Connect with us

# Money Reimagined: COVID-19’s Crash Course in Exponential Math

Published

on

If there’s one thing we can thank the coronavirus pandemic for, it’s a math lesson.

Watching an infection lead to two, then four, then eight, then 16, then 32, then 64, then 128 and so on, people found a real-world reason to comprehend the phenomenon of exponentiality. Without such context, it has been historically hard for our linear-minded brains to appreciate how rapidly network-driven growth happens. It’s a failing we’ve had for centuries. (See: the legend of the emperor who had to hand over all the rice in the land to the inventor of chess.)

You’re reading Money Reimagined, a weekly look at the technological, economic and social events and trends that are redefining our relationship with money and transforming the global financial system. You can subscribe to this and all of CoinDesk’s newsletters here.

Why bring this up in a newsletter about the changing world of money?

Because the successful emergence of any new currency, which by definition implies mass adoption, depends on similar moments of exponentiality. Money requires a network effect, helped by the self-reinforcing idea that “everyone’s using it because everyone’s using it.”

As we’ve seen in the internet age of network economics, the “hockey stick growth” enjoyed by successful social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter occurs when interconnections between users – nodes in the network – reach a critical mass. That’s when the Metcalfe’s Law-fueled network effect of all those interconnections enters an exponential phase. It’s no coincidence we describe these spectacular growth stories as “viral.”

Continuing with that analogy, we could say these moments arise when a network’s “R0” – the infection reproduction rate that epidemiologists have closely watched during the COVID-19 – exceeds one.

#### Incentives for penguins

So, what makes a currency’s “R0” get above 1.0? It’s not easy from scratch, partly because of a countervailing barrier to expansion that economists call the “penguin problem”: people’s reluctance to join something until other people do so.

For centuries, particularly throughout the 20th century, the solution to mass currency adoption was clear: wielding the power of the state. National governments essentially mandated a network effect for their sovereign currencies, primarily by requiring taxes be paid in them and by declaring them legal tender.

Sure, every now and then a government would lose the confidence of its people and its currency would collapse. (We can think of these hyperinflation crises as exponential events in reverse, as groups of people accelerate their exit from the currency for something of more lasting value.) But in such cases the citizenry has hitherto almost always fled to another government’s currency, mostly to the U.S. dollar. Money and the sovereign have long been inseparable.

As readers of this newsletter know, a growing number of us see real challenges to this system on the horizon. Sure, the dollar is king during the pandemic, but that unbalanced global dependence, ironically, exposes the system’s weakness. Economic and geopolitical stress, combined with the opportunities posed by new digital currency and blockchain technologies, are creating the conditions for alternatives to challenge the global monetary system’s dollar-centric sovereign structure. Author David Birch calls it the coming “currency cold war.”

The combatants in this war still include governments (China is offering the Digital Currency Electronic Payments, or DCEP, system), but also corporations (Facebook and its partners in Libra) and decentralized communities such as Bitcoin’s. We can analyze each one’s prospects for “R0>1.0” viral network effects as a way to define this war’s battle lines.

To varying degrees, the different currency issuers and/or advocates must think not about how the state can or cannot compel adoption but how to best incentivize people to use their currency of their own free will. They must also think about how to overcome whatever disincentives currently exist against adoption – how to get around the penguin problem.

It helps to start with a pre-existing network effect, whether that comes from government compulsion or some other factor.

For example, China’s international aspirations for the DCEP are built on the analog, non-digital renminbi, which is already used by more than a billion people. In a different way, Libra enjoys pre-existing network advantages as Facebook brings its user base of more than 2.6 billion people to the table.

Still, a pre-existing network for one form of crowd behavior does not assure the viability of another type of behavior.

If China is to meet its international currency adoption ambitions, it must entice foreign businesses and individuals to the DCEP. They’re not like Chinese nationals: they can freely choose not to use the People’s Bank of China’s currency. To win them over, Beijing will tout the new digital currency’s high-tech, programmable benefits, including new efficiencies in supply chain management and other business processes. It faces a big challenge convincing outsiders to ignore a strong disincentive: fear of surveillance of their transactions, especially in the wake of China’s crackdown in Hong Kong.

For Libra, too, global connections on social media are no guarantee it will hit that exponential moment. Regulators are putting constraints on Libra. And, as with China, users have deep concerns about surveillance, given Facebook’s record of exploiting personal data. While it’s the independent Libra Association, not Facebook, that governs the digital currency, it remains unclear whether that structure is sufficient to assure the public’s trust. And trust is a prerequisite for a currency’s success.

#### The alternative

What, then, of bitcoin and other more decentralized competitors in the currency cold war? What incentives and disincentives give cryptocurrencies a shot at viral expansion?

On the negative side, the same old disincentives to adoption persist: a lack of education, mistrust and price volatility. To offset that, cryptocurrency advocates typically point to value propositions that digital currencies such as the DCEP or Libra don’t have, including protection from the surveilling, controlling eyes of a centralized, controlling organization.

