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Matthew van Niekerk from Databroker



In an recent interview with the TechBullion, Matthew van Niekerk, the founder of Databroker DAO spoke about himself and his company, as well as some insight on his view on cryptocurrency and Blockchain.

Matthew from Databroker

1) Could you please tell us about yourself?

Canadian born, lived in Tokyo for 7 years after university (Economics), moved to Belgium in 2006 to do MBA then worked for the largest Belgian bank. First as an internal strategy and operations consultant, then COO for the credit card business and lastly as Head of Platform Innovation for retail online brokerage.

A side story about me

My primary aim for doing the MBA was to find and build a team for a venture that I had in mind. Although I did not secure funding it after the MBA, in hindsight, I was not alone in recognizing the need for the business I called “P2PFX” (peer-to-peer currency exchange). When bitcoin came out, I thought hmmm, wish I had met that Satoshi guy and good thing that someone much smarter than me made it happen.

Back to the career stuff

In my last role at the bank, I was the internal specialist for blockchain applications in capital markets and was responsible for the launch of the first publicly available blockchain-based app by a bank in Europe. This was a primary and secondary market trading application for pre-IPO companies (equity crowd-funding).

Decided in 2015 that nearly 10 years in banking was enough (I had done my time). It was while attending the Consensus conference in New York and during the trip visiting the Consensys office in Brooklyn that I made the decision to start my own company. Given the potential of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, focusing 100% on unlocking the potential was what I wanted to do.

My co-founder Roderik and I had been working together for several years at our previous companies and with his work with and love for blockchain technologies, we decided to forge ahead with our venture.

Personal stuff

Married with 2 kids. Love snowboarding and travelling. Hate pre-conceived notions, prejudice and corruption.

Favorite expression

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

2) What is Databroker DAO?

Databroker DAO is a distributed marketplace that connects sensor owners with data buyers. Essentially an “Amazon” for IoT sensor data.

3) What inspired you to launch a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency venture with Databroker DAO?

We began looking into the market for IoT sensors and sensor data in Q4 of 2016 and quickly understood that 1) the market is already absolutely massive 2) the market is growing at break-neck speed and 3) blockchain technologies could be used to drastically improve the efficiency.

We were doing an investigation into data monetization for a major telecommunications company and discovered that rather than blockchain being a solution looking for a problem, it provided the opportunity to blow the doors open for an entirely new business.

We launched the first version of the platform and began showcasing it at blockchain, IoT and smart city events in January 2017. Since then, the inspiration continues as we have incredible product-market fit validation from telecommunications companies, sensor manufacturers, sensor owners and potential data buyers.

It was DataBroker DAO that got us invited by the Smart Dubai Office to pitch at the 2017 Global Blockchain Challenge in May of 2017 and won us the blockchain track of the TechXLR8 pitch competition.


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Cryptocurrency’s Liquidity Problem




Recently, Coincentral got the chance to speak with Kilian Rausch, the Product Director at Exchange Union. Although still in its early stages, Exchange Union has many people in the blockchain industry excited and has the support of some big names in the industry like Brendan Eich, creator of Javascript and Founder of Brave.

Coincentral spoke to Rausch about Exchange Union and crypto’s liquidity problem.

Kilian Rausch Interview

Steven: Tell us about Exchange Union.

Kilian: We are connecting digital asset exchanges to enable cross-exchange trading. So, for example, let’s say you’re a user on Binance and I’m a user on Bittrex – our technology connects those two exchanges with each other so we as users can now directly trade with each other. The benefit is, that if the price for one currency pair on your Binance platform is better than on my Bittrex platform, I can get this price through Exchange Union. I actually can see all orders from all Binance users right in my order book and are now able to fill these.. This means I automatically have access to the best price across all exchanges. And the best thing: As a user, I don’t even necessarily know this is happening.

Steven: So, Exchange Union isn’t a separate platform? Is it basically a plugin on the existing exchanges?

