Vol 3. Issue 5 | May 2017
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How Cryptocurrencies are paving the Future of
Revolutionizing Global Commerce and Payments by
Combining Cutting Edge Technologies
Innovating the music business with
Bringing Blockchain to the World of Finance
Expert Commentary: Blockchain’s Future
Start-up Spotlight: Wyre
Production Editor & Head of Creative
The Tale of a Merchant: Introducing the OLX
Special Feature: Using Blockchain to innovate
Industry Events Calendar
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Thought Leaders Corner
How Cryptocurrencies are paving
the Future of Finance
photo by Zach Copley on Flickr
by Eric Larchevêque
In October 2015, The Economist ran the headline “Blockchain
- The trust machine”. This ignited a strong interest into the
technology underlying Bitcoin and started what we could
call the “blockchain craze”. Promises of decentralization
were sparking everywhere, whilst Bitcoin’s pith and marrow
-- the capacity to transfer tokens of values instantly, globally
and with a full censorship resistance -- was deemed outdated
and almost mocked.
Fast forward 18 months. In April 2017, cryptocurrencies are five
times stronger: from $5 billion to a $30 billion global market
cap. Bitcoin takes of course the lion share with a whooping two
thirds, but Ethereum and its $4.5 billion booming economy is
getting closer every day.
So, what happened exactly?
While “Blockchain” was peaking its inflated expectation
and began a down slide to the trough of disillusionment,
cryptocurrencies were slowly but surely climbing the slope
of enlightenment. Many experts discarded Bitcoin as a passing
fad, arguing that it didn’t have a killer app. What they fail
to understand is that the killer app of Bitcoin is... Bitcoin.
Cryptocurrencies in general are a fully fledged self-sufficient
and autonomous finance framework, enabling the faithful
recreation of all known business models but in a trustless,
secure and decentralized way. They exist in an orthogonal
realm, oblivious to the legacy financial system and without
the possibility of being muzzled.
These unique characteristics combined to the dynamism of
the ecosystem resulted to the 2016 late Bitcoin price rally and
the 2017 massive success of Ethereum. With the exception of
the year 2014, Bitcoin had always been the most performing
currency in the world. And the first quarter of 2017 already
saw a 20% increase. Of course, it hasn’t been without what we
could call massive bumps in the road: the hack of Bitfinex (a
major cryptocurrency exchange) as well as the DAO debacle
reminded everyone how far the road is before achieving real
All these strong (and repeated) performances didn’t however
leave investors indifferent. Individuals and crypto-enthusiasts
at first, quickly followed by high net worth individuals, family
offices and specialized hedge funds. But there is one catch
to this apparent gold rush: Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies
in general, are not that easy to invest in. Not only are they
not regulated, lacking mainstream investment vehicles, but
they are also complex to hold and safeguard. Moreover, their
combined cap market is still quite small in the world of finance:
taking a large (>100M$) position without strongly moving the
market is not really possible.
But nature abhors a vacuum, and fintechs are building solutions
to onboard investors in the crypto world with the minimum
possible of friction. If the road to institutional investment
vehicles such as ETFs (Electronic Traded Fund) seems to be
particularly hard, hedge funds are already proposing to hold
a mix of cryptocurrencies to their customers.
Thought Leaders Corner
The difficulty of safeguarding cryptocurrency assets lies in
the foundation of the blockchain digital identity model. When
you own bitcoins, what you are really owning are “private
keys”, a critical piece of information used to sign transactions
spending the funds. Whoever has knowledge of this secret
can dispose of the associated bitcoins. As there is no possible
way of cancelling a transaction, private keys are akin to non
revocable bearer bonds, very close to physical cash. Managing
these private keys on an IT infrastructure is highly critical
and must rely on secure hardware ensuring a full isolation
of the secrets from the outside world. These data fortresses
are the modern equivalent of the bank vaults, and are the
backbone on which hedge funds or crypto indexes are built.
If the cybersecurity threats are a priority when assessing the
risks, assaults and kidnapping are another very important
factor to mitigate. Hedge funds managing tens of millions
of dollars of assets in the equivalent of easily transportable
cash must make sure that an armed gang cannot force the
administrators to empty the digital coffers at gunpoint. Multi
signature, time locks and rate limiters are now part of the
safety models enforced by state of the art security solutions.
If executing a transaction requires by design a delay 72 hours
(without any possible recourse), the success probability of an
armed robbery tends towards zero.
Little by little, step by step, the new deal of blockchain based
cryptocurrency technology is building an alternative finance
platform, totally orthogonal to the legacy system. Attracted
by the “innovation without permission” paradigm and by the
perspective of really disrupting the existing models, developers
and entrepreneurs are flocking to this new eldorado. This in
turn attracts investors and speculators, unfazed by the risk
of implosion of the system but betting high on the massive
returns in case of cryptocurrencies’ adoption success. The
prospect of a $100 billion market cap is not remote anymore.
Large institutional investors, sovereign funds and even states
wouldn’t then have the luxury to pass on owning a chunk of
crypto assets for both strategic and competitivity reasons.
So, how the legacy system could empower cryptocurrencies
in other ways that being in the backseat, reduced to owning
a chunk of assets?
The major issue of cryptocurrencies is that they are not a
“real” currency in the legal sense. This prevents mainstream
adoption of the technology because no one really wants to
hold a volatile currency for an everyday usage. Financial
innovations are therefore constrained to a limited scope
and the potential of the technology cannot really be fully
unlocked. By issuing their national currency through a
blockchain (you can think of a cryptodollar or a cryptopound
for instance), central banks would create a massive potential
for positive financial disruption. As the blockchain would
fully be controlled and audited by regulators, there wouldn’t
be any energy costs associated to the mining (necessary only
to enable censorship resistance, obviously not needed here).
Money over IP, harnessed by an economic power. Endless
CEO at Ledger
Eric is a serial experienced entrepreneur and he
developed several French and European projects
in the IT space. Passionate about the high potential
of cryptocurrencies, he founded “la Maison du
Bitcoin” in 2013. He’s currently CEO of Ledger,
a cybersecurity company aiming to unleash the
full potential of cryptocurrencies for individuals,
enterprises and industrials.
