STOs vs ICOs

Are STOs replacing ICOs?

November 2018 has been a Blockchain packed month for us, as our CEO has been invited as an investor to two of the biggest conferences in the blockchain industry: Crypto Invest Summit in Los Angeles and Malta Blockchain Summit and now we’re packing again for London.

BTW, if any of you want to grab a cup of coffee, you can meet our CEO during the Blockchain Venture Summit that will take place on 21st of November.

However, before flying to London, we wanted to share with you the main key points from the L.A and Malta conferences.

So here we go:
The end of the ICOs is close:
One of the main takeaways is that the era of the ICOs is nearly over. STOs – Security Token Offerings – are taking the lead.

During the conference, there were various discussions from the types of assets being tokenized to all the legal implications and the infrastructure needed to support them. Although the infrastructure is still in its infancy, all the voices agreed that the STOs are the next big thing. Keep an eye on it!
Blockchain is a bubble:
Steve Wozniak was one of the star-speakers bringing different perspectives to the table. Although he doesn’t claim to be a big expert in the field himself, Steve clarified his position regarding bitcoin by explaining that he invested in it for the sake of an experiment. However, he said that he is excited about how technology is evolving but that there is one thing that the world must not forget: the human factor.

One of his most interesting remarks was that Blockchain is a bubble: “The Internet was a bubble, but the thinking behind it was correct, it ended up being integral to our lives. Maybe with Blockchain, it will be the same: it is a bubble, but in 10-15 years its value will show ” Steve Wozniak.
My 2 cents are that Steve is right, but I believe Blockchain’s worth will be seen in an even shorter period than what he predicted. I’m curious about your opinion: is Blockchain the new era, or is it a trend slowly dying?
Malta is the Blockchain Island

One of the things I liked most about Malta Blockchain Summit was the diversity of the participants: over 8500 (the highest number stated) with different backgrounds and perspectives regarding the industry.

But what truly captured my attention was learning about the efforts that the Government and institutions do in transforming Malta in blockchain heaven. The legislative actions seem to have created a sense of security and stability, Malta managing to attract top cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance and OKEx. Thumbs up, Malta!

The gaming industry – the playground for Blockchain
Gaming, Gaming and again Gaming… the topic came up multiple times during the events and was related to how Blockchain is disrupting the gaming industry. The blockchain gaming advocates continuously emphasized that the main benefit of using Blockchain in this industry is having true ownership of your in-game assets.

However, not everything is pink as the main bump in the road is user adoption. It seems that there is a big challenge to onboard new users: ”Many gamers are blinded by what they are accustomed to.” Cristián González, CEO of MEGO

On the list of obstacles for mass adoption, we can also add the costs transparency and the quality of the games.
These are only a few of all the interesting things I learned from the conferences, but I will come back with more updates from London. In the meantime, I’m curious to see what you think about Blockchain and where you see the tech heading next.
Tudor Ciuleanu

Tudor Ciuleanu / CEO and Founder at RebelDot

Blockchain technology

Challenges of adopting blockchain

Blockchain is the new kid on the block (pun intended). There’s a lot of buzz around it, about how disruptive it is, that it will change a series of industries and will start a wave of innovation.  You might have considered using it in your next product or project, but not sure what your approach should be? Let’s see what you can expect down the road!

Disruption always comes at a price, because you are bringing something radically new to the table. Adopting something new takes time. It implies getting out of the comfort zone – for you, for your team, for your users, for the industry. Therefore, disruption can happen at a tipping point: when the need to innovate and the benefits of disruption will outweigh the inconveniences of the process. This is also how blockchain itself was born: to solve a problem.

So far so good. It sounds exciting. Except, it comes at a price. Blockchain solves a series of problems in an innovative way, thus using it implies a paradigm shift. This paradigm shift, although very promising, comes with its challenges. Some of these are not obvious from the start, because disruption questions the very same things that we’ve got accustomed to and take for granted. Let’s dive in!

