Interview with Brian Cheong, the President and the Founder of TTC Protocol

He is also the CEO & founder of tataUFO, a social discovery platform with over 13 million users. He founded tataUFO while studying at Peking University in China. tataUFO is supported by great investors like Lightspeed China Partners, Ameba Capital, SoftBank Ventures Korea, Korea Investment Partners and Union Investment Partners. Previously he worked in Softbank Ventures Korea, where he assisted the early stage investments into consumer and mobile companies such as Lotiple (acquired by Kakao) and DevSisters (KOSDAQ IPO). He also worked for the government of Central Java Province in Indonesia as an IT Consult for 2 years where he made its official intranet and official websites. He founded and sold a web company at age of 17.

How was the idea of TTC Protocol born?

“The birth of TTC Protocol stems from domain experience, hype, and opportunity.

It all started back when I was in college. It was during this time that I learned about blockchain technology, and I sensed a huge potential in its possible applications, but this was before the technology itself was well-known to the public.

What made me consider giving blockchain technology a closer look was the massive influx of funds and talent into the blockchain industry in 2017. The number of cryptocurrency investors in South Korea rose from 50,000 to 3 million in only three months, while some of the most talented people I knew were entering the industry. As my startup owned a social networking app called tataUFO for college students in China, now with over 13m users, naturally, I looked into the application of blockchain in the social network industry.

After a deep search, my team and I concluded that, when applied to social networks,  blockchain technology can empower us to build a fully dependable point-to-point and peer-to-peer social platform. I personally believed that the application of the technology would change our view on social networking platforms forever. I shared the concept with Simon Kim, the CEO of Hashed, and Richard Liu, a partner at FBG Capital. They were all very interested in the project. By March of this year, TTC Protocol was officially established.”

How would you explain your project to the general public?

“TTC Protocol is a next-generation social network protocol based on decentralization and token incentives. In simple English, we help social network services to grow their user base and revenue by empowering everyone to claim the value of their likes, or their online contribution, in a wider sense.

It benefits everyone that is part of the ecosystem. For developers, it could solve many issues faced by traditional social networks, such as fake news, cyberbullying, private data leakage, and over-commercialization. For users, it will provide benefits, such as privacy protection, higher quality content, and most importantly, fair rewards for their contribution to the growth of the platform.”

As the company successfully completed its pre-sale fundraising, what has already been done and what are you going to do with the funds collected by the ICO?

“With successful fundraising through our ICO, our team has not only been able to accomplish major milestones in the development of the TTC Protocol but have also had the opportunity to build a diversified global platform. The highlights of TTC Protocol’s progression are as follows:

  • March 2018, Whitepaper Release
  • March 2018, Institutional Investments (FBG Capital, GBIC, Hashed, Dunamu & Partners, NEOPLY, etc.)
  • March 2018, Pre ICO
  • May 2018, Main ICO
  • June 25th, 2018, Token Distribution
  • June 2018, & Listing
  • July 2018, Acquired ALIVE, a mobile video sharing app with over 10m downloads
  • August 2018, Listing
  • September 2018, Whitepaper V1.0 Update
  • September 2018, Hacken Partnership and Launch of Bug Bounty Program
  • September 2018, “Merapi” Testnet, TTC Reward Engine (TReE,) and TTC Connect (Mobile Wallet App) Release
  • October 2018, Release of TTC SDK
  • October 23rd, 2018, Announced four new Alliance Partners in Korea (Pikicast, Cobak, Womanstalk, SocDoc; total of 7.5m registered users), growing the total user base to 30m
  • November 2018, Vietnamese, Russian, and Indonesian Whitepapers Released

In the coming months, we will continue to focus on both developments of blockchain technology and expansion of the ecosystem. In addition, with the cooperation of Hacken, a leading cybersecurity white hat hacker organization, TTC Protocol keeps up to date with the most current security practices.”

Why build partnerships with apps in the South Korean market first?

