Bitcoin Start Ups: Boring Is Good

The cryptocurrency world is still struggling to emerge from its Wild West phase, and to escape its association with cybercrime.

In a sure sign of growing up, start ups are getting rather boring and conventional.

For instance, the Boost VC event last week was anything but “revolutionary”. (That’s probably a good thing.)

Most important, as Pete Rizzo remarks at Coindesk, “[s]pecific mentions of bitcoin were often secondary to the startups”. They are talking about business, not technology, as they should be.

Rizzo has a very good point: many of the startups would work just as will with any cryptocurrency or even with other forms of digital money. This makes sense, because for most real world activity, what ‘coin’ you use is neither ere nor there. You just want to do your biz and go home.

Let’s look at a few of the “high lights”.

BitQuick

The premier service that lets you buy bitcoins in just 3 hours.”

This is an online exchange connected to conventional banks. It is selling the convenience of latency (Bitcoin qua Bitcoin has pretty substantial latency built in).

They seem to be aimed at fast, low cost remittance services.

Reveal

This is an interesting take on Instagram-style photo and video sharing. They have their own cryptocurrency, Reveal Coin, which is used in their app.

As far as I can tell, the cryptocurrency serves as “postage” on messages, which will cut spam and flames.

In addition, Reveal Coin will be the “postage” that advertisers pay to get into your app.

The former feature is clearly a benefit to users, and potentially also a significant addition to the sharing behavior. You can signal how much you want your message to get through by piling on postage, which attracts attention and shows you are serious.

The latter feature may be good for the company, but I don’t see why users should care or even notice.

One may wonder about the morality of inserting adverts into personal communications. I mean, it’s my photo, shared with my friends. Why do I want the company to get paid to insert an add for coke into my love note?

I’m sure the kids will sort that all out.

Loanbase

Apparently this is a new something from Bit Lending Club

BitLendingClub is a peer-to-peer Bitcoin lending platform. We help borrowers get Bitcoin loans online for the most competitive rates and the lowest transaction fees.

Basically, this is a loan service under the laws of Illinois, USA, except that customers and lenders anywhere in the world. Bitcoin enables cross border transactions pretty easily, though converting to local currency needs conventional bank accounts.

This is an industry with a history of abusive practices, so I have to worry that the loose accountability of Bitcoin will not be a plus for the customers.

Ask yourself this:  Would you use a payday lender in downtown Chicago? Not if you have other options, I bet.

Lawnmower

Convert your spare change into bitcoin Buy a coffee for $3.25 and turn the remaining 75¢ into bitcoin.“

This is sort of like the coin jar at home, denominated in BTC. (This has been done before.)

Unfortunately, you have to use their payment app, which is linked to specific banks and services. (Only a few options to date.)

Crucially, the company sits astride all your transactions, and in the future will make money off that information. NSA is nothing compared to the intrusiveness of this concept.

One thing I don’t understand is how this mixes with other payment apps, such as Apple Pay. I’m not really going to want more than one payment app on my phone, am I? And I’ll bet dollars to donuts that other payment systems will not cooperate with this kind of scheme.

Honestly, I wouldn’t bet on this one.

BTCPoint

This company started by making their own ATMs, and then succeeded by integrating Bitcoin into conventional ATMs. The main advantage to having Bitcoin available is for remittances, from ATM to ATM with low overhead.

This one is “boring” in a good way.  It slips in to what we already do with ATMs, adding a new option when you need it, without “disrupting” our life.


Like I said, mostly this is boring stuff. Some of it may be useful, though the benefits of using cryptocurrency are small. These could all be built with other payment schemes, providing the fees could be kept low.

 

Cryptocurrency Thursday

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