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Don’t you just love travel? Exotic destinations, tropical beaches, sipping a Margarita to the sound of Reggae beats as a blood-red sun melts over the ocean? There are few things as rewarding as escaping the daily grind. But getting from place to place can be a herculean task in itself. If ever there were an area ripe for blockchain disruption it’s the fragmented and costly travel industry.

While blockchain may not enable us to teleport any time soon, it can make getting from A to B more bearable. Here are the top five ways that blockchain will (and is already starting to) disrupt the travel industry:

1. Doing Away with Passports & Tickets

Blockchain can secure our online identities. This means that we could potentially breeze through customs at international borders simply by using biometrics, like a fingerprint or eye scan.

No more rummaging through your bag for your passport or waiting for a glacially slow customs official to find your exit stamp. In fact, they would have no need to ask any questions about your visit since it would all be displayed in your online identity. Say goodbye to the sour-faced border controllers for good!

Passports & Tickets

Doing away with passports and tickets

2. Allowing for Tailor-Made Vacations

Blockchain is proving useful in providing tailor-made, niche vacations, especially when teamed up with Big Data and AI. Sure, you can already filter your needs online in an engine like Expedia or Booking. But somehow you still end up with a hotel that falls short of your expectations or a rental car that doesn’t suit your needs.

Companies like Siesta Cloud and Chozun are working to narrow down vacations to the smallest little intricacy. No more sifting through reviews and piles of information to select the things you want to see. They’ll provide recommendations based on your past behavior, hobbies, and opinions from like-minded travelers.

3. Traveling at a Lower Cost

If you remember the days of leafing through a catalog and choosing a hotel, you know how far the travel industry has come. The internet disrupted the travel industry beyond recognition, eliminating pretty much all physical travel agents around the world by allowing us to book our own flights and hotels within just a few minutes online.

But what seemed so great at first has slowly become restrictive. Major online travel agencies have built monopolies in which small hotels and airline companies lose out and the end customer pays extra as well. This centralization in the travel industry leads to lesser choice and higher prices all around.

Blockchain technology with its true peer-to-peer capability can cut out centralized middlemen like Airbnb or Uber taking their hefty cuts. Since blockchain can verify the customer identity, we don’t have to worry about renting the house of a criminal or not being paid for a reservation.

Smart contracts can ensure that the agreement is upheld by both parties and transfer the entire value of the transaction to the seller. No chain of intermediaries, just a simple, secure transfer of funds between buyer and seller. And no additional costs on top.

4. Improving Luggage Tracking

We’ve heard a lot about blockchain and the supply chain. It’s useful for tracking items as they move around the world. Well, the same can be done for your luggage. The loss of luggage costs the aviation industry billions each year–$2.1 billion in 2016 to be precise.

Besides racking up unnecessary expenses for airlines, there’s nothing more frustrating than turning up at a destination sans your suitcase. On many occasions, there’s no one to complain to, or you have to wait for hours to file a claim.

The blockchain’s ability to increase efficiency in the supply chain and track items to their exact location will remove this headache for all parties. The traveler, the airline, and the poor agent on the ground taking flack from red-faced customers.

Luggage

No more lost luggage

5. Allowing You to Use Loyalty Points

There are plenty of companies cropping up to take on broken loyalty programs and they can help in the travel industry as well. So, instead of having reward points you can’t use because your hotel chain doesn’t operate in a certain place, you can exchange them through blockchain apps.

You can even use them to get the best out of a local experience. Imagine racking up points with your favorite restaurant back home and then trading them with a local in India, Japan, or anywhere else you happen to be. Loyalty points never go to waste and you can eat for free around the world.

Blockchain Has Great Potential for the Travel Industry

One of the greatest problems with the travel industry is the fact that data is held in silos. The lack of communication between parties overall is the reason for lost luggage, delays, overbookings, multiple steps to purchasing a ticket, and other travel industry inefficiencies.

Blockchain technology can streamline the processes, resulting in a faster, safer, and more pleasant experience for all. With no more scathing looks from hostile airport officials, or error messages as you go to pay.

