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Blockchain-Based E-Commerce Platform to Help Merchants Open Shops Without Startup Capital

A startup e-commerce ecosystem is turning to blockchain to help businesses become more operationally efficient, while enabling billions of users on social media “to generate income with ease.”

TIPO says it has identified three major problems facing the e-commerce market today. According to the company, many of the platforms currently dominating the industry are too focused on buying and selling when there are many other services that can benefit merchants and their loyal customers. Plus, while online payments have continued to rise, market share is yet to reach its true potential. Lastly, businesses are wasting time and money through “suboptimal logistics and warehousing operations.”

Looking towards the vast user bases enjoyed by the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, TIPO argues that most visitors to such platforms haven’t been able to grasp their “limitless” monetization potential – nor have the businesses trying to reach them. As an example of how this platform wants to help everyday social media users make money, TIPO says they would be able to become sales agents for the manufacturers and merchants of products they have purchased and loved. Resultantly, they are paid money for referring their favorite items – be it a hat or a pair of shoes – to friends.

TIPO also hopes to offer advantages to every other stakeholder in e-commerce. While merchants would find it easy to open their very own shop without the need for a large amount of startup capital, the people who buy their products would get the chance to negotiate the best prices, receive tokens for their loyalty, and benefit from blockchain-based tracking methods which are designed to reduce the rates of counterfeit or fake products in the marketplace. In a nod to affiliate marketing, social media users would be paid every time someone clicks on a merchant’s link they have shared. Finally, the businesses shipping the products would also be able to reduce the risk of being given fake orders – and benefit from tools enabling them to “schedule [the] shipping time and route early and efficiently.”

Optimizing payments

According to TIPO’s white paper, e-commerce businesses have been struggling to hit the happy medium between giving users the freedom to make payments online while ensuring that merchants are paid promptly. TIPO aims to remedy this by offering “fast and immediate transactions even during weekends or holidays” and ensuring retailers receive funds as soon as customers successfully complete a transaction. This is going to be achieved through TPO tokens.

The startup is also hoping to help other small e-tailers by reducing their shipping costs and helping the high cost of sales and marketing to tumble substantially.

TIPO acknowledges that its concept can be achieved without blockchain, but argues this technology offers several benefits. For example, buyers and merchants are given the chance to rate each other, and there’s a “guarantee” that payments are processed accurately and on time, with a transaction history that’s immutably recorded. Shoppers can also benefit from healthier discounts and benefits by locking up their TPO tokens.

The future forecast

TIPO is holding an initial coin offering in several stages. A private sale concludes on Sept 20, with a presale taking place from Sept 12 to Oct 9. Finally, the ICO itself will run from Oct 10 to Nov 10.

Development on the TIPO project began in June 2017, with web development starting in August 2017 and Android development in January of this year. Work will commence on an iOS version of the platform in October, paving the way for TIPO to be released in beta come January 2019. By March 2019, it hopes to offer artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning functionality.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Japanese Online Retail Giant Buys Bitcoin Exchange

Despite the current bear dominated cryptocurrency market big buyouts in the industry are still occurring. Japan’s leading e-commerce giant Rakuten has announced plans to buy out a Tokyo crypto exchange.

The exchange, Everybody’s Bitcoin, was established in December 2016 and launched in Japan in March the following year. It is currently not one of the approved licensed exchanges that Japan’s Financial Services Agency permits to operate and itself was subject to a FSA probe following Coincheck’s hack in January.

The official announcement came a couple of days ago stating “The acquisition is based on a stock purchase agreement between Rakuten Card Co., Ltd. and Traders Investment, Inc. which is the parent company of Everybody’s Bitcoin.”

The acquisition will be effective on October 1 and is worth around $2.4 million, 265 million Yen, which will include all of the firm’s 5,100 shares. The Rakuten Group, which consists of 70 businesses, operates Rakuten Ichiba, the largest e-commerce site in Japan in addition to operating the country’s biggest internet bank and third-largest credit card company by transaction value. Services extend to travel and leisure, digital content, insurance and communications and financial technology. In 2016 the group also established the Rakuten Blockchain Lab, based in Belfast.

The company has cited a growing demand for crypto services from existing foreign exchange customers as a catalyst for the acquisition;

“In addition, a growing number of customers, in particular foreign exchange customers, of Rakuten Securities, the securities company of the Rakuten Group, have been calling for the provision of a cryptocurrency exchange service, which is also part of the background of the Rakuten Group considering entry into the cryptocurrency exchange industry.”

