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YouTube Adpocalypse Gets Blockchain Solution

There is something curious going on with YouTube; it’s a strange phenomenon that Forbes called ‘Adpocalypse.’ The rampant demonetization of videos by Google on YouTube has heavily hit the earnings of popular content creators. Amos Yee, Singapore’s enfant terrible who is famous for dissing the city-state’s founder Lee Kuan Yew on YouTube, recently stirred up more controversy in his former homeland.

Yee asked his followers to support his videos on Patreon:

“Now more than 50 percent of the current videos on my channel have been demonetized, and because future videos of mine will obviously deal with controversial political subjects and [have] vulgar language, there’s a very high chance that more than 50 percent of my videos will continue to be demonetized and I won’t make money [off] them.”

Yee is not alone; there are others who have also been hit by this wave of YouTube demonetization. Philip DeFranco, a YouTuber with 4.5 mln subscribers called demonetization a “form of censorship” in a Business Insider article.

YouTube alternatives

If income loss is an issue then people can simply choose an alternative platform right? The answer would be, it is not so simple. YouTube has over one bln users and according to them, that is one-third of the Internet.

The second most wellknown video-oriented website is Vimeo, which has 170 mln users worldwide out of which 42 mln are in the United States.

However, Vimeo is seeing phenomenal rise and they claim that they have grown 80 percent over the last year.

The philosophy behind the two platforms is completely different. Vimeo basically charges content creators for putting their content on the platform and offers 500/MB per week of free storage (25 GB/year).

YouTube is fueled by advertisements and sharing that revenue with creators. Some YouTubers though have experimented with Vimeo by making films. These include Joey Graceffa and ComicBookGirl19. CNBC quoted  Kerry Trainor the former CEO of Vimeo as saying,

“When it comes to monetizing that viewing experience, it’s about allowing and empowering creators to actually charge for content instead of relying on a purely mass advertising-based model.”

YouTube claims demonetization strengthens creators

YouTube published a blog this year which claimed that they want creators to ‘express themselves while earning revenue.’ They wrote, “There’s a difference between the free expression that lives on YouTube and the content that brands have told us they want to advertise against. Our advertiser-friendly content policies set the tone for which videos can earn revenue, ensuring that ads only appear where they should. To make sure we apply this process fairly, we also give creators the chance to appeal if they feel any of their videos have been unfairly demonetized. We take these steps because advertiser confidence is critical to the financial success of our creators.” On first sight, this may feel like an effort to balance the needs of sponsors and advertisers and those of creators, but it also appears that YouTube is nudging creators only to make content that is palatable to moneybags or else suffer financially.  This is at the heart of the problem.

Third party revenue streams

San Francisco based Patreon has emerged as an alternative model for raising funds for YouTubers who are unhappy with the current state of affairs. Patreon lets viewers make monthly and ongoing ‘pledges’ that benefit creators directly. The website claims that they have sent over $150 mln so far to creators. They charge a five percent fee from the revenue that is raised for the creators. At the moment they are supporting a wide variety of content creators beyond just video creators like musicians, writers, comic book artists, podcasters etc.

Now Brave too have jumped into the fray with their latest desktop browser. We have already covered how Brave ICO raised  $35 mln through an ICO that issued BAT tokens. Brave users have a choice, they can either distribute contributions based on the time they spend viewing videos or by ‘pinning’ a set amount to their favourite creator. Brendan Eich, CEO of Brave Software Inc. explains why they choose extend the reward system to YouTubers, “We see big platforms exploiting the new generation of content creators who generate so much value for the platform owners, yet increasingly face sudden drops in ad revenues, and even demonetization.” Emphasising the need to connect viewers and YouTube content creators, he adds, “Brave reconnects users directly to content creators; with Brave Payments which we made available in beta using Bitcoin over the last year, and now provide built into Brave for laptops and desktops using the Basic Attention Token (BAT) instead of Bitcoin.”

Space for a decentralized solution

YouTube content creators who were up till now only at the mercy of Google have started to explore options when it comes to monetization of their content.

