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Tag: Math

China’s Movie Ticket King on What Studios Can Learn About Digital Marketing

China's Movie Ticket King on What Studios Can Learn About Digital Marketing

  

Beijing Weying Technology exec Luke Xiang opens up

about why China is vastly more advanced than North America at mobile ticketing, the "disappointing" performance of 'Ghost in the Shell' and box-office fraud at Chinese cinemas. Nonexistent just five years ago, China's emergent mobile-ticketing platforms have been embraced by the country's digitally driven youth, drastically remaking the way movies are marketed and consumed in the world's second-largest entertainment market. Luke Xiang, 49, is the vp and international face of Weying, whose Wepiao ticketing service ranks among China's top three — along with Maoyan and Alibaba's Tao Piao Piao — accounting for an estimated 20 percent to 35 percent of all movie, sports and live entertainment tickets sold in the country.

Founded in 2014 by former Groupon executive and tech entrepreneur David Lim, Weying has experienced explosive growth. Valued at $2 billion last year, the service has more than 100 million users, selling an average of 1 million tickets every day. The company's vast data mining also has played a key role in helping the government combat fraud in the exhibition sector — an ongoing problem in which local theater owners artificially inflate or under-report admission figures. THR visited the multilingual Xiang (in addition to Mandarin and English, he's fluent in German and speaks some French) at Weying's Beijing headquarters to discuss his company's recently launched Los Angeles office, its plan to invest in U.S. studio tentpoles and what Hollywood can learn from China's more advanced movie ticketing and marketing landscape.

How does Weying ticketing work?

Our service is embedded within China's largest social networks — WeChat and QQ — which are both from Tencent, our partner and one of our investors. Each of these services has more than 800 million users. As the audience uses the ticketing service to engage with movie-related content, check show times and buy tickets, they generate data, which becomes the moviegoing DNA of each individual audience member. We know their moviegoing history in every detail: what kind of movies they like; what time they go to the movies — are they there on opening weekend or do they go later in the release?; whether they buy tickets at regular pricing or only with discounts; if they go to the cinema by themselves or on dates or with friends; if they are a passive viewer or an active reviewer and influencer on social media; and so on. As we capture this very detailed data from the audience and cinemas, we are able to do big data mining and analysis that informs and facilitates digital marketing and distribution in a very targeted way — and in real time.

Can you offer an example?

Say you are a young guy in one of China's tier-three cities. If you show up within two or three [miles] of a cinema, and we know that you've been a fan of action movies in the past, we push a notice to you with some exciting content about what's going on at a cinema very nearby — do you want to see the latest film from Vin Diesel, one of your favorite action stars? So within 10 seconds, you can reserve and pay for a seat at the next showing. After the movie, the relationship continues when we ask you if you want to review the film and share something about it on social media. We can also push you an offer for some licensed merchandise related to the film and based on your interests, which you can buy instantly on our platform. All of these interactions generate more data.

In China, roughly 80 percent of all movie tickets are bought online, but in North America it's only about 25 percent. Why do you think we are so far behind in mobile ticketing and marketing?

It varies a lot by title in North America. If it's a Star Wars movie, more people book in advance online; but on an average film, it's usually even lower, around 15 percent. There are many people in parts of China who had a smartphone before they ever saw a movie in the cinema. So we had a unique opportunity to leapfrog legacy practices of other more developed markets. We didn't have a lot of baggage, and the whole industry was new and being built on the internet, for a very young audience. So there is a lot of innovation. In this sense, I certainly think it would be smart for U.S. compa­nies to look carefully at what's happening in China.

How Hollywood Plans to Extract More Money From China

How much money is the U.S. film industry leaving on the table by lacking high-tech mobile ticketing platforms like China's?

That's really hard to estimate, but I would agree that there is a very large amount of value to be unlocked when the North American market can become more sophisticated with mobile ticketing and marketing. Some U.S. films are achieving greater results in China than North America now, and they are usually the ones that have worked deeply with online platforms here on marketing and promotion.

China's internet landscape — dominated by Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — is somewhat more consolidated than North America's. Eventually, this would seem to allow for powerful efficiencies, as these internet giants get better and better at sharing and exploiting data across their vast webs of services.

Yes, in the U.S., you can't expect Amazon's video viewership data to be given to AMC and Facebook. But here, that's basically what we see happening — it's all integrated. If you think of the whole industry as an organism with artificial intelligence, the data is the blood. China's blood is flowing. As we learn to circulate it in more extensive and sophisticated ways, the whole machine will become more intelligent and efficient — improving the consumer experience and releasing more value for the whole industry.

How big of an issue is box-office fraud at Chinese cinemas?

Clearly, it was a serious problem because the Film Bureau issued a new law to punish this behavior. One of the reasons box-office cheaters have been getting caught is because platforms like ours and others have been making data available; we do this to make the industry more transparent.

Some believe ticketing services have created price distortions in the market that have hurt growth. Is that a fair argument?

Yes. Because the competing online platforms were trying to acquire users to establish this kind of online prebooking habit, they relied too heavily on subsidized pricing. Of all of the promotional tools, low pricing is the easiest to execute. The next step is using your data to really understand your users' needs. We've come to this second phase in the industry.

So the worst of the correction is over?

This year there are fewer and fewer platforms trying to acquire users with pricing and more using data to fine tune their marketing and messaging tools. Pricing is getting involved, but now you are able to direct your offers in a more targeted way to the users who are most susceptible to price, rather than just spreading discounts across the whole market like peanut butter.

It's an evolving process. There will be more upswings and more corrections, more experimentation and an ebb and flow. But that's normal for a developing market. Overall, I think we are moving in the right direction. On the data and technology side, we are evolving quickly and becoming more sophisticated with incredible speed. And with more Hollywood studios working with the Chinese industry on the content side, our production capabilities and storytelling will continue to professionalize and improve. The broad, long trends are all healthy.

Weying made its first equity investment in a U.S. studio film this year, buying a piece of Paramount's Ghost in the Shell. How would you say that went?

Well, it was a little disappointing, but that was true globally for this title. The investment was an indication of how we want to get more involved in content. When we make an equity investment, we get more access to the creative process and can exercise more control over the marketing campaign's development and the distribution plans in China. This enables us to leverage our data and resources much earlier in the process, instead of just acting as a service provider at the final step.

