link4557 link4558 link4559 link4560 link4561 link4562 link4563 link4564 link4565 link4566 link4567 link4568 link4569 link4570 link4571 link4572 link4573 link4574 link4575 link4576 link4577 link4578 link4579 link4580 link4581 link4582 link4583 link4584 link4585 link4586 link4587 link4588 link4589 link4590 link4591 link4592 link4593 link4594 link4595 link4596 link4597 link4598 link4599 link4600 link4601 link4602 link4603 link4604 link4605 link4606 link4607 link4608 link4609 link4610 link4611 link4612 link4613 link4614 link4615 link4616 link4617 link4618 link4619 link4620 link4621 link4622 link4623 link4624 link4625 link4626 link4627 link4628 link4629 link4630 link4631 link4632 link4633 link4634 link4635 link4636 link4637 link4638 link4639 link4640 link4641 link4642 link4643 link4644 link4645 link4646 link4647 link4648 link4649 link4650 link4651 link4652 link4653 link4654 link4655 link4656 link4657 link4658 link4659 link4660 link4661 link4662 link4663 link4664 link4665 link4666 link4667 link4668 link4669 link4670 link4671 link4672 link4673 link4674 link4675 link4676 link4677 link4678 link4679 link4680 link4681 link4682 link4683 link4684 link4685 link4686 link4687 link4688 link4689 link4690 link4691 link4692 link4693 link4694 link4695 link4696 link4697 link4698 link4699 link4700 link4701 link4702 link4703

Tag: bitcoin

Here’s some Inbound Marketing Strategies for Your Business

 Here's some Inbound Marketing Strategies for Your Business

-“Inbound” has become a bit of a buzzword in the world of marketing lately –

so much so that many business owners, CEOs, and marketing managers are beginning to abandon their old ways, choosing to market their business with inbound strategies instead. They’re catching on to the fact that outdated “interruption marketing” strategies like cold-calling and impersonal spam emails simply don’t work. Inbound marketing is all about attracting visitors with strategies tailored to their individual needs, rather than going out into the market and begging for their attention.

Savvy marketers know that a customer who is earned, rather than forced, is more likely to convert. Even better, they’re more likely to become a long-term account than someone who wasn’t the right fit for your products or services from the start. Regardless of your niche, every business can adapt at least a few inbound marketing strategies to meet their needs. And when you do, you’ll understand what the inbound buzz is about.

Creation of marketing plans

Every inbound strategy is basically the same — attract leads, turn them into qualified accounts, close the deal, and keep them coming back for more. The mistake that many marketers make is jumping right into the Attraction phase, without knowing who their customer really is. Inbound marketing’s biggest strength is the personalization behind every single strategy. Regardless of whether it’s a seemingly insignificant social post or a complex, time-intensive whitepaper, every strategy must be perfect tailored to the intended audience. The scope of the project is relatively insignificant here — what really matters is the targeting.

For your strategy to be perfectly targeted, understanding your buyer persona in relation to your marketing plan is the first thing you need to do. When you don’t have a definitive plan that clearly outlines your business goals and how they relate to your ideal customer, your strategy is bound to fail. The most effective inbound marketing plan calls for a clear definition of your target customer, or buyer persona. Everything you do from then on depends on your buyer personas. Well-researched buyer personas tell you not only what content you should create, but where it should be placed, on what networks to advertise, how to position yourself, and even what language to use.

Without a marketing plan that ties goals to buyer personas, any strategies you use will be a shot in the dark. Conversions happen when your content is aligned with the right audience. Aside from creating necessary buyer personas, things like market research, data analysis, and deep discovery help create a strong foundation for your marketing plan. When you’re armed with the right data and buyer personas, you can better leverage any other marketing strategy you want to use.

Emphasis on content

We’ve already mentioned content quite a few times by now. That’s because without content, you don’t really have an inbound marketing strategy — or any marketing strategy for that matter. The new age of marketing is all about proving your worth by using content to educate, engage, and ultimately encourage the lead to become a customer. Content can be anything from the 140 words your tweet out to your followers on a daily basis to the 1,000-word blog post you carefully curated to help solve a problem your potential customer might have. Inbound marketing stresses the importance of content because without it, you’re left with very few ways to prove you’re valuable to potential customers.

But can content really provide that much value? According to Curata, 95% of buyers consider vendor-related content as trustworthy. This means that the whitepapers, eBooks, blog posts, and even Facebook updates your company puts out increases your trustworthiness among your potential customers. And when people trust you, they want to buy from you. Even other non-vendor related content like informational blogs or educational infographics create trust. This happens when the content becomes highly useful to the reader, or even helps to answer a question or solve a problem they have. Gaining the customer’s trust well before your services are even introduced sets you up for long-term success more than anything else can — all thanks to good content.

Running email campaigns

The final big inbound marketing strategy every marketer should be using is a good email campaign. You may recall a few years back when marketers were claiming that email was dead. Just like snail mail, people were calling email out as the next biggest waste of marketing dollars. They claimed there was very little return for all of the effort you’d need to put into running a campaign. While email open rates and click-through greatly depend on your given industry, they are rarely above 25% and 6% respectively. In the past, marketers have looked at these numbers as proof that their time and money is better spent elsewhere.