The company has acquired the exchange to register it with Japanese regulators early and develop cryptocurrency services for its customers by combining the knowledge and experience of the two organizations.

Rakuten already accepts Bitcoin payments and has been doing so since 2015 when it integrated its U.S. online portal with Bitnet, a leading Bitcoin payment processing firm. It also launched its own loyalty based cryptocurrency, Rakuten Coin, earlier this year.

This buyout is the latest in a long line of Rakuten acquisitions stretching back over a decade which includes a $100 million investment in Pinterest in 2012, Viber Media (messaging app) in 2014, and Bitcoin wallet startup Bitnet in 2016.

Crypto in Japan just keeps moving forward regardless of bearish activity on the markets this year.

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Binance Backs $32 Million Funding for Unicorn Founder's Crypto Stablecoin

Yet another stablecoin is attracting big investors.

Announced Tuesday, the founder behind a $1.4 billion startup unicorn called TMON is revealing he has raised a $32 million seed round to build a stablecoin called Terra. But while a number of startups have deployed stablecoins – cryptocurrencies engineered to track the price of another asset, usually fiat currency – Terra comes with a notable addition: an existing user base.

Created by Korean entrepreneurs Danial Shin, who founded and chairs TMON, one of the top e-commerce websites in South Korea, the Terra project is launching with a significant number of partners that already reach 40 million customers. Those partners, who will together form the Terra Alliance, a group of e-commerce sites that are interested in incorporating the stablecoin into their business, include Woowa Brothers, Qoo10, Carousell, Pomelo and TIKI.

According to a spokesperson for the project, those companies, combined, take in $25 billion in sales.

“We’ve banded together all the e-commerce platforms in Asia that are not called Alibaba or Amazon to push Terra into the hands of many many people,” Shin told CoinDesk.

It’s no wonder that the round includes quite a few notable crypto investors, including Polychain Capital, FBG Capital, Hashed, 1kx, Kenetic Capital, Arrington XRP, Binance and others who were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to support Terra, which sets itself apart from most other blockchain projects with its established and immediate go-to-market strategy,” said Polychain’s Karthik Raju in a statement.

Echoing that, Ella Zhang, head of Binance Labs, said in a statement:

“While we see many stablecoins coming out, Terra’s journey is especially meaningful as they are designing one of the few price-stable protocols with existing, working and strong go-to-market strategy and usage.”

That use, according to Shin, is in acting as an economical digital payment system, compared to credit cards.

He told CoinDesk, that a significant portion of TMON’s annual losses take the form of credit card fees. And he’s sure other retailers experience the same.

That said, if companies like his can lower transaction fees dramatically, he believes they stand a better chance against the industry giants.

For the new alliance of companies, “the commitment really is that they will work together on a more efficient form of payment, obviously using blockchain technology,” he continued.

A two-token system

To do that, the Terra protocol uses two tokens: terra and luna.

Investors in the seed round bought tokens from a pool of 400 million luna tokens (a fixed supply of one billion luna tokens will be created) set aside for them.

These luna tokens function as collateral on the network. Their sale will supply an initial reserve that will help stabilize the price versus fiat, much as Tether does now. The other token, terra, will act as the day-to-day payment method that consumers will use when the protocol goes live. It will be emitted as needed based on demand.

Then every time a transaction happens on the network, a tiny transaction fee will be paid to holders of Luna.

Shin told CoinDesk:

“Luna is essentially a decentralized equity akin to Visa and Mastercard.”

He continued: “What we’ve learned watching Visa and Mastercard stock prices every year, it’s very smooth.”

Much like other stablecoin projects, oracles on the network will monitor supply and demand. As terra’s use grows, it will algorithmically issue new tokens.

The advantage to e-commerce consumers and merchants will be that these new issuances will be used to provide discounts to people who use the crypto token. So, for example, if the protocol has issued a new lot of terra, merchants might be able consumers a 10 percent discount on purchases made with the token – that is until the new supply runs out.

“As we integrate with more e-commerce partners, we are able to distribute that money back to e-commerce companies and their consumers in the form of kickbacks and discounts,” Shin said.

In this way, the project seems focused on one of bitcoin’s early touted use cases, as a cheaper digital payments rail as compared to the incumbents.

What Terra still needs, though, is a host blockchain – a big question for many projects today. The protocol will run on top of one of the existing projects; Shin said either ethereum, EOS, Orbs, messaging giant Kakao’s Ground X or the forthcoming project from Upbit, one of Korea’s exchanges.

