5 Freelancers Who May Use Bitcoin-Powered Streamium to Cut Out Middlemen

Bitcoin Magazine
5 Freelancers Who May Use Bitcoin-Powered Streamium to Cut Out Middlemen
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The launch of Streamium was announced via Reddit yesterday.

The new application from Manuel Aráoz and company was created to build a direct connection between video streamers and their viewers. Video streaming is dealt with on a peer-to-peer (P2P) basis via WebRTC, and payments for viewing a stream are made possible through the use of bitcoin and payment channels.

A stream of small, off-chain payments are made to the broadcaster every second as the viewer continues to watch a stream, and all of those micropayments are then combined into one larger payment that is made via the bitcoin blockchain.

The P2P nature of the Streamium platform has the potential to disrupt many different types of video streaming businesses currently found on the Internet due to the fact that it is now much easier to broadcast directly to an audience rather than going through a middleman.

Still, there is still plenty of work to be done when it comes to scaling the software up to handle larger audiences. For now, a broadcaster is limited by his or her own available bandwidth. In any case, here are five types of people who could benefit from trying out Streamium for the first time.

Cam Girls

The most obvious area where Streamium can be helpful is in the adult entertainment industry, especially when it comes to live cam shows. The adult industry has faced financial censorship from both PayPal and the legacy banking system, which is why many adult entertainment sites have turned to the blockchain for payments.

Live cam sites can sometimes take a large percentage of a performer’s profits, which is why the direct payment from the audience to the entertainer on Streamium could be rather helpful. Of course, it would also make sense if the viewers were able to also tip performers for certain requests.

Live Sports Pirates

Bitcoin isn’t necessarily entirely about illegal activity, but those sorts of profit opportunities seem to be where new technologies take off first. Most sports fans are familiar with free online streams that are usually hosted by shady individuals at a rather low resolution.

Viewers are usually bombarded with advertisements when viewing these unlicensed streams, and it also feels like viruses and malware are right around the corner on these kinds of sites. Due to the P2P nature of Streamium, new streaming sports pirates may decide to offer a premium version of sporting events in higher quality without all of the downsides currently found in the black market industry.

Doctors, Lawyers, and Other On-Demand Professionals

A variety of “professional-on-demand” services have popped up over the past few years. These are the kinds of websites or apps where you’re able to talk to a doctor (Doctor on Demand), lawyer (LAWfone) or some other professional for a flat fee.

Although these services were a move in the right direction when it comes to cutting costs, they aren’t completely necessary in a world of Streamium and social media. Closely associated with this sort of 1-on-1 streaming activity is also the ability to be a freelance consultant on basically any topic without a middleman. Of course, it should be remembered middlemen still have value in these sorts of freelance operations for marketing purposes.

Professional Gamers and Gaming Personalities

The magnitude of online video game streaming may not have become apparent to the general public until Twitch was bought by Amazon for nearly $1 billion, but the large number of young people turning to the video game streaming platform for full-time employment is now becoming hard to ignore. Professional gamers and gaming personalities could use Streamium in a few different ways to improve their overall profits.

Although completely replacing Twitch may not be in the cards, streamers could turn to Streamium as a vehicle for pay-per-view events. Whether it is two famous CS:GO teams playing a friendly game or a training session with one of the best StarCraft players in the world, there are a variety of ways in which pro gamers can use Streamium to their advantage.

Teachers

Private teachers already exist, but what if those teachers were also able to livestream their lectures to outsiders at a fixed rate?

“Teacher” is also used as a rather broad term here as it could be anyone who is able to explain a specific topic to someone else. For example, well-known bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos could start a class that can be viewed by anyone via Streamium. Perhaps there would also be a small fee for asking a question at the end of a lecture or presentation.

Streamium could allow new students to attend a class without doing anything else besides showing up and opening a payment channel (assuming that they already have some bitcoin.) Perhaps the platform would also be useful for 1-on-1 tutoring sessions between students.

Long Story Short

In reality, no one really knows how people are going to end up using this new platform. Like many other innovative applications, it is up to the users to figure out how to best use this new tool. Perhaps we’ll see bitcoin conferences or video podcasts on Streamium in the future, but the team behind this new project will need to figure out how to scale the technology – perhaps through webtorrent – before there are any mass events streamed with it.

