Third Co-Founder Of Centra Tech Charged With $25 Mln Securities Fraud
The third co-founder of crypto financial services
startup Centra Tech Raymond Trapani has been arrested yesterday, April 20, and charged with securities and wire fraud of more than $25 mln associated with the company’s Initial Coin Offering (ICO), according to the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) press release April 20. The two other co-founders, Sohrab Sharma and Robert Farkas, were arrested and charged of the same offenses earlier in April. Sharma, Farkas, and the now also arrested Raymond Trapani advertised the “Centra Card,” a debit card that was reportedly backed by Visa and Mastercard, which allowed users to convert crypto into fiat currencies.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reports that no partnership actually existed between Centra and the two credit card companies. According to the DOJ’s press release, after the founder of an unrelated allegedly fraudulent ICO was arrested last fall, Sharma asked Trapani and Farkas to remove all false information, “fufu,” about Centra’s deal with Visa from their website: “I rather cut any fufu . . . Now . . . Then worry . . . Anything that doesn’t exist current . . . We need to remove.”
New York Times writer Nathaniel Popper tweeted an excerpt of the SEC’s complaint against Trapani, referring to the problems the Centra Tech founders ran into by using random people’s photographs as their “team members” online. One solution to the issue of needing to remove the photos when people complained was to invent a fake car accident to kill the fake CEO and his fake wife:
In the DOJ’s press release, Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami said,
“As alleged, Raymond Trapani conspired with his co-defendants to lure investors with false claims about their product and about relationships they had with credible financial institutions. While investing in virtual currencies is legal, lying to deceive investors is not.”
Centra Tech had been promoted by celebrities like boxer Floyd Mayweather and DJ Khaled. Last fall, the SEC had warned the public that celebrity endorsements of ICOs could be illegal if they don’t reveal the compensation they receive for their advertising.
WikiLeaks Shop Reports Suspension Of Coinbase Account Due To Terms Of Service Violation
WikiLeaks Shop, the merchandise arm of international
anonymous publishing non profit WikiLeaks, reported on Twitter Friday, April 20, that their account with crypto wallet and exchange Coinbase has been blocked. WikiLeaks Shop’s tweet contains a screen grab from an alleged email from Coinbase that states the organization violated their Terms of Service and therefore “can no longer [receive] access to [their] service.” Coinbase has not responded to a requests for comments on the specifics of WikiLeaks Shop’s violation by press time.
All proceeds of the shop go to WikiLeaks operations, and customers can pay in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Neo, Namecoin, Vertcoin, Monero and ZCash through Coinpayments.net. The official WikiLeaks Twitter posted a call for a “global blockade” of Coinbase in response to the block: Bitcoin (BTC) advocate Andreas M. Antonopoulos tweeted that Coinbase has “repeated history,” as Bitcoin has played an important role for WikiLeaks from the time when the non profit was legally unable to use traditional banking systems:
Last fall, WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange publicly thanked the US government on Twitter for forcing the organization to rely on Bitcoin due to the banking embargo, giving WikiLeaks a 50,000 percent return. Assange also urged WikiLeaks donors to use cryptocurrencies for their donations as a way to avoid this financial blockade. The WikiLeaks website accepts Bitcoin, Litecoin, Monero, and ZCash for donations.
Antonopoulos added in a comment to his tweet that this embargo by Coinbase is unlike the first in that it is “purely symbolic,” as there are other crypto wallets out there, but that the “symbolism is a pretty poignant reminder of what centralization and banking regulations mean.”
When Bitcoin came to be, many of you are aware of the first sale that being a Delivery Pizza paid for with 10000 Bitcoins. That would have been nice if you were that pizza delivery professional, huh? But the advent of the “faucet” was not far behind and is just recently getting its well-deserved recognition in the history of the Bitcoin revolution.
