Blockchain and Crypto: Looking Forward

And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?

– Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime

That classically bizarre tune has become my personal soundtrack as of late. It seems like only yesterday that my vernacular didn’t include terms like ‘sharding’ and ‘soft forks’. Hashing? Ha! I had just gotten to the point where I was comfortable as a liberated hashtag artist within my own social media circles. But now, here we are. The crazy winter of crypto madness is thawing out and some short-term capital is already on its way out the door. A colleague recently asked me, “Should I still get into this crypto thing?” Without hesitation, I replied in the affirmative but attached a healthy dose of questions for her to consider. Primary among them was this: Why do you want to invest in crypto currencies?

Take some time to consider this question. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that your interest goes beyond the bumper sticker memes of  #LambosOnTheMoon. Which is good, because with only a few potential exceptions (#RrarisOnMars, anyone?), most of those Lambos have already left orbit. Let that sink in for a moment. If I told you that our coin stacks were not going to make us overnight millionaires, how would you feel about that? Are you still in?

Good. Me, too.

The Only Lambo I Ever Had (image courtesy of

I am a blockchain enthusiast with a passion for supporting the technology’s mainstream adoption. Researching this stuff brings me joy, and I understand how completely insane that sounds. I just like to see things in this world work better and more efficiently…for all of mankind’s benefit. This sounds great, but where exactly are we headed and what awaits us when we get there? There’s been plenty of talk about what these mystical chains of digital Trapper Keepers will do for the world, but how close are we and is it really even feasible?

As I write this, the term blockchain quickly earns itself a bold red underline. Even my own damn computer is doubting me – “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” it seems to say, and it’s not alone. Investors and analysts, politicians and regulators? They’re doubting you and me, too. They’re shouting about the charlatans in this field that have no interest in doing things for the common good. They’re pointing at all the leveraged capital that’s being handed over so quickly and without centralized oversight – and not without some good reason. After all, nearly half of all ICO’s unleashed in 2017 have already failed and those investments have vanished. Are you sure you’re still in?

I was hoping you’d say that. Because when times are tough for the crypto market at large, it is easy to forget what all of this is about from a technology perspective. What this could all…be. For you and for me. For those that we love and everyone that comes after us. I find it comforting to periodically take a moment and reflect on that dream; to refresh the energy that fueled my excitement and hope (and partial terror) on Day 1 of my own crypto journey. Because otherwise, why are we doing any of this? I invite you to take a quick break with me now and look to the horizon of our brave new world.


“Abstract. A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” – Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System

As far as blockchain applications go, the payment function will always hold pole position by virtue of its location in the opening sentence of Satoshi Nakamoto’s historic white paper. For crypto fundamentalists, the ability to conduct electronic financial transactions without third-party oversight is the critical answer to the question I posed above. And it’s important to celebrate the fact that this milestone’s first iteration is already in the history books.

Starting with Laszlo Henyecz’s pizzas in May of 2010, the purchasing power of digital currencies has commenced a rocky ascent that continues today. While the value is there (albeit highly volatile), the facilitation of crypto currency payments is where the true innovation is underway. Bitpay allows merchants to accept payment from customers who wish to pay with bitcoin, requiring a 1% service charge for conversion of BTC into the merchant’s local fiat of choice before issuing the direct deposit. This fee is less than the average fee for processing a credit card payment. But what if you want to HODL your bitcoin and pay with your Vertcoin, Dash, or Basic Attention Token? Coingate is similar to Bitpay and matches their 1% fee but can convert ether, litecoin and 50+ altcoins in addition to bitcoin by using Shapeshift’s ecosystem to quickly swap currencies.

Bitpay process
The Bitpay Model

TenX and their COMIT network are promising the seamless internet-of-things functionality of having a physical [debit-like] card and mobile application linked with the ability to securely scale off-chain. PumaPay promises to deliver a pull payment capability (think in terms of your monthly Netflix subscription) that is a far better experience than today’s standard set by credit cards. And while payment platform Stripe will step away from their bitcoin compatibility next month, crypto-fixture Coinbase will further establish their brand in the payments space with the launch of Coinbase Commerce, a tool that allows merchants to accept any of the exchange’s current currencies (bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash, litecoin) directly into their own user-controlled wallet.

These are just a few examples of  the innovative technology and end-user benefits that projects are beginning to deliver with real world applications. While some form of fees and an element of third-party reliance persist in a majority of these scenarios, I believe there is a great deal of hope and tangible progress towards the realization of Satoshi’s opening statement.


The continued rise of the internet and digital technologies has completely disrupted just about every industry involved in modern commerce. Energy companies are facing a future where distributed resources transact through full cycles – generation, transmission, distribution – without them. Meanwhile, manufacturers and retailers have gained easy access to their customers through omni-channel strategies. These include mobile e-commerce applications and fully digital user experiences that have undeniably captured market share for successful, early adopters. Interestingly, most merchants must still synchronize their digital efforts with brick-and-mortar facilities to suit all customer preferences.

