OmiseGO

For decades now people have been talking about the future of a cashless society.

It was always the stuff of science fiction since the reality of having no cash faced too many hurdles. Between banks, currencies and borders, it didn’t really have a feasible way to be done.

With blockchain technology, suddenly those barriers are starting to fall.

Moving away from cash is not only achievable but it is starting to seem inevitable.

In fact, OmiseGO, a Thai, Japanese and Singaporean  company, is already using the blockchain to that effect. It’s still early, but it seems to have the foundation laid for a system that works between blockchains. Enabling transactions for B2B applications right down to ordering your morning cup of coffee without needing everybody to operate on the same system or application.

What is OmiseGo?

OmiseGo started in 2013 in Asia as a Stripe-like payment system. Working mainly as a mobile app, people have been using it as an easy way to make payments or buy goods.

As they transition from a centralized database system to the blockchain, the way to look at it is not as an altcoin, but as a financial platform that unites many different platforms.

To become a mainstream application, OmiseGO realizes that they need people and businesses to use it without realizing they are using the blockchain, or need to know how a blockchain works.

The real beauty of that premise is that it will enable different blockchains to communicate with each other so you won’t need people to all be on the same platform. If people with a OmiseGO wallet could only transact with other users with the same wallet, you can see how limiting that would be. With OmiseGO, it doesn’t matter what app or platform they use to be able to make a transaction.

OmiseGO describes itself as: “The answer to a fundamental coordination problem amongst payment processors, gateways and financial institutions”. In other words, to act like an exchange without needing to be an exchange.

There are tens of millions, if not more people, in Asia right now that don’t use banks and want an easier way to use cash. Whether it’s to make payments, buy something or even transfer money to friends or family, even across borders. Right now many are using OmiseGO as their bank. They fill their wallet with whatever currency they want and use it to buy things, make payments and even send currency across borders to friends and family.

How does OmiseGO differ from an exchange?

OmiseGO is currency agnostic. That means that it is not tied to any one currency over another. In a typical exchange of Bitcoin to Ethereum for example, you would have to buy BTC with cash, then find an exchange that converts BTC and ETH, then send the BTC from your wallet to the exchange, then convert the BTC back to fiat, then finally to ETH. With a lot of transaction fees and time required to complete what should be a simple transaction.

OmiseGO is an application that allows different blockchains to operate with each other. (Interoperability is a word that you will hear often when discussing blockchain potential) Since it is currency agnostic, it doesn’t matter what type of currency is in your ewallet, you don’t need to go to an exchange to get another currency. The wallet will communicate across blockchains. Sort of a liaison that links different chains without needing to be on the same platform.

Streamlining this process of exchanges opens up a huge swath of the financial market that paves the way for the phasing out of cash and makes digital currency, or even digital assets, a mainstream currency.

How Can OmiseGO Be Used?

There are infinite ways for this system to work, but for the sake of brevity and simplicity I will give just a few real world examples of how this will be implemented.

Let’s say you are businessman or tourist from the UK. You will be going to a few different countries with different currencies. As you exit the airport at your destination, you can pass right by the currency exchange windows as you won’t be needing any local currency.

You go to a restaurant and pay with your OmiseGO wallet that has BTC, the restaurant only takes Swiss Francs. Not a problem. The wallet takes the BTC out of your wallet and sends the exchange in Francs to the restaurants bank account.

In another example, you need to pay your electricity bill. You don’t have a bank account, either because you are trying to live off the grid, don’t like how unsafe your information is in a central database, or you simply don’t qualify for a bank account. You now can use your wallet with whatever the currency of your choice is and make payments to other institutions.

Let’s say that you are a loyalty member on many different stores. Rather than keep a dozen loyalty cards on you to accumulate points as you shop at those stores, you can have them all linked into your wallet. When you use your wallet, it updates whatever the relevant loyalty program is.

Then, there is the possibility of loans when you don’t have a bank. With platforms like EthLend and SALT, you don’t need a bank to get a loan. You can use your cryptocurrency in your wallet as collateral to secure a loan that can be used for anything you want. And since you can use your wallet for non crypto transactions, it doesn’t matter what currency you take your loan out in.

As I said, these are just a small fraction of the possible use cases of OmiseGO. And they only represent consumers. There are infinite applications for B2B transactions and foreign exchange markets, to name only a couple.

How Does the OMG Token Work?

OmiseGO is a proof of stake concept, so tokens buy the right to validate transactions.

OMG tokens will be the token to pay the transaction fees for things like making payments, currency exchange, etc.