This article by Christina Comben was originally published at CoinCentral.com

BotChain is hosting their first ever Brains and Chains conference on June 28th at the InterContinental in Times Square, New York.

The conference aims to unite leading players in the artificial intelligence and blockchain communities with topics including:

  • Opportunities at the intersection of AI and Blockchain
  • Valuing AI Related Cryptocurrencies
  • What Doesn’t Work: Misleading Use Cases of AI and Blockchain
  • Emerging Use Cases In AI and Blockchain
  • Investing in AI and Blockchain
  • The Future of AI and Blockchain

Brains and Chains plans to showcase current and forthcoming projects displaying the possibilities of the convergence of these two powerhouse technologies that are developing at lightning speed.

Through a series of enlightening talks, panel sessions, and exhibitions, attendees can expect to take away plenty of innovative ideas and practical, actionable advice. Event partners include Breyer Capital and Glasswing Ventures.

Speakers include:

  • Meltem Demirors (Founder of Athena Capital)
  • Matt Turck (General Partner at Firstmark Capital)
  • Navroop Sahdev (Blockchain Expert and Economist)
  • David Wachsman (CEO at Wachsman)
  • David Namdar (Founder at Galaxy Digital)
  • And many more

To learn more about the conference, check out the event page. Maybe we’ll see you there!

This article by Christina Comben was originally published at CoinCentral.com

Last week, the EU brought into force the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – the biggest change in data privacy legislation in the last 20 years. Even if you live outside the EU, chances are your inbox has been inundated with notices about changes to the privacy policy of every company you ever handed your email address to. Data privacy and blockchain have so far appeared to go hand in hand.

But what will be the impact of the new EU legislation on the use of blockchain, given that the technology has already demonstrated such huge potential in the field of data management?

Aims of the GDPR

The GDPR has introduced sweeping changes to the way that companies and websites manage and process the data of their users. This includes explicit rights for users to request copies of their personal data. If they wish, they can also request for it to be deleted.

In addition, companies are required to report any breach–and they face heavy penalties for such a breach. The GDPR applies not just to those data processors who operate in the EU. It also applies to any company or site who has clients or customers that are based in the EU. Hence, the universal flooding of all our inboxes.

The GDPR legislation largely came about as a result of EU outrage over the spying activities of the NSA, leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013. Since then, we have seen several high profile scandals, most recently the one involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Such scandals seem to justify the necessity of regulation.

But therein lies the problem of trying to protect user privacy as a matter of policy. Regulation is backward-looking. The GDPR only came after some of the most high-profile data breaches had already happened.

The EU and the governments of its member states cannot peer into the black boxes of cybersecurity measures used by Facebook or Google. Neither can they police the vastness of the web to ensure GDPR compliance.

Regulators will only deal with complaints and breaches of data privacy as and when they are reported, after the proverbial horse has already bolted.

Data Privacy and Blockchain

Many in the blockchain community pointed out that the use of blockchain could have prevented the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal from happening in the first place.

Data stored on a blockchain distributed around multiple nodes is far less susceptible to being hacked than if it were stored on centralized servers.

Private encryption keys could allow users to choose to whom their data is released, and smart contracts could govern how data is used. This provides insurance for users against any misuse of data by the parties who have received consent to use it.

The immutability of blockchain also means that nobody can tamper with data once it is recorded. Data privacy and blockchain certainly seem to work together well.

Blockchain’s Incompatibility with the GDPR

The regulatory focus on blockchain to date has been predominantly around the financial regulation of ICOs and the trading of digital currencies. However, as things stand, the GDPR has created something of a paradox for data privacy and blockchain.

The legislation was written with an eye on online communications and cloud storage. Therefore, it includes explicit rules around user rights to be forgotten–by having their personal data erased upon request. This presents a problem for the inherent immutability of blockchain, as we cannot go back in time and erase data once it is recorded.

Additionally, the GDPR requires organizations to have a data controller to handle such user requests. As a decentralized database, blockchain does not have any one person in control of the data. To whom could a user even direct such a request?