Essays, Humor, and All of My Usernames

Not to be left behind, service industries have taken the same approach. Our medical records and health care programs are, at the very least, being digitally preserved – if not made fully accessible online with the option to communicate with specialists and customer care representatives at anytime, 24/7. We can pay our taxes online and manage our library accounts.

Speaking of accounts, am I the only person who cringes every time I am forced to endure the profile and access setup process? I literally need a Dewey Decimal System to organize all of my usernames and passwords. I know there are apps for that and this information is always recoverable. And I know this protection is highly important because ensuring cybersecurity is more challenging than ever. But is blockchain technology helping at all with any of this?

The answer right now is – probably. This is the very essence of a distributed ledger system; features such as consensus mechanisms, operational resilience, data encryption, audit-ability, transparency, and immutability are inherent in its design and function. Those are some big words that we discuss regularly here at Crypto101, but they all come down to the same thing: the accurate and safe preservation of accessible data. Blockchains provide no ‘hackable’ entrance or a central point of failure and this alone thrusts it ahead of database-driven transactional structures. Firms like REMME, Guardtime, and Obsidian are just a few examples that are deploying first generation blockchain security protocols right now. Most of them build upon the two principles of removing the weakest link (human factored authentication) and decentralization of the data, thereby dispersing the single “honey pot” of value for potential hackers.

Supply Chain Management (SCM)

Here’s another real-world application that is already underway – and moving quickly! Between September of last year and February, no less than Forbes had changed their “too much hype” appraisal of blockchain’s pending impact on supply chain management to a sincere admiration of its maturity and exciting potential. You really can’t blame them.

Three of the top players in the business application blockchain space are some names you may be familiar with: IBM, Oracle, and SAP. While official deployment of their respective supply chain solutions has yet to occur, most experts agree that 2018 will be the year when we see the transition, successful or not, to business implementation. For now, test cases are all but making promises for some incredible results ahead.

SCM Blockchain
(image courtesy of

One scenario involved the challenge presented by compliance with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act passed in 2013. For the pharmaceutical industry, this legislation establishes a system for tracing products through their supply chain. It also sets a licensing standard for third-party logistics and wholesale distributors and establishes criteria for how stakeholders must handle suspect and illegitimate products. Tracing data is what blockchain technology does best, and the immutable linking of item-specific product information with the item as it makes its way through distribution, sale, and resale processes could have a significant impact on the industry from both a consumer safety and inventory preservation standpoint.

In addition to the solution-providers mentioned above, other global companies are already engaging in pilot programs as early adoption clients. Walmart is testing the ability of their employees to track products from origin through store display. International shipping company Maersk is using a blockchain application to track its cargo. In an early test of this application, multiple organizations from different countries were able to simultaneously access information on the ledger and confirm shipment details. UPS and Federal Express are looking into similar applications for their freight while British Airlines is utilizing a blockchain platform to collect and preserve flight data for performance analysis. The applications are logical and the test cases are returning favorable results – I think that Forbes is correct in their prediction that 2018 will be an exciting year for blockchain deployment in SCM.


It’s only fitting that blockchain technology and the energy industry should find themselves in collaboration. As two phenomena that are experiencing similar waves of significant and constant change, they are also inherently similar by virtue of their respective network structures. A utility can be defined by the physical journey of electric power as it makes its way from generation to transmission and finally to distribution for consumption by consumers. Likewise, conceptual analysis blockchain can trace the journey of bits of code as they make their way from an original point source outward, hitting the network’s nodes for consensus algorithms to either confirm or deny its validity in parallel with its fellow nodes. So, it is quite poetic that the digital distribution of code within a blockchain might be the very key that unlocks mainstream adoption and functionality of distributed energy resources in a new energy economy.

Distributed energy resources (DERs) such as privately owned solar panels have been around for some time. But DER owners and their local utilities are only just now beginning to hash out the details of how each will work together in the use and management of public energy grids. How DERs will be integrated into the system and then properly compensated for any energy output they might be able to contribute is a logistical challenge. Typically, the utility owns, maintains, and runs the grid from an operational perspective, so their interests are equally important in deciding how the two parties will work together to maintain a reliable and safe supply of energy for consumers.

energy blockchain
(image courtesy of

Blockchain technology is a potential solution for this problem because the expedient, immutable nature of the ledger is ideal for tracking peer-to-peer and wholesale energy trading activities. As an example, let’s take a public grid scenario where you have both the utility and DERs (think privately owned solar panels) generating electricity and supplying that power to a common transmission and distribution system. At the same time, energy consumers are drawing from the same system to power their homes, machinery, or whatever else they wish. The grid operators maintain a continuous balance between supply and demand (a fundamental requirement for closed electrical systems), but the individual transactions are so frequent and variable that it becomes very difficult for either side to efficiently separate out and define who owes what to whom.

Current processes are cumbersome and involve multiple intermediaries that review distributed generation data after the fact. They often broker secondary energy swaps that quickly diminish distinction for renewable generation and may even charge additional fees for performing these tasks before any compensation makes its belated way back into the hands of the DER owner. The process is highly inefficient.