Ledger leverages encrypted chips technology to build
security solutions for cryptocurrencies and blockchains.
Hardware Wallets for consumers, Hardware Security Modules
for enterprises and Hardware Oracles for the IoT world.
Its latest product, Ledger Vault, provides multicurrency,
multisignature and time locked solutions to secure large
assets with custodian possibilities.
The question is not if cryptocurrencies will take over the
financial world, nor when they would do it. The real question
is who will do it. Will it be Bitcoin and other decentralized
cryptos, or will it be China and their already advanced crypto
yuan? As we say in French: faites vos jeux, rien ne va plus.
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Thought Leaders Corner
Revolutionizing Global Commerce and
Payments by Combining Cutting Edge
by Brian Hoffman
There is something both terrifying and beautiful
about the concept of a truly digital culture. I mean,
of all the incredible changes technology has brought
to our lives over the last 30 years expanding our
connections our productivity and our knowledge, did you
predict the cultural importance of things like multi-billion
dollar companies run by early 20-somethings or using the
computers that we keep in our pockets to take “selfies?” As a
father of two young boys I often think about what life will be
like in 20 years and it is always simultaneously exciting and
Technology is a lot like art in this way, the truly great
movements are not marked by creators who stayed in their
A recent arrival on this exciting, uncomfortable digital
landscape is a dark horse. Chartering the revolutionary
technology of blockchain, built by an anonymous individual
(or individuals) and backed by a passionate community of
developers, the promise of financial and electronic freedom
this has motivated a movement of people who have built
something completely new. This computing technology also
happens to produce a token of value that relates to payments
and transactions. It’s called Bitcoin.
Now that it has arrived, participants often seem to fall into
an oversimplified argument of what is good and what is evil
about it and how it relates to the incumbent currencies and
payment structures. Bitcoiners will describe bankers as
“banksters” and point out their exploitation of consumers
through sub-prime loans, collection of exorbitant fees or just
bad business practice. Banking elites will finger the Bitcoin
enthusiasts as drug dealers, child pornographers or havocreekers
focused on destroying the sanity of the financial
Who is right? Who will come out on top?
Miguel Ruiz once said “People like to say that the conflict is
between good and evil. The real conflict is between truth and
I argue that this is not a fight of good vs. evil at all, just
continued movement into a world we weren’t previously
capable of building. We just have a new truth available to us,
I am the CEO of my company, OB1, who is leading the
development of an ambitious project called OpenBazaar.
Our goal is to revolutionize commerce and trade across the
globe leveraging freedom-supporting and privacy-enabling
technologies like Bitcoin, Tor and IPFS.
How are we doing that?
By building a marketplace that uses the leading cryptocurrency,
whose code is open-source and whose data is decentralized
to live among its users--not a centralized, company-owned
Unlike marketplace giants like Alibaba, Amazon, or eBay,
this new model of online commerce isn’t controlled by any
company or organization. Yes, my company is heading up the
development but since it is open-source, other developers are
able to access, read and contribute to the source code. Opensource
development is very collaborative and has the benefits
of being transparent while also able to benefit from a wider
community of thoughtful contributors who would like to be a
part of bringing an idea to life.
Thought Leaders Corner
CEO at OB1
Brian is the CEO of OB1 and the project lead of OpenBazaar. He started
OpenBazaar in April 2014 and founded OB1 nearly a year later. Brian is a
developer with a background in building encryption software for managing
That’s the developer’s side, but you don’t need to be a
programmer to use the application. On the regular user’s side
OpenBazaar is a fully peer-to-peer marketplace which means
buyers and sellers engage in trade directly with each other,
anywhere in the world. Because there are no middlemen in
the trade, users don’t pay any fees to use the network, and
there are no terms or conditions to accept to get started.
OpenBazaar users can expect the most secure, most private,
and most liberating experience of any ecommerce marketplace
because it exists without the need for a centralized company
or authority to act as a gatekeeper, collect data, or restrict
What does this mean for payments?
It means that payments are now in the hands of the people,
from beginning to end, with no middlemen at any step along
the way. Using OpenBazaar, exchanging a Bitcoin payment
for goods is as direct as handing someone cash. There are no
processors, no centralized marketplaces or any clearinghouses
for the payment to pass through or pay fees.
What does this mean for business?
My family, both my immediate and in-laws, understand what it
means to run local businesses. My in-laws run a local deli and
food truck while my mother and sister run an Etsy and eBay
store selling girl’s hair bows. These are modest businesses, but
they know just as well as anyone the ins and outs of preparing
and selling goods to others.
Other members of our team are familiar with the struggles of
other types of individuals, whether it’s a family in Guatemala
that could benefit from freedom of trade or women in
oppressive countries hoping to bring a little extra income
to their families. Regardless of where in the world you hail
from there are true benefits from opening up global trade
and loosening the restrictions on interacting with your fellow
This means access. This means freedom.
We are here because we believe that people deserve to be free
and we apply that from our code base all the way out to our
We believe in a world where we can write code together.
Where we can sell our homemade goods or our eBooks to each
other. Where we can loan money for new endeavors or to start
crowdfunding campaigns to get through trying times. And
we are building into this world additional freedoms: from
unnecessary fees, from censorship, even from cumbersome
currency exchanges, timezones and geographical barriers.
What does that mean for innovation?
We’re moving into a period where companies and
organizations will not own the payment networks, the
commerce platforms, or the data of the people using the
networks and platforms. This decentralized digital world will
offer plenty of ways for people to create value for others, but
not by controlling the infrastructure or data any longer.
Our immediate future will require an entirely new approach
to connecting and building value but the prospects are
exciting and uncomfortable and we couldn’t be more ready
OB1 is the venture backed company heading the core
development OpenBazaar, the world’s first completely
decentralized marketplace that allows anyone in the world to
buy and sell anything to anyone else, anywhere, for free. OB1
has raised funds from Union Square Ventures, Andreessen
Horowitz, BlueYard and angel investor William Mougayar.
