decentraland auction

Today, Decentraland launches its second land auction, allowing users to purchase digital “parcels” of land on the blockchain.

If you’re getting visions of the virtual-reality world in Ready Player One, you’re not far off. Decentraland aims to build a VR world, complete with avatars, games and virtual real estate.

Today’s auction will sell off 9,331 parcels of land, each 10m x 10m in size, in the virtual metropolis of Genesis City.

What is Decentraland?

Decentraland is a 3D, virtual-reality space where users can explore, purchase, and build upon blockchain land. It’s built on the Ethereum blockchain and utilizes a native cryptocurrency called MANA.

The virtual world is broken up into “districts,” and each district contains “parcels” of land. The world is finite, meaning land will ultimately be scarce, powering a true real estate market within the platform.

Decentraland hopes to encourage developers to build games and applications into the platform, increasing the value of land and creating a true community. 

Of course, this being blockchain, it’s decentralized: “Decentraland is not controlled by a centralized organization. There is no single agent with the power to modify the rules of the software, contents of land, economics of the currency, or prevent others from accessing the world.”

Decentraland Genesis city
Decentraland Genesis City Map: Marketplace

Big Money Behind Decentraland

Decentraland is partly funded by one of the cryptoverse’s largest investment funds, Digital Currency Group (DCG). DCG has investments in Coinbase, CoinDesk, Ledger, and blockchain.com among others.

Despite backing many of the world’s largest blockchain companies, it only owns five cryptocurrencies – one of them is Decentraland’s MANA. As DCG explains “We own MANA and LAND, and have been actively exploring other initiatives to accelerate the development of the decentralized metaverse.”

As part of that acceleration, DCG recently launched Metaverse Ventures to back projects building on Decentraland. Metaverse Ventures is “a wholly owned subsidiary of DCG that will invest exclusively in companies building products and services for Decentraland.”

Among the ventures backed so far include Vegas City, a region of land with 7,000 parcels complete with Vegas-style entertainment in virtual reality. They have also invested in Artie, which is building VR and Augmented Reality (AR) avatars for the virtual world.

Decentraland Land Auction, December 2018

The Decentraland auction begins today using a Dutch auction system. The price starts high and gradually lowers until someone purchases the land. 

land-price-graph

Decentraland will auction 9,331 parcels in this round, each starting at 200,000 MANA (about $12,000). The price will drop each day until the parcels reach 1,000 MANA (about $60), assuming they’re not snapped up beforehand.

Thanks to recent partnerships, users can also purchase land with ZIL, SNT, BNB, Dai, and MKR. To learn more about purchasing LAND, see the video below.

The Decentraland auction starts today.

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women in blockchain

Edit: Block Explorer’s Women in Blockchain article was updated on January 11th to reflect the industry in 2019.

Women in blockchain and cryptocurrency are dramatically under-represented.

As the New York Times reported earlier this year, the industry has so far been dominated by “blockchain bros,” with women accounting for just four-to-six percent of blockchain investors.

However, there are women out there making a real change in the blockchain industry, offering a living example that gender doesn’t matter as long as you bring value to the table. 

As Silicon Valley entrepreneur Brit Morin explained, “We have an opportunity to rebuild the financial systems. Women want to be part of that.”

Block Explorer proudly presents the most important women in blockchain: 

1. Kathleen Breitman (@breitwoman)

 Who: Breitman is one of the co-founders of Tezos, a self-governed automatically updated blockchain. The project raised $232 million of funding becoming the third-largest Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in 2017 and the tenth-largest in history (according to data from CoinSchedule). 

Even though the project went through the process of harsh legal scrutiny, the team was able to make it work, launching the fully operational protocol back in September. 

Why follow: Her tweets are a balanced mix of personal thoughts, heads up about important people and events in the field and funny jokes, delivered in a very calm manner. 

What does she say?

2. Neha Narula (@neha)

Who: Narula was a Google engineer and part of the team in charge of relaunching Digg, the news aggregator. Now, Narula is a director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab. It’s a pioneer in industry research, focused on cryptocurrencies, related technologies and solving the major issues standing in the way of mass adoption including privacy, security, and scaling.

Why follow: She is responsible for many amazing things in blockchain development right now, including creating a demo for a crypto-powered vending machine that allows the buyer to pay for goods with multiple coins. You don’t want to miss it! 

What does she say?

3. Galia Benartzi(@galiabenartzi)

 Who: Benartzi co-founded Bancor, the protocol for smart tokens, one of the most successful token sales to date. Getting back to CoinSchedule and their stats, Bancor was the fifth-largest token sale in 2017 and the 12th largest in history, at the time of publishing. 

Benartzi is currently in charge of Bancor’s business development, and that’s one hell of a mission. 

