Kodak Postpones Cryptocurrency ICO As Singapore Becomes Hotbed For Cryptocurrency Startups
Stalwart film company, Kodak, has hit a major hurdle, on its proposed expansion into the cryptocurrency space. Barely a month after unveiling the KodakCoin cryptocurrency, the company has had to postpone its public sale following a presale that saw investors buy 8 million coins.
The company attributes the delay to extended process of verifying those trying to invest as it seeks to ensure they are accredited in the U.S. The news has not gone well with investors with skeptics reportedly planning to ramp up short positions in the stock
Kodak One & KodakCoin
Kodak’s pivot to blockchain is part of an effort that seeks to take advantage of growing investor interest in companies with stakes in the space. In addition to the cryptocurrency, the company plans to launch a platform based on distributed ledger technology that will empower photographers and agencies to take greater control of image rights management.
The platform will use blockchain technology to crawl the World Wide Web to monitor and protect the IP of images registered in the system.
Initial reports indicate that photographers will have their pictures securely watermarked using the cryptographic hash that will be immortalized on the blockchain. The system will also allow the sale of pictures while preventing any form of unauthorized use.
The proposed business model presents unique opportunities for growth, which explains why Kodak stock rallied by more than 250% on the announcement. Providing a clear chain of custody of digital rights should address one of the biggest problems that professional photographers have endured over the years.
Kodak has already partnered with a company that promotes paparazzi photos to offer the blockchain-based service. WENN Digital is the firm that the company has partnered with to test its blockchain platform with over 60, photographers. The service will let photographer get paid whenever their work is used.
“Kodak has always been about making things easy for people,” Chief Executive Officer Jeff Clarke said in a phone interview. “George Eastman: push one button and we do the rest. Blockchain lets us do this.”
Users will have to register their work on KodakOne to get automatic licensing payments and tracking, to ensure their images are not used without their authorization. KodakCoin will be the native currency powering the platform.
A Crowded Space
However, Kodak faces an uphill task as it pursues the new business venture, given that there is already a lot of competition in the space. While blockchain technology integration will add incremental usefulness to the company’s brand, it might not be a total game changer.
For Kodak to have a competitive edge when it comes to digital rights management it will have to excel in many other things as well. The company needs to build a robust community and network around its brand if its KodakOne platform is to elicit strong demand from the marketplace.
However, the latest push attests to the company’s willingness to change its ways, amidst the changing technological landscape. The company once paid a hefty price for remaining rigid and as a result, plunged into bankruptcy. It is now betting that the blockchain platform will succeed where other technologies failed in preventing illegal use of copyrighted images.
Cryptocurrencies growing popularity in Singapore
Singapore is another country where the cryptocurrency craze has taken the landscape by storm. The country offers a sound environment for digital currencies and platform to thrive given it is a top class communications network in addition to acting as a financial hub.
Firms are increasingly investing in their own cryptocurrencies and exchange platforms to take advantage of growing demand for a decentralized form of payment. Amidst the fanfare, the countries de-facto central bank, Monetary Authority of Singapore, has urged investors to exercise extreme caution when it comes to investing in the space.
Ducatus is one of the firms in the country that hopes to accelerate the adoption of its newly launched virtual currency, Ducatus. Located just a street away from the Central bank, the firm has set the first-ever café that uses the coin. The café accept bitcoin, Ducatus and other cashless payments for hand brew, coffee, sandwiches and eco-friendly beauty products on offer.
FundYourselfNow is another startup that is looking to venture into the cryptocurrency crowdfunding business. The firm is in the process of setting up a platform that will allow entrepreneurs to raise funds using virtual currencies.
The proposed platform will become the first crowdfunding platform in South-east Asia, according to its founders Jack Ser and Kenneth Tan. The platform aims to lower transaction costs that people have had to contend with on payment services such as Paypal.
The platform will implement a milestone-based funding system where voters can delay or stop milestone payments should an entrepreneur fail to deliver agreed targets.
“With FundYourselfNow, we are re-running the full circle that traditional, Internet-based crowdfunding has come about in 20 years – only this time, we are making the system extremely efficient, credible and integral, as we can now leverage two technologies as the backbone for the platform: the Internet and blockchain,” said Ser.
Singapore’s largest bike operator, oBike, is in the process of rolling out a cryptocurrency dubbed oCoins. According to the firm, people will be able to pay for their rides using the coin as well, as earn while riding. Users will also be able to make online purchases using the coin.
The firm has partnered with blockchain platform Tron to launch the service in the first quarter of this year.
TenX is another Singapore startup that has ventured into the cryptocurrency business with the launch of a Visa Card, capable of debiting users cryptocurrency wallets. The debit card allowed users to pay for goods in any currency upon instant conversion of digital currency in their wallet into any fiat currency.
The service has since gone offline, in the wake of payment giant Visa ending its support for such services. The company in a statement says it terminated the service because of a violation of terms of service.
The continued uphill climb
Cryptocurrency adoption in Singapore continues to face significant challenges. Banks have in the recent past closed accounts of several accounts that specialize in digital currencies as well as payment services. More than 10 companies have seen their operations shut down, by banks, with no reason given for the same.
The standoff underscores the challenges that cryptocurrency firms continue to face as the sector remains under scrutiny around the world.
The Monetary Authority on its part says it does not intercede on decisions made by banks with regards to cryptocurrencies. According to the regulator, banks can establish suitable procedures and controls for controlling customer transactions, preventing money laundering as well as the financing of terrorism.
Singapore still needs to position itself as a financial hub in the region by walking a fine line in encouraging technological innovation and reducing financial risk.