Blockchain Utilitarianism: Solutions People Can Use

Mainstream blockchain adoption is on the lips of many pundits and analysts due to the proliferation of token-investment.

For example, one in five university students in the US have been reported to hold either Bitcoin or another currency as of August 2018; whilst simultaneously there has been an incremental convergence of government and big industry with blockchain.

These are unions between traditional power-holders, and innovators within a new sector: with the demands of business being satisfied thanks to vast institutional funding and support.

Whilst these relationships present a potentially positive future for each party, they do not speak to the utilitarian value that crypto can offer to the average person – rather than its value as a currency alone.

For that reason, we have decided to present four of our favourite new projects which are seeking to offer solutions that have value derived from real people can do with them, rather than other machines or protocol.

#1. Blockfolio

Cryptocurrency portfolio management solutions are a competitive sector. Beyond ‘top 10’ clickbait lists, even a browse of community resources like Reddit result in a vast assortment of threads featuring individuals asking, “what is the best portfolio management software?”

Blockfolio (founded in 2014) is one of the most well-known offerings in the space and has amassed several million users. The company made headlines mid-October due to having raised a $11.5 million in Series A funding led by famed crypto hedge fund Pantera Capital.

Key features include support for tracking over 6,000 cryptocurrencies, over 300 exchanges as well as multiple portfolio capabilities. Another feature that has helped the project stand out from the pack is “Blockfolio Signal”, which is a feature that allows crypto teams to broadcast update messages to their communities.

Notable teams on-boarded amongst the 100+ actively utilizing the Signal beta platform so far include Ethereum Classic, Augur, 0x, Monero, and Dash.

#2. BitMart

BitMart is a cryptocurrency exchange which this writer has been following for some time. They have made bold attempt at implementing a community token-voting investment system, and one that has otherwise received dire controversy due to failed attempts by rivals – alongside a lack of community evidence to fully verify their integrity.

According to CoinMarketCap, Bitmart ranks at number 15th on the list of ‘Top 100 Cryptocurrency Exchanges by Trade Volume (adjusted)’.

Since last I wrote on the company, the response to ‘Mission X’ has been largely positive – with the team having established valuable partnerships with a wide range of tokens.

Though the consensus (like for many blockchain projects at present) is yet to be fully confirmed, BitMart has been pushing forwards nevertheless – with frequent detailed statistical reports being released on a weekly basis. Two of their most recent releases are fully-featured iOS and Android based apps – featuring highly accessible user interfaces and support services.

These mobile applications incorporate many of the core features present in its bigger desktop cousin, with the added functionality of push notifications and instant updates for the market as well as your chosen coin. Another appealing aspect of BitMart is their ‘Investment Lab’, a fundraising hub for new ERC-20, NEP-5 and Stellar Smart Contract tokens.

‘Investment Lab’ is intrinsically linked to the BMX market, which is an OTC exchange where investors can purchase and trade different fiat and crypto-assets. In fact, the site boasts 53 trading pairs at present with all new listings being thoroughly verified by an in-house coin review team

#3. Ares Tech

From arcade-machines, to home consoles and smartphone apps: video-games have had a long and storied history with digital currencies.

It began as the exchange of pocket change in return for ‘credits’ which could be exchanged for a round of play and has since become ubiquitous across all forms of interactive entertainment. More recent examples include ‘points’, and these are used to purchase from a library intellectual property and services. See Xbox Live, and ‘Free-to-play’ business models, as well as purchasable digital games.

The problem is that the market leading service platforms which facilitate these purchases are centralized (Steam, Xbox, etc), and the currency is complete non-fungible in most cases to comply with various legislation. The only exception for this is gambling.

Another symptom of a select handful of platform-holders is a monopolisation of hardware and software distribution and licensing rights, resulting in astronomical fees and barriers to entry for independent creators.

Ares Tech claims to have identified and created a solution for the disparate nature of ‘social game’ development in particular, producing a unified set of tools. Use and adoption of this framework will (if according to plan) allow for interoperability between different software titles. User data for example, and profile assets could be used to log-in to multiple games whilst protecting the participants data through blockchain storage and encryption.

It will be open source and with all games to be published on GitHub. Ares promises to allow for the browsing and management of assets and currencies in one unified interface and include BTC and ETH with protocols: ERC20, ERC233, ERC721, and ERC998.

#4. MenloOne

MenloOne is an open-source framework which aims to streamline the development process for decentralized applications (DApps) and resolve pre-existing constraints that are conducive to poor user-experience, performance and security.

Their latest news is the release of their first DApp to be built using their framework, entitled ‘Block Overflow’. It acts as a use-case and potential precursor to their MVP which apes ‘Stack Overflow’ which is a well-known Q/A website aimed at the software development community.

The proposed hook is that the problem-solving process will be expedited by offering user queries as bounties with time-sensitive rewards. Block Overflow also utilises the ‘Townhall’ communication layer which was created to attribute token-based user rewards (as per the team’s technical roadmap).

With a strong team and whitepaper there, team has a strong chance is a strong chance that the team is poised for success in the accomplishment of their ambitious and disruptive goals.

Founder and CEO Matt Nolan is also known for his position as a speaker and resident at TED as well as having previously worked at blue-chip companies like JP Morgan and IBM; whilst COO David Dawson is a veteran engineer formerly of Microsoft where he worked on flagship projects such as Windows, Xbox and Office.

This project was brought to this writers’ attention when it was listed in articles such as a recent Forbes list comprising the ‘Top 10 New Blockchain Companies to Watch For in 2018’ – alongside the likes of Gameflip.

#5. Unification

Singapore based Unification is one such project and hopes to carry the torch of a blockchain based ‘sovereign identity.’ This is a concept that numerous “ICO’s” have tried and failed out, mainly because the predecessors have attempted to outreach to consumers directly or asked “DApps” to build within their proprietary walled garden.

Unification is doing it a little differently, focusing on the decentralized UVCID identity protocol and instead of asking companies to build from scratch – they are integrating with existing enterprises through a structured outreach program to non-blockchain based apps and enterprises.

It exists in a diametric opposition to the status quo – in which users submit their information to separate platforms (from market leaders like Facebook and Twitter, to smaller businesses, and e-commerce merchants like Amazon). What’s more, the storage of this information has been proven to be less than secure in many examples – with an opaque representation of statistics to customers, and absolute anonymity.

For example, you would be more likely to see the Unification team at CES or Mobile World Congress bringing over the uninitiated than to be meeting with the same people over and over again at the same crypto conference. This outwardly looking enterprise model is refreshing and indicative of our industry evolving past the initial speculative bubble into building toolkits for practical applications.

Earlier this year Unification debuted the prototype demo of its flagship product: an interface called ‘BABEL’ is aimed at businesses and utilises a C++ smart contract protocol to standardize interoperable data into a single and unified format which can be used on any participating platform. It also allows for the integration of existing mainstream applications and decentralized apps (DApps).

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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