By Jillian Godsil
At the fortnightly Meetup of the Irish Blockchain Association, there was standing room only as almost 100 people squashed into the Deloitte Blockchain headquarters. ‘Any comments made here are independent of Deloitte’ was told to the expectant audience and apologies made for the lack of tea or coffee as the centre had been full of visitors during the day. So, it would appear that it was not just nocturnal enthusiasts that were interested in blockchain but corporate visitors too.
Reuben Godfrey, co-founder of the Irish Blockchain Association, opened the meeting. It was a case of two steps forward and three back he said of Enterprise Ireland’s decision to remove their official logos from two major Irish ICOs, including Confideal who was one of the two presentations scheduled for the night. Godfrey had travelled to Switzerland earlier in the month – as a guest of Enterprise Ireland – and maybe that, he jokingly suggested, had put them off. He wasn’t sure but lamented the slow foxtrot of Official Ireland with the blockchain community. Flirting is all very well, but there was no second date so far.
Another femme fatale had caused the billed guest speaker Charles Hoskinson of Ethereum fame to cancel at the last moment. Hurricane Ophelia had come to our shores last Monday and the tailspin of its winds meant he altered his travel plans to the disappointment of the assembled audience.
Godfrey pointed out that an ICO was just a way to raise money with the resultant tokens having value either as shares or because of an inherent utility, with the latter growing in popularity. He also used a speeding limit analogy to explain why trying to force traditional regulations on cryptocurrencies was like trying to set speed limits for cars based on the experience of horses. ‘It just doesn’t work,’ he said.
Next up came the presentations of the top two Irish ICOs currently. Petr Belousov presented his company – Confideal. The basic theme is to bring smart contracts to the masses. He argued that traditional paper contracts were easy to break and cumbersome. Smart contracts could not be tampered with – once they were loaded up onto the blockchain they could not be changed and moreover the contract was only executed when everything was in place – it was an automatic function of the contract.
Confideal, he argued, would replace banks, eliminate currency exchange rates and definitely speed up remittances. The model was able to embrace peer to peer agreements as well as more complex peer to business and business to business models. In terms of revenue, Confideal would charge 1% in commission on all contracts with third party arbiters extracting up to 10% for their services.
He stressed they have a beta product already – it is not just an idea.
Joe Arthur, from Mingo was next up. Mingo has been two years in the planning. Like Belousov, he stressed this was not a share play. A Mingo app already exists and has been downloaded more than 50,000 times in more than 190 countries. At its heart is a multiple messaging app which simplifies how people connect. Currently there are seven channels integrated into the app, from Facebook to Discord, with plans for another four to be added in quarter one of next year. In a pre-ICO funding round, some €1.5million had been raised to prepare for the ICO, also in quarter one of next year.
What differentiates Mingo from other ICOs is the heavy weight team behind it, including legendary Irish businessman Fran Rooney of Baltimore Technologies. In addition, the A-list celebrity, Niall Horan formerly of One Direction, is also on board and bringing 35million followers with him. In addition, one strategic partner alone has a customer base of 150,000 which they hope to migrate onto Mingocoin in year one.
While Belousov is concentrating on an established crypto-centric audience, Mingo is looking to bring the crypto-confused on board. Part of their plan is to create an inbuilt wallet and exchange in the app. People downloading the app will be given a number of Mingocoins, which can be distributed to their friends – the trust approach – will earn them more tokens. Arthur speaks of ‘gamifying the public’ and ‘educating them out of confusion.’
These are sentiments echoed by the panel at the end of the evening when Dr Paul Ennis, leading cryptocurrency expert, repeats that it is not about the money but the community. ‘For every ICO that succeeds, it helps the next one. This is a marathon not a sprint and we can all benefit.’ The fact that traditional business people and even entertainers are getting onboard is what will help convince the unsure. Dr Ennis already had a term for this development which he calls the beginning of the gentrification of cryptocurrencies.
By Jillian Godsil – Crypto-advocate, Crypto-curious, Crypto-journalist – it all comes back to Crypto. And sex. She once fought the banks and they won. She once fought the government and she won. Now she wants to go back and take on the banks again in a rematch.