Like why and what is a faucet? The term faucet is used because Bitcoin faucets even by today’s standards deliver meager amounts for menial effort. The use of giving away small amounts of Bitcoin does serve several purposes. It brings traffic to the domain site that is giving away this valuable commodity. Back in 2011 when Bitcoin was trading (selling) for around .08 cents as of July 2011 (note: It did increase in value that year by 900% and closed in December at $2.00 per coin) and it also raises the awareness of the coin. Two very important functions of these strategies. Raise awareness and drive traffic.
Even today, in fact, more so, the faucets are not only becoming main stream but also becoming a major factor in introducing new emerging coins.
Who is Gavin Andresen
Gavin Andresen is a software developer best known for his involvement with bitcoin. He is also known for inventing the first coin faucet and the name as well.
Originally a developer of 3D graphics and virtual reality software, he became involved in developing products for the bitcoin market in 2010, and was declared by Satoshi Nakamoto as the lead developer of the reference implementation for bitcoin client software after Satoshi Nakamoto had announced his departure. In 2012 he founded the Bitcoin Foundation to support and nurture the development of the bitcoin currency, and by 2014 left his software development role to concentrate on his work with the Foundation.
When Gavin first introduced his landmark free Bitcoin faucet in 2011, little did he know he would spur a huge cottage industry. From the scams of the Russian faucets, to established long-term faucets like freebitco.in, coin distribution and awareness have been driven in part by this new industry, simply by giving away small amounts of valuable coins for just visiting, and a series of qualification submissions then verified (to prevent robots) simple captcha action.
Today's multi-faceted faucet systems have matured to the point where intense evaluations have delivered well organized semi-automated platforms with documented recorded and live training making it possible for the entry level penniless novice, with great determination, discipline, and patience the potential of producing literally millions of dollars in a matter of a few years. Case in point:
If you had been so perceptive and fortunate to have been aware of Gavin Andresen’s Bitcoin faucet that was paying out 5 coin per captcha (remember back then 5 Bitcoin represented .40 cents) If you had been determined and processed that faucet just 2 times a day for 1 year (assuming the faucet limitations permitted like today’s faucets do) you could have earned 3,650 coins. At the time worth only about $292. But with foresight and understanding, holding on to those coins for just 2 years would have yielded (Bitcoin grew to over $1000) about $3,650,000.
Fast forwarding to today and making historical assumptions with the projected value of Bitcoin come 2020, many projectionists, experts and market makers predict Bitcoin reaching as high as $1 million dollars.
Our recent analysis has shown with aggressive determination and borderline obsession one can achieve about .5 – 1 coin per month with today’s faucets. That would be 24 coins by 2020 and based on these assumptions; a person could literally earn over 24 million dollars.
This understanding makes it clear why faucets have become mainstream and have grown major successes in the cottage industry like the 2-year-old company known as Faucethub.
A centralized advanced faucet system(s) with a secure API based wallet (to eliminate fees) for micropayments has created a portfolio of literally 100s of third-party faucets and has made the developer of the Faucethub system very successful with an active network of 1.2 plus million Faucet Heads (the culture of obsessed people doing menial task for meagre results).
His system has been responsible for making others wealthy and extreme supporters of the crypto counterculture.
Airdrops and Faucets similarities
2017 was the year a new coin giveaway occurred called Airdrops. Similar in results, many new crypto companies traditionally launched by selling their soon to be coins called tokens at perceived deep discounts, thereby raising literally millions upon millions of dollars before even beginning the development phase, I am sure you have heard the bad press of many of these ICOs just being nothing more than exit scams, making many investors victims and losing millions of dollars in this new wild west crypto culture. That being said, the expected results are many countries particularly the United States coming down hard on the ICO launches, with huge costly legal requirements, filings and regulations.
