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StaffStaffJuly 17, 2018
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6min21440

So far, 2018 has been a huge year for the cannabis industry; but where is it all heading? In AxisWire’s 2018 Cannabis Trend Report, we take a look at some of the biggest developments in the cannabis industry so far this year and provide insight as to where the market trends suggest they will be headed.

Here’s a sneak peak:

Women in Cannabis
Women are gaining greater ground in the cannabis industry. Women hold approximately 27% of C-Suite level positions in the cannabis industry. The last year has seen an explosion of industry organizations dedicated to advancing women in the industry, like IPW and Women Grow. There is also a growing number of women-owned cannabis brands, like Garden Society, as well as brands marketing specifically to women, such as Whoopi & Maya.

Cannabis Stocks
Bolstered by legal cannabis in Canada and by increasingly impotent federal enforcement in the United States, the number of cannabis companies going public is on the rise. Companies like Canopy Growth and Cronos Group have gone public on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, respectively. Additionally, several US companies are gearing up to go public in Canada; including Acreage Holdings, Dixie Brands Inc., and MJIC Inc.

AgTech
Agricultural technology in the cannabis industry is set to see some big changes. Cannabis giants like Aurora and Canopy are starting to build massive grow operations and as such as are looking for ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Cannabis growers are beginning to favor CMH lighting over LEDs and HPS lighting, primarily due to its low costs and high Color Rendering Index Score. Automation is also an avenue that cultivators are exploring to reduce costs, including cannabis trimming robots.

Welcome to Hollyweed
Hollywood is slowly becoming more comfortable with its relationship with cannabis. Encouraged by recreational cannabis becoming legal in California, there has been an upswell of celebrity cannabis brands; such as Montel Williams’ Lentiv. Likewise, there has been an increase in cannabis-related television shows, and award shows like the Academy Awards have started allowing cannabis gift bags.

Infused Cannabis Beverages
Beverages infused with cannabis stand to be the next big thing in the industry. Several large beer companies have already expressed interest in making craft cannabis beverages; including the brewing company Lagunitas. Independent cannabis companies have also begun to branch out into the world of cannabis beverages; including a number of cannabis-based wines, such as the new luxury brand coming to market SAKA.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency
Like other industries, cannabis has fallen head over heels for cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Due to the disconnect between state and federal cannabis laws, some companies have resorted to launching Initial Coin Offerings as a way to raise money. Additionally, larger cannabis companies have begun to develop blockchain-based software systems to help manage seed-to-sale tracking as well as point-of-sale technology.

International Trade
Cannabis’ newfound legality in Canada has led several cannabis companies to seek out international markets. A lack of infrastructure in medical cannabis markets, such as Germany, have presented an opportunity for cannabis companies to gain some short-term profit and some long-term benefits. By setting up in developing markets, larger cannabis companies have the chance to establish a footprint before local businesses even get off the ground.

Music Industry & Cannabis
A growing number of famous musicians are starting to stake a claim in the cannabis industry. Legends like Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson have launched their own cannabis brands, and business savvy rock stars like Gene Simmons have started to make investments in this growing industry. Some aspiring musicians are also hoping to make a name for themselves by using cannabis itself to spread awareness of their music.

You can download the 2018 Cannabis Trend Report for free by clicking here.

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtMay 15, 2018
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3min18210

Cannabis software provider WebJoint is partnering with digital payment platform company Alt Thirty Six (Alt 36) to provide digital currency options to cannabis consumers. Alt 36 Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ken Ramirez said, “It is the first digital payment platform that uses blockchain to help the cannabis industry go cashless.”

Bitcoin was the first digital currency and is probably the best known, but the adoption of bitcoin as a currency has been slow due to some of the problems associated with using it. In particular, the amount of time that a bitcoin transaction can sometimes take. A bitcoin purchase can take several minutes or even days to process.

“When you buy cannabis coins, there’s nowhere else to spend them but in the cannabis industry,” said Ramirez. “They lose value outside of the cannabis world. Our method allows consumers the ability to use this currency outside the dispensary.”

Ramirez said that Alt 36 built a platform that makes the digital currency transactions simple and fast. It combines digital cash from DASH with blockchain technology. DASH is number 12 in the world by market capital for cryptocurrency at $3.8-$4 billion.

Alt 36 has partnered with WebJoint in order to provide a solution for cannabis consumers and the businesses that try to serve them. Dispensaries struggle to create payment options for their customers who are used to using a debit or credit card for almost all of their transactions. Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) are refusing to work with cannabis operations, so dispensaries have gotten creative in the processing of purchases. Customers may not be aware of the headaches that card processing is causing these businesses.

