Internet 1.0 is HTML websites. Internet 2.0 is a social network and user-created content. How is Internet 3.0 coming along? What is Internet 3.0? Are you familiar with Napster, Kazaa, and BitTorrent? Today, Bittorent has met Bitcoin and given birth to the following startups, networks, or organizations: Decentralized computing power. Golem, among others, is a […]
Internet 1.0 is HTML websites. Internet 2.0 is a social network and user-created content.
How is Internet 3.0 coming along?
What is Internet 3.0?
Are you familiar with Napster, Kazaa, and BitTorrent? Today, Bittorent has met Bitcoin and given birth to the following startups, networks, or organizations:
Decentralized computing power. Golem, among others, is a peer-to-peer market for putting your computer’s excess CPU power to use for other people. It works because there is no easy way to pay anybody on the planet fractions of a dollar for having used their CPU for 1 minute. This is, however, possible via blockchain.
Decentralized exchanges. Ether Delta, among others, is a cryptocurrency exchange which operates in a decentralized way (i.e., without a central counterparty). Decentralized exchanges allow peer-to-peer trading, which means that when a trade is executed the items are exchanged directly between the traders without touching any third party, and without the traders being able to stop the exchange. This approach eliminates counter-party risk entirely. On the other side, it also allows people to trade completely anonymously.
Decentralized protocol approval. Tezos, among others, is an open-source platform for assets and applications and allows the participants to vote to change its rules and protocols. Participants can choose to change the fee structure, rules, the protocol APIs, nearly everything. This protocol change-mechanism is built within the network rules, and nobody has the right of veto or override. Imagine if eBay merchants could vote to reduce the eBay fees without the eBay management being able to stop it. Of course, this opens the doors to politics, and also to oligarchies as having more Tezos coins obviously gives you more power to influence the votes.
Other similar companies include but are not limited to:
Decentralized file storage (Filecoin)
Decentralized domain naming (Namecoin)
Decentralized cloud storage (Storj)
Decentralized databases (BigchainDB, IPFS)
Decentralized internet address allocation (JACS)
Decentralized Video Encoding and Streaming (Livepeer).
Decentralize financial services (Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc.) and more.
Other online platforms like Facebook or Google don’t share any of the ad revenue earned from the personal-data exchanged through the platform. They keep 100%.
In addition, all centralized marketplaces and platforms exert full control over who can advertise, who and what can be sold, to whom, where, etc.
Their full control, when the company is young or fragile, is not being exercised much. They want to attract users and customers. However, as the company grows, and pressure from investors and the financial markets increases, the platform position of the de facto monopoly in their sector is usually leveraged to increase fees and to control who and what can be transacted on the platform. For example, Google has a history of banning certain ad categories on its platform. Most people agree that the bans, so far, have been legitimate and are targeting harmful or mostly fraudulent industries from selling their products and services. However, Google’s power of life-or-death over entire industries is troublesome.
In comparison, decentralized networks and organizations have so far mostly tried a few different business models.
Financing and crypto coins
Traditional , centralized, startups sell their equity to investors. Equity is scarce by definition, to 100%. And once sold, investors typically have a contractual right preventing startups from creating more shares and diluting them without their approval.
Equity is a problem in a decentralized project. Equity to what? What does an equity holder control?
Most decentralized organizations mentioned above have created their own crypto coins in order to finance their creation. Their usual business model is to make the coin, artificially or legitimately, a required part of each transaction on their network. As the number of transactions grows and the coin inventory is limited, the coins become more valuable. And the network itself uses its own inventory of coins to finance its expenses. In addition, some decentralized networks also take a percentage of the value exchanged on their platforms.
However, the token approach has, so far, failed to work for most networks.
The most successful tokens today have thousands of active daily addresses.