The value is in the stake of the blockchain. The more transactions the more tokens distributed, the more value they have.

Ignoring the silly name of the OMG token, it is an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain until OmiseGO has finished its own blockchain. Right now the ICO sale of the tokens is being used to develop the platform. It may take a while before it is complete and may see many iterations before it feels completed.

Using tokens as incentive rather than a currency is becoming the easiest way to fund a huge project like this one without needing to go for venture capital.

As more and more aspects of finance are being disrupted, the more likely we are to see cashless societies come to fruition. OmiseGO is in an enviable position to be the company leading the way to this future.

Railblock

What is Raiblocks?

As maintaining a huge, unwieldy blockchain becomes more expensive, slow and non eco friendly, an alternative cryptocurrency has come on the scene.

Colin LeMahieu, the founder of Raiblocks, decided to create a new kind of blockchain that would enable feeless, fast and efficient transactions.

Though Satoshi’s blockchain was revolutionary, LeMahieu saw it as unscalable. Because each transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain has to reference a previous transaction as proof, it has become so big that transaction times can take hours to complete.

Raiblock uses a block lattice instead. Still using blockchain technology, each transaction is its own blockchain between the sender and the receiver of XRB, the Raiblock coin. Each block is just one transaction and the global register of transactions is stored in their ledger.

Since the block lattice creates blocks asynchronously by transaction, it also has limitless scalability.

It can run on low power hardware, so is also more eco friendly than a traditional blockchain based currency.

How Does Raiblocks Work?

Each user has his/her own account which includes a public and private key.  The public-key, also referred to as the address, is shared with other network participants while the private-key is kept secret.

When a transaction is started, a block on the lattice is made. It’s then signed by the private key. Other users can’t see the information of the private key, but the block can be verified by the information within it, including the digital signature.

The blockchain only extends as far as that accounts history. With no other transactions to store, the blockchain is lean and lightweight. All these transactions are then stored on the global ledger to be viewed and verified by other account holders.

Each account chain, however, can only be added upon by the account holder. Because of this, updates to the chain happen immediately and asynchronously to the rest of the block-lattice, resulting in quick transactions.

This means that there is no need for miners to verify the transaction. The only thing that needs verifying is a possible double spend showing on the chain. But, since each spend requires a reference to a previous block with the digital signature, a double spend would only occur if someone tried to reference the same previous block in two seperate send transactions.

So, how do Raiblock transactions get verified then?

When you create a Raiblock account, you select another account to act as your proxy and vote on transactions. When an apparent double spend occurs, one of these accounts votes on which transaction is the right one. There are so many of these accounts that vote, that there is always one online.

The Raiblock protocol is extremely light-weight and can be sent within the required minimum UDP (User Datagram Protocol) packet size for being transmitted over the internet. Hardware requirements are small, as well. All this adds up to a fast, cheap and scalable system.

The coin, the XRB, is founded on a Genesis Balance which is a fixed quantity

 and can never be increased. It was funded in October 2017.

How Can Raiblock Prevent Attacks?

Since Raiblock does not use a traditional blockchain, it seems like it could be susceptible to attacks.

The simplicity of the system is what actually prevents the known attack scenarios.

For example, in some cases a block that is not properly transmitted could be exploited in most situations. In the block lattice, a bad block would be ignored, or a request for a resync with the node happens. The increase in traffic this causes a denial of service. Before it can connect a vote happens, in which case it is deemed junk data. Attack averted!

With transaction floods, Sybil attacks and penny attacks, the way the block lattice operates makes it not just impossible, but not worth the effort or expanse. Voting by accounts can see these as they happen and deny the transactions. Since nodes that set up the block are pruned, there are few historical blocks to exploit.

Another stop gap is the fact that votes are account balance weighted. The bigger the balance on an account, the more weight the vote has. If somebody wanted to rig the vote, they would need to have over 50% of the voting power. This is only possible by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on XRB. Theoretically a foreign country could try this (I’m looking at you, China!), it is highly unlikely.

Raiblock vs Iota

What makes Iota and Raiblock similar?

These two crytpos were the first to figure out a fast, free and minerless system to make their crypto work more like fiat currency. They both use DAG, directed-acyclic-graph data structure.

It’s just the ways they implement their systems are different.

Raiblock uses Proof of Scale with the block lattice. A transaction is run through the ledger to ensure that the signatures are authentic. Once it syncs with the node, the node reads the signature and it is confirmed instantly

Iota works on Proof of Work. This means that a block gets confirmed once it is surrounded or stacked by other blocks. The time it takes to confirm, then, is reliant on how many users there are in the system.

