Spotify Acquires Blockchain-Based Startup to Tackle Fair Royalty Issues

http://ift.tt/eA8V8J

Spotify, the $8 billion music streaming service provider, which is projected to reach 100 million users and a $53 billion valuation by 2020, acquired Mediachain, a startup backed by leading venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, to simplify royalties utilizing bitcoin’s underpinning technology.In March, Spotify found itself amidst legal troubles with its partnered musicians, record labels and producers over unpaid royalties. According to the announcement of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), Spotify settled a $25 million deal and a $5 million penalty over unpaid and unmatched songs.Upon the settlement of the $30 million deal, Spotify’s Global Head of Communications and Public Policy Jonathan Prince admitted that while the company has been committed in compensating its musicians and publishers since its launch in October of 2008, tracking all of its registered songs streamed by tens of millions of users and distributing royalties accurately and proportionally has been difficult.“As we have said many times, we have always been committed to paying songwriters and publishers every penny. We appreciate the hard work of everyone at the NMPA to secure this agreement and we look forward to further collaboration with them as we build a comprehensive publishing administration system,” Prince stated.At the time, NMPA President and CEO David Israelite emphasized that through the multimillion-dollar deal, music streaming service providers including Spotify will allocate more resources into compensating musicians and publishers transparently and properly. He further noted that NMPA and Spotify found the appropriate method of distributing royalties to music creators.“I am thrilled that through this agreement both independent and major publishers and songwriters will be able to get what is owed to them. We must continue to push digital services to properly pay for the musical works that fuel their businesses and after much work together, we have found a way for Spotify to quickly get royalties to the right people. I look forward to all NMPA members being paid what they are owed, and I am excited about the creation of a better process moving forward,” Israelite said.Spotify’s recent acquisition of Mediachain represents a large part of the vision established with NMPA. By utilizing blockchain technology, which is transparent, immutable and irrefutable, Spotify aims to develop and integrate a more fair platform for musicians and publishers. For this reason, Spotify acquired media-and-information-sharing-focused blockchain infrastructure provider Mediachain.The Spotify development team explained that the engineers and developers of Mediachain will join Spotify in its New York offices to help co-build an efficient royalty-tracking platform specialized for Spotify.In an official statement, Spotify announced:“Brooklyn-based Mediachain Labs has been the driving force behind the Mediachain project, a world-class blockchain research agenda and open source protocol to better manage data that is critical to the health of the music industry. The Mediachain team will join our New York City offices and help further Spotify’s journey towards a more fair, transparent and rewarding music industry for creators and rights owners.”Next year, in 2018, Spotify will officially launch an initial public offering (IPO) and take the company public. The acquisition of Mediachain and the Spotify team’s dedication to solve issues in regard to royalties and creator compensation, which could potentially emerge as a major financial setback in the future, demonstrate the company’s eagerness to justify its valuation to its investors and its presence in the music industry.The post Spotify Acquires Blockchain-Based Startup to Tackle Fair Royalty Issues appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

from Bitcoin Magazine http://ift.tt/2qigTbL

Grayscale Investments Launches $10 Million Ethereum Classic Private Fund

http://ift.tt/eA8V8J

The U.S. investment management company Grayscale Investments LLC has launched the first-ever private fund that invests in the digital currency ethereum classic (ETC) with $10 million in seed capital. The new fund is called the Ethereum Classic Investment Trust.Grayscale Investments, an investment subsidiary of the Digital Currency Group (DCG) founded by entrepreneur and investor Barry Silbert, has raised $10 million in seed capital from the Digital Currency Group, Silbert himself and Glenn Hutchins, co-founder of the private investment firm Silver Lake and board member of DCG, NASDAQ and AT&T. The purpose of the fund is to track the price of the digital currency ethereum classic (ETC), which was created a little under a year ago following the Ethereum hard fork. Ethereum Classic provides developers with the opportunity to create smart contracts as well as decentralized apps.  Ethereum Classic has since emerged as one of the leading digital currencies in the market in terms of market capitalization and investor interest. The all-time high of ethereum classic was $5.11 on April 27, and its market capitalization currently stands at around $440 million, making it the sixth largest digital currency in the market according to CoinMarketCap. “I’m excited about Ethereum Classic, as opposed to Ethereum (ETH), because ETC has a fixed supply and the potential to serve as the smart contract and micropayment layer to the Internet of Things,” Silbert said to Bitcoin Magazine.The Ethereum Classic Investment Trust is set up with a similar structure as Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust, the only publicly traded bitcoin investment vehicle in the U.S., which launched as a private vehicle in 2013 and began being publicly traded in 2015. The new fund allows investors to hold ETC without needing to go through the technical hassle of purchasing and securely storing the digital coins.  The fund is launching at a time when the digital currency market is witnessing new all-time highs in its two largest currencies, bitcoin and ether, as well as an impressive rally in altcoins, such as Litecoin, Ripple, DASH as well as ethereum classic. “As investors have grown more interested in digital currency as an asset class, we’ve also seen growing frustration with the difficulty in purchasing non-bitcoin digital currencies,” Silbert told Reuters when he first announced his intentions to launch the Ethereum Classic Investment Trust at the beginning of March. “We’re excited to launch a fund for ethereum classic to satisfy the growing interest we are seeing in ETC from more mainstream investors,” he added.The post Grayscale Investments Launches $10 Million Ethereum Classic Private Fund appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