This is to be expected with any new industry but has hit the crypto industry particularly hard. Therefore the mother of invention always a close associate of the entrepreneur, has given birth to the Airdrop. The concept being similar to the faucet, the Airdrop is designed for several reasons. First is to bring awareness the new company, organization, platform, what have you. Many Airdrops have launched major success, like OmiseGO. Dropping 75 million coins with a site registration and ether wallet requirement, the airdrop has been extremely successful with the coin now trading at around $15 per coin in less than a year
Fake News: World’s Largest Crypto Exchange Binance Isn’t Adding Dollar Pairs
Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange,
has stayed ahead of the curve in recent months with plans to work with banks and potentially introduce fiat trading pairs, something that is sure to make a big impact on the market if implemented. At the moment, investors typically have to buy high cap coins like Bitcoin or Ethereum on exchanges like Coinbase and then withdraw funds to other exchanges in order to buy altcoins, all of which costs time and money in the fast-paced world of crypto trading. The fiat trading pair option would open up the market to many new investors put off by the inaccessibility of the current system.
Binance has shown itself to be a forward-thinking company with plans for long-term growth, evidenced by their recent announcement of their plans to move to Malta to escape regulatory pressure in Japan and develop their platform. They are joined by Bitfinex which is relocating from Asia to Switzerland to enjoy more crypto-friendly regulation. However, while Binance is working with banks and exploring fiat trading options, they corrected claims earlier today that they will be allowing users to buy digital assets with
The reports are “fake news,” a spokeswoman said by email.
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao confirmed the report an hour ago on Twitter. This is contradictory to multiple articles and reports from various media outlets and Twitter accounts that flooded the crypto news space on Friday, which may well have caused an upward trend in a number of altcoins.
While plans for fiat pairs may be in the pipeline, there are no plans at the moment to include USD. The market has seen a significant rally over the last 24 hours, continuing an upward trend that emerged over the last two weeks, with Ripple and Bitcoin Cash both seeing an increase of over 15 percent.Binance has held the top spot on Coinmarketcap’s overall list of exchanges for some time, with over $2 billion in trading volume over the last 24 hours.
AUTHOR Conor Maloney
Conor is a cryptocurrency journalist and an ICO writing consultant at The Written Craft content service. He's an advocate of decentralized public control of finance, an off-grid enthusiast, and really fun at parties too.
Cryptocurrency Market Surges to $365 Billion, Start of a Bull Rally?
Throughout this week, as CCN reported,
the cryptocurrency market has been eyeing a move towards the $350 billion region. Earlier today, on April 20, strong performances of major cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum have led the valuation of the cryptocurrency market to surge to $365 billion.
Altcoin Season is Back
Throughout 2018, amidst extreme volatility and recovery, investors inclined towards bitcoin as the safe haven asset. With the deepest liquidity and largest volume in the global market, bitcoin was able to sustain some stability while many cryptocurrencies recorded a free fall. Most assets declined by more than 80 percent from their all-time highs and struggled to record gains against bitcoin. Over the past seven days, alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) and other major cryptocurrencies have consistently reported gains against the most dominant cryptocurrency in the market. The daily trading volume of the global cryptocurrency market crossed the $20 billion mark for the first time in April and the valuation of the market achieved a new monthly high.
In March and early April, investors were skeptical towards investing in cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin and Ethereum because they were uncertain about the short-term future of the cryptocurrency market. While altcoins tend to have intensified movements on the upside, it also has larger movements on the downside, and investors thought the risk was not worth taking. Traders have started to take more risk than before by investing in cryptocurrencies like Ripple, Zilliqa, Nano, OmiseGo and others. As the volumes of altcoins across major exchanges surged, altcoins began to outperform bitcoin on a weekly basis, and it is possible that ERC20 tokens outperform major cryptocurrencies on a monthly basis by the end of April.
The next major target for the cryptocurrency market is the $400 billion mark and by surpassing that threshold, the cryptocurrency market would achieve a two-month high. At this juncture, it is safe to conclude that bitcoin has bottomed out at $6,000 and the market has begun a rapid recovery to its previous levels. If the bitcoin price breaks the $9,500 level in the short-term, ideally within the next week, it is entirely possible that the cryptocurrency market surpasses $400 billion within April, in the next 10 days.