Do you plan to make more investments of this kind?

We've set up an office in Los Angeles, in Century City, to acquire content for China as well as to build strong, direct relationships with the studios. In the year ahead, we will make several more investments in U.S. studio films, European independents and Japanese titles. We will be diversified because that's what the Chinese marketplace has an appetite for.

Chuck Reynolds

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

How To Secure Your Funds In Periods of Prosperity of the Cryptocurrency Economy?

How To Secure Your Funds In Periods of Prosperity of the Cryptocurrency Economy?

How To Secure Your Funds In Periods of Prosperity of the Cryptocurrency Economy?

2017 is definitely the year of crypto, as the past 4 months have witnessed the unprecedented growth of multiple coins’ markets. Bitcoin has recorded more than 70% price gains so far this year. Yet more, the altcoin market capital has exceeded $50 billion for the first time ever in 2017. This prosperity in the crypto economy acts as a magnet that attracts hackers who would try to steal some coins using one of the tricks in crypto’s black book. So, throughout this article, I will highlight some basic instructions to help you secure your coins.

Avoid online wallets whenever possible:

It goes without saying that if you don’t own the private keys of your coins, then you don’t control your coins. That being said, I can never emphasize how secure it is to keep your coins on a desktop wallet on your machine. For bitcoin, the most secure way to save your coins is to download and install Bitcoin Core; download the full blockchain; encrypt your wallet and send your coins to one of the addresses of your wallet. No matter how secure Blockchain.info’s wallet might seem, it can be no more secure than your own desktop bitcoin core wallet. Note that blockchain.info doesn’t control your coins’ private keys.

You should do the same for altcoins too, keep your coins in a wallet on your machine to have control over your private keys. If you have to use online wallets, never rely on passwords alone; use two-factor authentication as an added security measure. Also, use a randomly generated password and avoid meaningful words, as they can easily be cracked via dictionary attacks. Passwordsgenerator.net can help you generate random passwords with the length you choose; use at least 16 characters for your password.

Don’t leave your coins in an exchange’s wallet:

Many would use their exchange’s trading accounts as wallets for their altcoins. I don’t advise you to do this, as you won’t have control over your coins’ private keys this way and also, pay attention that periods of crypto economy prosperity is when most exchanges are attacked by hackers, so you don’t want your coins to be confiscated in case the exchange is hacked.

Use cold storage whenever possible:

Cold storage refers to the process of storage of bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies, offline. By far, cold storage is unarguably the most secure way to store cryptocurrencies. If you want use cold storage to store your bitcoins, you have to download and install bitcoin core’s wallet on your machine, download the full blockchain, encrypt your wallet and then import your .dat wallet file, or your coins’ private keys, and use them for cold storage via USB drives, hardware wallets, paper wallets, physical coins….etc.

Keep the email you used for your cryptocurrency accounts safe:

For maximum security, don’t share the email you used to create your blockchain.info’s wallet, or your cryptocurrency exchanges’ accounts, with anyone and don’t use them for creating accounts on any other websites. If a hacker knows the email you used to create you accounts, this would markedly make it easier for him/her to hack your accounts.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

More Billionaires Are Buying Cryptocurrencies

“It is the best investment of my life,"

said billionaire Mike Novogratz at an April 19 Harvard Business School Club of NY event, where he announced that he holds ten percent of his net worth in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Mike Novogratz was the Chief Investment Officer of the Fortress Macro Fund, and principal and a member of the board of directors of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Novogratz joined Fortress after a decade-long tenure at Goldman Sachs. He featured on the Forbes billionaire list in 2008. While clearer revelations on his investment in cryptocurrencies have come out now, his interest in cryptocurrencies isn’t new. He has been advocating for Bitcoin as a good investment since 2013.

Bitcoin’s journey has been incredible. It started trading at around $0.0007 per bitcoin in the beginning of 2009 and about two years later, it hit parity with the dollar. While the year 2013 saw Bitcoin's potential, it displayed its massive volatility. Even 2014 remained volatile but it was milder. In 2015, there was recovery and gradual uptrend which continued through 2016. The year 2017 has been exceptionally good for Bitcoin which crossed the $1,300 mark for the first time. Mike Novogratz now predicts it to go past $2,000. Mike Novogratz has invested in Ethereum (ETH) as well. He made his investment when it was trading at $1. Today, it's trading around $69 and is the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. (Related reading, see: The 6 Most Important Cryptocurrencies Other Than Bitcoin)

Mike Novogratz isn’t the only billionaire supporter of Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. Patrick M. Byrne can be called a bitcoin enthusiast. Back in 2014, when no major revenue generators were accepting bitcoin as payment, he decided that Overstock.com, with $1.3 billion in revenue then, would accept bitcoins. Overstock became the first large retailer to accept Bitcoin, going live in January of 2014. Then we have Tim Draper, founder of Draper Associates — a seed-stage venture capital firm — has been investing in Bitcoins (ad now Ether) too. He ranked #98 on the 2014 Worth Magazine 100 Most Powerful People in Finance. (Related reading, see: Overstock.com Announces Rights Offering on Blockchain Platform)

The rising awareness, acceptance by governments and rising adoption are supporting Bitcoin’s price movement which is motivating people to invest. Bitcoin is emerging as a new asset class and given its low correlation with traditional asset classes, it’s being dubbed as a perfect diversifier for an investor’s portfolio. However, like any investment, there are risks involved and investors must factor them in being leaping into the world of cryptocurrencies.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

MCAP: The New Buzz in the Cryptocurrency World

MCAP:
The New Buzz in the Cryptocurrency World

   MCAP is a mining

and ICO token launched by BitcoinGrowthFund (BGF) which is a Blockchain based Venture Capital Fund. BGF is a kick-starter where customers can own equity in the form of tokens in various investment opportunities.

$4 million raised so far!

BGF launched the sale of MCAP tokens on the 27th of April and took the Blockchain world by surprise by raising over $4 million in 10 days. The sale of MCAP tokens will end when we reach the sale cap or when the number of tokens released is exhausted. MCAP will be available to the public for trading on various platforms in the coming month.

