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Cointelegraph Talks Recap: Blockchain Giving Power to the LGBTQ+ People

Cointelegraph Talks Recap: Blockchain Giving Power to the LGBTQ+ People

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Seven experts from different institutions and organizations discussed topics relating to diversity, inclusion, challenges and opportunities for LGBTQ+ with Cointelegraph.

Yesterday, Cointelegraph hosted another episode of “CT Talks,” dedicated to Pride Month and addressing important questions on diversity, inclusion, stigmatization, acceptance, challenges and opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community in the crypto and blockchain space.

For many people — mostly heterosexuals — the terms “blockchain” and “LGBTQ+” used so close together might seem irrelevant. For those who are a part of the community, as I am, it is perfectly natural to raise this topic within the space, combining these discourses.

Emerging technologies such as crypto, blockchain, AI and big data have already made an enormous impact on people all over the world, and the LGBTQ+ community is no exception. There are myriad potential benefits that these technologies can bring to the community, and we are still only at the early stages of its implementation. I personally believe that a lot of great things will appear in the near future.

Speaking on one of the benefits, Joe DiPasquale, CEO of BitBull Capital and co-founder and director at StartOut, underlined the positive impact of privacy and anonymity that crypto and blockchain provides to the space:

“There is a lot of excitement about blockchain and crypto and how it could impact society. [...] The thing is that blockchain and crypto truly brings in though is also true privacy. [...] I guess for fundraising or raising money online, that’s obviously a major impact for crypto. And you can do it in a truly anonymous way.”

Christopher Wood, the co-founder and executive director at LGBT Tech, spoke about the LGBTQ+ community and how it can help in terms of adoption and implementation:

“The LGBTQ+ community has always been an early adopter of technology because of the fact it could create an opportunity for the community, for us, for people who were really isolated or felt that they were alone. [...] Newer technologies allow our community to put money where their month is, to go ahead and support causes they really care about.”

Susan Oh, the founder and CEO at Muckr.AI, while speaking about technology highlighted that blockchain possess a great philosophy behind it that brings value to the tech:

“The most important thing to understand about the technology is that it can only amplify the philosophy. [...] There are great opportunities to democratize value. [...] We get to look at the value by its utility, by how it serves us. And we can do it peer-to-peer. It’s a beautiful philosophy.”

Christof Wittig, the co-founder and CEO of Hornet, stressed the criticality of blockchain and other emerging technologies in countries that still have homophobic laws. In those countries, LGBTQ+ people rely on anonymity and community support to navigate their everyday lives under an authority that discriminates against them. He also said:

“There is still a lot of discrimination within the United States and Western countries, we are not there yet for everyone, and there is still a lot to do. Everyone who thinks otherwise is either very insular in their thinking […] and doesn’t know about people of color, underprivileged people, positive people. [...] And then of course we have 72 countries that criminalize LGBT.”

The second part of the panel addressed — among other things — probably one the most important topics for the 21st century: health, with a focus on HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.

Answering on whether blockchain tech could help humanity fight different diseases, Dr. Jane Thomason, chief inspiration officer at Fintech.TV and former CEO at Fintech Worldwide, stated:

“Yes, yes and yes! And if there is one benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic that I see is that it’s forced some of those legacy curtains in the health system to start opening up, as people have been much more willing to accept technology to help, to try and solve some of the issues of the pandemic.”

Erik Lamontagne, a senior economist at UNAIDS, underlined that we are still at the very beginning of technological development in blockchain, and there will be a lot of new discoveries in the field. He said:

“Just think how it was less than 10 years ago when there was an emerging epidemic in a village, in a remote place in a country in Africa or Latin America, for example. [...] This technology [DLT] enables us to move almost as quickly as epidemics are moving. And this is fantastic! This is one of the opportunities.”

Sean Howell, the chair at Tech4HIV and CEO at LGBT Foundation, highlighted the issue of stigmatization of HIV-positive people and the lack of accessibility to HIV tests in many regions. This can be solved via e-commerce on a blockchain for selling cheap and high-quality tests while preserving people’s privacy, as enabled by the immutability and privacy of distributed ledger technology:

“In places that have high epidemics face high stigma. [...] These are places that have high HIV and it’s almost impossible to go and get a HIV test — either they are simply not offered or you don’t want to disclose that you have sex with men or you being HIV-positive [as it] would be associated with being gay.”

Indeed, our problems cannot be solved with technology, whether it’s blockchain, crypto or something else. Technology itself is very inclusive and doesn’t hold any prejudices, stereotypes or unacceptance of its own. It’s people that have those things. We have to first change our own attitudes in order to work toward a better world and teach ourselves how to be more tolerant, more open-minded and more inclusive to all kinds of diversity. Blockchain will be a great tool in our fight for equality and social justice for everyone.

