Microsoft Revives Nonfungible Tokens, Sparks Industry's Imagination

By Sritanshu Sinha

Microsoft Revives Nonfungible Tokens, Sparks Industry's Imagination

Ever since the game CryptoKitties was released in November 2017, the concept of nonfungible token has been ingrained in the minds of developers and investors in the crypto community. However, 2019 has been the year that NFTs have gained mainstream attention. And it should come as no surprise that even huge, multinational companies are currently developing NFT projects.

Recently, Mirosoft’s blockchain-based cloud platform, Azure, released its own nonfungible tokens program called “Azure Heroes” with the aim of rewarding its developer community.

Azure Heroes

Through Azure Heroes, Microsoft is on a mission to empower technical practitioners of all backgrounds. With that as the objective, it has created a tool to inspire the community to learn, coach and build on Azure while promoting healthy and inclusive behavior.

Issuance and transactions of “Badger” collectibles will be carried out on the Ethereum network, allowing winners to hold them as NFTs. The tokens were created in partnership with Enjin, a platfor that specifically caters to the video game industry.

In order to earn one of these Badgers, Azure developers must first be nominated — either by themselves or by the community. Then, the community moderators will select the best nominees, based on their performance, to be awarded a Badger. Winners will then be provided with a QR code that can be used to redeem their Badgers via their Enjin wallet, where it can then be transferred to any other NFT-compatible Ethereum address.

The rise of NFTs

Fungibility refers to an item that is interchangeable with another, identical item. A dollar bill or a grain of rice is fungible — i.e., mutually interchangeable with other dollar bills or grains of rice. On the other hand, a house or a piece of art constitutes a nonfungible item — i.e., not mutually interchangeable with other houses or other works of art. Keeping this distinction in mind, an NFT is a unique digital asset with a traceable history that differentiates it from other assets that appear similar.

One of the most interesting things about NFTs is their ability to fundamentally change digital ownership. Until now, people never truly had ownership of anything that they purchased virtually. Purchasing in-game items and treating them as real-world assets is one thing, but the reality is that they don’t belong to the players who made the purchase; they belong to the game’s publishers.

However, 2019 was the tipping point for the adoption of NFTs, and there are a few reasons for this — at least in the gaming community. First of all, games like Gods Unchained were game changers upon their release.

Developed by Australia-based blockchain gaming startup Immutable, Gods Unchained is a turn-based digital trading card game that operates on the Ethereum blockchain. There are other collectible games — such as Decentraland, Etherbots, Spells of Genesis and Rare Pepe — whose popularity rose in 2019. However, outside of the gaming industry, companies utilizing NFTs, such as SuperRare, Zcrafty and Terra0, have also gained prominence.

Marketplaces like OpenSea, RareBits and OpenBazaar have also started to trade NFTs as crypto collectibles. The infrastructure around NFTs is also improving. 0xcert offers developer tools for issuing and managing NFTs. In addition, Codex Protocol has developed a decentralized registry for unique assets like art, fine wine, antiques and more.

Moreover, there are other factors for why NFTs are becoming more popular, one of them being an interest of multinational corporations in blockchain gaming. In September 2018, one of the biggest names in gaming, Ubisoft, sponsored the Blockchain Game Summit in Lyon, France. The following month saw Ubisoft become an inaugural member of Blockchain Game Alliance. When asked about the current use of NFTs in popular products and services, Ethan Pierse, the director at the CryptoAssets Institute, told Cointelegraph:

“Indiegogo and GoFundMe have also shown that people are willing to spend plenty of money supporting causes and products that they believe in. On Indiegogo, the product you get is called a Perk, and on Kickstarter, it is a reward, and people have contributed billions to those crowdfunded projects.”

Pierse went on to add that brand loyalty and self-identification are likely to intensify further, as supporters are also able to show off digital collectibles, concluding that:

“If those tokenized collectibles also have value as an asset to encourage hodling and trading, then we are looking at a digital version of the same craziness seen with Beanie Babies or Magic: The Gathering cards. A $90000 Magic card was just tokenized for 124 investors on collectible assets platform Mythic Markets.”

Diversification of use cases of NFTs

There is a noticeable drive for the development of NFT use cases beyond entertainment. Specifically with the case multi-layer blockchains, the foundational layer — which is the home of assets such as Bitcoin — is increasingly shifting toward being a store of value, presenting a segment of the market in which high-value NFTs can develop.

NFTs can signify ownership of high-value or sensitive physical, illiquid assets such as artwork or real estate. The latter is especially an area that can profit from the use of NFTs. Additionally, there is a drive to use tokenization and fractional ownership to make these investments liquid. For instance, NFTs can represent individual units in a property owned by multiple families.

