Category Archives: Markethive

Social-Media Marketing Strategies for Companies

Social-Media Marketing Strategies for Companies

Businesses worldwide have shifted focus to gathering customers on their social media platforms rather than their websites.
Social media is crucial to the success of any company's digital marketing strategy.

Despite this, brands of all kinds and sizes are not using this tool to its full potential. Although the number of "follows", "likes" and "shares" is still important, the credibility of a brand is distinguished by far more than just this. Today, social media requires a unique set of skills whereby brands need to fully understand the needs of their audience. To help you out, I've put together 10 social media strategies you need to implement this year, whether you are a young entrepreneur or a well-established brand.

Start using chatbots.

You may have already heard, but chatbots are in. This comes as no surprise as they are the one digital tool that can communicate and resolve problems for your customers without the potential need for any human interruption. In addition to the above, chatbots integrate with the platforms that consumers now feel most comfortable interacting through social media. Platforms such as Chatty people make integrating an AI-powered chatbot into your social media strategy easy. These tools allow you to create a chatbot that:

  • Doesn't require any coding knowledge.
  • Can answer customer questions.
  • Is able to take orders directly from Facebook Messenger and comments.
  • Integrates with all the major payment systems.

Create a personalized experience for your customers.

Chatbots are not only a great way to automate certain everyday tasks, and if implemented properly, your chatbot will allow you to create more personalized experiences for your customers. To do this, stop linking your advertisements solely to your landing pages, and create ads that redirect your audience to a Messenger window with your chatbot. Linking ads to your chatbot will:

  • Break the traditional views customers have of you only trying to sell to them.
  • Make your customer's experience more personal.
  • Boost your sales.
  • Create a loyal fan base.

Create an efficient content marketing strategy.

Quality is key and content is no exception. Content marketing has been a prominent form of marketing for a long time and this is not set to change anytime soon. Many brands are not linking quality content with the right posting schedule and the correct frequency of posts. High-quality SEO content coupled with all the above will help you bring in the right customers at the right time. Aside from its ability to attract an organic audience, a good content marketing strategy can be implemented for free. Be sure to create a relevant hashtag strategy along with your optimized and thorough content.

Create a community for your audience.

Although “followers” and the many other metrics are important, they are not the "be all and end all" to social media success. You need to show your audience that you are not just a robot. Integrate personality through humor and emotions into your posts so that your audience can relate to your brand. Social media is all about being social, and if your customers see the same types of posts time and time again, they will lose interest. Make your communications interactive by:

  • Asking your audience questions.
  • Gathering their opinions on certain matters.
  • Sharing newsworthy information rather than just information about your products or services.
  • Liking and sharing some of their posts rather than just the other way around.
  • Asking them to interact directly with your posts through "likes" and "shares".

Jazz up your profiles with a diverse content strategy.

People respond to good imagery, fun videos, and some interesting podcasts once and awhile. Jazz up your content by using this type of media regularly. Your social media pages will look bland if all you post and share is text, so be sure to use other types of media to catch your audience's eye. This is also a great way to add a level of personality to your brand.

Use brand advocates.

Your best promotional tool is the people who love your brand. Instead of focusing all your efforts on finding new customers, why not leverage your current ones? In addition to your current customers, you could use your own employees. To use your employees as brand advocates, you should:

  • Create social media guidelines specific to your brand.
  • Tell your advocates about social media best practices.
  • Add a leader to each section of your social media advocacy plan.
  • Track the correct data to pinpoint areas for improvement and those that are doing well.

Create profiles on the relevant channels.

Today, people create profiles on every social media channel available with the aim of reaching as many people as possible. Unfortunately, with that mindset, you will not reach your chosen target audience. As a result, it is key you look at your buyer personas when choosing your social media channels. For example, you won't necessarily need a LinkedIn profile if you are launching a gothic clothing brand; the same as you won't need to be on Pinterest to promote your surveillance services.

Establish a social media budget.

Social media platforms are one of, if not the most important, forms of marketing. Allocating the right budget to your social media endeavors is crucial to your success. Not only this, leveraging that budget with the right strategy will be the most cost-effective way for you to reach your chosen target audience. Because social media is used on a much more personal level, you will also find that it is a place where you can make a much deeper connection with your customers.

Run cross-channel campaigns.

To further engage your customers, run cross-channel campaigns across all your social media channels. Keep in mind that these campaigns are run by virtually every company today, so you will need to give yourself an edge to help you stand out from the crowd. Add an emotional component to your social media campaigns so that your audience can relate to your cause. An efficient cross-channel social media campaign will:

  • Tell an engaging story.
  • Link back to a specific landing page that will give your audience more information about your campaign.
  • Have a unique and memorable name coupled with relevant hashtags.

Tell a story by going live.

Yes, your content will tell the story of your brand as a whole, but why not share with your audience what's happening with your company in real time? Facebook and Instagram, among other platforms, have created their own live streaming features, something that is not yet being used to its full potential by big brands. To compete with them, start using these live features before they really catch on. Live stories are a great way to:

  • Show your audience you are more than just a money-making machine.
  • Engage and inspire your customers.
  • Create shareable and memorable content.