 Though, Proof of Work is lower cost than the Bitcoin blockchain to operate, there is still some cost since there is computing that needs to be done.

Besides the differences being in how they enable transactions, the biggest separator is what they each hope to achieve.

Iota is looking to dominate the protocol for the Internet of Things devices. They are not exactly decentralized as they require a coordinator to manage transactions. Big corporations like Volkswagen and Bosch like that and have signed on as partners.

Raiblock, on the other hand is looking to become a daily peer to peer payment system for arbitrage through quick transactions, or to simply buy your morning cup of coffee.

At the end of the day, it is becoming clearer that for cryptocurrency to be used in place of fiat, it has to be instant and free. Otherwise it can never replace cash.

Now, there are many who could not care less about replacing fiat currency. They are either unbanking and want a safe place to hold their wealth, they are looking to invest by trading crypto or whatever personal reasons they have to buy up coins.

But, the people behind Raiblock and many other believers in decentralizing finance and currency are looking forward to a day when they can uncouple from government monetary policies and decide for themselves which currency they want to use. A coin like XRB could be just the thing they are looking for.

SALT Lending

What happens when a crypto millionaire walks into a bank looking for a loan?

Usually, nothing.

Most banks won’t issue a loan with digital assets as collateral. SALT lending has stepped in to fill that gap. As long as you have some crypto, you can secure a loan.

Seeing how inefficient traditional lending is in this digital age, Shawn Owens, CEO of SALT, decided to start a platform on the blockchain that would give crypto holders access to loans based on the collateral of their crypto currency.

With no credit scores to worry about and instant access, it has become a very attractive way for people to secure lending. Not least of whom are the unbanked.

What is SALT Lending?

SALT, Secured Automated Lending Platform, is as mentioned a collateral based lending platform that lets you put up your digital assets, ie, crypto currency, in exchange for fiat cash.

The platform is tethered to ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.

Using the blockchain, loans are made via smart contracts. The SALT Platform is automated, efficient, and cryptographically secure.

Traditional lending is sometimes difficult to secure, always expensive and slow and sometimes unsafe as central servers can be hacked. Sending personal information into nefarious hands.

By utilizing the blockchain, SALT makes access to capital inexpensive to transfer, store, and liquidate. And the trustless system of the blockchain means you won’t have to wonder how secure the lending institutions servers are. All the transactions are on the chain, validated and immutable.

What are the Benefits of SALT Lending?

Using a system that requires no credits checks means that there is really no barrier to entry when it comes to securing a loan. If you have the collateral, you will get the loan.

Lenders post what the terms and interest rate they are looking and users can shop around to find the loan that best suits their needs. This puts a lot of power in the hands of the person getting the loan.

There is also no need to even announce what the loan is going to be used for. In a traditional lending scenario you have to apply for a special loan for auto, mortgage or other types. On the blockchain nobody cares what you want the money for.

What is probably the most attractive reason to get a loan from SALT, is for arbitrage if you’re looking to buy more crypto currency.

It would be very sad to have to cash out your bitcoin, for example, to buy another coin and watch as Bitcoin has a rally and you no longer have any. In this case, you can put up the Bitcoin as collateral, secure a loan instantly and buy the tokens you want. Even better is that during the time of the loan terms, if the value of your digital asset collateral rises, you are making money on that, too.

With the volatility of the crypto exchange market, hours count. If you have to waste an entire day at the bank trying to get a loan to buy coins, then have to wait days for the funds, you will likely miss out on a prime buying opportunity. SALT gets you cash instantly and directly into your bank account.

There are no penalties for paying off a loan early, unlike with most banks.

And with many tangible assets, such as land, jewelry and intellectual property making their way onto the blockchain becoming digital assets, it means easier liquidation of just about anything.

How Does SALT Lending Work?

To use the SALT lending platform, you first need to pay to become a member.

There are three different membership types. For small loans up to $10,000 and terms of 3 to 24 months there is the Base membership which costs 1 SALT token per year (more about the tokens later). The Premium membership costs 10 SALT tokens per year and gives you access to up to $100,000 and a line of credit. Fiat currency is available in USD, EUR, JPY, RMB and GBP. Terms are 1 hour to 36 months. The Enterprise membership costs 100 SALT tokens. Including access to 1 million USD, with ad hoc currency selection and metered terms.

To create an account you only need to give your first and last name and email address.

As a borrower, you get matched automatically with some of the capital from SALT’s extensive network filled with lenders.

Throughout the term of your loan, your digital assets remain in an ultra-secure architecture that is fully audited.