The arbitrary nature of demonetization, which puts the onus on creators to ensure that they either produce ‘advertiser-friendly content’ or go through a ‘process’ with YouTube.

Brave will help YouTubers avoid the vague rules that they are subject to at the moment, as an example creators with less than 10,000 lifetime views do not receive ad revenue.

While there are alternatives available like Patreon, that also puts creators at the mercy of an intermediary.

Talking to us about how a decentralised platform could play a role here, Brendon tells us, “Patreon is successful because it lets people contribute directly to creators registered there, but we see Brave as a decentralized way for users to go direct, via pinned contributions in Brave Payments.

These pay a percent of the user’s chosen monthly budget in BAT to recipients, without any centralized registration-based website acting as intermediary.”

Everyone can benefit

It is not only the content creators that Brave is focusing on but also the viewers. Brave users enjoy an ad-free experience without having to worry about installing extra plugins. Brendan tells us that YouTube creators who will promote Brave will see a ‘lift in contributions via Brave Payments.’

He reveals, “We will move to give Brave users BAT grants soon, and we have user-private ads that pay users the bulk of the revenue on our agenda, starting with trials in the first part of next year.

This should be win/win/win for YouTube content creators, their fans, and Brave.” At the moment these features that Brave are introducing are only available on the desktop.

We are told that the release for mobile will be announced in the near future. Brave has already passed one mln downloads on Android.

Fortune favors the Brave

What Brave is doing is letting YouTube users enjoy an ad-free experience, while letting YouTube content creators enjoy an alternate stream of revenue through Brave Payments fuelled by BAT token.

This decentralized Blockchain based system is an alternative universe and a new way of doing things, which is dynamically different from what Google are offering.

Brendan acknowledges that but also tells us that it is about being Brave in the end, “Brave is for users who have the courage to defend their data and experience against tracking and advertising, which have proven to be two sides of the same abusive coin controlled by the big platforms.

If this puts us at odds with Google in the short run, we believe in the long run the Web Standards will rise to address user rights, privacy by design, intermediary-free payments and even anonymous ads — all of which we are building into Brave and Google is not building into Chrome.”

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When Governments Get Intrusive, Bitcoin Provides Way Out

Governments across the world are using technology and banks to keep an eye on their citizens. Decentralized currencies like Bitcoin may be the only way out for people who want to maintain their privacy.

Europe and MiFid

The European Union’s Market in Financial Instruments Directives (MiFiD) are set to be implemented from January 2018. Customers who transact in securities will now have to provide their passport numbers to every platform they register on.

Exchanges are transitioning to MiFiD-ready platforms and have started collection of data. If you do not provide your passport number and other personal data, exchanges may block your transactions. As far as Know-Your-Customer norms are concerned, no data is considered private.

US tracks citizens worldwide

The US, through the enactment of Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), tracks the accounts of its citizens worldwide. US citizens, whether resident or not, have information such as their social security numbers and total assets collected by banks and submitted to the IRS. The US government twists the arms of foreign banks to ensure compliance. This is done by threatening non-compliant banks with a withholding penalty on their US transactions.

The IRS is even trying to use tools like Chainalysis to track down Bitcoin transactions. There is no escaping the long arm of Uncle Sam, except by renouncing your citizenship, which some wealthy Americans have done.

India and Aadhar

The Government of India seems to be pushing forward with its aim to make Aadhar ubiquitous. The Aadhar card, which involves the collection of biometrics like fingerprints and iris scans, has been made compulsory for everything from receiving subsidies to filing income tax returns. In its new push, the government has also ordered the linking of bank accounts and mobile numbers to your unique Aadhar number.

Its motto is one billion, one billion, one billion – a billion bank accounts linked to a billion mobile numbers linked to a billion Aadhar numbers. Privacy? Forget about it, especially when it comes to money. Demonetization is not the only assault by the Indian government on people’s’ rights.

Nothing to hide?

