🤐Chinese Censors vs. Blockchain 🏨Airbnb vs. Blockchain — Cryptos for the Rest of Us — Issue #24
The markets keep going up. Bitcoin has crossed the $9,000 mark again. Although the major gains in the market are coming from altcoins with Ripple, EOS, and Tron being big winners, amongst many.
Taking a slightly different approach this week. Introducing two practical use cases for the blockchain that are actually generating utility value.
🤐 Blockchain vs. Chinese Censors
What’s the Story?
The #MeToo movement has spread around the world. In China, women have been speaking up against sexual harassment too. Peking University (PKU) is in the centre as a decades-old case has come under scrutiny.
Students at PKU have been calling for an investigation into the suicide of a female student in 1998. This came after she alleged sexual harassment and rape by a professor.
Yue Xin is a student who petitioned for the investigation. She wrote an open letter earlier this week that went viral. In the open letter, she describes being coerced by the faculty to stop her activism.
Predictably it was scrubbed from Chinese social media almost as fast as it spread. In an attempt to keep it visible people started posting the letter upside down. But found little success.
Instead, somebody decided to put the message on the Etherum blockchain
You can read the message itself on Etherscan.io here. Under the message box press ‘Convert to UT8’.
What’s the Big Deal?
Each Ethereum transaction can have a message attached to it. In this case, it’s like sending a bank transfer for $0 but adding a text message for the recipient.
The beauty of the blockchain is that it’s virtually immutable. That means nobody can ever change the contents of this message. At most, they can try can censor all services that allow you see blockchain transactions. Like Etherscan.io.
It’s not the most viral method of spreading a message. But it does ensure that the message itself will forever be on the Ethereum blockchain.
Unlike WeChat or Weibo which are under the control of the Chinese government. And unlike other centralised services like Google or Facebook. These services can all delete, change, or censor this data.
This is a remarkable and novel use of the blockchain. It’s easy to imagine purpose-built blockchains that keep information free. Free from tampering and censorship.
🏨 Peer-to-peer Airbnb
What is it?
CryptoCribs is a competitor to Airbnb. Hosts and guests can find each other through the website and payments are in crypto.
It’s not the only initiative to put short-term rentals on the blockchain. There are also CryptoBNB and BeeToken. But CryptoCribs is the only one with a working product and hasn’t done an ICO.
In the sharing economy trust is a major issue. Airbnb facilitates trust between two unknown parties through;
1) Reputational intermediation; Airbnb verifies the identities of each participant. They also keep logs of each party’s previous activity. This then turns into a reputation score (ratings) that help guests and hosts select each other.
2 Financial intermediation: acting as a payment escrow agent guarantees payments.
For this service, they extract a hefty agency fee of +20%. This translates into a USD30bn valuation for Airbnb that comes from rent-seeking activity.
On the blockchain though, this financial and reputational intermediation is decentralised. Escrow goes into smart contracts. Identity information and ratings live on the blockchain.
This has the added benefit of keeping identity information private and immutable. While a government can make Airbnb hand over records, the blockchain cannot. While Airbnb has the power to censor and ban participants, the blockchain is agnostic.
Is this the future?
It’s hard to say. Airbnb doesn’t need disintermediating. But the +20% fees that they charge might be enough to get people to move to decentralised alternatives. Ultimately the market will decide.
One of the core use cases for decentralised services is the elimination of agency fees. Third parties like Airbnb help 2 parties without trust exchange good and services. But these third parties charge large fees.
With decentralisation these fees disappear. The trust element is on the blockchain instead.
Cryptocribs itself currently charges 10% while they’re getting up and running. Their long-term plan is to reduce this to 0% for participants.
What’s remarkable about Cryptocribs is they actually have a working product. They have over 1,500 listings and people are already using the platform daily. This paves the way to making the disintermediated future a reality, not theory.
And yes, they do have insurance baked into the service in case somebody trashes your flat.
🗞️ News Roundup
Nasdaq’s CEO said that they would consider becoming a digital currency exchange down the line. The caveat is that they would require the market to become more mature; read: regulated.
I believe that digital currencies will continue to persist it’s just a matter of how long it will take for that space to mature. Once you look at it and say, ‘do we want to provide a regulated market for this?’ Certainly Nasdaq would consider it.
Nasdaq is already quite forward thinking with regard cryptos. They recently announced a tie-up with Gemini, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges. 💪
A popular cryptocurrency Discord chat group was exposed planning a pump-and-dump. They were discussing how much BTC they would need to control 25% of a small alt token so they can manipulate the price. One member even warns another about his use of the word manipulation who responds by correcting himself, rephrasing to “market making”… The good news is they’ve been reported to the SEC and FBI 🔐The link is basically a bunch of screenshots of their discussion.
Binance is the most popular cryptocurrency exchange in the world now. Annoyingly they’ve always had an issue with ‘dust’. That is small residuals from trades that occur. The cost of transferring or trading is larger than the value of the dust meaning it accumulates in users accounts. Binance has finally allowed people to sweep this dust and convert it into BNB, their own token. 🎉
The dream of cryptocurrency as a quick and cheap means of transfer are alive and well. The huge transaction took just 150 seconds to clear. No words needed, I’ll just drop this picture here for reference;
If you like this help spread the love! Send it a friend. Or a colleague. Or an enemy who didn’t buy into crypto when you told them to a year ago ❤️