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The Promise of Augur

For something that promised so much potential ahead of its launch in July this year, the Augur network is yet to live up to its billing. The total money at stake (open interest) for all the prediction markets on Augur hovered around a meagre $1 million for quite a bit of time since the launch. One of the reasons why we feel Augur is going to take a lot more time to gain traction is because of the clunky nature of the user experience. Currently, creating markets and trading them on Augur involves an arduous task of downloading the client software and synching it every time a trade or a position has to be tweaked or adjusted. Additionally, all bets are denominated in ETH and the lack of an integrated stablecoin leaves users’ P&L exposed to the volatility of Ethereum.

For instance, you could correctly predict the winner of the Super Bowl in 2019 and still end up losing money in USD terms if the value of Ethereum depreciates between when you enter the bet and when the event is resolved (Feb 2019).

However, recently a market created for determining the outcome of one of the most anticipated political events- The US midterm elections – caught our attention. This is right now the market with the highest money at stake ($720k) and is a welcome sign that decentralized prediction markets are being used to predict outcomes of mainstream events with zero censorship resistance. Betting is banned in most countries, but users can still wager by simply plugging into the Augur application and owning some ETH to bet.

In line with the broader theme that comes up in every discussion around adoption ramp of crypto currencies, UI/UX issues and regulatory issues will need to be sorted over the next few years for Augur to achieve its true potential.

Meanwhile in Crypto Wonderland….

“Taiwan Cracking Down on Anonymous Transactions” Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed amendments on Friday to existing anti-money laundering and terrorism financing prevention laws that regulate transactions of virtual currencies such as bitcoin to help combat online financial crimes. The amendments to the Money Laundering Control Act and the Terrorism Financing Prevention Act give Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) the authority to crack down on anonymous virtual currency transactions.

“SEC on Crypto: Annual Report” The SEC stated that reducing the number of cryptocurrency-related scams is currently among their top priorities in its latest annual report. The report specifically cites initial coin offerings (ICOs) as one such sector of the industry that it is focusing on. The agency explains that their main goal is to protect traditional retail investors from falling prey to complex scams that specifically target their lack of technological knowledge.

“Lawyer to Build Crypto City” Consumer protection lawyer Jeffrey Berns, owner and CEO of Blockchains bought more than 67,000 acres of land in northern Nevada for $170 million earlier this year and has revealed plans to build a crypto city in the desert, claiming to have invested $300 million to make it a reality. The sprawling complex is meant to be a model for running a smart city with a decentralized blockchain infrastructure powering all interactions.

“BoA Secures Crypto Patent” Bank of America has secured its latest patent in the blockchain and crypto space, one for “tamper-responsive” remote storage of private keys. In essence, Bank of America wants to serve as a bank for private keys — a digital safe deposit box, of sorts, with the requisite insurance and backing of a major banking corporation.

“Dash Launches Text-based Service” Dash has announced the launch of Dash Text, an SMS-based cryptocurrency transaction service for Venezuelan users. The company said that Dash Text eliminates the need for Venezuelan users to possess smartphones and internet access to carry out crypto transactions, which has historically been a significant barrier to adoption in the impoverished country suffering from hyperinflation.

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