Innovating the Music Industry with
by Tatiana Moroz
Technology and I haven’t always gotten along. I
remember when I went to college, my father wanted
to buy me a laptop. I was annoyed at the suggestion
that this machine would be more useful than a trip
to Europe. Little did I know that I would be attached to my
computer every day since getting one, and how useful it has
been to me and millions of people around the world (though
admittedly still not as fun as a trip to Italy).
Bitcoin and blockchain had the same eye rolling effect. Even
though I was introduced to them by some of the best leaders
in the industry (Tony Gallippi and Stephen Pair of Bitpay), and
I knew the shortcomings of the current banking system, I still
practically fell asleep when hearing about this tech. However,
I gave a little money toward buying Bitcoin at $11 and after it
went up in value, I started to warm up to the idea of a digital
currency. However, it wasn’t until I spent time with Jeffrey
Tucker in 2013 that it really started to click. Jeffrey had a way
with words that would paint a picture of what the blockchain
world would look like, and it was beautiful.
I used my talent to create “the Bitcoin Jingle” to spread the
deeper ethos of the crypto community. Bitcoin didn’t care
about your color, country, class, or language. It had a solution
for problems that had plagued mankind for far too long. I
imbued the song with these ideas that inspired me, and they
resonated with the room full of over 300 Bitcoiners when it
debuted at the Latin American Bitcoin Conference in Buenose
Aires in December 2013.
One of my first Bitcoin friends was Andreas Antonopoulos,
who I met in Buenos Aires. I was a great admirer of his
work, his talks inspired me, and I had listened to him on the
podcast “Let’s Talk Bitcoin”. He soon introduced me to Adam
B. Levine, the founder of LTB. Adam was a musician and a
content creator like me, so naturally, we discussed the state
of art in 2014. As a singer-songwriter and after many years of
managing top recording studios in NYC, I had experienced
first hand the many difficulties in the music industry. There
was the advent of streaming, the introduction of social media
networks, and the independent artist had more tools than ever,
but the record companies still held the power of the purse.
There were strange incentives, and I found music had lost it’s
heart over the years.
It was difficult to invest (which is what a lot of labels do)
in art. Who decides what’s good? It’s expensive to push an
artist, and employees have an ethical obligation to watch
out for the investor money. This isn’t a recipe for diversity.
The accounting was notoriously opaque, usually delayed,
tedious, and prone to error. The artist was often dealt the
short end of the stick. The scene was ripe for disruption with
the transparency and efficiency offered with Bitcoin. On a
personal level, I wondered how could crypto help artists fund
their own music and connect directly to their fans? In a P2P
world, did we really NEED a middleman?
Sure we did, just not in between everything. In my experience,
the advent of DIY (do it yourself) was an important step toward
artistic freedom, but it left a lot of work up to the artist and
CEO & Founder of Crypto Media Hub
Tatiana is the creator of Tatiana Coin, the first ever artist
cryptocurrency. Tatiana Coin and other artists coins allow for
connecting fans directly to artists. A driving force in the industry, she is
also the Founder and CEO of Crypto Media Hub, a PR, marketing and
advertising agency for the Bitcoin space. “The Tatiana Show” podcast
streams on several outlets, including the Let’s Talk Bitcoin network,
and is quickly growing with thousands of listeners each week. Tatiana
performs and speaks at conferences all over the world, including SXSW,
Nasdaq, the National Libertarian Party Convention, Freedom Fest, and
Inside Bitcoins. She has appeared on Fox’s Stossel, RT, Infowars, Bitcoin
Magazine and many more.
there were only so many hours in the day. What did I care
about most? Money and fans. How can I afford to make music
(an expensive and time consuming endeavor that could use a
paid team), and how do I connect with my fans (and get them
to gigs)? Social media was helpful, but by the time Facebook
rolled around, it became clear that the platform owned the
relationship. When I posted, none of my tribe would even see
it anymore unless I paid. My fans and I didn’t have security
with our information, the feeds were manipulated, and I was
creating value for the platform, not for myself.
So Adam and I set out to create the first ever artist
cryptocurrency: Tatiana Coin. TC would allow me to build my
own community and a foundation for real growth in my career.
It would be a place to gather my most ardent supporters, my
fan base that had been with me since the beginning, and speak
to them directly.
Tatiana Coin and artist coins have varying functions, which
are customizable by the artist. Our first one with TC was to
help with crowd funding. I had done campaigns before, and
they were great, but there were limitations. With TC, you could
also send the coin to different friends, or sell it off, it was really
flexible! On my end, I could customize pricing and offer new
store items whenever I wanted, even neat stuff like hanging
in the recording studio with me, or an online performance of
a song cover of your choice. The possibilities were endless,
and this type of thing could offer artists a hub for all sorts of
activity. Keep the Faith is the album I just released, funded
with Tatiana Coin.
The idea soon grew into a company Adam founded called
Tokenly, that has many different types of digital token use cases
from digital gaming to eSports and beyond. The music division
is the platform Token.fm, which I think of as a platform for
artists, by artists. Not only can you create your own personal
brand of currency like Tatiana Coin and a storefront, but you
can message directly with your fans, and create real peer to
peer communities and marketplaces online.
will be seamless and effective, with measurable results. Our
streaming services will pay artists 20x more than the average
streaming platform would, and creating playlists can be
profitable for power user fans. It’s invigorating to be able to
actually implement possible solutions to these problems I
have felt so deeply, and we are just getting started.
There’s a line in the Bitcoin Jingle that always chokes me up
“So many times I cried to myself that we didn’t have a chance.
Nakamoto came along with more than a song, gave the labor
back to man.”
I have spent my whole life trying to use music to make a
difference. Because of this technology, and the journey it has
taken me on, I have helped create true artist empowerment.
It’s a joy and it brings me a deep satisfaction, so it’s easy to be
passionate about it. I know that artists have the ability to bring
messages to the masses, so I leave you with this one though I
haven’t quite set it to music. Blockchain has something for
everyone. It is the great equalizer. I hope that it allows you to
set your passions free, so you too can fulfill your dreams.
Crypto Media Hub
Crypto Media Hub is a content creation, marketing, event,
advertising, and PR consultancy for the digital currency
world. Founded in 2015, their established professional
relationships with a variety of media outlets allows them
to create a custom advertising experience that will help
businesses make connections and find their markets in the
crypto and fintech space.
