Category Archives: Blog

2016 Update: Bitcoin ATM Toronto opens late all year long

 
2016 Update: Our Bitcoin ATM Toronto opens late all year long.
 
Happy new year, Decentralists! We’re starting the year with some good news we’re eager to share with you.
 
If you’re looking for a Bitcoin ATM in Toronto that’s open late all year long, look no further than Decentral at 123 Spadina Avenue.
 
If you’ve stopped by our office recently, you would have noticed the recently installed glass partition separating the Bitcoin ATM from our working space. This is to allow you access to the machine to buy or sell bitcoins outside of our regular office hours (more info here).
 

Bitcoin ATM Toronto opens late all year long

Our new extended hours will be 9 am to 9 pm every day, 365 days a year. 
 
We imagine it’s convenient especially for those who have a 9 to 5 job. You can take your time to get dinner before heading over to our Bitcoin ATM for your transaction.
 
Even though our staff Bitcoin ATM Toronto opens late all year longwon’t be available in person during these extended hours, we have added a high-tech WiFi-equipped Ring doorbell near the machine (pictured on left) that you can use to reach one of us in case you need assistance. Press the button and you will be directed to either Nancy or Anthony, who can help you with what’s on the screen. So first-timers, we’ve got you covered.

 

 

Future plans for Bitcoin ATM

Since this new system has been working out very well for the past couple of weeks, we are working on expanding our network of Bitcoin ATMs in the city. Mississauga, Scarborough and midtown Toronto, we’re looking at you for now!

Keep checking our blog and follow our Twitter @DECENTRALca, our Facebook page and LinkedIn for more “Bitcoin ATM Toronto opens late all year long” posts and other updates.

 

Holiday Meetup: Decentralists, Toronto’s Bitcoin ATM, Refreshments and More

Wrapping up 2015, Decentral celebrated with a holiday meetup party at our office last night. More than 70 people showed up to connect with fellow decentralized tech enthusiasts over snacks, wine and beer. When not networking, they were taking turns using Toronto’s Bitcoin ATM we have on site. Hayley was one of the first in line, handling that Bitcoin ATM quite well considering it’s her first time.

Toronto Bitcoin ATM, Bitcoin ATM, BTM
Our little decentralist Hayley buying her first Bitcoin. It’s good to start early.

Among others that were present were Mat Cybula of Cryptiv, tech-entrepreneur William Mougayar, Vitalik Buterin’s father Dmitry, familiar faces from the Toronto Ethereum Meetup group and the DEC_TECH community, along with some new faces who were eager to find out what this disruptive space is all about, starting with how to use Toronto’s Bitcoin ATM.

 

We kept the event casual, so there wasn’t any ultra-technical, code-filled presentation on Ethereum or the blockchain technology. Instead, our CEO Anthony opened the night by introducing Decentral: We are an innovative hub for decentralized technologies, provider of fintech and blockchain consultancy, software developers, and home to Toronto’s first Bitcoin ATM. We are the first global hub for Ethereum, and the headquarter of Kryptokit, the security and privacy-based software company behind Rushwallet and EthereumWallet.com.
 
Shortly after Anthony opened it up to the crowd to introduce themselves and share what they do.
 
First to begin was the Decentral team. Or rather, we were put on the spot (all good though).
 

The Decentral Team

Nancy, Decentral’s administrator and Toronto’s Bitcoin ATM expert, went ahead and introduced herself to the crowd. Richard, the software developer behind our wallets was next; followed by one of our consultants JuanAsem, our quiet UI/UX designer; Anne, who just joined us last week as a marketing director; Josh, our COO who does a little bit of everything; Addison, our dapper legal counsel; Alex, our consultant and copywriter from the UK; Simon, our consultant and copywriter from Tiny, Ont. (yes, the place exists); myself, Decentral’s copy writer and social media manager (make my job easier by following us on Twitter @DECENTRALca and like-ing our Facebook page!); and finally, the man who needs no introduction, Anthony.

 

See you in 2016!

With that being said, thank you to everyone who made the time to celebrate the holidays with us. We wish you a happy holiday and see you in 2016!

