Over the past 4 months, I have engaged my curiosity about blockchain and the implications for life as we know it, in New Zealand by putting together the first-of-its-kind, Blockchain-Healthcare Symposium. Through the numerous conversations that were borne out of this organization process, arose the unwitting lack of women among the speaker panel. I pondered over how a potential ‘manel’ might appear when viewed through objective lenses. The cliche Freudian slip moment made an appearance as well.
In the current global blockchain ecosystem, men overwhelmingly dominate the development of the technology and are the gatekeepers to the subsequent wealth that is created. It is no surprise that Forbes’ list of the wealthiest individuals within the cryptocurrency space includes 19 men and no women.
Based on findings from an international Quartz survey of 378 venture-backed cryptocurrency and blockchain companies founded between January 2012 and January 2018, roughly 8.5 percent had a woman on the founding team, compared to 17.7 percent in the broader tech industry.
The lack of a concentrated effort to inspire and engage the future working generations, might lead to deeper embedding of the existing gender gap that exists in the technology sector. The nature of blockchain lends itself to further scrutiny. A lack of diversity among the creators of new blockchain led systems will lead to products and services that are fundamentally skewed and biased.
This article is not a marginalization piece. Instead, it is my attempt to shine a light on the amazing work being done by hard working, aspiration and intensely passionate individuals, who also happen to be women!
With a background in law and accounting, Emily has been involved within the blockchain space for a fair few years, having started with an academic project in 2017. Her thesis dissertation looked into ICOs and Securities Regulation. Focused primarily on the New Zealand utility token market, she found that utility token regulations needed a re-think, weighing it up against consumer risk and protection. This led to a stint with BlockChainLabs and currently, she leads the Crypto Advisory team at PWC in Auckland, which incidentally was founded by her as well.
While risk taking personalities exist within all walks of life, Emily believes that the New Zealand blockchain sector is male dominated because of a series of past events which resulted in men having more cumulative technology industry experience. “Often women don’t have this sort of past industry experience and hence lack the confidence to leap into blockchain, but I am confident that it is changing”. New Zealand’s blockchain environment is still fairly small, but it is growing, she says.
Emily hopes to see a maturing regulatory environment in the years to come coupled with infrastructure that allows robust security token exchanges, improved cybersecurity and a push towards improving the digital identity space.
“We had a lot of family and friends coming to us wanting to buy cryptocurrencies, but it was a complex process, and they just didn’t know how to”.
Janine and her brother Alan started their company Easy Crypto in early 2018 off the back of a Slack conversation. Having grown up in a household that encouraged technology driven education, the siblings were ready to take the next step.
“It is a really interesting space to be involved in”. Their modus operandi is led by the belief that crypto should be easy and accessible for anyone who wants to get into it. Janine believes that the crypto and blockchain world is changing every day, and is proud to be part of the crypto revolution.
There are three main ways to buy crypto in New Zealand: exchanges, brokers and retailers. The unique selling proposition for Easy Crypto according to Janine is the “ease with which you can buy crypto and get started, if you have never bought any before”. The platform allows across the board services including creating wallets, a 24/7 service brought together by a user-friendly interface and competitive pricing. “Our youngest customer is 18 (given legal restrictions) and our oldest customer is 76; we have customers right across New Zealand – from Kaitaia to Invercargill”, says Janine.
Alan and Janine’s work with Easy Crypto is also deeply entrenched within a positive personalised customer experience and to this end, she organises webinars around New Zealand to educate people about cryptocurrencies.
“Without a diverse group of people, you get less creativity”. Wendy is a lawyer by training. Her Honors thesis was centered around blockchain technology and law reform. This was to be a fork in the road for Wendy. “As soon as I read that blockchain was about helping others, I was excited about the technology”, she says. This nascent interest in the emerging field of blockchain led Wendy to pursue her law career with Wakefields Lawyers, who supported her with her blockchain aspirations. Since then, she has taken over as Secretary at the Blockchain Association of New Zealand. Her role sees her involved in a number of projects within the blockchain space.
Wendy has also put her law and blockchain passions together to provide a packaged service through the law firm which allows customers to leave cryptocurrency assets in their will. “If people pass away, it’s really complicated for family members or friends to access crypto assets, we provide an easy way to help with this problem”.
