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Areas of use of Blockchain technology

Blockchain has become a term so abused that it is difficult to understand, given the vast and indefinite technological environment to which many would like to apply it. This is due to the excessive hype that accompanied the initial discovery phase of this new technology, where blockchain was advertised as a magic recipe capable of innovating any business. In 2017 and the beginning of 2018 blockchain has enjoyed great popularity thanks to the prodigious increase in the price of cryptocurrency and the rapid and impetuous success of tokens.

All this has generated great expectations of innovation and technological improvement, so many companies have felt compelled to include blockchain in their marketing plan, indicating it as a factor in the success of their business, even before having evaluated and thoroughly tested it.
When the speculative bubble burst and the ambitious promises had to leave room for the evidence of the facts, it clearly emerged that blockchain is not the panacea for all businesses and that its best application is limited mainly to certain areas. Furthermore, it is clear that the illusions of its rapid implementation and consequent immediate success of the relative products derive from a poor study of technology and a superficial understanding of its limits and opportunities.

Let’s see below what are some areas in which blockchain today shows real added value compared to other existing technologies:

Digital currency

The first and still most important application of the blockchain technology is that of allowing the creation and transfer of cryptocurrency without the need for any intermediary. The cryptocurrency native to a specific blockchain (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, EOS, etc.) and tokens created in a personalized way, represent a new way of transferring value.
Most important use cases:

  • Payments
  • Exchanges
  • Loyalty Systems


Financial sphere

The traditional financial system can be rethought and rebuilt over a blockchain infrastructure that offers security guarantees, automation and programmability of assets, disintermediation, efficiency and speed, superior to current systems. The audit and transparency of these systems, combined with the borderless nature of technology, make blockchain the perfect financial protocol.
Most important use cases:

  • Digital Asset Trading Platforms
  • Automation of financial products and services with the use of Smart Contracts
  • Tokenization of physical and digital assets
  • Financial inclusion for unbanked


Crowdfunding & Fundraising

Financing of a new business project or raising capital for an existing company can be more effectively implemented using a token. It represents rights and / or utility that can be transferred and exchanged more easily and quickly on the market. The token offers to companies an opening to international investment markets. In countries where regulation is clear and lean, it offers more opportunities to start-ups, thanks to easier and faster access to potential investors.
Most important use cases:

  • Financing of a future project (ICO, DAICO, IEO)
  • Capital raising (STO)


Certification and Copyright

The certification or notarization of a digital data on blockchain creates a non-modifiable register that can be used as proof of existence of that data. This applies to certificates and educational qualifications, which can be rendered demonstrable and non-falsifiable. In the same way it achieve the confirmation of authenticity of a product in supply chains where counterfeiting is otherwise difficult to verify.
Most important use cases:

  • Academic and professional titles
  • Anti Counterfeit Products
  • Verification and economic management of copyright


Digital Identity & Privacy

Digital identity is an increasingly important and delicate aspect of our lives, crucial for security and privacy, fundamental for democratic access to the online world.
Current authentication systems require the registration of personal data and the sending of identity documents that are not born natively digital. The security and privacy of such data are often violated without the users being able to defend themselves in any way. Blockchain, through public and private key pairs, and a cryptographic management of data, can greatly improve the current situation and provide a more efficient ID in line with privacy. Furthermore, there is no central entity that owns the data and can therefore be easily attacked.
Most important use cases:

  • Decentralized authentication systems
  • Management of personal data
  • Recognition and identity documents
  • Healthcare data
  • Online voting systems


Supply Chain Management

The complexity and quantity of subjects involved in supply chain management is now resolved by a plurality of systems, both online and offline, which make management very demanding and data exchange is not very efficient and verifiable. Using a common decentralized infrastructure on which to build shared applications among the various parties involved in the supply chain, up to the consumer, constitutes a great simplification and a guarantee of greater reliability of the information exchanged.
Most important use cases:

  • Open protocol for product history
  • Traceability systems and transparent data connection


Integration with other technologies

So far we have listed some of the most well-known areas, which represent the most common cases of real use developed in the industry. However, there are other interesting areas of real added value for the application of blockchain technology. These areas can be closely integrated with other technologies, or represent different products and services.
Most important use cases:

  • Prediction Markets
  • Integration with the Internet of Things
  • Decentralized storage with IPFS
  • Videogames & Gambling online
  • Automation in insurance
  • Energy market management


Conclusions

Blockchain is a recently developed technology, not yet consolidated and far from a stage of maturity. At the same time, innovation is rapid and continuous, as is the potential discovery of new real use cases. This scenario offers great opportunities for companies that will first be able to effectively apply blockchain, increasing the added value of their products and services and thus improving their business.

