North Korean dissidents raise $14K with 100th ‘post-liberation visa’ on Ethereum blockchain

North Korean crypto-revolutionary crew Civil Cheollioma Defense (CCD) has issued its 100th “post-liberation blockchain visa” via the Ethereum blockchain.

The group says it has been selling its tokenized visas (G-Visas) since Monday morning, after it claimed it necessary to delay sale for roughly 12 hours due to high demand.

CCD states the G-Visas allow holders to enter North Korea “upon liberation,” when it will be transformed into a new nation called “Free Joseon,” an homage to the Joseon kingdom ultimately replaced by the Korean empire in the late 19th century.

At pixel time, 106 G-Visas exist on Ethereum‘s blockchain in the form of ERC-721 tokens, but again, speculators are attempting to re-sell an overwhelming majority of those already bought, some with a considerable mark-up.

CCD says it will sell the first 1,000 of its 200,000 G-Visas for 1 ETH ($135) each, which would mean it has raised around $14,000 worth of Ethereum in just a few days. It should also be noted that seven G-Visas were created before the token sale began.

A statement posted to CCD’s site late yesterday also confirmed its role in February’s raid on a Pyongyang embassy in Madrid. It had previously been noted as suspects by CNN , who had cited government sources.

A high court judge in Spain has already ruled a group of assailants had forced their way into Madrid’s Pyongyang embassy on 22 February.

They were said to be armed with knives, machetes, crowbars, and replica guns, and used the weapons to beat and intimidate staff and diplomats over nearly five hours. Flash drives, computers, hard drives, and a mobile phone were stolen.

Hard Fork reported Monday on the spawning of an underground market for CCD’s G-Visas, just hours after sales began. That trend has continued; at pixel time, 104 of the 106 G-Visas issued are being auctioned off to the highest bidder, with third-party sales created almost immediately on issue.

Blockstream’s new ‘Bitcoin ICO’ platform is handy – but you still need to know the laws

The blockchain infrastructure firm that sent a Bitcoin satellite into space is launching a platform to allow businesses to offer security tokens on the Liquid Network.

Blockstream announced the launch of “Liquid Securities” earlier today at CoinDesk’s blockchain and cryptocurrency conference, Consensus.

Liquid Securities claims to let businesses issue and manage token offerings. Firms can also use its API for “additional compliance and legal services,” the announcement reads.

“With the launch of Liquid Securities, businesses can quickly issue Liquid-based security tokens with the click of a button,” Blockstream CSO Samson Mow said in the announcement.

“[Businesses can] establish sophisticated rulesets to conform with their regulatory requirements with no engineering experience required,” he continued.

The Liquid Securities platform lets users set the legislative criteria that their tokens must comply with through a graphical user interface. This information is then integrated into smart contracts on the Liquid Network. In other words, token issuers don’t necessarily need any technical or programming know-how to issue a security token on Liquid Securities.

Indeed, while Liquid Securities might help token issuers set the regulatory criteria, a Blockstream spokesperson confirmed to Hard Fork in an email that the platform still requires users to have an intimate knowledge of securities legislation in their respective jurisdictions.

At this point, Liquid Securities certainly sounds like it will speed up and make token offerings easier. But given that securities offerings also need to be approved by and registered with regulatory bodies, like the SEC in the US or the FCA in the UK, I remain skeptical of just how regulated tokens offered on Liquid will be. There is also no mention of who is policing STOs on Liquid Securities.

Liquid Securities is the first product from Blockstream built on its Liquid Network . For those less informed, the Liquid Network is a sort of institutional Bitcoin sidechain , similar to the Lightning Network, but for private users and corporations rather than individuals.

Think of it as a type of platform for offering Bitcoin-backed initial coin offerings (ICO). Token issuers on Liquid Securities will offer tokens in exchange for Bitcoin, much like ICO issuers did with ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum.

More than a drop in the ocean?

With governments around the world starting to flex their regulatory muscle , security token offerings (STOs) have often been hailed as a panacea for everything that blighted initial coin offerings .

Most of the issues with ICOs stemmed from the fact they are generally unregulated ; investors are rarely protected when putting money into an ICO.

There’s also no guarantee that the company offering the ICO will even deliver on its promises . In many cases, ICOs turned out to be little more than a way of scamming would-be investors .

Indeed, STOs might claim to fix these issues by satisfying regulatory expectations in the country they are offered in. But it falls on the business offering the token to ensure these regulations are met. Just because something says it’s an STO doesn’t necessarily mean it is.

We’ll have to wait and see whether Liquid Securities will usher in a new era of regulated token offerings. But we should remain cautious, while Liquid Securities might sound safe and fast, any kind of STO is still a regulatory minefield and the onus will fall on the issuer to make sure the token meets regulations.

Meet the blockchain developer building 12 Lightning apps in 12 months

Devs love a challenge, and there’s a mountain of opportunity in Bitcoin and blockchain. One of the fastest growing areas of blockchain development is Bitcoin sidechain, the Lightning Network .