Even though many look at NFTs as a way of building new financial assets and democratizing access to capital, regulation is likely to act as a hindrance. For example, the NFT platform Codex Protocol aspires to use NFTs as a medium to fractionalize ownership of a piece of art. While this is interesting in theory, there is a risk that doing so would turn these tokenized assets into securities, which would then need to be regulated as such.

Jonathan Brandt, the principal information technology consultant at the Willow Group who designed a course on blockchain at Minnesota State University, told Cointelegraph:

“I believe a major obstacle to the adoption of NFTs for more serious purposes, say, the provenance of antiquities or the tracking of a medical supply chain, is the lack of intuitive or obvious methods for redress and recovery. Ironically, many of the centralized institutions which blockchain stands to dismantle are really good at this. Microsoft, like it or not, has achieved tremendous mass-adoption of Internet Explorer, Windows, and the Office suite. It has the reach and the gravitas to nurture acceptance of NFTs.”

How NFTs can create value for an enterprise

Essentially, the evolution of NFTs is heavily dependent on the underlying blockchain infrastructure. Optimizing for scalability and transaction speeds, for example, is anticipated to have a huge impact on the rate of development for the space. Besides this, the absence of accessibility when it comes to NFTs is a real problem that has yet to be solved, and the entry of big players like Microsoft can go a long way to help.

Enterprises can use NFTs for inventory management, where certain tokens can be combined with other tokens to represent an assembled product with multiple component parts. Another area where NFTs can find application in enterprises such as Microsoft is in licensing software.

Such licenses have been traditionally represented by keys, but NFTs stored in wallets can now be used to grant permissions. Real estate is another example of a unique asset that can potentially be represented as NFTs. Additionally, identity management — both in social media and in enterprises — can leverage nontransferable NFTs.

Microsoft and blockchain

Through Azure, Microsoft has made many pioneering efforts toward blockchain adoption. Over the course of 2018, it has launched a blockchain development kit and the Azure Blockchain Workbench.

In May 2019, the company also unveiled the Azure Blockchain Services, which is a fully managed service that allows for the formation, management and governance of consortium blockchain networks.

Related: Crypto Firms Join Azure as Microsoft Fights Amazon for Market Share

Along with these products, the company has launched an extension to Visual Studio Code to help developers create and compile smart contracts based on Ethereum, and then deploy them on the public chain or on a consortium network in the Azure Blockchain Service. Regarding this, Pierse, the CryptoAssets Institute’s director, said:

“Azure is locked in a battle to differentiate itself with AWS, Oracle, and Heroku among others. If nothing else, this creates visibility and further engages Azure’s existing communities. I’m not sure that CTOs that have committed to other development platforms are going to make strategic decisions based on which ‘badger’ they can get, but I do think this could further showcase the engagement of Azure’s developer community.”

Soon after the announcement of Azure Heroes, Microsoft also unveiled new tokenization and blockchain data management services, highlighting the increased adoption of blockchain in enterprises.

Monero and Zcash Conferences Showcase Their Differences

Leigh Cuen

Leigh Cuen Jun 30, 2019 at 10:00 UTC

Last weekend, two privacy coin conferences heralded the future of cryptocurrency governance: the hybrid startup model versus grassroots experimentation.

Over 200 people gathered in Croatia for Zcon1, organized by the nonprofit Zcash Foundation, while roughly 75 attendees gathered in Denver for the first Monero Konferenco. These two privacy coins are fundamentally different in a variety of ways on clear display at their respective events.

Zcon1 had a gala dinner with a seaside backdrop and programming that displayed close relations between companies like Facebook and the zcash-centric startup Electronic Coin Company (ECC), as evidenced by Libra being widely discussed with team members in attendance.

The quintessential funding source that distinguishes zcash, called the founder’s reward, became the center of passionate debates during Zcon1.

This funding source is the crux of distinction between zcash and projects like monero or bitcoin.

Zcash was designed to automatically siphon off a portion of miners’ profits for creators, including ECC CEO Zooko Wilcox. So far, this funding has been donated to create the independent Zcash Foundation, and support ECC contributions to protocol development, marketing campaigns, exchange listings and corporate partnerships.

This automated distribution was scheduled to end in 2020, but Wilcox said last Sunday he would support a “community” decision to extend that funding source. He warned that otherwise ECC might be forced to seek revenue by focusing on other projects and services.

Zcash Foundation director Josh Cincinnati told CoinDesk the non-profit has enough runway to continue operations for at least another three years. However, in a forum post Cincinnati also warned the non-profit shouldn’t become a single gateway for funding distribution.