This is not surprising. All these decentralized organizations are new startups. It takes time for startups to build traction. A handful of them will have millions of users after 3-5 years. Most startups may still be viable businesses even though they only have hundreds of daily active users, but their tokens will not have any real value due to over-inventory. Therefore, maybe relying on token activity and scarcity to finance all decentralized projects may not be a viable way to finance these projects.
I believe an alternative token model is needed for most of these projects. A model that will have significant return to investors even if the network only achieves modest success of 100s of transactions per day. However, this may require an increase in network fees.
The X Open questions of decentralized entities
As I think of decentralization, many questions are on my mind:
What are these entities? Are they businesses, networks, organizations, protocols, or something else? The concept of Decentralized Autonomous Organization, or DAO, has been used in the past. But to my knowledge, no actively operating entity using a real DAO model is live and generating revenue today. All entities have executives, employees, bank accounts, offices, etc. Or is it? The Bitcoin network itself, with all the developers in various organizations who are trying to contribute to it, is fairly decentralized.
Governance: Leaders in centralized entities are required. Often, leaders aren’t any good at taking decisions, but making some decision is often better than not being able to make any decision. Many an organization has died because nothing at all was done. Are decentralized organizations able to make decisions fast and efficiently over 5 to 10 years while they grow?
Are decentralized networks cheaper to run, and do they have a disruptor advantage over centralized networks? It is not clear. Lending Club, one of the first P2P lending startups, argued that their cost structure was cheaper than banks’. However, it turns out the cost of capital lending and cost of customer acquisition were under-estimated and banks have cheaper capital and cheaper customer acquisition. Lending Club’s profit margins are not impressive. Neither is Uber’s. Nor are Amazon’s. I believe there is no single answer to this question, but assuming that a decentralized entity is more cost effective than a centralized entity is not obvious. In human history, disciplined centralized organizations (armies, empires, …) have clearly been more successful than federations, communes, etc.
Is there value built, and where is it? The startup/VC model has worked since the Dot Com boom because it was a profitable model for everybody involved. VCs made money, and successful entrepreneurs attracted more smart wannabe entrepreneurs. It is very important to see the founders and investors in these decentralized organizations be successful or there will be no second generation decentralized entities.
What is the innovation here?
I believe that an exchange that can work without counterparty risk is a real innovation.
I believe that a method to pay fractions of a dollars efficiently to anybody on the planet is a real innovation.
I believe one day we will see the Netflix of Internet 3.0 bankrupt the Blockbuster of Internet 0, 1.0, or 2.0.
However, questions remain. Is decentralization in business similar to communism in politics? Does this model really work? In 1990, in Moscow, everything was rationed, bread was extremely scarce. When a communist leader asked the London mayor who is in charge of the bread supply to London so they can learn their secrets, the mayor, confused, answered “Nobody!” Our modern food supply is a decentralized market, and fewer and fewer people are going hungry.
Details Title: Internet 3.0: Decentralize everything Internet 1.0 is HTML websites. Internet 2.0 is a social network and user-created content. Internet 3.0 is the decentralization of everything: decentralization of marketplaces, of resources usage and allocation, etc. Is Internet 3.0 the P2P of everything? Examples of decentralization include: Decentralized exchanges (Ether Delta) Decentralize computing power (Golem) […]
Internet 1.0 is HTML websites.
Internet 2.0 is a social network and user-created content.
Internet 3.0 is the decentralization of everything: decentralization of marketplaces, of resources usage and allocation, etc.
News Comments Today’s main news: Renaud Laplache banned from securities industry for 3 years. Varo Money pulls bank charter application. Funding Circle completes IPO. Marcus enters the UK. OnDeck Australia expands equipment finance. Today’s main analysis: Delinquency/Loss Trends, yield curve. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Americans prefer humans over robo-advisors. Global P2P lending market expected to reach $898B by 2024. AltFin’s path to […]
Americans prefer humans over robos. As millennials grow older and Boomers die off, we’ll see these numbers change. Younger generations are more comfortable with technology. I suspect a future report to indicate a majority will prefer robos. The only question is, When?