Why follow: Galia mostly retweets Bancor’s whereabouts and given that the project is working to rethink the future of money and digital assets – it’s a lot. Also, she shares her interviews and talks at the major events. It’s nice to be in the loop if you’re eager to attend blockchain events featuring ladies on the panels.

What does she say?

4. Preethi Kasireddy (@iam_preethi)

 Who: Preethi used to work as a blockchain engineer at Coinbase. And before that as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and partner at Andreessen Horowitz investment firm. Her recent venture is a project called TruStory, a social network of experts helping to identify what is real and what isn’t, focused on crypto-related news. She also holds 1:1 sessions with women who want to get involved in blockchain and crypto. 

Why follow: As a person who believes there’s no point in accumulating knowledge if you are not eager to share it, Kasireddy is indeed a goldmine of blockchain theoretical or practical information. All delivered in an easy to digest manner with lots of personality and character.

Her “aha” moment? Realizing that: “One of the biggest potentials of crypto was going to be its ability to break down some of the entrenched, ineffective, and corrupt systems we have in place today and re-imagine them from the ground up. To do things more openly, fairly, and effectively. All along, I had been approaching crypto as just a technological breakthrough. But I realized that it doesn’t stop at the technology, it merely starts there — it’s a movement. A revolution.”

What does she say? 

5. Meltem Demirors (@Melt_Dem)

Who: According to her Twitter profile, Demirors teaches at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Oxford University. She has a prominent corporate background as an analyst at Dow Chemical and Tradax Energy and as a consultant at Deloitte.

Starting from 2015 she was deeply involved in Digital Currency Group, one of the most active investors in the industry (its portfolio counts over 100 companies). Currently, she is chief strategy officer at investment management company, CoinShares. So she really knows her stuff. 

Why follow: Meltem has a UNIQUE point of view on what’s going on in the industry right now and where it might take us soon on the macroeconomic level. And she doesn’t hesitate to share it.

Her “aha” moment? “Sending a bitcoin transaction in 2013. Truly magical. Truly life-changing. When I really understood why this mattered.”

What does she say?

6. Linda Xie (@ljxie)

 Who: Linda accumulated many years of corporate risk management experience at AIG, and in product management at Coinbase. Later she moved on to advising 0x, a project building a protocol for decentralized exchanges, and doing her own thing as the managing director and co-founder at Scalar capital, an investment management firm. 

Why follow: Xie is super insightful on many levels: from how to explain the blockchain and cryptocurrencies to a muggle to sharing worthy thoughts and findings from fellow blockchainers. All delivered in a very warm and personal tone, it’s like reading from a friend. 

What does she say? 

7. Amy Wan (@amyywan)

Who: Amy has a solid legal background established while working for the U.S. Department of Commerce. Later on, she moved to the crowdfunding space (and even helped to raise $23.6 million to a real estate platform in series A). The boom of Initial Coin Offerings got her attention and led to her writing the Bloomberg Law practice guide to ICOs. At the moment her main venture is Sagewise, where along with her team she is building a product aiming to resolve disputes on blockchain efficiently. 

Why follow: Knowledgeable and forceful, but yet feminine, Wan shares her legal insights on security token offerings, decentralization and dispute arbitration on the blockchain. 

What does she say?

8. Taylor Monahan (@tayvano_)

 Who: The woman who founded probably one of the most-used Ethereum wallets out there, MyEtherWallet, and later MyCrypto. 

 Why follow: Monahan tweets her opinions on major industry events and her own product updates, all well-seasoned with humor and irony. 

What does she say?

9. Joyce Kim (@joyce)

 Who: Joyce went a long way from being a legal clerk to counseling startups and then becoming a company founder herself. Here entrepreneurial journey includes Soompi.com, one of the largest online communities for Korean pop fans, Simple Honey Inc., mobile e-commerce app based on “wish list” shopping, that was acquired by OpenCoin Inc. in 2013. 

Later she co-founded Stellar, an open platform trying to make financial products accessible for all, and worked there as an executive director. Since 2017 she is on her own again as a managing partner at SparkChain Capital, series A fund, investing in blockchain companies from around the world.

Why follow: Kim doesn’t tweet a lot, but we hope it will change. She is very passionate not only about the blockchain but also about long-term impact it might have on the disruption of some currently dysfunctional institutions. Also, she talks a lot about crypto founders and a token’s evaluation from the traditional “venture” perspective, and it might get you thinking.  

What does she say?

10. Dovey Wan (@DoveyWan)

 Who:  Founding Partner of Primitive Ventures, a crypto asset investment fund, known for contributing to Zcash, Sia, Kyber Network, and many other stealth-mode projects in the field. 

She’s also a voting member for token listings at Huobi Global, giving her voice for or against the candidates applied to be listed on Huobi Pro (currently ranks number six amongst the largest crypto exchanges based on trading volume) and Hadax exchanges.  