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Mintsy Launches Cloud Mining Service with Cryptographic Proof-of-Hashrate
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Mintsy recently announced a launch of its new cloud mining service as the first digital currency cloud mining company to use proof-of-reserves, accomplished through cryptographic proof-of-hashrate.

Bitcoin Magazine sat down with Marshall Long, who is the CTO of Cryptsy, and more recently CTO and board member at Mintsy, to discuss what he says is unprecedented innovation in the realm of cloud mining.

Mintsy provides users with malleable contracts, which assuages any worries on being locked into a contract they no longer need. Long says users are “able to sell their remaining contract time on the Mintsy marketplace where other folks may want a shorter contract and can bid on contracts that are up for sale by the user.”

Mining the Future

At the time of this post, Mintsy is made up of 20 people, and is the result of a joint venture between Terraboss Inc. and digitalBTC. The development team is spread out between the United States and London, while the majority of the accounting takes place in Australia. DigitalBTC is an Australian company that is publicly traded on the Australian Securities Exchange under the ticker DCC.

With a bitcoin mining pool going strong at more than 5 PH/s, Mintsy offers SHA-256 and Scrypt contracts ranging with flexible three-month and six-month contracts, although “more exotic algorithm contracts will be online soon.”

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Thinking Outside The Box: Cryptographic Proof of Hashrate

Long, a serial entrepreneur in the fields of Bitcoin, drones and manufacturing, explains that previously, many cloud-based mining services “got away with lots of bitcoin in the beginning because nobody demanded proof of what they were selling.”

He explains that Mintsy will circumvent all of the problems relating to the auditing that their accounting staff may have to deal with, since all of their hashrate information will be transparent.

Naysayers are given proof that the cloud mining company is not double-selling hashrates, instead running a 100 percent full reserve by having all of their information accessible on the blockchain. Long has been working with Bitcoin core developer Peter Todd to implement the cryptographic proof-of-hashrate for Mintsy. This feature is still in development with a planned release in mid- June.

Another feature that Mintsy will have is the ability for users to use the website’s service and rent out their rigs to other users for a fee, much like Betarigs.

In the meantime, users can limit their luck variance by allowing their customer base to “take their contract and point it to any pool.” When users don’t put all of their eggs in one basket, the choice in picking their mining pools is “not only transparent, it’s more efficient since your [one] pool is not lucky all the time.”

But is Cloud Mining still profitable?

It’s no surprise that conventional mining is not as easy as it used to be.

“If your electricity bill is very high, then there is no way you can make money mining even with the most advanced of chips,” explains Marshall. To him, cloud mining not only helps those who don’t have access to cheap power, but also provides new users with a way to ease into mining for a very small fee. The company’s smallest contract costs a little under $20, and users can always trade contracts on the Mintsy marketplace.

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MasterCard Introduces Fast Bitcoin-like Global Payments to Consumers
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MasterCard has launched MasterCard Send, a personal payments service that enables funds to be sent quickly and securely to consumers domestically and internationally.

Now live for users in the United States, MasterCard Send permits sending secure real-time payments to consumers, both banked and unbanked. The recipients get the funds immediately on their MasterCard or other cards, into mobile money and bank accounts or via cash agent outlets.

“This unique platform will enable disbursements and person-to-person (P2P) payments to and from virtually any U.S. debit card account, including non-MasterCard debit cards,” notes the MasterCard announcement. “MasterCard Send is the only personal payments service that can reach virtually all U.S. debit card accounts and enable funds to be sent and received typically within seconds – far superior to existing solutions that either limit transfers within a closed-loop network or involve ACH [Automated Clearing House], which can take several days for funds to be received.”

MasterCard Send payments are routed through the MasterCard network. Some news outlets quickly remarked that a centralized payment solution can’t be P2P. In fact, MasterCard is using “P2P” in the sense of person-to-person, not peer-to-peer, so the claim seems technically correct. However, MasterCard Send is not P2P in the sense of BitTorrent or Bitcoin.