Numerous energy blockchain projects are hoping to flip this model on its head. By allowing the DERs to send their generation data directly onto a distributed ledger, the network’s computing power can be harnessed to match this supply with demand in real-time. The system can then calculate and authorize appropriate compensation without any third-party intervention, delays, or additional costs. This expedited process improves the financial calculus for current and future DER owners. And while this model is an easy win in closed or private grid ecosystems, it does represent a significant disruption to some aspects of legacy business models for utilities.

However, utilities are beginning to chart their own advantages for early involvement and adoption of energy blockchain applications. By leveraging their undisputed expertise and experience with generation, regulatory matters, and grid infrastructure, utilities are playing a key role in project development. Some are embracing the market potential for DERs by exploring new business models where they serve as suppliers and maintenance vendors for DER owners. This type of approach to cultivating new and stronger relationships can only help to enhance customer satisfaction and improve overall market efficiency.

Social Media and Music

Content is the key concept in this market sector and we haven’t seen such disruptive potential in the treatment of personal and artistic content, or the use of and difference between the two, since Napster invaded college dorm rooms circa 1997. Interestingly, the general issues remain the same: how compensation and credit is protected for content creators while at the same time preserving consumers’ rights to access, enjoy and share the content they have rightfully acquired.

Imogen Heap
Blockchain Pioneer Imogen Heap (via Man Alive on Flickr)

For several years, some enterprising artists have embraced the possibilities of blockchain and what it could do for their craft. In a well publicized example, musician Imogen Heap released a song in 2015 and made it available via the Ethereum-based blockchain company, Ujo Music. The UI was clunky at the time, but the principles were sound. Fans could use ether to pay for the song and the artist was rewarded with those royalties without the need for copyright application and payment or an expensive publisher to facilitate payments. Upon purchase, smart contract functionality (a distinct feature of platforms powered by Ethereum) automatically sent transferred the payment to Heap and even distributed it among contributing musicians according to terms previously set in place by the artists.

Social media’s grip on our daily lives grows stronger with each new day. Younger generations in particular are spending more and more of their time engaged with the technology (some estimates as high as nine hours per day, on average), and while there are many advantages to being so well connected and creatively empowered, there are also significant disadvantages. Personal content often becomes the property of the centralized platform owners and can be used for their own commercial advantage. For example, Facebook can employ an algorithm to purposefully drive other users towards that awesome cat meme you posted last night. This could be great news for your popularity but only Zuckerberg & Company will profit off of the ad revenue that is boosted by your meme’s spike in traffic.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe Facebook should profit off of this scenario and applaud social media companies for creating such a world-changing phenomena. They built the network, designed the protocol, and maintain an awe-inspiring global network of data management facilities to keep it all running. Advertisers aren’t being threatened to hand over their marketing funds and as I mentioned before, there is a lot of social good that comes out of social networks and their capability. But what if you could capture some of that compensation in return for your time, personal creativity, and cat-meme innovation?

That’s where blockchain presents itself yet again as a potential solution. We’ve already covered the technology’s ability to  secure data through encryption in conjunction with advances in privacy and user anonymity. These features are crucial for many social media participants who desire to be connected with their world and maintain control over their own content without the need for full disclosure. But blockchain-based social media can also deliver the promise of cryptocurrencies that can be used to buy content and pay for other services. Think of it as a crossroads for peer-to-peer commerce, marketing, socialization, public relations, and communication.

Numerous projects are already delivering platforms that want to set up shop in this area. Indorse is a professional networking application that is built on the Ethereum blockchain. Users can be compensated for their contributions but own all rights to their personal content.  Steemit maintains a “blockchain-based rewards platform for publishers to monetize content” and grow their community. It’s been operating since 2016 and has paid out more than $22M USD worth of rewards to its users.

Where Does This Highway Go?

These are just a few of the top news-makers in blockchain and crypto with current and/or pending real-world applications in everyday aspects of our lives. As the crypto market continues to bounce along in 2018, I am heartened by the tangible evidence of progress towards full deployment of the technology. There is a real potential for our lives to improve here, in my opinion, and for things around us to work better and work together.

Our personal portfolios may be suffering on any given day, but these stories give me confidence that there is a considerable chasm between serious projects and harmful actors. These crypto pretenders continue to circle our pioneering tribe with the goal of profiting off the excitement and the risk-taking spirit that fuels any innovation. There have been casualties and, unfortunately, there will continue to be victims of their deplorable tactics.

This is why enthusiast communities such as Crypto101 are so very important, in my humble opinion. Whether you are brand new to this space or a seasoned veteran from the ancient days of 2017…there is strength in our numbers and our unified quest to understand just what in the hell is going on. It speaks right to the very fundamental principles of Satoshi’s vision, doesn’t it? Strength in numbers. And it is this strength that leads me to believe that this is all a worthwhile venture, with long-term returns that aren’t entirely monetarily based. That future might not deliver a Lambo on the Moon, but I know that we will look back at our collective crypto journey as the right way, in the end.




About the author: Ryan LaMonica is a management consultant and blockchain enthusiast with a background in engineering, energy, marketing and risk management. The views reflected in this article are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. He currently resides outside of Atlanta, Georgia where he and his wife manage the energy and risk of their four amazing children.