Solving the Paradox

There are a couple of points to be made here. Firstly, the GDPR has taken years to come to fruition, in which time striding developments in blockchain have been made. Campaign groups are already lobbying for Bitcoin to be excluded from the scope of the GDPR.

It is possible that EU legislators may eventually respond to such campaigns by making specific provisions for blockchain technology. If this does happen, given how long it took for the existing legislation to come into force, it may well be a slow process.

Secondly, the blockchain community is already speculating over whether the destruction of a private key may effectively be the same as “being forgotten.”

After all, the loss of a Bitcoin private key is tantamount to flushing digital currency down the toilet. If users can destroy their private key such that nobody can access their blockchain data anymore, perhaps this may ultimately satisfy the terms of the GDPR’s right to be forgotten. It is yet to be tested.

Data Privacy and Blockchain Companies

No blockchain has yet been proven to be GDPR compliant or otherwise. But a number of blockchain companies are already directly dealing with user data and privacy. It is possible or even likely that some blockchain projects may have to amend their offering to remain compliant, post-GDPR.

Parity ICO Services offer KYC services to ICOs and store background checks on the blockchain. Theyannounced on May 18th that they would, unfortunately, be shutting down due to the significant resources required to ensure GDPR-compliance.

Off-chain Solutions

Civic is a company offering ID verification services. Their approach to data privacy and blockchain may be a model that better complies with the GDPR. Rather than storing personal data on the blockchain, the Civic tool verifies user identity off-chain.

A simple attestation to the veracity of the data is stored on-chain–the data itself is not. Personal data is actually stored by the user on their phone memory using the Civic app.

Parties wishing to verify identity can take the blockchain attestation, or request additional data via the app. The user can decide if they wish to share this data, controlling access via the app.

Storing personal data off-chain in this way may be a compliant workaround, and is currently recommended by IBM in the March 2018 paper they released covering the topic of GDPR and blockchain. IBM is also working with SecureKey to establish a digital identity toolkit using a similar off-chain solution to the one deployed by Civic.

Of course, such off-chain solutions miss the opportunity to exploit the security benefits of storing data on the blockchain.

Other blockchain solutions dealing with provisions directly addressed by the GDPR include file or cloud storage solutions. AI startups using Big Data and crowd sentiments to make predictions may also be affected.

Our interview with David Sønstebø, co-founder of IOTA, touches on his views on the introduction of the GDPR. Ultimately, we will have to wait and see how the  GDPR will affect the many blockchain companies driven by data.

This article by Sarah Rothrie was originally published at CoinCentral.com

Neil Patel is a renowned marketer and entrepreneur known for being the co-founder of marketing tools and platforms such as QuicksproutCrazy EggHello Bar, and KISSmetrics. He has worked with companies like NBC, Amazon, GM, HP, and Viacom to help grow their revenue.

His accolades include being named one of the top 10 online marketers by Forbes, one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations, and as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama.

Neil Patel

Neil is also an advisor for KindAds, an advertising platform that aims to cut out intermediaries to serve audiences more user-friendly ads and create more value for advertisers.

In the following interview, we discuss KindAds, the effects of the cryptocurrency advertising ban, blockchain entrepreneurship, regulation, ICOs, and the evolution of the space.

What’s a day in the life for Neil Patel look like? Especially now that you’re getting more involved in the cryptocurrency space?

It hasn’t changed much. I still wake up in the morning and check emails. I read a lot of tech sites. Now, it’s also tech sites and crypto sites as well. I check CoinMarketCap probably five times a day. Things fluctuate quite a bit, but it’s getting less and less surprising because I’m getting used to the fluctuations. Other than that, it’s still a lot of the same old meetings, phone calls. Much hasn’t changed. It’s just learning more of crypto because I do believe it is the future. Just getting involved in making sure I stay on top of everything.

Neil Patel

Neil Patel (with hair).

When did your journey into the crypto world start or how did it come about?

