Bela Service Plans Relaunch With New Tokens, Hopes To Recover Momentumbr>
It’s been a rocky couple of months for Bela, a service that is an attempt to disintermediate Instagram through Belacam, a photo-sharing site where you get paid around $.05 in BELA tokens for each “like” your photo gets. Users can withdraw that money or use it to like other users’ photos. The concept attracted a fair amount of attention and investment.
But in April, the Bela service switched its tokens, was de-listed from one prominent exchange, and angered some holders who didn’t receive their new tokens. Its valuation has since shrunk, and now the company is pinning its hopes on a relaunch of the new tokens on July 20, hoping to recover lost momentum.
The BELA legacy token was originally part of a blockchain-based Litecoin fork. In April, the Bela service switched from that to the ERC-20 tokens, and began calling the original tokens “Legacy BELA.” That legacy token was no longer supported by the Bela team as of May 31.
In response, the Poloniex exchange de-listed the BELA legacy coin, as the photo-sharing service began switching over from its old blockchain tokens to a new ERC-20 token. Poloniex said trading in Legacy BELA will no longer be supported, and urged holders to withdraw any balance from the exchange. The BELA team offered a swap to their new BELA ERC-20 token for holders of the Legacy BELA token.
A statement on the main website of the Charlottesville, Virgina-based Bela explained their reasoning in the token transfer: “To give Bela a massive upgrade in terms of its tech and features, we are swapping over from a blockchain-based Bela to an ERC20 Bela token. Swap your blockchain Bela for ERC20 Bela on a 1:1 ratio.”
Asked for a response in May, Bela spokesman and COO Tanner Roughton declined, citing the need to focus on the token swap. He has since reached back and answered Block Tribune’s questions on the project’s status as it relaunches on July 20.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: There are reports that some people didn’t receive the new tokens from the switch-over. What’s your response?
TANNER ROUGHTON: If any users initiated a swap with our swap application before the deadline of May 31, they are eligible to receive the new tokens. We publicized the mandatory swap for several months and broadcast the news to all services affiliated with BELA. A handful of users have gotten their tokens swapped in the past several weeks as we clarified issues with the process, but only the ones that attempted to swap before May 31. We may still have to send tokens to a user or two that are yet finalize the correspondence. However, any users that need to swap tokens after May 31 that did not contact us before the deadline are not able to do so. It must be this way to ensure that no coins are mined on the old chain and swapped over. The vast majority of old coins and their owners participated in the swap; nearly all of the unswapped coins lie in wallets that have been dead for years.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Why are you switching?
TANNER ROUGHTON: We are still running on a blockchain, in the sense that BELA is an ERC20 token and utilizes ethereum’s blockchain. However, we did leave our own independent, Proof-of-Work blockchain in the past. From 2014-2018 Bela was a Litecoin fork. We updated its features and tried to keep it on the cutting edge of the POW coin space. Our team was actually adamantly opposed to becoming a token of any variety for a long period. We planned to bring BELA into the future with a hard fork in the spring that would grant access to updated Litecoin features. After working to develop this release for some time and consulting with associate developers, we realized that the efforts to make this hard fork a reality were not necessarily warranted for the identity and purpose of BELA. After much deliberation, we pivoted to a token.
At the end of the day for Belacam and our other projects, we needed a functional token that can be compatible with many services and devices. Plus, we wanted to allow all users to mint new BELA, not just large miners as with the old chain. The new token allowed us to implement Proof-of-Stake for minting of new BELA. While this is somewhat unorthodox for ERC20s, this gives all BELA users the ability to mint new tokens. Thus, it fits well with our identity of being a friendly cryptocurrency to the average user. While the token was not the original plan, it was a more efficient means of making BELA’s tech complement its identity.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Did you expect Poloniex to de-list you?
TANNER ROUGHTON: While we knew that Circle’s new management could change things, but we expected Poloniex to maintain the BELA listing. Poloniex listed the old coin for 4 years. Due to our strong use case and community, they retained its listing through other coins’ delistings though it had serious issues. For example, the old chain would become stuck for hours or days sometimes—mostly due to predatory miners exploiting its antiquated features. No transactions could go through during these times. However, it appears that in retrospect Poloniex was comfortable having that coin listed, whereas they were not comfortable listing our new, fully function token (though it maintained the same team, history, community, and entire identity). It seemed straightforward that they would automatically support any upgrades that any of their coins administer since they had kept us listed for so long. They were our home exchange and we kept close communication their team, informing them of the swap months in advance and even extending the end date of the swap at their request. As of now however, they punished the BELA community and team for actually making our project work properly. We won’t ever know, but one can hypothesize that Poloniex would have retained our listing if we had just kept the old broken blockchain.
We understand Poloniex is in a period of transition under Circle’s guidance. This being said, we are optimistic that BELA will return to Poloniex in the near future when they start listing new tokens again.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Will there be any crisis of confidence in your users or outsiders generated by the Poloniex de-listing?
TANNER ROUGHTON: Since the swap in May, there has actually been an opposite effect. Our community has rallied and unified. The vast majority of them had no problem understanding how significant of an upgrade the ERC20 token is from our former blockchain. Knowing that we now have a working token with new features like staking, our community easily detached from Poloniex. They saw first hand that our old Poloniex-supported chain was totally broken and our new one was healthy. There was never a question in their mind as to what route we had to take. Most importantly however, when our team and community execute Belacam as planned, one exchange’s delisting will be forgotten quickly. Our goal is to bring Belacam to outside users far beyond the current crypto community—they won’t care that Poloniex delisted us in the past.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are your next steps with the new token?
TANNER ROUGHTON: We are finally ready to release our product and push adoption of the BELA token to the mainstream. We just received seed funding in our parent company from Mark Galant, the founder of Forex.com. His advice and funding will help us bring Belacam to our first large group of users. The platform’s first major web release will happen on July 20th. In the coming months, we will be pushing Belacam to a larger and larger number of users, increasing the awareness of BELA and adding critical new features to the application. We intend to release a mobile app before Q4 2018, which will spur another larger wave of Belacam adoption.