Daily Archives: May 8, 2017

This Blockchain Startup is Taking Aim at “Fake News”

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The spreading of “fake news” has become a common occurrence and a real problem in today’s media. To combat this phenomenon, Polish blockchain startup Userfeeds plans to tokenize news discovery to incentivize users to rank high-quality news content in order to filter out fake news from real news.

Warsaw-based Userfeeds is developing a new solution that uses “the principles and methods of Bitcoin and Ethereum to create transparent and publicly auditable content networks and ranking algorithms that use digital tokens as ranking signals,” according to a statement on the company’s blog.

The Userfeeds team was co-founded by CEO Maciej Olpinski, who previously worked for Google and YouTube, and CTO Greg Kapkowski, an experienced software engineer. They believe that the current system of news discovery and content ranking which involves links, likes and upvotes is broken as it can easily be manipulated by third parties. This enables “fake news” to rank high on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as on Google’s news search.

Userfeeds’ first product, Userfeeds Engine, is built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. It will enable developers, publishers and users to run custom content rankings to produce search results, recommendation systems, news feeds, listicles and sponsored links. Its goal is to create new business model opportunities for content publishers and developers beyond advertising and subscriptions.

The new platform aims to build an incentive-based system that allows digital content such as news articles, blog posts and YouTube videos, for example, to be backed by tokens. These tokens can then be exchanged by users, which produces a time-stamped transaction that can be publicly viewed as a link between the content curator and the content they are backing. This process enables content curators to demonstrate confidence in the content they are posting and makes them accountable.

Userfeeds expects the platform’s reputation tokens to gain value within their specific categories or applications. Furthermore, as is the case for most blockchain-based tokens, they will also be tradable for other currencies to create a mechanism by which content curators can generate revenue for sharing valuable content from trustworthy sources.

To build its new solution, the startup has managed to raise $800,000 in seed funding from BlueYard Capital, Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam and Data Ventures’ Piotr Smolen according to a TechCrunch report.

Now that the company’s seed funding round has been completed, Olpinski told Bitcoin Magazine that it plans “to use this funding to deliver the Userfeeds Engine, the developer focused platform and APIs for ‘tokenized’ content rankings. In addition to that, we’ll build in-house applications that showcase how the Engine can be used to deliver end-user products.”

Userfeeds provides an example of how blockchain technology can be applied to solve modern day problems. By incentivizing content curators to share only well-sourced quality content, we could soon receive more trustworthy and truthful news in social media feeds.

The post This Blockchain Startup is Taking Aim at “Fake News” appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin Investment Trust Ups Its Proposed IPO But Approval Is Still In Question

Bitcoin Investment Trust Ups Its Proposed IPO But Approval Is Still In Question

On January 20, 2017, Grayscale Investments LLC filed for an initial public offering (IPO) for its Bitcoin Investment Trust to be listed on the NYSE Accra exchange in an attempt to bring bitcoin investing to the masses through a publicly tradable investment vehicle in the form of a new stock.

Grayscale Investments, the investment management subsidiary of the Barry Silbert-led Digital Currency Group, established the Bitcoin Investment Trust (BIT) in 2013, hoping to provide investors with the opportunity to invest in the digital currency bitcoin without having to purchase and securely store the digital currency themselves.

The Bitcoin Investment Trust, which carries the ticker GBTC, tracks the TradeBlock XBX Index 24-hour VWAP bitcoin index and charges a 2 percent annual management fee. The Trust currently has around $262 million assets under management. Shares in the Bitcoin Investment Trust can be traded over-the-counter and can be held in traditional investment accounts, such as IRAs and Roth IRAs.

By going public, Grayscale Investments wants to open up its bitcoin investment vehicle to a broader investor base that prefers the comfort of investing in an exchange-traded and fully regulated security.

On May 4, 2017, Grayscale Investments LLC submitted an amendment to its IPO filing with the SEC increasing the size of its proposed IPO from $500 million to $1 billion dollars suggesting that the interest in a publicly-tradeable and regulated investment vehicle that tracks the price of bitcoin would see substantial interest from institutional and private investors.

However, given the SEC recent decisions not to approve the long-awaited Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF (COIN) as well as the SolidX Bitcoin Trust, the chances for the Bitcoin Investment Trust’s IPO to gain regulatory approval are not high.

While Alan Friedland, founder and CEO of Compcoin, doesn’t hold much hope for the ETF approval just yet, he agrees that there is enough demand from established institution investors for bitcoin as an alternative asset class to merit the $1 billion IPO increase.

“Digital coins will be the fastest growing financial market and we are projecting a 1.7 trillion dollar market cap by 2025,” he told Bitcoin Magazine.

When the SEC announced in March that it would not approve the two proposed bitcoin exchange-traded funds, the regulator stated that a bitcoin ETF would require “surveillance-sharing agreements with significant markets for trading the underlying commodity or derivatives on that commodity. And second, those markets must be regulated.”

Since these conditions are still not met for bitcoin, an approval of the Bitcoin Investment Trust looks rather unlikely.

Spencer Bogart, analyst at Blockchain Capital, thinks that it is “highly unlikely” that this renewed ETF consideration will be approved. “The SEC disapproved the prior two ETFs not because they took issue with the structure of the fund but because the SEC currently considers the major markets on which bitcoin is traded to be too unregulated,” Bogart told Bitcoin Magazine. “Given that this hasn’t changed since the last disapproval, the SEC is unlikely to offer a different response.”

Bogart is more optimistic about the chances of an ETF approval outside of the United States. “I think mainstream investment products will first be approved by foreign regulatory agencies (to some extent this has already happened). In regards to the approval of a U.S.-listed Bitcoin ETF, I think it’s more likely that the SEC changes its view (e.g. with regime change) than it is that the Bitcoin ecosystem changes such that the majority of activity flows to highly regulated markets.”

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