Applying the Blockchain Outside of the Box

As Bitcoin continues to gain a foothold within the international currencies and commodities markets, researchers worldwide are looking for other potential applications for the blockchain itself. Over the next few weeks I will be highlighting a number of these concepts not only to continue to share the ideas globally but to hopefully inspire further innovation. For this post, we will start with insurance, which just like the payments industry desperately needs innovation.

Recently The Y/Zen Group, a financial technologies based think tank, published a research paper “Chain of a Lifetime: How Blockchain Technology Might Transform Personal Insurance” ( The insurance industry is currently pegged at near or around $1.1 Trillion and as of the end of 2012 the United States based insures held nearly $7.3 trillion in total assets. The Y/Zen Group identified a number of areas where the blockchain based technology could be applied to this industry both to instill innovation and cost savings. This report focused on conceptual applications and the implications to four major insurance areas, identity, space, time, and mutuality.

Y/Zen states, “Blockchain technology is said to have potential for financial services application, including insurance, through distributed applications hosted on decentralized platforms, such as: Bitcoin, the first blockchain protocol released in 2009; Ethereum, an open platform which could host distributed applications; or, BitNation, a more recent project which aims to provide financial services applications including insurance.” The blockchain’s ability to enable distributed applications continues to prove itself to be auspicious. This can easily allow for automated systems and products focused within the insurance space including but not limited to financial derivative contracts. Y/Zen strove even as far to include crop insurance systems that allow hedging against potential weather conditions while simultaneously tying smart contracts hosted on the blockchain with a trusted weather feed.

Furthermore the combination of blockchain protocol with distributed applications allow for assets and data relevant to insurance to be stored and managed on the chain itself. This can be applied to medial data including medical records as seen through Genecoin which is currently allowing individuals the ability to back up their own DNA directly on the blockchain. This can provide an easy and secure way to store and protect medical records in a single universally available system.

Lastly, the blockchain provides an incredibly unique method to manage insurance based risk. As we have already seen with multisignature bitcoin technologies, even within The Coin Tree’s own systems, users have the ability to secure their transactions and storage through multisignature verification. This protects not only bitcoins stored asset value, but also the potential stored information. This allows businesses and individuals the ability to outsource emerging risks to third party providers which will undoubtedly drive derivate based commerce.

When it comes to the blockchain it seems the options continue to be limitless, Marc Andreesen recently stated that, “The consequences of this breakthrough are hard to overstate.” I and all of us at The Coin Tree couldn’t agree more.

By: Andrew Durgee

CEO – The Coin Tree

Bitcoin People of the Year

Recently Coindesk, an excellent news source for all thing cryptocurrency, published a list of the top 10 most influential people in Bitcoin this year ( This article highlights both villains and heroes within the community. Heroes such as Marc Andreessen best known for early browser development in the beginning stages of the internet who has become an avid Bitcoin supporter and investor.  As well as villains to the likes of Mark Karpeles, CEO of the collapsed MtGox bitcoin exchange, which cast a looming shadow over the industry for the year. Rarely was there an introductory meeting where I would not have to answer questions regarding the negligence displayed in their office.

Now while it is certainly hard to name just 10 people from truly a list of dozens, most of which are well behind the scenes, I do believe that Coindesk certainly identified the most public, outside of their selection of the anonymous Satoshi of course. These individuals certainly shaped the cryptocurrency landscape as we see it today and continue to do so on a daily basis. But I believe that Coindesk left out one incredibly important person from this list. YOU.

Bitcoin 2014 had its ups and downs, starting the year at over $770 and descending to near $300. But the success of Bitcoin has solely been on the shoulders of the users and merchants, ie: YOU. Even though the valuation of the currency itself has fluctuated, the acceptance rate has not, for 2014 was about one thing and that is adoption. The continued record setting transactional volume seen on the blockchain in addition to the number of new users signing up for a variety of bitcoin services continues to speak volumes as to the true global phenomenon that bitcoin represents. Even the number of global merchants partnering up with payment processing services seems to climb at an accelerating rate. It has been the network and the armies of individuals embracing bitcoin that have allowed for the success.

The Coin Tree is focused at fast-tracking adoption even further in 2015 by producing technology and services that continue to lower the barrier of entry for new users. Changing the targeted customer of highly educated individuals between their early 20’s-early 40’s to a significantly broader moderately educated 18-55 age range. What is seemingly a small step in extending the funnel is indeed a leap into the mainstream.

By: Andrew Durgee

CEO – The Coin Tree

No Where to Go But Up

Well the last week of Bitcoin 2014 certainly did not shake out the way many hoped as we find ourselves searching for the reason of the recent price dip. With analysts pointing fingers in nearly every direction it can be difficult to hear through the noise in order to identify the true issues. If we were to draw comparisons to other security markets, we may be able to correlate the data. Investors in US securities often sell off stocks and other assets that have failed to meet their goals in order to avoid paying short-term capital gains taxes. This phenomenon has become so prominent that often firms develop trading concepts around these oscillations. While it remains difficult to determine the exact reason, one thing remains the same, bitcoin is here to stay. With that being said, let’s pull ourselves from the muddled past of 2014 and instead look forward to the bright and shiny new 2015.

One of the more exciting topics of 2015 is derivatives. A large concern for a variety of bitcoin companies including payment processors and miners is the risk associated with maintaining larger quantities of cryptocurrencies. Now with the ability to hedge their digital asset holdings, I believe business will find the idea far more palatable. This stability could not only help to significantly grow existing bitcoin companies but pave the way for a variety of other options.