There are numerous reasons why we would enter the South Korean market first, but here are the key factors to understand:

First, rapid tech adoption. More than half the population of South Korea resides within a 100 km radius of Seoul, its capital, and the majority of the population are highly educated (more than 70% of the population have the university diploma). It is one of the most technologically developed countries in the world with some of the fastest internet. South Korea has a unique environment, where information and trends can spread more quickly than other parts of the world.

Second, the network effect. A user base of over 7.5 million is considerably high by itself, yet what is more impressive is that there are about 15 million millennials (aged 14 to 36) in Korea, and they mainly reside in or nearby Seoul which enables the network effect to expand rapidly – not only is the young Korean population extremely well connected, but there is the added benefit of clearer communication, as we reside within the same time zone and region. With clear communication channels and a tech-hungry population, we can increase our impact and form a more scalable platform.

Lastly, digital currency friendly. South Korea was one of the first countries to purchase digital assets with fiat currency. As early as in 2000, a Korean citizen is reported to have paid over 25,000 USD for a single digital sword in a popular MMORPG. This trend continues today. One recent study claims that 40% of white-collar Korean workers own or have owned at least one cryptocurrency.”

How does TTC Protocol differ from similar services?

“One key difference between TTC Protocol and other blockchain protocol projects focusing on social networks is that our strategy is heavily focused to welcome and include the existing online and mobile social networks. TTC Protocol is not a single service social network, but a growth tool for helping pre-existing social network platforms to return the value of their platform to their users.

First, we lower the technological hurdles for our partners. We provide the SDK, which enables our alliance partners to smoothly integrate into our ecosystem with little effort, as little as half a day’s worth of coding in some cases. It has helped us to build an alliance with players from different regions: tataUFO is our first partner whose users are based in China, while ALIVE, a video-sharing app with 10m+ downloads globally, has users in North America, India, and many other countries. In addition, we will adopt  7.5m users in South Korean through partnerships with four mainstream social platforms. Overall, we have built an alliance with 6 services and 30m+ registered users across the globe, all using the same coin (TTC) without any shared equity among partners. This is quite a unique achievement in the blockchain industry.

Second, our technology and partnerships do not alter the partner services’ core values and functions. We believe that every social network and online community is unique, that is why our SDK provides a very flexible adjustment system for reward logic that accommodates to the needs of each partner. One service could choose to incentivize users more for likes, while another could promote content creation more. As a result, no partner service has to risk their original colors, culture, and fans to enjoy an accelerated growth and healthier community derived from blockchain technology.

Third, we provide ordinary users with easy-to-use utility functions for TTC tokens, lowering the entry barrier of blockchain technology. For example, many users might have difficulties or would be uninterested with understanding a protocol’s voting mechanism, or even how to vote, but with us, the users just simply need to download our wallet app which provides a voting mining service with a one-click binding service for all apps in our ecosystem. We try to provide the best user experience we possibly can. This is what sets us apart from other blockchain projects – we have been in the social field long enough to know that the users’ experience is key to the success of the platform.”

How can your innovative service change the way we see social networks?

“We believe that each user contributes massively to the growth of social networks. Users contribute by creating content, giving their attention (e.g. likes and comments), and most importantly, sacrificing their time. Without users, there is no Facebook, there are no billions of dollars of revenue and profit. Each user brings something – a value – to the table, and the market cap of Facebook is simply a snapshot of the sum of values from each user.

Once people realize that they can claim the rightful value of their time and contribution, you cannot put that genie back in the bottle. It will change how we perceive the value of our online labor – yes, labor – and it will change our social status from a user to a contributor and a stakeholder.”

What are your plans for the future?

“At present, TTC Protocol launched its Testnet, Merapi, allowing developers to test the integration of social exchange onto their platform – once tested, they will be able to apply the mainnet, launching in Q1 of next year, which will enable real value exchange on the platform.

With a completed mainnet in mind, the focus will be on finding partners and creating a diversified and growing ecosystem. With more partners integrated into the TTC ecosystem, TTC Protocol can increase the utility value of its token – helping to form a truly open and global community.”

About TTC Protocol

TTC Protocol is one of the largest social networking ecosystems on the blockchain, with over 30m users. TTC Protocol provides a simple-to-integrate and fully-customizable blockchain-based SDK for existing communities, which acknowledges users’ contribution to the community and rewards them.