To secure a loan you have to put up as collateral 125% of the loan. If you need $1,000, then you’ll need to offer $1,250. If somehow you are unable to repay the loan, then your collateral is deducted from the unpaid remainder and given to the lender.

This is important to remember, since with a traditional loan it doesn’t matter how much you have already repaid. Whatever collateral you used to secure the loan will be repossessed. This is another outstanding benefit of a SALT loan. If you borrowed $1,000 and only managed to repay $750, then you lose $750 and that’s it.

If the value of the assets used as collateral increases, the borrower can decide to add to the principal of the value of the loan, or withdraw some of the collateral.

What happens if the value of the collateral decreases? Addition collateral will be required to be provided or the monthly loan payment will need to be increased. The SALT Oracle smart contract issues a notice to the borrower alerting them to this so there are no surprises. If the borrower fails to do either of these then the smart contract issues a liquidation of the collateral automatically.

What is the SALT Token?

A SALT token is simply called a Salt.

How will Salt be used? The Salt token will be used for membership to the platform. It’s a fee for a loan in essence depending on what tier you want to be in for loan access.

So, unlike many new altcoins, it is not being used as a way to crowdfund the development of the platform.

There is a fixed supply of 120 million Salt tokens. As more borrowers buy memberships the value of the token will rise. Once a token is bought for membership, it is essentially given back to SALT to be then sold to somebody else for their membership and so on.

There are a few other crypto lending platforms, most notable EthLend. Which one will win the biggest market share? Well, nobody knows of course.

One thing is for sure, SALT and Ethlend and others will not be the last to offer digital asset collateral backed lending via smart contracts. The unbanked, crypto traders and anybody else looking to take advantage of this Brave New World emerging thanks to the innovations of blockchain technology will soon have an easier way to gain access to cash, no matter who comes out ahead.

How Does Bitshares Work?

If you have spent any amount of time in the crypto world, you no doubt have heard about the hacking of Mt. Gox.

After the hacking and subsequent loss of roughly 450 million USD, Dan Larimer understood that exchanges were the weak link in the blockchain.

He developed BitShares as the first decentralized exchange where you can use BitAssets to trade currency in a trustless way.

What makes exchanges the weak link in the blockchain system is the fact that they are centralized. When you buy crypto in an exchange, either with fiat or another cryptocoin, you are essentially buying an IOU towards a future redemption of your coin. You don’t actually own the coin until you withdraw it into your own wallet.

This leaves the possibility open to be exploited very easily.

BitShares is a truly decentralized exchange that is completely on the blockchain. It even has a user friendly wallet that you can name rather than relying on a string of random numbers and letters.

How Does BitShares Work?

BitShares is a peer to peer distributed ledger. It works with a Delegated Proof of Stake protocol.

Working the exchange on a blockchain rather than a central server means that the block transactions need to be verified and agreed upon. The Bitcoin blockchain uses a Proof of Work protocol, so blocks need to be mined, which takes time to verify a block and is expensive.

Bitshares, instead works by voting for delegates or Witnesses, so the validation process is streamlined. A BTS token holder can vote for 120 delegates. The top 101 delegates validate the blocks. The token then pays the delegates for their work.

Not only is this more efficient but it’s also safer since there is no incentive to try to game the system. Since taking down the blockchain will undermine the value of their own tokens.

By using the Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS), transactions can be done quickly. Though it has yet to be tested, in theory BitShares can handle 100,000 transactions per second compared to Bitcoin’s 5 per second.

Transaction fees will be paid by the BTS token. To bypass the IOU nature of current currency exchanges, BitShares uses BTS tokens as collateral for an exchange. This results in the token being used more as an equity than as an altcoin.

The transaction fees, which will amount to fractions of cents instead of dollars, will be paid by these tokens.

Then there are payments which are done by use of Smartcoins. Since markets are volatile and to get more people using the platform they need to trust the value of it, there are coins tied to fiat that does not fluctuate. For example, there is a bitUSD that is always going to be 1 bitUSD per fiat USD. 1 week, 1 month 1 year from now it will still be 1 bitUSD to 1 fiat USD.

You can invest in the USD, or other Smartcoins like bit EUR, bitGold, etc, and know that it will trade at the same value as other traditional exchanges. This difference makes it very stable compared to other crypto exchanges.

There are also digital assets, called User Issued Assets. These can be literally anything of value, with the value determined by the issuer. Something as small as loyalty points from an issuers rewards cards to property deeds can be registered with a smart contract and placed on the blockchain.