The Relative Strength Index (RSI) of bitcoin is in the 57 range and is signifying a neutral zone. Bitcoin is neither oversold or overbought based on current levels, as demonstrated by two momentum oscillators RSI and Williams’ Percent Range. Both simple and exponential moving averages are indicating buy signals for bitcoin, as it continues to gain strong momentum. From this point, traders are expecting the bitcoin price to cross $8,500 and potentially make its way into the $9 billion region.
Ripple, Rchain, Verge
Non-ERC20 tokens like Ripple and Verge were the best performers on April 20, with solid 20 percent gains. Both Ripple and Verge have performed strong against bitcoin throughout April and they are continuing to build momentum against bitcoin and Ethereum.
AUTHOR Joseph Young
Joseph Young, author of this article, is aHong Kong-Based Finance and Cryptocurrency Analyst / Writer. He is Contributing regularly to CCN and Hacked, Offering cryptocurrency news and Insights Into Asian Market (South Korea, Japan, and more).
IMF’s Lagarde Counters Crypto Warnings With New Praise Of ‘Potential Benefits’
The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde
was buoyant about cryptocurrency in a blog post in support of the technology, published Monday, April 16. The post, which comes roughly one month after Lagarde cautioned against the “dark side” of cryptocurrency, sees the IMF leader focus on what she describes as the “potential benefits” of “crypto-assets such as Bitcoin.” “A judicious look at crypto-assets should lead us to neither crypto-condemnation nor crypto-euphoria,” she writes. While continuing her narrative about the need to reign in illicit activity involving crypto, which she had voiced during January’s World Economic Forum 2018 and since, Lagarde nonetheless reiterates the need for an “even-handed approach”
“Understanding the risks that crypto-assets may pose to financial stability is vital if we are to distinguish between real threats and needless fears. That is why we need an even-handed regulatory agenda, one that protects against risks without discouraging innovation.”
She continued, “A clear-eyed approach can help us harness the gains and avoid the pitfalls of the new crypto-assets landscape.” Lagarde’s call for a balanced outlook on cryptocurrency comes at a time of increasing regulatory involvement in the industry, while traditional financiers continue to call Bitcoin a ‘bubble’ and pundits spy the start of a market surge.
William Suberg got into Bitcoin while completing his Masters degree and hasn't looked back since, writing about anything crypto-related which makes him sit up and pay attention. He started working with Cointelegraph in October 2013.
The Craigslist of Crypto Is Making Millions Where Bitcoin Is Needed Most
That's how much revenue LocalBitcoins is now generating annually off a business that started back in 2011, all with an investment of just a few thousand dollars. One of the longest-running and most controversial bitcoin companiess, the decidedly low-fi website now has roughly 20 employees worldwide and 4 million registered accounts.
And reflecting the global tide, 40 percent of those users have signed up in the last six months. All that is according to Nikolaus Kangas, the CEO of the company, who started the venture with his brother Jeremias at a time when there weren't many options outside meeting up face-to-face to trade bitcoin. But the online portal continues to thrive even as the landscape of polished VC-backed exchanges (and even bleeding-edge decentralized alternatives) matures.
Sure, the peer-to-peer marketplace accounts for only a sliver of worldwide bitcoin trading – last week, it handled $62 million in trades, according to Coin.Dance estimates. This may be less than a top-20 exchange does in a day, but the service is gaining traction in markets that are generally overlooked by mainstream providers. "We are the most global platform out there," Kangas said. "Our goal is to improve the global trade possibilities, to serve people who have limited access to financial services." And, it turns out, even though LocalBitcoins tends to be more expensive (since sellers set their own prices), the company is much needed.
Indeed, Coin.Dance shows that Venezuelan transactions spiked to a new all-time high this month, as did usage in Tanzania and Peru – all countries that are struggling to recover from banking industry slumps. During the peak week of April 14, LocalBitcoins' trading volume in these three nations combined was worth roughly $55 million – more than six times the value of U.S. trading on LocalBitcoins in the same week.