Businesses worldwide are slowly becoming more preoccupied with gathering customers on their social media platforms rather than their websites. By following the 10 strategies outlined above, you'll not only set yourself up to compete with well-established brands but also create a social media plan that will withstand the test of time.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

We’re Just Starting to Comprehend How Social Media Breeds Shootings

We’re Just Starting to Comprehend How Social Media Breeds Shootings

The future of gun violence prevention depends on decoding how tweeted taunts send bullets flying.

We probably could have predicted Gakirah Barnes’s death

based on the stories she left on Twitter. By the time she was 17, the self-identified gang member allegedly shot or killed 20 people. Vernon is a well-known street on the Southside of Chicago, and Gakirah is identifying it as the boundary between her and any rival crew or clique. Her handle, @TyquanAssassin, is a moniker she adopted after her good friend Tyquan Tyler was killed in 2013. The devil and gun emoji indicate that crossing Vernon could lead to any transgressing rival being shot.

Chicago saw a 58 percent increase in homicides between 2014 and 2016, effectively negating two-thirds of the decrease in homicides the city had experienced since the early 1990s. Some city leaders, including Superintendent Eddie Johnson of the Chicago Police Department, have suggested that social media posts like Gakirah’s might be contributing to the surge. Their diagnosis may sound to some like an attempt to duck responsibility for the failure of the local law enforcement system to interdict more illegal firearms or do more to stop repeat shooters before they injure or kill again.

But having studied the phenomenon – known in the academic community as internet or cyberbanging – I can tell you that the frequency with which young people use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to hurl insults, taunt enemies, and brag about violent acts is playing a meaningful role in fueling retaliatory efforts between gangs and cliques in marginalized neighborhoods. It also has significant implications for gun violence prevention.

For the past four years, I have examined the relationship between Twitter activity and gang violence among young people who live in Chicago. Because of the complexity of interpreting social media communication, it has been important to develop an interdisciplinary team. I work with social workers to accurately decode what teens are saying, and collaborate with data scientists to detect patterns in social media communication that may lead to gang violence. The process often feels like an archaeological dig, carefully combing through Twitter conversations, studying emojis and hashtags, videos and images, to figure out the cues that often end with gunfire erupting.

In our rush to understand whether social media causes violence, we often forget what brings young people to social media in the first place: connections to other young people. Those connections were apparent in Gakirah Barnes’s tweets, even as she was becoming notorious enough to be dubbed the “Teen Queen of Gangland Chicago” by the Daily Mail. Unique in her status as a female shooter for her gang, Gakirah kept up a feed full of threats and taunts to “opps,” or members of oppositional groups. But after analyzing her social media communication, I noticed that Gakirah and other users in her network also used Twitter to collectively cope with losing friends to shootings.

A pattern emerged in Gakirah’s tweets. First, there would be a post expressing general loss or grief. Then, it would be followed by a more aggressive or directly threatening tweet. For example, at 10:53 a.m. one day, Gakirah turned to Twitter to grieve the death of a friend. Less than 10 minutes later, Gakirah posted a second message, vowing revenge. A scan of news reports from the time suggests that Gakirah’s friend may have died in a fatal confrontation with police, but it’s not law enforcement from whom she plans to exact retribution. Instead, she sends notice that she will be hunting gang rivals, squaring the ledger of loss by targeting a mutual foe of her deceased friend.

Jeffrey Lane of Rutgers University has identified a code of the “digital street,” wherein informal rules established in a brick-and-mortar neighborhood dictate how young people communicate with each other online. As this pair of tweets from Gakirah shows, online expressions of trauma take what would have been a moment of private mourning and put it on cyber-display. The code of the digital street then compels rivals to reply with posts disrespecting the dead. And from there, an obligation to strike back at the offending posters takes hold. One such “opp” replied to Gakirah’s tweet, baiting her to enter his terrority — so that then he would have a reason to retaliate against her crew. (Identifying information has been blocked to protect the identities of the users who are still living.)

Social media doesn’t allow for the opportunity to physically de-escalate an argument. Instead, it offers myriad ways to exacerbate a brewing conflict as opposing gangs or crews and friends and family take turns weighing in. The dynamic poses challenges to existing approaches to violence interruption, which treat shootings like a communicable disease that spreads through face-to-face interactions and can be prevented by steering one of the parties toward peaceful alternatives to armed response. Those programs, developed before social media became part of daily life, don’t have the capacity to keep up with thousands of users hurling endless insults at each other. Gakirah was shot on April 11, 2014, three blocks from her house. She died in the hospital. Her last original tweet (below) included her address. (TMB is an abbreviation for Trap Money Brothers or Boys).