Within the New Zealand blockchain space, Wendy observed that while the representation in numbers is low, the women are involved in the industry have taken on strong positions. The Blockchain Association of New Zealand’s committee has 8 members, 3 of whom are women. This is not proportional to the general split between genders across other industries.
Wendy believes that getting young girls into technology as a mandatory learning process is an important step towards leveling out the gender disparity in the blockchain space.
“I’ve always been focused on and immensely excited about the coming together of minds, this is something that is exemplified by blockchain”. Amrita has built her career solving recruitment woes for companies. Her career spans more than 15 years in IT recruitment across a number of corporate organisations. She is also an early adopter of the blockchain wave and currently runs New Zealand’s first specialist blockchain recruitment consultancy, Blockchain Talent Limited.
Amrita observes that companies are dipping their toes and experimenting at this stage with blockchain. She believes that as the industry matures, this scenario will change, opening up viable opportunities for skilled individuals.
The dearth of a specialised workforce to draw from in the blockchain arena is being tackled by Universities across the country, says Amrita. Offerings of additional technology centric subjects that students can opt into, are beginning to take shape.
Amrita cites that awareness of blockchain in New Zealand is critical to the industry becoming mainstream in New Zealand. She hopes to be a part of this change and notes “Why are we limiting involvement in blockchain from only those with technical skills? There is huge scope for people to contribute from a subject matter perspective, whether it be healthcare, supply chain management or complex business processes as well.”
Having entered the blockchain space in 2013, Katherine has over the years worked with a number of start-up companies, as well being involved with spreading awareness about blockchain technology through lectures and coaching sessions. She moved to New Zealand late 2017.
Katherine currently leads Sphere Identity, a global blockchain identity provider, part of the Techemy Group of companies. They are headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand, but their vision spans the entire globe. The main problem Sphere Identity tackles is customer on-boarding. “We’ve developed a new way of doing this for customers, a new secure way to hold their identity in a self-sovereign manner and choose who they share it with”, says Katherine. The company finds tremendous use potential in cross-border commerce.
With regard to all the hype and curiosity behind blockchain in today’s landscape, Katherine says “If we look at older technologies, people have used them and never explored how they worked, however in the case of blockchain, a lot of the technology is in the back end. While education about the technology is essential, there is no particular need to explore how it works among the broader public, unless they are involved in development.
Blockchain is a global technology and according to Katherine, there is a tremendous amount of work that is being done around financial inclusiveness to empower those around the world who do not currently enjoy such freedoms. Katherine considers that the challenge within the blockchain space isn’t so much the technology, but the actual implementation of blockchain enabled services.
“Blockchain has a thriving ecosystem” Rachel comes from a background of working in financial markets and being associated with investor access, helping mass markets get access to investment opportunities. Her mission is to be able to create an environment conducive for anyone to come in and invest in the blockchain ecosystem.
In early 2016, she put out a call to collaborate and build a new platform within the fintech space. Since then, Rachel and co-founder Abhy Singla have grown from strength to strength.
In early 2018, Invsta, an online cryptocurrency platform was born. “what clicked for us is the number of customers who to us asking for the product, so there is a whole lot of demand and we wanted to add value to it and make it easier for people”, says Rachel.
She continues, “There are so many barriers for people from outside the tech sector who want to get involved, this puts off a majority of the population”. Invsta looks to help anybody invest and benefit from blockchain. Opportunities that Invsta believes in are pre-screened and put in front of people. This allows customers to choose those that are of interest to them. Invsta currently helps with around 20 currency investments, but Rachel sees immense potential going forward. New Zealand currently has a rising demand for cryptocurrency, but it is still a small market relative to the rest of the world. Invsta is pursuing partnership opportunities with existing financial service providers in Asia who are looking to bring cryptocurrencies to their customers. “There is a lot of interest in creating white-label API access through the Invsta platform”, notes Rachel.
The questions behind regulation is a key aspect of this sector. Rachel and her legal team have worked closely with the regulators along their journey. One of the first steps that Invsta takes when approaching overseas markets is to meet with lawyers and regulators. “We cannot be a trusted partner for customers, if they find that we are operating outside the established regulatory framework”, says Rachel.
Given that women are under-represented when it comes to investing, Rachel and her team want to enable upskilling for women, given the immense importance of having oversight and knowledge about financial literacy.