This means incredible liquidity on any assets. Somebody could put up their assets in gold, stocks, property etc and then use it to borrow or exchange for fiat, or other crypto currencies. You could then withdraw that to be able to make payments or put in your mattress if you are so inclined.

What is Bitshares, then, is not such an easy question to answer.

Everything about it is decentralized. The software it uses is open source. In theory anybody can take that software and create their own decentralized blockchain exchange.

Even the way they pay their workers is decentralized. Anybody can propose a project to start on the blockchain and the delegates vote on it. If they get approved, they get paid in tokens to work on their project. The token holders, then are the company.

It started out trying to be a decentralized NYSE sort of crypto exchange, but has morphed into something more utopian than that even. One thing it isn’t is a currency.

Though they issue their own token, BTS, the token is just for ease of use and to pay it’s witnesses and make payments. The value of BTS of course rises and falls. But, that is the nature of a token. It isn’t mean to be used as a currency. That is what the Smartcoins and User Issued Assets are for. The BTS token is equity or collateral to represent the coins or currency being traded.

Just like in most airplane crashes, user error is almost always the case for crypto currencies getting hacked or stolen. Though it remains to be seen if Bitshares will end up the top dog in the decentralized exchange realm, it definitely has signaled that centralized exchanges can be replaced.

 If crypto is going to have a future of an actual currency, then it has to be indeed trustless. If current exchanges continue to erode that trust then we may be seeing more exchanges based off of the example of Bitshares.

DigixDAO

It seems like volatility and cryptocurrencies go hand in hand lately.

Though, the decentralized nature of altcoins is very attractive, it does bring a certain amount of instability with it as baggage.

Traditional investors get spooked easily, which keeps many from entering the world of cryptocurrencies.

DigixDAO is making an attempt to solve the volatility issue of cryptocurrencies by using the Ethereum blockchain to create smart contracts for gold certificates.

Having a token tied to a stable asset as a way to store value will hopefully create a system that sees less fluctuations in the market. This could very well be an attractive platform for investors unwilling to brave the Wild West of crypto trading.

What is DigixDAO?

DigixDAO is a Distributed Autonomous Organization (DAO) located on the Ethereum blockchain. A DAO is simply a company that operates through rules encoded in smart contracts. A decentralized corporation, basically where the financial ledgers are tracked and time stamped on the blockchain.

DigixDAO works on a Proof of Asset protocol, so the tokens are backed by a physical asset.

There are two tokens issued by DigixDAO. The DGX and DGD.

Using an ERC-20 token, a user can buy a DGX coin which equals 1 gram of gold. Once a user has purchased the token a gram of gold is allocated to them on the blockchain in a smart contract. The DGX is a token to perform transactions, transactions as the aforementioned

The gold is bullion from LBMA refineries with accompanying Assay Certificates from refiners ranging from Valcambi, PAMP Suisse, Nadir Bullion

It’s not exactly an exchange then, as it is decentralized and there is no third party requiring any trust. Sort of.

Since gold is a physical asset and has to be stored, DigixDAO has storehouses where the gold will physically be located. That requires trust. You don’t have to trust the ledger on the blockchain, but you do have to trust that the gold is where it says it is and that there is enough to cover the tokens that have been bought.

DigixDAO employs Inspectorate Bureau Veritas to run quarterly audits of the gold in their storehouses. Established in 1828, they have been a trusted auditor for a long time. So, if you need to trust a third party, then one with a long history and track record is a good start.

DGD, then, is the token distributed to investors who aren’t looking to buy gold. The DGD token acts the same way other crypto coins are used. DGD token holders will receive DGX tokens gained through fees collected on the platform. The more users and transactions performed on the blockchain the higher the value of the DGD.

Why Gold?

It seems to go against the cypherpunk ethos to tie a cryptocurrency to an asset like gold. Going against the trustless formula many tokens require is a calculated move by DigixDAO to offer a secure place to store your funds.

What is the benefit of using DGX to buy gold?

Let’s suppose that you have a crystal ball and can predict a drop or dip in the crypto markets before they happen. Usually when a drop happens, it affects coins across the board in the same way. Gold, however is not so affected.

So, if you want to hold your funds securely without cashing them out, you wouldn’t want to buy up other tokens that will drop as well. Buying gold shares, then keeps your funds secure with a commodity that won’t fluctuate so much during a bear market.

You then can ride out the volatile market until you feel like you are ready to buy back in. All without ever divesting and paying taxes on your gains while you’re waiting it out.

This has obvious benefits for both the die hard crypto traders that want a hedge on their investments and for the traditional investors that are not used to the new world financial order being ushered in by the rise of altcoins.