Quick facts about MCAP:

  • Through MCAP tokens, clients can invest in mining and potential ICO’s.
  • The dedicated team of analysts at Bitcoin Growth Fund continuously analysis the various ICOs based on more than thirty parameters such as the background of the team, the viability and scope of the product idea so that our investors never need to worry about their investments.
  • An algorithm to calculate which AltCoin would be most profitable to mine at any given moment based on its difficulty level, trading volume and the profit it would generate.
  • The large pool of investors depicts the confidence of the public in MCAP tokens.

The Blockchain community is showing a keen interest in our token sale and many members have been kind enough to offer their support and invest in our MCAP tokens.

Skyrocketing prices of cryptocurrencies boost MCAP

As the public is slowly becoming more aware of the cryptocurrencies circulating in the market, more people have started investing in coins such as Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin etc.

In the recent months, the price of Bitcoin has gone from $954 to a little over $1500 and predictions are that by the end of 2017, Bitcoin will see an increase of nearly 150% of its price in March ’17. Similarly, other cryptocurrencies such as Ether, Litecoin, Zcash etc. have also witnessed an exponential increase in their price. We at Bitcoin Growth Fund have realized the potential profits which can be generated from mining and have developed an algorithm to calculate which cryptocurrency would be most profitable to mine at any given moment based on various parameters.

Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is the latest development in the market to raise funds for projects where companies raise money through tokens to invest in other avenues. According to the recent article published in Forbes by Roger Aitken, the boom in cryptocurrencies by the end of 2017 will outpace bitcoin by a wide margin and their mining will yield substantial returns. With MCAP tokens, our aim is to enable the average user to be able to earn huge returns in the long run by investing in one single coin rather than investing in multiple cryptocurrencies and hoping for their price to increase.

With the money raised through the sale of our MCAP tokens, BGF will invest in the mining of Bitcoin & other alt-coins along with investing in other ICOs. With the growing market cap and gradually increasing trading volumes of cryptocurrencies, our development team at BGF has developed algorithms to help us decide which alt-coin to mine at any time to get maximum profits.

A ‘Token’ of advice

Once released onto several trading platforms, supply and demand will be the only factors affecting the price of MCAP tokens. Our token is the best possible long term investment for customers as the MCAP tokens will surely yield huge returns and we hope to see the price of each of our tokens increase to $70 once the users start buying and selling MCAP tokens. BGF is offering lucrative discounts to the early buyers of MCAP tokens. Kindly refer to the website link for more details.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Cryptocurrency could spur significant developments in NZ property law

Cryptocurrency could spur significant developments in NZ property law

  

Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies may be the catalyst for significant developments in New Zealand law.

The treatment of 'intangible property' is an area ripe for clarification, and cryptocurrency may well give rise to the case to test the boundaries. A Russell McVeagh publication explores the question of what legal remedies are available if bitcoins (or any valuable property rights stored on the blockchain) are stolen from the rightful owner and reviews the treatment of intangible property in various Commonwealth jurisdictions. Banking and Finance Partner Tom Hunt says, "Cutting-edge innovations in cryptocurrencies, as well as blockchain technologies, smart contracts and Robo-advice are shifting the landscape of financial services and the companies that make use of them.”

“While each promises a wealth of opportunities, these technologies also bring about new challenges in regulation and enforcement to be considered." The more obvious claims available to target a third party recipient would not work if the third party received them innocently (the so-called 'bona fide purchaser' defense). A claim in knowing receipt, a proprietary restitution claim or a claim for unjust enrichment, would probably be defeated by this defense.

One answer might be a claim in conversion.

Conversion is a tort of strict liability and may operate in circumstances where the bona fide purchaser defence does not apply. It would, therefore, be a significant expansion of the rights of recourse if the New Zealand courts extended the tort to apply to intangible property such as cryptocurrency. Litigation partner Chris Curran adds, "As the Blockchain is increasingly used to store things of value, this legal area seems likely to be tested at some point.” “We will watch with interest to see where New Zealand lands regarding the protection of property rights in this emerging and disruptive FinTech field."

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Price Calm Before the Storm?

Bitcoin Price Calm Before the Storm?

Bitcoin Storm

After a 2 month rally leading to all time high prices, Bitcoin has finally reached an equilibrium. The price has been bouncing between $1500 and $1600 since Friday, and as Monday came along it seems that the market is still unsure of its next move. Some of the pullbacks may be attributed to Ripple’s exceptional rise in the past couple days as its market cap reached $8.3 billion — almost as big as its closest competitor Ethereum. No one is sure why Ripple’s price has more than tripled in the past week rising from a price of $0.05 to more than $0.22. Kiritoflash 

Reddit claimed:

Well, over $4,000,000,000 (Four-Billion Dollars) was put into Ripple in the past week [] That is a lot of money to invest.

Furthermore, there are rumors on bitcoin talk speculating that the Ripple team is looking to lock down a huge amount of coins for as much as a decade:

“Rumors are dense about Ripple releasing an extensive lock-up agreement spanning a whole decade and more”

 

Supposedly, the team will reveal more info at the upcoming Consensus event hosted by Coindesk. The combination of this gossip along with an HODL mentality from the Ripple investors is more than likely the reason behind its astronomical rise.

How does Ripple’s rise affect Bitcoin?

While there is no direct correlation between Ripple and Bitcoin, the fact that the number three crypto more than doubled its market cap and became one-third that of Bitcoin may have made some Bitcoin investors uneasy. However, it is still impressive how resilient Bitcoin’s price has been even after the massive bull run. The current political turmoil surrounding Brexit, and the tensions between the US and North Korea has created a market for smart money looking to hedge on these events. As a result, it looks like crypto as a whole is experiencing a second wave of investments flowing into the ecosystem. We can see evidence of that if we take a look at cornmarket cap's chart of overall market capitalization:

  

We can clearly see in this chart

exponential growth in an overall market cap for all cryptocurrencies. To support that rise, we are also seeing the significant increase in trading volume to a level never seen before. Keep in mind that anybody who bought and held bitcoins in the past eight years is seeing the significant return on investment, so if you are looking to buy into crypto right now you may want to tread lightly.

What does the Future hold for Bitcoin’s price?

As discussed in our previous article, since current Bitcoin price is outside of any previous price levels it is hard to analyze the market. Users have been resorting to using Fib Retracements to predict future market action. Using the $1623 high and the $1426 low, the Fib Retracement predicts a next resistance level of $1700. According to the charts, there is also strong support at $1500 that has already been tested multiple times over the weekend. As the week progresses we will see if Bitcoin will be able to break past $1600 and test the higher resistance levels, otherwise, expect the price to stay in the $1500 until the next wave of volume comes along.