Despite lower engagement metrics than other strategies, an email marketing campaign is arguably the best way to nurture your leads. How else are you going to deliver on offers leads may have shown interest in and signed-up to receive? Email campaigns go far beyond delivering an offer, though. They can help turn leads into customers, than eventually nurture that relationship into a lasting one. A drip email campaign is the perfect way to align the goals and objective in your marketing plan with the content you created, presenting it to your ideal user at just the right time. You can deliver on a promised offer like an eBook or whitepaper download. Then once you have that person’s email, they can be shifted into an entirely new email campaign aimed at getting them closer to a bigger conversion.

These new campaign are often referred to as “drip” campaigns — as they work to create multiple touch-points, getting you in front of the right customer at the right time in their buying journey. Drip campaigns cans are used to nurture the lead, moving them further down the sales funnel and closer to a conversion. You can use these to send leads informational content like an eBook, then later an offer for a free demo when you know they’re closer to being ready to buy.

Email is also effective for forging a bond between your company and an existing client. Have someone that recently purchased a specific product? Create a return customer email campaign to send discount codes and coupons personalized to past purchases. From the first interaction after signing up for an offer to regular interactions to encourage a return purchase, an email campaign helps take your lead full circle.

These are just a few inbound strategies that can boost your marketing strategies to the next level. Inbound marketing revolves around the customer, earning their attention and giving them valuable information through their entire buyer’s journey. Instead of aiming and missing, take the time to target your marketing to right customer at the right time, and the conversions will follow.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Tools to Develop an Outstanding Social Media Marketing Strategy

Tools to Develop an Outstanding Social Media Marketing Strategy

6 Tools to Develop an Outstanding Social Media Marketing Strategy

In today's technological world,

it seems that social media dominates everything. This can make it difficult for a company to stand out. Big companies as well as smaller companies and entrepreneurs will be all over social media, trying to gain the attention of customers. All of this can make it harder for the less social media-adept companies to get a foothold among their competitors.

All of these companies want to get in on the social media craze and use it to their advantage, to advertise and market themselves to all the users out there. But there are so many different social media channels out there, and so many different ways to market on social media. What can a company do to make themselves stand out among the crowd of other companies on social media? What strategies are there they could use?

Twitter.

Twitter is a very popular social media channel. It's a great way to build a following and keep in contact with your customers. However, it can be tricky as it limits your posts to 140 characters, and it's fast-paced. It's demanding in that it requires constant communication with your followers. If you can handle that, one way to stand out on Twitter is to send a thank you any time your company gets mentioned. Try to respond to questions the same day, or within the hour if possible.  Add symbols and emoticons for a fun twist to your posts as a way to cultivate interest in your posts while also making them shorter and easier to read.

Facebook.

Facebook recently changed up their algorithms, so brands are getting less exposure. This makes it more important for them to stand out. One way for this is make short and simple posts. Longer posts tend to not perform as well. Also, asking questions rather than making statements tends to increase interaction. Pinning posts is also a good tactic, especially for drawing attention to current specials or important information. Experiment with Facebook ads, too.

Images.

Use images when you can. It doesn't matter what it is — a photo of a favorite celebrity, a pretty landscape, a cute animal, a colorful infographic or a fun GIF. A photo or animation will catch the eye and more than likely make them stop browsing long enough to look. It will also help with your SEO optimization. Videos also work well for this.

Content.

Content is king. Remember that. Once your image has caught their eye, the viewer will be looking for the content behind the photo. What they read will determine if they click through. So provide content that will make them want to click. Be sure to keep your target audience in mind when creating your content. What will catch their attention? What are they looking for from you? What answers can you provide to their questions?

Build a community.

Don't just look for followers. Build a community with them. Put some personality and humor into your brand with your posts. You want to be “social”, after all. That means you need to entertain your followers once in a while. And remember to converse directly with your followers. Interact with them. Like and respond to their posts. Retweet them. And ask them to interact directly with your posts.

Campaigns.

To keep your audience engaged, you need to be engaging as well. One way to do that is run cross-channel campaigns on all you social platforms. But while anyone can run a contest or campaign like this, to stand out you need to make yours have a charitable, inspirational, or emotional component to it — something that will tug at the heartstrings of whoever is reading about it. If your company is already involved in some sort of volunteer work, this is a good way to inspire and engage followers. How do you do this across channels?

1. Tell a powerful story. Use short quotes about if you have to, and link back to your website so they can find out more.

2. Brand your campaign with a unique name and hashtags to make it memorable and stand out.These are just a few ways to make your social media marketing stand out. Good luck!

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about —
Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Digital Marketing Stats That Got Our Attention This Week

Digital Marketing Stats That Got Our Attention This Week

Social TV, gamers and Wonder Woman chatter

    

It was an unusually busy week in the realm of interactive numbers.

It was another intriguing week in online marketing data points, with even more eyebrow-raising mobile numbers than usual. Check out the eight that we found particularly noteworthy:

Social TV in 2017
Want to know which TV shows are currently killing it on social? AMC program The Walking Dead—with 18 million engagements recently—definitely is, per 4C, which looked into social engagement for the first four-and-a-half months of this year.

Spare change
According to TechCrunch, Pokemon Go charges retailers anywhere from 15 cents to 50 cents every time a user visits a sponsored location. Sponsored locations are one of the ad products the smartphone-based, virtuality-reality-based app offers marketers.

Gamers shop—a lot
Speaking of smartphone games, Chartboost, a mobile app ad network, analyzed activity across 64 million devices and found that mobile gaming audiences are 62 percent female and normally older than 25 years of age. In addition, 47 percent of mobile gamers shop online more than three hours per week, which is high compared to 28 percent for non-gamers. What’s more, Chartboost claimed that the most popular mobile game beats the scale of TV networks.