“Through MasterCard Send, we have enabled a breakthrough solution that takes the pain out of the system, provides faster clearing of payments, and delivers a better user experience for senders and receivers alike,” said MasterCard chief emerging payments officer Ed McLaughlin. “MasterCard Send is addressing a real need that exists in today’s digital world to enable consumers, businesses, governments and more to have a safe, simple and secure way to transfer and receive funds quickly.”

Barb King, a group head in the MasterCard Payment Systems Integrity Group, described the service to PYMNTS as “a breakthrough platform in the industry.” She said that that the service is being marketed to companies and institutions, rather than directly to consumers, and mentioned B2C (business-to-consumer) and G2C (government-to-consumer) use cases. The MasterCard announcement notes that insurance claims, rebates, e-marketplace payouts, social benefits and tax refunds can now be sent in real-time. However, nothing seems to prevent individuals from using the platform to send payments and remittances to other consumers.

MasterCard Send emulates one of the two main advantages of bitcoin payments – fast transactions that take minutes instead of days. Details on the business model and economics were not disclosed, so it isn’t clear if MasterCard plans to emulate the other mainstream advantage of bitcoin payments – cheap transactions.

The MasterCard announcement doesn’t mention Bitcoin, but King told PYMNTS that “consumers are much more comfortable giving their personal details to their financial institution than they are to many other types of entities,” and that is a big reason why she believes MasterCard Send is more appealing than the bitcoin protocol.

It’s clear that traditional payment processors won’t let bitcoin payments eat their lunch without a fight. Currently, MasterCard Send seems a strong competitor to centralized operators such as PayPal and Venmo, but not a competitor to peer-to-peer, decentralized bitcoin payments.

Photo: Credit card of future / CC BY 2.0

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digitalBTC Raises $3.5 million AUD to Launch AirPocket
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Digital BTC, an Australian Bitcoin company that is publicly traded on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) as Digital CC Limited has secured a $3.5 million AUD funding round by a group of institutional and individual investors to launch a remittance-focused product, AirPocket.

CEO and founder Zhenya Tsvetnenko specifically explained that the funds from the “investment will be used accelerate the rollout and commercialization of AirPocket in Latin America and Caribbean.”

The company was originally seeking for a $3 million AUD funding round, until the demand from local investors rose and the company had to enlarge the funding round with another $500,000 AUD. The increased funding round raised the company’s cash to over $6 million.

The product soon to be launched in Latin America and the Caribbean is a smartphone app which “effectively allows anyone to act as a small Western Union outlet.” Users are provided with a map interface which displays other agents called AirAgents in another country who passes the money to the recipient. Every transaction established on AirPocket will be recorded on the bitcoin blockchain, which allows the ledger to be viewed by anyone anywhere. This model is similar to Bitcoin remittance app Abra, which was unveiled earlier this year.

Tsvetnenko explained “Our platform is unique in that it makes remittances easier by leveraging the sharing economy pioneered by Uber and Airbnb.”

According to Proactive Investors Australia, the beta version of AirPocket will be launched in June of 2015 and the commercial version is set to be launched for the fourth quarter of 2015.

DigitalBTC holds a minimum 75 percent interest of AirPocket and the other 25 percent is divided within the investors including William Witenberg, Juan Carlos Barrera and Sanjay Santhanam.

Digital BTC CEO Zhenya Tsvetnenko stated “The quality of the joint venture team provides strong validation of the commercial potential for AirPocket and I’m confident they are the right people to execute the business strategy in Latin America and the Caribbean and capitalize on the huge potential to disrupt the multi-billion dollar remittance market.”

Company’s Loss in 2014

The Australian bitcoin company Digital BTC traded on the Australian Securities Exchange as Digital CC limited reported a total net loss of $2.3 million in the second half of 2014.

After a substantially large loss, digitalBTC still holds net assets worth $6.87 million, in which over $740,000 are bitcoins and the remaining are cash.

As the global adoption of digital currencies including bitcoin is increasing as a system of payment, digital BTC aims to target the remittance markets in regions with poor banking systems and financial infrastructure such as Latin America and the Caribbean.

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