Cryptocurrency and Esports Move Forward In New Consortiumbr>
A new group bringing together esports and cryptocurrency has formed, appropriately named the Esports Crypto Consortium. Prominent leaders in the space have united to promote new industry standards, interoperability, and fluidity between tokens and projects.
Marshall Long, the CEO and co-founder of eboost, an in-game software token focused on the esports market, explained the goals of the new alignment to Block Tribune.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So why this organization, and why are you starting it now? Tell me about the coming together.
MARSHALL LONG : It is kind of out of the blue, to be honest. I’ve been involved in crypto since 2010. I’ve been through the ups and downs. I was involved early on with a project called Bitcoin Classic, and right around that time, 2015 or so, got really upset with how the ecosystem was developing. So I honestly tried to get out of crypto. And I’ve got an eye for disruption – I’ve messed around with drones for a little bit, and then I got involved in esports, and I’ve always been a gamer myself, and the ecosystem has a lot of similar characteristics to crypto. It’s very disruptive, it’s got the potential to bridge a lot of communities together, it’s got a lot of inclusionary elements to it, and that’s the kind of stuff that I like.
We started the Esport Project and immediately had a lot of traction. From there, we started seeing another scene develop inside our community, where people were trading these in-game items. From those in-game items, I would sit in and listen to some of these trades, and it’s people from all over the world, bridging massive demographics; I mean, I’ve listened to a trade where it’s a 17-year-old guy from Mexico City trading with a 40-year-old guy from Russia, and they don’t care about their religion, they don’t care about the age gap. They just know that they’re both into games, and they both want to trade with each other. And that itself is really powerful for me, so that’s kinda where we started.
These people quickly grasped that crypto is a really great medium of exchange for them. And at the time, they didn’t really have a really good fit. They used bitcoin for a little bit, and then they really didn’t like the fee structure, because some of these items are a dollar, you know, and if you’re a kid in India trying to buy a $2.00 skin, paying a dollar fee doesn’t really make sense, if you only have $5.00 to spend or trade. Over the course of, I would say, three or four months, this community grew really big. I think today it’s around 35,000 people active daily, and they basically came to me and said, “Hey, look, we know you’re really big in crypto. Can you make us something?” And at this time, I was really trying to not do that, because I didn’t want to get back involved in crypto, and so I sat there for a little while, but I kinda realized when 30,000 people ask you to build them something, you kinda do it, right?
So that’s kinda where the Esport and crypto project started, around eboost. We did a very small ICO through Bitrex last November, and it was, we didn’t need a lot of money, we just wanted to kinda get it out there and work with our friends at Bitrex to kinda get it listed and go from there. Then, ICOs became a really cool thing to do, and some of the people who are new to the industry and some people who are old to the industry started popping up, and that’s kinda where the Consortium started. Now we’ve got some awesome partners, esports, they’re rounding out their ICO, fans unite, and we’re adding new companies every week. Really what the Consortium is about is bringing a standard level to crypto and esports in general. They’re both really new industries, and we want to make sure we get it right, so we’re sharing resources, sharing contacts, and the great thing is, it’s not really a competitive space yet, and so everybody’s really collaborative, and we’re really elevating kinda what crypto can do for esports. It’s really exciting.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So what will be the sort of target that you’re trying to arrive at?
MARSHALL LONG: I think overall the target is, we want to make sure that it’s done right, and in a compliant manner. Because the thing with esports is, it’s a huge demographic, so some of the people in the Consortium, they need compliance. So they’re asking for tools, the likes of Netkey. Netkey has some really great automation tools that the gaming industry is really starting to use. The goal overall is to make sure that we do it right, so that there’s a really nice project to come back to over the next five or ten years. If it’s done wrong and in a hurry, then you end up with something that is not a sustainable situation.
I think the target is to kind of make sure we’re building an ecosystem that’s very in line, implementing compliance measures where we need it. You know, a lot of companies are integrating compliance portals, utilizing tools like Netkey. I think the overarching goal, and everybody kind of agrees to this, is to make sure that we’re building a new ecosystem that we can sit back and be proud of and not have to worry about us doing it wrong, because there’s there’s so many players in the consortium now that all have different backgrounds. Everybody has a useful tidbit to add to how we make this thing really legit and very kind of a polished product as far as crypto and ESports.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How come we can do this in gaming and not government?
MARSHALL LONG: You know, that’s a question I often find myself looking at. In general, the gaming community is one where everybody’s kind of accepted, and in government sometimes you have an issue just trying to change one person’s name. I mean, I think a lot of it has to do with we’re able to lean on our communities, and our communities are very diverse. We don’t really have to worry about the problem of looking at a problem from one angle, you know? It’s been a really interesting journey for sure, because when we first started, we were only in North America, and quickly that changed.
A lot of people, whefirst started thinking about crypto and ESports … I talked about this last … maybe a year ago in Miami, before we kind of started fully integrating the Esports and crypto idea. I just put a question out to many people. I said, “What do you think about Bitcoin, and what do you think about crypto?”, to some of the community members. The answers were everywhere from, “Oh. I love it. I use it every day,” to, “Not really heard about it that much, but it’s probably a scam.”
What’s cool is how quickly the education process happened. A really cool example that I can call on specifically is there was a young guy from India, I think he was 16 or 17, and he was playing a game with three other guys who were from the states. He told them, “Hey. My uncle gave me a 500 rupee note for my birthday, but the government made it nonexistent, and all the kids from North America were, “Whoa. How can they do that? How can your government do that?”, because they never had to go through any financial crisis or anything like that. You know?
