This episode of ICO 101 was a paid ICO preview conducted by host Aaron Paul. The following blog is the accompanying write up by CRYPTO 101 writer Ryan LaMonica and reflects his own assessment of the project in question.
Jamal Hassim, CEO and Founder of Bolt Global, recently connected with the ICO 101 team for a discussion about the company’s blockchain epiphany, their eventual token distribution, and his unbridled optimism about a quasi-altruistic journey through three strategic phases of adoption.
What is Bolt?
Maybe a better question to start with is who is Jamal Hassim? Jamal is a lawyer by trade but quickly entered a career outside of the courtroom in the worlds of finance and advertising. He found a niche in the broadcasting industry (both television and radio) where he worked for several networks and even created his own in Malaysia, circa 2002.
After the network was purchased, he began his tenure at a mobile entertainment service provider, SyQic. Jamal has remained in this arena ever since and, along with co-founder Christel Quek, founded Bolt Global in January of 2017. The combination of Christel’s social media acumen and immersion in the blockchain space (in an advisory capacity) with Jamal’s entrepreneurial broadcasting experience has been a powerful combination.
Even more charming, Jamal is quick to give credit to Christel for her blockchain enlightenment, recalling the day she said to him “Hey, (Jamal), this has been staring us in the face all this time. We’ve got to get onto the blockchain because we will have a real way of actually solving these problems.”
Embracing his partner’s advice, Jamal immersed himself in blockchain self-education for about six months before proceeding with plans to incorporate the technology into their plans for growing Bolt.
So what is Bolt? Aligning with the digital content delivery concept of SyQic, Bolt aims to bring best-in-class digital content to its customers, but specifically in underserved markets as the company ramps up. Bolt already has a service delivery presence in more than six nations across two continents, and there are plans to utilize their existing presence to expand in those markets.
Bolt Office Locations and Team Origins
The Bolt service is focused on collecting and curating a content library that focuses on short, trending, and even live video that is then available for its customers to access and interact with in a digital ecosystem of users, partners, and creators. Their expansion view of the horizon is focused on growth in emerging markets.
This is very risky from a business perspective, but the Bolt team sees a tremendous opportunity to not only satisfy the need of an underserved demographic, but to also have a positive impact on those communities through social engagement and delivering information that is both accessible and affordable. These are critical aspects when you consider their targeting of emerging markets.
Q2, 2015 Global Internet Connection Speeds (www.telegraph.co.uk)
Most potential customers in these underserved economies are under-banked or unbanked completely. In many cases, access to reliable internet service is limited at best or completely nonexistent. However, Jamal is quick to point out that a healthy percentage of these demographics do own their own smart phone and have established accounts with telecommunication companies. As Jamal sees it, that is all Bolt needs to be successful.
The Nuts & Bolts
Jamal’s experience in broadcasting and more than a decade of leadership at SyQic have prepared him and the Bolt initiative for succeeding in these technically challenging environments. Developing economies may only have telecom infrastructure to support older, legacy wireless networks (think pre-3G). These networks still function properly, but the data transfer speeds are much lower than their modern day equivalents. This presents a challenge because modern content is often created in larger data sizes (high definition) and therefore require a larger bandwidth for end-users to access, download, or stream.
The Bolt Ecosystem (Bolt White Paper)
The Bolt team has developed a proprietary method by which they can process incoming streams of data in smaller packet sizes. They accomplish this through a careful balance between the content’s audio and video information. These smaller packets enable Bolt and their customers to stream HD video at about 250 MB/hour – a rate more palatable for older wireless networks to handle and less than 10% of the bandwidth required by streaming services such as YouTube or Netflix.
The details of this proprietary method are not known, but we do know that the Bolt Network will be launched on the Zilliqa blockchain platform, whose main net launch is currently slated for the end of January, 2019. As we discussed in a previous review, Zilliqa enjoys a considerable amount of industry support and recently raised more than $20M in funding during its own token sale as the platform reached nearly 3,000 transaction per second.