 Why follow: Dovey’s tweets are gold. It’s a never-ending flow of fresh tech-related ideas, witty thoughts on the most debated events in the industry, along with funny pics of the casual things she encounters during her trips. 

What does she say?

#11 Laura Shin (@laurashin)

Who? Former Forbes editor and host of two crypto podcasts, Unchained and Unconfirmed.

Why follow? She has interviewed and grilled some of the biggest names in blockchain, asking them tough questions and removing the hype from blockchain. Just listen to her podcast with Binance founder CZ.

What does she say?

Do you think we left someone behind? Go ahead and share your favorite blockchain female in the comment section below.

 

Remember the spring of 2017? Altcoins were booming. Every other week new ERC-20 tokens were minted, shilled, pumped, and dumped. For the day-trader, it was a feeding frenzy like no other. Newbies went broke as the skilled got rich. And early adopters sat staring at green for months. 

All of it seemingly based on obscure whitepapers, contemporary looking websites, hype, and Twitter announcements. Now, it’s happening again. This time you can leave your Ethereum at the door. The star of this show is Monero.

Monero, as you know, is everyone’s favorite untraceable and fungible cryptocurrency. It’s a community project and open source, using a proof-of-work mining algorithm CryptoNight. Like Bitcoin before it, it’s going through a sort of renaissance; forks aplenty. With over 50 different CryptoNight coins, including Monero forks such as Wownero, there’s a lot of ideas brewing.

You can forget Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) too. These projects are focusing on development first. Build a product and let it grow naturally. Here are some of the most intriguing projects in the space.

Figure 1. Wownero Doge.

Top CryptoNight Projects

Wownero plans to meme its way to the moon and become Monero’s DogeCoin with over-the-top ring signatures and bulletproofs. Others like Loki plan on bringing Monero’s famous anonymity to messenger applications. While less-inspired projects like Sumokoin and MoneroV have embraced the status quo and ASICs. And projects like Masari promising the ever elusive low hanging fruit that is ‘scalability.’

Others are a bit more ambitious. Projects such as Haven Protocol hope to create a stable off-shore banking system utilizing a dual coin blockchain. While Graft aims to become the Paypal of crypto by servicing real-time payment solutions and atomic swaps. Not to mention BitTube; the anti-censorship Youtube clone with a built-in cryptocurrency payment system.

There’s even an “Ethereum of Monero” named Dero looking to bring proof-of-work and anonymity to smart contracts. Using the familiar Golang coding language. Like in the golden age of ERC-20 tokens, the possibilities seem endless.

No ICOs; Development First, Funding Later

These aren’t Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) either. As Turtle Coin’s homepage points out; there are all too many projects pumped on promises and no product. For the most part, Monero forks and the CryptoNight coins like them are unfunded projects with nothing more than a few passionate devs and lofty goals; believing value will create itself.

Turtlecoin
Figure 2. Turtlecoin.lol Homepage.

There’s no shortage of ideas or coins. With small market capitalizations and lots of room for ‘mooning,’ it’s a penny trader’s dreamland; an early adopters clearinghouse. Even in this bear market, these little-known coins are being pumped and dumped on a daily basis. All happening on courageous homebrew exchanges like TradeOgre.com.

The “Penny Stocks” of Crypto

TradeOgre
Figure 2. Tradeogre.com

Established in January 2018 Trade Ogre has become a consistent, and little known, exchange with coin offerings rarely seen on major exchanges. Offering more than just Monero forks and CryptoNight coins, such as Ethereum and XRP,  Trade Ogre’s is an altcoin feeding frenzy all to itself. Its user interface is simple and Trade Ogre is K.Y.C free (no need to verify your ID). It even has 2FA.

Intuitive and easy-to-use, Trade Ogre’s offerings may even seem overwhelming; much like Cryptopia’s. All you need is some Bitcoin, or Litecoin, an email you can verify and you’re ready to go. You may need to invest some time downloading, learning how to use new wallets, and visiting a couple Githubs. But that’s part of the fun.

If you’d like to join Monero’s renaissance without trading, your Bitcoin mining is always an option as well. You can view a list of CryptoNight coins and mine at https://cryptoknight.cc/. Most of which are listed for trade at Trade Ogre and Cryptopia.

Figure 4. Cryptoknight.cc Mining Pools.

Either way, let’s hope this trend continues and more exchanges like Trade Ogre begin popping up; as well as a few more coins. Be careful out there!

Disclaimer: the author is involved in the Wownero project as a designer and artist.

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decentralized exchange

Binance just revealed a sneak peek of its new decentralized exchange (DEX). It’s slick, powerful, and will look familiar to current Binance users.

But why use a decentralized exchange instead of a normal cryptocurrency exchange like Coinbase or Kraken? Why is DEX the next generation?

In this article, we’ll run down some of the most important benefits. First, what exactly is a DEX?