Such arguments have had mixed success. In price terms, bitcoin has gained 11 million-fold in the 10 years since the founding of Mt. Gox, the first viable trading site. But even with an estimated 50 million bitcoin wallets now open worldwide, cryptocurrency is still far from a mainstream industry.

How best to incentivize true, world-changing viral adoption, then? Should crypto platforms offer bootstrapping dividends, such as those that newcomer Compound pays in “yield farming” opportunities, dedicating some of the supply of COMP, the platform’s governance token, to reward users who engage in borrowing and lending activity? Are airdrops the way to go? Or should the crypto community just lay low and keep waiting for the centralized system’s meltdown to demonstrate cryptocurrency’s advantages by default?

Ultimately, crypto’s success depends on its utility, whether as a tool for building decentralized financial services, or as a store of scarce digital value in times of uncertainty. Demonstrate utility and the world will come.

## The credit hierarchy

If digital entrepreneurs in the crypto community or elsewhere are to build a new payment architecture, they must first see what the existing landscape looks like. For the U.S. picture, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s nationwide annual survey of consumer payments habits is a useful starting point. In providing a snapshot of how Americans pay for things, the report indirectly shows how our financial system defines a social hierarchy – from an “unbanked” underclass, to the “underbanked” working and middle class, to the credit-rich upper-middle and upper class. One problem with the Atlanta Fed’s survey, especially with this year’s recently released report, is that it comes out six months after the end of the survey year. The latest results capture nothing of the impact from COVID-19, which would have significantly reduced cash usage due to people’s concerns about banknote-transmitted disease and have increased online payments among the now working-from-home U.S. population. Nonetheless, the report reveals interesting long-term trends in different payment methods:

The past two years’ drop in cash usage, which now accounts for a lesser share of payments than credit cards, is important. The slide in checks usage is not surprising – along with the countervailing increase in bank account routing number payments (BANP) – but the very fact they’re used at all is noteworthy, given that consumer check payments have gone the way of the dinosaurs elsewhere. What’s most telling, I think, is the split among card payments, which have replaced cash: debit cards continue their dominance over credit cards and prepaid cards are picking up modest gains. This tells me that while a minority of Americans, including undocumented immigrants, remain unbanked and therefore dependent on cash or prepaid cards, a large number are underbanked. It suggests it is hard for people to maintain credit scores that would otherwise let them live their lives on a credit card.

Debit cards are a second-class way to pay for things. (Think of the deposit, sometimes as high as \$1,000, that car rental companies require if you commit to pay with a debit instead of a credit card.) They provide the convenience of not having to carry cash around, but that’s all. Debit cards do not give their holders the lifestyle flexibility afforded to credit card holders, who can leverage the implicit backing of a financial institution that’s willing to make payments on their behalf. It speaks to how exclusion from, first, banking and, second, credit lines, imposes a burdensome “tax” on lower-income people and contributes to the United States’ ever-widening wealth disparity.

I hate to say it, but Bitcoin alone does NOT fix this. We must also lower barriers to credit, which means lowering the repayment risks that lenders perceive in servicing low- and middle-income people. Does DeFi fix that? Too early to say.

## Global Town Hall

OPEN-SOURCE CBDC. The Digital Dollar Project of former Commodity Futures and Trading Commission Chairman Chris Giancarlo got a solid endorsement from Karen Petrou, one of the most trusted analysts of federal finance policy. In her “Economic Equality” blog, a must-read chronicle of how finance impacts the kind of disparities described in the prior item, she first skewers the more centralized version of a central bank digital currency – the kind contained in China’s DCEP. She worries about financial inclusion. Whereas CBDC advocates tout the model as a way to “bank the unbanked,” Petrou argues it will hurt the poor. She offers two reasons: 1) The “digital divide” means the poor don’t have access to the online tools they’ll need, and 2) the centralized surveillance of transactions will be used in a discriminatory way against low-income users. She also worries the transfer of bank deposits to Federal Reserve-based CBDC accounts would undermine the autonomy of banks to offer credit, creating incentives for the politicization of the central bank as an arbiter of lending in the economy. The solution, she says, is an “open-source CBDC,” a more decentralized model in which banks and, potentially, tech companies would be approved to create reserve-backed tokens that track the value of the actual currency. In doing so, she explicitly cited Giancarlo’s June congressional testimony about the Digital Dollar Project’s tokenized model.