The kid kind of told them the story about how India basically made 1,000 and 500 notes nonexistent basically overnight, and they immediately understood the power of crypto, because then you have your own kind of financial sovereignty, and the education process was basically one day with that one interaction. That’s a really powerful tool in Esports specifically, because it really is such a diverse population, and everybody is so highly communicative that word travels fast.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Is it inevitable that gaming become tokenized? I mean, it seems like such a perfect fit on its face, that you’re trading digital assets that can easily be tracked and traced as far as provenance goes.
MARSHALL LONG: You know, that’s kind of the nice use cases we’re seeing now … There’s two things. The first thing is the demographic for Esports is all age ranges. However, most people are very technically inclined, so starting off with an idea, you’re already from zero to one a lot faster than you would be in most injuries, so that’s a great thing there. The second thing is that the biggest thing that a lot of people would agree that block chain technology and crypto specifically solve is two fold, number one, currency movement, and number two, being able to track and authenticate goods.
Within these kind of in game trading communities if I am a guy from Mexico and you’re a guy from India, I can’t send you PayPal money, although PayPal is existent in both countries. That channel is nonexistent. The crypto use case, as far as a medium of exchange, has already started fixing a baked in problem is ESports. That’s how can I trade my items to you quickly and not have to worry, you know, even if I can trade you with PayPal, how do I know you’re not going to charge me back in 180 days? That’s the first thing.
Second thing is being able to track, in a decentralized manner, all of these P2P exchanges is a really powerful tool also, and that’s kind of where things like Twitch have started to see a lot of traction on. I mean, Twitch just got acquired for a billion dollars five years ago. That would have never been a possibility, but you’re starting to see, especially within ESports, this drive to kind of want to be in a peer-to-peer environment around this digital campfire, as it were. I think all those kind of ingredients are a perfect cocktail for the perfect crypto use case.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: There are a lot of laws regarding online trading, regarding know your customer in anti-money laundering. Do you have any protections put in place to make sure that nobody’s trading some sort of garbage in order to facilitate a money transfer? I know that most of these items are a dollar or two, but still….?
MARSHALL LONG: Yeah. Honestly, some of the items are very expensive. There are items that are hundreds of thousands of dollars. It just depends on the game. What you’re seeing is with companies that facilitate those giant transactions that aren’t necessarily peer-to-peer, there are companies similar to kind of like an Ebay hybrid, where somebody can post an item, and somebody can buy an item, and what these large companies are doing … One of them is OPSkins. They have the WAX tokens. They’re really great at leveraging. I think they might even leverage Netkey also, where once you hit above a certain threshold, you have to do full KYC, or you cannot interact on the platform.
The great thing is if you were to go through a traditional bank and set up an account, it’s arduous, and it takes forever, but now, with all these really great automation tools … I’ll just keep using Netkey. They’re just really good at what they do. You’re able to kind of automate this KYC process, so that the people can get in, get a decision get out, you know, sometimes in under a minute, and also you’re still able to be 100% within the compliance laws. We’re already starting to see that, and so far, so good. You know? The whole point of the consortium is to make sure we’re doing it right, because as the industry changes, we want to be able to both appease government as much as we have to and also make sure that the user experience isn’t just destroyed.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Now, this may seem on its face a little tangential to what you’re doing, but what will be the effect of the bitcoin price run up on your business, if any? Will it just bring more people into the tent who have been curious about this and may have been gamers, but kind of ignored it for the reasons that you cited earlier, that they thought it was a scam, or will it have no effect?
MARSHALL LONG: I’ll say that the effects that I’ve seen, especially over the past two months, are much different than any other effects that I’ve seen since I got in seven years ago. It’s mostly, to be honest, around the price. I get messages every day that either say, “Hey, man, thanks for the free Bitcoin you gave me three years ago. It’s done way more than I ever thought, and I totally forgot I had it,” or, “Crap. I should have listened to you three years ago.”
I think the price going up does one thing for everybody, and that kind of makes it more real and makes it more kind of this isn’t just nerd money to people who were formerly, you know, nonbelievers I would say. Outside of the use cases that are very apparent more most people, the price alone start to wake up the rest of the people, and I think that can only be a good thing.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Similarly, there’s been some major hacks in ethereum of most recently with Parity Technologies. Does that have any effect on the confidence of people in interests such as this?
MARSHALL LONG: So, I’ll say I’ve kind of been through my fair share of hacks. We went through Mt. Gox, and that was a big one, and then the Bitfinex one and the Parity one was huge. I think most people now are of the opinion that these hacks are a double edged sword. They point out glaring vulnerabilities in things like smart contracts, which turn out aren’t very smart and are only as smart as the people who made them. I think events such as the Mt. Gox and the roll back of the Dao were much more detrimental, but more on a precedence level. If you set the precedence that a smart contract isn’t really a contract but can be executed in a way however you see fit, it’s not really a contract.
If I fill out a paper contract, and I have attorney, and there’s a whole arbitration that goes on if something goes wrong … However, if I’m a developer of a smart contract and it goes south, then I can simply revert that if I have people to agree with me. That starts to bring up a lot of topics around governance and how do you kind of handle those things. This is also just a sign of an immature ecosystem. I think that these hacks point out that, and overall, I mean, the market has responded very strongly to it.
Of course, you’ll always have the people who want to get into the political side of crypto, and I think that’ll always be the case, but I think over time it is a hardened asset class, which is great. There’s a reason why people don’t generally make their own cryptographic algorithms, because the ones that are around have been around for 40 years and have had time to be attacked left and right and improved upon. I think with these newer cryptos coming out with these really nice, cool functionalities, over time they’ll get refined, and they’ll be more bulletproof and more bulletproof. I think it’s only a good thing at this point.