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Market Token Sale

The future of token issuance (STO, IEO & DAICO)

As everyone probably knows 2017 and early 2018 represented the ICO frenzy moment. Reminiscing those days we mostly think about how every new company had the best and most disruptive solution to X Problem, on (white)paper, and absolutely needed blockchain and a utility token to do that. Needless to say, most of these projects proved to be either impossible to implement or were outright frauds.

However, ICOs were not entirely bad, they were revolutionary as they democratised the access to early-stage investment; something that in traditional financial markets is mostly reserved to Angel Investors, Venture Capital Firms and Private Equity firms.
As the excitement for ICOs wanes and the flaws of this financing model become more evident, a number of contenders is emerging to leverage the untapped potential discovered through ICOs.
The most well known new model is the STO, but some new popular token issuance models are IEOs and DAICOs. So what are these new names and how do they stack against each other?

STOs

STO stands for Security Token Offering. After investing in the project, an investor receives a crypto-token (specifically a Security Token), just like in an ICO. However, an STO is different, because a Security Token represents an underlying asset, for example, the issuing company stocks (in which case an STO is similar to an IPO).
A company is not forced to tokenise its share, in an STO it could tokenise its revenue streams instead. In this case, the investor would receive a share of the company revenues proportional to the number of tokens they hold.

Compared to ICOs, STOs are heavily regulated. They are costlier, take longer time and are more difficult to launch; in exchange, they provide much more reassurance to the investor.

Another important difference is that ICOs required a company to have a blockchain-centred business model. In contrast, any company could potentially undertake an STO, even if its business model does not require the use of blockchain.

In turn, compared to IPOs, STOs give the company greater flexibility (as they are not limited to sell tokenised shares), while being more cost effective and less cumbersome. Of course, a traditional IPO usually offers a much larger liquidity pool.

DAICOs

The term DAICO was initially proposed by Vitalik Buterin in January 2018 as a solution to the dishonesty issues affecting ICOs. It stands for Decentralised Autonomous Initial Coin Offering.

It allows token holders to vote on the use of the capital raised by the DAICO.

For example, the token holders can decide to release the funds over time as the development team reaches certain milestones. In the most extreme case, the token holders can vote and decide for the project to shut down and return the contributed funds to the respective investors if they are not satisfied with the progress being made by developers.
Essentially, a DAICO makes the developer team accountable towards their investors.

IEOs

IEO is another form of token issuance that relies on Cryptocurrency Exchanges. The term stands for Initial Exchange Offering.

In this case a project partners with an existing Exchange (the partnership includes and goes beyond the simple listing). The project gets directly and listed on an Exchange. In order to participate in the IEO, an investor has to open an account with that specific Exchange.
The project team is no longer the direct counterparty for the investors. The Exchange acts as a trusted third party overseeing the operation and acting as the point of contact for the investors. The exchange also performs the necessary due diligence to protect its existing customers. The regulation level is similar to the one of ICOs.

One of the most notable IEO services is Binance Launchpad. Recently Bittrex responded to Binance by launching its own IEO platform.

The Bottom Line / The Verdict

One of the obvious questions that come to mind is “Which method of token issuance will eventually prevail?

Simply put there is no right answer as this is a complex matter, one can just try to make educated guesses. In my opinion, all of them will survive because they have different use cases and serve different niches.

STOs are more evolutionary than revolutionary and play an important role in bridging the crypto world with the classic finance world. Furthermore, they promote asset tokenisation, which is a use case with huge potential and implications.
IEOs are also revolutionary in a way, as they bring ICOs closer to IPOs (in a different way than STOs), as they also give more importance to the Exchanges as a key player.
For these reasons, I foresee a convergence of STOs and IEOs in the future.

The DAICO will probably be the best solution for pure-play ICOs that do actually need a utility token and who do not just use Blockchain as technology but also follow a decentralised philosophy in their business conduct. It will probably take longer for these projects to emerge compared to the two aforementioned methods.