DEPPOR. The world of banking and credit depends on the core concept of benchmark interest rates. Without a benchmark against which to price rates and devise a proxy for measuring risk, it’s difficult for lenders to put a price on how much to charge borrowers. One of the world’s most important benchmarks is Libor, the London Interbank Overnight Rate, which measures the daily rates at which banks holding short-term surplus cash lend it to others with short-term shortages. The thing is, Libor is deeply broken. Corruption among Libor traders, who were found to have colluded to set the rate to their advantage in a major 2014 scandal, is a known risk. But little has been done to resolve a core problem the crypto community understands well: a centralized architecture that requires users to trust these entities. It’s one reason supporters of the American Financial Exchange’s new Ameribor project, which uses a permissioned version of Ethereum as an audit trail for banks’ submissions to the rate-setting process, were excited about a quasi-endorsement from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. But while that’s an innovative model and may boost trust in the system, it still leaves banks in the middle of the process.

So, it’s worth asking what a more decentralized finance model for rate benchmarking would look like. And on that, I was struck by a recent column by CoinShares Chief Strategy Officer Meltem Demirors, who took a DeFi lens to the rates industry. Looking at the business of yield farming, where people find interesting ways to leverage their idle crypto holdings by lending them out, Demirors exposed some parallels with the interbank lending market, where banks essentially use their surplus holdings of either cash or securities to extract value from other banks that need to borrow them for short-term needs. In a similar way, benchmark rates emerge from this short-term borrowing and lending process, though in this case across multiple assets. The really big difference is that you don’t need to be a bank to participate in a DeFi rate-setting market. DeFi has its own manipulation problems, of course, not least because of the risk that bigger crypto “whales” – the equivalent of the big Libor banks – can use their excessive holdings of the DeFi governance tokens such as COMP and MKR to skew rates in their favor. Maybe we need regulators to get involved, but a DeFi rate-setting model is certainly something to chew on. We just need an acronym to get started. How about DEEPOR – the Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Overnight Rate?

DOGE DEUX. Very wow. Obviously, they were made for each other: Dogecoin and TikTok. The incredible 1900% runup in the price of dogecoin this past week, all driven by a viral meme on the video-sharing app challenging people to get the previously dormant cryptocurrency’s price to \$1, was reminiscent of dogecoin’s first hype-driven entry into public consciousness. In 2014, a vibrant community of meme and crypto enthusiasts successfully raised 67.8 million dogecoins (around \$55,000 at the time) to sponsor ex-NASCAR driver Josh Wise’s car. That stunt and others helped drive the value of the coin, created for a lark by developer Jackson Palmer, to what was once sixth position in crypto market cap rankings. That’s why the return this week of another meme-infused dogecoin rally seemed so relevant.

Naturally, the price surge provoked hand-wringing about irrational investors and scammers creating bubbles. But somehow this whole thing goes beyond that. It has the feel of a collective art project. There’s no pretense about dogecoin actually being worth anything. It’s all about a community effort to make something happen. Now, those who started the mania will make out like bandits if they dump the coin at the top. But if everyone is on the game, are they actually bandits? We live in strange times.

Nathaniel Whittemore’s take on this –  “Why TikTok Doge Is Everything About 2020 Finance in One Story” – for his CoinDesk Podcast Network show, The Breakdown, was excellent, by the way.

DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO. Nikhilesh De’s piece on all the crypto companies that received COVID-19 relief loans under the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small business prompted some tut-tutting on Crypto Twitter. All these entities promoting non-government money, now panhandling from Uncle Sam. How dare they! It’s a simplistic argument. If a loan program comes along that contains generous forgiveness terms for maintaining payrolls during an economic crisis, you could argue it would be unfair to your staff not to take up the offer. Also, many in the crypto business community long ago conceded to the reality of government power – just look at how many obtained money transmitter licenses and now proudly tout how compliant they are with anti-money laundering and know-your-customer rules. Surely in the midst of a serious economic crisis, they’re now entitled to get some help in return. But I feel a little differently about PPP loans going to more mainstream conservative entities whose sole reason for being is to lobby against government largesse – organizations like the Ayn Rand Institute or outspoken fiscal hawk Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. In a tweet, CNBC’s Kayla Tausche pointed out that Norquist’s outfit, immediately after receiving \$350,000 in fiscal relief, put its signature to a letter declaring that government spending “is inhibiting the fast recovery we want in jobs and incomes, not stimulating it.” Okaaaaaay.

The CoinDesk 20: The Assets That Matter Most to the Market

Digital assets aren’t what they used to be. As more people learn the fundamentals and grasp the potential for high returns, cryptocurrencies are emerging as a new asset category.

Introducing the CoinDesk 20, our list of the 20 digital assets that impact and define the market. From our new dashboard, uncover insights through price pages, key metrics, news and industry analysis, as well as video interviews with founders and key developers of the underlying technology. Dive into our freshly revamped practical guide to the assets that matter most to the market.

What Is Yield Farming? The Rocket Fuel of DeFi, Explained. Finally, the explainer you’ve been hankering for. Brady Dale lays out what this crazy new DeFi world of yield farming is all about.

Brazil’s Ailing Economy Is Helping Dollar-Pegged Stablecoins Find Traction. The COVID-19 crisis has starved developing nations of dollars, undermined their cash-dependent payment systems and put enormous pressure on local currencies. It’s a perfect storm for stablecoins in emerging markets. Now, as Leigh Cuen reports, the trend is catching on in the developing nation that has perhaps been the hardest hit by the pandemic.