What Bolt is Trying to Address
Bringing high quality, affordable information to emerging economies carries a high risk, but it should be noted that the company’s Android application is already active and profitable. This is a noteworthy achievement at the end of 2018, a year that has seen a dramatic downturn in crypto markets and witnessed the failures of the majority of new blockchain projects that held initial coin offerings (ICOs). Bolt can not only boast of a real-world use case…it’s already in process. They also celebrate the temperance of their decision to delay their BOLT token distribution until the project could put forth tangible code – a claim that only
So why shift their future development and deployment onto a blockchain and enter the brutal, neoteric world of coins, tokens, and decentralized networks? Jamal says it’s all about growth, and they view their tokenization and use of blockchain technology as the best way to address the following challenges:
- Unbanked customers
By transitioning to a token economy, Bolt will aim to build even further upon their business model that only requires a smart phone for entry into and participation in their content network. Through their phones, customers will be able to earn more BOLT tokens and control their own roles as content curators, verifiers, etc. By partnering with Switcheo and the other exchange listing to come, customers can very quickly maneuver in the global crypto economy
- Supply chain inefficiency (middle-men costs)
Bolt aims to greatly reduce the cost of accessing online content for their customers. Their service costs are not static throughout their global footprint, however. Instead, they conduct a comprehensive review of a specific market’s financial metrics to determine average disposable income levels.
Bolt recognizes that two potential customers from unique markets will not be able to afford their services at the same level, but the company is actively setting price points to ensure reasonable pricing. For example, projected prices for their customers in Malaysia are approximately $0.10, $0.35 - $0.40, and $1.00 for 24 hours, 1 week, and 1 month of service.
(Bolt White Paper)
Combined with these prices, utilization of the BOLT token within its own ecosystem will contribute towards an eventual migration away from reliance upon major telecommunication and financial companies. It will be possible for customer reach and market access to thrive organically, reducing a reliance upon third-party vendors for logistics and avoid the costs associated with those interactions.
- Customer engagement and empowerment
Realizing the value of brand loyalty and customer appreciation, active participation by BOLT holders in the community will provide considerable potential for customers to develop loyalty and sense of identity as stakeholders in a digital movement that expands beyond their immediate surroundings. As content partnership develop and grow, the increased exposure and accessibility for under-served markets to a global marketplace should boost the network’s strength.
- Alleviating poverty in developing economies
As the adage goes, knowledge is power, and certainly the additional access to information, content, and a global community of other participants should have a positive impact on Bolt customers who have endured antiquated expectations for so long. While hopes for a real, direct, and near-term effect on customers’ socio-economic conditions is ambitious, the company’s energy and excitement is sincere and aligns very well with the fundamental tenants of financial equality through digital transformation.
The diversity of Bolt’s project team is very admirable, by gender, culture, background, and ethnicity. They’ve truly assembled an ensemble cast that should pay dividends as the company’s footprint expands into new markets with equally diverse environments.
Bolt is equally remarkable for their targeted focus on markets where they already have an established presence. This is key – many tokenized ventures might try and embrace an entire global market before the protocol and community are mature enough to sustain worldwide exposure and demands. By approaching their strategic vision with a phased approach, they stand a much larger chance at overall success and delivering a better final product for their customers.
A Phased Approach (Bolt White Paper)
Strong partnerships are also a critical component of their outlook. As discussed above, their early engagement with Switcheo should boost potential investor and participant confidence with first-day utility. More importantly, their recently announced partnership with the International Cricket Council and acquisition of the broadcast rights to the 2019 Cricket World Cup line up more than a billion potential customers who should not only be interested in Bolt’s services, but who already fall within the marketspace with an established presence and existing conduits through third party vendors.
Bolt Global’s expansion into the blockchain arena is ambitious but comfortably logical when you compare the company’s goals with the capabilities that a decentralized ecosystem can encourage, nurture, and ultimately deliver. They have strong, existing partnerships that are already fueling profitable operations in some very risky but lucrative markets.
It is rare that we encounter blockchains projects with a pre-existing and flourishing use-case, but Bolt is well on its way. It is refreshing to root for a company that exercised patience before asking how decentralization could support their success instead of creating it.
Learn more about Bolt Global on their website and by reading though their white paper. You can also follow their projects’ progress socially on Telegram, Twitter, Medium, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
About the author: Ryan LaMonica is a management consultant and blockchain enthusiast with a background in engineering, project management, operations, risk management, and marketing. The views reflected in this article are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. He currently resides outside of Atlanta, Georgia where he and his wife manage the energy and risk of their
three four amazing children.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter, @ryanlamonica.