. 

Fidelity to Offer Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans Comments Off on Fidelity to Offer Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans 48900

The move is the first for a major retirement plan provider and may signal more widespread adoption of the cryptocurrency. 

On April 26, Fidelity announced its intention to add a Bitcoin investment option to its 401(k) retirement plans. Employees of businesses that pursue the option will be able to allocate as much as 20% of their contributions to Bitcoin, all from the company’s main investment dashboard. According to reporting by the Washington Post, Fidelity said that at least one employer has already signed up for the option which will launch later this year.

“Fidelity’s leadership, especially CEO Abby Johnson, has been at the forefront of institutional Bitcoin and crypto integration for years and is no stranger to the space, with Fidelity’s private equity and venture capital arm being a major source of capital for crypto miners, crypto SPACs, crypto hedge funds and more,” says Eric Lamison-White, Director at STS Capital Group LLC, a cross-border advisory and investment firm. “It is completely in character for Fidelity to steadily and cautiously extend access to their working class customers as the regulatory climate becomes more productive.”

Critics suggest that the volatility of Bitcoin poses an unnecessary risk to a retirement portfolio. It’s a reasonable argument. At the time of this writing, the cryptocurrency’s price has fallen by more than 6% just today. Meanwhile, at $37,978 it’s a far cry from Bitcoin’s high of $68,000, representing more than a 40% drop since November 10th of last year. 

However, advocates of cryptocurrency’s long-term utility disagree.

“Cryptocurrency is a reliable, long-term store of value because it cannot be corrupted by central authorities,” says Lisa Carmen Wang, founder of The Bad Bitch Empire, a platform for female investors in web3. “We’ve already seen hyperinflation, bank failures, and other egregious disasters happen in the last few years, so trust in governments is at an all-time low. Crypto is inevitably volatile now because it is an early stage high-risk/high-reward investment, but for those who believe in the values of a decentralized economy, crypto is an attractive long-term investment that people should consider having in their portfolio.”

Regardless of your appetite for risk, the notion that savers will be able to easily manage contributions to Bitcoin in a respected retirement plan is meaningful.

As of last year, 63% of US adults that did not hold crypto were curious about it. Many people in the crypto-curious category don’t invest because they simply don’t know how. There’s a technological barrier to entry that can feel daunting. 

When you have major retirement plan managers like Fidelity making it easy to add Bitcoin to a portfolio through a dashboard users are already familiar with, we may see this group start investing in the asset class, moving digital currencies further along toward mainstream adoption.

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