Decentral happy holidays

Buy Bitcoins in Toronto with Our Upgraded Bitcoin ATM

buy bitcoins in toronto, Bitcoin ATM

While everyone’s waiting for 2016 to start anew, we’ve got ourselves a head start here at Decentral with our brand new Bitcoin ATM. Like the previous machine, the new one is also a two-way machine that lets you sell and buy bitcoins in Toronto. You can say this is our anniversary gift as we celebrate two years since we first introduced Toronto’s first Bitcoin ATM in January 2014.

What’s new?

If you’ve been here before, you would know that our old machine has four slots performing different functions. Customers often confuse one for another.
 
Our new Bitcoin ATM has only two slots: one for cash, and another one for receipts. Instead of bending down and looking for a slot to slide your phone in, you can now scan your QR code by holding your phone above the gleaming rectangular screen (pictured), which takes about a second or less. There’s no more need to bend down and look for a hidden scanner or worry about the lack of light when scanning a paper wallet.
 
For now, the machine is clad in a clean, white colour, but it will soon be decked out in a Decentral-themed façade.

Why buy bitcoins at Decentral and not elsewhere?

Unlike some BTMs, ours always have bitcoins. On the occasion of the machine facing technical difficulties, we will help you buy or sell bitcoins manually. If you’re buying your first bitcoin, there’s always someone to help you out. In other words, at Decentral we provide our customers with a white-glove service.
 
As always, all you need to perform a transaction are your phone that can receive texts, a Bitcoin wallet and some cash. If you need more information on how to buy bitcoins in Toronto — such as how much you can buy or sell, which wallet to use, etc. — our recently updated FAQ page would be helpful.
 
We’ll soon be unveiling some changes to better serve you (including opening our ATM after hours) so stay tuned for more updates!

Join the DEC_TECH, Decentral, and Ethereum Holiday Party!

 

It’s been an exciting year for decentralized tech. Join us to celebrate with a year-end holiday party meetup. Drop in to connect with other Bitcoin, Ethereum and decentralized tech enthusiasts, and hear about the latest activities at Decentral. Snacks and holiday refreshments will be served.
 
Time: Wednesday, December 16, 2015; 5pm – 7pm
Venue: Decentral, 123 Spadina Avenue
RSVP here: http://www.meetup.com/DEC_TECH/events/227339260/

 

My first experience with a Bitcoin ATM in Toronto

 

Bitcoin is a completely new territory to me. As someone who is not at all tech-savvy, the concept of owning a digital wallet, converting my cash to bitcoins using a Bitcoin ATM (BTM), and performing transactions with the cryptocurrency is mind-boggling.

 

Fortunately, being a part of the Decentral team makes my immersion to the Bitcoin seamless — not to mention operating the BTM we have here at our office in downtown Toronto is simple and comparable to normal ATMs.

 

It’s easy to look at the Bitcoin ATM and instantly get intimidated. But just like intimidating people, if you give the machine a chance, you’ll find out it’s quite OK. The instructions on the orange screen are pretty straightforward and easy to follow. It first prompts me to enter my phone number. A second later I get a text with a code, which I enter onto the screen. The Bitcoin ATM gives two options: Buy bitcoin or Sell bitcoin, so I choose the first one. It asks me whether I have a bitcoin wallet, and since I have downloaded BitWallet onto my iPhone, I press yes.

 

Here’s the first tricky part.

 

It asks me to scan the QR code to my wallet, but the location of the scanner is not immediately obvious. It’s a mini slot on the right side of the machine. I slide my phone in instead of holding it up in front of a red flash-emitting device like at Starbucks. Once I scan my QR code and take my phone out, the machine prompts me to insert cash.

 

Here’s the second tricky part.

 

There are three slots that look like they would accept cash but it’s actually the one closest to my left foot. I insert cash and tap “I’m Done” on the screen and voila! I have some bitcoins in my wallet and I find out the Bitcoin ATM is anything but difficult and intimidating!

 

And now off I go, booking a trip with my newly purchased Bitcoin!

 

FYI the Bitcoin ATM is located inside Decentral at 123 Spadina Ave, Toronto.

Decentral-Deloitte: Ethereum at the Greenhouse

 
Our blockchain consulting arm at Decentral has been involved with Deloitte and the Rubix team for almost a year now, providing them with blockchain expertise and teaming up to run community and blockchain and decentralized tech events. Last night on December 2nd, Deloitte and Decentral partnered to hold an Ethereum event at their Greenhouse space in downtown Toronto.
 