“Every year in blockchain evolution, equals roughly four years in internet evolution, that’s how quickly we are moving today”.
Associate Professor Alex Sims teaches at the University of Auckland on a wide range of commercial law subjects and is one the few academics in New Zealand who is actively engaged in speaking with people and educating them through her lectures, workshops and written pieces on blockchain. She is an information specialist, someone who people rely upon to inform them, to reference Malcolm Gladwell, a maven. “The hardest thing is getting people to think differently”, says Alex.
Adoption of blockchain suffers for other reasons. First, as described in a recent book, “Radical technologies”, blockchain and cryptocurrencies is the first technology that is just fundamentally difficult for otherwise intelligent and highly capable people to comprehend. In contrast, the Internet was relatively simple; it was simply connecting computers so they can talk to each other. Second, most people understandably resist change. The problem is not, therefore, with the technology, rather it is with peoples’ ability to understand and change their behavior. Bridging this chasm, is one of the missions that Alex is working on.
In addition, Alex cites that blockchain, as a disruptive technology, is a classic example of Schumpeter’s creative destruction and some existing industries are attempting to preserve their business models. Regulation may be to prevent incumbents from stifling the growth of innovative competitors. A level playing field is required.
Finally, three things are needed for the success of decentralized systems, says Alex. First, governance. It is easy to say “decentralization”, but actually designing truly decentralized decision-making systems is a different matter. Second, there is the need for digital identity of people, organisations and things, which is ironic given that Bitcoin was designed to be pseudonymous, but if the ownership of cars is recorded on a blockchain, you want to be able to prove that you are the owner of your car. Third, low cost and quick dispute resolution is required because not everything can be coded.
“Numerous projects are working on all three issues, but again the uptake of successful solutions will depend on the attitudes of others. Will national courts accept the decisions of a dispute resolution scheme when one party is not happy with the outcome of a decision?”, questions Alex.
Jevon’s interest and subsequent association with blockchain and cryptocurrency started in 2013. At the time, Jevon was at University pursuing her PhD in Computer Science. “Back then, you couldn’t purchase bitcoin anywhere in New Zealand. You had buy it from foreign exchanges”, says Jevon. She eventually built a software application to help her keep track of her cryptocurrency. This sent Jevon down a rabbit hole eventually leading to her current project, a cryptocurrency-blockchain start-up called CryptFolio, which came into existence in May 2013.
By late 2017, Jevon had decided to work full time on CryptFolio. The mission of the company is to provide platforms for people, businesses and governments to safely understand, manage and make informed decisions on finance. They provide information, guidance and resources to those who want to get started. “everyone should be able to be their own bank, without having to invest millions of dollars”, says Jevon.
A big challenge over the past year has been around a user friendly, value based user experience. Currently, Jevon solves this problem via CryptFolio’s website. However, in the future, it will be through mobile apps, training and via published articles. With users from all over the world using the platform, providing services over the long period, unhindered by market movement is one of the big challenges of working in the cryptocurrency space. The other challenge is regulatory framework around how to operate with cryptocurrency. At present, the iOS versions of the mobile apps are awaiting approval and Jevon is having conversations with potential co-founders to come on board and take the platform to the next level.
“A big part of where I want to take CryptFolio in the long term is to be a bridge between cryptocurrency and fiat currency, including integrating with accounting tools”, says Jevon. The infrastructure is in place, the challenge ahead is to change the mindset. Jevon also writes a blog at https://medium.com/cryptfolio.
There is no question that decentralized, open source blockchain environments are here to stay. Perhaps the true enigma revolves around how it can help humankind survive and thrive going forward. So, is Satoshi female? Your guess is as good as mine.
Tom is a blockchain crusader, orthodontist and business strategist with a combined experience of over 12 years spread over Dubai, India and New Zealand. He is a technology and healthcare futurist and Founder at HealthTech Symposium Series held in Auckland, New Zealand, where he organizes a bi-monthly symposium series concentrated around technology and its utility with respect to healthcare.
Kraken Daily Market Report for February 27 2021
- Total spot trading volume at $1.43 billion, down from the 30-day average of $2.1 billion.
- Total futures notional at $388.7 million.
- The top five traded coins were, respectively, Bitcoin, Cardano, Ethereum, Tether, and Polkadot.
