Bitcoin Weekly 2016 March 10: Chronicled raises $3.4 million …

A great deal of attention is being laid upon blockchain technology this year and numerous companies are beginning take advantage of possible advancements. Vintage sneaker company Chronicled raised $3.4 million in seed funding to use blockchain technology to secure product authenticity.

As for Bitcoin employees can more easily get their wages in bitcoin from Bitwage (with the release of the company’s API) and BitAccess now allows customers to buy bitcoins via over 6,000 merchants in Canada.

All of this attention on blockchain technology has led industry leaders to look to private and proprietary blockchains (such as R3CEV, LLC and the Hyperledger project). However, many in the Bitcoin industry see the turn towards private blockchains as fraught with problems and eschewing one of the things that makes a blockchain function.

Finally, the gaming community received an interesting new entry with Huntercoin, a 2D massively multiplayer online (MMO) game that uses a cryptocurrency (HunterCoin) as its currency.

converse-all-star-chuck-taylor

Converse All Star Chuck Taylors — sneakers, not quite vintage, but certainly a brand that could be counterfeit. Chronicled’s platform works by installing a smart tag in the shoes, which is burned-in with a blockchain ID and interacts with a mobile phone. If you have a collection of sneakers you’d like smart tagged, look into Chronicled. Image courtesy Converse, Inc.

Chronicled raises $3.4 million to put vintage sneakers on the blockchain

Vintage sneaker company Chronicled, Inc. announced seed funding of $3.4 million led by Mandra Capital and joined by Colbeck and Pantera Capital. All three investors participated in previous financing rounds for the company. Founded in 2014, Chronicled has established a business based around providing a platform for authentication, tracking, and social engagement surrounding vintage collectable sneakers.

Chronicled’s platform is built from the ground up using hardware and software to provide authentication and tracking for its sneakers. According to the press release announcement, the company has authenticated thousands of sneakers since its soft launch at CES in January 2016.

“Chronicled has built a strong team and continues to deliver on product, engineering, and operational performance milestones,” said Dan Morehead, Partner at Pantera Capital.  “Collectible and vintage sneakers are just the beginning.  The intersection of the consumer Internet of Things and blockchain is going to be a big trend over the next decade.  Authenticity verification and provenance of luxury goods and other physical items is a huge untapped market, and due to privacy concerns consumers will want to own the data history associated with their physical property, which is a benefit of a blockchain-based back-end.”

The Chronicled App is available for iOS in the Apple App Store and for Android in the Google Play store.

Fake sneakers (amid other luxury products) are part of a large criminal counterfeit industry that preys on the reputation of well-made and brand name products. This problem leads brand manufacturers and retailers to lose money and the brands themselves lose reputation when shoddy counterfeit products hit the market.

Chronicled is not the only company seeking to use blockchain-enabled apps to secure and authenticate physical products. VeChain presented a similar solution designed to give consumers, businesses and governments the ability to authenticate products (such as food) at Blockchain Conference SF 2016.

Bitcoin can now be purchased at over 6,000 merchants across Canada via BitAccess

Ottowa, Ontario-based Bitcoin ATM company BitAccess Inc. announced the launch of bitcoin purchases at thousands of storefronts across Canada this week. Customers of BitAccess can now purchase bitcoin from over 6,000 Canadian merchants using Flexepin vouchers—an online pre-paid card network for online payments–using a cash or a debit card from the store cashier.

In an amusing twist, the company calls its ATMs by the name BTM or “Bitcoin Teller Machine.” The kiosks produced by this company look very similar to traditional standalone ATMs, run on the Linux operating system and is designed for a business to simply plug into a wall and Ethernet and go.

Consumers interested in bitcoin purchases can find a store by going to the Flexepin location finder on the BitAccess website. The store cashier then sells a Flexepin voucher to the consumer, which can be then redeemed at https://bitcoin.bitaccess.co/ and the bitcoin added to a wallet of their choice. Flexepin allows amounts up to $250 per day in denominations of $10, $30, $50, $100 or $250 per voucher.