Kilian: We develop an open-source software which we call the “XU Node”. This software is operated by the exchange. The exchange does the hard work and integrates it for its users. User experience-wise, you can stick with your current exchange, and you don’t even have to worry about where the orders are coming from. The orders will just appear in your order book. Also, you’ll have access to new trading pairs, which the exchange might not have been able to offer locally because of low liquidity. Imagine a rather restrictive exchange that only has three or four trading pairs. Now, this exchange, if they want to, can give their users access to all other trading pairs which are traded on Exchange Union, which hopefully will be all at some point.

This means we are solving one of the main pain points for new and smaller exchanges: liquidity. When a new exchange is starting, there’s always the question of how to get up and running and how to attract new users…without having notable liquidity yet. When you connect your exchange to Exchange Union, you basically don’t have to worry about liquidity anymore – you instantly have access to the liquidity of all other exchanges in Exchange Union, combined. In the future, we believe the competition of exchanges will be about UI, user experience, and it will be about Fiat on- and off-ramps. That will be the main competition in the future, but it will be less about what trading pairs I offer and how much liquidity I have because it will all be combined together and everyone will have access to it.

Steven: Say I’m Bittrex and I want to include the Binance pairings, does Binance have to be on board with that?

Kilian: Definitely. All of them have to run the XU Node software to share trading pairs and liquidity. Some more words on our decentralized network:  It means there is no “us” in the middle running, for example, a server. XU Nodes are operated by each participating exchange themselves and directly connects them to other exchanges. This has the benefit of making the system incredibly robust and censorship-resistant. No single point of failure can lead to the shutdown of Exchange Union – just like with Bitcoin.

Steven: Are there any exchanges currently using Exchange Union?

Kilian: We are currently testing it. It’s still quite far from being able to release it or test it with real money on the main net. The main net release should be in about a year from now. By the end of the year, we hope to have a proof of concept implementation out, which means this would be something that works and does what it’s supposed to do, but it’s not that stable and doesn’t look that nice yet.

For example, we have to think of different sets of APIs since exchanges have different requirements for the XU Node’s API set. They have to be customizable and that’s the hard part. It has to be nice and sexy to integrate for exchanges. Having worked at an exchange before, I know that exchanges are busy with tons of other stuff like improving user onboarding, ever-changing KYC processes, new FIAT integrations and this is why we have to make the integration of Exchange Union as painless as possible. Exchanges are our users, we are developing for them.


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Germans Aware of Bitcoin?




According to a recent survey published on February 15 by Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media, almost two thirds of the German population is aware of Bitcoin.

Aware of Bitcoin?

This year’s survey showed that only 4 percent of the 1,009 respondents actually own Bitcoin, 19 percent said that they have an idea of how to buy Bitcoin, and 72 percent stated they had no interest whatsoever in the digital currency.

The two main reasons why the 72 percent of Germans had no interest in Bitcoin are risks from high price volatility and lack of knowledge of Bitcoin’s practical use.

“Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a good example of how the digital age is able to change the financial world. This is not so much about the individual currency itself as it is about the underlying blockchain technology. It will have an impact on the whole economy.”

Cryptocurrency awarness has been very alive in Germany compared to other countries. More than 56% of Russians have heard of Bitcoin. In August 2017, Charles Xue, a Chinese-American billionaire investor, said that the vast majority of people in China, 70-80 percent, have never even heard of Bitcoin.

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Robert Herjavec: Bitcoin is Here to Stay




Robert Herjavec from Shark Tank recently said that Bitcoin is “here to stay” and it will be regulated.

Herjavec on Crypto


Herjavec stated that he is not an investor in the crypto market, however he does predict that Bitcoin’s price will continue to rise in the short term, even above its all time high.

“It’ll take out that high, I’m saying it right now.”

He thinks that digital currencies will eventually be regulated and that Bitcoin will survive in the long term. When he was asked about security in the crypto market he said that he does not believe that the exchanges are known to be very secure but the transactions themselves are.

“I don’t know if you want to own Bitcoin right now. I think you want to get in, and you want to get out,”

He also shared his opinion on the Blockchain by saying that the technology shows a lot of promise because of the “inherent security of a transaction.”

“I will walk somewhere and a sensor will automatically know it’s me, the sensor will be linked to my bank, it’ll know how much money I have, I’ll pick up something like at the Amazon store, it’ll automatically be scanned, and as I leave, it will automatically be verified and paid for.”

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