And when the Bank of Montreal restricted customers from making cryptocurrency purchases, LocalBitcoins activity in Canada spiked. It's these instances that make LocalBitcoins so valuable, even in an environment where growing awareness of institutional traders and their high-value swaps (average transactions on LocalBitcoins are just $450) are stealing the limelight.
And that's paid off. The peer-to-peer exchange, which charges a 1 percent transaction fee, took in more than €22 million (roughly $27.2 million) of revenues in 2017, more than triple the amount from 2016, according to Kangas. Despite the market dip since December, when bitcoin's price peaked at $19,783, he said trading volume has continued to grow.
Nikolaus told CoinDesk:
"If you compare us to those big altcoin exchanges that were making $100 million per day or something like that last fall, we are kind of a small player. But I think we are solving a basic problem of how to buy or sell bitcoin for fiat currency."
Not always easy
And that basic problem was even more apparent in 2011 when the brothers first started in on the idea. Nikolas, a Finnish programmer, was fascinated by bitcoin – a new stateless currency meant to take power away from the banks, and maybe even governments. But every website he went to that provided services for Finnish buyers was awful in that they were hard to use. The Kangas brothers wanted to change that.
So having saved up a year's worth of living expenses and with a few thousand dollars to spend on server fees, the brothers launched LocalBitcoins. Yet, the journey for LocalBitcoins hasn't always been easy. The company has tested several products over the years, including a merchant billing service in 2014, but none of those gained traction like its bread and butter – P2P exchange.
On top of that, LocalBitcoins was the platform in the middle of more than half a dozen criminal cases associated with LocalBitcoins traders. For instance, last year, the U.S. Department of Justice sentenced a father-son duo of LocalBitcoins users, Michael and Randall Lord, to several years in prison for operating an unlicensed money transmission business. And Reddit is full of testimonies about scammers and hackers exploiting inexperienced LocalBitcoins' users. Nikolaus said the team is very concerned about criminal activity on the site and cooperates with authorities to investigate any crimes that use the platform.
Yet, just like Craigslist horror stories haven't stopped people from using the internet marketplace, instances like these connected to LocalBitcoins haven't slowed the platform's usage. In fact, the $27.2 million in revenue LocalBitcoins took in last year was more than triple its profits from 2016. Even with bitcoin's recent price dip (after December highs close to $20,000 a coin), Nikolaus said trading volume continues to grow.
Compliance for a non-bank
That said, Nikolaus remains steadfast in its interest in staying on the right side of the law. "We want to follow all the current regulations and laws, but right now it is quite unclear," he said. What is clear, though, is that at least in the U.S. the company has to report certain transactions as suspicious. This includes transactions over $10,000 and any transactions set up obviously to circumvent that limit.
Everything else – complying with local regulations – is up to the buyer and seller. In this way, LocalBitcoins has set itself up to be only a technology provider and not a complicit party to any unlawful actions users of its technology might participate in. This outsourcing of compliance responsibility is one of the reasons the company has been able to stay afloat, even in the face of competition from well-funded startups.
Because LocalBitcoins facilitates generally trades of smaller amounts, they rarely attract scrutiny. For instance, when the Investor Protection Bureau of the New York Attorney General's Office sent an inquiry letter this month to more than a dozen cryptocurrency exchanges, including Coinbase, Kraken, and Gemini – exchanges that function more like banks — P2P platforms like LocalBitcoins were notably absent from the dragnet.
It seems it helps to be local.
For example, Iranian blockchain researcher Ziya Sadr in Tehran routinely uses LocalBitcoins to sell cryptocurrency. Since sanctions keep Iranian banking customers from accessing foreign markets, he told CoinDesk, Iranian traders use LocalBitcoins to find local sellers who accept wire transfers from Iranian banks.
