One of the sectors which is ripe for disruption is the real estate industry. In the US for instance, a handful of historic and very powerful players operate what is known as MLS, or Multiple Listing Services, and hold unofficial monopolies on residential and commercial real estate listings. Brokers, who depend on these listing services to sell properties, agree that their incumbent positions have created a situation where fees have continued to rise, while little to no added value has been added for their users.
Stephen King and Russel McLernon join us to explain RexMLS, a decentralized Multiple Listing Service built on Ethereum and IPFS. Currently in beta, the DApp would allow brokers to list properties at a very low cost, and be accessible to international markets, something which is lacking in the current model.
Topics discussed in this episode :
- The basics of MLS or Multiple Listing Services
- What is RexMLS and the problems it is trying to address
- The benefits of a decentralized MLS
- The different technical components of RexMLS
- Why they chose Ethereum and IPFS
- The user experience of RexMLS
- The product’s roll-out phases
- How users are incentivized to participate in the system
- The RexDex token exchange and the token injection model
- RexMLS’s governance model
From BitShares to his central role during the inception of Ethereum Charles Hoskinson has continually influenced key projects in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. After departing the Ethereum project in 2014, he has recently stepped back into the limelight by pledging support and resources to turn the fledgling Ethereum fork ETC into a viable project.
Charles joined us together with Alex Chepurnoy, a developer at his company IOHK. Besides Ethereum Classic, we talked about IOHK and Scorex, IOHK’s modular blockchain framework project that Alex Chepurnoy has been leading.
Topics covered included:
– The vision and activities of IOHK
– Scorex: A Modular Blockchain Framework
– Conflicts of vision that lead to Charles’ departure as original CEO of Ethereum in 2014
– Why the hard fork broken Ethereum’s social contract
– Why ETC should differentiate and find its own path
– The role governance could play in ETC’s future
Prediction markets are fascinating financial instruments which have proven to be accurate at making predictions on things like the outcome of elections, geopolitical events and sporting events. But in our heavily regulated financial world, they are the subject of much controversy. In 2013 for instance, a well-known US prediction market, Intrade, was forced to shut down following a civil suit filed by the CFTC. While some people consider prediction markets to be a useful tool for society, others consider them to be a form of gambling, which is one of the reasons why they have been met with such resistance in certain countries. A purely decentralized prediction market would operate outside the scope of the regulated financial world and be resistant to censorship and outside intervention.
We’re joined by Joey Krug, Co-Founder and Core Developer at Augur, a decentralized prediction market built on Ethreum. The project, which was initially meant to be a Bitcoin sidechain, has ported to Ethereum and is currently in beta on the Testnet. Users can forecast real-world events, such as the outcome of the US election, and earn profits if they are accurate in their predictions. Reporting on events is crowdsourced using a consensus-based system similar to proof-of-stake.
Topics we discussed in this episode :
– How prediction markets work
– The controversy around prediction markets
– The Augur project and what it is trying to achieve
– The evolution of Augur
– The different components of Augur
– Reporting on events and the reputation token
– Security, attack vectors and how they can be mitigated
– Augur’s business model
– The ethical aspects of prediction markets
– Augur’s structure and governance
Blockchain smart contracts are self-executing contracts composed of computer code. These programs, which are executed by the entirety of the network, enforce the rules described within the code. Effectively, in this realm, code is law. And as we’ve seen recently, altering the outcome of that code after it has been deloyed, should we later realize that it was flawed or did not produce an intended result, can be messy. In addition, there are instances where human intervention can be necessary or even desirable. Take a mortgage agreement for example. Should a smart contract be entrusted with the responsibility of making a decision when the borrower can no longer make his payments? In cases such as this, subjective human intervention is be necessary.
Scot Farrell and Claire Warren, lawyers at the global law firm King & Wood Mallesons, think that humans should not be automated out of every process. While code is logical and predictable, it cannot act reasonably or take into account certain unforeseen events. They have proposed DnA contracts (Digital and Analog), where automation can occur when absolute automation is possible, but where humans may intervene at the edges and provide input when needed.
Topics we discuss in this episode:
– What issues DnA contracts are trying to address
– The basic concepts behind DnA contrats
– The scenarios where DnA contracts may be valuable
– Examples of DnA contracts applied to interest rate swaps and mortgages
– How DnA contracts could be integrated with blockchain technologies
– The impact of DnA contracts on legal services
Legendary scientist and cryptography pioneer Ralph Merkle joined us to discuss his recent paper on DAOs. Merkle examined how the voting mechanisms in today’s democracies are flawed and how a decentralized, transparent DAO making decisions using prediction markets could create more efficient democratic systems.