- Strong returns from Cardano (+12%), Algorand (+12%), and Polkadot (+11%).
|February 27, 2021
$1.43B traded across all markets today
Crypto, EUR, USD, JPY, CAD, GBP, CHF, AUD
#####################. Trading Volume by Asset. ##########################################
Trading Volume by Asset
The figures below break down the trading volume of the largest, mid-size, and smallest assets. Cryptos are in purple, fiats are in blue. For each asset, the chart contains the daily trading volume in USD, and the percentage of the total trading volume. The percentages for fiats and cryptos are treated separately, so that they both add up to 100%.
Figure 1: Largest trading assets: trading volume (measured in USD) and its percentage of the total trading volume (February 27 2021)
Figure 2: Mid-size trading assets: (measured in USD) (February 27 2021)
Figure 3: Smallest trading assets: (measured in USD) (February 27 2021)
#####################. Spread %. ##########################################
Spread percentage is the width of the bid/ask spread divided by the bid/ask midpoint. The values are generated by taking the median spread percentage over each minute, then the average of the medians over the day.
Figure 4: Average spread % by pair (February 27 2021)
#########. Returns and Volume ############################################
Returns and Volume
Figure 5: Returns of the four highest volume pairs (February 27 2021)
Figure 6: Volume of the major currencies and an average line that fits the data to a sinusoidal curve to show the daily volume highs and lows (February 27 2021)
###########. Daily Returns. #################################################
Daily Returns %
Figure 7: Returns over USD and XBT. Relative volume and return size is indicated by the size of the font. (February 27 2021)
###########. Disclaimer #################################################
The values generated in this report are from public market data distributed from Kraken WebSockets api. The total volumes and returns are calculated over the reporting day using UTC time.
Inverse Finance seizes tokens, ships code: Launches stablecoin lending protocol
Shortly after culling its community of inactive members, one of decentralized finance’s (DeFi) strangest experiments is launching a new stablecoin lending product.
On Wednesday Inverse Finance revealed the Anchor Protocol, a money market built around DOLA, a protocol-native synthetic stablecoin. Based on “a modified fork of Compound,” in a blog post Inverse Finance founder Nour Haridy compares Anchor to Synthetix, which issues credit in the form of synthetic assets back by overleveraged collateral, and Compound, which issues credit in the form of crypto asset loans also backed by overleveraged collateral.
Ultimately, Haridy sees these models as providing the same utility.
“Lending and synthetic protocols both offer the same service: credit. Anchor brings the gap between them by combining them into a unified borrowing protocol.”
Anchor aims to accomplish this with a unique architecture that always treats the DOLA token as “$1 collateral that can be used to borrow other assets regardless of DOLA’s market conditions or peg.” Users deposit collateral, mint DOLA, and then can use DOLA to take out loans in other crypto assets or simply earn yield on DOLA.
Introducing Anchor & DOLA: Capital efficient lending, borrowing and synthetic assets (and much more)
Brought to you by Inverse DAOhttps://t.co/pOOkp8ECsR
Summary thread below ⬇️
— Inverse.Finance (@InverseFinance) February 25, 2021
“For over-collateralized borrowers and leveraged traders, we offer them a one stop shop where they can share their collaterals across their synthetic and token borrowing positions, allowing higher capital efficiency and higher leverage,” says Haridy.
Haridy envisions Anchor will use DOLA for protocol-to-protocol lending similar to Cream’s Iron Bank, for undercollateralized lending (long a prize in DeFi), and for the protocol to “lend itself” credit to pursue yield farming opportunities.
No dead weight
Perhaps more interesting than Inverse’s development at the protocol layer are the moves they made earlier in the week at the governance layer.
In what may be a DeFi governance first, On Saturday Feb. 20, Inverse community members put forth two governance proposals to seize INV — Inverse’s currently non-transferrable governance token — from inactive community members. On Thursday Feb. 25, the proposals passed, and not everyone was happy with the result.
— Knockerton (@knockerton) February 24, 2021
Haridy says that the timing was intentional — right as Anchor, a protocol that might generate revenue for the DAO, prepares to launch, the community sheds freeloaders.
“We needed to weed out our dead weight to reclaim some tokens for re-distribution to new active members soon. We also created an INV grants committee with the power to reward contributors and add new members to the DAO. Additionally, when free riders are removed, active members become more incentivized to contribute because they get a larger piece of the pie.”