As mentioned before, it's these kinds of markets, which are cut off from the rest of the world, that need P2P crypto exchanges like LocalBitcoins. Roman Snitko, CTO of a new P2P exchange called Hodl Hodl, noticed a similar trend on his platform. Russians, who lack centralized exchange options, were some of the first users to flock to Hodl Hodl.
Speaking to this need, then, Snitko told CoinDesk:
"In countries without centralized exchanges, I think P2P trading will play a significant role."
Leigh Cuen is a tech reporter covering blockchain technology for publications such as Newsweek Japan, International Business Times and Racked. Her work has also been published by Teen Vogue, Al Jazeera English, The Jerusalem Post, Mic, and Salon. Leigh does not hold value in any digital currency projects or startups. Her small cryptocurrency holdings are worth less than a pair of leather boots.
Pavel Durov: I’m Using Bitcoin to Neutralize Russia’s Telegram Ban
Russia’s Telegram ban officially went into effect this week,
but the encrypted messaging app is fighting back against the government censors — and it’s using Bitcoin to power those efforts. Telegram founder Pavel Durov revealed Tuesday that he has begun distributing Bitcoin grants to groups and organizations operating virtual private networks (VPNs) and other proxy services that help users bypass the nationwide ban, which was put in place by Russian communications regulator
“To support internet freedoms in Russia and elsewhere I started giving out bitcoin grants to individuals and companies who run socks5 proxies and VPN. I am happy to donate millions of dollars this year to this cause, and hope that other people will follow,” Durov wrote of the initiative, which he has termed the “Digital Resistance.”
“For us, this was an easy decision. We promised our users 100% privacy and would rather cease to exist than violate this promise,” he added in the message, which was published on his Telegram channel.
A Russian court approved the ban last week, which it justified on the grounds that Telegram has refused to provide the state’s intelligence service with encryption keys that it could use to decrypt user messages. Officials say they need access to these messages so they can investigate and prevent terrorist incidents, but the company has said that doing so would violate the privacy of its Russian users.
Telegram said that it has not experienced a noticeable decrease in user engagement since the ban went into effect, but the same cannot be said of other services whose IP addresses have been unwittingly entangled in Roskomnadzor’s net. According to Reuters, the regulatory agency has blocked 18 sub-networks and millions of IP addresses — including some used by popular online retailers and banking providers — belonging to Google and Amazon in an attempt to prevent Telegram from using these cloud services to bypass the ban.
It is unclear to what lengths Russia will go as it attempts to enforce the Telegram ban, but the company has ample resources to wage a prolonged crusade against the censors. As CCN reported, Telegram has stated in public filings that it has already raised at least $1.7 billion through a private initial coin offering (ICO) presale and may attempt to increase that figure through a subsequent public sale.
POSTED IN: News
AUTHOR Josiah Wilmoth
Josiah is a full-time journalist at CCN. A former ancient and medieval literature teacher, he has been reporting on cryptocurrency since 2014. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and children. Follow him on Twitter @Y3llowb1ackbird or email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)ccn.com.
A new startup is disrupting the piggy bank with a cryptocurrency wallet for kids
One of my children currently gets £1.50 a week in pocket money;
the other, £2.50 (about $2.00 and $3.50). We encourage some pretty basic behaviors with these funds: save, spend, and donate. Jars, wallets, small bags, countertops, and backpacks act as various means of storage. But in our efforts to instill some financial literacy in our grade-school-age kids, we have committed a gross oversight: We failed to incorporate the blockchain.
Enter Pigzbe, a colorful cryptocurrency wallet and interactive app, powered by a “family-friendly” token called Wollo. The hardware wallet allows kids to collect and store Wollo, while the app features games that revolve around saving and spending. Powered by a decentralized blockchain ledger, it enables families “to come together as microfinancing networks.” Or, put another way, when a grandma in Italy wants to sent junior some money in London, she can do it with Wollo via Pigzbe, and avoid the hassle of mailing paper money or the annoyance of foreign-currency fees.