Mobile eats away at traditional media
By 2019, the mobile web will account for 26 percent of all media consumption globally, up from 19 percent last year, per Zenith Media’s third annual forecast. TV and radio execs probably dislike reading those numbers.

Where Twitter routs Snapchat
Muck Rack surveyed 400 journalists and found that 70 percent think Twitter is a valuable reporting tool, while roughly 4 percent thought the same of Snapchat. Yeah, that’s kind of low for Snapchat.

Smells like teen social
Meet Baby Ariel, a star on Musical.ly, the hyperaddictive social media platform that counts more than 100 million users, or “musers,” many of them Gen Zers. Baby Ariel—a 16-year-old Floridian whose real name is Ariel Martin—has 19.5 million Musical.ly followers. Read our full story on the rising star here. For the uninitiated, the 3-year-old Musical.ly lets users share short videos of themselves lip-syncing to popular songs or bits of prerecorded dialogue. It’s become a popular place for artists to debut new singles and for brands to connect with kids and teens. 

Mary’s data day
Mary Meeker released her uber-hyped internet trends report on Wednesday. Here’s one of her more interesting data points: Over the last four years, YouTube’s share of mobile traffic has fallen from 30 percent to 20 percent, while Facebook’s share has increased from 7 percent to 14 percent.

Superhero inspires super chatter
Fifty-four percent of people talking about the movie Wonder Woman online are female, per Taykey. Not entirely surprising. More interestingly, Gen X women are showing up in full force to digitally discuss the film, which is expected to be a hit in spite of controversial reviews.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Is this Business Development strategy Correct?

Is this Business Development strategy  Correct? 

Our expert has given us some pointers on how to address the various issues

below. A strong and experienced business leader, he has worked in the aerospace, defence and energy sectors for industry leading global companies. Identified as a high potential individual early in his career he has a proven track record in new business and product development, project management of manufacturing and process plant engineering and procurement and construction (EPC) projects.

He has extensive international experience, having worked in the MENA region for more than half of his career including his most recent role growing a ‘start-up’ business from company registration to a significant multi-sector, multi-product 300m+ AED order book, based in the United Arab Emirates  He challenges the norm and has the long term strategic focus required to successfully lead and manage business at executive level.

What is the most important aspect of developing a BD strategy?

Macro level marketing is important as a first step when developing a business development strategy, however, it is not enough to truly understand the market conditions for a given product or service. Upfront, limited level of investment in field marketing is critical to define the market entry requirements, the competitive landscape, and the delivery model. This must be executed by a combination of personnel that have in depth knowledge and experience of the

a) Company’s existing business and

b) Those of a similar knowledge, experience and network in the particular market in which you are developing business.

You have a proven track record in developing and delivering new businesses to grow organisation structure — what is the most important ingredients to make this happen? It is my firm believe that success in successfully developing and delivering new business is driven by clearly addressing the strategy, tactics and operations of the business through the following:-

Business Planning & Preparation

The upfront marketing is paramount to set a clear vision for the business and to then follow that with a strategic plan which adequately addresses the steps required to enter (‘right to play’) and to succeed (‘right to win’). It is important to aim high, to get the attention of the top executives in the business and get them to believe that the particular venture is worth exploring and investing in.

It is also fundamental to be clear from as early as possible in the business development process the estimated investment requirements, the associated business case (Return On Investment, Internal Rate of Return etc.), and timescale required to win and deliver business and in doing so build the organisation as business volume grows, whether it be via internal product development, organic growth, strategic partnering, or mergers & acquisitions.

People

Recruitment of the right type of people is another key ingredient in developing and growing business. This has to be a dynamic and complementary mix of vastly experienced people with less experienced people motivated and driven to succeed, and willing challenge ‘the norm’.

Policies, Processes, & Procedures

Clear policies, processes and procedures aligned to the regulatory, market and company requirements must be in place and available to all as part of a robust management system for a new and developing business. This has to be complimented with meaningful induction and training to ensure that there is a consistent approach and that any issues or concerns are addressed as part of continuous improvement initiatives.

Communications

Open and transparent communications must be encourage up and down the various levels in the organisation as it grows to ensure that there is a ‘no surprises good or bad’ culture in the organisation. This has to be both formal via reporting, regular review meetings, electronic communications, social media, ‘townhall’ sessions etc., and informal by creating an environment where all levels in the organisation are encouraged to interact transparently, whilst maintaining mutual respect for their respective roles.

The key to the success has been striking a balance between global brand and best practice, whilst localising the organisation, operations and business management systems to ensure that a robust and cost competitive delivery model is in place to give clients the overall technical and commercial solution that they require.

What strategy did you implement to grow from to 300m+ AED in less than 2 years?

We conducted a thorough assessment of market entry options for an engineering services business offering products and services similar to Doosan Babcock. This involved a complete cross sector (i.e. oil & gas, power & water, nuclear and industrial) analysis of client business delivery models, project pipelines, and procurement systems, as well as the competitions’ business models and business performance — benchmarking. This exercise established 3 core options to satisfy the legislative market entry requirements, delivery infrastructure and competitive, profitable product and service offering.