Ep. 84 – A Chat with Andy Tian, CEO of Uplive and GIFTO (GTO)

As the volatility continues for cryptocurrency market capitalization in 2018, the stakes for blockchain-based tokens and the visionary teams behind them continue to surge in only one direction – higher. After only two months, the number of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s) has reached 30% of last year’s record breaking benchmark of 885. And while total funding is even higher at 36% year-over-year, there are signs of easing as the figures are finalized for the month of February.

ICO Funding 2018
2018 ICO funding (

So what’s going on? Our latest guest provides some amazing insight into why it might have very little to do with the crypto investors behind almost half a trillion dollars in current capitalization and everything to do with average digital consumers around the globe. This guy knows a thing or two about commercial viability and consumer product life-cycles. Meet Andy Tian, CEO of Asia Innovations Group (AIG).

Andy Tian


Andy graduated from MIT with a degree in Computer Science and began his career as a programmer in South Korea. He then commenced his mastering of Chinese market dynamics by co-launching two digital platforms, including one of the country’s earliest music-based community websites and an e-commerce services provider. Following a stop as a consultant for one of the world’s top management consulting firms, Andy joined the Google team in 2005. Capitalizing on his prior experience, he led the company’s mobile business and orchestrated Android technology’s introduction in China.

Never straying too far from his interest in the social and entertainment space, Andy co-founded a gaming company before selling it to Zynga where he stayed on to fine-tune his Chinese market acumen even further. Four years ago, he co-founded Asia Innovations and quickly built a live streaming app called Uplive that accounted for nearly 80% of AIG’s revenue in 2017. With the blockchain revolution upon us, Andy and his team are now beta-testing an exciting enhancement for their Uplive users, a platform-agnostic, decentralized, universal virtual gifting protocol called GIFTO.

Got all that? Let’s start with Uplive and the curious phenomena of live streaming in Asia.

 The “One to Many” Scenario

Most of us are already quite familiar with the concept of live streaming. It’s become commonplace on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram and most users would consider it akin to another media channel vying for our attention. But Asian culture’s take on the practice is slightly different because the interaction has been monetized. Uplive members who live stream their daily activities are called broadcasters and these broadcasters compete for the attention (and lucrative affection) of other members.

It truly is a spectacle to behold, as the application’s user interface is just as glamorous as the extravagant virtual gifts that users can purchase for real money and then trade to others or bestow upon their favorite broadcasters. Imagine emoji’s on a cocktail of steroids and peyote, leaving jet streams of star dust as they zoom across a video-chat-gaming backdrop that would make any Vegas slot machine blush. It’s a sensory explosion and Uplive members can’t get enough of each other or the social interface platform that AIG facilitates.

UP Live screen cap
A Magic Unicorn. (

After 13 years in Asia, Andy realized and seized on the market’s desire for real-time, 24/7 business opportunities to build personal brands. Despite a similar willingness to share their lives with others, Western culture consumers prefer a more passive feedback loop when it comes to interactions with those on the other end of the live stream connection. They post their content, let others consume or react, and then weigh their options for further exchange. Not so for the legions of Uplive broadcasters. “All of their fans can respond and interact to their stream in real time, during the content sharing,” Andy explains excitedly. “It becomes a ‘one to many’ scenario and our broadcasters can then see real time comments and questions from everybody around the world.”

The Blockchain Connection

As indicated above, Uplive is doing quite well for itself and continues to expand into new countries and markets. But Andy and his team quickly realized they had magic in a bottle with their library of intricate, unique, and customizable virtual gifts. What if their catalog of animated goodies (ranging in value from ten cents to eight thousand dollars) could spread digital joy and appreciation beyond the borders of the Uplive ecosystem? And what if these transactions could maintain both integrity and value for both parties? AIG realized their solution resided within a blockchain.

GIFTO is the world’s first virtual gifting protocol. The immutable features of a distributed ledger can preserve the value (based on rarity and uniqueness) of a purchased gift as it is transferred securely between parties, regardless of platform – YouTube, Facebook, and the other usual suspects. That’s right, Andy figured out how to use simple web links as digital launch pads into the world’s most popular social networks and their limitless potential for a virtual gift bonanza.

GIFTO Unveiling
Andy Tian unveiling the GIFTO protocol with some Uplive broadcasters. (YouTube)

The true genius behind GIFTO is that AIG has accomplished what so many of us are coming to view as a mandate for blockchain-based crypto projects in 2018: use the technology in a real world application while simultaneously generating value (functionality) for customers and revenue for your company. Tian and company have not only figured out a way to accomplish this, but they have done so in a way that requires their customers to have no knowledge of the technology they’re embracing.

If you have concern that all of this relies upon a rampant surge in human vanity, I would understand your sentiment. But there is a strong altruistic side to all of this, as evidenced by the recent sale of the most expensive virtual gift in history – the Forever Rose. Artist Kevin Abosch (of “Potato #345” fame) created the piece of digital art, which ended up selling for $1,000,000 worth of cryptocurrency on, appropriately, Valentines Day. The team of winning bidders consisted of ten crypto market leaders and all proceeds will go to the CoderDojo Foundation, a non-profit global network of free computer programming clubs for young people. Crazy? Perhaps. But what if this is just the beginning of a new mechanism by which mankind can take care of its most under-served?

