Crypto 2.0 Roundup: Bits of Bullion, a Foundation for Counterparty and Medici Goes to Washington
This week's roundup examines the challenges facing Overstock's Medici project and a new way to trade gold with crypto.
The last few weeks have seen the fruition of a number of highly anticipated crypto 2.0 firsts.
This has included the launch of the first token-powered social messaging service, the release of the first Android app for colored coins and the debut of the first class of startups on crypto 2.0-powered crowdfunding platform Swarm.
The updates provide the latest evidence that innovators are beginning to translate the sometimes hard-to-parse theories and technical arguments underlying crypto 2.0 applications of block chain technology into products that are attracting investment and early adopters.
Medici readies for regulatory hurdles
Perhaps the most high-profile development in the crypto 2.0 world to date took place this October, when Overstock hired Counterparty developers Robby Dermody and Evan Wagner to work on a new decentralized stock exchange. Called Medici, the ambitious effort seeks to provide companies with a way to go public without using traditional stock exchanges.
Beyond developing new technology, however, the effort will also require substantial legal power. That's where Washington, DC-based law firm Perkins Coie will seek to provide its expertise.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Perkins Coie senior counsel Jacob Farber stopped short on providing specific details of his client's work, but did put into perspective the goals his firm hopes to achieve as it seeks to engage regulators about the project.
Specifically, Perkins Coie will aim to engage the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the federal agency responsible for overseeing and enforcing federal securities law. Farber indicated that while there are no rules that he believes prevent a project like Medici from being launched, the project will need approval from the SEC and the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to serve US customers.
"There's hard work to be done, not only do you have to be able to prove that you can meet all the regulatory requirements, but you have to prove that it's going to work and be safe for investors," Farber said. "On the other hand, we're optimistic about our ability to make those showings and to get approval."
Farber framed the steps as being part of Medici's conservative approach to launching in the US market, which he aimed to contrast against other past coin offerings that have sought to raise funds from investors for crypto 2.0 projects.
In an indication of perhaps how he will seek to frame the conversation with regulators, Farber went on to state the efficiencies that can result from using block chain technology as part of a stock exchange, as well as the players along the traditional value chain the innovation could eliminate.
However, those hoping to purchase shares of Overstock or another company on the Medici platform may not be able to do so anytime soon.
"I think it's safe to say we're looking at months, not days or weeks, but I hope this process doesn't drag out into years," Farber concluded.
Counterparty matures with foundation launch
In line with the industry sector's continuing bid for legitimacy, its arguable market leader Counterparty also announced this week that it would seek to establish a non-profit Counterparty Foundation to support the open-source project's continued growth.
In an interview, Counterparty chief architect Adam Krellenstein noted that he hopes the organisation will serve as evidence of the project's maturity, and as a sign to the wider crypto community that Counterparty is ready to provide a stable foundation and clear direction to serious, well-funded projects.
Krellenstein noted that the number of significant ventures launched on Counterparty in recent weeks including gold-to-bitcoin exchange DigitalTangible and crowdfunding platforms like Koinify and Swarm.
"We have relatively serious people with long-term plans on how they're going to use Counterparty and they want to ensure there will be a stable development for the future of the protocol," Krellenstein explained. "It's one thing to say, trust in the three of us who created the protocol, and its another thing to have this legal entity they can count on to represent their interests in an accountable fashion."
While he was critical of the Bitcoin Foundation, Krellenstein said that such organisations have provided stable leadership for community projects in the past, noting the work done by the Wikimedia foundation, the non-profit organization that manages Wikipedia.
Krellenstein went on to state that investors who hold XCP, the protocol's native currency, will also have a stake in the direction of the foundation. The Counterparty Foundation, he said, will have a community seat elected by XCP holders in a proof of stake vote.
As for when the elections will be held, Krellenstein was less certain, saying that the vote could happen in a "few months".
A colored coin solution for gold trading
Yet another trend in crypto 2.0 has been the increase in precious metals platforms seeking to use cryptographic tokens as a way to enable online asset trading.
UK-based Bullion Bitcoin announced this week that it had launched Bits of Bullion, a new colored coin offering that lets users trade gold bullion over the block chain using the CoinSpark platform. Bullion Bitcoin will also act as a market maker, buying back colored coins tokens in order to encourage market trust in the experimental product.
By using colored coins, which add unique identifiers to bitcoins, rather than crypto 2.0 protocols to enable asset transmission, Bullion Bitcoin stands in contrast to past efforts like DigitalTangible, which uses the Counterparty and NXT protocols.
"I wanted to try to keep it on the bitcoin block chain because the bitcoin block chain is so robust and so widespread, so I wanted to make it as close to spending bitcoin as possible," Bullion Bitcoin owner Adam Cleary told CoinDesk. "I think an intermediate protocol or one where you require an intermediate altcoin, seems to add another layer of complexity between the user and the product."
Cleary cited the ease of use provided by CoinSpark's SparkBit wallet as the reason he chose the relatively new platform for the project over other alternatives like Coinprism.
"You need to put people on a rail, saying this is a colored coin transaction, you can only send it if the recipient address is a colored coin address," Cleary said. "SparkBit achieves that, whereas Coinprism doesn't achieve that."
For now, however, Bits of Bullion will only be available to users outside the US due to the company's lingering concerns about how regulators may view such applications of the new technology.
Images via Perkins Coie; Counterparty and Shutterstock
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