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The Future of Cryptocurrencies: There’s a 20% Chance of a Significant Correction

What will happen next year? Crypto-technologies have integrated deeply into the financial world – the future of Bitcoin has already been announced, cryptocurrencies are indexed on exchanges, token sales successfully raise funds. Without any doubts, cryptocurrencies have become part of the economic landscape.

But will this development continue at the same incredible pace, or will it instead become more streamlined? Will the Bitcoin’s rate continue to grow, or can we look forward to some correction? How flexible or rigid is regulation going to become?

We asked the head of BANKEX Capital Network David Finkelstein to share his insights about the future of cryptocurrencies in 2018.

  • To what extent are cryptocurrencies accepted today?

Many affluent people today still have no faith in cryptocurrency, attributing its dynamics to the hype and expecting it to crash. Personally, I don’t believe in such collapse. I believe cryptocurrency is going to find its place in the modern economy, even though for the time being, unlike other assets, it has no fundamental evaluation.

When, for example, you purchase shares in Tesla, you can look to the various models in order to estimate the fundamental values of the shares. Which is why, if Tesla shares suddenly skyrockets, it will be clear to everyone whether its price is warranted. This model, at least, allows you to understand what kind of profitability the marketplaces in the shares.

In case of Bitcoin, however, there is no such model, so nobody knows how much it should be worth. From my perspective, its proper value is supposed to be derived from the quotient of USD people are willing to store in it. For instance, if people are willing to store $100M in Bitcoins, while the total amount of bitcoins is 21 million, we can divide one by the other then we will receive a reasonable exchange rate for Bitcoin.

  • Why store dollars in Bitcoins? Will cryptocurrency replace fiat currencies?

This is unlikely to happen. Because there are countries that can, at any point, put an end to the existence of the crypto world. It’s not complicated, but they don’t want to do it. What they want to do is to head this whole movement in order to collect taxes. That is why regulators all over the world are pondering how to find a better approach in this field. And when they come to a conclusion, which may well take time, the rules of the game will change.

  • Bitcoin is already being referred to as “digital gold” and one of its unique features is its finite amount. We don’t know how much gold there is in the world, and someone might discover a new mine and start extracting it. That is not the case with bitcoin. Imagine if there was a limited amount of dollars and you could never print more.

That’s normal, it means there is a secondary market needed. Bitcoin, like anything else, has its market price, which is currently being defined by crypto exchanges. In economics this is always the case: when a person has an asset, there will always be a sum for which the person would be willing to sell this asset. If everyone decides to sell the Bitcoins they have,  its price will decrease. Whereas if many people decide they want to buy them – their price will grow. But between them, there will always be an equilibrium price.

  • Will other cryptocurrencies as powerful as bitcoin emerge anytime soon? Right now we see an enormous gap between Bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies.

Generally speaking, all cryptocurrencies is a whole. Bitcoin grows simply due to the fact that the concept of crypto-currency is associated only with it. The investments from non-professional players have begun to invest in Bitcoin and that stimulated such a growth – an asset can only keep growing while there is a demand for it. If it’s a bubble, then it bursts once the influx of buyers comes to an end. This leads to a natural state of panic and all starts to collapse.

  • Can you make a balanced portfolio out of cryptocurrencies? Even though they move together with Bitcoin?

Yes, you can. A balanced portfolio can be made out of anything. Every time we add any new asset, it decreases the overall volatility of the portfolio.

  • What should one add to bitcoin in order to make such a portfolio?

That depends on the goals of the portfolio. If it’s solely for sake of exposure to crypto, then you would need to add other cryptocurrencies. But there are many nuances. If it’s a long-term portfolio, then it would require some Bitcoin, some Ether, and some other cryptocurrencies, evaluating them in terms of reliability and combining them with reasonable counterweights. You can calculate the Kelly Criterion, optimize your portfolio… but all of this has to be done professionally.

  • Are there other secure cryptocurrencies besides Bitcoin and Ether that are worth including in your portfolio?