The program will roll out in the next 30-60 days with the beta location in Arizona. Customers will see a box that they can use to purchase the digital currency and then use that money to make their cannabis purchases. It will eventually be made available in over 200 dispensaries that work with WebJoint. Following Arizona, Alt 36 will move on to California and then the rest of the legal states.

“These machines are beautiful,” said Ramirez. “I think people will want to use them just because of how cool they are.”

Alt 36 has funded its operation through a combination of seed money and digital currency funded projects by DASH. The company also said that it expects to make more announcement in the near future with regards to additional capital raises.

 


William SumnerWilliam SumnerMarch 7, 2018
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3min20970

The world of blockchain just got a little bigger today. On Feb. 7, 2018, SinglePoint Inc. (SING) announced the soft launch of its SingleSeed payment bitcoin payments solution and provided an update on ongoing company operations.

Conceived of in 2014, the company initially held off on developing SingleSeed Payments due to a lack of market demand for cryptocurrency related products and services. Now that demand has caught up with the technology, SinglePoint has begun to fully commit to the blockchain/cryptocurrency market.

To serve this end, the company has taken several steps to shore up its blockchain brand, such as hiring serial entrepreneur Kevin Harrington to serve as spokesman for the company’s upcoming SinglePoint Cryptocurrency Exchange; which is expected to launch in the coming months.

Hoping to become as vertically integrated as possible, the company has entered a letter of intent with ORHub, Inc. to develop a private blockchain and has brought Venugopal Aravamudan, a tech industry veteran with more than 25 years of experiences, on to its board of directors.

The company has also begun developing, in collaboration with AppSwarm, its own cryptocurrency currency wallet, which will allow consumers and merchants to use to hold and utilize different currencies. Development of the wallet is nearing completion and should be pushed into testing within the next 10-14 days.

Outside of the cryptocurrency market, SinglePoint has been developing, once again in collaboration with AppSwarm, a cannabis delivery application called Oomy as well as a B2B e-commerce platform for the cannabis industry, dubbed SingleSeed.

The company is currently in the middle of its 2017 audit, being conducted by the auditing firm Turner, Stone and Company, and is expected to complete it within the next 30 days, upon which the company will file its Form-10.

“We are firing on all cylinders and pushing the boundaries to make SinglePoint a highly successfully, scalable company. I hope this breakdown of projects has provided the insight and confidence to our shareholders that we are heading in the right direction. We are happy to be in the position we are in and will continue to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves,” said SinglePoint President Wil Ralston in a statement.


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtFebruary 6, 2018
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5min69972

A lawsuit was filed against cannabis cryptocurrency brand Paragon Coin and its owners Jessica VerSteeg and her husband Egor Lavrov for allegedly violating Securities law with regards to the Paragon Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

The lawsuit states that approximately between August 15, 2017, through October 16, 2017, the defendants raised at least $70 million in digital cryptocurrencies by offering and selling unregistered securities in direct violation of the Securities Act. It also stated that on November 2, 2017,  Paragon ICO investors received an email updating them that during the Paragon ICO “crowd sale” they had collected 533 BTC and 8,092 ETH— worth approximately $7.3 million and $10.2 million, respectively, as of January 12, 2018. Unfortunately, these amounts did not include any of the cryptocurrencies they collected during the Paragon ICO “presale.”

The plaintiff Astley Davy states that the offer of the ICO was an unregistered security and cites the use of words like investors and assets as evidence that the ICO was being portrayed as a securities product.

Jessica VerSteeg, CEO of Paragon said, “Paragon is dedicated to staying compliant with all applicable laws, and endeavored to do so throughout the entire ICO process. As U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton recently stated, “there are cryptocurrencies that do not appear to be securities,” and whether an initial coin offering implicates the securities laws “depends on the facts.” We are confident that the ParagonCoin token is not a security and can prove so in a court of law. Paragon holds itself to a high standard of compliance with our token holders and will continue to do so as it moves forward.”

Securities And Exchange Commission

The lawsuit states “The SEC advised those using “distributed ledger or blockchain-enabled means for capital raising, to take appropriate steps to ensure compliance” with the federal securities laws, and stated that “[a]ll securities offered and sold in the United States must be registered with the Commission . . .” or qualify for an exemption from registration. On the same day, the SEC issued an investor bulletin urging caution when investing in ICOs and to be mindful that promoters and initial sellers that lead buyers of tokens to expect a return on their investment or participate in shared returns provided by the project may be offering a security for sale.”