Renaud Laplanche, the co-founder and former CEO of online lender LendingClub, agreed to pay $200,000 and be banned from the securities industry for three years to settle Securities and Exchange Commission fraud charges. In addition, LendingClub Asset Management (LCAM), an investment management unit of LendingClub, will pay a $4 million fine while Carrie Dolan, the company’s former chief financial officer, will pay $65,000.
“We are pleased to have resolution and closure,” said LendingClub Chairman Hans Morris. “Following an internal review in 2016, LendingClub’s Board of Directors accepted the resignation of Renaud Laplanche as Chairman and CEO of the Company. The Board’s decision was not made lightly but the violation of the Company’s business practices, along with a lack of full disclosure by Mr. Laplanche during the review, was unacceptable. The allegations made by the DOJ and the findings of the SEC further support the Board’s decision to take swift and decisive action. We have full confidence in our new management team and we are a better company today.”
Varo Money is inching closer to having a bank — the next step will require a major leap.
The fintech, which aims to offer consumer banking services with no fees, applied for a national bank charter over a year ago. While it recently received preliminary and conditional approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Varo has been unable to secure the blessing of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Like its competitors, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is spending a colossal amount of money to stay competitive in the financial tech race: Its $10 billion annual tech budget sits just behind JPMorgan’s $10.8 billion and ahead ofCitigroup’s $8 billion.
A large chunk of that spending goes to the firm’s profit-driving consumer-banking operation, which accounts for $34.5 billion in revenue and $8.2 billion in net income, which is 38% of the firm’s total.
Online real estate marketplace Opendoorhas announced a $400M investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund, bringing its total funding to date to over $1b. The company also announced it has secured access to more than $2b in debt financing from top banks.
INSIKT, a CDFI-certified fintech company disrupting the predatory lending industry, today celebrated a major step forward for working families and small businesses in California with the signing of Assembly Bill 237 (AB237), following unanimous approval by the CA Legislature. Sponsored by Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), this new law significantly expands access to lower cost loans for Californians who are part of the 66 million underbanked in America ensnared in endless cycles of predatory debt.
AB237 builds on the success of California’s Pilot Program, established in California in 2010 to provide affordable credit for loans below $2,500. The Pilot Program has many consumer protections, including rate caps, mandated underwriting, credit education and reporting of payback information to credit bureaus so that consumers can build their credit score.
The Pilot Program has been working, with the volume of payday lending declining in California by almost 7% from last year, the third consecutive annual decline. AB237 extends all of the Pilot Program’s consumer protections to larger loans of up to $7,500. It also adds new protections, including a 36% maximum debt-to-income ratio, minimum loan terms of one year, and mandatory rate reductions on second and third loans for borrowers in good standing.
Compass, a NYC-based real estate technology company, raised $400m in Series F financing round.
The round – which will bring the total capital raised to nearly $1.2 billion – was led by the Softbank Vision Fund and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), with participation from Wellington, IVP and Fidelity.
The report, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults this summer, including 391 current robo advisor users, showed Americans are more open to technology performing some tasks than others. For example, 75 percent of respondents said they’re comfortable with more human assistance than automation when it came to performing surgery. They also are overwhelmingly more comfortable with humans over technology when it comes to driving a car (74 percent), diagnosing a major health issue (73 percent) and flying an airplane (66 percent).
A recent survey from financial services app Twine found that 46 percent of millennials believe they need at least $1,000 to start investing. Another 17 percent believe they need at least $10,000 before they’re able to invest.
Overall, 56 percent assume they don’t have enough money to become investors themselves.
It’s simply not true. There are plenty of ways to get into the market with as little as $1, including contributing to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, opening a Roth IRA or using a robo-advisor such as Betterment, Wealthsimple or Ellevest, which offer $0 account minimums.
CREDIT WITH A CONSCIENCE (Petal Email), Rated: B
We’re thrilled to announce today that the Petal credit card is now publicly
available on our website at www.petalcard.com.