  1. Aggressive organic growth
  • Head hunt key personnel from main competitors to provide client confidence and improved competitive position
  • Invest in establish the offices and facilities required to satisfy customer of delivery capability
  • Pre-qualify with key customers and develop strong relationships to grow business sales pipeline
  • Develop new product and service offerings outside of traditional offering, specific to the market
  • Invest in training and integration of new organising to ensure that a consistent, robust business management model and common understanding of the company’s standard and expectations of its people.
  1. Merger & Acquisition
  • Purchase controlling shareholding in competitor best aligned to company’s core business and future business aspiration with ‘1 + 1 = 3’ philosophy.
  • Embed post-merger integration team to establish common business management system.
  1. Strategic Partnering
  • Form incorporated or unincorporated joint venture (JV) with complimentary interest and clear division of responsibility covering technical delivery and corporate governance requirements, managed by an integrated executive committee.

Following consultation and review with board, Option 1 was adopted as the initial business development route that could bring the required short term (1 to 2 years) success when compared with the investment required. This has proven to be a good selection, and now that the business has achieved significant organic growth in this short term, all of these options are being revisited on regular basis (as part of the business planning cycle) to ensure that the future growth aspirations are achieved

What advice would you give anyone trying to emulate the above?

Minimal upfront investment is required to conduct detailed field marketing to drive robust business planning. This cannot be independently so make sure that you put experienced, dynamic team players around you to support in achieving excellence!

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

OneGram Sharia Compliant, Gold-Backed Cryptocurrency Announces ICO

OneGram Sharia Compliant, Gold-Backed Cryptocurrency Announces ICO

OneGram, the first ever Sharia-compliant gold-backed cryptocurrency announces the launch of its ICO.

    

Dubai holds the distinction of being the financial capital of the Islamic world.

Now, a firm based out of the Emirate has decided to redefine the digital “gold standard” with OneGram, while factoring in the 1.6 billion followers of the Islamic faith. The gold-backed cryptocurrency has announced its ICO at the recently concluded Consensus 2017.

OneGram calls itself the world’s first Sharia-compliant cryptocurrency whose value is backed by actual gold reserves. Hailed as a Bitcoin alternative for the Islamic world, the ICO was announced to coincide with the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. The OneGram platform is aiming to raise a total of $500 million against 12 million OneGram tokens (OGC).

In the recent press release, the CEO of OneGram, Ibrahim Mohammed is quoted saying,

“We are very pleased with early support for the OGC token crowdsale from the cryptocurrency and Islamic finance communities. More than 1,000 people have registered for GoldGuard accounts to participate, and the number is growing each day as we prepare to launch our crowdsale in alignment with Ramadan.”

The ICO will go on for 120 days, and the purchase of OGC tokens during the crowdsale will also include a 10% fee which will be utilized by the platform for business development, marketing costs, operational costs, and salaries. In the release, the company also states that each OGC will have a 1% transaction fee associated with it, of which 70% will be reinvested to buy more gold reserves.

Those buying OGC tokens will have to create an account on GoldGuard and purchase gold at live spot rates. The platform has announced that a portion of the proceeds from collected purchase fees will be used for charity donations and PoS mining rewards. This is not the first time someone has created a gold-backed cryptocurrency. There are various initiatives which revolve around the same core concept. However, unlike the rest, OneGram will have a much greater appeal to devout Muslims who prefer to follow the Islamic laws. With a huge target population, OGC has a huge potential in front of it, which could be realized in due time.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Cryptocurrency company pushes back against Shadow Brokers’ latest claims

Cryptocurrency company pushes back against Shadow Brokers' latest claims

    

The Shadow Brokers say they will be accepting Zcash for subscriptions

to their monthly dumps of leaked NSA files — a decision intended to needle the U.S. government over its role in the cryptocurrency’s creation. But the company that oversees Zcash says that federal agencies have no ties to the cryptocurrency beyond some general connections to its academic roots. In announcing the subscription service, the Shadow Brokers insinuated that Zcash has links to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, other U.S. military agencies and Israel.

“Maybe USG is needing to be sending money outside from banking systems? If USG is hacking and watching banking systems (SWIFT) then adversaries is also hacking and watching banking systems. Maybe is for sending money to deep cover foreign assets? Maybe is being trojan horse with cryptographic flaw or weakness only NSA can exploit? Maybe is not being for money?” the blog post written in broken English reads.

Though the hacking group has claimed Zcash’s privacy model to be unreliable and potentially entwined in U.S. government interests, it said it will continue to use the cryptocurrency at least through June. Researchers and executives at the Zerocoin Electric Coin Company, Zcash’s operator, maintain that the platform offers strong security benefits and is free of U.S. government influence. Users of the Zcash network own about $350 million worth of the currency, the company says.

Government help, but no ties

ZECC says it prides itself on transparency. It discloses investors on its website and offers further financial information in a regularly updated blog. “There’s no other financial backing of the Zcash company other than what’s shown in our blog posts,” Zcash CEO and founder Zooko Wilcox told CyberScoop. Zerocash, the research project that led to Zcash, lists DARPA, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research, the Israeli Centers of Research Excellence I-CORE program and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology as sponsors, among others.

When Wilcox founded Zcash, however, none of the above institutions invested in or supported the company, he said. “They don’t have any financial stake in the company,” Wilcox said. “They donated money to the research institutions years ago, and none of them are among the investors in the company. On the other hand, all of our scientists are still on good terms with that world. Our scientists still work at the same institutions, still doing new research and still getting grants from those or other grant-making institutions, governments or universities.”

Matthew Green, creator of the Zerocash protocol and a professor at Johns Hopkins University, said the protocol originated in an academic paper meant to address the privacy flaws in cryptocurrency like bitcoin. “We wanted to build basically an experimental currency that would offer at least reasonable privacy, if not more, and so that was kind of why we deployed with Zerocash,” Green said. “We wanted to see people actually using the technology in the real world.”