Relative to other cryptocurrencies, DigixDAO is moving rather slowly. They have been around longer than most altcoins, but still have a ways to go before they are a fully fleshed out platform. This isn’t a bad thing. Though things change quickly in crypto markets, DigixDAO is not likely to be left behind. Though the Gold Standard was abandoned long ago by fiat currency, it may be the ticket to entry into the crypto market many have been looking for thanks to DigixDAO.

Zcash

Anonymity is the name of the game when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

It’s the reason that cryptocurrencies got their start to begin with. Bitcoin was created as a way to decentralize the way finance works, but it also was really attractive to people who didn’t want the world to know about their personal information.

When you sign up for a credit card or a bank account, all your information is there in a central server. It can be hacked and your details stolen cleaning out your account, or a government can seize your account. The various ways you can be compromised are well known at this point.

The attractiveness of anonymity on the blockchain soon gave way to some concerns about the transparency of a public blockchain.

There are now privacy coins that address the nature of how encrypted transactions on the blockchain can be. One of these privacy coins is Zcash.

Why Use a Privacy Coin like Zcash?

Unfortunately, since some people used Bitcoin in its early days to purchase drugs online, the first reason people think of for using a coin that hides a transaction is a nefarious one.

There are a lot of reasons to use a privacy coin that has nothing to do with any illegal activity.

For an example, let’s suppose that you are sending money to your friend. With most coins, your wallet is transparent and anybody can see how much currency you have. The other users on a blockchain don’t know what your identity is, but your friend sure does. Now he knows how much money you have. Try telling him you can’t loan him more money when he knows how much you have!

Hackers may have a hard time infiltrating a blockchain as they are hard to hack, but assuming they find a vulnerability, they are going to target full wallets. If nobody can see how much you are holding in your wallet, they aren’t likely to get your funds.

Authoritarian governments are quick to crack down on citizens that use money in ways that they don’t want. It is very easy for a government to stop banking transactions or even potentially find your identity on the blockchain. Having more privacy means a citizen can trade or invest wherever they please without government interference.

A corporation will want to keep its transactions a secret to avoid clueing competitors in on their business.

Then there is the issue of fungibility. An asset, in this case a coin, can always be substituted for another of the same value. So, the same token for another token or a good or service.

When the history of a user can be seen, the possibility of the coin being fungible decreases. What happens when a bank doesn’t want to accept your money because they don’t like how you made it? Or, even worse, if the history of the coin before you received it causes problems even if you didn’t have anything to do with those prior transactions.

And those are just a few reasons that Zcash hopes you will use their coin to have peace of mind on the blockchain.

How Does Zcash Work?

Zcash uses a special proof to secure the network called Zk-Snark - or proof of construction. Using Zero Knowledge Proofs, the protocol can verify transactions maintaining a secure ledger of balances without disclosing parties or amounts involved in transactions.  They allow you to prove knowledge of some facts about hidden information without revealing that information.

Zcash's blockchain shows only that a transaction took place, not who was involved or what the amount was. The protocol allows users to split up or merge Zerocoins, the token protocol on the Zcash platform, and also convert them back to bitcoins. There is a string of data that each user sends and this string includes encrypted data to prove the transaction is valid. It has a unique nullifier that marks the tokens as spent.

How Does the ZEC Token Work?

Mining of the blocks works much the same way as Bitcoin where a miner receives tokens as a reward for a successful validation of a block in a Proof of Work protocol.

The difference is that 50 ZEC gets created every 10 minutes with 10 of those tokens going to the founders. The rest gets split up by the miners. After four years, however, the reward is halved to the miners, but they don’t have to split any of the tokens with the founders. All of the tokens they are rewarded are theirs.

The token is capped at 21 million, so the value can raise as more transactions happen on the chain.

The way to use it is the same as any other coin. Think of it the same way you would Bitcoin. You can use it to pay for things that accept ZEC, or you can use it to store value and trade it for Bitcoin when you want to use it where ZEC is not accepted.

The fact that Ethereum is looking to implement the cryptography that Zcash and other privacy coins employ is a sign that this might be the way that all cryptocurrencies head in the future. There are massive benefits that will be enjoyed if Zcash proves to be a sustainable model on how to safely and sustainably make transactions completely anonymous.

The Zcash encryption model on its face seems like an efficient way to keep transactions secret. As with everything in the crypto world, the market will decide how well Zcash does in the future with this technology.

Decentraland

Imagine a virtual world where you can buy land and create an actual business on that land.