The amount of trust zcash users place in the asset’s founders and their various organizations is the primary criticism levied against zcash. Paul Shapiro, CEO of the crypto wallet startup MyMonero, told CoinDesk he’s not convinced that zcash upholds the same cypherpunk ideals as monero.

“Basically you have collective decisions instead of individual, autonomous participation,” Shapiro said. “There’s been perhaps not enough discussion about the potential conflicts of interest in the [zcash] governance model.”

While the simultaneous monero conference was much smaller and slightly more focused on code than governance, there was significant overlap. On Sunday, both conferences hosted a joint panel via webcam where speakers and moderators discussed the future of government surveillance and privacy tech.

The future of privacy coins may rely on such cross-pollination, but only if these disparate groups can learn to work together.

Shared zk-SNARKs

One of the speakers from the joint panel, Monero Research Lab contributor Sarang Noether, told CoinDesk he doesn’t see privacy coin development as a “zero-sum game.”

Indeed, the Zcash Foundation donated almost 20 percent of the funding for the Monero Konferenco. This donation, and the joint privacy tech panel, could be seen as a harbinger of cooperation between these seemingly rival projects. Cincinnati told CoinDesk he hopes to see much more collaborative programming, research, and mutual funding in the future.

“In my view, there is a lot more about what connects these communities than what divides us,” Cincinnati said.

Both projects want to use cryptography techniques for zero-knowledge proofs, in particular a variant called zk-SNARKs. However, as with any open-source project, there are always trade-offs.

Monero relies on ring signatures, which mix small groups of transactions to help obfuscate individuals. This isn’t ideal because the best way to get lost in a crowd is for the crowd to be much bigger than ring signatures can offer.

Meanwhile, zcash setup gave the founders data often called “toxic waste,” because the founding participants could theoretically exploit the software that determines what makes a zcash transaction valid. Peter Todd, an independent blockchain consultant who helped establish this system, has since been an adamant critic of this model.

In short, zcash fans prefer the hybrid startup model for these experiments and monero fans prefer a completely grassroots model as they tinker with ring signatures and research trustless zk-SNARK replacements.

“Monero researchers and the Zcash Foundation have a good working relationship. As for how the foundation began and where they’re going, I can’t really speak to that,” Noether said. “One of the written or unwritten rules of monero is you shouldn’t have to trust someone.”

Shapiro added:

“If certain people are dictating large aspects of the direction of the cryptocurrency project then it raises the question: What is the difference between that and fiat money?”

Different strokes

Stepping back, the long-standing beef between monero and zcash fans is the Biggie vs. Tupac divide of the cryptocurrency world.

For example, former ECC consultant Andrew Miller, current president of the Zcash Foundation, co-authored a paper in 2017 about a vulnerability in monero’s anonymity system. Subsequent Twitter feudsrevealed monero fans, like entrepreneur Riccardo “Fluffypony” Spagni, were upset by how the publication was handled.

Spagni, Noether, and Shapiro all told CoinDesk there are ample opportunities for cooperative research. Yet so far most mutually beneficial work is conducted independently, in part because the source of funding remains a point of contention.

Wilcox told CoinDesk the zcash ecosystem will continue to move toward “more decentralization, but not too far and not too fast.” After all, this hybrid structure enabled funding for fast growth compared to other blockchains, including the incumbent monero.

“I believe something not too centralized and not too decentralized is what’s best for now,” Wilcox said. “Things like education, promoting adoption worldwide, talking with regulators, that’s the stuff that I think a certain amount of centralization and decentralization are both right.”

Some fans of both projects see the benefits of that collective approach. Zaki Manian, head of research at the Cosmos-centric startup Tendermint, told CoinDesk this model has more in common with bitcoin than some critics care to admit.

“I am a big proponent of chain sovereignty, and a big point of chain sovereignty is that the stake holders in the chain should be able to act collectively in their own interests,” Manian said.

For example, Manian pointed out the wealthy benefactors behind Chaincode Labs fund a significant portion of the work that goes into Bitcoin Core. He added:

“Ultimately, I would prefer if protocol evolution was mostly funded by the consent of token holders rather than by investors.”

Researchers on all sides acknowledged their favorite crypto would require significant updates in order to deserve the title “privacy coin.” Perhaps the joint conference panel, and Zcash Foundation grants for independent research, could *inspire* such cooperation across party lines.

“They’re all moving in the same direction,” Wilcox said about zk-SNARKs. “We’re both trying to find something that has both the larger privacy set and no toxic waste.”

