UberHealth partners with Solve.Care & the world stage for digital currencies heats up significantly

Blockchain in healthcare updates

Solve.Care partners with UberHealth
Startup Solve.Care, which raised a $20m ICO last year, got access to UberHealth’s entire North American fleet this week after inking a partnership with the Uber subsidiary. By doing so, Solve.Care can integrate Uber Health’s ridesharing services in their apps and let users deploy them without needing an account with Uber. Solve.Care has a similar arrangement with Lyft, and in both of these partnerships users can pay for their rides with Solve’s token or their stablecoin. 3.6 million people in the US cannot obtain medical care due to transportation barriers, and it is the third most commonly cited barrier to accessing health services for older adults.

These ridesharing services are provisioned through Solve.Care’s Care.Wallets, which insurance companies can deploy to their members to help them manage their care. Solve.Care uses a blockchain as a ledger to record events that take place on its platform. So, if I understand this right, if a patient were to get a ride scheduled with Uber using a Care.Wallet a record of that would be embed on the Ethereum blockchain somewhere. Likewise, if that same patient were to see a provider or make a payment those would also be recorded on a blockchain (using a combination of on and off-chain storage, I might add).

Having all of this information on one ledger that multiple people can access would be useful and could reduce costs. But like other blockchain solutions the difficulty is getting the right business parties around the table and all building on one single solution. I suspect that at some point Solve.Care’s token will prove to be a rate limiting factor for adoption as it introduces another point of friction and is unnecessary if you’re only using a blockchain to sync events between multiple parties.

Lastly, I would note that Uber was recently announced as one of the founding members of the Libra Network. This partnership is another data-point that demonstrates their commitment to and interest in blockchain technology.

On $DNA Tokenomics by Encrypgen's CEO
Encrypgen is a blockchain and genomics startup giving people control of their data and creating a marketplace for users to monetize their genomic data. The idea being that people will buy and sell genomic data using this token. Encrygen has their own token and raised some $1,000,000 along with it. During 2016 – early 2018 when a major bull run was underway nearly every token was rising and everything was fine. But when the market had a down turn smaller tokens were hit the hardest, many of which in healthcare lost 90%+ of their value. Check my semiannual report for the latest data on healthcare ICOs.

As Encrygen points out these prices can be upsetting to stakeholders. To Encrygen’s credit, they have refused to engage in the dark underbelly of cryptocurrency marketsand do things like pay “market makers” at exchanges to artificially drive prices up. Further to their credit, Encrygen seems to have found some product market fit, generating predictable user growth on their marketing dollars, and they are being transparent about their thinking on their token.

Encrypgen says they are not in the “token business” but are in the “genomic data market business, using a token based market” and suggests not paying attention to the price of their token. I don’t think this is a meaningful distinction to make. It is one thing to integrate cryptocurrencies as a payment mechanism, it is another to create your own token. You are, by definition, in the token business by merit of having a publicly traded token.

Measuring a project’s success on short term market movements is a bad idea. But the goal for all projects which have tokens should be to create sustainable value. I would like to see healthcare ICOs adopt more of the innovations in token economics that the broader space has seen. The duo of Binance’s BNB and Bitfinex’s LEO have arrived on a model of staking and buybacks that seems to have a good chance at creating long term value. Perhaps something similar could be applicable to genomic and health data marketplaces given their similarities to exchanges.

What I'm reading this weekend

Crypto is undeniably a global political economic force 
Where do I even start on this?!

On Thursday evening President Trump sent a tweet storm about Bitcoin & Libra, renouncing them as "not money" and "based on thin air." This came on the heels of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve comparing Bitcoin to gold and openly speculating that it was possible we might see adoption of cryptocurrencies and multiple currencies in the US. 

Here are some other signals from just this week:

  • In advance of Facebook's David Marcus facing a grilling at a hearing this week a memo was sent to members of the House of Representatives outlining several concerns, among them are "systemic risk implications" and "monetary policy implications."

  • The current head of research at the People's Bank of China ("PBOC") gave clear indication he saw Libra as a threat.

  • The former head of the PBOC opined about how Libra had already changed the global payments landscape, and perhaps China's digital currency strategy.

  • Vietnam's top stock exchange thinks about launching and exporting a stablecoin.

  • Turkey's central bank put a digital currency on their economic roadmap.

  • With regards to Libra, an official at France's finance ministry said they would not let private enterprises give themselves "the means of monetary sovereignty."

Most of the world's value today courses through the veins of a US led financial system. The dollar is the the global reserve currency and you simply cannot do significant commerce without touching financial, and technical infrastructure that the US has significant power over; much to the chagrin of our adversaries and recently our allies.

Efforts are underway around the world to build new infrastructure for transferring value that seek to rival incumbent systems (e.g a Chinese led system perhaps with a new digital currency) or disrupt them entirely (e.g eliminating centralized control with crypto). The latter already has some traction with the quickly growing open finance industry. At scale these systems would, for better or worse, enable entire economies to operate outside the purview of Washington, significantly reducing its power on the world stage. Seen in this lens it is both validating and unsurprising that Libra, Bitcoin, and "other cryptocurrencies" garnered a presidential Tweet this week. They represent a threat to the US led status quo.

What does this mean for the enterprise blockchain world, and specifically healthcare? Not much directly, but in the medium to long term these are likely good signals for the space. It is clear that cryptocurrencies are here to stay and there are now significant geopolitical dimensions to their adoption. A handful of allies and adversaries are building their own state-led digital currency systems and it seems likely that eventually the US will be forced to respond with their own. Along with it will likely be some kind of national blockchain strategy which can help coordinate activity and investment. That would be a welcome and helpful development for the enterprise blockchain space. Indeed, the Senate is already moving forward with the Blockchain Promotion Act.

In the short term having world leaders talk about crypto will, ironically, introduce more people to it, and some amount of those people will meander their way to enterprise applications of the underlying technology.

SEC clears Blockstack to hold the first regulated token offering
Blockstack is building a decentralized computing platform and app ecosystem, similar with some important technical distinctions from Ethereum. They have some stellar computer scientists, and importantly for today, some stellar lawyers. Blockstack's reg A+ token offering was approved this week, giving them the green light to offer their tokens to both accredited and unaccredited investors.

This is a very important development for the industry. It creates a path, for the first time, to broadly distribute tokens. Previously projects had to avoid the US entirely or only sell to accredited investors, which defeated the purpose of a decentralized network by concentrating them in the hands of a small group of elite investors.

The Rise and Fall of the Palo Alto Consensus