Topics covered included:
– Merkle proofs, Merkle Roots and his early forays into cryptography
– Blockchains as living organisms
– Why DAOs will be subject to a Darwinian evolutionary process
– Why voting is flawed and we need new governance methods to save democracy
– The concept of a DAO democracy
– How prediction markets and futarchy would help govern a DAO democracy
Exchanges are often criticized as a central point of failure of the cryptocurrency space. This isn’t without justification as, in recent years, we have seen a number of exchanges get hacked, robbed, or embezzled by their founders, which is far from insignificant. One proposed alternative are decentralized exchanges that would allow people make peer-to-peer trades using sophisticated smart contracts. However, there remains the fundamental challenge of interfacing with the legacy banking system.
Manfred Karrer joins us for a lengthy discussion on Bitsquare, a decentralized cryptocyrrency exchange which supports most fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies. Built to be a decentralized equivalent of LocalBitcoins, the Bitsquare client, which connects to the peer-to-peer network, uses Tor by default, which makes it almost completely anonymous. There are also a number of safeguards in place to eliminate the potential for fraud and theft, as well as an arbitration system to resolve disputes between traders.
Topics discussed in this episode include:
- The motivation behind Bitsquare
- The Bitsquare client and user experience
- A walkthrough of a typical trade
- The mechanics of the order book
- The fiat currency transfer mechanism
- The current and future arbitration process
- Manfred’s thoughts on DAOs
- Bitsquare’s product roadmap
Few things arouse among free market believers and enthusiasts of decentralization as prediction markets do. By allowing people to bet on any range of outcomes they promise more efficient markets and better information. Few people have worked with as much dedication on making the promise of prediction markets a reality as Martin Köppelmann.
After founding the Bitcoin prediction market Fairlay, he turned to Ethereum and started the Ethereum-based prediction market Gnosis. We discussed his views on the DAO heist, differences between Fairlay and Gnosis and their upcoming tokensale.
Topics covered included:
- How the DAO heist happened and what we should learn from it
- The Bitcoin prediction market Fairlay
- From Fairlay to Gnosis: Building a prediction market on Ethereum
- The Gnosis architecture
- Gnosis’ planned crowdsale and DAO
- Gnosis business model and what will determine the value of the tokens
- The difference between Gnosis and Augur
Security researcher and RSK co-founder Sergio Lerner joined us to discuss RSK (also Rootstock), the project to launch a turing-complete smart contract sidechain to Bitcoin. We talked about how he got into the industry, spending countless days analyzing Bitcoin for vulnerabilities and finding a few along the way. And, of course, RSK, the ambitious project to strenghten the Bitcoin ecosystem through adding smart contract capabilities.
Topics covered included:
- How Sergio initially got involved in the Bitcoin space
- His early work on turing-complete cryptocurrencies going back to 2012
- Why financial inclusion is the most important problem to solve
- Merged mining and RSK’s security model
- How RSK compares to Ethereum
- RSK’s business model
With recent news surrounding The DOA and the Brexit vote causing a stir in the blockchain world and beyond, it seems like a regulatory update is due. So we called up our favorite regulatory affairs specialist Siân Jones to enlighten us on some of the recent developments in Bitcoin and blockchain regulation.
Topics covered in this episode include:
- The Brexit and it’s potential impacts on the Blockchain and Fintech space in the UK
- The Bank of England opening its doors to more than a thousand financial institution and payment service providers
- Some of the initiatives by the UK government to potentially adopt blockchain technologies
- The recent European Parliament plenary sitting on virtual currencies and the Distributed Ledger Technology Task Force
- An update on BitLicense and its impacts a year and a half after being adopted in New York
- The potential regulatory implications of DAOs
The lack of an explicit governance mechanism has created deep problems for Bitcoin. Ethereum, with the DAO-related soft/hard-fork discussions, may face similar challenges ahead. Yet, already in 2014 Arthur Breitman quietly started working on cryptocurrency network Tezos that has an explicit mechanism to let coinholders vote on protocol upgrades.
Our discussion with Breitman centered around how explicit governance could lead to a more secure and evolutionary protocol. We also discussed Tezos’ approach to smart contract that tries to prevent bug-riddled and insecure smart contracts such as the DAO which has thrown Ethereum into a deep crisis.
Topics covered included:
- Why stakeholders voting on forks can prevent consensus attacks
- The mechanics of Tezos’ governance
- How an upgrade mechanism could allow Tezos to rapidly and radically evolve
- Why the programming language in which smart contracts are written is crucial for security
- Why a functional language that allows formal proofs such as OCaml is more suited for smart contracts than Ethereum’s solidity
- The road ahead for Tezos