After her death, many of Gakirah’s Twitter friends articulated deep pain. But there were also the too-familiar, unmistakable plans to retaliate, with other followers changing their handles to reflect intentions to avenge her killing. The future of gun violence prevention depends on a deeper understanding of how social media fills a need for disadvantaged communities hungry for connection, and when a hashtag or emoji is a signpost to the next exchange of gunfire. As research provides that understanding, the question will then become: What responsibility do tech companies bear for the shootings bred via their servers? 

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Top 10 Alternatives to Bitcoin

top 10 alteratives to Bitcoin

Top 10 Altenatives to Bitcoin

Blockchain currency is revolutionizing money. Since Satoshi Nakamoto unveiled his cryptocurrency in 2008, we’ve witnessed a proliferation of digital cash companies and codebases. Utilizing his public, distributed ledger, dozens of promising currencies have emerged. Only a select few have proven themselves as true contenders to Bitcoin, however.

Here are the top 10 altcoins on CoinMarketCap (note that the list is changing constantly, especially in the tail part, with other altcoins like MaidSafeCoin, Golem and Augur playing musical chairs with others):

ETHEREUM

J.P Morgan Chase, Microsoft and Intel allied in order to create the fiercest rival to Bitcoin in circulation today: Ethereum. The main purpose of the endeavor was to program binding agreements into the Blockchain itself. This incarnated into the now-popular smart contract feature.

Interestingly, Ethereum is not just a currency. It’s a Blockchain platform powered by the Ether cryptocurrency. The New York Times describes the technology as “a single shared computer that is run by the network of users and on which resources are parceled out and paid for by Ether.”

RIPPLE

Ripple attracted a great deal of venture capital during its inception. The Google-backed altcoin startup managed to pull in upwards of $50 mln from banking institutions, gathering an impressive $90 mln in total funding. Ripple is unique in that it allows for transacting with any unit of value, from fiat currency to frequent flier miles.

“Ripple provides global financial settlement solutions to enable the world to exchange value like it already exchanges information giving rise to an Internet of Value (IoV). Ripple solutions lower the total cost of settlement by enabling banks to transact directly, instantly and with certainty of settlement,” reads the company’s copy on their official website.

Initially a middling contender, Ripple has gained momentum in the cryptocurrency market, seeing a marked surge earlier this year. In fact, Ripple experienced a 100 percent increase in value within a 24-hour period in late March.

LITECOIN

Former Google engineer Charles Lee created this altcoin in an effort to improve upon Bitcoin. Namely, the speed to generate a new block is improved dramatically. Transactions are much faster. By the same token, however, this speed makes Litecoin’s Blockchain larger and more prone to producing orphaned blocks.

DASH

Dash, a combination of the words “digital” and “cash,” is the Internet’s cash-in-hand. Dash is quick. Its transactions are instant. “Your time is valuable. InstantSend payments confirm in less than a second,” Dash claims. By comparison, Bitcoin’s transactions can take up to an hour to process.

GPU/CPU mining is no longer cost effective. In order to mine, you’ll need specific hardware, computers known as ASICs to complete Dash’s proof-of-work puzzles.

NEM

NEM is written in Java; built on an entirely new codebase separate and apart from Bitcoin’s open-source code. There are a few other intriguing differences from Bitcoin as well. In NEM, you harvest rather than mine. It’s essentially the same as mining in Bitcoin, only that multiple people profit – albeit in much smaller quantities – from a generated block.

NEM introduced the proof-of-importance algorithm to the digital ledger. A user’s wealth and number of transactions are used to timestamp transactions.

NEM has seen rapid growth in its valuation since the beginning of 2017 as the altcoin is currently being embraced in Japan.

ETHEREUM CLASSIC

A parallel Ethereum platform exists and sustains a sizeable usership with a market cap hovering just below $430 mln.

Why do two versions of the same platform exist?

The Ethereum community fractured when a disagreement over how a technically legal theft of funds should be handled. The majority of users wished to change Ethereum’s code in order to get the lost funds back. A minority believed that Ethereum should not be tampered with or altered by third parties. Even in cases of users exploiting the smart contract feature to trick others, the Blockchain must remain “immutable.” Thus, the minority created the Classic version of Ethereum, which still survives and thrives.

MONERO

Monero is geared toward those who desire greater anonymity. The cryptocurrency allows you to “send and receive funds without your transactions being publically visible on the Blockchain.” Transactions are completely untraceable due to Monero’s leveraging of ring signatures. Unfortunately, because of Monero’s emphasis on privacy, it has seen adoption by the darknet and other criminal organizations.

ZCASH

Zcash, like Monero, offers greater privacy to users. Unlike Monero, transactions are shielded rather than made completely private. Meaning, the details of the transaction itself, such as the users involved and the amount traded, are hidden. Zcash does this by using a “zero-knowledge” proof that allows for parties to exchange funds without revealing each other’s identity.

DECRED

Decred’s primary aim is to focus on “community input, open governance and sustainable funding and development.” The currency melds proof-of-work and proof-of-stake mining algorithms to ensure a minority of users do not own the majority of the funds and that decisions are led by the community rather than a handful of developers or early investors.