There must be, but I am not ready to name them. The reality today is that people mine whatever is the cheapest because it’s easier. But for now, the market has no faith in new currencies, because the power of a currency is defined by the number of people who use it, and this number is not great enough. So people mine it, then at the end of the day, they convert whatever they mined into Bitcoin because it’s considered more secure. How exactly this situation is going to change, I can’t tell now.

  • With the year coming to an end comes a time to make predictions. What do you think will happen to Bitcoin, how will the world of cryptocurrency develop in general?

If we are talking about exchange rates, then I don’t believe it will drop too much. There will not be a total crash. I would say there’s a 20% chance of a significant correction of Bitcoin rates to the level of $5000. For the same reasons I have already mentioned earlier – there is no fundamental model, based on which you could say Bitcoin is worth 5 or 100 thousand dollars.

In all other cases, whenever collapses occur in the market, there is always a fundamental price model, and that has been true for everything from tulips to shares in certain tech companies, that is, in my opinion, currently overrated.

In this case, either the market value catches up with the model and the asset rises or model catches up with the cost.

  • How much is the level of cryptocurrency acceptance going to grow? What will happen to regulations?

There is no doubt that everything is going to develop very rapidly. New products will emerge in capital markets and they will very find ways to implement crypto quickly. Basically, everything there is on the financial markets today will re-emerge with the form of crypto. And I do mean everything, such as advisory, investment management, financial management etc.

  • All the same, but with “crypto”?

It will more likely be crypto-fiat asset management. Asset managers now want crypto to be included in their portfolio. Another noteworthy trend is that at some point regulators will have to find a suitable place for crypto. I don’t think this field will enjoy as much leniency as there is now. There will be more regulations, as well as mutual conversions and eventual integration between fiat and crypto-financial services.

  • And of course, we have to bring up ICO…

I think ICO is very reasonable. Much like IPO and, before them, LLC – Limited Liability Companies, ICO provides people who receive capital to realize their ideas with even greater freedom. This new fundraising mechanism truly does accelerate the economy, therefore it’s very reasonable. Humanity has a natural need for ICO. Before that, there was no way of collecting 25 cents per person out of a million people, but now there is one. This injects more energy for the most ambitious projects, the greatest fantasies. ICO is a great idea!

  • So why do regulators try to ban ICOs while proclaiming it is to protect non-professional investors? Shouldn’t people think for themselves when choosing to give their money to whom?

The problem is there is a fine line between those who are raising funds for an actual project and frauds. The economy needs a mechanism to get rid of frauds. For instance, people take their company to ICO, then they just take the money and vanish without a trace. Or else they falsify accounting information and overrate the company’s value (as it happened with Enron). The regulator’s task is to distinguish frauds and legitimate businesses.

They are trying to do this with ICOs, although perhaps this task could be carried out with the help of the community, the communication between people. The regulator’s role is not to defend the investors, but to clear the market for scams. Non-professional investors are easily lured when you promise them a goldmine. And if there are too many cases of fraud, then it discredits the idea of ICO in the first place and makes people lose their faith in the crypto economy –That actually poses as disadvantageous to the government.

  • I know BANKEX token sale is coming to an end. How are you planning to use the raised funds? When should investors expect results from their investments?

Our website has an elaborate description of our directions and roadmaps that we follow. For instance, in Q1 BANKEX will issue an innovative blockchain platform for movie financing. Led by Oscar-winning Hollywood producer Christopher Woodrow, MovieCoin™ will use BANKEX’s blockchain based Proof-of-Asset protocol and BKX tokens to help film industry raise funds with greater ease and speed.

As we are a B2B company, our token price is strongly associated with the news about BKX token usage. For example, when there is news that Ripple will be used by BBVA bank its price increased around 10x times.

Financial institutions that adopt BANKEX solutions will form the backbone of the early-era Internet of Assets. Our tokens will make this happen. Taking into account that in the future the number of services and ecosystem participants will grow, we realize that the volume of tokens should also increase. The tokens are designed as utility tokens and their primary function will be in circulation. The idea of issuing more tokens in the future is intended to keep the growth of the ecosystem with the focus on value.