London Stock Exchange Parent Assigns Financial ‘Bar Codes’ to 169 Cryptos. Another day, another small step toward institutional investment in crypto. As Sandali Handagama reports, the London Stock Exchange Group has added unique identifiers to 169 cryptocurrencies under its SEDOL system. “Naturally with the gradual institutionalisation of digital assets, a number of our clients were starting to invest in that space, so we felt it was an appropriate time to add these to SEDOL,” said LSEG’s Head of Data Solutions, James Nevin.

Weed Out the Soviet-Era Ponzi Scheme Eating Ethereum. Our columnist Lex Sokolin grew up in the Soviet Union. He knows a thing or two about Russian scamsters. In this piece he makes an impassioned plea for participants in Ethereum’s newly burgeoning ecosystem to destroy a notorious Russian pyramid scheme known as MMM. Note: a reader of a past column of mine, in which I cited a Glassnode report showing how Ethereum fees now largely service smart contract applications rather than simple ether payment transfers, pointed out how that same report showed MMM to be the biggest fee-receiving ERC-20 contract. As Solokin says,           a weed can’t be allowed to take over your garden.
How Apple’s COVID-19 Policy Limited a Public Health App in TaiwanThe irony of Taiwan’s predicament – as a country that’s locked out of the international system by China – is that its people are forced to be innovative to survive. That’s been especially so during COVID-19, where it had an impressive track record in managing the crisis. Sadly, that same exclusionary situation means that the rest of the world often can’t tap into Taiwanese inventions. Here, as detailed by Leigh Cuen, we learn how a blockchain-based app for enhancing privacy in health data has been blocked by the Apple app store.

Disclosure

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

# Record Number of Dark Markets Online as Demand for Illicit Goods and Services Continues to Grow

Published

on

The criminal environment of darknet markets is extremely turbulent. Numerous darknet markets are launched every year and just as many are constantly exiting, being seized, or otherwise going defunct. Despite this barrage, CipherTrace has noted more dark markets online than ever before.

CipherTrace researchers are currently monitoring over 35 active darknet markets. The newest darknet markets – both launched around early September – are Invictus Market and Lime Market. Lime Market, thought to be run by the former admins of DarkBay, appears to be a very small market and is not expected to become a very notable enterprise. Invictus Market, on the other hand, is run by the admins of the well-known Imperiya darknet service—an enterprise that creates and maintains darknet vendor shops for a modest fee. As the admins of Invictus already have a good reputation among the darknet community, it stood to see quick growth. However, while Invictus was able to gain close to 10,000 customer accounts in its first month, by the end of its second month of operation (October 20), Invictus’ customer base had barely surpassed 10,000 accounts, indicating its exponential growth appears to have slowed drastically.

Source: CipherTrace Cryptocurrency Intelligence

### Three Tumultuous Exit Scams

Empire Market was one of the largest, longest running and most successful darknet markets. Launched in February of 2018, Empire rose to become the largest darknet market in the Western world during its time. However, by late August 2020 the dark market pivoted and exit scammed—a scheme where a dark market or fraudulent exchange ceases operation and steals all the funds in escrow and account wallets. An exiting market will either abruptly shut down or remain online with escrow payouts and withdrawals disabled, but deposits still enabled, allowing the scammers to net more funds until users catch on.

Following Empire’s exit, its vendors and customers had to move to a new market, leading to a large influx of new users on all other open darknet markets.

On September 10—less than three weeks after Empire’s exit—Icarus Market also went offline. The site never came back up, taking all their vendors’ and customers’ funds with them . Icarus had been pushing high effort updates soon before the exit, leading CipherTrace analysts to believe that the exit likely wasn’t planned. Rather, it’s probable that the large influx of new users from Empire and their deposits made Icarus ripe for a profitable exit. As a result, the admins may have taken advantage of the opportunity and exited sooner than they had originally planned.

Sometime around October 12, DeepSea market also abruptly went offline. After just a few days with no word from market admins, users and one DeepSea forum moderator concluded that the market had exit scammed. As of the writing of this report, it has been one week since the market went offline. It is possible—but unlikely—that the market will return. It could have been seized instead of exit scammed, but law enforcement has yet to announce the seizure. If the market doesn’t return and law enforcement don’t announce a seizure, it can be concluded that DeapSea has exit scammed.

White House Market, due to its good reputation among darknet users, will take some traffic from these exits and has the potential to be the next biggest market. However, White House Market’s high security requirements tends to turn the average dark market user away. It is more likely that DarkMarket will take much of the traffic from the Empire, Icarus, and DeepSea exit scams.