We have created an album token that is a representation of
a record, bringing back scarcity to the digital world. Album
tokens allow and incentivize fans to become owners again,
with the flexibility of the physical world brought to the
online space so they can collect, lend, rent, sell, and trade
the music. Cross marketing between other coins and brands
Thought Leaders Corner
Bringing Blockchain to the
World of Finance
by Anish Mohammed
The story starts a few years back, CTO of a very large
organisation was on a panel with me. He presented the
case that whatever “Cloud” offered was nothing new,
as author being the contributor to many of the thought
leadership pieces including “Cloud buyers decision guide”, it
was authors turn to respond. Having agreed with the CTO
that what he was suggesting was true, however one thing was
going to be changed, transparency and ability to take actions.
Until then everything that happened was communicated via
the “IT” department. This was disintermediation of one kind,
fast-forward time to present, no-one has any doubts that Cloud
changed the world of IT. It’s worth billions, and Amazon made
a killing out of it, still with an offering which is questionable
but not yet enterprise ready.
Recently the author was on a panel with the CTO of one the
largest banks in the UK. The topic of discussion was blockchain,
the CTO in question described blockchain as “write once read
many times”. The author agreed to disagree with him, its far
too simplistic a view to take on things. Lets try look at this a
bit more detail. The very least blockchain would bring to the
world of finance is the following:
• Improved effciencies
• New trust models ( and disintermediation)
• Ability to attach policies to code ( smart contract)
Improved efficiency - lets look at this with a “cloud” glasses
on. When cloud was introduced, everyone understood what
efficiency means. One could monitor usage of the cloud and
could turn the tap off once the use was over. In the blockchain
world, it’s more the case of transactions that did not make
economic sense that suddenly becoming viable. This is similiar
to how this situation changed for startups doing MVP during
the pre-could days and to do one in AWS these days.
New trust models - this is could also be seen as
disintermediation, the parties that traditionally controlled
access to something getting bypassed. Let’s go back to the
cloudy world, in the pre- cloud world the IT departments were
the masters of the domain, they controlled who got access
to infrastructure and when. Now in the new world order,
anyone with a credit card could get access to computational
infrastructure on AWS. How does this translate to blockchain?
The pubic blockchain has the decentralised model of trust.
That means, the value that intermediaries bring to the table
has been decreased significantly. What does this mean for
finance? Entities which traditionally had the ability to do
transactions of no value add high overhead intermediaries
would find themselves being bypassed.
Provenance - this is something which is harder to explain
by cloud paradigm. But it’s easier to explain from a finance
perspective, the basic reason behind the financial meltdown
in 2008 was CDO’s or collateral debt obligations. This could be
thought of as aggregators and wrappers, if one were to wrap
Thought Leaders Corner
Board of Advisor at Ripple Labs Inc.
Anish has been working in the security and cryptography area for the
past 15 years, as a researcher and as a consultant. His first brush with
payments systems was 15 years ago when he was involved in building
a micropayments system for Ericsson. He has spent half his career
researching cryptographic algorithms and protocols. He has also
worked as a strategy consultant for Accenture and Capgemini. Most
recently he has been involved in the Blockchain ecosystem as one of
the founding members of UKDCA . He is also on the advisory board for
Adjoint, Arteia, Privacy Shell, Ripple Labs and Chain of Things. These
days he more focussed on projects that involve security vs scalability vs
consensus of Blockchain and using smart contracts for AI safety.
bits of gold and other less precious metals and bundle them
together and sell it as gold. This would raise a few eyebrows;
doing this in finance is called CDO’s. So ,what would happen
if we the world of blockchain becomes reality? Everyone
would have the ability to track down the underlying assets,
so everyone would have the ability to have a peek under the
hood. So, everyone would know if the CDO has all triple A or
something else .... and what the aggregated risk is. It would be
pretty surprising to think, that if this happens this wouldn’t
have any impact on the financial sector.
Smart contracts - Lastly, in a cloudy world, the nearest that
one could think of is self-scaling. This implies cloud instances
have the ability to scale up and down based on the workload.
This means there is some logic which is hidden somewhere
that understands the context and takes action based on the
pre-conditions. In the blockchain world this is called smart
contracts. This could control transactions, e.g. an insurance,
the smart contract would manage the payout when the
pre-conditions are met, with no human intervention. This
would be the most disruptive of all influences, without even
considering the Distributed Autonomous Organisation (DAO)
and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO).
The world of finance would no longer be what it was once
blockchain takes roots....
Ripple Labs Inc.
Ripple Labs Inc. provides Ripple protocol, an open-source
distributed payment network that enables payments
to merchants, consumers, and developers. Its payment
protocol transforms payments to work like communications.
The company was formerly known as OpenCoin, Inc. and
changed its name to Ripple Labs Inc. on September 26, 2013.
Ripple Labs Inc. was founded in 2012 and is based in San
Fabian is the Tech Lead of the the Mist Browser
project and creator of the Ethereum Wallet. He is a
strong advocate of open-source software and has
built and contributed to a lot of open-source libraries
and projects. Fabian also wrote a book on Meteor.js
in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin led him to be part
of one of the most ambitious Blockchain projects to
date, the Ethereum Project where he works today
with the Ethereum Foundation.
by Fabian Vogelsteller
Two years ago blockchain
technology was being considered
the dominating factor for the
future of finance. Today most
global enterprises are experimenting
with Blockchain technology to unleash
the cost saving and operational
efficiencies value proposition. To get
an idea of where we stand now with
Blockchain technology and some of the
major challenges we’re still facing, we
interviewed Fabian Vogelsteller, the
Ethereum developer and creator of the
Ethereum Wallet and the Mist Browser.
PCM: Tell us about yourself? How did
you find yourself as a developer?
Fabian: I’m working since the age of 7
with computers. I started out building
websites for myself, which quite quickly
lead to people asking me to help them
build theirs. This was in the late 90s
and I’ve built a portfolio of more than
40 websites for small and medium
companies since then.
While building and designing websites I
had the need for a Content Management
System. But at the time most of them were
either large like typo3, and/or ugly and
restrictive in their templating system.
