Top names in Silicon Valley are Backing an Ex-Wall Streeter Turned Professor with a Native Chain Deployment

On Tuesday July 10th, it was announced that Stanford professor Kapil “KK” Jain started a new venture that was seed funded by relevant funds in the Silicon Valley Technology scene.

KK was a regular on the Wall Street Quant for years before switching Alto the world of Academia where he lead teaching on Mathematical and Computational Finance at Stanford. Recently, he has left to build a new native chain deployment called NCENT that focuses on incentives.

KK spoke in a fire-side style chat at the HackSummit virtual conference earlier yesterday. The recording, posted here features an hour long fire-side chat with Silicon Valley veteran venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson.

Some highlights from the Quant Fund Manager turned Entrepreneur:

“I always sort of felt like Wall Street picked me, I didn’t sort of affirmatively pick Wall Street.”

“The kind of mouse olympics, it was the first time in my life I looked myself in the mirror…. I sort of think that a career on Wall Street is sort of like playing the Mouse Olympics….as the line sort of goes, even if you sort of win all the gold medals at the Mouse Olympics, you’re still a mouse…. I really wanted to give back… to teach.”

“Obviously this speaks close to my heart, being an ex-Statistical arbitrage trader and seeing sort of every kind of trick in the book on Wall Street ….I would actually say in my judgement being a stat-arb-trader that there actually is NO Alpha or outperformance systematically to be gained investing in stat-arb funds in crypto.”

The NCENT team made up of Stanford alums, students, and professors. They are looking to build an incentives native chain protocol which is based on the famous red balloon research study.

KK Jain has strong views on bitcoin, monetary policy, incentive structures, and networks.

The investors include some of the early timers in bitcoin and the blockchain:

Sequoia: American venture capital firm. The firm is located in Menlo Park, California and mainly focuses on the technology industry. It has backed companies that now control $1.4 trillion of the combined stock market value.

Steve Jurvetson: Stephen T. Jurvetson is an American businessman and venture capitalist. He is a cofounder and former partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Current board seats include Synthetic Genomics, Planet Labs, Nervana Systems, Flux, D-Wave, SpaceX, and Tesla.

Naval Ravikant: \CEO and a co-founder of AngelList. He previously co-founded Epinions (which went public as part of Shopping.com) and Vast.com.

Winklevoss Capital: Family office founded in 2012 by Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss. The firm invests across multiple asset classes with an emphasis on providing seed funding and infrastructure to early-stage startups.

SV Angel: San Francisco-based angel investment firm, which helps startup companies with business development, financing, M&A and other strategic advice.

Floodgate: Venture capital firm based in the United States created by Mike Maples and Ann Miura-Ko. It is focused on investments in technology companies in Silicon Valley.

AME Cloud Ventures: Venture fund led by Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo! AME Cloud Ventures focuses on seed to later stage companies building infrastructure and value chains around data.
MetaStable: Cryptocurrency hedge fund founded by Lucas Ryan, Josh Seims and Naval Ravikant.…

The Blockchain Isn’t Going Anywhere. Here’s How To Stay Ahead Today And Ensure Success Tomorrow

Everyone’s talking about blockchain.

In 2012, I watched some of my long-time friends leave very successful businesses to go all in on Bitcoin. Here were people with killer business acumen, who I had worked with for years, and they were leaving everything behind for this new technology.

For example, two of my friends created Tether—a cryptocurrency token that’s backed one-to-one by real currency. This was how I first got involved in blockchain. As soon as I realized its potential, I fell in love with the use cases distributed ledgers could solve around the world.

The technology applications have the potential to impact everything from banking and real estate to copyright and government. And more. For example: blockchain’s ability to safely store and transmit sensitive data can drastically improve voting, healthcare, and even law enforcement. In many ways, we have only just begun to explore how the blockchain will affect us in our everyday lives.

There’s just one problem: Not enough of us understand what blockchain technology is, let alone what it does.

Whether you want to use blockchain to make money, store information or connect to the global community, everyone needs to learn about it. This technology is the future, and there is more than enough data already to support that claim. It’s the next internet, and will bring with it unprecedented opportunities to people all across the globe.

Which is why everyone should be educating themselves on a few key pillars of blockchain technology, and the pain points it solves:

1. Blockchain technology is not a trend.

Talk to any average person, and 9.9 times out of 10, they’ll have no idea what blockchain is, with the exception of maybe Bitcoin. If they do know, it’s surface level details at best.