What’s a DEX?

A decentralized exchange is a crypto exchange with no central authority.

Think about Coinbase for a minute. It is perhaps the most well-known exchange in crypto, but it’s highly centralized.

There is one company at the heart of it. Coinbase handles the exchange of money directly and stores all information on its servers. Most importantly, they control all funds on the platform. In other words, they technically own your crypto.

Centralized exchanges also require full identification, so your data is stored on their central servers.

A decentralized exchange aims to remove each of those elements. It’s a truly peer-to-peer exchange with no central authority and you keep full control and ownership of your funds.

Why Should I use a DEX?

1. Control your own funds

One thing you might not realize when you trade on Coinbase or Binance is that you don’t technically own your funds. The crypto is stored in wallets that belong to Coinbase or Binance. You are trusting them to look after it for you.

While that’s convenient, it’s not safe. It also goes against the grain of cryptocurrencies, which are designed to exist outside a third-party or banking system. With a DEX, you are in full control of your own private key and your own crypto funds.

2. Security

Because a centralized exchange like Coinbase holds your crypto in their wallets, it’s much more vulnerable to hacking. All data and funds are stored on the company’s server, so there’s one point-of-failure.

Crypto exchanges are regularly targeted by hackers because they hold vast sums of crypto in one place. Nearly $1 billion has been stolen from exchanges this year alone, and you probably remember the infamous $450 million hack at the Mt. Gox exchange.

A DEX removes that vulnerability by operating on a decentralized blockchain. Instead of one point of failure, the exchange operates on many servers all at once. That makes it extremely difficult to hack.

3. No government can shut it down

Since there is no central authority governing the DEX, it can’t be shut down.

For example, the Chinese government has a blanket ban on crypto exchanges. Binance was forced to move to Malta to get around the restrictions. In the US, exchanges like Coinbase must stick to strict regulations in order to operate.

You can’t close down or govern a DEX if there’s no central point of authority.

4. Permissionless

A founding tenet of cryptocurrencies is that they are “permissionless.” In other words, you don’t need someone’s permission (like a bank or a government) to use them.

When you use a central exchange like Coinbase, Coinbase is giving you permission to trade cryptocurrencies by asking for certain data and assigning you an account.

A DEX should be truly permissionless. Anyone can use it, with no restrictions.

5. Privacy

If you’ve used a mainstream exchange, then you’ve probably been asked to verify your identity. Coinbase, for instance, asks for ID verification to satisfy Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) laws.

Your data is then stored on a central database. With a DEX, there should be no personal data stored on any central exchange. However, it remains to be seen whether the Binance DEX will require identification.

6. Faster and cheaper

By cutting out a central middleman, decentralized exchanges should operate with lower fees and faster transaction times.

The Downsides of DEX

Of course, decentralized exchanges are not perfect. They are still in their early stages and suffer from a number of problems:

Low liquidity – Not a lot of people use DEX platforms yet, so liquidity and trading volume is significantly lower than mainstream exchanges. That means it could be difficult to buy or sell certain assets.

Poor user experience – The benefit of using a mainstream exchange like Coinbase is that it’s slick and easy to use. DEXs are more primitive. They can seem overwhelming to beginners.

Lack of functionality – Again, because they’re in their infancy, DEXs have pretty basic functionality. If you’re looking for margin trading or stop-loss functionality, you may be disappointed.

No fiat conversions – You can’t load up your DEX account with dollars or euros because that would require KYC and AML procedures (ID verification). So you’ll have to make transfers in cryptocurrency only. Not a problem for intermediate users, but a big problem for beginners.

First Look at Binance DEX

If you’re excited by the concept of DEX trading, take a look at the new Binance platform:

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EU flag

Ripple, alongside three other blockchain companies, has launched the “Blockchain for Europe” association.

The partnership includes NEM Foundation, Emurgo – a company that invests in Cardano projects, Fetch.ai – a “smart ledger” utilizing artificial intelligence, and of course Ripple.

The association aims to provide a “unified voice for the blockchain industry” in Europe. Their goal is to educate key members of the European Union and bring some kind of consensus to the fragmented and inconsistent policy debates across the continent.

The Blockchain for Europe association also hopes to support and guide EU regulators. As the accompanying press release explains, they aim to “help Europe to create smart regulation to shape the global agenda on blockchain.”

Ripple’s head of regulatory relations in Europe, Dan Morgan said: “Ripple is delighted to be a founding member of Blockchain for Europe. This is a critical time for policymakers in Europe as they seek to develop the right regulatory framework to capture the benefits of both digital assets and blockchain technology.”

The association held its first summit in November to discuss how blockchain and distributed ledgers can support governance, healthcare, transport, trade, identity, financial market infrastructure as well as tokens/cryptocurrencies.

Source: Blockchain for Europe

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