Above $300: Ether Price Clocks 10-Month High

Omkar Godbole

Omkar Godbole Jun 22, 2019 at 05:32 UTCMARKETS

The price of ethereum’s native cryptocurrency ether (ETH) surpassed $300 today to hit ten-month highs.

The world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization climbed above the psychological hurdle at 01:10 UTC and extended gains further to $306 – a level last seen on August 19, 2018.

As of writing, ETH is changing hands at $304, representing 9.7 percent gains on a 24-hour basis and 129 percent gains on a year-to-date basis, according to data source CoinMarketCap.

Ether has more than doubled this year with the price currently reporting more than 260 percent gains on the low of $82.00 seen in December. The price, however, is still down 78 percent from the record high of $1,431 registered in January 2018.

Further, the cryptocurrency has retraced meager 16 percent of the sell-off from $1,431 to $82. On the other hand, BTC has retraced more than 40 percent of the bear market slide and is currently trading at a 15-month high of $10,800.

Looking forward, ether looks set to extend the ongoing rally, as technical charts are biased bullish.

3-day chart

The 50- and 100-candle price averages on the three-day chart have produced a bullish crossover for the first time since in two years. It is worth noting that prices had rallied by more than 900 percent in three months following the confirmation of the bull cross in May 2017.

So, if history is a guide, then the cryptocurrency looks set to challenge the April 2018 low of $364 in the next couple of months. A break higher would expose resistance at $401 – 23.6 percent Fibonacci retracement of the bear market drop.

Supporting the bullish case is the solid rise in ether’s non-price or on-chain metrics in the last few months. For instance, ETH volumes on decentralized applications (DApps) registered record highs in April, according to crypto analytics firm Diar.

Meanwhile, network activity, as represented by daily gas usage, rose to lifetime highs in May. Gas is the fuel of the ethereum blockchain. The token is required to conduct a transaction on etherum’s network.

Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency at the time of writing

Ether via Shutterstock; charts by TradingView

Bitcoin Automated Trading System

So what is exactly that Bitcoin Auto-trading system everybody is talking about?

Making money from trading is why we are all here. But being online and trading for hours on either your PC or mobile app can also be time consuming. Traders spending hours online and trying not to miss any market opportunity that can help them earn money can sometimes be an overwhelming situation … Not to mention the amount of financial market knowledge you need to have to place the right trades at the right time that will eventually earn your money…

What if I were to tell you that trading online doesn’t necessarily have to be a confusing and overwhelming experience? That you can say goodbye to endless financial analyses and can enjoy trading using a safe and easy-to-use automatic statistical method? How about feeling like your own personal Broker as you will be in total control of your own trading experience?

The Auto-trading system!

What is it?

Auto-trading system gives you the ability, to place trades automatically on any financial assets and in the trading volumes you choose, when you are not next to your PC or mobile phone. Not only that, the BATS offers you full risk management with the “Take Profit” and “Stop Loss” features. These features let you set your desired daily profit and loss, and once the BATS reaches that amount, it will pause itself for the rest of that day and resume the day after.
 
 A known fact is that 95% of successful deals in the financial markets globally are made by Auto-trading systems/trading algorithms.

What is the success rate of the Auto-trading system?

Ah, that is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? 
Can this Auto-trading system make me money?

First, there is NO such thing as a “magic robot” that earns money consistently, as there are no free gifts in life. If there were, everybody would be using it already. Any company or salesman that promises you that their “robot” will earn big money consistently is basically lying to you.

Now that we have established that, we can move on.
Success rate changes on a daily basis and based on market conditions.

Bitcoin Automated Trading System

How can I get a high success rate on my BATS? 
 
The combination of the trading strategy that you choose and your attention to the volatility of the asset you are trading on. Volatility means the frequency of the movement in the price of the asset.

“The trend is your friend” . This is the rule of law for many traders. Following the trend is one way traders attempt to predict the future direction of an asset’s price. The Auto-trading system is using the trend as a signal indicator.

“Trend” strategy goes better with less volatile assets.

Less volatile assets go well with a “Trend” strategy because it exploits the MILD movements in the asset’s price. If the asset is less volatile, it means that statistically there is a higher chance that the price of the asset will continue in the same trend. The “Trend” strategy will automatically buy the asset if it reaches a new high point.

“Reversal” strategy goes better with more volatile assets.

More volatile assets go well with a “Reversal” strategy because it exploits the SHARP movements in the asset’s price. If the asset is more volatile, statistically there is a higher chance that the price of the asset will reverse its trend. The “Reversal” strategy will automatically buy when the asset reaches a new high point.

Let’s take an example of a two-week period to understand.