In this virtual world, you’ll find all the same things as in the analog world around you. Homes, storefronts, casinos, music halls, art galleries, etc. You would find all that but without any bureaucracy or middle man. In essence, that is Decentraland.

Found on the Ethereum blockchain, the creators of Decentraland have set up a metaverse where users can buy plots of virtual land. What they do on that land is completely up to them.

How does Decentraland work?

A next generation social media platform, Decentraland is very similar to the game Second Life, but with some major differences.

Similar to Second Life, users operate in a virtual world and interact with other avatars. It’s mainly for fun, but money can be made as they have their own economy.

Here is where the differences begin. For one, the application is totally decentralized. Second Life or other metaverses are found on a central server that can be hacked or taken down at a moment’s notice. Certain rules must be followed that can be arbitrary since there is a central authority that makes the rules.

Decentraland, as its name implies, is decentralized as it is on the blockchain and not a central server. The users determine how the metaverse will operate.

The other major difference is how the application actually works. When you buy your land, you can build any type of application you want to on it and can upload things from off the application.

For example, if you are a musician, you can open a music hall that could feature a live stream of your performance. You could charge admission or people could buy your music to download, or both. And you would set up the payment processor yourself.

This is just one example. There are so many ways to use Decentraland.

The way it actually works is you would use Ether to buy MANA, the native coin. With MANA you would buy your land. Since it is on the blockchain there is a smart contract created with a ledger of ownership of the land.

Decentraland is mainly for entrepreneurs, creatives, students or other online communities, but it is really for anybody to use.

Since the MANA can appreciate, it is even ideal for investors to trade that have no desire to actually use the platform.

Technological advances are beginning to happen more rapidly than ever. Finally the promise of virtual reality becoming mainstream and used by the masses is not something that looks far away in the future.

The creators of Decentraland understand that more and more people, and not just gamers, will use VR on an everyday basis and want to be ahead of the curve for when it hits critical mass.

The blockchain technology has enabled this vision in ways that were simply not possible a few years ago. It has the potential to surpass even Facebook and other social media platforms.

Why just share content on a static platform with rules created by a central authority, when you could visit your friends in a virtual world and make your own rules? It’s an intriguing idea that has massive potential, both socially and economically for a lot of people.

Nucleus Vision

With more and more commerce moving online, it seems that the old Brick and Mortar stores are not long for this world.

In the old vein of “Adapt or Die”, there is a solution for retailers to stay relevant in the digital age. Nucleus Vision is an app on the blockchain that will bring traditional, analog shopping into the modern digital age.

Nucleus Vision is attempting to bridge the gap between the online and offline world by using the Internet of Things to create a contactless identification system.

How does Nucleus Vision work?

The Nucleus Vision app allows retailers to tap into customer’s data to enable a customer focused shopping experience.

Basically, what happens is that a customer who is on the app has their preferences and shopping habits saved in their personal profile on the blockchain. When the customer enters a retailer in the network, it signals to the store that they have entered and asks permission to interact with the customer.

Wait, you say. I am barraged by ads all day long. Why would I want to open myself up to a more intrusive advertising program?

Legitimate question. The way to look at it is two fold.

As you enter a store, you are there because you have a need for a specific product or service. That’s obvious. With this system, you can have a tailor made shopping experience that can have you leaving the store satisfied that you got exactly what you came for.

If that isn’t enough incentive then the fact that you are rewarded with nCash by the retailer for enabling them to use your data. nCash is the native coin used on the app that can be used to make purchases in any retailer that uses Nucleus Vision, can be cashed out for fiat currency or even traded for other crypto currencies.

It amounts to a win win for both the retailer and consumer.

Because the app is on the blockchain, you don’t have to worry that your data is being bought or sold or that sensitive information could be up for grabs by a hacker breaching the security of a central server. Every transaction is there for anybody to see which keeps everybody honest and the system trustless.

What is the Vision Behind Nucleus Vision?

The app is currently being used for retail to show that it is viable. The possibilities, however, are almost endless.

Using the same Internet of Things technology without RFID or Wifi, could see a more secure smart home or even smart city. Transportation can be improved, especially as self driven cars become more established.

Healthcare industries can be streamlined. Imagine a person having a health issue entering the emergency room at the hospital and the app communicating the problem instantly to the nurses.

Agriculture can be improved and made more efficient which could lead to millions of people having more access to food.

The Internet of Things is already being used, so it makes sense for the blockchain to make it an even more secure and efficient system.

Nucleus Vision hopes that by being an early adopter to using IoT technology on the blockchain with their own proprietary system, they will revolutionize how people and things interact with each other.