PIVX

PIVX stands for Private Instant Verified Transactions. Another open-source decentralized Blockchain currency, it is built upon Bitcoin Core. Like Zcash and Monero, PIVX boasts its heightened privacy and security.

“We believe that you have the right to exchange privately and securely, without interference from corporatocracy pressures, governmental influences, prying eyes, and nefarious individuals and movements,” PIVX contends.

PIVX is highly volatile, experiencing massive spikes in trading volume and valuation as of March of this year. Again, because of the currency’s emphasis on privacy, PIVX is susceptible to criminal activities.

Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and the altcoins it has spawned, may bring about a new global economy. They allow us to transact in a peer-to-peer fashion, without third-party bodies governing us. Bitcoin introduced the Blockchain, but other developers are quickly improving upon Nakamoto’s idea. Some currencies have focused on speed, as is the case with both Ripple and Litecoin. Others have honed in on privacy, currencies like Zcash going so far as making all transactions private and untraceable. Each altcoin comes with its own strengths and weakness. Surely, we’ll discover more as time goes on. For now, these 10 currencies are at the top. Their fate could turn, however, at a flip of a coin.

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

Source: cointelegraph.com

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Better Safe Than Sorry: Simple Effective Ways to Secure Your Cryptocoins

Better Safe Than Sorry:
Simple Effective Ways to Secure
Your Cryptocoins

  

Cryptocurrency is perhaps the safest instrument to transfer

value between anonymous parties. But storing and trading cryptocurrency can be a risky affair. As a digital crypto-asset, it does not have to worry about the many usual issues vexing paper money but faces challenges unique to fintech industry.

Storage

The most popular way of storing crypto coins is a software wallet. Digital wallets are easy to use and practical but how secure are they? If your hard-earned crypto coins are stored on your PC, then your assets are only as secure as your computer itself. Basically, protecting your software wallet is no different from safeguarding any sensitive data on your PC. You should be a bit extra paranoid when surfing the net and never store your passwords in an unencrypted file on the same machine as your wallets. Ideally, you should store your passwords offline or not store them at all (brain-wallets!) and install your wallets on a device you do not use for day-to-day browsing and downloading.

Another popular solution is Linux operating system, which is believed to be almost impervious to hackers and viruses. You don’t even have to install Linux instead of Windows, it can be booted on your PC when necessary from a USB stick. Then there is cold storage. Cold storage takes security up a few notches and basically means keeping your altcoins in an offline wallet, effectively restricting any attempts of unauthorized access to it. Cold storage wallet is usually created on a device that is never connected to the Internet, like an old offline laptop or a USB stick. Not many people know that a cold wallet can not only be maintained offline but can even be created offline. You do not need to connect the device to the Internet to install a wallet, generate keys and send the coins. Such wallets are perhaps the safest ones.

As far as offline wallets go, hardware wallets are the most convenient and secure solution. Hardware wallets are portable devices designed specifically for storing cryptocurrency. Basically, they are USB sticks with simple and secure software and several layers of cryptographic protection. Now cold storage is great for storing your assets, but sooner or later you will need to move your coins online and that is when you face some completely different security issues.

Trading and purchasing

Emerging crypto-shopping requires us to find a suitable way of keeping assets online and easily accessible. Many users create a “hot wallet” to take care of routine day to day transactions and a “cold wallet” to store the bulk of their assets, only occasionally accessing it. This approach was also adopted by many exchange websites. Even if you do not consider yourself to be a crypto-trader, at times you will need to exchange your cryptocurrency and dealing with exchanges is almost unavoidable.

Online wallets, processing systems, and exchanges all have their security issues. Professionals believe that there are a few security measures crypto-traders should be aware of when choosing what online services to use, but also to remember that certain user end measures are absolutely necessary and usually more reliable in the long run.

Svetlana Geller, CEO, says:

“Perceived safety and objective safety are two completely different beasts. Perceived safety can be reached by numerous account protection mechanisms. But in reality, this will mostly just hinder the account owner’s user experience. I believe google authenticator with just one IP in its whitelist (the VPN you use to access the exchange) will be enough. With this sort of protection, in place, your account will only be hacked if the perpetrator has full access to your PC and smartphone, which should be hard enough for an Internet-based criminal. You can slap 10 more protections on top of that but none will be nearly as effective.”

And of course, pay attention to your email’s security. “Always use unique passwords, protect your email with multi-factor authentication and so on, you know the drill”, Geller continues. “90 percent of all hacks are conducted via accessing your email and changing email in your account or attempting to recover your password. Also mind your smartphone, especially if it's Android with google authenticator installed. Ideally, you should buy a cheap smartphone specifically to be used for your financial activities and restrict your Google authenticator for exchanges to it. These two simple tricks will almost completely safeguard your assets from hacker attacks.”

Exchanges

Whether you frequently trade on the exchange or simply store some of your assets there to diversify risks, it is paramount to choose an exchange that will not only be convenient but also reliable and secure. Exchanges, mostly being centralized entities, can get hacked. And often are. Moreover, they tend to sometimes dissolve into thin air along with the clients’ assets. Many times we have seen crypto-exchanges evaporating or crumbling in a matter of days. There were signs of course, but inexperienced users did not read them.