Cointelegraph Talks is a series of online meetups where crypto and blockchain experts discuss challenging topics in the space. Keep posted for new episodes on Cointelegraph YouTube.

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Spotify starts selling live music tickets to fans directly

Spotify has launched a new site to sell fans tickets to live gigs directly from its platform instead of redirecting users to partners like Ticketmaster…

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Spotify has launched a new site to sell fans tickets to live gigs directly from its platform instead of redirecting users to partners like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite. The company’s new website lists upcoming concerts and lets users purchase tickets to these shows through debit or credit card; users need to have a Spotify account to buy tickets, though.

The company hasn’t officially announced the launch of its ticketing platform, but Chris Messina first noted about the site being available for the public to book tickets earlier today.

The site lists gigs that are available to book on the home page, and under the My Events section, users can see their past and upcoming ticket bookings. Currently, the Spotify Tickets site lists gigs for artists like Limbeck, Crow, Annie DiRusso, Four Years Strong, and TOKiMONSTA that are performing in the U.S. in the coming months.

The Spotify Tickets home page Image Credits: Spotify

The company revamped its in-app live event discovery page in June with better gig discovery for events around the user’s local area. Until now, Spotify used its ticketing partners like Ticketmaster, AXS, DICE, Eventbrite, and See Tickets to list these events; for ticket booking, it used to link out to these partners from the event page. With the launch of its ticketing platform, this may change. While currently, events listed on the Spotify Tickets site are not available on the Live events page, the company’s support page says: “Some tickets listed there [on the Live Events page] are available for purchase directly from Spotify.” Tickets directly sold through Spotify are also not currently listed on the artist page. We have asked the firm if it plans to list directly ticketed events on the Live Events page and artists’ pages.

Spotify ticketing site’s legal section says that the company only acts as a ticketing agent and takes a booking fee. It also mentions that it can be selling tickets on behalf of “third parties which can include venues, event promoters, fan clubs, and artists, as their disclosed ticketing agent”. We have asked the company for more details about its cut and how it defers from its affiliate fees, and we’ll update the story if we hear back.

Notably, some venues listed on the Spotify Ticket page come under the “National Independent Venue Association,” a U.S.-based organization representing independent venues. So the company might be currently avoiding venues that are under Ticketmaster owner Live Nation’s distribution. Live Nation has been accused of monopolistic practices regarding ticket distribution with lawmakers asking President Joe Biden to launch an investigation into the ticket distribution firm last year.

In a blog published in June, Spotify’s product manager for Live Events Discovery Sam Sheridan said that while people were engaging with artists on the app, they left the platform to find events for their live performances. With the revamped live events feed and the ticketing platform, the company is trying to solve the discovery problem and earn some money through ticket booking directly or as an affiliate partner. Last year, the company also experimented with selling tickets to virtual pre-recorded concerts due to the pandemic. The company has been under constant scrutiny for not paying artists enough from its streaming avenue, so with this new initiative, Spotify could argue that it will drive more ticket sales for artists.

Spotify’s ticketing platform launch comes days after TikTok partnered with Ticketmaster to let users discover events ranging from a OneRepublic concert to a WWE event and book tickets for them. In February, Snap struck a similar partnership with the ticket booking platform to power event discovery through Snap Minis — third-party party programs on Snapchat.

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German crypto bank Nuri with 500K users files for insolvency

Nuri stated that it has been facing a “lasting strain” on its business liquidity in 2022 due to “significant macroeconomic headwinds and the cooling…

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Nuri stated that it has been facing a “lasting strain” on its business liquidity in 2022 due to “significant macroeconomic headwinds and the cooling down of public and private capital markets.”

Nuri, a German start-up crypto bank with 500,000 customers filed for insolvency on Aug. 9, citing major crypto sell-offs, insolvency of Celsius and other crypto funds earlier this year as a reason for the move. 

The crypto bank said the move will “ensure the safest path forward” for all its customers, but also stressed that the insolvency will not affect its services, customer funds, investments, or the ability for customers to withdraw their assets from the platform. 

Some customers have reported difficulties withdrawing their assets through Nuri's mobile app, however, Nuri on Twitter said this has been the result of high traffic and usage, and again stressed that "funds are safe." 

Notably, the firm itself doesn’t actually handle customer’s fiat and crypto funds due to a partnership Solarisbank AG. According to the Solaris Group website, Nuri partnered with the bank and its crypto subsidiary Solaris Digital Assets to outsource banking and crypto custody licensing.

