Blockchain Fuel Finance Startup
Bitcoin was hailed as the digital currency of a utopian future, but, at least in the US, few people use it. (At Overstock.com, the first major retailer to accept bitcoin, it accounts for less than 0.1 percent of sales.) What is taking off, however, is the tech underlying bitcoin. Called the blockchain, it’s an online ledger for a virtually endless chain of transactions, or “blocks,” stored across a worldwide network of computers. Using cryptography, a blockchain verifies, records, and protects the integrity of those transactions, without answering to a government, bank, or company. Separate from bitcoin, it’s being used to create businesses that look like nothing we’ve seen before.
Augur: Prediction Markets
At Augur people bet on the outcome of events—sports, stock offerings, elections. Because it runs on a blockchain, it spans borders, roping in so many bets that its predictions could be far more accurate than any market in history.
Future: We’ll gain the ability to truly see the future.
Blockchain Capital: Venture Capital
Using a blockchain called Ethereum, this VC firm issued an ICO, or initial coin offering, selling its own digital token to raise money for its latest venture fund. Anyone who owns a token owns a piece of the fund. And because digital tokens are so easily resold, it’s a particularly liquid VC investment. In the past two years, more than 75 entities have raised over $250 million through ICOs.
Future: Anyone can play the VC game.
Numerai: Hedge Funds
Inside this hedge fund, all trades are decided by AI models built by thousands of anonymous data scientists from across the internet. It gets weirder. The data wonks all get digital tokens, and if the fund is successful, the value of the token rises, a dynamic that transforms normally cutthroat traders into eager collaborators.
Future: Hedge funds go from shark tanks to kumbaya show-and-tell sessions.
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