To name a few examples, the abrupt resignation of William Dennis Atwood, the sole director of MyCoin, should perhaps have sounded some alarms but in fact, it went largely unnoticed by the community. A month later the notorious Hong Kong exchange collapsed leaving behind many disgruntled users. The downfall of Cryptsy was perhaps even more predictable. For years this exchange experienced numerous technical issues and introduced questionable administration policies. Early in 2016, it proclaimed bankruptcy as a result of the hacker attack that robbed it of $7.5 mln. The court case that followed has shown that the owner has probably funneled exchange’s funds to his personal accounts too.

So what are the dark omens traders should be on the lookout for? Apparently, the crypto world is all about trust and reputation so industry celebrities and personalities with good karma in the community disengaging themselves from a project should be an alarming sign. Frequent technical issues and fishy policies are another obvious one. But as professionals say, there are just too many ways to spot a shady exchange so keep your eyes peeled for anything that seems out of place.

Geller explains:

“There are just too many ways to spot a sketchy exchange given some of them employ very unsophisticated schemes. For example, an exchange suddenly crashes during intensive BTC price fluctuations and when it’s back up clients’ orders are mysteriously fulfilled at a disadvantageous price.”

According to Geller, Bitcoin withdrawal issues are always a huge red flag too. Altcoins might get stuck for months due to faulty nodes so their mobility is really not a relevant factor, but bitcoin’s low mobility is definitely a bad sign.

She says:

"‘Transparency is not always a clear sign. There has been quite a few fairly transparent exchanges that disappeared with clients’ money. On the other hand, there are numerous non-transparent exchanges that are well-respected and reliable, like BTC-e."

Slow response to user tickets is another sign, which while not being absolutely certain should still raise some alarms if frequent enough.” Another tell-tale sign of a shady exchange is a seemingly uncontrolled influx of highly questionable altcoins. Some exchanges even get involved in ICOs and initial emission. And every time a new coin enters such exchange there will be pump-and-dump cycles which will most likely rip a trader off unless he belongs to an insider group. Exchanges with heaps of dead coins on their roster should be avoided unless you absolutely know what you’re doing. Finally, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Sometimes bad things just happen out of the blue but at least you will be able to greatly decrease your risks by diversifying them.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Ripple Rising: Centralized Cryptocurrency Sees 30% Gain in One Day

Ripple Rising:
Centralized Cryptocurrency
Sees 30% Gain in One Day

Bank-friendly Ripple (XRP) still exists, to the surprise of many, the author included. Not only that, but it has continued its apparent strategic partnership initiative, partnering with Asian and Australian banks in conjunction with its stated goal of acting as a sort of Paypal mechanism for large interbank transfers. Four short weeks ago, the coin was sitting around a penny a pop. But with more enthusiasm building among traders, it has steadily risen, and today saw a spike of over 30%, rounding out just under 5 cents each.

Ripple has been getting a ton of attention

as of late, and not the negative kind like it once received for managing to get a $700,000 fine from the federal government and thereby underscoring the risk of having a known entity backing a cryptocurrency. Just a couple of examples of this are recent video in Bloomberg News and inclusion in a Bank of England program. Skepticism among more traditional cryptocurrency people still thrives. The centralization aspect and the inherent issue of being able to identify coin users as well as reverse transactions certainly is a specter of wrongdoing for many of us. But as one writer put it, “one man’s sh**coin is another man’s treasure.”

The fact that the Ripple project has continued to develop its platform and strategic partnerships continued to bring on talent, and continued to grow its community means that they are at least serious, not scammers looking for a quick buck. The “Paypal of banks” aspect is important, and paralysis in the Bitcoin community over a simple issue certainly gives any bank pause when it comes to partnering with cryptocurrencies. A recent report from IBM shows that over 90% of banks are investing in some form of blockchain technology.

Another factor of improvement for Ripple is the unofficial Swiss sector of its network. Something called PathShuffle has been introduced which aims to anonymize transactions in the same way that they are on the likes of the DASH network. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are both very young technologies, and the future is wide open. The first mover, Bitcoin, continues to have its share of problems, and as its drama continues it becomes easier and easier to envision a future where alternatives actually stand a fighting chance. The recent, impressive success of Ethereum is one example, along with  DASH, and perhaps Ripple will be up there with them, centralized though it is, serving its own corner of the market.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Cryptocurrency Exchange Review – Bithumb

Cryptocurrency Exchange Review – Bithumb

 

The Bithumb Exchange in a Nutshell

It is always good to learn certain countries have more exchanges than most people would give them credit for. Korea is not necessarily a region people would associate with cryptocurrency exchanges, even though there are quite a few of them active in the country. One of those platforms goes by the name of Bithumb, a platform providing Bitcoin and Ethereum trading options. As one would come to expect from a Korean cryptocurrency exchange, the platform only provides exchange appears against the Korean Won. This applies to both Bitcoin and Ethereum for the time being. Unfortunately, there is no BTC/ETH trading pair, although it is possible that may be added in the future. Then again, providing a fiat-to-crypto gateway is a good place to start as an exchange.

