In Israel, a blockchain and crypto hyper-cluster is just getting started

In recent times, it’s Eastern Europe and Russia which have become a hot-bed of crytpocurrency developing. But on a recent trip to Tel Aviv, Israel, I took part in what might well turn out to be a historic lunch.

The lunch took place just after well-known tech investor Moshe Hogeg announced he would invest in every Israeli blockchain that approached him. That investor group, called Alignment, consisted of the Singulariteam Technology Group, along with CoinTree Capital, and BlockchainIL.

Held at Alignment’s new blockchain Hub in Tel Aviv, we got to hear from an array of new companies.

Dubbed by many as “Startup Nation”, Tel Aviv has begun to produce a new breed of tech giants, but it’s now turning its hand to blockchain and crypto companies. In recent months, my mailbox has become inundated with pitchings from companies claiming to be the next blockchain phenomenon, with plans to revolutionize the finance world, healthcare landscape, travelling industry, you name it. The problem is, which one, if any, can deliver? However, after getting deep into the subject with the companies I met, I realise many were at least’ on to something’. Whether they would survive or not…

Here’s a run-down of who I met with 😛 TAGEND

Erachain

The idea of a blockchain network that works for the average person still seems far off. But Erachain wants to address that. Russian programmer Dmitrii Ermolaev, co-founder and CEO has grown it from a small operation to a distributed organization. Erachain is a decentralized blockchain platform that has incorporated European and World-Wide AML laws, potentially eliminating the need for traditional banks. It ties all coins with physical assets, reduces the cost of normal crypto transactions, and claims to eliminate anonymous transactions by substantiating all users upon registration.

It’s been four years in development and is all about creating a Proof of Stake system where verified accounts exist as nodes. The utilize examples are enterprise and government, where use these technologies is often a huge obstacle to entry. Right now it’s about document management and digital signatures.

In the future, most applications of large-scale are going to require some kind of verification platform.

Zen Protocol

This team has been involved in the Bitcoin space since 2011. After the DAO hack, founder Adam Perlow wanted to focus on constructing Bitcoin better, more usable and useful. He has spent the last year generating Zen Protocol, leveraging the blockchain technology and the popularity of Bitcoin to try to decentralize the financial system by constructing a new protocol purpose-built for finance. Zen’s pitch is that it allows anyone to generate financial transactions, at any time, anywhere in the world using Bitcoin. Zen is designed to be open, frictionless, transparent, and completely decentralized across a Proof-of-Work Blockchain. Zen Core is implemented in the. Net stack and uses the F* functional programming language, built by Microsoft Research, to power contracts.

Perlow says: “Today it’s very hard to enforce agreements. You set monies with the exchange and enter an agreement with a broker. But on the blockchain you don’t require a trusted 3rd party. Banks have huge control and too much control over our lives.”

Zen wants to bring the entire financial world onto the blockchain, connecting digital and crypto assets with fiat stocks and commodities. “If we had a mechanism by which to enforce contractual obligations you wouldn’t need this trusted third-party, ” he says.

COTI

Its global world and commerce is global but it doesn’t tap into the full potential because of trust. Trust is centralized and held by banks, Visa etc. These are centralized, high on fees and the approving rate is not good for rest of the world outside of the G10. Meanwhile, Ethereurm and ripple not designed for payments. So the solution is a system built from the ground up to be payment mechanism which is instant, zero fees, reversible, and has anti-fraud mechanisms.

Founder Nir Gazit says: “Bitcoin is not good for stuff, it’s not reversible, there’s no mediation.” So they are building a full stack, an exchange, a billfold, a credit card.

COTI aims to build the global economy genuinely global by providing instant, scalable, and secure transactions using the COTIcoin. COTI, which appropriately stands for Currency of the Internet, is aimed at incentivizing honest conduct between sellers and buyers by creating a’ unique behaviour scoring’ feature on the Bitcoin sidechain. Users who achieve an “honest” score, entailing those vendors who ship products on time, or buyers who pay when they’re supposed to, are rewarded. The system lets both buyers and sellers see the score of another user before he or she chooses to interact with them. COTI aims to reduce high checkout abandonment rates and eradicate uncertainty while shopping online.