The Forever Rose
The Forever Rose (Kevin Abosch)

The Future

Andy is hoping to take the first iteration of the GIFTO protocol live in this first quarter of 2018, but he is thoughtful, reflective, and cautious when discussing his potential game-changing expansion:

“Commercial products take a lot of iterations to be correct. We must focus on the end-user, our customer…who we must assume has no experience with crypto and blockchain, and ensure that they can still use and enjoy the product right away. [Android] was a wonderful technology but it was a long process of refinement to get it to a point where it was usable by the average consumer.  It’s the same with blockchain. The technology can be great but if the UI, the work flow, the product flow doesn’t work right, no one will pick it up and use it. I view that as being much more important than technology.”

Well said, Andy.


For the latest information on Uplive, check out their presence on Facebook

For the latest information on GIFTO, check out their presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium



About the author: Ryan LaMonica is a management consultant and blockchain enthusiast with a background in engineering, energy, marketing and risk management. The views reflected in this article are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. He currently resides outside of Atlanta, Georgia where he and his wife manage the energy and risk of their four amazing children.

Ep. 68 – Zilliqa

Crypto101 recently had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Xinshu Dong for a conversation regarding his company, Zilliqa and their efforts to deliver a solution that addresses the scaling challenge for blockchain technology. What is this scaling challenge, exactly? The use of blockchain networks has grown exponentially in recent months and the resulting high transaction volumes have exceeded the expected throughput capacity of those networks’ nodes. This has caused delays in the networks’ speeds, affecting their performance and end-user experience. But before we dive further into the issue, let’s find out a little more about Dr. Dong and how Zilliqa came to be.

Dr Xinshu Dong
Dr. Xinshu Dong, Zilliqa CEO


Xinshu earned his PhD in Computer Science from the National University of Singapore with a focus on methods and techniques for improving the security for a wide spectrum of web systems. Building upon this foundation, he then joined research efforts at the Univeristy of Illionois’ Advanced Digital Sciences Center (ADSC) located at the Fusionopolis research facility in Singapore. As a part of the ADSC team, Xinshu worked on how to make the more vulnerable software components of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) more secure. You can probably see the trend here, so it is not surprising to learn that he began to study blockchain technology in his…free time?

Recognizing an opportunity for the application of his academic work and personal studies towards solutions for blockchain scalability and security, Dr. Dong founded Zilliqa last summer. The non-profit’s intent is to provide a platform that delivers higher throughput (transactions per second) without sacrificing the security and decentralization advantages that are a fundamental part of blockchain protocols. They considered starting with enhancement of existing chains, but soon realized that this would disrupt their compatibility with existing applications. So, they started from scratch with development of their own.

Start from Scratch

Public or Private Blockchain?

The Zilliqa team began its development work with a private blockchain in mind, but soon identified some unique aspects of privatized ecosystems that threatened full manifestation of their technology:

  • Private blockchain endeavors are typically aiming to maximize performance and privacy.
  • Security is not a high priority for these use cases, since private blockchains are utilized by a single organization or group of entities that have already made off-chain security arrangements to preserve the integrity of their network.
  • Since security is not within the private blockchain’s scope, a small amount of nodes (30 to 50 on average) are implemented in order to save network overhead costs. Nodes generally ensure the security or immutability of the chain’s data through their consensus algorithms.

The node reduction conflicted with Zilliqa’s strategy because their technology improves the speed of a blockchain (via a higher throughput) that relies upon a higher number of nodes; nodes that have scaled proportionally with the growth of the network. Basically, the more popular a blockchain-based application becomes, the more users will join the incentivized network, naturally boosting the node population. With more nodes on the network, the blockchain can now function at a higher throughput. Recognizing this, Zilliqa shifted course towards development of a public blockchain. But public blockchains come with their own kinds of concerns.

Public verus Private Blockchain

In a public ecosystem, developers must assume that any and every node could act maliciously to violate the security of the blockchain. Zilliqa has accepted this challenge, believing in the strength of numbers their technology will help to ensure. But if their strategy is based on growth, how will they address the same throughput challenges faced by blockchains today? Won’t more users and more nodes bombard the networks with more transactions, too? To deal with this, Zilliqa is implementing a node management technique known as sharding.


Your typical blockchain is designed to require that the entire network of nodes “talk” among themselves to determine the rejection or acceptance of each transaction prior to recording their consensus into the applicable block. Having the entire network participate in this process is highly inefficient. Sharding divides the entire network of nodes into smaller groups and assigns a subset of transactions to each group. That smaller group vets its batch of transactions and produces its output for eventual aggregation with the output from the other groups to form the final block.

This parallel processing improves efficiency despite a larger node population overall. Zilliqa is streamlining even further by incorporating mechanisms to have a substantial number of nodes collectively decide nodal group assignments on a revolving basis, for both newcomers and existing participants. This reallocation maintains a healthy balance for group sizes but also strengthens the network’s security because network attackers can exploit a static node as a weakness.