Based on the statistics provided by Coinmarketcap, Bithumb is generating a lot of 24-hour volume for both Bitcoin and Ethereum. To be more specific, Bithumb generated over US$44.29m worth of trading volume for the ETH/KRW pair. Additionally, the platform saw US$13.46m worth of trading volume for the BTC/KRW trading pair. Both are quite impressive numbers for an exchange a lot of people have never heard of, that much is certain. If Bithumb can keep these numbers up, they will quickly become one of the largest Asian cryptocurrency exchanges.

It is also worth mentioning Bithumb provides users with an option to buy bitcoin gift vouchers. These vouchers are denominated in the equivalent value based on the current Korean won value. It appears the minimum value for such a card can be 10,000 KOW, which translates to a value of US$8.78. A very odd number, although it will make a lot of sense for the company. Moreover, Bithumb will also purchase existing gift vouchers from customers and converts this into an appropriate bitcoin value.

Looking at the company information posted on the website, it appears the company is run by BTC Korea.com Co. Ltd. This company operates a bitcoin trading platform – this is Bithumb, evidently – headquartered in South Korea. It is difficult to find information about the people working for the company, though, as Bloomberg has no executive or board member information on their website. That is not necessarily something to be concerned about, although it is something the parent company may want to look into sooner rather than later. All things considered, Bithumb seems to be on its way to becoming a major cryptocurrency exchange in the Asian region. Although there is little information to be found about the platform, the company seems to be doing well so far. The high trading volume may raise some questions from industry experts, though. Always do your own research before trusting an exchange with your funds.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

OneGram & Dubai Trading Platform In $0.5Bn ‘Gold-Backed’ Cryptocurrency Venture

OneGram & Dubai Trading Platform
In $0.5Bn 'Gold-Backed'
Cryptocurrency Venture

  

Islamic financial services and technology company

OneGram is partnering with GoldGuard, a Dubai-based online gold trading platform, that is building one of worlds largest gold vaults inside the Dubai Airport Free Zone, to create the first completely “gold-backed digital currency” globally. Each token represents a gram of gold and redeemable. At the company is fully compliant with Islamic finance requirements. Advisers listed include amongst others Sheikh Abdulkader Amor, CEO of Al Maali Consulting Group and an Islamic financial adviser, Adam Richard, CEO of Volt Markets, and founder of the Houston Bitcoin Meetup.

Currently the Islamic finance sector is responsible for managing around 1% of global GDP and growing at nearly 20% per year. With there being an estimated 1.8 billion (bn) Muslims worldwide according to a study in 2015 – equating to around a quarter of the global population of c.7.5bn today – OneGram is seen as a “Sharia-compliant method” for them to keep gold in a digital format that is both secure and digitally transferable, including across borders.

And, given that the number of Muslims in the world is expected to grow to 2.2bn by 2030, the new joint venture between OneGram and GoldGuard was being outlined today at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), in terms of its impact on “opening the doors for cryptocurrency trading to the Islamic world.”

Crowdsale Campaign

A maximum total of 12,400,786 OneGramCoin tokens (OGC) will be sold in OneGram’s upcoming initial coin offering (ICO) on May 21, with accounts able to be opened next week on May 8 when the gold can be purchased. At the current gold spot price, a sold out crowdsale would raise over $554 million (m), which would make it the largest cryptocurrency crowdsale goal in history.

Ibrahim Mohammed, the CEO of OneGram, commenting from Dubai said: “In recent years, the Middle East has seen incredible growth in fintech innovations including digital tokens and smart contracts.” He added: “With OneGram we are providing an opportunity for investors who care about Islamic financial markets and the security of commodity-backed investments to benefit from rapid technological advances in the blockchain industry.”

Islamic Markets & Cryptocurrency

Existing cryptocurrencies it should be noted have not been designed with Islamic markets in mind. Despite Muslims making up around 25% of the global population today, many Muslims simply cannot use cryptocurrencies due to their restricted legal status and high barriers to entry in many countries in the Islamic world.

According to OneGram, it aims to solve these issues by using blockchain technology to create a “new kind of cryptocurrency”, where each coin is backed by one gram of gold at launch. In terms of the joint venture, the team at OneGram team will manage the OGC protocol while GoldGuard will run the vault for physical gold.

Each transaction of OGC generates a small transaction fee, which is reinvested in more gold (net of administration costs), and thereby increases the amount of gold that backs each OneGram. Therefore, according to the pitch, each OGC increases in real value over time, and is touted as “making OneGram unique among cryptocurrencies.”