The paper, he said, lists DARPA, ONR and other organizations as sponsors because he was funded by a variety of ongoing grants through his work at Johns Hopkins. “It wasn’t like anyone specifically, explicitly funded us for that work,” Green said, noting that it is his practice to include thanks to each funder in papers he produces. “DARPA did not fund us to make Zerocash, and neither did the Office of Naval Research and any of those people,” Green said.

DARPA Chief of Media Relations Jared Adams wrote in an email that the contract number listed in the Zerocash paper funded the PROCEED program, which supports research in practical computation on encrypted data. Georgia Tech is recorded as the lead institution on this project, but research that occurred at other institutions, such as Johns Hopkins, could have benefited from this funding. “They did receive funding from FY10 through FY14, so some sub, including Zcash, could have contributed research in that time,” Adams wrote.

As far as connections to Israel, Green said he did collaborate with a “globally spread” team, including contributors from MIT, Tel Aviv University and Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology. “We published the first paper, and we had met them at a conference, and got good discussion about how we could improve it,” Green said. “They had been working on some other technology that was really helpful, and so we basically used some parts of their technology to build a new system.”

Leveling the playing field

Zcash itself was not deployed by Green and fellow researchers. ZECC spawned instead from a collaboration between Wilcox and the researchers in transforming the ideas published in the academic papers into a commercial venture. “We had some input, obviously, as scientists, but basically that was our role, is just to give advice,” Green said.

Wilcox had been leading the charge in the crypto-technology industry for years prior to his contact with Green and the researchers, which is what drew the two parties together, Wilcox said. A consistent proponent of internet privacy, Wilcox initially declined the offer to work with the researchers on commodifying Zerocash, he said, because he believed the technology would fail to reach a large audience in the ultra-competitive cryptocurrency market.

The CEO had a change of heart, however, when he woke up the next morning and realized that the increased privacy features that Zcash offers might match up perfectly with the needs of mainstream businesses. “You need a level playing field for everyone in an economy to be safe and have secure transactions, so I thought, ‘Zcash can be the mainstream that all business can rely on for all transactions,’” Wilcox told CyberScoop.

An experiment in privacy

On May 28, the Shadow Brokers emptied a bitcoin wallet previously associated with a bidding war for other outdated NSA hacking tools. The mysterious group’s latest statement attempts to explain its adoption of the cryptocurrency: “Zcash is making claiming bitcoin + privacy.” While the content of the Shadow Brokers’ next supposed data dump in June remains unclear, the group has set the price for access at 100 Zcash, equivalent to approximately $23,000.

The near-anonymity that Zcash offers allows organizations like the Shadow Brokers to receive their payments without fear of discovery or unmasking. While bitcoin allows for transactions to be publicly monitored, and thus traceable, Zcash’s ZeroCoin product hides the identities and transaction data of its users, rendering tracking of the currency impossible.

Despite the technology behind the cryptocurrency, the Shadow Brokers have claimed that Zcash is neither safe nor reliable. That should not matter to the “high rollers, hackers, security companies, OEMs and governments,” who may be interested in the subscription program, the group says. “Playing ‘the game’ is involving risks,” a statement reads. Wilcox likens the Zcash network to other widely accessible digital platforms.

“Zcash is just an open tool, like bitcoin or ethereum, and like a lot of the internet technology that’s out there, like email or Firefox; it’s just an open tool,” Wilcox said. Neither Wilcox, nor any other institution or agency, could lock out the Shadow Brokers from the Zcash network even if they wanted to. “It would be nice if there were somebody who had the ability to ban bad actors from using the network, but on the other hand, since there isn’t anybody who has the ability to ban anyone else from using the network, that makes it like the internet in being a global, human utility that nobody can get locked out of,” Wilcox said.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

The Benefits And Best Practices Of Branding Your Own Cryptocurrency

The Benefits And Best Practices Of Branding Your Own Cryptocurrency

In 2015, "Minecraft," one of the most popular online games now owned by Microsoft, announced that PlayMC, one of their servers, would be introducing their own cryptocurrency in order to teach children about the digital currency. It’s a pretty smart move since it sets up the potential future for the mass adoption of this new type of currency.

    

Although the game already has in-game currencies that mimic cryptocurrency,

this is the first of its kind where the players can take their money from the game and then use it in the real world for other things. There still will be the need for these players to convert their money through a bitcoin exchange, which must verify identity and approve transactions, but this is the first of its kind to be available to those under 18.

Other companies have also branded their own cryptocurrency as a move to set themselves apart from the competition, also believing in the ability of the digital currency to change transactions forever. To date, these branded digital currencies have yet to really catch on, but there is a lot to be said for this strategy, seeing that major companies like Microsoft and those behind "Minecraft" are aggressively working toward greater acceptance. Since it is too late to be the first mover in creating your own cryptocurrency, you can still jump on this opportunity as a business owner by creating a niche digital currency that offers features that are attractive to your audience or that illustrates the benefits of using it.

Benefits And Best Practice Of Becoming Your Own Digital Currency

While some refer to it as vanity money creation, it’s an idea that has marketing value — plus, it offers a way to reach an audience that may be looking for a new way to pay for goods or services. You’ll be able to offer significant benefits, including helping users avoid the risk of fraud, enjoying complete anonymity to purchase what they want and not having to worry their currency will be taken away by any government institution.

It’s also something that sets you apart from your competition and intrigues your target audience, which may be slowly catching on to the idea of digital currency. For example, as a CTO for an online payments platform, the development of our own digital currency can be of benefit to our small business customer base and set us apart from other payment processors. Plus, we’ll have control over the payment process because we will have built the actual currency in use and know everything about it rather than relying on any third-party provider.