There are currently over 1,000 digital currencies operating on a decentralized basis, however , none can provide the services resulting centralized payment providers can. By combining a centralized mediation process and a decentralized payment process, COTI says it has created a technological solution for the consumer payments sector.

Jelurida

Jelurida is the development company behind Nxt and Ardor blockchain platforms. It generates customized commercial versions of these platforms while endlessly supporting and maintaining the decentralized public Nxt blockchain. With the upcoming Ardor platform, Jelurida will be creating custom child chains for its customers and partners as well.

Whereas many blockchain companies are still in the fundraising stage, Nxt is fully operational and trading with a market cap of over a hundred million dollars. The company, which has in the past offered functions specifically designed for crypto developers, is turning its focus to utilize occurrences which have to do with everyday life, from introducing new voting mechanisms to offering transparent international bank transfers that consumers can enjoy. Ardor is the newest blockchain platform Jelurida has been working on, and functions as kind of a Nxt 2.0. Ardor features a unique parent-child chain structure, which helps combat blockchain bloat.


Investor Moshe Hogeg has created the Alignment investment vehicle to invested strictly in Israeli blockchain and crypto startups .

CrowdWiz

CrowdWiz, which is a fully decentralized crypto investment platform that lets users trench third-party fund administrators, recently began its ICO on November 20 th. The company has already raised over$ 5 million in a public pre-sale, and plans to use the money to develop their investment platform. CrowdWiz relies on the so-called’ wisdom of the crowd’ to make funding decisions. The CEO Slavena Savcheva claims that a collective entity makes a better decision as a whole than the most intelligent person in the group alone.

CrowdWiz allows the crowd , not money managers, banks or middlemen, to decide on how members of the general fund is expended. Users of CrowdWiz will use the company’s cryptocurrency, the OPX token, to vote on which asset they want funds to go to. The platform then distributes based on the majority opinion of the crowd. CrowdWiz solves some of the issues associated with traditional funds today, such as high entryway costs and large fees. Savcheva wants to construct the trading process fun, easy, and completely transparent use the wisdom of the crowd to choose where the money goes.

Prior to founding CrowdWiz, Savcheva was the Business Development Manager for TRADOLOGIC, one of the world’s leading FinTech software providers, where she operated and steered the firm’s business in Asian markets.

Orbs

Orbs sits under Cointree and is based on the “Spector” paper written by Hebrew university researchers. It takes the blockchain and turns it into a DAG, another database structure, so it can then process many more blocks in a second. The notion is that it sets the bottleneck at the communication layer not the not the consensus layer. Since the more forks in a blockchain the less secure and slower it become, Orbs claims to be able to process a transaction at whatever velocity the network is.

Alignment

Alignment came about because the VC firm Singulariteam partnered with two local Israeli firms, Blockchain IL and CoinTree Capital, to form a sort of blockchain and ICO consultancy which they dubbed “Alignment.” The company aims to groom and support the next blockchain unicorn coming out of Israel. The company consults, develops and funds Blockchain early-stage projects and existing companies, from inception through ICO, and later.

Startups will need to pay for the privilege, of course. Its listed clients to date include Bancor, messaging app Kik, and Stox. Of those, Bancor conducted a $153 million ICO, while Kik raised $98 million in its token marketing earlier this year.

Since many people are skeptical of ICOs at the moment( especially in light of the Tezos dispute ), Alignment supports blockchain companies, in a climate that’s at best lukewarm towards ICOs. Moshe Hogeg, VC, Founder& Chairman of the Singulariteam, pledged Alignment would “invest, without exception, in every Israeli blockchain company in 2017. ”

Bancor

If you’ve been following the blockchain revolution, you’ve probably heard about Bancor. This company constructed history when it held one of the most successful ICO’s( at the time it was a world record ), creating over $153 million from over 10,000 participants in less than 3 hour. Bancor has created a market maker application that aims to facilitate trading with other digital coins. The Bancor protocol enables built-in price-discovery and a liquidity mechanism for tokens on smart contract blockchains. Bancor’s claims it allows anyone to make their own cryptocurrency and operate it independent of a third-party exchange. The Bancor Protocol allows for the creation of thousands of cryptocurrencies on the Ethereum blockchain, creating a interconnected asset exchange ecosystem which unlocks the long tail of user-generated tokens. Smart tokens are designed with additional functionality such as “delegated account recovery” and “vaults” to address security issues. The aim of these features is to stimulate cryptocurrencies more accessible and to encourage mass adoption.