Gold Investments & Sharia Law

Historically gold investing has been problematic under Sharia law. While there is currently limited guidance for gold coins and bars, there is virtually no guidance on gold elsewhere in the financial sector. In most cases, trading gold futures contracts is forbidden by Islamic law as gold futures contracts are not backed by physical gold and one can end up paying or receiving interest on your trading account. The upshot is that most people who wanted to buy gold as an investment have purchased gold in its physical form through for example coins or jewelry

New Standard

Things are changing though. Back in December 2016, the Sharia Gold Standard, which OneGram complies with, was introduced by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), the World Gold Council and Amanie Advisors. As a result of this new standard, Muslim investors will now be able to take advantage of an increasing range of gold-backed investment opportunities, which hitherto had been non-compliant.

OneGram's ICO

The OneGram ICO will take place on the GoldGuard gold exchange, which trades and regulates precious metals, and is licensed by the Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZ) in the United Emirates (UAE), and one of the fast growing Free Zones in the region. The DAFZ is the governing body, which administers trade licenses and visas to international companies wanting to do business from Dubai within the Freezone. In order for investors to participate in the ICO, the initial step is to register with GoldGuard and purchase gold at live spot rates. Then the gold can be redeemed for OGC for a 10% premium.

This premium is expected as by purchasing OGC, the investor is not only purchasing an asset that offers the spot value of gold but also the future value of additional gold to be purchased from transaction fees. The ICO in OGC tokens will end when all coins are sold or after a maximum period of 120 days. If all the tokens do not sell out, there will be a new total supply of OGC equal to the amount of OGC sold in the ICO. It understood that subsequent to that no more coins will ever be issued.

At any given moment, an investor in these tokens is able to see the amount of gold backing their coin in the official OneGram wallet app and through the GoldGuard website. Your coins for gold or equivalent fiat currency can be redeemed through GoldGuard’s platform. Following the ICO, OneGram Coins can be bought and sold through any cryptocurrency exchange that lists OGC.

The Roadmap

According to OneGram’s roadmap, next month on June 30 the test network for OGC transactions is slated for launch. Following that in early July the intention is to launch multiple implementations of OneGramCoin block explorers, being described “with complete REST and WebSocket API’s, allowing our users insight into transactions propagated on the blockchain.” On August 7, the main network for OGC transactions is set to be launched, before OGCs will be distributed to investors in the ICO and listed on popular crypto exchanges on August 15.

Ibrahim Mohammed, CEO, OneGram, along with GoldGuard and leading Islamic finance scholars including Sheikh Abdelkader Amor were speaking today at a press conference hosted at The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC, to highlight the joint venture. Follow Roger, who has penned various investment stories over the years, on Twitter, LinkedIn, ForbesGoogle+. He is involved with the Campaign For Fair Finance in the UK.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Users of ‘Btc-e’ cryptocurrency exchange reporting spike in email phishing attempts

Users of 'Btc-e' cryptocurrency exchange reporting spike in email phishing attempts

   Bitcoin exchange 'Btc-e' was previously targeted by hackers in 2014iStock

Users of a popular cryptocurrency exchange called Btc-e are reporting a significant spike in email phishing attempts, a potential harbinger of a fresh spam or malware campaign being launched in an attempt to defraud the bitcoin community. The reports emerged this week (2 May) on the bitcoin sections of Reddit and Twitter, with many recipients posting images of the spam that appears to currently be in circulation.

The attacker is luring victims by asking them to "review attached Btc-e codes" and claiming they only have a matter of hours to redeem them. The emails contain a password and a Microsoft Word document. Sender names vary, with some to date including Pierce Cynthia and Parsons Dillon. One Reddit user wrote: "In the word document it claims to be an encrypted document (really just an image). To decrypt it you have to enter the code from the email. Once you do that it downloads a program that encrypts your whole computer."

Another claimed: "I got the same thing. Seems like btc-e.com has had a breach of their account details. [The attacker] had my email and username, passwords may have been taken too but likely hashed so it may be worth changing your password just to be on the safe side." According to one Twitter user with name "GasGeverij" – a self-described penetration tester – the slew of fraudulent emails may be part of a "well-organised spam campaign leveraging [the] new Office vulnerability bypassing Gmail and Yahoo filters". This is in reference to recent reports from cybersecurity firms McAfee and FireEye, which discovered a bug in Word that hackers could exploit by using attached documents to spread malware and exploit kits. Before a patch was released it put "millions of users" at risk.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Blockchain firm nChain appoints Jon Matonis as Vice President of Corporate Strategy

Blockchain firm nChain appoints Jon Matonis as Vice President of Corporate Strategy

  

Bitcoin Foundation Executive Director Jon Matonis has joined blockchain company nChain

as the new Vice President of Corporate Strategy. Matonis will be supporting nChain's business growth by developing commercial relationships, and evaluating opportunities for strategic investments and acquisitions, the release said. In this position, he will also continue providing thought leadership on blockchain technology. Recognized as a leading bitcoin researcher, Matonis is a non-executive board director for various companies in the digital currency space.