Meet Klarna (Missy Farren & Associates, Ltd. Email), Rated: B
We’re excited to let you know we are now working with
Flipnerd.com continues to grow and make its mark in the real estate world due to the versatility and expertise of its owner, Mike Hambright. In recognition of his expertise, business acumen and dedication to succeeding in his carved niche, the founder of this real estate company has been published on one of the greatest platforms in the world, Forbes.
It was a landmark day for fintech in London as Funding Circle became the first UK marketplace lender to complete an IPO. The company raised £300 million at a valuation of around £1.5 billion. They began trading on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: FCH) this morning with an initial price of 440 pence (at the lower end of the forecasted price range of 420p to 530p). While rising early in the day to 460p it closed the exactly flat at 440p.
The peer-to-peer business lender, which listed on the London Stock Exchangeon Friday, was originally targeting a market value of £1.8bn. But after narrowing its IPO price range, it subsequently priced at 440p, implying a market capitalisation of £1.5bn.
Some market commentators argue the company is overvalued as it is still loss-making, although revenues surged from £51m in 2016 to £94.5m last year.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. entered Britain’s £700 billion ($922 billion) cash savings account market Thursday with the U.K. launch of its consumer bank Marcus, adding a fresh source of funding for the U.S. investment bank.
Online-only Marcus offers savings accounts paying interest of 1.5%, the highest rate for instant-access savings products, according to price-comparison websites.
The brand has grown rapidly in the U.S., reporting 1.5 million customers, $23.2 billion in deposits and $3.1 billion in loans on June 30.
The Guardian reports that only 5% of the graduates remain unemployed six months after graduating. In addition to that, 74% of professionals who enter the workforce are full-time first degree graduates. In terms of the pay that they get, males more than females tend to benefit from getting a degree. The men’s average pay rise to £24000.
The Guardian reports that by the end of July 2017, unsecured credit had risen to a level not seen since September 2010. Specifically, unsecured debt has reached £201.5 billion.
Just 31.6% of the 2,400 respondents recognised that none of the reasons listed automatically prevent someone from getting a mortgage.
A massive 47.5% believed a low credit score could stop someone getting a mortgage, 33.4% thought a zero hour contract would be a barrier and 15.6% said a payday loan would stop an application from being accepted.
Fintech iwoca responds to £775m RBS competition package briefing (iwoca Email), Rated: B
The CEO of one of Europe’s fastest growing business lenders has a cautiously optimistic outlook for the £775 million RBS Alternative Remedies Package following a briefing by Banking Competition Remedies this morning.
“Funds from Pools C and D of the package’s Capability and Innovation Fund, would enable iwoca to bring innovative new technology to the market, making it easier for small businesses to secure finance on their terms, whenever and wherever they need it. What’s more, we would be that much closer to achieving our target of funding 100,000 small and micro businesses in the next five years.”
China Rapid Finance Limited (the “Company” or “XRF”) (NYSE: XRF), operator of one of China’s largest consumer lending marketplaces, today announced that it submitted its P2P Compliance Self-Inspection Report (the “Report”) to its local P2P regulatory office. The Report is the first of three steps mandated in the inspection process, a key element in demonstrating compliance with industry reforms being promulgated by the National P2P Rectification Office.
The stock of Golden Bull Ltd. (Nasdaq: DNJR) rose more than 6 percent by Monday afternoon after the Chinese P2P lending company posted a 75 percent increase in revenue for the first half of 2018.
Revenue jumped to $4.9 million compared with $2.8 million during the first six months of 2017, the Shanghai-based company said, thanks to an increase in borrowers. According to its statement, Golden Bull has facilitated 3,000 loans with total volume of $77.8 million during the first half compared with 2,200 loans in the amount of $53.7 million processed a year ago.