But Shin doesn’t seem phased by that, telling CoinDesk that even though the focus will first be on the Asian market, that’s just the start of the project’s aspirations.

“We thought deploying the design in the U.S. where crypto adoption is very low, makes very little sense,” Shin said, adding: “I think the ambition is global.”

Image via Tmon Foursquare

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Coinbase Wins Patent for Secure Bitcoin Payments System

A newly published Coinbase patent seeks to protect a way of making bitcoin purchases more secure for customers.

In the filing, published August 14, the U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange outlined how it could develop a payment portal which would allow users to pay using bitcoin directly from their digital wallet.

“It may be a security concern for users that the private keys of their bitcoin addresses may be stolen from their wallets,” the patent stated. “Existing systems do not provide a solution for maintaining security over private keys while still allowing the users to checkout on a merchant page and making payments using their wallets.”

The system as described sets up a “key ceremony” that creates key shares that are combined into an operational master key – encrypted with the users’ passphrases – that can be made publicly available and deleted after use.

The operational master key is used for private key encryption during checkout, as well as for transaction signing when a payment is made.

What the filing calls “freeze logic” is also employed in the process, a security measure that automatically halts transactions if an administrator chooses to suspend the system.

The patent explains:

“At any point in time after the master key is loaded, the system can be frozen. The system can be unfrozen after it has been frozen using keys from the key ceremony. The checkout process can be carried out when the system is frozen and when the system is unfrozen. The payment process can only be carried out when the system is unfrozen.”

The patent goes on to note that the system also includes an API key, meaning different websites would be able to launch their own version of the portal.

The API key would have two parts: one would be specific to the host server, while the other would be stored on the system developed by Coinbase. The two keys would have to match for a transaction to go through, adding another layer of security for customers.

Internet shopping image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Coinbase Launches Crypto Plugin for Popular E-Commerce Platform

U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase has announced a new service aimed to boost cryptocurrency payment options for e-commerce businesses.

According to a blog post published Thursday, Coinbase Commerce – the startup’s non-custodial cryptocurrency payment solution for merchants – has now launched a plugin for popular e-commerce platform WooCommerce.

WooCommerce, going by figures cited by Coinbase, currently provides the payments system for more than 28 percent of all web stores. However, the BuiltWith currently estimates the figure is slightly lower, at 21 percent.

Even so, the addition of the plugin (available on GitHub) now makes cryptocurrency payments via Coinbase to a good chunk of the web’s e-commerce sites. It should be noted there are other similar plugins already available, such as CryptoWoo.

Coinbase said in the post:

“This increased access will lead to more widespread adoption, and ultimately, moves us closer to our goal of an open financial system.”

The blog post also revealed that Coinbase now offers the option of sending of bitcoin and litecoin directly from Coinbase Commerce, with ethereum and bitcoin cash also in the pipeline.

The news comes just days after Coinbase opened up its exchange service to U.K. customers using pounds Sterling. It will now offer same-day deposits and withdrawals using the country’s Faster Payments system.

And on July 2, the firm launched Coinbase Custody, a crypto storage service aimed at institutional hedge funds and other clients who can deposit holdings at a minimum of $10 million.

E-commerce image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Coinbase Plugin Allows Millions of Webstores to Accept Crypto

Leading crypto exchange Coinbase is on a roll this week. Just yesterday it announced that it was enabling GBP support for UK based customers and today there is news of a new e-payments app for web based marketplaces.

According to the company blog Coinbase will be offering a new feature to enable cryptocurrency payments for merchants anywhere in the world. “We’ve been hard at work the past few weeks and are happy to announce a WooCommerce plugin and a few other new features,” it stated.

WooCommerce is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms on the web. It integrates seamlessly with WordPress which drives as many as 30% of all websites according to reports. The blog states that the e-commerce software runs around 28% of all online stores however other statistics indicate that WooCommerce penetration could be as high as 37%. The platform’s own website claims that the software has been downloaded almost 50 million times. This is a huge number to be opened up to crypto payments. Coinbase added;

“This increased access will lead to more widespread adoption, and ultimately, moves us closer to our goal of an open financial system.”

The plugin has been posted on the Coinbase Github with instructions on how to add it to WordPress. It is hoped that the majority of webstores will enable crypto payments to increase overall adoption. A small button needs to be added to their websites to enable payments, the app does the rest. Plugins from other exchanges could also be in the pipeline with Coinbase leading the way at the moment.

The company has also enabled extra functionality to enable sending Bitcoin and Litecoin directly from the new e-commerce platform, named Coinbase Commerce. It hopes to add support for Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash in the future.