Since the amount of volume is similar from the time Bitcoin’s price rose from $1300 to $1600 to the past few days where the price has been bouncing between support and resistance, suggests that the bear and the bulls reach a stalemate and are violently trading back and forth trying to decide who will win. The price can keep on climbing astronomically or crash if the bears take the lead. The sideways trading over the past three days and the relatively high volume may be a sign that some major price action is incoming. Right now would be a good time to remind investors to never trade with more than you can afford to loose, as the consequences of a bad trade can catch up with you rather quickly.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Market Cap Nears $30 Billion

Bitcoin Market Cap Nears $30 Billion

Bitcoin’s market cap has increased 5x in just one year, from around $6 billion during summer 2016 to now $30 billion, following its price rise from around $450 to now trade at around $1,760 on Coinbase.

  

The latest rise began on April 25th, exactly two weeks ago, increasing from $1,257 to $1,765. What caused this sudden $500 appreciation is not very clear, but its price increase appears to be inversely correlated with a price decrease of other digital currencies. Almost all of them are down today, while bitcoin is up, suggesting traders and investors who have seen some amazing gains and all-time highs in other digital currencies might be diversifying some of their profits to bitcoin.

The market cap of all digital currencies has seemingly not increased since yesterday, even though bitcoin’s market cap has. Suggesting its price increase might be merely reshuffling. On the other hand, when other digital currencies increase, the market cap also increases. That might mean new investors are entering the space through other digital currencies and then find out about bitcoin and diversify, a potential reversal of the usual entry point being bitcoin.

That might be because, with the exception of ethereum, it is very difficult to fiat buy other digital currencies. Outside investors, therefore, interested in say ripple, will have to buy bitcoin first. Thus if they want to sell ripple because they think it is too high, they would probably be buying bitcoin at the same time. So the boom in other digital currencies appears to be lifting up bitcoin too, a currency which, although increasing in value, has done so at a far slower rate than others, such as ethereum or litecoin. That’s because bitcoin has run out of capacity. It cannot welcome new users without a corresponding increase in fees which leads to other users being priced out and thus start using other digital currencies.

Solutions have been proposed years ago, but none have been adopted so far, continuing a loss of network effects as bitcoin’s market share was nearing less than 50% yesterday, slightly recovering today due to the reshuffling. Nonetheless, overall, everything is up. The combined market cap is now $52 billion. Many digital currencies have made some stupendous gains, up 10x, 20x, often in weeks, or in the case of ripple yesterday in just one day.

Interest in this space is clearly significantly growing, with ethereum leading as far as new projects and news are concerned due to its smart contracts capabilities, its many ICOs and its testing or experimentation by many household brands. Bitcoin too is growing, perhaps due to finding a space as a stop-gap and an entry way for other digital currencies, but it’s not clear for how long that will continue considering 40,000 transactions are currently stuck in a backlog, waiting to move.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin spikes to fresh record after Fed’s Kashkari speaks about blockchain ‘potential’

Bitcoin spikes to fresh record after Fed's Kashkari speaks about blockchain 'potential'

  • Bitcoin rose more than 6 percent to hit an all-time high of $1,747.06, according to CoinDesk.
  • Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari said the blockchain technology behind bitcoin probably "has more potential" than the currency has by itself.
  • Other digital currencies supported by blockchain have recently gained investor interest.

  

A man using a Bitcoin machine.

Bitcoin jumped Tuesday to a fresh record above $1,700 after a Federal Reserve official talked up the potential of the blockchain technology that supports the digital currency. Bitcoin rose more than 6 percent to hit an all-time high of $1,747.06, according to CoinDesk. Prices then gave up some gains to trade near $1,707 as of 1:11 p.m., ET. "I would say I think conventional wisdom now is that blockchain and the underlying technology is probably more interesting and has more potential than maybe bitcoin does by itself," Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari said in a Reuters report. He was speaking at a technology conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Bitcoin (2013 — 2017)

Blockchain is a record of transactions and historical value

categorized into blocks by a network of computers. The technology has spurred the recent creation of other digital currencies. "I think sentiment has shifted in the markets, in the Fed," Kashkari also said in the report. He was the assistant Treasury secretary overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program during the financial crisis. Bitcoin has surged in the last several weeks on speculation of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the U.S., increased Japanese investor interest due to new regulations and overall greater interest in digital currencies.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

How One Scrappy Startup Survived the Early Bitcoin Wars

How One Scrappy Startup Survived the Early Bitcoin Wars

  

The girls were dancing on a neon tank,

wearing sequined bikinis lit up by red and green laser light. A strobing fixed-wing aircraft passed overhead like the acid-trip kissing cousin of a Mitsubishi A6M Zero, with more sequined women dangling from it, trapeze-style. Flashing robots had preceded them — wheeling through the room, pumping their fists at the crowd — while the audience, seated on tiers of glittery red plastic swivel chairs, waved glow sticks. As the music throbbed, twin walls of video screens threw up bizarre images. The Technicolor dream machine the women were using as a stage displayed, at the end of its barrel, a rainbow-colored star — just where, on an ordinary tank, the death comes out. But this was no ordinary tank. It was a fixture of the one-hour show that takes place three times a night at Robot Restaurant, a kind of eye-melting Japanese dinner theater, a cabaret show of such migraine-inducing decadence that Las Vegas falls silent before it.

On this hot Tokyo night in July 2013, two Americans, Roger Ver and Nicolas Cary, sat in the crowd. As far as Cary could tell, they were the only gaijin in the place. He was drinking a beer, while Ver, as usual, was abstaining. Their unappetizing bento boxes sat untouched: you don’t go to Robot Restaurant for the food. In the midst of the cartoonish spectacle — earlier, a woman wielding an oversized mace had ridden in on a stegosaurus to battle two heavily armored robots — they had business to discuss. Ver wanted to see if Cary could become the chief executive of Blockchain, a Bitcoin startup in which Ver was the sole investor and majority stakeholder. (The company’s name was a direct nod to the term “blockchain,” the groundbreaking technology that underlies Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, making it possible to process and verify transactions transparently without the need for a central authority.) Cary had come highly recommended by Erik Voorhees, an old college friend who was himself a Bitcoin pioneer, and who in turn had given Cary an earful about Roger Ver. Talking to Ver over Skype, Cary had liked what he’d heard enough to hop on a plane from Seattle the following weekend to continue the conversation in person.