The Greenhouse is a place designed to help Deloitte clients experience breakthroughs through innovative means – to give them that ‘aha!’ moment when they’re stuck in one mode of thought or just going round and round in circles. Deloitte gets that innovating is not as simple as ‘going and doing it’; sometimes it’s not obvious where or how to begin.
 
Events at the Greenhouse aim to spark new ideas by disrupting ordinary ways of approaching problems. It was an ideal venue for us to introduce Ethereum to some of their clients. Deloitte invited banks including CIBC, RBC, and TD, technology firms D+H and Teranet, and the TMX group. When great minds from these sectors begin to understand Ethereum and its disruptive potential, new, brilliant ideas are bound to be generated.
 
Attendees had the chance to hear how Ethereum enables developers to build the next generation of distributed applications and what are some of the strategies they need to be adopting to prepare for the inevitable disruption.
 
The event started with Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum giving an overview of his brainchild and how its blockchain works. Vitalik joined us via a BeamPro robot-proxy, which he was remotely controlling from Switzerland!
 
This was followed by a talk from our CEO and Ethereum co-founder, Anthony Di Iorio. Anthony emphasized that decentralization is the key to understanding what is happening. Blockchains have made it possible for secure systems to exist without a central authority, giving individuals more power and increasing the system’s resilience. Decentralization can also unbundle services and products and firms need to anticipate for what is coming and prepare accordingly in order to not be rendered irrelevant and obsolete. Implementing changes might well be costly, but it would be far more costly to be idle. Anthony’s presentation highlighted some of the steps firms should be taking to begin this transformation, and also identified some of the opportunities that will open up.
 
Jeff Coleman from Ledger Labs then spoke about ‘smart blockchains’ and the advantages of developing and using the technology. Platforms like Ethereum offer far more flexibility and extensibility than more static platforms. Jeff’s talk was quite comprehensible, considering the audience was not primarily from a tech background.
 
The evening concluded with a talk from Joseph Lubin of ConsenSys – also an Ethereum co-founder. He joined us from New York by taking over the robot-proxy from Vitalik. Joseph gave a talk on dApps and gave substantial information about what ConsenSys is building on Ethereum. During the Q&A session, he gave the audience an interesting perspective on New York’s ‘Bitlicense’ and how a lot of firms – including some of his startups – are considering locating elsewhere.
 
Decentral was established to promote decentralized technologies and a large part of what we do is helping enterprises take advantage of the opportunities that these technologies generate. It was a motivating experience to see traditional financial institutions paying interest in this area, and we are looking forward to more of them actively engaging with Toronto’s thriving decentralized technologies community.

 

See the event updates on our Twitter here or by searching #EthereumAtTheGreenhouse.

 

The Future of Personnel

 

At Decentral I have the pleasure to work with a talented team on a diverse range of projects, each of which has a focus on some aspect of the decentralized technology space. Most of the people I work with are employed on a contract basis, and often they work at the same time for a number of the different companies located at Decentral’s space. Short term contracting is necessary due to how quickly the area we specialize in is evolving. I’ve written before about how our era of accelerated change necessitates taking a lean approach to business. Broader, long term goals can be set, but these are of necessity subject to revision. Quick decisions about changes in company approach and methodology is an adaptive strategy that fosters competitiveness.

 

The downside of having a contingent workforce is the staff I want not being available when I need them. In spite of that, a high degree of employee flexibility is desirable for both me and the people I work with. In their article The Dawning of the Age of Flex Labor, Andrei Hagiu and Rob Biederman note “Workers, employers, and society stand to benefit tremendously from breaking the cycle of hiring people in boom times and releasing them fully during economic slowdowns or contractions.” This changing nature of employment careers has been underway for over thirty years, with a workforce now gradually learning to tailor their work lives to hedge against boom/bust realities.

 

Part of this process requires a shift in perspective for employee and employer in which each sees their respective roles as a partnership that benefits both parties. For instance, one clear advantage of short term work contracting is a better accommodation of work/life balance. Millennials in particular find value in the 21st century employment trend of flexible work hours. A study by Bentley University in Massachusetts, The Millennial Mind Goes to Work (2014) found that “77 percent of Millennials say that flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive for people their age.”