from Bitcoin Magazine http://ift.tt/2pe3naF

RegTech for Fintech May Be the Next “Big Thing” in the Bitcoin and Blockchain Space

http://ift.tt/eA8V8J

Coinfirm estimates that RegTech can reduce compliance costs for financial services companies by as much as 50 percent.RegTech may be “the next big thing” in fintech as digital currency and blockchain startups bump up against new government regulations, resulting in an increase in the demand for legal compliance information that will help companies navigate regulatory requirements and conduct risk assessments.Banks and other financial institutions are also looking for cost-effective ways to assess the risks of using new blockchain technologies in different jurisdictions and to modify their practices to minimize increasing compliance costs. Accenture estimates that business compliance costs could drop by 30 to 50 percent at the product level with the use of a blockchain database.In its recent news release, Coinfirm estimates that companies can save as much as 50 percent by using regulatory and compliance technology. As recognized experts in the regulatory compliance field, the U.K.-based startup is well placed to benefit from this growing demand. Pawel Kuskowski, Coinfirm CEO and cofounder, noted recently that RegTech is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take advantage of the inevitable increase in rules and regulations that accompany a new field of enterprise.Kuskowski told Bitcoin Magazine:“For us, challenges include segmented regulations for cryptocurrencies or blockchain transactions on local levels. Bitlicense [is] an extreme example, but locally driven regulations create segmentation for a technology, system and industry that is organically without borders.“That’s one of the reasons we are so active with regulators and are influencing the direction of the regulatory landscape. Our goal is to create a global standard for blockchain transactions with our AML & Compliance platform being a part of that global standard.” SEI Gets Ahead of the Curve With Codify, Its New RegTech IncubatorRecognizing the growing importance of knowing and understanding increasingly complex “rules,” SEI, a leading U.K.-based financial services and wealth management firm, has launched Codify — an incubator specifically for RegTech firms that are positioning themselves to take advantage of this demand.Ahsan Mallick, general counsel at SEI U.K. and executive sponsor of Codify, told Bitcoin Magazine:“We created Codify to support promising early-stage businesses that are developing tech solutions to address the world’s growing and demanding regulatory requirements.“The importance of regulatory tech can’t be overstated as domestic and international regulation become more complex for all types of institutions,” he added.The Codify incubator offers the three current startups office space in SEI’s headquarters in London’s Canary Wharf, mentoring from both SEI employees and external experts like Jason Boud of RegTech Forum, access to SEI’s clients for potential investment and an opportunity to pitch their RegTech solutions.The three RegTech startups currently in Codify are Coinfirm, Enforcd and Neuroprofiler.RegTech Automates Routine Compliance, Freeing Up Analysts to Problem SolveThe automation of regulatory compliance comes from a combination of increasing compliance demands and the need to be cost effective.Coinfirm estimates that the current compliance systems catch only around 2 percent of money laundering, if not less, and that with blockchain adoption and using a platform like Coinfirm’s, that 2 percent effectiveness could increase to over 90 percent. Amber D. Scott, whose company Outlier Solutions works with digital currency and blockchain startups on anti-money laundering (AML) and regulatory compliance, told Bitcoin Magazine:“The complexity of regulatory requirements has been increasing for over a decade now. In step with this, compliance costs have been continuously increasing over the same period … but this is hurting more than just firms’ bottom lines.”Scott noted that, for most businesses, it is becoming impossible to conduct effective transaction monitoring or to have any real sense of the data without automation. “We often hear people say that they ‘know their clients’ — this is a common refrain in every regulated business, but regulators aren’t buying it. Unless you can prove it, you’re out of luck … Fortunately, most automated tools have excellent audit trails.”Coinfirm is most recognized for its Blockchain AML and Compliance platform, which has been used by major banks and digital currencies like Dash. Its platform uses proprietary algorithms and big data analytics to increase efficiency, reduce costs and streamline compliance to near automation.It is also blockchain agnostic, meaning that it is technically adoptable for any type of blockchain whether public like Bitcoin or Dash, or private such as the blockchain solutions many large companies and institutions are developing.Coinfirm is also promoting its blockchain solution for the registration and verification of authenticity of any type of document, record or file. Their Document Verification Platform is currently bringing in traditional players to use public blockchains like Bitcoin or Dash but in a way that naturally fits their already existing needs and processes.The challenge that RegTech encounters is obtaining accurate and timely data from a myriad of legacy systems and interpreting this data appropriately. Scott isn’t concerned about the growth of automated RegTech:“I’m occasionally asked if I am at all concerned about the cannibalization of these industries by automation, but I think that this is an absurd question. I hope that large swaths of the industry will be automated, freeing up humans to add real value rather than performing repetitive compliance tasks. Ultimately, automation will lead to happier compliance geeks because we will be able to focus on solving novel problems.”The post RegTech for Fintech May Be the Next “Big Thing” in the Bitcoin and Blockchain Space appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

from Bitcoin Magazine http://ift.tt/2ppv8v1