“Jon was immediately attractive to nChain. During his notable career, he has consistently led the integration of financial services and cryptography,” Arthur Davis, Director of nChain Holdings Limited, commented. “Jon's philosophy for the Bitcoin protocol and the network is fully in line with nChain's vision of on-chain scalability with decentralization, advanced native scripting for the construction of smart contracts, and a dedicated move away from monolithic software. We are excited to have Jon's deep industry experience on our team, and look forward to working with him to achieve our vision for the Bitcoin blockchain.”

Being the founding director of the Bitcoin Foundation, Matonis served as the industry's first nonprofit trade association. He also held senior roles with the Sumitomo Bank, VISA International, VeriSign, and Hushmail. Matonis created first and leading general price index for bitcoin ‘the Bitcoin Price Index (BPI)’ and enlisted seven regional chapter offices to the Bitcoin Foundation from countries such as France, Germany, and Bangladesh. “The resources and funding in place at nChain provide a unique opportunity to reshape the existing landscape of Bitcoin protocol influencers. I am excited to work with nChain to support the growth of the blockchain ecosystem for everyone's benefit,” Matonis said, accepting the new management position at nChain.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Venture capital 3.0: The initial coin offering explained

Venture capital 3.0:
The initial coin offering explained

Initial coin offerings are cutting out the venture capital middlemen to finance blockchain-powered software   

The venture capital community thrives on disruption.

So what happens when the tables are turned and the medicine bottle has their name on it? There's a new kid riding onto the financing block – riding roughshod across an unregulated landscape. Welcome to the world of the initial coin offering (ICO). An ICO is a hybrid: part crowdfunding, part software token, part speculation. In simple terms, an ICO is often described, somewhat inaccurately, as an IPO for cryptocurrencies.

How it works

– A tech start-up team creates an ICO using a blockchain-enabled software platform, usually open sourced.

– The platform is powered by cryptography-based software tokens – called cryptocurrencies.

– The team produces a white paper to describe its idea in greater technical depth for the cryptocurrency community to review, often supported by a prototype.

– The team then crowdfunds the building of its platform by offering the early usage of the software token – often at a discount – with these tokens usually paid for in bitcoins.

– Two Australian blockchain-powered platforms, Incent and Chronosbank, have raised more than $1 million and $7 million respectively in this way in the past six months – no venture capital firm required.

Crowdfunding vs ICO

While initial coin offerings may sound similar to a Kickstarter campaign, they do have a speculative twist. Once an ICO is completed, the stronger platforms and cryptocurrencies begin to develop material value that can be traded. Globally, there are more than 40 cryptocurrency exchanges, Poloniex.com being the largest exchange in the US. Their role is to establish a secondary market where major cryptocurrencies can be exchanged for bitcoins in an open marketplace, in a similar way to foreign exchange markets.

As a result, most cryptocurrencies have a market value that can be traded in line with the demand and supply of the cryptocurrency powering the new software platform being developed.Cryptocurrencies on the exchanges are subject to the same dynamics as equities and forex – where the core fundamentals of the cryptocurrency drive the underlying demand and the day-to-day trading actions determine its price. The total value of the global cryptocurrency markets is currently more than $US38 billion ($50 billion), with bitcoins representing the majority of that.

Powering smart contracts

Cryptocurrency's first major crowdsale was that of Ethereum in late 2014. The Ethereum software platform enables "smart contracts" to run. For example, money could be programmed to be automatically transferred once a container ship hits a certain longitude and latitude to confirm it is in Australian waters. Anyone who runs a smart contract on the Ethereum platform pays a small cryptocurrency fee to run that contract. Ethereum's initial crowdsale raised about $US18 million, although its current market capitalisation as reflected by the Ethereum price on the crytpocurrency exchanges is more than $US4 billion – a 2000 per cent increase in less than three years.

The Wild West

There are also many cryptocurrencies that have failed to perform, with the likes of AnarchistsPrime and Mustang coin languishing with market caps below $US4000. Also, because the cryptocurrency space is unregulated, it has the cavalier, Wild-West attitude reminiscent of the early days of the internet. It is not for the faint-hearted, with scammers preying on the naive and greedy. The regulators are lurking, with space slowly exhibiting almost self-regulated change – seeking to avoid the regulatory traps that could be waiting further down the track.

One step ahead of regulation

Cryptocurrencies can appear to look and act in a similar way to equities, by having a secondary marketplace and an expectation of growth. So instead of being labeled as ICOs, many developer teams are now beginning to re-label their crowdsales as "token sales", emphasizing cryptocurrency representing an intrinsic part of the software platform itself, rather than just a speculative investment. Often a prototype is built prior to the token sale to reaffirm this new label.

Initial coin offerings are a growing form of venture finance that could have major implications for the way entrepreneurs approach a venture capital. It is an area of high risk, both financial and regulatory, that is not for the faint-hearted or uninformed but does offer a significant financing alternative for entrepreneurs to explore. Tim Lea is chief executive of Verecitum.io, a blockchain platform that incentivizesrs from the film and television industry discover and report pirated examples of each other's work. They will be paid in Vents, a cryptocurrency Mr Lea will launch with a $US5 million initial coin offering in the second half of 2017.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

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