Oneworld Publications

Robot Restaurant, which is located in Kabukichō, an entertainment and red-light district in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward, is Roger Ver’s first choice when it comes to entertaining Western visitors, presenting as it does the spectacle of Japanese eccentricity and excess beyond one’s wildest imagination. He wanted Cary to have a good time, because he wanted to end his search for a CEO. He had been interviewing candidates for weeks and had no strong contenders. He had been relieved when Voorhees reached out one day and said, “I think I know the right guy for you.”

The spectacle was also part of Ver’s self-presentation. Although an American (he has since renounced his citizenship), he had lived in Tokyo for much of the past seven years and was fluent in Japanese. As a teenager, he had read a lot of science fiction — Arthur C. Clarke, the techno-utopian Foundation series of Isaac Asimov, Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon — and for him the language of sci-fi was bound up with Bitcoin and with the libertarian principles it was founded on. At the first Bitcoin conference in New York in 2011, where he had met Voorhees, it had felt as if he were entering the most exciting science fiction novel of all. Having read so much about futuristic systems of money and credit, he found himself thinking, This world-changing invention is finally here.

“Before Bitcoin,” Ver says, “I was just waiting around for the Singularity” — the hypothetical point at which, some people believe, technological progress will reach a sort of event horizon, past which human civilization will change in radical and unforeseeable ways, becoming “post-human.” And now here he was in Tokyo with his digital millions and a Japanese wife, living fifteen minutes into the future. He was living proof, if anyone was, that a new kind of expatriate existence was possible, bankrolled by borderless money.

Even so, most people would have laughed at him. In 2013 Bitcoin was still in its infancy, not yet an asset with a market capitalization of more than $27 billion. Goldman Sachs and the New York Stock Exchange had not yet invested millions in digital currency startups. The technology that powers Bitcoin had not yet made the cover of The Economist. It had not yet given rise, as it has today, to hundreds of new digital tokens that have the potential to transform not only banking and payments but the entire internet.

But Cary, then twenty-eight, with approachable face that telegraphed his openness to the world, wasn’t most people. He listened with interest to what the older man had to say. Ver’s pitch was simple. He painted a picture of a world with no barriers to financial inclusion, the world where people could transact peacefully without government interference. He explained the role that Blockchain could play in building this world. And then he said three words: “We need help.”

The First Wave Crashes

At stake was the best Bitcoin company remaining from the first wave of start-ups. Many of the others had gone down in flames, due to mismanagement or fraud, or had been hacked, taking thousands of bitcoins with them. Some — like Bitcoinica and BitInstant — had even generated lawsuits. Blockchain was different. Despite being the most popular Bitcoin wallet service in the world, it had never suffered a major crisis. Its founder, Ben Reeves, was smart and dedicated. He had already built the website, released iPhone and Android apps, and was handling customer support. “It’s amazing that one human being was able to do all of that,” Ver says. But Reeves, a British programmer who for two years had been running Blockchain as a one-man show, was getting overwhelmed. Roger, who had provided seed funding to Reeves in 2012 in exchange for a majority stake in Blockchain, didn’t have time to run the company himself.

They needed new blood at the top, and Nic Cary seemed like a real go-getter. The other candidates had failed to impress. “They didn’t seem to have a strong enough personality type or they didn’t seem to be in a big enough hurry,” Ver explains. “Bitcoin never sleeps. We need to move quickly and grow quickly and do everything sooner rather than later. I felt that sort of drive and energy and passion from Nic.”

For Cary, the opportunity meant a chance to revitalize himself. After more than six years at his current job, a software company he’d joined only months after graduating from college, he was burned out and looking for an escape hatch. Taking the top job at a Bitcoin start-up would hardly lighten his load, he knew, but it would fill him with new purpose. The world Ver had described was one in which Cary himself wanted to live.

Blockchain was perhaps uniquely suited among Bitcoin startups to make that world a reality. Although the Bitcoin protocol had been designed to eliminate counterparty risk — the risk that comes with giving up custody of one’s money — services had quickly sprung up offering to take this newfound digital wealth, nd the hassles that came with storing and securing it, off people’s hands. Some of these were exchanges; others were wallet services. Several ended up being disasters. In September 2012, an exchange called BitFloor was robbed when an unencrypted wallet backup was accessed by hackers during a manual transfer of data. Around 24,000 bitcoins — then worth about $250,000 — were stolen, causing the exchange to halt operations briefly. (At recent prices, those ill-gotten gains would be worth more than $38 million.) When it reopened, it began slowly recouping users’ losses, but shut down for good on April 19, 2013, after its US bank refused to continue providing it with banking services.

Another flameout was PicoStocks. Launched on Christmas Eve 2012 as an unregulated stock market denominated in bitcoins, and supposedly incorporated in the Marshall Islands, PicoStocks attempted to circumvent federal securities regulations by operating as if PicoStocks itself owned the assets and traders merely purchased dividend streams. According to its founder, the stock market suffered a hack attack in June 2013 in which 1,300 bitcoins were stolen, the result of PicoStocks using duplicate passwords for multiple accounts — a practice the founder himself described as “just extremely stupid” and “clearly our fault.” Five months later, PicoStocks announced that it had been robbed again. This time a total of 5,896 bitcoins were missing from both its “hot” and “cold” wallets. Because cold wallets can’t be accessed in online attacks, the theft may have been an inside job.

Worst of all was Bitcoinica. The brainchild of a seventeen-year-old named Zhou Tong, who lived in Singapore, Bitcoinica launched in September 2011 as a service allowing people to trade digital currency on margin, a high-risk, high-reward strategy that can potentially yield huge profits. The trading platform soon became immensely popular, home to more than $1 million in customer assets. At its peak, Bitcoinica’s trading volume was nearly as high as that of Mt. Gox, then the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange. Its downfall began in March 2012, when its host server was hacked and some 43,000 bitcoins were stolen, an amount then worth about $220,000. Customers’ faith was shaken, but Bitcoinica covered the losses out of its own reserves.

