3Box, the latest startup to leave the Brooklyn-based incubator ConsenSys, just raised money to fuel a new identity tool for app developers.
3Box is developing a decentralized solution that people can use across both traditional and blockchain-based apps. The startup recently closed a $2.5 million seed round led by Placeholder Ventures, with investments from Venrock, CoinFund, Northzone and ConsenSys itself.
The “3” in 3Box is a subtle nod to the notion of Web3, a term used to describe the distributed evolution of digital platforms from social media sites to ticket sellers. Ethereum-centric startups such as MetaMask, Aragon and Foam – the latter of which garnered more than 500 contributors so far to its open source map – are already using 3Box. This pace of growth is what attracted the attention of CoinFund cofounder Jake Brukhman.
“This is a project with genuine traction,” Brukhman told CoinDesk. “There’s a huge hole in Web3 where identity should be. And I think 3Box is exactly where it should be to fill that hole.”
3Box aims to make portable logins and profiles more simple by utilizing the peer-to-peer InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) to give users keys to their own data, which is distributed across nodes instead of storing the profile on a centralized server like Facebook or Twitter.
While 3Box currently runs all the nodes, the startup plans to make that open-source software easy for any developer to spin up in order to diversify the network.
“We’re building a decentralized storage network on top of IPFS that allows all these services to tap into it, but it’s governed by the users’ consent,” 3Box co-founder Michael Sena told CoinDesk. “You can use 3Box anywhere that you have an ethereum wallet, because you basically need to be able to sign a message with your key.”
3Box makes it easier for blockchain developers to include features like private chats, uploading photos, liking posts and other common activities related to user-generated content and social interaction that are currently absent from most decentralized applications (dapps).
Indeed, Foam CEO Ryan John King told CoinDesk that some of his users leverage 3Box to have their external Twitter handle, GitHub profile and Foam-related activity all built-in to their Foam profile for a “social and reputational layer.” In the future, King said Foam plans to integrate 3Box’s thread and chat features.
“It’s enhancing user experiences in a whole new way,” King said. “With 3Box there’s an open API, it allows people to opt-in and choose whatever information they want to include while interacting with the [FOAM] protocol.”
“We expect to see a whole new wave of more usable, more enjoyable, more engaging, distributed applications.”
According to Sena, 3Box plans to eventually enable a username and password option so that people could also use it for profiles on traditional apps.
Unlike a regular profile, where you can deactivate it but the company keeps your data, an app that supports 3Box could give users control over their profiles.
“The idea was to create a Google Drive or Dropbox-like interface that lets people manage their 3Box data,” Sena said. “Users can go on 3Box.io Hub, their drive, and just delete all of their data. And they can be sure that it’s gone.”
In terms of the startup’s business model, 3Box will focus on offering services, such as node management and unique features, to developers and web businesses.
“The benefits of minimizing risk and reducing liability, building lighter weight apps faster, those extend far beyond Web3 developers,” Sena said.
Speaking to 3Box’s broader business model, Brukhman concluded:
“There is inherent value in decentralizing identity and user data.”
3Box team in November 2018. Danny Zuckerman, COO (bottom left); Michael Sena, CEO (bottom middle); Joel Thorstensson, CTO (top right); Zach Ferland, Senior Engineer (top left)
WATCH: A FinTech Lawyer Breaks Down Libra’s Legality
Joel Telpner, Chair of Fintech and Blockchain Practice Group at Sullivan & Worcester LLP, isn’t surprised that Facebook is getting a grilling on Capitol Hill. In fact, he’s pleased.
“These are attacks on Facebook itself that really has nothing to do with crypto has nothing to with Libra it’s just Facebook being bad boys you know [they’re] concerned about [their] privacy policies,” he said.
His point, quite simply, is that any scrutiny of crypto in DC is vital.
“Parts of the hearing so far where they’ve actually been able to get into conversations about Libra and about crypto have been interesting because on that side of it you’ve seen some Senators that have been skeptical,” he said. “But overall it’s kind of it’s been encouraging to hear some of the senators talking about ‘Hey, this is a good thing.’”
Telpner joined CoinDesk editor Pete Rizzo in a wide-ranging conversation about the legality of Libra and, in the end, what Facebook and the Government will have to do to come to terms with the future of crypto.
You can read our complete Libra coverage here and watch our CoinDesk LIVE interviews here.
Freedom over Facebook: How the social media giant could wield the most powerful censorship tool in history
Blockchain has been the buzzword in the tech industry for the past few years since Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have surpassed other assets in terms of value. Bitcoin seems to satisfy one use case and sticks to it while other projects have forked, built and innovated on Bitcoin’s core promise of a decentralized, trust-less environment of immutable transactions. Notably, Ethereum opened up a world of decentralized applications or DApps that are being customized, designed and implemented to suit various use cases in different industries.