It emphasized that all payments made through Coinbase Commerce were peer-to-peer. Funds are sent from the client’s crypto wallet directly to the merchant and processed via the app on the blockchain. “This means merchants never have to pay transaction fees to accept payments and always remain in complete control over their funds,” the blog added.

Coinbase is aggressively expanding its services and partnerships and with over 20 million users this will be a needed blessing for cryptocurrency adoption.

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Decentralized E-Commerce Marketplace Vows to Offer Shopping Protection and Data Security

A new blockchain-based e-commerce marketplace claims its centralized rivals are harming the sector by overcharging buyers and unfairly treating merchants — and plans to launch a new model, offering “complete shopping protection, data security and minimal commission.”

ApolloX says it is hoping to challenge “monopolistic intermediaries” with an ecosystem consisting of three building blocks. The first component is a protocol which the company says makes it easy for e-retailers to build decentralized e-commerce applications on a blockchain. The second block is the independent web stores and marketplaces that will be developed using its technology. Last but not least, ApolloX says that the third block is the whole of its community — including manufacturers, service providers, technologists, sellers and consumers — with users being rewarded when they provide value to other stakeholders.

The company alleges that the dominance of big industry players has sparked massive issues. ApolloX claims that unfair pricing, hidden costs, data abuse and the misuse of power are byproducts of e-commerce giants pursuing ways to maximize their profits. As an antidote to this, the blockchain-driven startup says it wants to decrease the costs associated with e-commerce by 40 percent.

Helping merchants grow their businesses

According to ApolloX, many merchants are stuck in between a rock and a hard place when it comes to reaching shoppers. E-tailers often need to use these e-commerce giants if they are going to reach customers, but these small businesses usually face large fees that eat into profits. To compound the problem, the startup says that these merchants are missing out on precious data about the buyers who come across their stores — preventing them from enacting strategies that will fuel further growth.

The decentralized platform aims to remedy this through an “attribution protocol” that enables sellers to monitor the traffic their store is receiving — and provides both sellers and customers the opportunity to receive incentives for boosting the number of people they reach. Over time, this could be a cheaper method of marketing and attracting new customers than traditional displays or pay-per-click ads.

ApolloX also says it wants to tackle two of the problems which regularly cost merchants time and money. The company claims that the set of smart contracts which form its payment protocol can pave the way for automated and decentralized transactions — and says this has the potential to prevent most online shopping scams. Meanwhile, it also wants to rethink the way disputes between merchants and shoppers are resolved through an arbitration protocol known as “Deposit-Challenge-Vote.” Here, the arbiters for each case would be selected from the ApolloX community at random — and once they have come to a verdict, they would be rewarded in tokens for their efforts.

Encouraging the use of the ApolloX platform

The startup says that a custom-made token for its ecosystem, APXT, has an array of purposes that will contribute to its user uptake. While merchants can use this currency to pay for product listings and to bid for promotional positions in search results, shoppers can use APXT to buy goods and services. Frequent buyers also have the opportunity to earn rewards in APXT through a loyalty program.

ApolloX is planning to hold a token sale for APXT, with funds being used to further the development of its protocol, strike strategic partnerships and raise awareness about its platform.

Come October, the startup aims to release a beta version of its front-end system, with an alpha version running on distributed nodes expected to follow two months later. Its decentralized marketplace would undergo testing in April 2019, paving the way for ApolloX to become a fully decentralized service in 2020.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Cryptocurrency Startup To Take On ‘Outdated’ Credit Cards Through Blockchain Payment Protocol

PumaPay is building a Blockchain-based protocol to reform how everyday financial transactions are completed – with a warning that credit and debit cards are unfit for purpose in today’s “fast-paced, global economy.”

PumaPay claims its system has what it takes to propel cryptocurrencies into mainstream use and rethink how payments are processed. It is developing an open-source “PullPayment Protocol” which enables merchants to pull funds out of a customer’s account with their consent. This would replace old-fashioned methods where a shopper pushes money to a retailer, with the cash going through a long line of intermediaries in a costly process that can take days to complete.

According to PumaPay, its invention is “far more credible, efficient, cost-effective and scalable” than current solutions – and offers much-needed flexibility to make cryptocurrencies viable as a source of payment both online and offline.

Serving merchants, not exploiting them

According to PumaPay, it is merchants who lose out most through the economy’s “anachronistic” reliance on card payments which dominate online shopping sites.