This enabled Nuri to scale its operations and services by utilizing Solaris’ banking and crypto asset infrastructure/licensing. With Solaris not facing any liquidity issues, Nuri is essentially able to carry on its services while the company undergoes restructuring, unlike other firms that have run into the same issues.

“Let us reiterate the most important information for you: All funds in your Nuri accounts are safe due to our partnership with Solarisbank AG. The temporary insolvency proceedings do not affect your deposits, cryptocurrency funds and Nuri Pot investments which have been done with us.”

“You have guaranteed access and will be able to deposit and withdraw all funds freely at any time. For the time being, nothing will change and Nuri’s app, product, and services will continue to run,” Nuri added.

Nuri stated that it has been facing a “lasting strain” on it’s business liquidity in 2022 due to “significant macroeconomic headwinds and the cooling down of public and private capital markets” such as the global pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Additionally, various negative developments in the crypto markets earlier this year, including major cryptocurrency sell-offs, the implosion of the Luna/Terra protocol, the insolvency of Celsius and other major Crypto funds have led to a crypto bear market,” Nuri wrote.

Related: Crypto lending platform Hodlnaut suspends services due to liquidity crisis

Berlin-based Nuri, formerly named Bitwala, was founded in 2015 and offers crypto savings accounts, portfolio investment baskets dubbed “Nuri Pots” and crypto trading services which it charges 1% trading fees on.

"We are confident that the temporary insolvency proceedings offer the best basis for developing a viable long-term restructuring concept in the company's current situation," it added. 

Nuri joins a host of crypto firms that have run into liquidity issues during the bear market of 2022, with the most notable names being Voyager Digital, Celsius and Three Arrows Capital.

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Ready Player One gave us the misconception that the Metaverse is VR — Everyrealm CEO, KBW 2022

Steven Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ presents an unrealistic glimpse into life in the metaverse, Everyrealm CEO Janine Yorio told an audience in…

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Steven Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ presents an unrealistic glimpse into life in the metaverse, Everyrealm CEO Janine Yorio told an audience in Seoul.

Everyrealm CEO Janine Yorio has dispelled misconceptions that the Metaverse can only be presented “exclusively in VR.” 

Speaking on Aug. 9 during Korean Blockchain Week 2022, Yorio told an audience in Seoul that Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One had given us a glimpse into what life could be like if we were living in the Metaverse.

However, the movie gives us this misconception about the Metaverse because “the protagonist is wearing a VR headset”, she argues, despite most developments in the Metaverse currently being “developed for your desktop” according to Janine Yorio.

Yorio highlighted that consumer preferences has been the reason behind this, as the way humans like to “interact with technology” is “18 inches from your face, not three inches from your face” adding that “way more people have computers than have VR headsets.”

Yorio highlighted that the idea of the Metaverse being exclusively in VR is unrealistic, saying that while Ready Player One showed us that this “immersive photo real environment” was an exciting concept, it isn’t going to happen in the “near term future” as it isn’t how humans are used to interacting with technology.

The Everyrealm executive suggested that the Metaverse being “exclusively in VR '' contradicts how humans are used to using technology, which is generally multi-tasking or used to “procrastinate”, whereas “when you’re using VR you have to check out of life entirely.”

We can expect the next “12 to 36 months” to be the most exciting time for the Metaverse, said Yorio, noting this will be the time “when a lot of the triple A gaming studios…are actually going to start building and delivering the kind of Metaverse” that people are looking forward to.

After this major shift in development happens this is when we can expect “mainstream adoption [...] the moment we’re all waiting for” she explained.

Everyrealm is a company that invests, manages, and develops digital assets such as NFTs, Metaverse platforms, gaming, and infrastructure. The company currently has holdings in 25 Metaverse platforms as well as owning over 3000 NFTs and managing more than 100 real estate developments.

Related: Experts clash on where virtual reality sits in the Metaverse

During the presentation, Yorio also shared Everyrealm’s project plans in the near future with a focus on fashion as it is “one of the private primary driving drivers of commerce.”

"Metaverse users will be able to look forward to having a look-alike avatar that they can dress with clothing from different designers [...] as we strongly believe that fashion will move the Metaverse forward.”

Yorio also noted that they were not prioritizing building music concerts in the Metaverse, calling the idea of concerts in the Metaverse “terrible.”

"We go to live shows to get the 'bass' feeling in our feet and being with friends and actually dancing and you can’t do any of that […] but the pandemic made us a little bit more forgiving of what a concert can be.”

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