1.     You operate in a decentralized environment.

      Blockchain is successful in delivering its promise to create trust in a trustless environment by making sure that no central party is controlling the information on the blockchain. Not even you! This transfer of control and ownership comes with a series of considerations:

a.       How do I achieve compliance with various regulations (e.g. GDPR)?

b.       What happens if I do an honest mistake when adding data to the blockchain?

c.       What if I have new requirements and I must adjust existing data?

Obviously, there are already a few techniques to cope with these challenges, just keep in mind that these usually imply a change in the way you do things as opposed to centralized systems.

2.      Your users need to communicate with the blockchain.

      In a purely decentralized environment, users should not need to communicate with any central authority, but with the blockchain itself. This is not a trivial task and currently needs quite some effort from your users’ part. To consume decentralized applications, you need specialized software. Your users need to be aware of that and they will need to go through a learning curve themselves.

      On the other end of the spectrum, users are already accustomed to certain ways of interacting with software. Depending on your use-case, the real value that you can bring is finding a way to combine centralized technologies with blockchain in such a way that you can offer your users all the good stuff that they are accustomed to, while also leveraging the blockchain promise. And walking that fine line takes some fiddling with the technology.

3.     Developers need to adjust to the new paradigm too.

     Because of the nature of the technology, developing blockchain applications resembles developing firmware: once you release it, it’s out there on thousands of devices. Devices over which you have very limited (if any) control. Thus, the price of updates is very high. As with firmware, get it right the first time, or you will pay the price later. This also implies that a series of best practices that developers are usually familiar with might not fit well: continuous integration, incremental builds, Agile itself. You’re more than welcome to use these internally, but your first release should be as complete and stable as possible. 

4.    Blockchain is immutable.

      This also means that you need to deliver quality software from the start. And the implication is that you need to budget way more design and testing time than in centralized projects. They say that software testing cannot prove that a piece of code has no bugs, it can only prove that known bugs have been fixed. Thus, quality starts with software design. You should budget enough time to consider all the corner cases, limitations, long term consequences and security implications. You should have strong quality metrics.

      Having a dedicated testing team is also important. Your developers will start with a great design and their code might be of excellent quality, yet bugs will slip through the process. This is because it is hard to accurately test your own code. People tend to build a mental model for solving a problem, and developers will use the same mental model for testing their code. In other words, they will look for bugs using the same mental model with which they’ve created them in the first place. This is human nature. A dedicated testing team can make sure that software is verified using a different mental model. Budgeting plenty of testing time is also important. The rule of thumb (that might shock you at first) is ‘5 to 10x’: for every week of development consider 5 to 10 weeks of testing. Software testing for blockchain is not just an aspect of quality assurance, but a way of risk mitigation. 

5.    Security is paramount.

      Your code is accessible in some shape or form to everyone running a blockchain node (and in case of public blockchains to literally anyone). Thus, security plays a crucial role in your development lifecycle. Even more, once out there you cannot really modify it. If there is a security bug, bad actors can exploit it and there is not much you can do about it, since you cannot just patch your code, like you would in a centralized environment.

6.    The technology and tool set are not yet mature.

The ecosystem is still in its early stages and while new implementations and tools appear quite frequently, these are not as stable as the offering on conventional technologies. Often, developers need to face the reality that something that is trivial to achieve using other technologies will turn out to be quite complex with blockchain. 

7.     Blockchain is not particularly fast.

      The main characteristic of blockchain is immutability and security. By design, blockchain solutions will favor these over performance. Of course, the technology is rapidly evolving and new solutions are proposed to boost blockchain performance, but today’s reality is that blockchain is not as performant as other centralized technologies.

At this point, you might incline towards giving up on blockchain, but the truth is that there are solutions and practices in place to help you deal with the challenges that you might face. The key takeaway is that blockchain not only disrupts the fields it is used in, but it has similar effects on the way you build your product as well.