Stox

You may have heard the news about Stox’s ethereum based prediction marketplace platform when Floyd Mayweather boasted he would “make a$ reach t$ n of fund … on the Stox.com ICO.”

Following Mayweather’s bullish words, Stox created $33 million in an ICO last August. Stox claims users can predict and trade the outcome of events in almost any imaginable category: Finance, sports, politics and even the weather, as they might in a traditional stock market.

Unlike a lot of crypto companies which tailor their services to blockchain experts, the Stox platform is designed to accommodate, and be intuitive for mainstream audiences.

As you can see, Israel, and specifically Tel Aviv, is creating a huge force in this new world. If they play their cards right, they could well start to competitor the co-called’ Crypto Valley’ in Switzerland.

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One bitcoin is now worth $10,000

It happened. One bitcoin is now worth $10,000.

The milestone was hit on international exchanges earlier in the day( where prices are usually a few percentage higher) and was just intersected on U.S exchanges like Coinbase and Gemini a few minutes ago.

This comes two days after bitcoin reached$ 9k, and eight days after it crossed$ 8k.

This $ 10,000 marks a bull rally basically never before seen in modern financial markets. For perspective, bitcoin is now up 1,258% over the past year, with the cumulative value of all cryptocurrencies up 2,174% to a total of $316 B. Bitcoin alone currently represents about 54% of this total marketplace cap.

BTC 1y cost graph, from coinmarketcap.com

It’s a strange time in bitcoin land. There’s never been an asset, with the exception perhaps being Tulips, that’s risen so much in such a short sum of day. So without any precedent or style to designate a “book value” to the currency , no one truly knows what to think or do.

Some say this is the nascent start of a trillion dollar the enterprises and the biggest thing to happen in technology since the internet was fabricated. Some think that bitcoin will replace gold and U.S dollars and every monetary instrument in between. Yet others say that this is the biggest speculatory bubble the world has ever seen, and that bitcoin will crash to zero tomorrow.

And of course there’s the majority of us who think something in between, or really simply don’t know what to think. It’s hard enough to predict how technology will develop, and even harder when you add the feelings attached with trying to independently value and assess a tradable, liquid asset like bitcoin.

So the question likely on your mind right now…what’s next?

No one knows. Even the most passionate cryptocurrency believers admit that we’re very likely in a bubble, and that some type of correction will happen. Of course no one knows if this will be a 20% or 2,000% correction, or if it will even happen at all. But don’t be surprised if it eventually happens on some scale.

But despite the fact most of us can’t open Twitter or turn on CNBC without hearing about bitcoin, it’s adoption is still relatively small. Many Americans still have no idea what a bitcoin is, what it does or how to purchase one. The same goes for Wall street, and even though there have been over 100 cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund opened in the last year many institutional investors still haven’t take a stake in bitcoin.

So this could just be the beginning. Or the end. Either style, this milestone is a perfect time to step back and appear just how crazy the last year has been in the world of cryptocurrencies.

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Japanese bitcoin exchange bitFlyer is coming to the US

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange bitFlyer announced today it’s expanding to the U.S ., with approving to operate in 42 countries starting today. This includes regulatory acceptance in New York via the state’s Department of Financial Services’ “BitLicense”, which merely five other cryptocurrency companies currently have.

For comparison, Coinbase has approval to operate in 48 states( including Washington , D.C .) and Gemini is operating in 46 states( including Washington , D.C .).

