Around the Block With Jefferson Nunn – Interview With Elliot Hill at Verasity.io

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Around the Block With Jefferson Nunn – Interview With Elliot Hill at Verasity.io

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Transcript:

Jefferson Nunn  0:08   

Welcome to another episode of Around the Block with Jefferson Nunn. And I’m here today with Elliot at Verasity.io.  Elliot, welcome to the show. How’s it going, man? 

Elliot Hill  0:19   

Hey, Jeff, some really great to be here. I’ve listened to quite a few of your podcasts before we before we got started. And I really liked your delivery. So, it’s great to be here. 

Jefferson Nunn  0:31   

Thanks. Thanks. So yeah, it’s an exciting space. And I’ve been looking a little bit on your website and talking to you a little bit just before the show here. Yeah, NFTs are really interesting. I think there’s a lot of growth potential. But there’s also a little bit of fraud potential. You know, anybody can sell an NFT type of thing, even if they don’t own it. But it seems as though you’re having solution for that. Tell me more. Yeah. So 

Elliot Hill  0:59   

I mean, just to clarify, like, what NFT ownership is, and I think this is a big problem in the industry at the moment. And maybe people don’t realize just how much of an issue NFT fraud has become. So pretty much the biggest NFT marketplace at the moment, is called OpenSea. So OpenSea were one of the original NFT marketplaces. I mean, I’ve been in the space since 2016. And open sea was like when OpenSea first launched. I remember using them for some, actually endgame NFT items. And really, they didn’t have any competition at the time. And since then, they’ve become one of the biggest NFT minimum protocols and NFT marketplaces, they’ve done really, really well. And they’ve been definitely instrumental to the success of MSPs and as an industry, but they released some pretty shocking figures the other day that up to 80% of the mints on their protocol using their minimum protocol were fraudulent NFTs. And I think what this is really indicative of is not so much that NFTs themselves. So, obviously, you’ve got an immutable record of ownership on the blockchain.

So, you know, when an NFT was minted, you know, who’s bought it, who sold it, the sale price and all of this sort of thing. But the actual artwork that is traditionally associated with NFTs. So, you know, NFTs can represent the number of things, but most often we see them represent digital works of art, or digital items. So, the actual underlying artwork can be copied, and it can be issued as another NFT. So, then we as an industry, we’ve got a problem. So, we have two NFTs. They’re both technically NFTs the most non fungible tokens, except that they have the same artwork. And the onus of proof is then on the original creator, or the current NFT, owner of the of the legitimate NFT, to prove that they have the real thing that was either minted first or carried the original copyright details. So, this is a really huge problem, as I just mentioned, like, OpenSea reckon that up to 80% of the mints that come through their protocol, were fraudulent. So, they’re like groups that are basically ripping off other people’s artwork and passing it off as their own. So, it’s a little bit like a resurgence of, you know, someone copying the Mona Lisa and trying to sell it as the real thing. And NFT fraud, just in the UK alone where I am. You know, it’s soared by 400% in 2021. So, obviously, it’s a huge problem that we need to solve. And that’s a little bit how, what Verasity does on the one side and what we’re going to do in the future without proof of view technology. 

Jefferson Nunn

Yes, astounding and it seems Verasity has a patented technology that could potentially solve this issue. Tell me more. 

Elliot Hill 

Yes. So, proof of you is patented technology that we actually developed for the ad fraud industry. So, the ad fraud industry is a little bit bigger at the moment than the fraud industry in NFT. So, although you know, NFT, fraud is becoming a growing problem, it’s sort of dwarfed by the magnitude of the advertising fraud issue. So, the global cost of ad fraud is $65 billion. And they actually predict that by 2050, it’s going to be one of the biggest avenues where organized crime operates. So, it really is like it’s not just some like individual guys deploy in bots to spoof advertising traffic. It’s really like an organized criminal. All enterprise to do ad fraud. And we’re seeing sort of a similar resurgence now of that with NFTs. So, we develop proof of view, which is a painted module, we’ve got patents in the USA and China. And essentially, it’s blockchain based module that recognizes and delineates real viewers from fraudulent viewers for advertising.