Zilliqa Tx per Sec

The Future

Dr. Xinshu Dong and Zilliqa are well on their way to delivering a solution to one of the crypto world’s most pressing issues. As you can see above (at time of writing), their latest testnet trial run showed performance was just shy of 2,500 transaction per second (leveraging six shards and 3,600 individual nodes). For comparison, the holy grail benchmark for throughput is often seen as the estimated 8,000 transactions per second average of VISA and MasterCard networks. While the numbers and technical results are impressive, Dr. Dong believes that Zilliqa’s success will depend on their commitment to realizing the full potential of blockchain technology – thus enabling a more efficient and more secure global community.

For the latest information on Zilliqa and their work, you can find them on Medium, Twitter, Reddit, Slack or YouTube



About the author: Ryan LaMonica is a management consultant and blockchain enthusiast with a background in engineering, energy, marketing and risk management. The views reflected in this article are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. He currently resides outside of Atlanta, Georgia where he and his wife manage the energy and risk of their four amazing children.




Blockchain Applications: Facilitating Democracy in Brazil

The old adage warns us not to witness the production of two things in life: sausage and laws. I prefer bacon myself, but when it comes to the laws that govern our lives, citizens of all nations have an inherent interest in their creation and implementation – regardless of how much they might actually lay eyes upon. Unfortunately, many people don’t enjoy the privilege of civic mechanisms or legal recourse that facilitate the proposal and legislative consideration of ideas conceived by the general public. In the case of Brazil, even when such a mechanism is provided for in the constitution, logistical challenges and government corruption doom the majority of these public petitions before they begin.

Enter the possibilities of blockchain technology, where the fundamentals of a distributed ledger are being harnessed to overcome these hurdles of the past. Brazilians have a constitutional right to have their public petitions heard by Congress if they are endorsed by at least 1% of the electorate. In a diverse nation of 207 million with nearly 150 million voters and variable internet access, gathering and verifying the required signatures has been a monumental task. The results of successful petitions are even more discouraging, yielding the passage of only four laws. Without a modern method for verification, the petitioners rely upon individual legislators to adopt proposals as their own, a risky venture for both parties in a nation with a declining democratic environment. According to The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, Brazil’s democracy index score has fallen since 2014:

Brazil B

One of the primary computing platforms thriving in the current blockchain technology renaissance is Ethereum. Released in 2015, the Ethereum platform is open source, public and blockchain-based with high “smart contract” functionality that utilizes a global infrastructure network to thwart third party interference. Simply put, the Ethereum protocol presents itself as an ideal solution for Brazil’s need to record, preserve and independently verify data (signatures). Two innovative Brazilians recognized this potential and strengthened their collaboration and resolve during the Ethereum Foundation’s annual developers conference in Mexico last November.

Brazil A

Everton Fraga (left, Ethereum software engineer) and Ricardo Fernandes Paixao (right, Professor and Congressional economic advisor) view the use of blockchain technology as a way to finally implement the public petition provision within their nation’s constitution. A government-backed mobile application could transform the signature-gathering process from pickup trucks with crates of physical paper into a digital on-ramp into the Ethereum blockchain. Daily hashing could then attach batches of signatures to encrypted transactions with, perhaps most importantly, one-way capability for verification. At that point, the record of signatures has been permanently recorded on the distributed ledger without the need for third party verification.

The political landscape in Brazil is highly volatile amidst recent scandals that have entangled dozens of top government and business leaders. Leading up to national elections in October, many leaders are trying to establish a forward-looking agenda while considering all kinds of proposals for reform and beneficial progress, including this petition process enhancement. For now, Fraga, Paixao, and the countless Brazilians they represent must eagerly await their government’s decision and the potential impact of Ethereum blockchain technology on the democratic nature of their country.




About the author: Ryan LaMonica is a management consultant and blockchain enthusiast with a background in engineering, energy, marketing and risk management. The views reflected in this article are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. He currently resides outside of Atlanta, Georgia where he and his wife manage the energy and risk of their four amazing children.


  • The Economist:

  • Bill Purcell Photography via Flikr:
© Bill Purcell Photographry
  • Quartz:

Brazil may write new laws with data stored on the ethereum blockchain

  • Cointelegraph:

(header image:



Ep. 74 — Get Yo’ House in Order!


Image: Still from ‘Snakes on a Plane’


There is no doubt 2017 was a breakout year for cryptocurrency. With Bitcoin reaching an all-time high of near $20 000 USD and the introduction of hundreds of new alt coins to the market — each promising new and interesting solutions to stale yet worthwhile problems. The cryptosphere saw hundreds of thousands of new investors, traders and those who were simply curious about blockchain technology enter the arena.

Various projects watched their market caps rise exponentially as we invested more and more money into them. Some of us were looking to be taken to the moon, others were throwing a little money behind a project they believe in. But all of us were somewhere on the spectrum between the two.

November and December hit us like a full chamber orchestra. At first, lulling and cooing at us with warm tones of bemusement and intrigue. The symphony soon rose to euphoria as we were swept up in the semi-orgasmic, too-good-to-be-true, nothing-but-up adventure we all found ourselves on.