As it stands, DarkMarket and White House Market appear to be the largest darknet markets in the Western world with over 300,000 customer accounts each. White House Market saw a 40% increase in users between August 27 and September 28, following the exit scam of Icarus, and a further 8-10% increase between late September and October 20. The next most notable darknet markets currently active are Versus Market, Monopoly Market, ToRReZ Market, and of course the Russian darknet behemoth—Hydra—which has been active since 2015 and is likely the largest darknet market in the world.

### Why So Many Dark Markets Come and Go

Creating a darknet market requires little upfront cost, and the potential rewards can be high—Empire market admins, for example, reportedly profited around \$30 million from their exit scam alone, not including the money they made in the two years of their operation. Evolution market exited with \$12 million in user bitcoin. This results in numerous darknet markets launching every year. According to CipherTrace research, there has been at least one notable darknet market launched every month on average since early 2019.

However, darknet markets go as quickly as they come. The eventual fate of all darknet markets is to be seized, to be hacked, to exit scam, or to voluntarily shut down. It’s most likely that the majority of darknet markets plan to exit scam from their inception, especially as a plan B if things go sideways.

Operating a darknet market is risky. Market operators have a long list of adversaries. Law enforcement is the most obvious, powerful, and dangerous adversary of a darknet market. If a market runs for long enough, it’s likely to be seized and its operators arrested. Ten years ago, the first dark market, The Farmers Market, appeared on the Tor network; eight years ago its eight founders were arrested, seven pled guilty and the leader was convicted to 10 years in prison for selling narcotics and laundering money. Ross Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts, allegedly operated Silk Road—the first large scale dark market with over 100,000 customers. Ulbricht was also charged with a murder for hire plot and was sentenced to a double life sentence plus forty years without the possibility of parole. Ulbricht built this black market bazaar to exploit the dark web and the digital currency Bitcoin to allow users to conduct illegal business beyond the reach of law enforcement. According to the DOJ “Ulbricht’s arrest and conviction – and our seizure of millions of dollars of Silk Road Bitcoins – should send a clear message to anyone else attempting to operate an online criminal enterprise. The supposed anonymity of the dark web is not a protective shield from arrest and prosecution.

Figure 1: Silk Road was a wakeup call to law enforcement globally to the criminal potential of cryptocurrencies. (DOJ Exhibit 113 A, entered into evidence at Ulbricht’s trial)

Darknet markets are also under constant threat of being hacked by adversaries who want to steal funds from a market’s hot wallet, extort the admins, or conduct an attack that might lead to a profit. Furthermore, darknet markets are constantly receiving Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. DoS attacks on a market might be conducted by an individual demanding ransom, by admins of a competing market who want to diminish competition, or even by law enforcement who want to destabilize these criminal enterprises.

Even if a market intends to be around forever and manages to avoid being seized or hacked, there is always the chance of either a slip up in their operational security or an attack that poses too great a threat to the admins that they’re forced to execute their plan B: an exit scam. By conducting an exit scam, the admins of a darknet market are able to solve their problem while making a substantial profit.

### The Ease of Creating a Dark Market

The ease of creating a dark market adds to its lucrative appeal, particularly if one intends to exit scam. While the biggest hurdle to operating a dark market was once the issue of gaining the trust of vendors and customers to use your site, the barrage of seizures and exits leaves many bouncing to and from one dark market to the next.

There are many ways criminals can quickly produce dark markets, with the easiest being to simply buy a pre-built marketplace template—all the customer has to do is replace any place-holder text and install the software to their servers. This method was used by the popular dark market “DarkMarket.” The current price for a standard, pre-built marketplace kit that accepts BTC and Monero is only \$599 in BTC. Support for additional coins range from \$50-\$90 per coin. This upfront cost is minuscule when compared to the profits of many of the established exit scams.

The ease of creating your own dark market, coupled with the profitability of exit scamming and constant demand shown by the volume of customer accounts on these marketplaces culminate in a record number of dark markets now online. It is likely that this number will only grow in the future, however, the use of blockchain analytics such as CipherTrace can ensure that the funds originating from any of these dark markets are identified the moment they are moved to fiat off-ramps such as exchanges.

# Top 10 Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) Providers

Published

on

🔥🚀 BaaS or Blockchain-as-a-Service is a paid blockchain-based cloud service that blockchain companies provide to customers. BaaS provides customers with the ability to build, host, and use their own blockchain apps, smart contracts, and any other digital services on a distributed network.

It is important to clarify that the BaaS concept is derived from the concept of SaaS (Software as a service) and works similarly to it. 👇

## ◆ How does BaaS work?

According to the BaaS concept, blockchain companies install,  manage, and maintain, blockchain-based cloud platforms in addition to providing the tools necessary to build blockchain applications to customers in return for a fee.

## ◆ The future of the BaaS industry

Currently, the global revenue from blockchain services is estimated at \$ 2.5 billion and by 2025 this number is expected to rise to \$ 19.9 billion.

Overall, the business value of blockchain solutions will increase to more than \$ 360 billion by 2026, with estimates of this number reaching \$ 3 trillion by 2030.