The project says retailers and small businesses face multiple fees, ranging anywhere from 2 percent to 8 percent in some cases. Not only do these charges take a serious toll on a merchant’s profit margins, but PumaPay says long transaction reconciliation times have a detrimental impact on cash flow. Chargebacks are also becoming more common because of fraud and buyer’s remorse, resulting in fines and insecurity – with merchants continually uncertain over whether the money from a sale will reach their bank account.

Despite cryptocurrency and Blockchain representing an exciting development over the past decade, PumaPay argues that none of the currently available crypto-payment solutions are functional enough to compete with big players such as Visa and Mastercard.

PumaPay says it plans to “serve merchants, not exploit them” and make its platform “the de facto standard for modern payments.” It is already promoting the protocol and attracting early adopters who will begin using the system upon release – including brands such as Fashion TV, Rent24, Backpack.io, CCBill, SegPay and other online merchants and payment processors across multiple industries.

Several adult entertainment companies have also embraced the protocol – with the industry suffering from high credit card transaction costs because their sector is deemed “high risk.” PumaPay believes its protocol is well suited to pay-per-view scenarios, providing flexibility for entertainment platforms and protecting their clients’ privacy. IMLive, Vivid Entertainment and LoadedCash are among the high-traffic, high-volume brands who have joined the project as early adopters so far.

PumaPay CEO Yoav Dror told Cointelegraph: “Many online platforms are now releasing their own tokens which are by default limited by a platform’s user base. The PumaPay token transcends merchants, platforms and industries as more and more merchants express the interest in joining the ecosystem. As a result, the product offering will increase along with the PMA [token]’s spending potential and the demand for the token will grow.” The ultimate vision of the PumaPay economy is the self-feeding loop that keeps growing with new merchants and customers.

Merchants who become part of the protocol will also benefit from a hub called PumaPay Pride – an app which alerts shoppers to nearby businesses which accept the platform’s token.

“As flexible as payment cards”

According to PumaPay, the flexible nature of PullContracts means merchants can mold them in ways to best suit their business – allowing them to conduct offline transactions and receive recurring payments.

Examples of potential uses for PullContracts given in its white paper include purchasing a magazine subscription, monthly payments of electricity bills and paying for dinner at a restaurant. PumaPay also believes its system could become an ideal way to make children financially independent, with young people given their own wallets and their parents allowed to veto purchases if the item they want falls outside the parameters of what the pocket money is for. The same scenario of ‘restricted payments’ can be applied to corporate expenses with employees’ wallets provided by an employer.

PumaPay plans to initially launch an Android app for consumers, with a version for iOS and a Chrome-based application soon afterwards. It is hoped shoppers using PumaPay will see costs tumble as merchants cut prices in response to greatly reduced transaction fees.

PumaPay is holding a token generation event for seven days, beginning at midnight on April 26 2018. Depending on contribution levels, it hopes to integrate its first early adopter in the second quarter of this year – and release a simple version of its PMA token. Tests of the next-generation Blockchain, a more advanced version of its token and cryptocurrency wallets would follow towards the end of this year and into 2019.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Canadian Barter Platform Introduces Its Own Cryptocurrency

Canadian online trading and barter platform Bunz Trading Zone is launching its own cryptocurrency, BTZ, local paper The Globe and Mail reports April 9.

BTZ  (pronounced “bitz”) is reported to be “the first Canadian cryptocurrency to launch to an already-established community – its own members.”

Bunz was launched in 2013 as a private Facebook group by fashion designer Emily Bitze to exchange unused items with friends. The community grew quickly and soon expanded beyond Facebook and Toronto. The Bunz app and website were launched in 2016.

The Globe and Mail reports that the platform grew rapidly due to it simplicity and the absence of cash. However, the absence of currency on a barter-based platform has also presented the biggest challenge to Bunz. Without an exchange of currency, there is no “obvious income stream.”

According to the project’s blog, each Bunz user will receive 1,000 BTZ that can be exchanged for goods and services or simply exchanged between members. Initially, the 1,000 BTZ will be worth “enough for about three coffees.” BTZ will become available to the platform’s 200,000 users starting April 9.

CEO Sascha Mojtahedi says the company has designed a revenue model, but declined to comment on what it is or when it will be introduced. Mojtahedi said that the launch of BTZ is intended to attract more users to the platform:

“You have to be able to reward people with cryptocurrency that they’ve earned as a result of their passive involvement in the network and then enable them to use it with their peers and merchants. It gives us the room to create new models that people may not have thought of.”

Earlier this year Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten announced plans to release its own cryptocurrency. CEO and founder Hiroshi Mikitani said that it will be a “borderless currency.”