In the first week the Bitcoin is more volatile, so the “Reversal” strategy is more successful than the trend (above 80%), because the Bitcoin is volatile and the “Reversal” strategy is able to exploit it. The following week the Bitcoin is much less volatile, so the “Trend” strategy is much more profitable (above 85%!). But one needs to understand that it doesn’t say that this is a guarantee, and although it is an Auto-trading system (NOT A “MAGIC ROBOT”) you need to be alert to market conditions and asset volatility and react to it. if you follow these guidelines you can significantly increase your chance of earning money.

The beauty about the BATS is that it’s 100% automated treading system and you don’t need to have previews knowledge in trading.

Two Big Tests For Bitcoin

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Bitcoin, the digital currency that has turned into the new “gold” among investors and traders around the world, is in for two big tests. The first test is simple, and involves Bitcoin’s price chart. The digital currency must overcome the barrier of the $5000-mark, which it already crossed last night before pulling back towards the $4800-mark. Milestone numbers are important for traders following price and volume charts, as they confirm/reject market momentum.

The second test is more complicated. It involves the actions of big governments that have been following with great unease the rising in popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that threaten to abolish their monopoly in creating money and collecting seigniorage income.

Back at the end of July, the SEC ruled that cryptocurrency “IPOs” or Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are investments, and therefore, should be subject to the same rules as regular stocks.

That ruling sent all major cryptocurrencies sharply lower, before rebounding towards new highs.

Coin/Investment Trust Change 24H
Bitcoin (BTC) -9.10%
Ethereum (ETH) -11.20
Litecoin (LTC) -8.34
Bitcoin Investment Trust Shares (GBTC) -5.39

7/26/2017

Apparently, traders and investors thought that this ruling could eventually be positive for cryptocurrencies, as it will limit the supply of new digital currencies coming to the market. Thus, the new high reached overnight for Bitcoin.

Now comes the National Internet Finance Association of China (NIFA) to warn investors that ICO projects are a threat to the stability of China’s financial sector.

China and Asia are among the biggest markets for Bitcoin and any warning from Asian governments, especially from the Chinese government, shouldn’t be taken slightly.

That could, perhaps, explain the big sell off in most digital currencies on Saturday, though it is still too early to determine whether the sell-off was technical or fundamental.

My recent book The Ten Golden Rules Of Leadership is published by AMACOM, and can be found here.

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2017/09/02/two-big-tests-for-bitcoin/#138e5fbd4473

 

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Daily market review – August 7th 2017

redtogreen

Are we toward a sharp swing this week? The rare event that hasn’t happened in 90 years

After two weeks of busy events, the trading week on Wall Street is expected to open today will be relatively calm, after the reporting season is almost completely behind us.
Two major players will continue to employ investors this week.
The first factor is the political uncertainty in the US administration, which continues to supply headlines at a dizzying pace.
The second factor is the recent turmoil in the foreign exchange markets, mainly on the European exchanges.

The most interesting measure for the week will probably be the S&P 500, which has recently converged in a very narrow range.
Pay attention to the closing prices for the index for the last 13 trading days:
2474, 2473, 2473, 2470, 2477, 2478, 2475, 2472, 2470, 2476, 2478, 2472 and 2476.

In the past 90 years there hasn’t been such a long sequence of ranging in such a narrow range, that is, the current stagnation is unprecedented.
This increases the likelihood of very sharp move soon.

Short positions on the VIX index, known as the Fear Index, which measures the standard deviations on the index’s shares, are at the all-time high at the beginning of the week, according to the weekly CFTC report.
A combination of these data increases the likelihood of a sharp movement in the near future.

Daily market review – August 3rd 2017

index

The trading on Wall Street ended yesterday with a mixed trend.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above the psychological level of 22,000 points, a level that kept it up until the end of trading, this is mainly due to Apple’s report of a 12% rise in net profit to $ 8.72 billion, and revenue rose 7.2% to $ 45.41 billion.
The company overtook its profit forecasts and reached the forecast range of revenues.
The company sold 41 million iPhones in the quarter, in line with expectations.

The ADP survey for the private sector published yesterday indicated an addition of 178,000 new jobs in July, lower than the analysts’ forecasts of 190,000 jobs.
The survey is a preview of the official employment report to be released on Friday, which is expected to indicate an addition of 180,000 new jobs last month, after adding 187,000 new jobs in June.
The unemployment rate is expected to fall from 4.4% in June to 4.3% in July.

In China, the services sector PMI fell to 51.5 points in July, below expectations

The oil prices are falling this morning.
The price of a barrel of WTI oil is down by 0.3% to $ 49.42, and the price of a barrel of Brent crude is down by 0.4% to $ 52.16.