Then the crescendo hit. Far from euphoric, she struck with a vengeance. Shaking us from our brain-dead complacency. Ripping us from the inexplicable, yet somehow, expected torrent of good news, great times, and incredible gains.

But this was needed. This was healthy.

As investors, we poured money into projects with no real-world products. We signed up to financially support a long list of promises that in reality should have already been delivered. 2017 saw the price of many cryptocurrencies vastly outrank their tangible value.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not FUD — I am bullish. I am bullish enough on cryptocurrency to expect excellence. We need to understand that if we have put money into a crypto project we are investors. Companies are accountable to their shareholders and cryptocurrencies and protocols are accountable to their coin/token holders.

Of course, this is a relatively new space, and things are changing rapidly. Many projects are working hard at delivering on their promises and moving the cryptosphere into an exciting future, which is great — but many are not.

Bloomberg recently published a report detailing how 30% of Millennials would feel more comfortable investing in cryptocurrency than traditional stocks.

You know what Millenials value? They value good design, a crisp aesthetic appeal. They value intuitive usability and instant feedback. They value clarity and sharability. All of this is disappointingly lacking. Yet they should be priorities for the projects currently dominating the cryptosphere.

If I can’t download a clean iOS app, send funds instantly and touch and feel the real-world impact of the project, I will quickly lose interest. Granted, some of that responsibility falls on me as the user/investor (as Taylor Monahan rightly stresses here). But we need to re-assess our measures of success. A popular Telegram channel is not enough (have you experienced the chaos of a 10, 000+ person Telegram channel!?).

2017 may have been the “breakout” year for crypto but 2018 needs to be the “get your shit together” year! As investors, and pioneers in the space, we owe it to ourselves and the technology to demand as much from these projects in 2018.


Bloomberg Article — 

Crypto 101 Podcast Episode 74 —


He Said, Then She Said: Gender and the Blockchain

Getting ahead of the gender gap through inclusion and education.


At the outset let’s agree that change begins with the individual and we, as individuals, are responsible for respecting that right of others. Fundamental to freedom, equality, and all personal liberties is this mutual respect, born from collective collaboration.

If only the world were that simple and people really did work together. Imagine what could be accomplished. Imagine if women had been more continually, equally represented in government and business. If minority and majority populations all regarded one another as a necessary piece of the natural, common good.

Instead there’s chaos, unpredictable happenings that have wondrous and ominous impact. If the chaos didn’t exist, nor would the volatility – where many people are currently making huge gains in crypto. It’s where opportunity for growth and change within ourselves also exists. Whether you view it as harnessing the chaos and organizing it to your advantage or as a river flows taking you right along with it, this is part of the human condition.

Chaotic Inequality

Many influences impact inequality and simply opening your senses to observing your surroundings will flood you with deeper understanding, and concern, for the roots and the fruits of inhumanity. Haves and have-nots, with everything in between, all are represented on the spectrum.

Financial competency defines much of this inequality and is showcased in every demographic. Furthermore, business is particularly ruthless when your worth as an employee is juxtaposed directly to a dollar value. Though a cost-benefit is difficult to argue with, it is an incomplete judgement when dealing with real people and their intangible contributions. Ultimately, many determinations are subjective and leave room for human error and favoritism. Which is why we must understand that, embrace it, and rise above it.


zerosumeMy wife posed the question today; “If I’m making gains in crypto, or anything, does that mean someone else is losing?” My initial reaction was “yes,” but rapidly retracted that answer in hopes that crypto had fabricated some way around this. While some interesting discussions can be had, ultimately it’s difficult to argue against the zero-sum game. Anything else can seem like a Ponzi Scheme.

But when stepping away from gains and losses, the zero-sum game becomes inapplicable. It often does not exist in direct, human collaboration. People helping one another to understand and earn, innovate and grow, has exponential potential. Creating value by working together towards common goals for all of humanity, not just some, but everyone.

Massive tech industry growth is happening because of cryptocurrency and blockchain. It’s a collaborative industry with a transparent approach. Individuals are able to speak up and give input. Small groups are revolutionizing industries, creating jobs and entrepreneurial opportunity. It’s a wave of growth with far-reaching influence. There’s opportunity for everyone who wants to learn and work hard. More people involving themselves will help diversify blockchain, revamp tech, and stop Terminator from returning to earth.


There are no magic wands or reset buttons, time-machines or cryogenic chambers. If there were, Libertarians could have the presidency on a silver platter, privatized warfare would be considered Pirating, and inequality could be a misunderstood topic in our history books. Instead, we must recognize the lessons from history and affect what we can in the present, each of us.

What to Do.

Introduce your relatives to blockchain, guide your friends to Coinbase, tell your Mom about cold wallets. Encourage anyone interested in this technology to get more involved and knowledgeable. Learning about blockchain will benefit your future for as long as digital data exists.

Volatility and diversity: defining crypto.