While the unprecedented move may seem harsh, it’s also simply applying to governance the kind of aggressive style that put Inverse Finance on the map in the first place. By forcing token holders to participate under the threat of seized tokens, it’s helped with the development of Anchor as well.
“This is a collaborative effort among many DAO members starting from ideation to development to internal reviews and testing,” says Haridy.
The next step for Inverse will be getting Anchor off the ground, and preparing for a world in which INV becomes tradable. Haridy says there’s a growing consensus in the community for tradability. This would mean that the DAO would give up the power to seize tokens, which could alter Inverse’s community landscape.
Haridy, however, seems unfazed by the looming shifts, already preparing the next innovation.
“This will significantly change the existing incentives and may reduce participation. Fortunately, there’s some work on a new alternative governance model that’s been happening internally to address this problem.”
3 reasons why Reef Finance, Bridge Mutual and Morpheus Network are rallying
As new institutional and retail investors enter the cryptocurrency space on a daily basis, large-cap top performers like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) attract the lion’s share of investor’s attention as they are the well-known ‘secure’ blockchain projects.
Once these new investors get a taste of the mainstay cryptocurrencies and how to navigate the volatile markets, their attention soon turns to smaller cap coins as they search for the up-and-coming projects that could be the next big thing.
Currently, CoinMarketCap shows that there are 8,475 tokens and more are added daily. This makes it difficult to keep up with the latest developments and find solid projects with real-world potential.
With that in mind, here are some interesting projects that have been gaining strength over the past few weeks.
Morpheus Network (MRPH) is a blockchain platform focused on logistics and supply chain optimization through the use of its SaaS middleware platform which is integrated with emerging technologies.
Supply chain managers are able to use the platform to create a digital representation of their network as information collected is transformed into actionable data, with all steps in the supply chain being notarized on the Morpheus blockchain.
MRPH was trading at a price of $0.412 on Jan.15 before an influx of trading activity lifted the token more than 920% to a high of $4.44 on Feb.8.
The rapid rise in price was due in part to the fresh attention the project received from several well-known YouTube influencers and recent verifiable MRPH partnerships, such as China’s Qingdao Maple Leaf International Trading Co. and the possibility of a partnership with Coca-Cola in Latin America.
Speculations aside, the Morpheus platform currently has more than 100 integrations with industry-leading service providers including DHL, FedEx, SWIFT, Oracle, and Salesforce. With significant real-world partnerships and the attention of cryptocurrency influencers, MRPH has strong fundamentals and is likely to gain more attention from investors.
Bridge Mutual (BMI) is a more recent arrival to the decentralized insurance space but it has quickly garnered the attention of investors.
The insurance platform offers coverage for stablecoins, centralized exchanges and smart contracts. It also allows users to provide insurance coverage, determine insurance payouts, and recie compensated for taking part in the ecosystem.
BMI’s initial decentralized exchange offering (IDO) was conducted on Jan. 30 with a token price of $0.125 and it was first listed on Uniswap for $1.03. Since listing, BMI has rallied by 540% to a high of $5.46 on Feb. 3. Currently, BMI trades at $3.24 following the downturn in the market that began on Feb. 21.
Decentralized insurance has thus far been dominated by Nexus Mutual (NXM), but BMI’s arrival offers a fresh challenger to a field with growing demand due to the risky nature of investing in DeFi platforms.
Reef (REEF) is a Polkadot-based DeFi platform that aims to offer cross-chain trading powered by a yield engine and smart liquidity aggregator that enables automation of the exchange process.
One issue Reef developers hope to provide a solution for is high gas fees on the Ethereum blockchain that are currently making DeFi unusable for many community participants. The team also hopes to help connect liquidity pools from separate networks, avoiding the need for multiple accounts which can be difficult to keep track of.
Work on the project began in the second half of 2020 with the completion of its IDO on Sep.30. Following its listing on Binance and Uniswap in late December of 2020, REEF price bottomed out at $0.0067 on Jan.13 and has since increased more than 750% to a high of $0.054 on Feb.11.
DeFi remains one of the hottest growth areas in the cryptocurrency sector and Reef is well-positioned to capitalize on its continued growth. As the Polkadot ecosystem grows its user base and provides solutions that provide relief from high Ethereum transaction costs, cross-chain functionality projects like Reef stand ready to benefit as decentralized finance goes mainstream.
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