Bitwage opens API, announces Hubstaff integration and credit card payments

Employee wage processing company Bitwage, Inc., which allows employers to pay wages in bitcoin, recently announced release of its API, integration with time tracking and proof of work service Hubstaff (Netsoft Holdings, LLC) and credit card payments.

With access to the API companies can now integrate the full array of Bitwage’s services. The API released by Bitwage includes all the company’s fund receiving methods, mass payouts and seamless integration with a list of last-mile partners.

Hubstaff provides time tracking software for Windows, Mac and Linux that employers can use to verify work done by employees over the Internet. The software solution allows employees to provide screenshots of work time, tracking of time worked down to task time. Integration with Bitwage managers and payroll administrators can set up automatic employee payments using credit/debit cards.

Finally, Bitwage also allows employers to provide international wage payments and to simply this, the company has put together a method for paying wages with a credit card. According to the company, most traditional wage payment systems may require bank payments be done in person or pre-loading an account, whereas employers may want to use credit cards to build up rewards (such as airline miles or points) and Bitwage now enables that.

Further details are available on the Bitwage Blog.

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photo credit: 29. Drips via photopin (license)

Blockchain solutions without Bitcoin don’t make sense, says U.S. Commodities and Future Trading Commission adviser

An industry building up around blockchain technology (by repurposing the database structure that underlies Bitcoin’s infrastructure) has been brewing for the past year including thinktanks such as R3CEV, LCC and IBM’s Hyperledger Project. Many of these projects seek to give rise to private blockchains that eschew the Bitcoin blockchain—however, according Pau Chou, an adviser to the United States Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) and CEO of LedgerX, says such solutions are “misguided.”

Chou’s thoughts are laid out in an article on dinbits.com that outlines the reason why the Bitcoin blockchain functions and why alternative blockchains lack the security that it does. The argument boils down to the fact that the Bitcoin blockchain has a vast distributed network of “miners” securing the entire chain and this is something that private or proprietary blockchains would not have.

“I think the second you separate bitcoin from some of the other elements the use-cases of the individual elements are unlikely to be proven, in my view,” says Chou. “The only thing that’s proven thus far is bitcoin as an asset class.”

Many others in the Bitcoin and blockchain technology industry agree this is a bad direction to go including  Digital Currency Group CEO, Barry Silbert, Silver Lake Partnersfounder Glenn Hutchings, Xapo CEO Wences Casares and ShapeShift.io CEO Erik Voorhees.

Financial industry leaders and companies seeking to create their own walled garden blockchains could be said to be deliberately crippling the one thing that makes the distributed trust of a blockchain function. Chou argues that the fact that bitcoins are valuable provides “fuel” to the security and trust of the Bitcoin blockchain network that would not be present in a proprietary or private industry blockchain.

HunterCoin: A massively multiplayer online cryptocoin game (MMOCG)

The massively multiplayer online (MMO) game industry is a market fertile for the use of cryptocurrency to act as the underlying “gold” for game economies, so when a new MMO concept appears that uses crypto it provides window into how it could be used. A new MMO named Huntercoin has launched its own eponymous cryptocurrency and game.

The MMO and its currency has been profiled and detailed in Bitcoin Magazine. The cryptocurrency, HunterCoin (HUC), is a fork of Namecoin and provides the underlying currency for the Huntercoin game. Players use HUC to register new characters and have one main character (called a general) and up to two alts (designated with a “name” with .1, .2 and .3 on the end).

Miners who are part of the HunterCoin blockchain validate names of characters and positions as they work to secure the network. Players also collect HUC as they play the game by moving around. And the game itself has strange tension as players can turn themselves into walking nukes at the press of a button—by exploding, players kill every other player in their vicinity and the coins those players held are spread onto the map that other players can then come collect.

Players can also obtain a “crown,” which is more than just a piece of headwear. For every turn alive, players receive .25 HUC every turn.

The game is 2D and has seen a great deal of popularity, according to the Bitcoin Magazine article the game became laggy when too many players tried to join at once. HUC is also needed to play so it may be necessary to log into the forums first to get some before joining.

Photo: Dawson/Bloomberg News
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Kyt Dotson
Kyt Dotson

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