Then disaster struck.

As would later happen with PicoStocks, Bitcoinica was robbed a second time. This time, on May 11, 2012, the hot wallet was hacked, and 18,547 bitcoins — $92,500 worth — were stolen. It was too much. Bitcoinica shut down immediately and started a claims process by which customers could attempt to recover their deposits. But the hacker had deleted the platform’s account registry, making it impossible to verify users’ account balances without making a painstaking examination of the trading records. It was a sobering lesson in what can go wrong when teenagers get their hands on the levers of finance. At the time, Roger Ver himself had 24,841 bitcoins on deposit with Bitcoinica. He didn’t want to see it die. Behind the scenes, he began working on a plan for him, Jesse Powell, and two other men to buy Bitcoinica for enough money to make every customer whole — everyone except themselves.

But the lesson still wasn’t over. Only a few weeks before the second hack attack, Zhou Tong had sold Bitcoinica to a group of investors, who in turn had hired a three-man team with prior digital currency experience to build and manage the service. While the claims process crawled along, one of the team members, Charlie Shrem’s friend Amir Taaki, decided against all reason to publish Bitcoinica’s source code on the Internet. Releasing the code publicly like this — evidently in keeping with the Cypherpunk attitude that software wants to be free — immediately tanked Ver’s proposal to buy Bitcoinica, since whatever value its intellectual property had retained was now destroyed. Worse yet, within the code was the password to an account which, like a digital strongbox, held everything necessary to access Bitcoinica’s account at Mt. Gox.

Realizing this, a thief took advantage on July 13, withdrawing from the Mt. Gox account the maximum amount possible: forty thousand bitcoins and $40,000, worth a total of $350,000 at the time. Bitcoinica — its finances now in shambles, its leadership team no longer communicating or even attempting to issue refunds — went into receivership so that whatever funds remained could be disbursed to former customers. Nobody, including Roger Ver, had any hope of recovering all of their money.

When Zhou Tong had first announced Bitcoinica to the world, a member of a forum had given him a warning: “Systems that work with money are attacked hard and often, by intelligent skilled people… Spectacular failure is your destiny if you don’t work very hard to prevent it. Spectacular failure may be your destiny even if you do work very hard to prevent it. You should plan accordingly.”

“There’s no counterparty risk, there’s no central authority, there’s no merchant processor, there’s no bank, there’s no one telling somebody what they can and can’t do,” Cary says today. That meant no government could freeze your Bitcoin assets if they were stored in a Blockchain wallet. No government could bar you from sending money to whomever you liked — say, a relative in Cuba. And no government could ever force Blockchain to divulge information about customer assets, making it the wallet of choice for Roger Ver and thousands of other privacy-conscious individuals.

The radical notions underlying this business model included taking seriously the power to let users be their own banks, despite the inherent challenges. “The true promise of Bitcoin is to let money move around the world instantly and basically for free, just like email does for information,” Cary says. And in order to do that, you have to trust people with the custody of their own funds.”

When Cary met Ver in Tokyo in 2013, there were only about 350,000 Blockchain wallets, while the market cap of Bitcoin itself, depressed since the popping of the April price bubble, hovered at around $1 billion. A drop in the bucket compared to most of the world’s national currencies. But the potential was there — the potential for it to be much more than simply the coin of the realm for the digital underground. As Alex Waters, a former Bitcoin developer who once worked alongside Erik Voorhees, puts it, “Privatizing Bitcoin for one thing — black markets — is really unfair to humanity.” And Cary is the kind of man who thinks about humanity; who considers, in choosing his personal path, what might be best for the world at large. On this basis, Bitcoin attracted him. “You can let people have universal financial sovereignty. That’s the promise,” he says.

And so he allowed himself to be led through Kabukichō, past maid cafés and blaring pachinko parlors, strip clubs and ramen shops, past kanji climbing skyward up the sides of buildings in a canyon of raw commerce, air thrumming with lust and money, streets full of punters alive to the lure of ancient enticements, a carnival amid which stood the strobing portal of Robot Restaurant. It was the gaudiest thing around in maybe the gaudiest district in all of Tokyo. “Only the Japanese mind could think of this,” Ver says. Even then, on the brink of an epileptic’s nightmare, neither man knew all that much about the other. But they would soon learn.

Cash For the Shadow Economy

Nic Cary was born in Denver, where he grew up loving the cold and the outdoors, a child of three cultures. His mother’s family had emigrated to New York from France in 1946, and his mother, with whom he lived after his parents’ divorce, imparted to him a fluency in her native tongue. His father settled in Chile, where Cary visited him once or twice a year, picking up Spanish while being inducted into the joys of fly fishing and the Hemingway tradition of literate manhood.

At sixteen, enamored of the Internet despite the cratering of the dot-com sector, Cary started a small web design company with a friend, building online storefronts and custom software tools for businesses. Two years later he enrolled in the business leadership program of the University of Puget Sound, a liberal arts college in Tacoma, Washington. A hive of intellectual curiosity, with many interdisciplinary programs, Puget Sound proved to be fertile ground for his development. Students in the international political economics and business leadership programs were pushed to expand their thinking beyond their own narrow fields; they were encouraged to cross-train in the history department. Another student from Cary’s class of 2007 recalls a freshman-level course on the warrior poets of Asia. It was a campus that prized broad-mindedness, intellectual discussion.

It was a fateful choice. There, during his first week of classes, Cary met a fellow transplant from Colorado, a tall blond freshman, likewise majoring in business leadership, named Erik Voorhees. They clicked immediately. It was one of those rare occasions in life when a glancing blow with someone is sufficient to cement a friendship forever. Living across the quad from each other, they developed an incredible rapport. Together they pledged Sigma Chi — a dry fraternity, like all the fraternities on campus — of which Cary eventually became president. Though Voorhees lacked the natural leader’s talent for consensus-building that Cary displayed, he enjoyed playing devil’s advocate, and was more precocious in the formation of his philosophy and politics. “He really challenged my perceptions on politics, on economics,” Cary says. “We used to discuss all kinds of wild things.”

In turn they challenged their fellow students. A fraternity brother, Nick Vasilius, who also shared classes with them, recalls them sticking to their guns and challenging preconceived notions. “One thing they did not like was when people would just read a textbook and then regurgitate it back in class without thinking about the context or the implications,” he says. “You know, the type of person who just read the assigned reading and came to class ready to write it in a test. They really prized people being able to defend their points of view, and they were not shy about doing so.”