I was working with some people I know in Brazil, and they were like, we want to end up creating an ad platform for people who are doing advertising but using blockchain technology. I was like, oh, cool. And that’s how KindAds came about and they’re just like, hey, we’d love to have you as an advisor. Because I also have a lot of “pull” in the digital marketing arena, at least I think I do. Now, when it comes to advertisers and publishers, and I worked with these guys in the past, and they’re just like, yeah, this was their dream. They’re fast at executing and then, I’m supporting them as an advisor.

I’m sure you can shed a lot of light on your experience with that specific project. What made you choose KindAds over all the other projects in the blockchain advertising space?

These guys have a lot of pull in the advertising world as well. They own an ad agency, so they have tons of clients. They manage tons of money. They’re well connected, and this isn’t the first ad agency that they own. One of them just sold his last ad agency, I think, last year sometime. So, they’ve been doing this for so many years. They’ve been around it unlike most of the other ad technologies in the blockchain space.

Most of the other guys are developers, so they don’t know how to get publishers on board or they don’t know how to get advertisers on board. These guys not only know how to do that stuff, but they already have access to tons of those people because they already work with tons of companies.

KindAds homepage

KindAds homepage

The beautiful part is most people who get into crypto are just like, yeah, how much money can I make? Can it go up? These guys really want to solve a problem. They still do. And if you look, they’re shipping product that works. It’s very rare in the crypto world as you know for people to be shipping product. I think it was last week or the week before, they released a MailChimp integration and they have this whole model in which they’re realistic as well.

They’re like we know we’re not going to crush Google and Facebook. Anyone who tells you that is unrealistic. If companies are advertising on Google and Facebook and it’s profitable, they’re not going to stop to just go on the blockchain. That’s a bunch of bullshit. But what you’ll find is if you can create a really good and unique angle and there’s this, hey, Google and Facebook already have native ads. Why can’t we focus on ads through emails and push notification, which is a huge market? They convert better than native ads, but there’s no real popular network for them.

So, they’re taking out a slice and then eventually they’ll expand into more territories. Some will overlap with Google and Facebook, but it’s a really smart approach. They look at it as entrepreneurs instead of just someone who’s like, I’m going to develop something and try to get rich quick versus these guys are like, hey, this needs to be a real sustainable business model that works. We need to get traction and people using this thing. They’re just like we don’t care if the market is good or bad. We’re going through with it. We’re building product, we’re shipping it. We don’t care to just wait for the hype and FOMO or whatever people call it. They’re trying to do a real business because they see it as a pain and they’re passionate about it.

Right. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. I don’t really understand the logic of projects trying to go head to head with Google and Facebook. For the sake of discussion, let’s entertain the idea of these projects that are trying to take users away from Facebook ads and Google. What do you think that these blockchain based digital marketing projects would have to do to successfully, if it’s even possible, go after Google and Facebook?

It’s not.

People would think that Facebook’s taking away market share from Google, but it doesn’t work like that. If you’re a company and you spend $100 and you make $200 in return, would you stop doing Google ads just because Facebook comes around? If Facebook, you spent $100 and you now make $300, you still wouldn’t stop Google because Google is still profitable for you.

Instead, you would just do both and that’s what people aren’t realizing. You’re not going to cut away their market share like BAT is trying to create a browser. Everyone who uses Google gets promoted to use Chrome. Do you think you’re really going to get that big of a market penetration?

BAT Home Page

BAT Home Page

These guys were the Mozilla founders, I think, or Firefox or something like that and if you look at it, Firefox got crushed by Google just because everyone used Chrome. They’re one of the most popular sites on the web. It’s just unrealistic and I think the more realistic play is, hey, we’re going to go after a different segment that you’re not that’s also profitable so that way people will do Google, Facebook, and KindAds.

Because if you look at the market right now, Taboola, Outbrain, there are so many other networks out there that are getting usage and they’ll continue to get usage because they’re profitable. Companies advertise not based on if they like Google or Facebook or they’re worried about Facebook’s data privacy. It’s purely economical and is based on profit.