Other important notes to keep in mind are the transactional volume of the currency itself as we saw record breaking jumps in the volume throughout 2014. That volume will undoubtedly translate into an increase in valuation. This holds especially true versus other non US currencies. As we’ve seen the value of a US barrel of oil approach $50, we have seen other currencies around the world experience drastic value loss. The Russian Ruble alone lost nearly a 3rd of its value in a matter of a few weeks. This destabilization of local currencies has the potential to push bitcoin value as citizens of these nationals seek financial refuge within the cryptocurrency world.

Bitcoin will continue to stabilize, especially as companies such as The Coin Tree enter the market with easy to use practical applications. Those few of us who are Bitcoin veterans certainly aren’t afraid of a little roller-coaster, I still remember the $32 to $2 collapse a couple years ago. The difference between then and now is simple, then, we weren’t sure where Bitcoin was going to go, now we know that Bitcoin is here to stay. Buckle your safety belts if you’re new to cryptocurrencies, because it will certainly be a wild ride on our way to the moon.


By: Andrew Durgee

CEO – The Coin Tree

Bitcoin: More than a currency, a protocol for change.

Bitcoin is more often than not portrayed as a currency. Even more so a world currency, that has no borders and no central governing body to control it. This is certainly true and on the surface it seems to be one of the most disruptive technologies to come out since the internet itself, particularly for the payments industry. But this is truly just the beginning. As anyone who has seen my presentations can surely confirm my interest in bitcoin has grown far beyond the financial change it is currently spearheading, the true power of bitcoin is within the blockchain protocol itself.

In a world that rushes to become digital in almost every facet, we are constantly left with a question of how to integrate our analog assets into our digital properties. The blockchain may be our first true revelation towards that dream. How might you ask? Well, the blockchain has shown us the first true working system that allows a true transfer for a digital asset. To explain further, let’s apply this concept to the music and movie industry.

For the past 15 years, the music and movie industry has been fighting what seems to be a losing battle versus piracy, the unlicensed use or distribution of digital property. This was first seen with the birth of MP3 technology for music and a number of digital movie formats for film. Then, to grow the rat nest of piracy even further we find ourselves with bit torrent, which provides an easy way to distribute digital properties without relying on a single source. While this is certainly a great way to move digital goods globally, it also leads itself to a host of ethical issues regarding property rights. This is due to the simple fact that a digital property, in its current sense, can be copied without prejudice as often as someone may like. Hence we are left with a very simple way to move unauthorized digital products. Of course piracy is not a new hurdle for the music and film businesses, they have fought this battle versus VHS/cassette tape copying and even people holding camcorders in the theater themselves.

Bitcoin, or more specifically the blockchain protocol, provides a very unique solution to this long standing issue. As 2 key features of the blockchain can be applied here. First being the ability to prevent counterfeiting. As all bitcoin transactions must be approved by the majority of the network, the ability to counterfeit or copy becomes impossible. The second key feature of the blockchain involves transparency. Since the nature of the blockchain is a public ledger that tracks the transactional history of each coin, the network is able to identify the origin and current location of coin. These features create an exceptional option for distributing and maintaining digital assets. Now if you apply this to the music industry per say, digital music could be distributed in a similar format. Recording agencies would be able to distribute digital properties that cannot be copied and they could be tracked at all times. Of course this can expand far beyond just music as now this is the first time that a true single entity digital property could exist. House titles, car titles, and potentially even shares of a company could all be distributed in this format. Bitcoin is far more than a currency, it’s a protocol for change and The Coin Tree is at the center of it.

By: Andrew Durgee

CEO – The Coin Tree

Microsoft Joins the Party

On December 11th Microsoft sided with one of the most disruptive technologies we’ve seen since the birth of the internet itself. That technology of course is bitcoin. In what some believe to be incredibly shocking move, Microsoft is now accepting bitcoin for a variety of their products and services. This includes everything from the Windows Store to Xbox Games. While the speed at which the $100 billion company jumped on the bitcoin train may be surprising, their interest isn’t. Bill Gates himself stated in October, “Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and of course for large transactions currency can get pretty inconvenient.”

This is just another large step towards the success of bitcoin and the blockchain protocol. Additionally, I believe this is just the beginning of a windfall of cryptocurrency adoption within the corporate/consumer space. This windfall will continue to add pressure within the political space inevitably adding regulation and thus finalizing the legitimatization of the global currency. With transaction volume increasing consecutively 6,000% or more year after year and up to a 1,000 merchants signing on a day, the best description I have for the future of bitcoin comes in the form of a 1920’s gospel song titled, “This Train is Bound for Glory.”

One of the less spoken of topics regarding the Microsoft news is the affect this will have on the gaming industry, of which Microsoft sits as a gorilla in the room. Currently the video game industry sits as a $100 billion annual business that continues to gain traction. Additionally there have been a number of large acquisitions within the space. Twitch, a website which broadcasts live video game tournaments, was just recently acquired by Google for a groundbreaking $1 billion. How does this relate to bitcoin? Well, simply put, in an industry that is completely digital, the ability to move products and assets effortlessly with little to no cost becomes a very powerful tool. This will undoubtedly spill into online casinos and sports betting houses which just furthers the adoption rate of bitcoin and the block chain protocol. Adoption is keystone to bitcoin success and The Coin Tree ( is here to facilitate that growth.

-Andrew Durgee

CEO – The Coin Tree