AI and Bitcoin Are Driving the Next Big Hedge Fund Wave

One class, The Illicit Global Economy, provided more than its fair share of provocative discussions. Students were asked to analyze the international markets for organs, narcotics, exotic animal parts, weapons, antiquities, and even human beings, seeking to understand how they operated, who was involved, and why the trade in such contraband persists. According to its Fall 2015 syllabus, the class also examines ethical questions arising from “relationships that exist between states, illicit entrepreneurs, criminals, multinational corporations, rebel groups, and consumers.” If any material was going to push Voorhees’s laissez-faire brand of political economics to the breaking point, this was it. Cary, who thought it a good policy to listen more than he talked, found the class enlightening. “Any time that you create a regime to manage a marketplace, you also increase the incentives to break the rules,” he says, explaining the crux of what he learned. “The people that can work around the rules make an incredible amount of money.” In other words, illicit economies arise as a result either of governments outlawing certain desirable commodities or of deficits in their supply.

Class discussions were spirited and produced surprising intellectual bedfellows. Radical feminists found themselves advocating alongside libertarians for the legalization of the sale of organs and other body parts, on the grounds that women have the right to do what they want with their bodies. Nick Vasilius, who took the class with Cary and Voorhees, remembers the War on Drugs providing fodder for one of the most enjoyable classroom discussions he ever had. He recalls it this way: “Basically the viewpoint that Nic and Erik and a few other classical [liberal] guys put forward was, ‘This is something that people want. The market is going to meet these needs, and it’s just going to enrich drug cartels if the government doesn’t acquiesce to the global market.’

“And I remember we had another class member who took kind of an absolute moral viewpoint that drugs are bad, period, and drugs lead to moral decay, period; and it’s the job of the state not only to facilitate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but to protect us from ourselves… Every time the student who took the absolute moral position would make her case, Erik would counter. She would say, ‘Anything that changes your body chemistry and your emotional state and your perception of reality shouldn’t be allowed, and is bad, and could be abused.’ And Voorhees — this is more of an example than what he actually said — he would say, ‘Well, what about coffee?’ and she would pause and say, ‘What about coffee?’ “Well, coffee has caffeine, it’s a stimulant; coffee can change your perception of time, it can change your mood, it can make you agitated, it can calm you down, depending on how it influences you.’ And she paused and he said, ‘What about cold medicine? Should that be illegal? Should that be tightly controlled? Should that be a Schedule I drug?’… Every time she would make a point he would make a little needle of an argument, deflating the thesis she had built. And that’s, in my mind, very demonstrative of who Erik was.”

Voorhees’s main takeaway from the class was not the depth of human depravity, as evidenced by the perennial existence of black markets — by, for instance, the poaching of animals and the exploitation of the poor. However much he abhorred violence, what stuck with him was the immense scale of the economic activity taking place in the shadows. And then, too, he found the actual mechanisms of the illicit economy worth thinking about. Black and gray markets rely on cash and can only exist because cash exists. But cash is difficult to transport across borders, keeping much of the shadow economy confined to specific geographical regions. Years later, he was struck by the fact that Bitcoin could function like cash while allowing transnational payments. He foresaw the expansion of the illicit economy into the digital realm. “Now the gray market can operate beyond the bounds of anyone’s community,” he says. Mark Williams, a lecturer in finance at Boston University, agrees: “A black market that can exist on fiat currency will only multiply on virtual currency if unchecked.” The tide of history was perhaps on Voorhees’s side. In 2014, both Washington and Colorado passed laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Even outside of class requirements, Cary found himself reading deeply in politics and economics, though his classical liberal tendencies never shaded, as Voorhees’s did, into extreme libertarianism. Nevertheless, they agreed more than they disagreed, making them brothers-in-arms. “With UPS being such a liberal bastion,” Cary says, “we were in battle constantly, debating people on politics, economics, religion, science, everything.” Iron sharpened iron. But there was a key difference between them. If Voorhees was a crusader, Cary was a pragmatist.

From Burnout to Bitcoin

Cary wound up spending most of his twenties working for a software start-up called Pipeline Deals, which required him to move — “with one box and a duffel bag” — from Washington to the East Coast. “I had run out of money, basically,” Cary explains. “I moved to Westchester, Pennsylvania, on a handshake. The role was very simple; I got a one-line email about it. My job description was to ‘grow the company’ … So, what did that mean? It meant everything. I was the janitor. I was the tax guy. I did our product management; I did our sales; I did our customer service; I did design. Everything.” Cary thrilled to the challenge. He was like a tightrope walker working without a safety net, who knew only that he needed to cross the chasm by whatever means necessary. Armed with this simple mandate — and paired with a developer — he flourished; within six months, the company’s founders had made him a partner in the business at the age of twenty-two. “For me, that was a huge endorsement,” Cary says. “I didn’t really care about the money. I cared about the acknowledgment.”

He had once envisioned working for a big software company like Amazon or Microsoft — he felt called to management — but the interviews he went on after college failed to inspire him. He didn’t want a long slow climb up the ladder; he wanted a rapid ascent. That was why he had taken the job at Pipeline Deals. For the next four years, he was married to his job — addicted to the nonstop work, the high stakes, the rapid pace. For four years he took not a single vacation day. He saw the company through its adolescence. But by the end of four years, he was getting restless. After his “tour of duty” in Westchester, he moved back to Seattle, but there, too, he was dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction was eternal with him, a “grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side thing,” as he puts it, that made him a perpetual nomad, always hungry for the next horizon. “It’s one of the things that makes me pretty successful,” he says, “but it’s also one of the things that makes me really hard to live with because I’m just going to constantly want to blow up something and change it and do something new.”

Not long after returning from Tokyo, six and a half years after he’d accepted a position at Pipeline Deals, he sat his bosses down and told them he was tired. At first, they didn’t know what to make of it. Cary was their star employee. His work ethic was unparalleled. What do you mean, you’re tired? “I’m really tired,” he told them.