The exchange is by far the biggest in Japan, trading about $180 million worth of bitcoin per day. In words of traditional exchange volume this ranks as the 14 th largest exchange worldwide ,~ ATAGEND but when you add margin volume to the computation the exchange is actually the largest in the world in terms of total exchange volume.

Founded in 2014, bitFlyer has raised a total of $36 million in venture funding.

At launch bitFlyer’s U.S. exchange will merely support bitcoin/ USD pairs, but “plans to expand its cryptocurrencies to include altcoins such as Litecoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin Cash and more.”

Right now the exchange merely supports deposit and withdraw via bitcoin and USD wire transfer, which means early users will likely be institutional or high net worth investors. Eventually the exchange wants to add additional forms of money inflow and outflow like ACH transfer, making it easier for the average consumer to deposit or withdraw cash.

Like most exchanges bitFlyer will have tiered verification levels. The first level asks for personal information like your name and address and email and cell phone verification, and in return you can deposit and withdraw up to $2,000 in bitcoin per day and trade up to $3,000 in bitcoin per day. The second tier asks for additional information like bank account verification and proof of identity via photo ID, and allows users to deposit and withdraw up to $50,000 in bitcoin per day and trade an limitless sum of the cryptocurrency.

With Bitcoin spiking 1,200 percentage over the past year, there’s a ton of demand to trade the cryptocurrency and not a lot of places to do it. While there are dozens of established exchanges around the world only a few operate legally in the United States, with the two main ones being Gemini and Coinbase. And even these exchanges get flack for slow customer service response times, an almost unavoidable byproduct of the insane spike in customers they are seeing.

If bitFlyer can provide a solid trading and customer service experience, there’s a lot of room for them to establish themselves in the U.S. market.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

Bitcoin just passed $8,000

Stop me if you’ve hear this before…

This morning bitcoin shot past ** INSERT PRICE MILESTONE **, and is now hovering around ** INSERT CURRENT PRICE ** — up nearly ** INSERT% ** percentage from yesterday.

Just kidding. We don’t actually use that template, but if you’ve been following bitcoin over the last 6 months it probably sounds very familiar.

In all seriousness, bitcoin has been on a wild run. Yesterday the cost shooting past $8,000 for the first time, and per usual when it breaks through a milestone is now trading solidly above it at $8,250.

Here’s a quick recap of what’s been happening in bitcoin world the last few weeks.

On November 2nd the price of Bitcoin passed $7,000 for the first time, fueled by demand before the Segwit2x hard fork that was supposed to happen a few days ago. Anyone that held a bitcoin prior to the opening of the fork would receive an equal quantity of the forked coin, which some assured as being akin to free money.

When the hard fork was canceled on November 10 th the price plummeted down to $5,800 as people moved their fund back into alternative cryptocurrencies. This sudden plummet also coincided with some very strange motion in the price of bitcoin cash( BCH) which considered the price and hash rate spike for about 24 hours, temporarily stimulating it the second most valuable coin and the coin with the most hash rate( even outshining bitcoin ).

Bitcoin’s price over the last month- from coinmarketcap.com

Anyways , now that the drama has passed the price is on a steady climbing again and well past $8,000. So what’s causing this?

While I made this argument when it passed $5,000 in early October, I still think that institutional interest is the main cause of this extended rally.

Over 100 cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds have been created in the least year, which are acting as a conduit for large amounts of fiat being be transformed into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Even old-school hedge fund and investment institutions are getting in on the action, to the extend that there are services that allow them to safely do so.

And these services are coming. Just last week Coinbase announced a service to securely store $10 M or more of cryptocurrency for institutional investors. Additionally, CME group will launch the first ever governed bitcoin futures product on December 10 th. Both of these offerings will make it easier for big diversified investment vehicles to enter the market.

So what’s next? No one knows, but at this point it looks like $10 k before the end of the year is possible. Of course it’s just as likely for the cost to plummet, as many say we are due for a correction.

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Cryptocurrencies have crashed 20% in two days

The cryptocurrency correction may have started.

After months of unprecedented appreciation, almost every digital currency is seeing double digit losses over the last 48 hours. While a quick glance at the chart above or at coinmarketcap.com shows how bad things have been, you can get a sense of where things are by looking at loss in the two largest currencies: Bitcoin is down 16.5% over the last few days and Ethereum is down 23.5%.