The attitude of governments when questioned about the need for citizens’ privacy is that only criminals need to hide things from the government. Various organizations have taken the issue of privacy to courts and are fighting a battle to safeguard the rights of citizens, but governments are nonetheless chipping away at citizens’ privacy. Thankfully, Bitcoin is founded on the core premise that transactions cannot be censored in any way. If Alice wants to send some of her Bitcoins to Bob, she will be able to do that irrespective of what the government thinks and wants her to do.

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Can Any Government Ban Bitcoin?

Bitcoin has been around the fringes of financial markets for less than a decade, but is slowly gaining prominence as an alternative asset class. Can the government of any major country step in and do the unthinkable – ban Bitcoin?

Flashback – Holding Gold Bullion is a Crime

Those who think that no government (except those run by tinpot dictators) would take the extreme step of banning Bitcoin need a lesson in history. There was a time when holding gold bullion was a crime in America, punishable by a sentence of up to ten years in prison. In 1933, American President Franklin D Roosevelt issued an order requiring all Americans to hand over their gold holdings to the Federal Reserve Bank. The ban on owning gold remained in place for more than four decades, before President Ford legalized gold ownership. This move was made easy by the fact that America had abandoned the gold standard a short while prior and hence had no need to own vast quantities of gold to back up the amount of currency it printed.

The Great Chinese Firewall

Another oft-repeated argument against a ban on Bitcoin is that in the age of the globalized internet economy, individual governments lack the authority and power to act against a decentralized currency like Bitcoin. However, we only have to look at how China has bent even the Internet to realize that this is not the case. By a mix of government legislation and the blocking of popular foreign websites by the Chinese internet service providers, the Chinese government has tried to limit the Chinese to a walled garden, instead of viewing the whole world wide web. Traffic monitoring tools are used by the government to stifle political dissent. Taking a step to ban Bitcoin would not be too large a leap for the Chinese government.

India and Demonetization

If you think that fiat notes, printed by the Government and certified by the Central Bank, would be the last thing to be banned, think again! The Indian Government issued a decree in November 2016, stating that high denomination notes would cease to be legal tender almost immediately. Indian citizens had to queue up in banks to deposit old currency notes. Getting hands on the replacement currency was not easy, leading to huge queues at ATMs. This demonetization was touted as a means to curb income tax evasion and solve most of the government’s problems. Almost a year later, it has become evident that demonetization has failed to achieve the government’s objectives and has only resulted in an increase in the demand for Bitcoins.

Enforceability Issues

If a government decides to make trading or possessing Bitcoins illegal, questions will be raised about how exactly it will enforce such a ban. It is impossible for a government to seize your Bitcoins, unless you decide to handover your private keys. However, the majority of citizens and institutions like to stay on the right side of the law. So the demand for Bitcoin would plummet if the government decided to ban it. All exchanges in that country would also be shuttered and buying/selling Bitcoin would be difficult and risky. This would suffocate Bitcoin in that country and the government’s objectives might be achieved.

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Popular Wallet Blockchain Partners With Indian Bitcoin Exchange Unocoin

One of the biggest Bitcoin wallet provider companies, Blockchain has announced a unique tie-up with India based Bitcoin exchange Unocoin.

The partnership with Unocoin intends to give Blockchain users across India the ability to quickly and easily fund their Blockchain wallets.

Starting Sept. 6,  Blockchain wallet users in India will be able to link their bank account directly with their wallet when buying Bitcoins from Unocoin.

This feature will surely help Blockchain wallets to rapidly expand their user base in a country like India, where credit/debit card adoption is still trailing some of the more mature economies where Blockchain operates. This move also enables both companies to leverage each other’s strong areas, letting them develop a more robust infrastructure without compromising on security and control.

Demonetization helped

India is a rapidly growing market for cryptocurrencies, which is evident by an increased uptick in Bitcoin buying after the demonetisation drive.

The demonetisation effectively took out high value fiat currency notes from circulation, causing a widespread cash crunch for months, and leading to a Bitcoin buying frenzy due to its status as a non-government controlled asset.

Mobile rollout

The Unocoin integration is available to Blockchain wallet web users immediately, and there are plans to expand it to the Blockchain wallet Android and iOS apps in the near future.