So, I decided to build the feindura flat file
CMS. This CMS didn’t need a database
as all content was stored in files. With
this I could build websites and simply
deploy them on any webhosting services
with PHP and without the need for an
additional database server. Over the
years feindura grew quite a lot and
based on my client’s needs, I decided to
open source it and make it free to use
Making open source is hard - as you
do not simply publish your code, but
you need to take care of it, maintain
and ensure it is well documented and
presented, otherwise it won’t get any
interest or contributors.
This led me deeper into the world of open
source where I operate today. Almost all
the code I produce is open source and
publicly available. You make money by
building and you gain reputation by open
Over the time my programming
preference shifted from PHP to
framework, which caught my attention.
funny scripting language for websites,
which annoyed people with popup
windows, to be the main driver of today’s
websites and applications.
In 2013, I discovered Bitcoin and I
quickly immersed myself deep into the
– back then – smaller cryptocurrency
space. This was the time where the first
altcoins like Litecoin and colored coins
on top of bitcoin were created, such as
the Mastercoin project.
At the time I worked at startups totally
unrelated to cryptocurrencies, but my
main interest and hobby was following
the development in this space.
When Vitalik Buterin wrote the Ethereum
whitepaper it caught my attention, but
it was 1 year before even the presale
started. I followed the updates, but was
caught up on other projects and raising
my son Joschua at that time. I always
wanted to work in this space, but at the
time most projects where in their infancy
and ICOs where not yet a thing.
All of that changed when the Ethereum
project raised 32,000 Bitcoin, which at
the time surmounted to around 18M
USD. This was the second ever ICO, after
the Mastercoin project (which collected
2000 Bitcoin) and allowed Ethereum to
be funded after one year of voluntary
When I heard they were to open an office
in Berlin, I was very excited and reached
out to them. It took another half a year
and a second approach before Alex van
de Sande the UX designer of the Mist
project within Ethereum contacted me
in December 2014. In the first months,
I built a chat application that used
Gavin Woods whisper communication,
a protocol built to broadcast messages
where the sender can be unknown for a
receiver and messages can be encrypted.
The second app I’ve built was the official
Ethereum Wallet, which many people
use and store their ether today.
Since then I’ve built the base of the
Mist browser – the first browser for
the decentralized web 3.0 and worked
on many core API’s and libraries used
by developers building on Ethereum. I
am often invited to events and speaking
at congresses while the interest in
Blockchain and smart contracts is
increasing every day.
PCM: How important is Blockchain in
an ever-growing digitalized world?
Fabian: Blockchain technology is the first
of its kind since the era of the Internet.
And for society at large it’s the first time
that we have a technology that allows to
program socioeconomic interactions.
In an ever-digitizing world, it’s a wonder
that we don’t have such a technology yet.
With email we learned to digitize our
communication, but with money and
contracts we still rely on human labor
and paper interactions on a large scale.
When you ask about how important
Blockchain is in a digital world, I
would say it is a wonder that we still
have a functioning society on an
organizational and structural level given
the globalization the Internet brought us.
PCM: There is a lot of hype surrounding
the potentialities of what Blockchain
can offer. Is this feasible? What issues
do you think could arise from this?
Fabian: Blockchain is certainly hyped
and every new technology of such a
scale goes through these cycles. If a
new promising technology arrives, its
potential is often huge, but for things to
develop and fulfill these promises need
We will certainly see a despair phase
after the next big bubble, and we saw
those already in 2013 and 2014-2016.
Many called Bitcoin dead and the
technology as “not so interesting”, but it
kept coming back into the attention of
the public and is today more interesting
than ever. This was mainly due to the
potential applications and new ways of
financial interactions and economicorganizational
Its most groundbreaking feature is the
fact that people, companies and even
governments can have a shared truth
platform. All participants can trust
equally, but it’s not owned or controllable
by any participant. This “common
ground” is what governments, trustees
and standardizations archieved in the
past and can now be programmed and
automated on a trustless platform.
Blockchain technology in its form we
know today started with Bitcoin in 2009.
Its newer directions with programming
on the Blockchain came with Ethereum
in 2015. The current architecture used
is mainly the same as in Bitcoin, but the
possibilities grew exponentially with
PCM: What is Ethereum?
Fabian: Bitcoin was only about
moving money and had a limited, not
very used scripting language. Other
altcoins introduced new transaction
types to allow colored coin creation, or
decentralized markets to emerge. The
disadvantage here is that every new type
of transaction has to be introduced into
the core of the Blockchain, requiring
all users to update to those changes.
Development is slow and additions
can only be done by a core team of
Ethereum is the first Blockchain to
integrate a virtual machine into the core
of its Blockchain, to execute arbitrary
code using transactions. This allows
for so-called “smart contracts” (or
code modules) to execute. One benefit
of those smart contracts - besides the
possibility to move ether and other
tokens - is that they can talk to other
smart contracts. This allows a whole
chain of business logic to be triggered
by one transaction. This chain can
include smart contracts of different
companies and ownership to play a role
in a single user’s transaction.
PCM: What are Ethereum’s advantages
and what can the technology offer to
the wider community?
Fabian: With smart contracts the
possibility of transaction types grew
indefinitely, as almost every thinkable
case can be programmed without
changing the core of the Blockchain.
This allows for all kinds of systems
to build on top of Ethereum as well
as improve scalability off chain and
implement privacy solutions without
updating the core Blockchain.
Thinkable solutions are payment
channels for faster cheaper
transactions, prediction markets,
escrow services, registrars, notaries,
digital identities, -reputation,
decentralized markets, -Uber, -Airbnb,
automated insurances, automated
industrial production called industry
4.0, IoT payments and authorizations
and so much more we don’t even foresee
at this point in time.
The more systems are based on
Blockchain, the more other systems
which can be built on top of this
infrastructure - the more we can
automate basic economic and
Imagine never needing to fill out forms
again, but still maintaining the control
of who can see what and when. Never
needing to create yet another login for a
website or service, because your digital
identity can request access without ever
revealing your keys and passwords.