The cryptocurrency market as a whole has lost 20% in merely two days as it fell to $142 billion, down from a total market cap of about $180 billion on Saturday. This crash is large enough to make a noticeable dent on the all-time chart of cryptocurrency’s market cap- meaning this could be a crash that won’t be forgotten about quickly.

Of course it’s important to put things into context- this “crash” still leaves Bitcoin at double the cost “its just” four months ago. But it presents why “investing” in cryptocurrencies isn’t for the swoon of heart.

Could you imagine is looking forward to the sidelines for months as the market basically doubled, then putting a sizable chunk of money into cryptocurrency 48 hours ago, only to watch your investment plummet? Not fun.

This 20% drop represents years of gains in the U.S stock market- which if invested into cryptocurrency this weekend was basically wiped out in a matter of hours.

So why did cryptocurrency crash this weekend? A few reasons 😛 TAGEND

This morning China outlawed ICOs, saying they have “seriously interrupted the economic and financial order”. Whenever a government sanctions bitcoin or cryptocurrencies the market always takes a hit, especially right after the SEC warned against the legality of some ICOs.

And since the Chinese government ordered all ICOs to return funds to investors, there’s likely some doubts about what will happen to the price of mainstay currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum when smaller tokens received in ICOs are re-converted back. For instance, NEO( formerly AntShares ), a Chinese-based ICO/ cryptocurrency, is down 50% over the last few days.

Another possibility- the market was simply overheated. This crash started right around the time Bitcoin made an all-time high of a few dollars under $5,000. In other words this may be a natural cool down- if you look at Bitcoin’s history periods of rapid growth are always followed by some type of downturn- the same thing happens when traditional equities rapidly appreciate.

The next day or so will tell us if this was a temporary bump in the road or the start of the next major correction. For now, all anyone can do is watch and let the market do it thing.

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Bitcoin just passed $4,000

What a day for Bitcoin.

24 hours ago the cryptocurrency was trading below $3,700. About an hour ago it surged passed $4,000 and has no signs of stopping. Its now trading around $4,135.00. For reference, a week ago Bitcoin made an all-time high as it passed $3,000 for the first time.

Check out the chart below to consider what the price has done in the last 24 hours.

So the million dollar bitcoin question iswhy now?

Without wasting too much of your Saturday night with detailed analysis, here are a few possible reasons you can tell your friends during brunch tomorrow.

Two weeks ago Bitcoin went through a hard fork, and “re coming out” essentially unscathed. Sure, a bitcoin-clone called Bitcoin Cash was generated, but its gotten a lot less attention than most people expected. A few days later Bitcoin locked in SegWit, a code modification that fixesmalleability issues and frees up space in blocks, allowing for more transactions to be stored in each one.

These two code-related developings have helped boost meeting in Bitcoins future.

Another reason the ICO hysterium. The amount recently raised via initial coin offerings have now( at the least temporally) topped amount raised via early stage venture capital. Just last week Filecoin created $180 million in a few hours. Most investors have to convert fiat currency to bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies to participate in ICOs, which could be driving up the cost( and some investors with their first taste of bitcoin ).

Another reason Wall street new obsession is bitcoin. You cant watch CNBC for five minutes without ensure a merchant or analyst give their opinion which is usually something insanely bullish like its going to be the best performing investment of the year. For better or for worse, statements like these are getting non-technically inclined investors interested in bitcoin, some of which are definitely buying coins for the first time.

So what happens next? No one knows. Bitcoin could crash 50% to $2,000 tomorrow or spike to $5,000 and I dont think anyone who truly knows crypto would be surprised at either option. E

veryone has a different sentiment some say the bubble is oversized and should have popped months ago others think that bitcoin is currently only a fraction of what it could eventually trade at.

Whichever camp you fall in, heres one friendly reminder: dont invest more than you can afford to lose because if you ask anyone whos expended more than a few months in the cryptocurrency world theyll tell you its a roller coaster.

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