It all comes down to the return on ad spend and whatever channels are available to them. So, that would be really interesting. I’m curious to see how KindAds evolves, especially when they start getting more and more partnerships under their belt. One thing I love to see about this space is, like you were saying, more of these projects actually shipping product and showing revenue. At the end of the day, blockchain is just a technology. So, it’s a matter seeing if these companies can actually utilize the technology to bring in revenue which, in the digital advertising space, is the primary driver of whether a project is successful or not.

Totally agree. I think the market will eventually shift and adapt and realize all this because you got right earlier as well when you said Google and Facebook and all these big players are going to come into the space and they’re going to crush all the small guys.

You need to have something that’s defensible and you need to have something that’s a unique angle and ideally something that they’re not going after, so that way, they don’t technically crush you.

So, how do you see the crypto advertising space evolving in terms of the advertising ban on Facebook, Google, Twitter, and every single platform that kind of seems to be trying to stifle, and rightfully so because there’s a lot of garbage that went through the cracks in 2017. Basically, how do you expect projects to be able to get the word out there without these channels?

They’re going to have to do more organic inbound marketing like press, social media marketing. Telegram is not too effective, although people say it does, but you look at there are some people who have like 50,000 Telegram members and then, yet their prices are still in the shitter because you’re not getting really loyal people who are using the product or platform. Heck, some of these aren’t even developed yet. But you have to build a community around it.

And I’m not talking about a community where they’re there because they’re getting free Airdrops. I’m talking about you have to build a community of people who believe in the project, who are passionate and want to ideally use it.

Yeah, I agree completely. A lot of projects are flaunting like, oh, we’ve got, you know, 15,000 Telegrams users, but they’re all there passively waiting to see if an Airdrop happens or they’re not even engaging or logging in to Telegram for that matter. What would you say is the metric for a successful community?

I look at the metric for a successful community as usage, like usage of the app, usage of the product, people knocking on the door and signing up because they want to use whatever you’re creating. If you’re going to create the decentralized “Uber” then you’d better have a ton of people using your app. If you can’t get people using your app, then it doesn’t matter.

All the other stuff is just peripheral like Reddit communities. It’s awesome just to get the word out, but at the end of the day, usage is what matters. Based on the majority of whitepapers for user-centric blockchain projects from last year,  the assumption was that people will be using their tokens and people actually using their platform. It created this need for a massive amount of users and then when the whole advertising ban happened, mass advertising kind of went out the window for a lot of these projects. So now, a lot of people are stuck at how do we get these users? How do we build these communities? It’s interesting to see how things develop in 2018 for a lot of people. How do you see the digital marketing landscape evolving via blockchain? How is blockchain going to change the digital marketing landscape?

Well, it’s going to change the digital marketing landscape because you’ll be able to cut out the middleman more than anything else. I know a lot of people talking about data rights, privacy and all this, but what you’re going to see like Facebook’s been having a lot of privacy issues, yet you’re not seeing Facebook being used less, let’s just face it. People may hate them, but they still use it.

I bet you if you look at their quarterly earnings, it’ll still be better than last year’s quarterly earnings. What you’re really going to see is people cutting out the middleman, publishers keeping more of the money, advertisers getting better rates because what’s happening is prices are continuingly going up and the economics are just not working out for people.

How do you see the ICO world changing? I read an article that you were quoted in that said they shouldn’t be targeting unaccredited investors and frankly shouldn’t be marketing to raise money and things are getting cleaned up. This is just a start in reference to the crypto ad ban. How do you see the ICO world changing in 2018?

Neil PatelI see where the regulations that are going to get even much stricter, which I think they should. The reason I say that is yes, you want something that’s free-flowing so it can grow, but you need to stop the corruption of people raising a ton of money, buying huge houses and Lamborghinis and pocketing all the money or stealing it. I don’t care how you structure it or even if people are OK with it, I don’t think it’s right. I do think there needs to be regulation.

If you look at a lot of these exchanges, I hate to say it, there’s a lot of price manipulation going on in these exchanges. The fluctuations for a lot of these currencies aren’t because of natural market conditions. It’s also because people are manipulating the price. And I know this because I go to some of these conferences and hear people being like, yeah, we released our ICO. I’m putting a lot of orders in for our own stuff and we’re pumping up the price and then we’re going to liquidate our own shares. And I’m like, OK, this is shady stuff. If we want crypto to be successful in the future, which I think it will be, we also need to clean up a lot of the bad actors.