However, before you jump right in, there is a certain skill level that is necessary to create your own cryptocurrency brand. You’ll definitely need some technical expertise on your team in the form of a developer that has some working knowledge of how digital currency works and the blockchain technology behind it. Although the code is open source with cryptocurrency, it’s not as simple as writing a few lines of code. More thought and technical know-how are needed to develop your best practices approach to branding a digital currency.

Here are some recommendations:

  • Make sure you have a specific benefit for your end user. While it’s great to have a branded digital currency, if it’s just a “vanity” coin like a vanity plate on your vehicle, it’s not worth it. Instead, think about how you could create more value for your customer, such as convenience, more options, greater security, etc.
  • Develop the code yourself or with the help of a team or outsourced developer who understands which programming language should be used and how it can work within the existing cryptocurrency environment. This includes its ability to be used with existing cryptocurrency exchanges. You can also use a coin creation service like CoinCreator.net or CryptoLife that takes care of the technical aspects if you don’t have the resources on hand within your own company.
  • Weigh the option of creating your own blockchain or using an existing one. You’ll need this as part of constructing your own digital currency because it’s the technological framework. If you want to keep control over the code that makes up your branded currency, then you’ll need to build your own blockchain, which also helps you add any unique features you want to further differentiate you from the digital currency crowd.
  • Determine what unique features you want to have, including setting the block reward for miners, how much data is allowed in each transaction, the block size and how much coin supply you want to have out there.
  • Decide what services you want to use the coin for, including allowing your customers to check on their wallet balances and transactions as well as providing a way to help your customers accept your coin as payment in a way that integrates with their payment platform.
  • Look for any vulnerabilities with your branded cryptocurrency, even employing a friendly hacker to see if they can break into it or find any weak points. This is critical that you have it as secure as possible before putting your name on it and offering it to your audience.

With more stability coming to the overall cryptocurrency environment and larger brands coming on board with offering and accepting digital currency as part of the global transaction environment, the option of branding your own digital coin is an exciting opportunity to stand out and serve your target audience with new options that help them become a part of this digital age.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Battle Of The Cryptos: Bitcoin Vs. Ethereum

Battle Of The Cryptos:
Bitcoin Vs. Ethereum

Bitcoin enthusiasts and investors celebrated Bitcoin Pizza Day

This week, bitcoin enthusiasts and investors celebrated Bitcoin Pizza Day, the seven-year anniversary of the day programmer Laszlo Hanyecz spent 10,000 bitcoin on two Papa John’s Int'l, Inc. PZZA 0.55% pizzas. Today, the bitcoin spent on those pizzas would be worth $22 million. The price of bitcoin has skyrocketed in recent years as investors look for protection in an increasingly uncertain global economy and speculators attempt to capitalize on the momentum. However, while bitcoin may be the most popular cryptocurrency out there, it’s certainly not the only game in town.

There's Another Sheriff In Town

In fact, bitcoin isn’t even the top-performing crypocurrency of 2017. While bitcoin has once again doubled in value in 2017, the value of rival currency ether is up 2,000 percent. On the surface, ether and bitcoin share a number of similarities. Both cryptocurrencies utilize blockchain technology, the decentralized public record of all transactions that is the core of the two currencies’ security features. However, digging deeper into the two currencies reveals they are completely different in both design and utilization.

Ethereum, A Different Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin has primarily served as a currency for consumer payment transactions. The Ethereum ether blockchain was designed to include many more features that would appeal to the corporate world. The primary feature of Ethereum that has drawn the interest of corporations is its support of smart contracts. Smart contracts are computer algorithms that automatically execute the terms of a contract as soon as the contract’s conditions are met. For example, Barclays PLC (ADR) BCS 0.28% has used this type of technology for derivatives trading.

While bitcoin’s grassroots support continues to swell, a group of corporate powerhouses, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM 0.51%, Microsoft Corporation MSFT 2.37% and Intel Corporation INTC 0.55%, have formed the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), a network to connect large companies to work on projects involving the Ethereum blockchain.

Bitcoin’s current market cap of nearly $40 billion is more than double that of ether, but investors see the power of the corporate involvement with Ethereum and the appeal of the smart contract capabilities. For investors who want to make a big bet on Ethereum, investment options are limited at this point. The EtherIndex Ether Trust filed for NYSE listing in July 2016, but has yet to gain SEC approval. The SEC recently said it was planning to review a previously rejected bitcoin ETF created by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. For now, investors can set up an account on Coinbase to trade bitcoin and ether directly.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

From 4Chan Meme to Real Currency: ‘Rare Pepes’ are Innovating Cryptocurrency

From 4Chan Meme to Real Currency: ‘Rare Pepes’
are Innovating Cryptocurrency

    

As the value of cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin surge to all-time highs,

a new project in crypto space promises to innovate the scene with tradable cards based on the 4chan meme, Pepe the Frog, which rose to popularity during the 2016 US election. Amid the civil crisis in Venezuela and the plummeting of the Bolívar, some of its more enterprising startups were among the first to hop onboard the cryptocurrency bandwagon to secure their financial safety through the “Rare Pepe” digital currency.