Yet, on December 11, 2017, the SEC warned that “investors should understand that to date no initial coin offerings have been registered with the SEC.  The SEC also has not to date approved for listing and trading any exchange-traded products (such as ETFs) holding cryptocurrencies or other assets related to cryptocurrencies.[2]  If any person today tells you otherwise, be especially wary. ” This is the SEC’s bold-faced type.

Capital For Real Estate

The plaintiff was also upset that some of the money raised was being used to acquire real estate even though it was stated that would be a goal. Yet, in Paragon’s white paper it said, “[t]he lion’s share of the token crowdsale [sic] proceeds will be spent on real-estate acquisition.”

Repayment

The plaintiff expected that its investment would increase in value and now wants to be repaid what was invested. So, how much did Davy invest?

Plaintiff invested in the Paragon ICO on September 21, 2017, September 23, 2017,
September 28, 2017, September 30, 2017, October 3, 2017, and October 15, 2017, by transmitting
0.04095 BTC, 0.03975 BTC, 0.57855 ETH, 0.0231 BTC, 0.03495 BTC, and 0.04579484 BTC,
respectively, to Defendants.

It remains to be seen how much sympathy the judge will feel for the plaintiff losing their bitcoins in a case against fraudulent bitcoin. Check out Bitcoin Era review for additional bitcoin information.


William SumnerWilliam SumnerJanuary 17, 2018
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4min23150

mCig, Inc. (MCIG), a distributor of products, customized packaging solutions, technologies, and services for the global medical cannabis industry, today announced the website launch of its blockchain focused company, OBITX Inc.

Focusing on identifying and investing in projects that combine blockchain technology with real-world applications, OBITX offers ICO advisory services, blockchain consulting services, and blockchain-related software development. As part of the company’s early investments, OBITX has begun to embark on cryptocurrency mining projects by securing a location and purchasing hardware to complete the task.

“Reminded daily how blockchain is the new platform leading to the next wave of innovation. The technology has proven to be reliable, decentralized, and transparent. It’s a disruptive technology having the ability to digitize, secure and incentivize the validation of transactions. Using our best acumen, we are able to identify, invest and incubate technology market leaders from the OBITX ecosystem,” said OBITX CEO, Alex Mardikian, in a statement.

OBITX to Launch KRYP ATMs and Marketing Tools

Over the next several days, the KRYP Network, a technology company that facilitates crytpocurrency exchanges and a partner of OBITX , will be launching their Initial Coin Offering (ICO). Hoping to capitalize on this growing billion dollar industry, OBITX has made plans to deploy KRYP ATMs, which allows individuals to buy and sell cryptocurrencies as well as make cash withdrawals, within the KRYP Network.

The consultancy arm of OBITX, ICOMethod LLC, has also begun working with several companies in preparation for launching their ICO. In addition, OBITX has developed several marketing tools to help assist companies hoping to enter the cryptocurrency and blockchain market. Those tools are as follows:

  • eHESIVE: a self-serve affiliate ad platform with costing per acquisition for cryptocurrencies and other business networks pairing publishers to advertisers with the proprietary traffic control system, sticky pools increasing site monetization.
  • Marketero: An HTML/ campaign based email newsletter service designed to engage and nurture new and current customers within the blockchain and other networks.
  • Latest PR: A press release manager for cryptocurrency sectors and digital investment., and funding rounds.
  • Blog Certified: A multichannel blog repository serving marketers, brands, and content publishers.

Blockchain Is The New Cannabis

mCig is just the latest cannabis company to jump into the blockchain technology. MassRoots (MSRT) has also branched out into blockchain  as the company eases away from being a pure social media company. The company believes that blockchain will be useful in improving seed-to-sale traceability and will explore that with its new point-of-sale system called MassRoots Retail.

Canadian-based LGC Capital announced this week that it was also creating a platform to utilize “the blockchain technologies to create a reliable and verifiable purchase and payment system and use the Internet of Things technologies to track cannabis product shipments so as to provide assurance to consumers regarding the sourcing and quality of products.”


Chuck EpsteinChuck EpsteinDecember 6, 2017
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11min78104

Barred from using the traditional banking system by federal and state laws, cannabis dispensaries nationwide have explored alternative, non-cash options in order to conduct their daily business, but so far they have not been widely adopting the use of electronic cryptocurrencies to do business.