When a trend emerges, some people don’t want to wait to see how things play out—especially when there’s money to be made. Perhaps this story can be an example:

Remember the massive excitement Bitcoin last year? Speculative investment exploded. As the price soared, it gained public appeal. And legitimacy. And a lot of people made a lot of money, very fast.

Then the price dropped by 50%.

By the time Bitcoin’s value plummeted, it seemed like most people had lost faith. But that “lost faith” reaction really only happened among those who had jumped into the space at the last minute, hoping to enjoy Bitcoin’s climb. People with knowledge of blockchain and cryptocurrencies saw this coming—in some way, shape, or form. Active participants in the emerging industry were hardly surprised by the plummet in price that followed. These are “growing pains” that arise with any new technology.

Unfortunately, that patience was not widespread. Many people who jumped into the industry looking to make a quick buck ended up jumping back out at its lowest slump. They chalked their ill-timed participation as the fault of blockchain being a “trend,” opposed to looking at the long-term nature of what it means to build something globally impactful—and the rising (and falling) tides that come with such a massive undertaking.

This is why, as markets begin to recover (and they already have), and new variations of blockchain technology cement themselves into our everyday lives, everyone from general consumers to high-profile investors need to have a firm understanding of the tech.

2. Blockchain will soon be part of the fabric of our society—so it’s best to begin the learning process now.

Most people in the United States don’t understand cryptocurrencies, let alone use it (or even own it). But to look at the blockchain and crypto space purely through the lens of North America would be flawed. Because the truth is, one out of every three South Koreans own cryptocurrencies, or get paid using it already.

This statistic is what prompted me to dive head-first into the space.

Between lagging education surrounding blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and realizing parts of the world are already utilizing cryptocurrencies in their everyday lives, I saw an opportunity to build a new kind of ecosystem. Whether you’re a beginner just stepping into the space, or an expert looking to participate further in the global blockchain community, I wanted to solve these pain points in a way that catered to all audiences. This is what prompted me to launch HybridBlock.

While reading articles about blockchain technology and cryptocurrency use cases can be helpful, we wanted to make it it easier to progress from beginner to expert. The goal of our platform is to teach users everything they need to know about the space, and gamifying the education in a way that doesn’t feel cumbersome or overly complicated. For example: do you know what Bitcoin is, and how it works? How about Ethereum? What is a smart contract, and why should you care about it?

These are the questions we believe need to be answered—in the same way that everyone had to learn the basics of the Internet, and what it means to upload, download, or share a file.…

5 Reasons People are Bullish About Bitcoin

If you are a “hodler” for Bitcoin, it has not been an easy ride for you to keep the faith in cryptocurrency. Sure you may have your reasons overall of why you believe it’s a worth “hodling” when Bitcoin is experiencing a bearishdowntrend it is pretty easy for anyone to jump on the detractors’ bandwagon.

There are a lot of reasons why detractors are claiming Bitcoin is going to crash. They say it’s a scam that’s bubble burst in January 2018. It’s unregulated, and they are telling everyone that government regulations will eventually shut it down as they become stricter and enforce them.

They say that it’s a Ponzi scheme that is going to crash so fast and so hard it will not be worth mining anymore, and everyone is going to lose their money. The list goes on and on.

However, for every detractor, there is a faithful “hodler.” There is more to Bitcoin than meets the eye to people that don’t understand the space. Bitcoin was founded right after the infamous 2008 banking crash.

This crash proved that the government regulating bodies were not capable of effectively managing the value of fiat currency. They let it get out of hand to the point that it crashed. During this time when the stock market and real estate were crashing, people started turning in droves to hard assets.

Here are five reasons why people are still bullish on Bitcoin.

1.) Known Limited Quantity

The price of gold went up immensely. Everyone wanted to be able to turn to something that was independent of government control in regards to its value. Sadly, small central groups that make decisions for the majority don’t always make the best decisions for the larger group. Bitcoin was developed as a way for people worldwide to be able to hold something that would be decentralized and immune from government’s influence on its value.

There are only 21 million Bitcoins in existence. This total means there is not an unlimited amount available that will enter circulation at the whim of a tiny few. What this means there is known scarcity of units something that carries a monetary value, this is very similar to gold whose value dramatically. The known limited quantity alone gives Bitcoin value, it’s something that is insurance against fiat currencies worldwide.

2.) Easy to Transfer

Bitcoin is the only form of money that can be transferred from anyone to someone else anywhere in the world in less than 30 minutes. There isn’t a third party that needs to get involved with the transfer, like a bank for example.