So what is the tradable Rare Pepe, exactly? Unlike Dogecoin or other joke  cryptocurrencies that hold next to no value, the tradable Rare Pepe is built around the concept of tokens and digital asset collection. The 4channers who first popularized the Rare Pepe meme designed variations of Pepe—a comic strip character by artist Matt Furie—came up with the idea that each of these Pepes was one-of-a-kind, and therefore “rare.” In 2011, an eBay prank submission collecting 1,200 Rare Pepes received a $99,166 bid before being removed from the platform.

The tradable Rare Pepe builds on this concept and turns the joke into a reality. Issued as tokens on the bitcoin blockchain through Counterparty, user generated Rare Pepe collectible cards hold monetary value and are listed on a directory after inspection by administrators. The assigned tokens tied to Rare Pepe cards are locked on the blockchain,  meaning it isn’t possible to alter their Bitcoin value. Each card is a one-of-a-kind digital asset.

In addition to their scarcity, tokens issued on Counterparty are tradable on the service’s Bitcoin exchange, so users who possess these tokens can trade the Rare Pepe cards directly without anyone else holding the cards. A variety of wallets are compatible with the tokens, allowing users to amass a collection of Rare Pepe cards. The Venezuela-based game developer of Rare Pepe Party even assigned scores and RPG elements to each Rare Pepe card, incentivizing gamers to build decks of Rare Pepe cards to play online.

It draws from a similar cryptocurrency-based game, Spells of Genesis, a mobile game that gamifies digital assets. Prior to the rise of Rare Pepes, a rare Spells of Genesis card called the Satoshicard, sold for over 6 bitcoins in 2016. At the time, it was worth $3,700. It’s now worth $14,100. Rare Pepe Party and Spells of Genesis aren’t the only platform to make innovative use of cryptocurrency. The Book of Orbs was designed a collection book and wallet for Rare Pepe owners to collect and trade them on their phones.

As the players of Pokemon Trading Cards and Magic the Gathering grow up, tradeable Rare Pepes provide nerdy cryptocurrency traders actual reason to collect cards, make money, and have fun while they’re doing it. And unlike the paper-based cards, they can’t be damaged or destroyed. Rare Pepes may still seem like a joke in the mainstream, but as Coin and Peace argues on his Medium article, they have the potential to reinvent the concept of currency by providing them with additional, if only entertaining utility.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Will Investing in Cryptocurrency Make You Rich

Will Investing in Cryptocurrency Make You Rich

Will Investing in Cryptocurrency Make You Rich

 

Have you heard? Cyptocurrency is so hot right now. Bitcoin's price has been climbing for the better part of a year, topping $2,000 per coin for the first time in May, and rising to a record high above $2,500 — before dropping down just above $2,400 a coin as of Friday afternoon, per CoinDesk.

Those numbers mean nothing to you? This one might: If you had made a small investment in bitcoin back in 2010 — buying just $100 worth, when each unit was worth a fraction of a cent — your stash would be valued today at more than $70 million. Talk about an early retirement!

Even if you had been late to the party and bought bitcoin last year, you would be feeling pretty good. At one point, bitcoin prices were up roughly 180% for the year, as CNBC reported. Compare that with the broad stock market, which returned between 7.9% and 15%, depending on which index you look at.

Other cryptocurrencies have been on a tear as well. Ethereum, launched in 2015, is a software platform that has a cryptocurrency of its own, called "ether." Ether, or "ether tokens," hit a new all-time high Wednesday after climbing more than 35% in 24 hours, per CoinDesk. (There's also litecoin, which is similar to bitcoin but easier to obtain, more transactional, and seen as less valuable.)

So does that mean you should buy cryptocurrency today? Some say yes: One bitcoin proponent told CNBC he expects its value to keep rising and hit $100,000 within the decade. While digital currencies may seem alien now, it serves to remember that when Apple and other tech brands began gaining steam in the 1980s, people were skeptical anyone would have use for a personal computer. That story had a happy ending for early Apple investors.

Then again, hindsight can be 20/20, and just because an asset's price is going up doesn't mean it's actually getting more valuable. Just ask someone who bought U.S. real estate in 2007, or a tulip bulb during the infamous Dutch tulip bubble. If all that is driving prices to rise is hype, it's a good time to remember that what goes up must come down.

 

What are bitcoin and ether, exactly?

For the uninitiated, cryptocurrencies like ether and bitcoin are digital forms of money that live online, embedded in algorithms that record their movements. Bitcoin was the first major cryptocurrency, invented by an anonymous hacker known as Satoshi Nakamoto, in 2008. In a paper about the technology, Nakamoto envisioned a "peer-to-peer electronic cash system" that would let people conduct business directly, without the need of any outside institution.

The idea can be an exciting one: No more bank fees, for one, and you wouldn't need credit cards or debit cards, either. You also wouldn't need central banks or treasuries, since the price of currency would be set on the global stage by computers. Proponents of bitcoin, and its underlying technology, blockchain, hope that it could make most middlemen irrelevant by making all transactions instantly trustworthy and automated by Bluetooth.

If you needed a ride somewhere? You'd just summon your self-driving car, it would automatically read your digital wallet and take its fee, and you'd get out. It's a future that could save billions in transaction fees, protect identities and be a whole lot more sanitary. But we're not there yet, not by a long shot.

Currently, the system of using bitcoin relies on programmers to record transactions and build out what's known as a blockchain in exchange for a small bitcoin bounty. That process is called "bitcoin mining," and anyone can participate, although the reward will diminish over time

 

The case for investing in cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency has come a long way from bitcoin's roots as the shadow currency favored by criminals on the Silk Road. Skepticism over bitcoin reached a boiling point in 2014, when Mt. Gox, the largest bitcoin exchange in the world, abruptly declared bankruptcy after than $460 million in bitcoin essentially disappeared.