Filippo Yacob, one of Pigzbe’s founders, is also the CEO of Primo Toys and creator of Cubetto, a wildly successful wooden code board and rolling cube robot that teaches three-year-olds how to program computers. He tells Quartz that his top goals in creating Pigzbe are to address financial literacy early in life, and allow families spread around the globe (like his own) to participate in a kid’s financial life.
“Every week you learn saving, modeling, exchanging, and spending,” he says of the digital wallet. Grandparents can gift money, while parents and other family members can reward chores or pay allowance in an ultra-modern way. Kids can set tasks for themselves, which are then rewarded by others, encouraging entrepreneurial thinking, he says. They will naturally learn about volatility too, since the value of Wollo tokens, like any cryptocurrency, will fluctuate—potentially a lot. “Volatility itself is a reality,” Yacob notes. “That’s a valuable conversation to have.” Kids can pay for products in the real world with a Wollo card that converts the tokens to fiat currencies.
American and Chinese citizens cannot participate for regulatory reasons, and toddlers are generally discouraged from buying and selling securities. Wollos will be issued via an initial coin offering that opens to the public June 13 (pre-sales have already begun, and raised about $10 million, Yacob said). They will be available to trade on SdEx in July. American and Chinese citizens cannot participate for regulatory reasons—those pesky securities laws—and, in general, toddlers everywhere are discouraged from buying and selling securities. Sensing this is a tough sell at a time when cryptocurrencies are still associated with scams, money laundering, and vertigo-inducing volatility, Pigzbe’s white paper (pdf) attempts to spell out the problems it aims to address,
High transfer fees that “hinder the true microfinancing nature of piggy-banking and financial education in early years”
The limited geographic scope of many banking networks
The generally lame/inflexible design of the piggy bank
Pigzbe allows kids to get their crypto on cheaply and relatively easily. A single transaction costs 1/100,000 of a Stellar lumen in network fees, it says—this crypto coin currently runs for around $0.33. Wollo transfers between family members are settled within three to five seconds, regardless of location (though as noted, US and Chinese citizens cannot take part). Wollo coins can also trade on the Stellar Decentralized Exchange against other tokens and fiat currencies supported by the network.
“A new piggy-banking paradigm”
According to the paper, Pigzbe “combines the latest in connected technology, tangible interface design, and blockchain technology to reach an underbanked generation of children and families by ushering in a new piggy-banking paradigm powered by their children’s first cryptocurrency and hardware wallet.”
I foresee a few problems with this system.
A lot of grandparents struggle with FaceTime, so making transfers to a crypto wallet may be asking a bit much. We are also living in a moment when parents need to understand the terms and conditions of digital services to make decisions that will both protect their children’s privacy and manage their digital footprint. The six pages of conditions in the Pigzbe white paper, which include warnings about securities fraud, are not reassuring.
What’s more, I do not consider children as “underbanked,” nor do I see volatility (beyond my own temper) as among the things my kids need to learn about urgently (kindness, compassion, empathy, and math are more important). I think chores should be done because kids are part of a household, not because they are rewarded with Wollo tokens (pocket money in our house is not tied to chores). Finally, on my massive kids-and-tech to-do list, which includes preventing them from becoming addicted to screens, avoiding cyberbullying, and protecting their privacy, currency transaction fees don’t break the top 200.
Yannick Naud, a Pigzbe advisor, says he joined the product because the team had experience designing, building, and marketing real toys (John Marshall, another co-founder, built Kano, a computer). The project uses actual, tangible products—the wallet and app—to teach kids about 21st-century finance, including cryptocurrency. When you buy the wallet (which costs $60), it comes with 200 Wollos, so you are ready to get going right away.
Yacob is passionate about financial literacy. “We live in a society oppressed by debt,” he says. He is right that banks are frustrating, transfer fees are extortionate, and many families set up shaky systems for allowances or pocket money that don’t teach kids very much about money. The modern financial system, he says, accurately, “is designed to confuse people.”