Cryptocurrency is a volatile investment category. From a risk standpoint Bitcoin is nearly off-the-map and ICO’s are well beyond that. While both are paddling upriver towards the mainstream of the zero-sum economy, blockchain is soaring above in the knowledge economy. An understanding of blockchain is an investment in yourself. Grasping the conceptual reality of this technological shift has the potential to take you far in your career and personal finance.

In order to build a bridge over gender gap that is sustainable, more of every gender, generation, race, religion, and background need to be involved in blockchain. Diversity is true to the very initiatives of crypto and a core trait of a good investment portfolio. This technical space is small but growing fast. It’s an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of digital decentralization – a trend that can empower the individual with the ability to engage more fully in their finances, governments, institutions, security, and relationships with the confidence of digital anonymity.


Let’s go girls, and boys, and everyone who wants to learn. Find out more about cryptocurrency, blockchain, and the countless innovations they’re fostering @ Crypto 101 Podcast.


Talking Crypto With Family

Always best to take an attitude of gratitude when speaking with your family, especially around the holidays. May your conversations be full of thoughtful collaboration.


As the holidays are upon us, you’re likely to have a lot of awkward conversations with family and friends who you haven’t seen since this time last year. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who gets along swimmingly with your entire family, having complementary views on religion, politics, and finance.

But, if you’re like the rest of us, and you are occasionally the black sheep with ‘out-there’ ideas, then maybe these three talking points will help you navigate the inevitable questioning of your bullish, crypto-focused Twitter feed.

Start with what they know: Bitcoin

Bitcoin is the recognizable name in this space. Of course you know that, but you might be surprised at how few people out there actually know what Bitcoin is. They probably don’t know that it’s grown over one thousand percent in less than a year. They probably don’t know that it’s pioneered one of the most influential technological advancements of our time. And they definitely don’t know that their money in the bank may not be as secure as they think.

All that said, start small. You wouldn’t want to jump right into the conversation by talking about the dangers of country-oriented, centralized currencies whose security is built on antiquated technology. You wouldn’t want to tell them that governments printing money without any asset backing is forcing inflation to increase faster than the interest their earning in their savings account. You really should not tell them that the stocks they’ve owned for years also depend on this system and that crypto-currency wants to upend it.

What you should say is that Bitcoin is changing the way we view currency, saving, spending, and digital security. That it’s creation birthed blockchain, the innovative security strategy that is being adopted by nearly every industry that deals with digital assets. What you’ll want to talk about is that Bitcoin currently accounts for a small fraction of world finance and it’s grown leaps and bounds over the last year with plenty of room for additional growth. You’ll want to talk about what creates the value (security) and why your money is safe there (blockchain).

Address the elephant in the room: ICO

The Initial Coin Offering market is a tricky one and there’s a reason why you’ll want to sandwich it between bitcoin and blockchain. ICO’s are crazy and, fortunately, have fallen on a lot of grenades as the selfless crypto victim over the last year. The ICO is a reversal of what many people are familiar with – the IPO. The main difference is a lack of regulation, and this is a huge difference, do not underestimate this point because Republicans and Democrats alike will berate you on it. And, this is most likely because they have been in business long enough to know that people are selfish and corporations are heartless. They will make the valid point that everyday people need protected from these potentially harmful motives and they will likely have an opinion on what this protection ought to look like.

Whether they are a firm believer in the IPO process that is controlled by regulation, or believe that accredited investors should be the only people allowed to risk their money on new ventures – there is a pain point in there that you can hinge a conversation on.

Institutions (governments and state-sponsored actors)

Nearly everywhere money moves there are large institutions determining how it happens. From angel investing to the IPO, banks and governments determine the rules. Centralized institutions that have created the system can be very helpful in establishing regulations to protect you and the overall economy.

Accredited Persons

The second-most empowered group of people are the accredited investors. In the United States, people must qualify as an accredited investor in order to involve themselves in angel and seed investing. Taking place at the founding of a business with equity and option exchanges, accredited investors determine what projects garner dollars and who can take advantage.


Transparency has never been more apparent. It is now plausible to know more about a company from the very beginning of its creation than any publicly-traded one from the past. Today you can participate in the conversations within companies across media platforms. The democratization of information allows an open conversation about business practices between the most senior executives and the everyday consumer.

Trust dictates the regulation conversation – ask whomever you’re conversing with; “who do you trust to have your best interest in mind?” Once they answer this question you’ll be able to understand their perspective and play the middle-ground. Ultimately the solution will be some compromising blend, why not work this out right around the dinner table without needing a quorum in congress?

Present the doctrine: Blockchain

Blockchain is the doctrine of crypto, literally and metaphorically. The technology that created bitcoin is a chicken and egg story. Blockchain is bitcoin and bitcoin is blockchain. And that’s too existential for your audience, keep it simple; blockchain is a way of burying digital data underneath new digital data, like layers of a cake, to make it increasingly more difficult to access without a unique private key.

Blockchain is the underlying tech that will likely be used to secure all of our digital assets in the future. Always come back to this. If the conversation gets heated simply say, with steady breathing, “I agree with you and would encourage you to look more into blockchain.” Then proceed to change the conversation with one of the following.

Cute baby pictures



A great YouTube video


Checking on dinner

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