 

Based on my own hiring experience, working with people who have forged composite career paths has the advantage of the unique skill set combinations they bring to the workplace. Since 2014, we have pursued multiple initiatives to establish Decentral as a trusted brand in the emerging space of decentralized tech. Everything we have accomplished has happened due to the dedication of the people I work with, including the group I am happy to have on contract today.

 

A flex workforce of independent contractors is part of the broader on demand economy that large sectors of the population have found easy to adapt into their daily lives. In addition to high profile initiatives like Uber and AirBnB, there are newer entries into the field like Handy or Homejoy (for small home repairs and cleaning) or BloomThat (flower delivery) and Fancy Hands (an on-call personal assistant), among many I could cite. Job task specialization on a granular level creates a new form of employment, one that makes best use of excess capacity, whether it be of a workforce’s time, living spaces, or vehicles. As the Economist notes “this marks a striking new stage in a deeper transformation…[that]…will challenge many of the fundamental assumptions of 20th-century capitalism, from the nature of the firm to the structure of careers.” The future of work is now, it’s the everyday reality of our new 21st century.

Changing tactics: Why I am not doing a Fintech and Blockchain Expo this year

 

As we announced at our most recent DEC_TECH event, Decentral will not be hosting a Fintech and Blockchain Expo this fall. I want to extend my apologies to anyone we are inconveniencing as a result of this, but we have good reasons for this change in tactics.

 

In response to opportunities, our business at Decentral is changing in exciting new ways. In recent months, our focus has been shifting to our consulting business and strategic partner development. In my last blog post, I wrote about the benefits of taking a Lean Startup approach to building a company. Prioritize innovation, create time-based benchmarks for the testing of products, and pivot to new approaches if these benchmarks, set according to clearly established criteria, aren’t met. I advocate this approach out of necessity. Our era of accelerated technological change demands it.

 

Decentral’s recent pivots include changing the Meetups we organize (over 100 events to date) from an emphasis on Bitcoin and related cryptocurrencies to the broader topic of decentralized technologies. We chose DEC_TECH as the new moniker for our Meetups to ensure that these events can accommodate the newest developments in the space. In a further pivot, as of March, Decentral has been organizing its DEC_TECH events in partnership with the MaRS Discovery District. Working with MaRS has many advantages. The partnership allows us to organize large events that are free for anyone to attend, and this helps grow our community. Use of their first rate facilities cuts down on the time we need to commit to organizing events, strengthens our bonds with many of the exciting tech companies that work out of the MaRS space, and creates synergies attractive to event sponsors.

 

Recent DEC_TECH events include gatherings at MaRS in March, which featured a keynote speech by Andreas Antonopoulos, and in July, featuring Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin, the CEOs of many exchanges in Canada and two top VCs working in the blockchain space. With each of these events we were able to attract an impressive range of sponsors — including Deloitte, DC BANK and Bitmaker Labs — and many hundreds of attendees. Decentral is planning more events at MaRS, as well as developing further strategic partnerships to help grow our business, and equally important, foster a strong sense of community in Toronto’s fast developing but still young tech scene.

 

Deciding not to do a Fintech and Blockchain Expo this year is another pivot for Decentral. We were all looking forward to another Expo this year. But changes in the business focus of the company – and, frankly, bigger event plans that are yet to be announced – are now taking center stage in our day-to-day operations.

 

Anthony Di Iorio is a co-founder of Ethereum. He is president and founder of Kryptokit and of Decentral and Decentral Consulting Services, offering technology consultancy services specializing in blockchain and decentralized technology integrations for enterprise, small business and start-ups. Anthony is the cryptocurrency adviser at MaRS Discovery District, organizes the Toronto Ethereum Meetup Group and DEC_TECH (Decentralized Technologies) events, for summer 2015, is lecturer in the The Principles of Disruptive Innovation course at the University of Nicosia’s Masters Program in Digital Currencies.

Digital Strategy in an Era of Constant Change

 

More than once I have been accused of pivoting my business direction too quickly — but to paraphrase Heraclitus: “change is the only constant.” This is especially true of the digital age, which is experiencing change at an ever accelerating pace.