The previous figures clearly show the future of the industry as well as explain the huge and successive investments in the blockchain business in general.

## ❖ Advantages of using the BaaS model

The BaaS model provides its users with many advantages, most notably high data security, efficiency, scalability, unlimited customization potential, as well as it is compatible with current cloud services.

In addition to the above, the adoption of the BaaS model reduces administrative burdens and provides better management and recruitment of resources.

Moreover, the BaaS model is easy to use and affordable, given the value it offers.

### ☉ BaaS vs owning a blockchain-based cloud platform

The BaaS model is a better solution for business than having a blockchain-based cloud platform in all aspects. Owning a blockchain-based cloud platform is hugely costly due to start-up costs (infrastructure, personnel, software, licensing, hardware, consulting, and more), retirement costs (decommissioning of server racks), and operational costs (monitoring, cost per transactions, bandwidth expenses).

In addition to the above, owning a blockchain model means fully assuming administrative responsibilities. 👇

🗨 While in the BaaS model, the cost is significantly lower because you only pay for the service you get. The service price in the BaaS model is subject to several factors, including the transaction rate, the maximum number of concurrent transactions, the payload size on transactions, and so on.

Also, in the BaaS model, all administrative burdens are borne by the provider.

### ● How to choose the right BaaS provider?

There are a number of points to consider when selecting a BaaS provider. For instance, the provider’s experience and reputation, the security of the platform, the technical support as well as the ease of use and pricing.

In addition, it must be ensured that the platform integrates with the existing operating systems and software.

🚀 It should also ensure that the platform supports smart contract integration and deployment, identity access management (IAM) system, different runtimes, and frameworks. 👇

## 🟥 Top 10  Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) Providers

### ● Blockwell

Blockwell is one of the world’s leading providers of blockchain solutions to governments, enterprises, and end-consumers. Founded in 2018 by experts who have contributed for 20 years in developing emerging technologies for some of the largest companies in the world.Blockwell aims to assist organizations in adopting blockchain solutions by providing consulting and a cloud blockchain platform in addition to a distinct and diverse set of tools and programs.

Blockwell aims to help everyone generate profits by allowing them to build and expand blockchain tools, services, and products.

Currently, content creators rely on existing toolkits developed by Blockwell, set their own commission structures, and earn percentages as they sell and promote their tools around the world.

During the past two years, Blockwell has developed blockchain solutions for cryptocurrency businesses around the world. 👇

🔻In addition, Blockwell has vetted dozens of token contracts for some of the most popular exchanges in the world, prevented and stopped hacks saving individuals millions of dollars, built successful token-swaps tools, and analytics tools.

Blockwell’s previous work includes the names of many well-known businesses such as JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Disney, GoPro, Paramount, Mattel, Universal, Lucas Arts, Suzuki, Epson, Time Warner Cable, Guitar Center, Beachbody, Marriott, Jaiyen Eco-Resort and more.

🗨 Blockwell has an impressive list of tools and applications. Notable among them are Blockwell Wallet, Pride Token, Fire Tokens, EgoCoins, Blockwell, Blockwell Book, Sheets-n-Blocks – Blockchain, Contract Tool, VoteBlock, API Miner, Smart License Creator, Blockwell Prime, Listener, Token Swapper, Blockwell Daico, Blockwell Telescope, Blockwell Spyglass, Blockwell Velvet, Blockwell KYC Form Builder, Non-Fungible Token Creator, BW, and Dumbapps.

In addition to apps and tools, Blockwell has launched a store for  DApps named “Well Spring” that has 16 working apps so far.

Blockwell backed tokens are valued at over \$ 80M.

🗨 Regarding the future, Blockwell is seeking to expand by investing \$ 10M. The company plans to obtain it by selling 100MM tokens to investors.🔻

### ● Amazon

Amazon introduced its BAAS service called “Amazon Managed Blockchain” in 2018 through its cloud arm, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon Managed Blockchain is a managed service that makes it easy to create and manage scalable blockchain networks using open source frameworks including Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric.

Moreover, Amazon allows customers who want to manage their own network to go ahead, but it is an option that needs experience in dealing with AWS Blockchain Templates.

Amazon also enables companies to integrate their blockchain-based networks and business processes to improve IT infrastructure, business processes, human resources, financial transactions, and supply chains.

In addition to the above, Amazon provides AWS Key Management Service to secure Hyperledger Fabric’s CA (Certificate Authority) and Amazon QLDB technology to manage augmented ordering service.

🗨  The BAAS offer from Amazon is characterized by flexibility in identifying resources to suit companies’ needs.

Amazon customers’ list includes star names like Nestlé, BMW, Accenture, Sony Music Japan, and the Singapore Exchange. 👇

### ● IBM

🚀IBM is one of the world’s most important BaaS service providers. Forbes selected it among the top 50 blockchain companies, thanks to its blockchain platform “IBM Blockchain“, which it launched in 2017.