How does this help? The project’s white paper describes Pigzbe as a “decentralized application that allows people to create their own enclosed, autonomous financial networks and to exchange money within them.” It also encourages customers try to get more people on the platform (more trading means more value).
That doesn’t feel like a lesson I am trying to instill in my kids. Yacob claims that the point isn’t the value of the Wollo, but the lessons learned through it. “If it’s worth $12 or $1,200 it doesn’t matter, because the value they got from it is in the game and the experience that taught them something,” he says. Call me old-fashioned, but if my kids are saving their cash, I want them to have faith in its value, with some attention devoted to inflation and the time value of money.
Yacob is used to resistance to his products. When he started selling Cubetto, people thought the idea of teaching coding to three-year-olds was absurd. He’s banking (literally) on that being the case with Pigzbe: He has an idea ahead of its time that will address, in time, the growing demand for improved financial literacy and adoption of decentralized digital means of exchange. That may be the case. But my family’s “microfinancing network” is sticking with coins tucked away in pockets and drawers until further notice.
She is a Ten-year veteran of the New York Times, where she covered finance and then schools (the logic made sense to us). Prior to that a short stint at the New York Post, and a long one at Institutional Investor magazine. A Graduate of Colorado College ('94) and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs ('99). Lived in Mexico and Argentine for a bit, loved it. She is a Wife, mom and athlete who loves children's books, grown-up books and wishes her knees and back were that of a 20-year-old.
Token Airdrops Are Taking Off Despite Legal Concerns
They say you get nothing for free in this life, but tokenized projects running airdrops would beg to differ. You can now get a whole lotta crypto assets for free – hundreds of them in fact – simply for signing up and following some social channels. What started as a novelty has become the norm, with a vast number of ICOs now earmarking a portion of their tokens for free distribution. Questions remain though about the legal status of airdropped tokens in an age where anything related to crypto risks being labeled a security.
Airdrops Are the New Faucets
In bitcoin’s earliest days, faucets were used to distribute the cryptocurrency. Fractions of a bitcoin were given away on tap, back when BTC was cheap enough to send in small amounts and bits were worth buttons. Anyone who claimed those free morsels back in the day and held onto them will have eventually came into possession of some extremely valuable cryptocurrency. Today, airdrops are the faucets of the token economy. These freely dispensed tokens aren’t worth much – if anything – but there’s a small chance that one day they might be worth something.
At the Crypto Investor show in London last weekend, glossy flyers promoted an after-party with “free drinks + airdrop”. Come for the prosecco, stay for the tokenized revolution. Such is the prevalence of airdrops that an entire cottage industry has sprung up to promote them and inform crypto holders of the latest ones worth catching. Prominent Twitter traders compete to top the referral leaderboard for airdrops, whereupon they will be rewarded with yet more tokens. Everyone’s clamoring for free tokens right now, even though no one’s sure whether they’ll ever have any utility or market value.
Get Your Airdrops While They’re Hot
For new entrants to the cryptocurrency scene, airdrops provide a way to get some points on the board or rather some tokens in the portfolio. The very act of claiming them is enough to teach beginners the basics of wallet use and receiving crypto. The problems these projects purport to solve also provides a primer on the weird and wonderful world of crypto. Such is the prevalence of airdrops, they now have a dedicated Bitcointalk forum thread, dedicated Telegram groups and, in Airdropalert, a website that promises you need “never miss a free crypto airdrop again!”
Most of the tokens awarded are ERC20s, though other blockchains have also caught on; NEO for example recently distributed ONT via an airdrop. Just like an ICO tracker, Airdropalert filters offers based on upcoming/active/past. Tokens currently up for grabs include Boutspro, Yee, Sofin, and Aelf. Giving away tokens is easy in the early stages of a project when they’re literally worth nothing. The trick is getting the airdrop community to start using these tokens on the platforms they were designed for. If that occurs, and the project reaches critical mass, the tokens should rise in value, and then everyone will be a winner. Or so the theory goes.