 

One significant factor spurring the rate of change is the way the network creates a multiplier effect. Brad Feld of Tech Stars notes “the shift from hierarchical to networked society has been emergent throughout the Information Era.” Enhanced by an expanded (globalized) field of play, the multiplier effect of the network creates an extremely dynamic innovation environment. The financial services industry in particular is experiencing “significant uncertainty,” to quote from the World Economic Forum report I wrote about in my last blog. This is a problem stemming from the industry’s lack of common understanding on recent innovations and what impact these innovations will have on incumbents. Alex Rampell, an entrepreneur and newly announced partner at Andreessen Horowitz, has pointed out that banking and insurance are especially vulnerable to digital innovation because of their “dependence on legacy technologies.”

 

Whereas previously most companies, including banks, would have a “digital strategy” as one component of their business operations, today the entirety of a company’s strategy now takes place within a largely digitized world. Digital is now at the core of every business. To understand the truth of this statement look no further than the consumer culture of today, which makes potent use of the leveraging power of the internet.

 

Consider recent changes in customer behaviour and the expectations digital culture creates. Consumers today know they can comparison shop and crowd source information about products, as well as actively participate in such conversations; they can unbundle services and opt for personalized versions of these according to information they get online about companies; and not least, they have expectations about business being transparent and accountable that will only become more prevalent as applications for the blockchain and Fintech, the areas we specialize in at my company Decentral, get popularized.

 

The speed of digital innovation and the newly empowered consumer it creates means the imperative of our time is for enterprise to be on a war footing — to not only adapt but adapt constantly. My own experience provides an excellent case study about the necessity of adapting within the current environment of constant change. Starting out in 2012, I created Toronto’s first Bitcoin Meetup group, a regular event that welcomed a small group of cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Within months, I had shifted my focus beyond cryptocurrencies to decentralized technologies and changed the name of the Meetup group to DEC_TECH (a coinage from “decentralized technologies”). The business and software development hub I opened in early 2013 was first called Bitcoin Decentral and initially was launched as a coworking and event space for the Meetups. Within a year I had shortened the company name to Decentral while my focus shifted to co-founding and working on the Ethereum project, alongside the development of other cryptocurrency-related activities.

 

Decentral has Toronto’s most active Bitcoin ATM on-site and is home to my company Kryptokit, a security and decentralized tech software firm. Founded in 2013, Kryptokit has always been a core operation within our business that has allowed us to experiment with other ideas. For a time, we contemplated becoming an accelerator, and in 2014 started Decentral.tv, an online channel for information about decentralized tech. As of January this year we have further expanded our activities to launch Decentral Consulting, advising commercial entities (including banks and financial institutions) about how to implement the blockchain and other Fintech solutions. This has been a business pivot that is keeping us busy, as more and more companies are looking for guidance in this area. And as always, we are contemplating further changes to Decentral.

 

With fewer than 10 employees, Decentral is essentially a lean operation. Facilitating understanding of the blockchain revolution is at the essence of what we do and, because of our professional focus on developments in the space, we have been able to adapt and adapt quickly within this rapidly evolving environment.

 

A guiding principle of entrepreneurial world is that wisdom that comes from experimentation; in the words of Brad Feld, “trying equals learning.” As Eric Ries advocates in his influential book The Lean Startup (2011), the mantra for successful companies today is “fail fast and pivot” — be ready to experiment and create timed benchmarks for deciding whether or not a project is viable. If not, you can pivot to take another approach, a practice we have found to be necessary and effective at Decentral.

 

In this era of explosive change, large companies must essentially be prepared to adopt a lean startup ethos. In their report Being digital: Fast forward to the right digital strategy, Accenture has formulated a methodology for how this might be possible. Decisions about an overall direction for the company will provide a set of goals, but within that direction “a multi-speed strategy [ensures] that each part of the organization can move at a different pace.” Further inflection of the strategy comes from the understanding that the speed of change will most likely require a revision of investment horizons, “leading to strategies based on sequencing of multiple bets on the future.” Finally, within this framework of organized contingency, companies should “experiment intelligently…to quickly verify and refine ideas in the face of changing demands” — companies should “fail fast and pivot,” in other words.