IBM Blockchain is a fully-integrated distributed ledger technology platform that enables businesses to “’ develop, govern, and operate a blockchain ecosystem quickly and cost-effectively on a flexible, cloud-based platform by using Kubernetes.

Partnerships have been vital to IBM’s continuous BaaS expansion. it created the Trust Your Supplier platform alongside blockchain firm Chainyard and also pioneered the Contingent Labor platform in conjunction with IT People.

As well as IBM Blockchain has joined The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project to evolve and improve upon earlier forms of blockchain. Instead of having a blockchain that is reliant on the exchange of cryptocurrencies with anonymous users on a public network (e.g. Bitcoin), a blockchain for business provides a licensed network, with known identities, without the need for cryptocurrencies.

👉  IBM Blockchain Platform has been used widely in industries such as food supply, media, advertising, and trade finance. 👇

### ● Microsoft

🔥 Microsoft is one of the oldest BaaS service providers as it has been in the market since 2015 when it launched Azure Blockchain Service.

Microsoft aims through its BaaS service to enable users to build public, private, and consortium blockchain environments with industry-grade frameworks and bring their blockchain apps to market.

🎯Microsoft provides three products to customers: Azure Blockchain Service, Azure Blockchain Workbench, and Azure Blockchain Development Kit.

Azure is compatible with other Microsoft products such as Logic Apps and Flow, making it a great choice for organizations looking to harness blockchains such as General Electric and T-Mobile.

Microsoft Azure’s most prominent features are the support of several Blockchain frameworks, including Quorum, Corda, Hyperledger Fabric, and Ethereum. Plus, ease of deployment using Azure CLI, Azure Portal, or Visual Studio Code with the Azure Blockchain extension. Azure also supports full monitoring and logging.

🗨 The above helped Microsoft to forge important partnerships with prominent entities such as its partnerships with Ripple and BitPay. 👇

### ● Alibaba

🔻 Alibaba is one of the leading blockchain solutions providers around the world. The well-known Chinese company introduced its BaaS service in 2018 through its cloud platform.

🗨  Alibaba has an active research team and has registered many patents on blockchain during the past period.

Utilizing Quorum, Hyperledger Fabric, and the Ant Blockchain, the platform integrates Alibaba Cloud’s Internet of Things (IoT) and anti-counterfeiting technologies to create blockchain solutions for product traceability.

Alibaba’s BaaS offering provides diverse solutions to meet user needs including encompasses enterprise-level BaaS services, an agile BaaS platform that supports private deployment, and specific blockchain solutions for container services. 👇

### ● Oracle

🚀 Software giant Oracle unveiled its BaaS service in 2017. The service, called “Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service”, aims to provide an enterprise-grade distributed ledger platform that can help businesses to “increase trust and provide agility in transactions across their business networks.”

Oracle enables its service users to provide permission blockchain networks for private or consortia models, enroll member organizations, and run smart contracts to update and query the ledger in addition to many other benefits.

🎯 Also, Oracle enables its service users to use its other solutions such as Oracle Supply Chain Management (SCM) Cloud, Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud, and other Oracle cloud solutions. 👇

### ● R3

🔥 R3 launched its BaaS service called “Corda” to enable companies to transact directly and privately using smart contracts.

Corda is an open-source blockchain platform that works on minimizes blockchain nodes’ deployment time by a few minutes, allowing enterprises to host the Corda network in a few clicks.

👉 Interoperability, security, and privacy are the foundations of the finance-focused Corda.

Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) recently hired Corda service to streamline financial processes and enhance settlements

Corda provides users with the following benefits: Easy cloud-based deployment and quick setup of nodes with Docker, a Built-in blockchain application firewall to provide additional security, as well as R3’s Interoperability feature that allows developers to work with more than one application at the same time.

🗨 It is worth noting that R3 has developed solutions for more than 300 clients in addition that it has partnerships with many prestigious institutions such as Barclays, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, and more. 👇

### ● SAP

🎯 SAP launched its BaaS service “Leonardo” in 2017. Through its service, SAP aims to help companies transition into the digital age through the use of distributed ledger technology.

Leonardo is a Hyperledger based service and resides in the SAP Cloud service, meaning it can be accessed from any device.

🔻 The platform provides plug-and-play blockchain solutions and allows for the easy setup and hosting of blockchain nodes.

SAP Leonardo functions as a blockchain cloud service, machine learning service, and supports the Internet of Things (IoT) in a single ecosystem.

👉 SAP Leonardo provides its users with several benefits such as cloud deployment, monitoring of blockchain data in real-time, and more. 👇

### ● Huawei

🚀 Well-known Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei launched its BaaS service in 2018. The service, called “BCS“, is based on Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain framework that allows components, such as consensus and membership services, to be plug-and-play.

With its BaaS service, Huawei aims to enable companies to develop smart contracts on top of a blockchain network for several use-case scenarios.