Crypto has touched a lot of different industries that were like, oh wow. All of these powerful channels can be used for evil like influencer marketing, for example. Certain players will get paid to tweet out about a coin. The coin goes up 30%, 40% directly related to the attention generated by the tweet. That’s kind of crazy.

You know they’re selling too at the same time, right? Like a lot of these guys are like, yeah, I got the price up, let me dump my shares. I was talking to some guys at a conference and they’re like market making is legal on the stock exchange. And I’m like, yes, but their version of market making is different than what you’re doing. In addition to that, they’re telling the market when they’re going to sell their shares in advance. You’re just getting the price to go up, dumping your shares, and not giving a shit. I’m like, that’s totally different. They do it with transparency.

It’s crazy to see because the lines got so blurred.

I’m just like, dude, I can’t wait for these governments to crack down. I’m not a fan of like all government regulations and I think a lot of what they do sucks in many cases, but I just hate seeing people getting screwed and people manipulating shit. It’s just not cool.

The process of getting listed on an exchange itself has become very corrupted in a sense because you can manipulate markets with the exchange. We get listed, we’re going to have the price spike up a ton. Let’s say we get listed on a major exchange. The liquidity from the market is going to increase the number of people trading the coin, and it gives the project more flexibility in getting rid of their tokens whenever they want to. We’ll see how things move forward.

I totally agree. The other thing too is a lot of these exchanges are doing things like you can trade as much as you want. No trading fees, feel free to do market making so you can manipulate the price. I’m like, cool story. It’s terrible.

Outside of the digital advertising space, what are your favorite projects in the crypto world?

There are quite a few projects like Polymath I’m in love with right now. Polymath is security based. Tzero is the same thing. I’m really big on the security stuff because I believe if you’re going to be investing, might as well have some of the upsides as well by owning equity. I don’t get this concept of just own a token and if it goes up, you get value. You should own equity as well. It’s so risky. Why can’t you win on both ends?

Those are two pretty solid picks right there as well.

Some of them just aren’t feasible. I see some of these guys will be like, we’re going to create a better version of Docker and make freight shipping and all this stuff really better. I’m like, you have no connections in this space. You have never done jack shit in this space. I’m like, go for it. They’re going to do power better and they’re going to change power grids and all this. I’m like, you just raised $40,000,000. Let’s be realistic.

Neil Patel

That’s what I hate about it. I love the space, but I hate how people are just creating bullshit companies. Solve real problems that people are facing. You’re going to create an Uber that’s decentralized yet it takes way longer to order a car to pick you up using blockchain technology because it’s not as fast. Like what? Is someone going to wait a minute before the order goes through? No, they’re going to use Uber because it takes two seconds. Yes, your version may be decentralized, but it’s not as convenient for people. You have to be realistic.

Right, exactly. It’s surprising because so many projects raised so much money and they’re role-playing as entrepreneurs because they don’t have a lot of experience in that specific space.

I agree with you. I can’t wait to see what happens. I’m waiting for a lot of stuff to get cleaned up. Maybe I’m just really crazy, but I think it will happen.

What words of wisdom can you share with other digital marketers and entrepreneurs looking to get into the blockchain world?

Don’t just jump in because you know you can jump in and make some money or you think this is a future. Jump in because you want to learn, you’re willing to learn to spend the time and energy to look what’s already happened, what people are doing, and take your time. You’re not going to miss out on the boat. This thing’s going to be here for a very long time. It’s the future. Don’t worry about that if I don’t release an ICO in the next six months… It’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with spending a year just learning and getting situated and networking and building up a Rolodex and making your ground within the community before you do anything. That’s OK.

What would you say the best sources of education or learning for people that are not familiar with the space are right now?

The conferences are the best. I think you learn the most from that.

This article by Alex Moscov was originally published at CoinCentral.com