Though keep in mind that Ethereum
is just the first fully working smart
contract Blockchain and interestingly
enough other projects base their core
infrastructure on Ethereum’s Virtual
Machine (EVM), making it always
Ethereum compatible. But it is certainly
not the last word in this development
and we’ve just started to explore this
PCM: What are the biggest challenges
the technology faces?
Fabian: Today’s biggest challenge for
Blockchain technology is its limited
scalability. As a Blockchain needs
to reach consensus between many
computers, currently every computer
in the network completes the same
amount of work to verify each other.
This verification is what creates the
properties of a Blockchain: immutability,
verifiability and transparency, but at the
same time is what slows it down. Adding
more computers and especially miners,
which compete to create new blocks
containing transactions increases the
security and decentralization of the
network, but not its speed.
The current efforts were focused on
exploring what and how a Blockchain
can be used and extending its features
through transaction types and finally
virtual machines. The next years will
be focused on how to make Blockchains
scalable and its content private.
PCM: Where do you see Ethereum as a
technology headed for 2017?
Fabian: A lot of work is already done
on faster consensus algorithms and
scalability by introducing verifier
groups (consensus sharding) and offchain
computations. Additionally, zero
knowledge proofs and state channels
are explored to allow for private
smart contracts and other means of
I always compare the current
Blockchain to things like LCD displays.
They were also bulky and with little
pixels in its early days, today we see 4k
displays and screens with pixels the eye
can’t distinguish. We will see the same
happening with this technology - it’s
just a matter of time.
For Ethereum specifically, a roadmap
was introduced since the beginning
and following its progress since the
start of the public chain in 2015. This
roadmap was perfectly followed with
its “Frontier” network, the following
of “Homestead” with a more stable
EVM, network and the upcoming
“Metropolis”, which introduces many
new changes to the EVM and how
accounts act in the network.
This next milestone also lays the
groundwork for the planned shift to
a new consensus algorithm called
“Casper” based on the less energy
intensive Proof of Stake algorithm and
preparations for scalability solutions
like consensus sharding.
Many of the improvements which
don’t require core changes did and will
come from the community, where state
channels and off-chain smart contracts
allow for more powerful executions
and payment channels like “Raiden”
are developed to increase transaction
This space is moving fast and is full of
creative people working on solutions
where new kinds of thinking is
necessary and the main driver is the
potential of possibilities, rather than
companies and economic goals.
It is also the first complete open source
space, which has no lack of funding,
as Blockchains with native tokens
and ICOs create many new ways of
collecting and increasing funding. This
also allows for a less economic, but
more creative driven developments.
PCM: Over $1.5billion has been
invested into Blockchain startups.
Where do you personally see future
developments succeeding in the
Fabian: This space is creating a
complete new way of value collection
and distribution. It creates projects that
create value from ideas and make it
shareable by a broad group of anonymous
stakeholders. It’s the first of its kind and
impossible in the old world.
In the next years we will likely see
Blockchain becoming a major tool in
underlying infrastructures to speed up
processes, but also make them more
accessible and transparent.
The real change though, will come in
the form of new decentralized systems,
which won’t require single owners to
run. Which will be community owned
with no real control structure. These
projects will create new ways of value
dispersion and business models we can’t
Many of those projects will probably be
based on game-like incentive systems,
where the good and the bad of humans
will be used for the greater good of
all participants within such systems.
Examples can be wallets with integrated
basic income taxes, which auto pay
peers. Peer-to-peer lending and incentive
systems, which create a decentralized
shared economy. This creates ways for
minorities to participate in the success of
large projects, such as new Blockchains
or decentralized startups.
We will see many Blockchains, from
corporate owned private chains to
consortiums and public Blockchains.
But most likely there will be a lot of
consolidations and many failed projects
along the way.
Even though many companies think that
consortium and private chains are the
thing, permissionless Blockchains will
be the main driver of innovation and
the platform for new business models.
The same way the Internet was always
more important than the many corporate
I’m under the strong belief that businesses
that are built on a decentralized
infrastructure and not owned by single
entities will be of vast greater success
than its corporate counter parts. The
decentralization of organizations and
business models will be the biggest shift
in power we’ve seen since the Internet
unleashed the freedom of information.
Blockchain is the Internet of value and
economic structure, and it is just one
new building block in the discovery of
networks and its effect on the human
kind and society itself.
Fabian Vogelsteller is expressing his views on Ethereum
and Blockchain solely as an expert in his field - They are
not necessarily the opinion of the Ethereum Foundation.
Ethereum is a decentralized platform that
runs smart contracts: These apps run on
a custom built blockchain, an enormously
powerful shared global infrastructure that
can move value around and represent
the ownership of property. The Ethereum
Foundation, founded in 2014, serves as the
backbone for its technology ecosystem.
You think you have what it takes to start a
business in a super-hot market?
PCM takes a close look at some of the most
innovative and promising startup companies in the
“OUR GOAL IS TO
ADD “MAGIC” TO THE
SIMPLEST, YET STILL
Wyre’s Co-Founder & CEO
Blockchain has become the most sought-after technology
in the corporate and financial world, with the world’s
largest banks and companies in a mad dash to adopt
it. We sat down with Michael Dunworth, Co-Founder
& CEO at Wyre whose startup is focused on cross-border
payments that are fast as email going bank to bank, and to
other payments platforms.
PCM: Tell us about Wyre. How did this idea come to be?
Michael: Wyre started when we were doing merchant and
brokerage services for digital currencies. We saw the way
people interacted with these currencies. A lot of people were
using them by transferring them internationally and have the
recipient sell them on the other end a minute or two later.
So we felt that instead of making the senders and receivers do
these hop, skips and jumps, let’s just package it up neatly so that
the digital currency component disappears to the background
and the senders and recipients still only have to work with
their local currencies. Thus, Wyre was born — Leveraging the
power of the blockchain, without needing the learning curve
to understand it.
PCM: Why is it called Wyre?
Michael: It’s a play on words for wiring money. Spelt differently,
because, well… we wouldn’t be a startup if we didn’t find a
totally normal word and misspell it.
PCM: Why is Wyre needed?