To learn more about the possibilities that the Lightning Network offers, Hard Fork spoke to someone deep in the trenches: a developer who’s set himself the challenge to make 12 Lightning apps in 12 months.

If you’re not in the know, the Lightning Network is a payment channel that allows individuals to exchange Bitcoin directly without having to wait for the main blockchain to confirm the transactions, as that’s done off-chain . It’s a great tool for developers , as it allows them to integrate cryptocurrency payments into apps without needing a third-party provider.

We’ve seen all kinds of weird, zany, and probably pointless things done with the Lightning Network, like feeding chickens , dispensing Coke , and playing Pokémon . There seems to be no end to what devs will come up with, but what’s the point? Why develop these apps anyway?

Hard Fork caught up with Guillaume Verbal to find out why.

Meet the developer

So far, Verbal’s made four apps; a carnivore meetup where diners pay in Bitcoin , Lightning scratchcards where users pay to reveal pixels of a message, the Lightning Throne where users pay to lay claim to a virtual throne, and Lightning Connect Four where players pay to play and the winner takes all. Of course, in all these cases users pay in Bitcoin using the Lightning Network.

Known on the internet as Doweig , Verbal describes himself as a Bitcoin entrepreneur, libertarian – and meat eater. He’s a French expat living in Thailand.

He became hooked with cryptocurrencies after investing in Bitcoin and Ethereum. He graduated from French technology school, EPITECH in 2013, well versed in Javascript. After which, he began looking for opportunities to marry his love of Bitcoin with his professional training.

Verbal co-founded, a blockchain software company, but it didn’t go as well as he hoped. Clavestone launched its first product after months of development, but unfortunately it received a muted response during trials. The company is still operating and now offers a simpler solution with a shorter release cycle.

“We spent months working on this [and] nobody wanted to pay for the product,” Verbal told Hard Fork. “We spent so much time doing what we thought clients would want, [but we didn’t know what] they actually wanted,” Verbal told Hard Fork.

Why 12 Lightning apps in 12 months?

Now, with experience and the power of hindsight, Verbal wants to do the opposite, and he’s set himself the challenge of developing 12 Lightning apps in 12 months to learn how.

He’s using his 12 apps in 12 months as an experiment. He wants to understand how he can make users part of the development process and ask them for feedback before launching. It’s not just about him developing apps, though, it’s about him and his community working together.

He launches small, and launches often. One app a month, there’s no time to dwell if it’s failing and feedback is poor. “Kill it quick and move on,” he said.

The French developer isn’t the first to come up with the 12 in 12 months format. He was initially inspired by Pieter Levels, an entrepreneur who started 12 businesses in 12 months – and managed to make two of them profitable. Levels’ idea was based on Jennifer Dewalt’s 180 websites in 180 days .

But why the Lightning Network?

There are other platforms besides the Lightning Network. Ethereum, for example, is often touted for its dapp capabilities, as are EOS and Tron. But, according to Verbal, the Lightning Network was the only sensible option.

“The Lightning Network is currently the best option for micro-payments, Ethereum on-chain fees [are] lower than Bitcoin’s but are still above $1, [it’s] not suitable for the use cases I’m working on,” he said. “Plus you also have to wait for confirmations, [it’s] not a good user experience.”

He continued, “We need something that confirms in less than 5 seconds and only layer two solutions can offer that. The only one that’s working: Lightning Network.”

The base level technology is there, but Verbal still needs to be creative. Interestingly, he said coming up with ideas isn’t the hard part, sifting through the list and deciding which will be appealing to users is a bit more difficult.

So far, Verbal says that it’s been a great learning experience. The first Lightning app he made, The Bitcoin Meat Club , was too “narrow and most people were not interested.” However, his second app, the Lightning Scratchcard – which Hard Fork covered back in March – proved far more popular.

“[Number 2] got really good buzz at launch and lots of people tried it,” Verbal told us. “The problem [was] that most users never came back.”

Lessons to be learned

Not every plan goes perfectly, though. Verbal is falling behind schedule, having only released four apps so far, with his latest – Lightning Connect Four – being released earlier this week. In Lightning Connect Four, players stake 100 sats (about 1 cent) to play, and the winner takes all.

Verbal says he’ll probably stick to his deadline and call time on the experiment after 12 months, but won’t worry about making all 12 apps. For Verbal, it’s more important to learn from the development process than it is to stick religiously to an arbitrary target.

Indeed, even though he’s a little under halfway, Verbal told Hard Fork that he’s already learned three key things.

Firstly, developers should work on a product they want to use. “Don’t solve other people’s problems, solve your own,” he said. Secondly, make something people will want to use again and again, “One time use products are no good.” And finally, devs should ask themselves, is it new, unique, and fun enough that people and the media will be interested? If not, move on.

By following these lessons, Verbal thinks he’s close to “hitting gold” with his next few apps.

Follow along on with Verbal’s journey by visiting his site , and join him on Twitter .

Update July 5, 2019, 0535UTC: The original version of this article suggested Verbal found a job at Verbal was a co-founder of the company. It has also clarified that is still in business, and now offers multi-signature wallet software.

Hunter Jones

Hunter Jones

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