🔥 Huawei also works with enterprise customers to promote the deployment of blockchain solutions and applications and to build reliable, public infrastructure, and an ecosystem-based on blockchain and shared success.

🗨  According to Huawei, BCS enables enterprises to deploy blockchain technology within five minutes. It concentrates on nine application scenarios, including data assets, Internet of Things (IoT), operation, identity verification, data certification, data transactions, new energy, philanthropic donations, and inclusive finance.

Huawei has many and varied partnerships inside and outside the Chinese market, but the most prominent name remains the famous car manufacturer Honda. 👇

### ● Factom

🔻Factom launched its BaaS service in 2017. The service, called “Factom Harmony“, aims to allow enterprises and software vendors to quickly add blockchain capabilities to any application or workflow using simple API calls.

Harmony also aims to enable users to create portable, archivable cryptographic proofs to use as trusted inputs for internal and external audits.

🚀 What sets Factom Harmony apart is that it reduces the time and resource requirements to perform audits and meet compliance objectives. ⤵

Author: Husayn Hashim

👤Bio: Husayn Hashim works as an author and programmer. He has been writing about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies for si years. He’s interested in programming, technology, finance, and business. He loves writing and loves to share his knowledge with others.

# Founder´s Packs now available for the first AAA blockchain game BLANKOS BLOCK PARTY

Published

on

Mythical Games, a next-generation game technology studio driving mass adoption of blockchain, today announced the upcoming private beta for Blankos Block Party, an open-world multiplayer game with a heavy focus on player-designed levels and collectible assets, will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, with open beta to follow later this year. Players eager to start their collection of the digital vinyl toys come to life can now purchase a Founder’s Pack, starting at \$24.99 (USD), to receive exclusive and limited in-game content, as well as guaranteed priority access to the game’s private beta and Founder’s status in both Discord and in-game.

Blankos Block Party is an online game world that integrates blockchain to facilitate the economy and allow players to buy and sell their in-game items in exchange for real-world currencies, using Mythical’s proprietary technology to track and verify all purchases across any platform, creating a safe transaction for all involved. With this model, Mythical is eliminating the need for grey markets and allowing the community to dictate the value of what is bought and sold in secondary marketplaces.

Limited quantities of the Founder’s Packs are available now for purchase via fiat or supported cryptocurrencies in four different package options, which provide limited-edition Blankos and themed accessories designed by some of the world’s top vinyl toy artists, priority access to the private beta, 100% in-game currency match and other items only available while these packs last. Each Founder’s Pack will be numbered in order of purchase and recorded on blockchain to enhance collectibility and future resale value for players.

• Ice Pack: RSVP to the ultimate block party with the Ice Pack, and receive the exclusive Lolli Blanko and three themed Lolli accessories, Founder Status and Lolli emoticon and 2,500 Blankos Bucks. (\$24.99)

• Tako Pack: Start your collection with the exclusive Tako Blanko designed by multimedia artist Junko Mizuno, two themed Tako accessories, as well as one unique Tako-themed Build Mode asset and one Build Mode item wrap, Founder Status with Lolli and Tako emoticons and 5,000 Blankos Bucks. (\$49.99)

• Bite Me Pack: Be the life of the party with the Bite Me Pack, which delivers the exclusive ‘Bite Me’ Billy Bones Blanko, six Bite Me-themed accessories, rare gold and black Build Mode materials, plus Bite Me brand Build Mode basic set, Build Mode items and the Bite Me rocket launcher, as well as Founder Status with Lolli, Tako and Bite Me emoticons and 10,000 Blankos Bucks. (\$99.99)

• Boss Pack: Become a VIP with the Boss Pack and show off your status with the exclusive Boss Dino Blanko designed by legendary toy artist James Groman, two Boss Dino-themed accessories, two Build Mode Materials, three Build Mode items and two themed weapons for Build Mode, not to mention Founder Status with Boss Dino, Bite Me, Tako and Lolli emoticons and 15,000 Blankos Bucks. (\$149.99)

Founder’s Pack items will only be available for a limited time, or until the limited quantities sell out; Mythical will not reissue these special-edition Blankos or their accessories in the future. These exclusive Founder’s Pack items will be available for purchasers to unbox and play immediately in the private beta, and can also be sold to other players when the Blankos secondary market launches.

For additional details on Founder’s Packs and their contents and benefits, or to purchase one of the limited edition packs, please visit Blankos.com. Packs can be purchased with fiat currency, or supported crypto payment options via BitPay (Binance USD/BUSD, Bitcoin/BTC, Bitcoin Cash/BCH, XRP, ETH, Gemini US Dollar/GUSD, Circle USD/USDC and Paxos Standard USD/PAX). In addition to purchasing a Founder’s Pack to receive priority access to the private beta, players can reserve their free accounts now on the Blankos website to get on the waiting list for the chance to be included in the private beta without purchase (subject to capacity).