Michael: Wyre is needed because it creates a free-flowing
financial channel for businesses between countries. Currently
paying $30 for initiating a wire fee and receiving poor exchange
rates is hindering the opportunities for businesses around the
Businesses around the world spend trillions on international
money transfers, and a huge proportion are still using bank
transfers to get this done. There’s more than 4% baked into the
exchange rate on those transfers which means businesses are
giving that away. Some businesses run on razor thin margins
and removing this 4% fee they’re getting charged with (hidden
in the rate), could turn their business upside down for the
better. So, I guess you could say we’re really trying to do the
latter, but naturally bank distribution is so large, it’s a long
game to play. So, we stick to our value proposition and keep our
customers happy, over time everything else will fall into place
PCM: What makes Wyre different?
Michael: Wyre’s platform is built on top of the blockchain -
not the correspondent banking model. This means that the
mechanism for transferring value is drastically sped up, and
significant time reductions can be achieved because there’s
only one central party which is the blockchain. Blockchain
technology means that transferring “value” is like sending an
email. So when you have a value transfer that’s near instant,
it leads to amazing things that other payments can’t achieve.
A good example of this is working capital reduction. Right
now, payment companies all over the world hold floats of
international currencies all around the place to ensure they’ve
got enough to pay out to their recipients in a timely manner.
They do this because transferring via bank transfers aren’t
efficient enough to get the payment there in a time frame that
will keep the customers happy, or the operations smooth
PCM: What were some of your biggest challenges for
launching this business?
Michael: It certainly has been compliance related aspects. This
is such a tricky piece that you must get right. In the payments
space, being compliant is like being the good looking girl at the
dance. It’s attractive for other businesses to want to work with
a fully compliant company, and have confidence that they’re
doing the right things in the right areas.
Blockchain tech is still finding its home in terms of regulatory
compliance, but we engage with the regulatory bodies to make
sure we’re keeping our Anti-Money Laundering & Know Your
Customer procedures in the right direction with things. As a
team of non-payments people, this was a big learning curve
over the past few years, and we’ve put a very heavy focus on
Another really tough piece is the focus. Blockchain technology
offers the ability to change the game with finance, record
keeping, money transfer, trade finance, escrow, etc. The list
goes on forever. In our company, we’ve got to focus on one
thing, and one thing only. There are shiny objects everywhere,
but this was a bit of a resistance internally. We only do money
transfer, and we only do it between USA and China - for now.
But that’s the main thing at the moment, we want to prove our
value and execute exceptionally. After that, we will provide
more markets the same great experience we have crafted in
our first market. It’s important to remember that we’re trying
to change money transfer, forever. So it’s not a problem, if we
have one market focus for a few years. In 10 years time, we
can look back and see we’ve got 90% of currency pairs covered
in our network. At that point, that’s an incredible growth of
efficiency across the globe.
PCM: Tell us about your expansion plans and how do you
go about choosing the next region you expand into?
We like to be focused. So for us right now, solving the problem
between USA and China is a big deal. The market is huge,
technologically prepared, and has more pain points to work
with than most other markets. Doing this, and doing it
extremely well is step 1 for us. We’re assessing new geographies
to expand too, but we’ve got certain milestones internally we’d
like to hit before we’d feel comfortable opening things up.
However, we do think that Mexico and Japan are exciting
markets in the future. We open up new markets through a
balance of different factors, such as:
• What our current clients asking for
• What are the technical hurdles of that are
• What regulatory hurdles
• What are new clients demanding
Bundling all these together and weighting different areas
differently usually helps understand to a certain confidence
level, where we should head next!
Snapshot of the Wyre Office
PCM: What are the 3 things you want people to know about
We are the simplest way to send money to China, with the
best pricing, and fastest delivery. All that being said, we’re a
great team with fresh ideas on how we believe international
payments should work.
I actually feel like one of the reasons we’ve been successful so
far getting started is because we’re not carrying legacy habits
and procedures as there’s not one person at our company who’s
worked in international payments before, ever. I feel like that
says something about how advantageous this technology really
PCM: Any exciting news / announcement you would like to
share with our community?about your platform?
We recently made an acquisition of a Chinese startup that is a
similar product offering to ours. The company, Remitsy, joins
the Wyre family and leads up our office in Beijing.
This is a huge deal because it’s brought on AliPay as a payout
option for our customers, which we’re absolutely thrilled
To get a more complete view on the all
businesses in the payments ecosystem, in this
rubric PCM showcases how merchants deal
with payments and fintech challenges.
photo by Nick Webb on Flickr
Using Blockchain to Innovate Loyalty Programs
The last two years we’ve seen a significant shift in
consumer expectations and behavior on payments
and the overall customer experience. Loyalty
programs have proven to be a great tool to enhance
the costumer journey across many different industries from
retail, travel to financial services. Keeping an overview of all
your loyalty points and the various redemption possibilities
can become a cumbersome process. We sat down with Safwan
Zaheer, Director & Head of FinTech at KPMG US and Member
Board of Directors at Loyyal who told us how Loyyal is taking on
the loyalty program challenge utilizing blockchain technology.
PCM: How do you use Blockchain for loyalty programs?
Safwan: Blockchain might represent technology that has
potential to give rise to the second era of ‘internet’ revolution,
where for the first 40-45 years we had “internet of information”,
i.e. internet we use today in our daily lives, which has been
great but it has a major weakness; you cannot store, move, or
transact anything of “value” without a powerful intermediary
and that’s what Blockchain solves. Blockchain automates most
intermediary functions that exist today by removing friction,
such as delays, costs, errors etc., making it easier and faster to
transfer anything of “value” between two parties.
If you think what a Bank does; everything it does is centered
on “value”, for e.g. banks account for value, store value, protect
value, lend value; and points are just another form of “value”
like money and currency. By automating the intermediary
functions that exist today in the loyalty industry, such as
third parties and broker vendors that manage loyalty points,
Bockchain has the potential to transform loyalty programs
as we know it today. One experience this will enable is:
Instantaneous issuance and redemption of rewards and points.
For example, you’ll be able to earn airline points as soon as
you board an aircraft and then use these points to pay for a
Lyft ride upon arrival at your destination.