 

If recent experience is any guide, this programmatic for a new way of doing business will be widely adopted out of necessity not choice. As someone who has built their business as a rapidly evolving entity, it’s a necessity I am OK with. I’ll take the charge of changing quickly as a compliment.

Anthony Di Iorio is a co-founder of Ethereum. He is president and founder of Kryptokit and of Decentral and Decentral Consulting Services, offering technology consultancy services specializing in blockchain and decentralized technology integrations for enterprise, small business and start-ups. Anthony is the cryptocurrency adviser at MaRS Discovery District, organizes the Toronto Ethereum Meetup Group and DEC_TECH (Decentralized Technologies) events, for summer 2015, is lecturer in the The Principles of Disruptive Innovation course at the University of Nicosia’s Masters Program in Digital Currencies.

Plan for Disruption – Fintech Ushers in New Era for Finance

As the saying goes, it’s not if but when. Will your industry be disrupted? The answer is yes. How you prepare for it is the real question large incumbents need to be asking.

 

This summer I have had the pleasure to be teaching a course in Disruptive Innovation, which is part of the MSc in Digital Currency at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus. Lecturing online to students from around the world my key point has been that, by definition, disruption can come quickly and unannounced. Disruption happens by working within the framework of a well-established industry with the objective to cannibalize it — either by discovering methods for new efficiencies, or through the wholesale innovation that creates a new industry. Of course, the marquee examples of this phenomenon are music and publishing, still trying to find their footing in a fast changing digital landscape.

 

Digital is the driver of the transformative epoch we are now living through. Fifteen years into the 21st century, this point is well-understood. The new reality of our everyday experience consuming news or listening to music helps ensure that. But the industry-specific nature of disruption, its shape-shifting tendencies, and the inevitability that vested interests will resist change means the experience of disruption will continue to be one of an interloper unwelcome by the status quo.

 

As Joseph Schumpeter, the Austrian economist and popularizer of the concept “creative disruption” wrote “Capitalism is by nature a method of economic change.”

 

A simpler way of saying this is Don’t get too comfortable — in whatever business you happen to be in. Just over a decade ago in 2003, Futurist Ray Kurzweil stated “We’re entering an age of acceleration”. As if to prove his point, today 2003 sounds like ancient history. Business innovation and disruption is an everyday experience and a general public that books Airbnb for their vacations and take an Uber instead of a cab, are perhaps more acclimatized than ever to our era of accelerated change.

 

This new receptivity to change can also be a driver of business success. At Decentral Consulting, our focus is on advising clients about developments in Finance Technology (popularly known by its coinage Fintech), the most significant new wave of disruption currently underway. With a sharp eye focused on the newest innovations, the companies we advise are actively working to understand the risks but also cultivate the opportunities Fintech will bring.

 

In its recently released report on The Future of Financial Services, the World Economic Forum noted there is “significant uncertainty” in the financial services industry, a problem stemming from a “lack of common understanding” on two points; 1) which innovations are most relevant and 2) what implications these innovations have for incumbents.

 

The WEF report predicts that the effects of Fintech will be “most immediate” in banking, but “most profound” for the insurance industry. Decentral’s corporate clients in Toronto are already adapting to meet this challenge, using test projects and innovation teams to promote company adoption and incorporate new Fintech & blockchain technologies (including the upcoming blockchain 2.0) into their business prognostics. The WEF report notes “the pressure to innovate will be continuous” and this “will shape consumer behaviour, business models and the long term structure of the financial services industry”. Toronto, a relatively young and rapidly growing metropolis is well-positioned to take advantage of the immense opportunities Fintech holds out. In future blog posts, I will map out my vision for how this might happen. In the meantime, interested readers can find the full WEF report here: The Future of Financial Services How disruptive innovations are reshaping the way financial services are structured, provisioned and consumed.

Anthony Di Iorio is a co-founder of Ethereum. He is president and founder of Kryptokit and of Decentral and Decentral Consulting Services, offering technology consultancy services specializing in blockchain and decentralized technology integrations for enterprise, small business and start-ups. Anthony is the cryptocurrency adviser at MaRS Discovery District, organizes the Toronto Ethereum Meetup Group and DEC_TECH (Decentralized Technologies) events, for summer 2015, is lecturer in the The Principles of Disruptive Innovation course at the University of Nicosia’s Masters Program in Digital Currencies.