Granted a three-month sabbatical, Cary headed to Morocco, where his sister, Tatiana, was stationed with the Peace Corps. Though he jokes that his family members get along better when living on separate continents, at this moment he needed his sister’s calming influence, needed to absorb, as if by osmosis, her “even-keeled, Hakuna Matata attitude.” Cary, a born traveler, enters deeply into the places he visits, and Morocco was no exception. (Later, he took with him everywhere a laptop decorated with a yellow sticker bearing the word ESSAOUIRA — the name of a town on Morocco’s Atlantic coast where he’d spent time.) Even so, he couldn’t help but think back to Tokyo — and to Roger Ver’s offer. There was ample cause for reflection. A mysterious chain of cause and effect seemed to be at work. It was a weekend the previous summer that had prepared him to hear Ver’s pitch as the opportunity it was.

After graduating in 2007, Cary and Voorhees had gone their separate ways — Voorhees to Dubai, where he hoped in vain to make his fortune, arriving just in time to watch the property boom grind to a halt, and Cary to India, where he spent four months in what he describes as “an incredibly rural area, where the poorest people on the planet live,” teaching English to rural Dalits — the so-called “untouchables” who fall outside the fourfold Hindu caste system and are discriminated against at every level of Indian society. But the two men remained close; they had stayed in touch since college, had followed one another’s budding careers, and once a year they reunited — with a dozen other college friends, mostly fraternity brothers. “We just pick a new spot in the United States somewhere and everyone flies in and we have a crazy weekend,” Cary explains. In the summer of 2012, Voorhees was moving to New York to take a job at BitInstant, one of the most promising early Bitcoin startups, and Cary invited his friend to stay with him for a couple of days at a small beach house owned by relatives on Long Island’s North Fork. While they fished for flounder in the Long Island Sound, Voorhees, thrilled with his new position, talked nonstop about Bitcoin.

“For forty-eight hours, we’re roasting in the sunshine, I’m plucking out fish from the water, and he’s just constantly going on and on and on about it,” Cary says. “It was like he’d had a religious experience. It was exhausting. We’re on this little tiny dinghy with a shit motor — one of those ones that never starts, you know, and it’s leaking, and he’s talking to me about the future of finance, the Internet for money, how it’s going to change everything, digital property rights systems. He’s like, ‘Nic, this is the perfect form of money, and here are the reasons why.’ I was like, ‘Whew! Well, all right, maybe I should invest some of my money in Bitcoin.’”

Being unable to shut up about Bitcoin “was my affliction ever since I found out about it,” Voorhees admits. “I’m not going to talk about the weather or superfluous stuff when there’s this world-changing technology that I’ve discovered.” (He now serves as CEO of ShapeShift, a cryptocurrency exchange service that emulates Blockchain’s commitment to user privacy and recently raised $10.4 million of venture capital in a Series A round.) Impressed by his friend’s passion, Cary bought some bitcoins through BitInstant on three occasions, when the price was $7, $9, and $13 respectively. At the time, he was earning an annual salary of about $40,000. The most he will say when asked about the value of his bitcoins is that he spent a four-figure amount to acquire them. He stored them in a Blockchain wallet for safe keeping. But even then, he didn’t see his cache of digital currency as a serious investment. It was a vote of confidence in a friend. “You know when you’ve got a buddy who’s, like, a really big sports fan in Denver, so you buy the Broncos jersey? That’s what it felt like to me,” he says.

A year went by burnout, Tokyo, sabbatical. The more he thought about it, the more Cary found Bitcoin irresistible, the “perfect confluence” of things he was passionate about economics, politics, technology. Like Voorhees two years earlier, Cary decided to throw himself into it with all his heart and mind. “To have those three things come together in an opportunity to participate in changing the world,” he says, “for me was like, ‘Oh my God. I’m going to dedicate everything I can to this.’” Roger Ver had found his man.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Blockchain Could Maximize its Potential in the Industry of Trade Finance

Blockchain Could Maximize its Potential in the Industry of Trade Finance

A large number of companies, banks, financial institutions,

Blockchain consortia and even governments have focused on testing Blockchain technology’s potential in the industry of trade finance. Most notably, the Hong Kong monetary authority introduced the development of a Blockchain-based trade finance platform in March. Additionally, IBM announced its long-term strategy to focus its Blockchain development initiative on trade finance.

What is trade finance and why does it need Blockchain?

Trade finance refers to the financing for trade and it always involves a wide range of intermediaries, banks, and third-party services providers that are contracted to facilitate transactions and finance the trade. The most widely utilized method of payment within the industry of trade finance is an open account, in which business partners have their accounts with correspondent banks open for the processing multiple transactions.

Essentially, the aim of banks and companies that are currently utilizing the Blockchain to optimize trade finance operations is to replace traditional and inefficient financial networks with a smart contract-based protocol which can process, update and broadcast transactions in real-time. With Blockchain technology and its ability to secure transactions on a decentralized and immutable ledger, governments and companies are attempting to replace banks and intermediaries with a trustless financial network. Banks are also attempting to develop trade finance platforms based on the Blockchain to cut operating costs and manual verification time.

Joshua Kroeker, the senior product manager for global trade and receivables finance at HSBC, stated:

“As the largest trade finance bank in the world … we were interested in assisting corporates to track transaction flows, reconcile transactions through invoice or purchase order matching and reducing the risk of duplicate financing for the participating banks. This development puts Hong Kong at the heart of a global effort to digitize trade, making it easier, faster and cheaper for businesses.”

More Blockchain use cases

On February 7, the government of Dubai went as far to launch an actual pilot trade finance platform based on the Blockchain with IBM to streamline operations between banks and optimize various operations involved in the trade finance industry.

At the time, Ali Sajwani, group chief information officer for Emirates NBD Group, said:

“The bank has always had a culture of innovation and several of the bank’s most successful products and features can be attributed to this forward-thinking mindset. We are excited to participate in the ecosystem on streamlining the trade finance process using the futuristic Blockchain technology, which has the potential of transforming the way we conduct business between heterogeneous entities.”

At a recent event covered by Global Trade Review, Zach Piester, chief development officer of the Blockchain consultancy Intrepid Ventures, and Connie Leung, financial services industry director at Microsoft, reaffirmed the progress being made by organizations in implementing Blockchain technology on existing trade finance platforms. Leung of Microsoft further emphasized the increasing demand for Blockchain technology to fight financial fraud within the industry of trade finance.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member