You don’t have to worry about bank holidays preventing the money transferring right away. Also, you don’t have to worry about converting one currency into another currency. Right now you don’t have to both with the different countries’ money transfer laws, and you can send it directly to the recipient without the hassle of dealing with the various regulations.

3.) Liquidity

Right now Bitcoin is the most liquid out of all of the cryptocurrencies as far was liquidity. It has the highest trading volume and highest value. When something has a lot of value and activity, it is easier to liquidate. It also serves as the primary on-ramp to trade and purchase altcoins, because Bitcoin has the most fiat onramps available. Since it has the most fiat onramps, this also makes it the easiest to liquidate into local fiat currency.

4.) Largest Decentralized Network

Bitcoin has the largest decentralized network out of any cryptocurrency available. This large network size makes it the hardest cryptocurrency network to penetrate for malicious hackers. It also makes it harder for centralized mining groups to get enough computing power to take over 51% of the network.

This extensive network size also safeguards Bitcoin from the corruption of a tiny group of few controlling a system for the masses. Decentralization helps promote the honor system for people to manage and regulate the transactions. So it’s less likely to be susceptible to corruption.

5.) Hard to Counterfeit

With the decentralized network that connects to one universal ledger that records each transaction and is publicly available to everyone on the blockchain network, this transparency makes it hard to counterfeit. It also prevents the double spending problem that other digital transactions can’t as easily prevent from occurring.

When something is easy to counterfeit, it brings its value down. It’s hard to verify the authenticity of something if it’s easily counterfeited and more of it could end up in circulation which devalues the rest of it.

So this is the list of five key reasons some people are bullish for Bitcoinduring this bearish time. The future is still unpredictable for the value of Bitcoin. However, there is an undeniable need in the market for a simplistic, secure and digital way to transfer and store money.…

Everything You Need to Know About Bitcoin, Altcoins and Taxes

If investing and trading cryptocurrency was your first experience with leveraging your personal money to turn a profit, then you may not have known you may have incurred a tax liability with your gains. What a way to kill the intoxicating afterglow of a big win! Death and taxes, the two guarantees in life.

If you were in the United States, then you definitely owed taxes on your earnings. There are two different types of taxes that you could have owed. They are either long-term capital gains or short-term capital gains. Long-term capital gains taxes are more favorable. The difference between the two is the following:

Short-term Capital Gains

You invested your money into something and then only held your investment under a year and sold it for a profit. So let’s say you bought a Bitcoin on January 1, 2017, and then sold it on December 31st, 2017 and your net profit (Final value of investment-initial cost of investment) was $100.00. You would be liable for your regular income tax bracket, so it could be anywhere from 25-39% depending on your income that year.

Long-term Capital Gains

Let’s go back to the example of you buying a Bitcoin on January 1st, 2017, but you sold it on January 2nd, 2018. You made a net profit of $100.00 you would be liable for 15-20% capital gains tax on this earning. It’s interesting that waiting two days basically cuts your tax liability in half! So this is an advantage to being a “Hodler” in the United States.

But wouldn’t it be great to live in a place where you didn’t have ANY taxes on your gains from Bitcoin and altcoins?

Are there any countries in the world where Bitcoin/altcoins that don’t have capital gains tax?

1.) Germany

In Germany, Bitcoin and other cryptos are not considered a commodity, a stock, or any form of money.

Trading bitcoins/altcoins are considered as a private sale under the rule 23 EStG which has tax-free benefits.

EStG states anyone trading bitcoins/altcoins are tax exempt if their capital gains are not more than 600 EUR. Also, if a trader is selling his/her Bitcoin/altcoins after one year or more, then those capital gains are also tax exempt.

2.) Denmark

Denmark is one of the most Bitcoin/crypto friendly countries in the world.

Bitcoin/altcoin capital gains are tax exempt under Danish law. This policy is unique to cryptocurrencies because they want to be the world’s first cashless economy.

3.) Singapore

Bitcoin isn’t classified as either currency or a commodity in Singapore.

Private investors are not subject to capital gains tax with cryptocurrency gains, but businesses are subject to capital gains tax.

4.) Belarus

In December 2017, Alexander Lukashenko legalized cryptocurrencies in Belarus.

He also stated that cryptocurrency mining, trading and capital gains on cryptocurrencies & ICOs would be tax-free until January 1, 2023.

Taxing Bitcoin/Altcoins

Currently, these are the only countries that officially have Bitcoin/altcoin capital gains tax exemption policies.

Here are some countries that are “unofficially” Bitcoin tax havens because they don’t have capital gains tax on any investment earnings.