PCM: Which problems does Loyyal solve in the marketplace
Safwan: Loyyal issues digital points using the Blockchain
ledger (Ethereum) and utilizes smart-contracts to enable
instantaneous issuance and redemption of digital points. It
removes friction around delay, cost, and poor integration with
other payment instruments, enabling financial institutions,
brands, and retailers to create “new experiences” for its
customers, such as the airline experience mentioned earlier.
PCM: What benefits does Blockchain have compared to
Safwan: The greatest benefit is that it automates intermediary
functions that are present in today’s financial institution
system. The intermediaries slow things down, increase
costs, , and place a huge tax on the underlying ecosystem
making the entire financial system inefficient. Other benefits
include enhanced security and greater transparency between
PCM: What challenges do you see for companies adopting
BC based loyalty networks?
Safwan: Like with any new technology or innovation,
Blockchain, also faces significant challenges. The primary one
is adoption and market scale. The industry is still waiting to see
Director, Financial Services Digital and Head of FinTech at
Safwan is a digital transformation and FinTech innovation executive with
demonstrated track-record in building progressive new digital businesses
and products that lead to significant market scale and help build new
revenue streams. He has more than 18 years of global experience helping
clients and former employers address strategic business needs through
innovation, disruptive new technologies, and new business models. He
is sought out to lead high-impact initiatives and represent company with
external clients, often including the Board, CEOs, and executives.
a proven and scalable solution that utilizes Blockchain. Other
challenges include: evolving the right standard and platform,
difficulty in regulating Blockchain, requiring licenses for
crypto or tokens, legal risks, and perceived benefits vs. total
PCM: What do you think is most important aspect for
financial institutions to do that they’re not doing related
Safwan: I’d like to address the question more broadly, as it
applies to any new technology or an innovation. Financial
institutions need to embrace innovation and have a well
laid out approach to innovation. Innovation is no longer an
“option”, certainly not skunk-works, and rather table-stakes,
if banks want to stay relevant and meet the needs of digital
PCM: Why did you join the Loyyal board and what is your
role in it?
Safwan: With any Board opportunity one needs to consider
the value a Board member brings to table. In Loyyal, I saw
an opportunity to help shape the direction of the company,
help raise venture funds, and help in corporate development
activities. I believe Loyyal is a disruptor that’s attempting to
solve a 40 year old industry problem and I wanted to do my
part in helping solve that problem.
Stockholm | Sweden
SENIOR UNDERWRITER - PRODUCT
Berlin | Germany
HEAD OF RISK MANAGEMENT
Berlin | Germany
DIRECTOR OF PAYMENTS
Stockholm | Sweden
HEAD OF SALES
Leiden | The Netherlands
NYC | U.S.
VICE PRESIDENT / DIRECTOR OF
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EMEA
SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER -
Paris | France
PAYMENT & RISK
London Area | UK
These are the latest job opportunities we have on offer!
For more information please visit www.teampcn.com
or check out our international Job Board at www.payment.jobs
IFINTEC is one of the biggest events in EMEA region on banking
solutions and finance technology. Banking Technology, Retail Banking,
Digital Banking, Mobile Banking, Core Banking, Universal Banking,
Branchless Banking, Next Generation Banking, Payment Systems,
Branch Automation, Lending Solutions, Credit and Operational
Risk Management, Debt Management, Fraud Prevention, Audit,
Compliance, Banking IT, Secure Banking and Finance Technology are
key topics of the conference.
Mondato Summit Africa 2017 is the fourth annual digital finance &
commerce (DFC) thought leadership conference hosted by Mondato,
a boutique advisory firm specializing in DFC. The conference will
bring together 100-125 executives across the industry – from
telecom and financial services to retail, government and investment
representatives – to discuss and evaluate the potential use cases and
adoption drivers for the DFC ecosystem.
The European Identity & Cloud Conference 2017 is Europe’s
leading event for Identity and Access Management (IAM), Governance,
Risk Management and Compliance (GRC), as well as Cloud Security.
For the 11th time the EIC will offer best practices and discussions
with more than 700 participants from worldwide companies including
most of the leading vendors, end users, thought leaders, visionaries
This annual meeting in its 5th year will be once again a leading platform
hosting Security leaders from EU Central banks, as well as UK & US
retail and investment banks. The event will discuss the current global
economic crime landscape and the impact of the emerging trends of
multiple complex incidents, as well as debate preventative responses
and solutions. the payments industry.
Santa Clara, U.S.
Internet of Things World 2017 is the world’s largest and most
comprehensive IoT event with over 11,000 attendees, 400+ industry
thought leaders from companies such as Venmo, Mastercard, Visa,
Wells Fargo and more! The event focuses on monetizing the IoT
revolution through bringing together ecosystem-wide attendees,
stakeholders and investors. Visit the website here.
Key topics of this year’s Wired Money include RegTech, insurance,
security, AI, democratizing, algorithmic trading and the bank of the
future. Visit http://wired.uk/money2017 for a full speaker list, which
features Arvind Krishna, Director of Research, IBM; John Fawcett,
Founder of Quantopian; Andrew Brem, Chief Digital Officer, Aviva;
and Charlotte Hogg, Deputy Governor Markets and Banking and Chief
Operating Officer, Bank of England.
Pay360 Digital Payments brings together delegates from leading
companies from around the world to pool their insights about what is
driving success in digital payments in their local markets, and to share
best practice. This will be a chance for the UK’s emerging payment’s
industry to demonstrate their ideas and digital technologies on an
international stage. Focusing on the three core themes of Retail,
Mobile and Banking we’ll illustrate how the digital technologies we are
deploying in the UK are increasingly relevant internationally.
San Francisco, U.S.
The Premier Connected Home Conference is the premier
connected home event hosting over 700 executives from the
connected entertainment, IoT, and smart home industries. The event
provides a day of pre-show research workshops highlighting Parks
Associates’ consumer data and analysis and two days of conference
sessions focused on technology adoption and trends, forecasts for
new products and services, evaluation of new business strategies,
and recommendations about technology innovations, strategic
partnerships, monetization opportunities, and value-added services.
Payments & Cards
Driving Innovation through
We value your feedback and ideas!
If you’d like to discuss a specific topic,
don’t hesitate to contact us.
Get in touch today and be featured in
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