“What makes cashless currencies so attractive (the lack of a paper trail) is exactly why our bank would never allow us to use it,” according to Zachary Zises, owner at Dispensary33 in Chicago. “We need to be able to demonstrate total transactional accountability and transparency in order to have any access to the banking system, which is why cash remains king at medical cannabis dispensaries,”

As a result of being locked out of the traditional banking system, dispensaries mostly operate in a cash environment due to their limited access to even the most simple business vehicles, a checking account. As a result, this situation has made dispensaries go through extra work in order to meet their record keeping and compliance obligations to state authorities.

Since cannabis is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the IRS has stated that dispensaries and others in the cannabis production and cultivation cycle can only deduct expenses related to the costs of goods sold for federal reporting purposes. This means cannabis business can pay tax rates as high as 75% to 90% of net income, according to the accounting firm of Daszkal Bolton. To complicate matters, each state has its own tax laws covering legitimate deduction, including excise taxes on farming and dispensaries.

Yet while the link between being a cash business and meeting state and federal tax standards is easily done in most industries, the cannabis industry does not have a seamless way to do business, while also meeting its tax and regulatory obligations.

On its face, Bitcoin could be considered as a solution to this problem. It has been hailed by its advocates as a transformational invention because it has two purposes: as a digital currency and as an open-source software that can be used to facilitate financial operations and transaction processing on a global basis.

As a digital currency, Bitcoin can be managed electronically from anywhere in the world. It also is becoming more widely accepted by banks and merchants outside of the cannabis industry. In its other form, as an open-source software, the Bitcoin technology platform is being used by institutional financial traders and software developers to transform the operational and transactional sides of the financial industry.

Cryptocurrency Adoption Is Limited

 

Outside the U.S., PotCoin, the digital currency that facilitates transactions within the legalized cannabis industry, announced in December that it will be launching a promotion with the Canadian federally-licensed producer and distributor of medical cannabis WeedMD Inc. On its website, PotCoin said this deal is “what appears to be the first association between a cryptocurrency and a licensed producer to date.” The company said it sees this “as a major move towards faster adoption by cannabis vendors and suppliers.”

At the individual consumer level, cryptocurrencies may have a larger role. In June 2017, Bloomberg reported that two start-ups, Singlepoint and POSaBIT, were launched that allow individuals to use their credit cards to purchase cannabis from dispensaries. POSaBIT reported that it had 30 dispensaries using its system in Washington state, so customers could buy pot using their credit cards. On Washington dispensary reported that it sold $3 million in 2016 and that 13% of its customers were charging their purchases using POSaBIT.

Yet while there have been some advances in using cryptocurrencies at the customer level, dispensaries themselves have been slower to adopt cryptocurrencies at the managerial level. “I don’t know of any dispensaries in Chicago that accept the electronic currencies,” Zises of Dispensary 33 in Chicago said. “We have too many strict state and federal standards to meet, and right now, the cryptocurrencies don’t allow us to meet those high standards. I don’t think there is any regulated market where a state regulatory agency would allow it, but it’s just a guess.”

 

The Basics of Bitcoin

 

Introduced in 2013, Bitcoin is a type of digital currency, printed in a fixed quantity: Only 21 million Bitcoins will ever be issued on a declining scale that will end in 2140.This currency is the first in the world that is created and managed electronically.

This means there are no banks or middlemen needed to handle transactions. This makes Bitcoin a very disruptive invention since it eliminates the need for credit cards or bank accounts. Money can be transferred instantly and free, so there could be no need for wire transfers or money orders.

While Bitcoins are electronic money (they are also called a “cryptocurrency”), they can be purchased at ATMs, from other Bitcoin owners, or online exchanges. Once the Bitcoins are purchased and entered into the system, they become totally usable, electronic, transferable and anonymous. This means Bitcoins can be spent, sent, saved, or easily converted into any nation’s paper currency.

So once users recognized that Bitcoin is liquid, they attracted the attention of financial types who saw they could become an investable asset despite their very special qualities. One of those special qualities is that Bitcoin is considered property by the IRS in the United States. This means an investment structure cannot directly own Bitcoin, but it can hold Bitcoin as part of shares in an investment trust, which has purchased Bitcoins.

The other problem is that the financial, regulators and the courts are not clear about how to classify Bitcoin. Recent rulings have found it to be a cash equivalent, a security, a commodity and a foreign currency. This confusion explains why regulators are uncertain about its legal and regulatory jurisdiction.