● Hong Kong
● New Zealand
● Switzerland
● Barbados
● Malaysia
● Mauritius

If you are from one of the countries mentioned above, then enjoy the tax-exempt status. If you don’t live in one of these countries, then you might want to move to one if you’re making a lot of money on cryptocurrency.…

A Case For New Taiwan Dollar on the Blockchain

Last week at the Asia Blockchain Summit, “Crypto Congressman” Jason Hsu provided me with the privilege of delivering these remarks to representatives of leading companies in the blockchain industry and government agencies including the National Development Council, National Communications Commission, and American Institute in Taiwan. Formosa Financial is eager to work with Taiwan’s financial institutions and ministries to unleash the benefits of financial technology innovation.

Jason asked me to speak about the potential for a project that many people in the blockchain community have been thinking about recently: issuing, holding, and exchanging New Taiwan Dollar on a blockchain or some other type of distributed ledger system.

I wanted to take this opportunity to first lay out the argument for why doing something like this may be impactful for Taiwan, discuss some potential design considerations in developing an experimental program, and potential next steps.

The Rationale for New Taiwan Dollar on the Blockchain

So why should Taiwanese regulators, financial institutions, and businesses explore the possibility of creating a new, blockchain-based, digital New Taiwan Dollar? There are many potential benefits, but realizing those benefits always starts with first assessing areas for improvement. Allow me to suggest two potential areas where such a project may be able to strengthen the competitiveness of Taiwan’s economy.

Firstly, Taiwan’s highly developed economy provides it with a strong and stable banking sector alongside a world-class electronics and information technology industry. These two factors combined mean that Taiwan ranks very favorably in terms of bank account and smartphone penetration, at over 90% and 70% of the population, respectively. Despite these figures, cash is still the dominant method for settling transactions. Implementing a digital Taiwan dollar can help ensure tax compliance, combat money laundering, and accelerate the velocity of money within the domestic economy.

Internationally, development of a blockchain based system for sending and exchanging NTD with other foreign currencies can help Taiwanese corporates and SMEs more efficiently manage their working capital and trade finance needs. Today, settling payments internationally is often an arduous, multi-step process laden with time delays, leg risk, and opaque fees. By enabling commercial banks to settle transactions between Taiwanese banks handling NTD and banks abroad handling other currencies such as USD or RMB many of these time and capital costs can be reduced significantly if not eliminated altogether. In a blockchain based system, payment, exchange, and settlement all take place simultaneously in a single, atomic, publicly verifiable transaction. Additional features to ensure compliance with foreign exchange rules and liquidity provisioning can be built around the system as safeguards to ensure that all inbound and outbound payments meet necessary requirements before execution.

Design Considerations for NTD on the Blockchain

Now that I’ve outlined some of the potential benefits, here are some key questions that need to be considered in designing a robust, safe, and scalable system to bring NTD onto a blockchain.

The first major question that needs to be addressed is who is the end user of this system. Is the digital NTD intended to be a general purpose replacement for bills and coins, used by citizens to settle retail payment transactions? If not intended for retail use, is this instead for the exclusive use of commercial banks conducting cross-border transactions on behalf of corporate clients?

Having clarity on the end user of the system informs all relevant design considerations in deciding which distributed ledger to use and which features need to be supported for the intended use cases of New Taiwan Dollar upon it.

These considerations include, but are not limited to: consensus algorithm, network node operators, use of a public or private blockchain, how read and write permissions are granted, interoperability with other blockchains, built-in exchange functions and more. By first defining the end users, relevant stakeholders, and intended use case, settling on the proper list of design features for this system will come into clearer and clearer focus.

When considering transformative projects, it is best to define the problem statement and goals as clearly as possible. This is always the first step. From there, deciding on the end user and their desired features will lead to technology selection and development.

At the moment there are numerous blockchains and software providers to choose from, but it may be difficult to find a “one size fits all” solution. That is why my suggestion is to design a small pilot program using proven technology to familiarize stakeholders with the relevant systems and processes to issue, hold, and exchange NTD for other assets on a blockchain in real-time.

A simple method for doing so would be to take existing NTD deposit money held at a bank, transfer it to a dedicated custodial account, then issue fully-reserved NTD tokens on a blockchain that can be transferred, audited, and approved amongst participants in real-time.

With the support of the ministers and chairpeople in the room today, alongside representatives in the banking and technology industries, we have the right collection of talent and motivation to move Taiwan’s economy into the blockchain era. In speaking for both myself and Formosa Financial, it would be a great honor to join you all in this journey. Thank you.…