Hshare

One of the biggest advantages to using blockchain technology is the security of it. It is very difficult to hack. Where there is a weak link, however, is when moving crypto currencies to an exchange.

When one reads about a huge amount of coins vanishing or being hacked it is almost always when the money was on an exchange or in an open wallet.

Hshares recognizes the need for more security when moving money around so they devised a way to use a sidechain to run parallel to other chains like Bitcoin.

 This will make it easy to send money from one chain to another. As things stand now, blockchains cannot communicate with each other and need to use exchanges. With a sidechain they finally will be able to move around without an exchange

How does Hshare work?

Hshare, also called Hcash, is a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization).

This acts as a way for blockchains to communicate with each other. In the case of a sidechain to transfer coins from one chain to another, a signal is sent from one block on one chain to another block on another giving the new block the hash information about the transaction. While doing this it also lets the main block know that the coins are there and that they aren’t being used somewhere else at the same time.

This immobilizes the coins and the information about the transaction is stored at the address on both chains where the movement took place.

The protocol for this to work is a mashup of Proof of Stake and Proof of Work. It works in the same way a PoF protocol works in the sense that blocks are mined by using computational power. In addition, though the mining goes to the witness who has not only the most computing power but the most tokens, so a Proof of Stake protocol.

This works to keep users engaged which makes validating blocks much faster than a standard Proof of Work protocol.

The biggest benefit for some to use Hshare is the fact that all information is anonymous. A major complaint about using cryptocurrencies to make payments is that whoever your paying knows exactly how much you are carrying in crypto.

With Hshares, just enough information is made available to validate the block without giving away any sensitive information. They will use zero information proofs to mask the identity of the sender and receiver through the use of advanced cryptography to verify transactions without sharing information about the transaction with miners.

The carrier of that information is the native token called Hcash. It will be used to pay for resource fees used in the network, such as deployment of smart contracts, operating and upgrading of systems (transaction fees, cross-chain data transfer fees).

Libertarians, cypherpunks and the unbanked have long been holding onto this idea of a system that can safely and anonymously run off the traditional financial grid.  If this system proves to be viable, then it will pave the way for a truly decentralized crypto currency.

SALT

SALT, Secured Automated Lending Platform, is a collateral based lending platform that lets you put up your digital assets, ie, crypto currency, in exchange for fiat currency.

Traditional lending is not only out of reach for some people, but, also not very efficient even for people who would normally qualify for a loan.

It can be difficult to secure a loan, it almost always takes too long and it usually expensive. Using the blockchain for a peer to peer lending platform solves those problems.

The loans are trustless and collateralized by using crypto as security.

How Does SALT Work?

SALT works as a membership based peer to peer lending platform tethered to the ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain.

The native token is called Salt and must be purchased to become a member. There are three membership levels. Base, Premium and Enterprise.

The Base membership costs 1 Salt token per year and gives users loans up to $10,000 and terms of 3 to 24 months. The Premium membership costs 10 SALT tokens per year and gives you access to up to $100,000 and a line of credit with terms of 1 hour to 36 months. The Enterprise membership costs 100 SALT tokens. Including access to 1 million USD, with fiat currency selection and metered terms.

To borrow money, you will be matched automatically with a lender that suits your loan needs. In order to borrow the money, 125% of the request must be put up in digital assets.  If somehow you are unable to repay the loan, then your collateral is deducted from the unpaid remainder and given to the lender.

Benefits of using SALT for a loan

As I already mentioned, probably the biggest benefit to using SALT is access to capital quickly, cheaply and securely. Banks are notorious for having their central servers hacked and sensitive information about their clients compromised. The blockchain nullifies that fear.

Since it is instantaneous, it is ideal for trading when seconds count. No need to cash out your Bitcoin for a hot ICO when you can just get a quick loan.

There’s another big advantage that traditional lending institutions can’t touch. And that is the fact that if your collateral, i.e. your cryptocurrency, increases in value, you can withdraw some of the collateral or increase the principal of the loan.

How does SALT compare to EthLend or other peer to peer lending platforms?

The biggest difference the is the fact that SALT is membership based. The other difference is anybody can be a lender with EthLend where that isn’t the case with SALT. As things stand now, all loans on EthLend are in Ether where with SALT, even fiat currency can be lent and borrowed.

With either one, there is no penalty for paying a loan off early.

There is a lot to like with SALT and peer to peer blockchain lending in general, but where they are in the early stages of development, we could see some them becoming major players in the lending world.

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