Despite a rocky start, bitcoin has arguably entered the mainstream. For one, you can actually use it to buy stuff now. Many retailers, like Microsoft and Overstock, have started accepting bitcoin directly, and for the retailers that don't — notably Amazon — proponents have found a workaround by buying gift cards with their bitcoin and making purchases that way.

"The vast majority of bitcoin proponents are now either in finance or government," said Ian Bogost, an author, professor and game designer who has written about bitcoin for the Atlantic. "And for them, the speculative aspect is like a repurposing. The speculatists couldn’t give a shit what they’re speculating on, what the object is. Just that there is the possibility of substantial gain."

Ironically, given its roots, many of bitcoin's recent wins have been thanks to governments. Most recently, Japan voted to make bitcoin an officially sanctioned currency, and other countries like Barbados are looking into whether they should start purchasing bitcoin of their own.

Interestingly, many fans of cryptocurrency argue that the real value might not be in the currency itself, but in the technology that enables it — ways to safely and securely move value, for example, or trustworthy ways to validate identity.

"Bitcoin basically operated in obscurity until 2012, when media began reporting on its pseudonymous payments on Silk Road and it hit $1,000 before crashing," said Amanda Gutterman, chief marketing officer of ConsenSys, a blockchain studio which builds products on Ethereum. "As interest picked up, there was a desire to create more sophisticated financial products."

Bitcoin started as an experiment in monetary theory, Gutterman said, but it has already started to inspire real technology. ConsenSys, for example, is working with the city of Dubai to leverage blockchain and make the city government paperless by 2020. Because it's easier to build products around, many experts believe Ethereum could soon supplant Bitcoin.

 

The case against buying cryptocurrency

While the price of cryptocurrencies might be going up, there are still a lot of reasons to be wary, not least because it's virtually impossible to determine what a fair price for bitcoin or ether might be.

Part of what makes currencies and other assets valuable is that they have a history of appreciation, which cryptocurrencies do not share. Then there's the fact that people don't exactly agree on what the rules for bitcoin should be. It's not really a currency, since currencies are backed by a government, which issues them. It's also not really like a stock, either — cryptocurrencies don't report earnings or generate profits, and earnings and profits are how people try to determine what a "fair price" for a given stock might actually be.

Now, a few people have developed formulas to figure out the fair price for bitcoin: The Financial Times spoke to one anonymous London financial analyst who developed a model for pricing bitcoin based on the assumption that its "core utility value" is as the currency for shadow markets. By comparing the total amount of money that's laundered around the world with the overall GDP, he estimates that bitcoin's current price is about 238% higher than it should be. Other skeptics say that bitcoin has no real underlying value at all.

Despite being embraced by corporations and governments, bitcoin is still associated with criminal activity: When the WannaCry ransomware attack hit computers all over the world in May, the hackers involved requested their bounties in bitcoin. That means that even as some governments embrace bitcoin, others are cracking down: In Florida, for example, the state legislature recently passed a law that would make it easier to prosecute criminals who use bitcoin for money laundering.

Somewhat paradoxically, these types of criminal activity might actually be part of what's making bitcoin more valuable at the moment. Confronted with a rise in bitcoin ransoms from hackers, Bogost noted that a very natural response for a company is to buy a little bitcoin in case it happens again.

Bogost said she fears that bitcoin is particularly susceptible to monopoly — as hackers have very successfully cornered the market in the past. "We’ve seen with these sort of ups and downs, these small groups of mostly Chinese pools end up with more than 50% of the capacity. And we don’t know anything about these organizations. Are they state controlled?" Bogost said. "The moment [there is too much consolidation in the mining pools] then effectively the platform is dead, at least as a currency."

Finally, there's the possibility people are unwisely romanticizing a future without middlemen. The people who lost their bitcoin in the 2014 Mt. Gox hack are still trying to get their money back, and are unlikely to. After all, when the value of your cash is held in anonymous, poorly-understood algorithms, it's hard to hold somebody accountable if you lose it.

If you still feel like investing a small amount of money in cryptocurrency, be sure not to dip into your emergency savings. It's rarely a good idea to buy something when its price is at its all-time high. And remember that there are a lot of horses in this race: In addition to bitcoin, ether, and litecoin there's also ripple, namecoin and peercoin.

 

How to buy and store cryptocurrency

If you have some "play" money and want to make a bet on cryptocurrency, you should absolutely feel 100% comfortable with the idea of losing all that money. Cryptocurrencies have crashed before, often, and probably will again in the future. They're also historically expensive — if you must buy some, you might be served by waiting a bit for prices to drop, so you're more likely to get a deal.

There are lots of ways to buy cryptocurrencies, and some countries have even set up ways to purchase them via an ATM.

Coinbase is one of the more well-known bitcoin brokers, and often recommended for beginners. Coinbase allows you buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by linking to your debit or credit card account. Business Insider reports that the mobile app is buggy, and banks will sometimes lock a card after making these transactions. To that end, BI recommends letting your financial institution know before trying to make a purchase.

There are a few other options, though they have less of a track record: Kraken is one reputable alternative; it has been around since 2011 and works with a wide range of traders and governments. There's also Gemini, but it is not yet available in every state.

Finally, because exchanges, even the largest ones, have crashed abruptly, it's also important to get yourself a safe place to store your bitcoin, in case your provider goes out of business or suffers a hack. These devices are often referred to as bitcoin "wallets." Ledger is a popular option.

by James Dennin

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member