While its overall household wealth has increased, China’s household debt-to-GDP ratio reached a record high of 49.1 percent in 2017, according to a new report on global wealth by German insurance giant Allianz. Since the beginning of 2008 to the end of last year, Chinese household debt jumped an average of 27 percent annually, according to separate but corroborating data from the Bank of International Settlements.
The Paris-based consumer lending platform Younited Credit has increased its potential customer base by launching in Portugal, its sixth European market. Already distributing loans in Germany and Austria, it has 35 per cent of its loans in Italy and Spain.
Johan Andersson will lead the strategy division, Fredrik Sidmar will be in charge of professional services, Piero Trivellato will be responsible for digital and analytics, and Sandra Alenius will lead customer service delivery. Alenius will join Telia from Swedish payments specialist Klarna.
In the U.K., $248.9 million was lent to SMBs via alternative lending platforms in Q2, according to the U.K. Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA). The P2PFA highlighted that the statistic means net lending to SMBs, via member alternative lending players, surpassed that of high-street banks, which lent about $169.4 million to SMBs during the year’s second quarter. New lending to small firms, among member marketplace lending portals, increased by nearly $130.3 million, the association noted.
In the U.K., 30 percent of small firms need external financing simply to survive, according to new Liberis data.
In the U.S., 63 percent of SMBs sought a loan for working capital needs last year, including payroll, inventory and supplies, according to new data from S&B Global Market Intelligence.
In Mexico, 44 percent of small businesses that have been in operation for five years haven’t seen their incomes rise, according to Moody‘s Senior Credit Officer Felipe Carvallo in an interview with Euromoney. According to Moody’s data, small businesses accounted for just 9.1 percent of all loans in Mexico as of last March — equivalent to only 2 percent of total GDP, reports said.
Skynet Open Network seems to promise all things to all people – fastest blockchain implementation, AI on Blockchain, Healthcare on Blockchain and more. Some of the 17,000 people on the SkynetOpen telegram channel were understandably furious about the similarities in the name when Skynet World announced their project on September 26, 2018.
According to the Skynet World whitepaper, they are the first DAPP on the Tezosblockchain.
Skynet World aims to disrupt the bank lending space by offering peer to peer lending through their app. According to Skynet World:
“Banks are the major source of debt finance for both households and businesses, accounting for about three-quarters and two-thirds respectively of all debt finance provided to those sectors… Banks charge most of the interest up front, a practice known as amortization. Through amortization, 70% of the total interest is paid by the halfway point of the mortgage period.”
What’s your liquidity M.O.? If you are less than certain, it is time to look east toward the country of India and the land of Modi. After all, when 1.3 billion people cough there is a decent chance the rest of the world just might get sick, or maybe just sick of being gated, PIK-ed, or having their holdings marked down 10% or more in a single trading session.
In September an unlisted India company that relied on debt funding for various infrastructure projects defaulted and the spillover into the listed equity markets was contagious and quick. The poster child this time around was Dewan Housing Finance Corp. Their commercial paper, which was issued to fund their longer term capital needs, ticked up 50 basis points when a mutual fund went to liquidate some of that holding, and the stock ended up dropping by more than half in a single trading session. Despite management claims of good health and solid liquidity, many investors could not process or hear it as they ran from the fire. Some other names in this sector suffered similar fates, and the damages (or buying opportunities) are still being sorted out. In India, the publicly traded mutual funds are estimated to own 60% of the commercial paper issued by these non-bank finance companies.
First Circle, a Philippine Fintech, is expected to announce a new credit facility for SMEs nationwide. This new facility has gained the support of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
First Circle is an online lender that provides supply chain financing to SMEs.
For many decades, any startup looking for funding would have to go to a VC firm, the self-appointed gatekeepers to capital. Crowdfunding in general, and sites like Kickstarter in particular, democratized the funding process. It allowed young companies to get themselves directly in front of prospective consumers and raise funds from backers. Initial Coin Offering […]
For many decades, any startup looking for funding would have to go to a VC firm, the self-appointed gatekeepers to capital. Crowdfunding in general, and sites like Kickstarter in particular, democratized the funding process. It allowed young companies to get themselves directly in front of prospective consumers and raise funds from backers.
Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is the next big thing in the world of fundraising. It combines the features of an IPO and crowdfunding allowing backers to support a startup via donations while generating massive returns on their investment. ICO is basically crowdfunding of a new cryptocurrency venture where a percentage of the cryptocurrency (and not the venture itself) is sold. This new cryptocurrency is usually sold for a fiat currency or other mainstream cryptocurrency like bitcoin.
ICO, also known as crowd sale or token sale, emerged in 2013 as a fundraising option. Bitcoin, born in 2009, started gaining traction in 2013 and inspired to the birth of Ethereum and Ripple amongst the first ICOs. Below is a chart depicting the market capitalization (more than $45 billion) of Bitcoin. Ethereum had reached a market map of over $30 billion in June 2017.
One of the first cryptocurrency ICOs was by Ripple in 2013. Ripple Lab developed an innovative payment system called Ripple and produced 100 billion XRP tokens, then sold those coins to fund the platform. Ethereum sold its ETH for 0.0005 Bitcoin and received nearly $20 million on the ICO.
Comparison with IPO
One needs to granularly bifurcate the intricacies of both fundraising techniques to draw parallels between the two. The one major underlying difference is ownership stake. Under an IPO, shares released always denote ownership in the respective company, whereas ICO does not represent a stake in the company by design. With an ICO, more coins mean more voting power but, generally, tokens are used in exchange for other currencies.
Another difference is regulation. In most countries, IPOs are heavily regulated, and non-compliance can lead to dire consequences whereas ICOs are still in the regulation’s so-called “gray” area. Therefore, any project can be launched, and anyone from around the world can invest in the project. This relaxed environment no doubt presents a window of opportunity, but it also becomes riskier as compared to regulated financial instruments.
As with any new phenomenon, there are bound to be some bad apples. ICOs are no exception. The ICO boom has really picked up in the last year or so. Fly-by-night operators looking to scam the general public have also entered the market. Matchpool, Bitbay and many others, have been embroiled. As the platform has matured, investors are becoming more discerning and the initial gold rush should subside into something more sustainable.
In actual terms, ICO legally is still undefined. Reason being, tokens, or coins, are sold in the form of digital goods and not as financial assets. That is why it is called a “crowd sale.” This has simplified the process of raising funds, but the unprecedented success of ICOs like DAO, a stateless investment fund, has caught the eye of regulators, and it will not be long before regulations kick in. The SEC is currently evaluating this capitalization method but hasn’t made any public comments. Rumors are that the SEC is contemplating whether to consider tokens or coins as securities, which will allow investors to sue issuing companies in case a project doesn’t take off and issued tokens become worthless.
Law firms familiar with securities and online token markets, however, believe that as long as token issuers follow a few simple rules, coins are unlikely to be categorized as securities:
tokens should be able to live independently of the emitting company
tokens shouldn’t represent any interest in any cash flow from the emitter
the emitter should pay income tax on the emitted tokens as they are the proceeds of a revenue event for the emitter
Having said that, lack of regulations gives companies a chance to go to market and innovate at a rapid speed. It gives elbow room to ecosystem participants like startups, investors, and markets-in-general to come up with their own solutions to combat unexpected roadblocks.
Not For the Faint-Hearted
The onus is on the investor to dig deep in getting familiar with a project, its future scope, founding team, etc., and the risks range from fraud management to cyber attacks. But ICOs and new cryptocurrencies have had massive successes, as well. There is no doubt that there are lots of pitfalls on the ICO road, but only an investor can decide if the rewards are worth the pain of extensive due diligence.
The below graph indicates that ICOs have had some major hits with investors making 50x to 800x returns in months. It makes you consider that maybe the risk-reward ratio is currently skewed towards the risk-taker.