These distributed apps have one thing in common, they enable industry collaboration through transparency and security. One of the sectors that have been the focus of tech startups for a long time is the healthcare sector. Not only is it a critical sector but it also involves numerous stakeholders and actors coming together for the well-being of patients. Hospitals, different doctors, specialists, healthcare professionals, insurance companies, medical record maintainers, pathology labs and numerous other specialized service providers need to work in tandem for a seamless experience for a patient.
This creates a challenge for every service provider since they need to deal with data at a micro level but still need to have an overview of patient’s data that may be stored with some other entity. For example, an insurance provider will provide one specific service but they might need data about the patient’s health from the pathology lab, an opinion from the patient’s doctor, their expense report from the hospital, etc.
This data is usually hosted either on paper or on an individual business server. The industry has strict rules about privacy and the sharing of this data. The information held by these professionals is absolutely personal to the patient and hence utmost care is required to protect it.
The HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] provides strict guidelines about managing and protection of this information.
This creates difficulties and bureaucratic procedures for the transfer of patient’s data and has given rise to a host of tech startups aiming to create a repository of centralized Electronic Medical Records [EMR] data. What EMRs would do is store all the information related to a patient’s healthcare in one place and provide specific access to different stakeholders as and when authorized by the patient.
But this creates a challenge in itself because the patient should be able to trust this one entity with all their data. It creates a single point of weakness that can be exploited, thereby rendering all the information vulnerable to attack.
With the advent of blockchain, this problem can be solved. Blockchain provides an encrypted way of storing a patient’s information in a distributed database that can only be accessed by the patient’s authentication. Blockchain enables different stakeholders to write information to this database that runs on various “nodes” and each transaction is validated by a set of miners that solve mathematical algorithmic puzzles to ensure authenticity and trustworthiness of a node.
A hospital could upload the data about the patient’s treatment, the pathology lab could upload their medical records and only the patient could access these with the key. The selected list from these records could be sent to the insurance provider. The insurance provider could write data once their process is done. This creates a safe environment for every service provider to store, read and write data. This would not be possible without Blockchain’s pseudonymous encrypted data storage abilities.
Blockchain companies like Duality Solutions have come up with solutions like Blockchain as a Service [BaaS] where they take care of complete setup and maintenance of a blockchain setup for healthcare providers. Duality has a bouquet of solutions that take care of all back-end tasks such as setting up the servers, node setups, security, configurations, and maintenance.
Blockchain is said to be as revolutionary as the internet. Healthcare has been pegged to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of this revolution. EMR is one critical use case. Technology will make it simpler and seamless for all the service professionals and the patient.
Pundi X Launches Africa’s First Blockchain Smartphone
While at the GSMA Mobile 360 Africa event on July 16, 2019, Pundi X, a distributed ledger technology (DLT) startup launched XPhone, a blockchain-based smartphone in Kigali, Rwanda. XPhone is the first blockchain-powered smartphone to be unveiled in Africa, reportsNewtimes on July 17, 2019.
First Blockchain-based Smartphone to be Launched in Africa
Per the report, Pundi X has released XPhone, the first blockchain-based smartphone launched in Africa. The XPhone can make calls, text, take photos and surf the net amongst other things with the help of the distributed ledger technology.
As a result, it bypasses local service providers in Rwanda such as MTN and it is decentralized in nature without any third parties involved in its transmission, ensuring that the user’s data remains private.
XPhone also differs from other smartphone devices because it is neither powered by Android, iOS, nor Windows Operating systems, but the Function X (FX) OS which is based on blockchain technology. The smartphone allows for a seamless transition between traditional Android to blockchain mode..
Pundi X to Release 5,000 XPhones in Late 2019
Notably, the Pundi X team has revealed its intention to release 5,000 XPhones in late 2019 and that it is looking for telecommunication companies to partner with in order to launch more of these devices.
The blockchain company had recently completed integration support on its XPOS module on Verifone’s X990 in a bid to enable retail outlets to process crypto payments as well as fiat transactions.
Nonetheless, there are regulatory concerns in the Rwanda which may negatively impact on the adoption of its new blockchain phone. Rwanda citizens may also be adamant about adopting the devices due to the sceptical nature people have about complex technologies.
It is, however, remarkable to see an increasing rise in the launch of blockchain smartphones in 2019, even though they are powered with their respective operating systems.
Electroneum, a blockchain company on February 25, 2019, launched a low-cost blockchain smartphone which features the company’s cloud mining technology and mobile crypto mining app to enable users to earn its ETN native token.
In the same vein, technology company Sirin Labs which launched its Finney blockchain smartphone in 2018 announced on March 21, 2019, that it will be integrating MyEtherWallet into the phone. BTCManager on April 29, 2019, also informed that the electronics giant HTC is planning the launch of a second-generation blockchain-based smartphone by the second quarter of the year.