So, is it worth it?

As with every technology, the answer is: it depends. Blockchain can indeed bring innovation to a whole series of industries and it has a lot of potential. In some cases, it really is unparalleled and offers advantages that simply cannot be matched by any other technology on the market. But, we should use the right tool for the job. This technology is particularly good at making sure that information cannot be tampered with and there is a complete and immutable history of events, a permanent record of sorts. If that is something that you are after and you can build value on it then blockchain will prove to be a great fit for you. 

AMD_0009

Norbert Szappanos / CTO at RebelDot

DSC_0872

Going User Experience first is a necessity

Going UX design first is not a trend, it’s a necessity

Here at RebelDot, user experience design has been an important part of our process from the very beginning. In fact, for us, design isn’t just a trend, but a way of thinking.

Of course, we aren’t the only ones who realized the importance of going UX first, as many companies, from start-ups to large organizations choose to go this route, as the number of advantages brought to the table is astonishing.

Since the importance of UX design plays a significant role in our company and the products we build/ develop, I’m going to share with you why going design first is not a trend, but a necessity.

Going UX design first

First, user experience design should not be an add-on, as it should be incorporated from the very beginning.

The biggest mistake many companies make is starting the UX design phase too late in the product development process. I know from experience that developers are much more comfortable thinking in features and user stories, rather than journeys and scenarios. Therefore, in development-oriented teams, products are built based on assumptions and requirements, and oftentimes they end up with a final product that doesn’t correspond with the user`s needs.

By going design first, we go through a series of steps, an iteration through which we define and validate needs, frustrations, requirements and assumptions, resulting in a validated product, which answers real needs. Only after the design phase, we hand off a fully working prototype and documentation for the developers to build on.

Good user experience is crucial. The aesthetic side is just a small part of UX, which makes all aspects (consistency, functionality, target audience, monetization, etc) work together in harmony. Essentially, UX defines how a product will work, and how users will interact with it.
If you have an idea, then this is the place to start!

Importance of going UX design first

Empathy

First, every product, environment or experience starts with the users. After kick-off you need to find answers to the following questions:
What are the user’s needs?
What problems are we trying to solve?
What value will the product bring to the users?

Going design first will answer these questions through research, which on top of everything, will give you a better understanding of your audience and will allow you to adjust and set trajectory before the development phase begins.

When building a new product, it’s vital to dedicate as much time as possible in understanding how users will use the product and in which scenarios, to make sure their needs are met, and frustrations resolved, making their way of working simpler and hassle-free.

Innovation

To solve complex problems and come up with innovative solutions we use an iterative design process, where we seek to understand the users, assess their needs, challenge assumptions, and identify problems that might not be apparent on first sight.

While every product is unique and has its own challenges, having an iterative design process in place is crucial to champion challenges and design the best solutions.

Consistency

A designer will help you bring all ideas together, identifying features that are important for your product, features that can determine whether your idea will succeed or fail.

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Money Saving

It is easier and cost efficient to change trajectory, to tackle the unexpected during the design phase. The costs of changes and updates in this phase are much lower than changing an entire product which is already developed.

Building on 3 pylons

The end goal of a design is to create a product that is desirable, feasible and viable. This means that your product should not only satisfy the needs of a user, but it must also take into consideration the appropriate technology that allows implementing the right solution for the product and its business model.

Designers slow us down to speed us up

The design is important, and as mentioned before, to start with this phase from the beginning is vital, a must for companies and organizations that build products.
Start with the right foot, foresee, tackle and validate issues, before investing too much time and money into the development process.

If you want to build a successful product you should definitely go design first, think outside the box, look beyond aesthetics, build a cross-functional team and most importantly, believe in your idea!

Andrei-Holobut-150x150

Andrei Holobut / UX Designer at RebelDot

“Most designers strive for a common goal: to establish a lasting relationship between brand and user. The only way to achieve this is to make each and every interaction relevant and meaningful."