Cannabis Cryptocurrencies

 

Matt Karnes, the founder of GreenWave Advisors said, “Because cryptocurrencies are so controversial, we believe its use raises added concern for the cannabis industry, which already faces its own unique challenges for banking and do not consider it a viable option at this point in time.” This is just a list of current cannabis-focused cryptocurrencies as compiled by GreenWave.

CCN CannaCoin
THC The Hemp Coin
MARYJ MaryJane Coin
WETK Weed Tokens
POT Pot Coin
BGR Bongger
DOPE Dope Coin
CANN Cannabis Coin
STV Sativa Coin
GROW Grow Coin
SPARK Spark Coin

 


Chuck EpsteinChuck EpsteinNovember 15, 2017
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6min14970

Hindered by the inability for most cannabis industry companies to make daily cash transactions seamlessly in the existing financial system, a new company is launching a cryptocurrency-based system based on decentralized blockchain technology to design and implement a global, multi-level, non-cash transaction platform operating on autonomous PerksCoin (PRC) tokens.

The new crypto-currency platform will be funded via an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), akin to a Kickstarter, that begins with a private pre-sale that started November 10 followed by the public phase lasting from November 20 to December 18. This will be followed by a crowd sale that ends in January 2018. So far, the company said it has 290 participants signed for its pre-sale.

Operating since 2014, the company, CannaSOS Corporation, based in Toronto, said its system could “revolutionize” the way the cannabis industry manages both its financial and marketing transactions since its platform offers social, advertising and marketing capabilities that will address existing prohibitions against launching national ad programs using established online and offline media.

Since 2014, the company has been losing money, according to Daniel Cheine, co-founder and account manager at CannaSOS Corp., as it built up its cannabis industry databases. In July 2017, the firm began selling ads and that has reversed the trend.

In a white paper explaining the Global PTP Ecosystem, the company said “for marijuana users, doctors, publishers and canna enthusiasts to connect directly via a self-serving online marketplace. Advertisers can purchase advertising space, post sponsored articles, acquire business membership, and much more.”

Since 2014, the company said it has acquired over 315,000 registered members, 950 business pages, 4,800 marijuana strain database and 200 social groups. “Today, CannaSOS is a comprehensive social network and sophisticated advertising platform designed primarily for the cannabis industry. CannaSOS is a successful prototype of a global P2P ecosystem,” according to the company’s white paper.

Working with its partners, including CannaLogic, NaturePay, Pundi X, Spare, Icobox and Naurepay, the company said that within three months after the ICO is completed, its platform will be accessible at over 5,000 locations in the U.S., Canada, and parts of Southeast Asia.

The New Platform

On the financial side, the company said its proprietary PerksCoin Transaction Platform (PTP) is designed to be liquid, secure and transparent. In addition, it will guarantee security, transparency, and safety of all PRC token based transactions; act as a mediator/arbitrator between seller and buyer; support peer-to-peer PRC token sale, eliminating middleman and associated costs; and offer a “Secure Sale” feature to protect buyers from unverified sellers, minimizing fraudulent activity in the marketplace.

According to the company, PRCs are “a utility token available for use within the multi-level transaction platform developed by CannaSOS. PerksCoin token is not a security token, as it is not backed by any hard assets. PerksCoin tokens are set to run on decentralized blockchain technology, ensuring transparency and security of all financial transactions.” It also stressed that PRCs are not guaranteed to be liquid, guaranteed by a financial institution and that trading depends on the “consensus of its value between the market participants.”

Transactions on the platform will allow users to buy and sell PRCs, as well as use the tokens to buy and sell products and services within the participating business network.

In a white paper explaining the Global PTP Ecosystem, the company said the platform will allow “marijuana users, doctors, publishers and canna enthusiasts to connect directly via a self-serving online marketplace. Advertisers can purchase advertising space, post sponsored articles, acquire business membership, and much more.”

With PRCs as the core of its platform, the company is launching a global loyalty program with PRC token and PerksCoin Transaction System. In the white paper, the company said its “loyalty program can be used online and offline by canna retail and wholesale businesses. The system will integrate with any POS on the market and allow PRC tokens to be used as the main incentive medium.”

PRC tokens will operate on cryptocurrencies since they are secure, fast, have low transaction fees and no third-party interruptions. Payouts will be available in PRC, Bitcoin, and Ethereum.

Our platform is continuously evolving, and we are working hard on developing and implementing unique marketing features that will allow canna related businesses to promote their brands locally and globally. PerksCoin Transaction System will allow participants to engage PRC tokens as a method of payment for advertising on existing CannaSOS advertising platform,” the white paper said.



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