So, like content ads that are shown on video on demand platforms. And using a combination of 12 other components and our very views on tech stack, it can basically identify fraudulent views and prevent them from being registered, which saves advertisers and content creators money, a lot of money, you know, across their advertising budgets. So, we sort of got to thinking how could we use this for NFTs? You know, we saw this this surge in NFT. As I said, 400% served in NFT fraud in the UK alone last year. And we thought, you know, there must be some way that we can apply our proof of view technology to NFTs at the point of men, to prevent them from falling prey to fraud. And this is why we developed proof review enabled smart contracts for NFTs. So essentially, when an NFT is minted, if it’s minted on our protocol with proof of view enabled, it’s going to have that protection built in at the proof of men. And the way that I’ve sort of been representing this to people who maybe don’t know about NFTs and smart contracts is you know, when you go to the shops, and you buy like a nice bottle of wine, quite often good bottles of wine like Rioja, for example, will have a QR code, or they’ll have a holographic label on say that they are definitely from that geographic region where Ryuji grapes are grown. And that there’s no way to spoof that that’s a fraudulent bottle of wine. Now, we’ve deployed something similar for NFTs on the blockchain. So, when you meant an NFT, now, l has a well, when you meet an NFT, sorry, through our NFT mint protocol that we’re rolling out, it’s going to have that proof of origin.

So, when it was minted, who it was minted by, it’s going to have digital rights management built into that as well. And that’s going to be through a proof of view enabled smart contract. And on top of that, we’re going to offer like NFT custody solutions through something we’re going to call the wearable. And we’re going to allow a secondary market trade and opportunities on our bearer their reverse NFT marketplace with some, which is something that we’re rolling out at the moment, while building out sorry, at the moment. And we expect that to be in like a beta phase with some initial users in Q3 2022. So, it’s really exciting. Like, we think that we maybe have like the one of the golden tickets to prevent ad fraud, we’re also going to look at how we can extrapolate this across existing NFTs. So, there’s plans to allow existing NFT holders, if they can prove and verify that they have the digital rights to say a piece of artwork that they meant as an NFT, they can bring it into the various ecosystem. And they can, you know, approve that through proof of view. So, there’s a lot of different likes, a lot of different parts, moving parts. But essentially, our core focus there is preventing NFT fraud before it grows into a problem as big as advertising fraud currently is. 

Jefferson Nunn  8:42   

Very, very cool. So yeah, I think this is going to be a fascinating development to follow. Definitely, I think there’s an urgent need for it, if you will, to, you know, really come up with a good solution for making sure that you had the rights for the entity that are being sold even, you know, so yeah, good stuff. And then along with that, it seems like you have a whole eSports solution as well. And eSports by the way, that’s gonna be another, you know, a couple billion-dollar industry. Tell me more about your eSports solution. 

Elliot Hill  9:27   

Yeah, so eSports product vertical is called very eSports. So, Bear eSports essentially, is a proof of concept for their view’s ad tech stack. So, the very views Ad Tech Stack sits on video on demand content. So that’s any content that’s served over like a video playback service can also sit in live videos through our partners at Bright Cove. They’re one of the biggest video networks on Earth at the moment there NASDAQ traded company, and we have a partnership and an integration with their marketplace. So, very eSports, essentially, because yeah, we also mirror what you just said that the esports is, is going to grow into an absolutely huge industry. I mean, it’s already a billion-dollar industry. But it’s projected to grow, you know, by many orders of magnitude. You know, and I think by 2025, they’re predicting that it’s, it’s going to double.

So, they’re predicting that revenue is going to reach like 2.8 9 billion by 2025. So, it’s a huge market worldwide. And its viewership statistics, more people tune in to eSports tournaments than they want, then do what’s the NBA at the moment. So that just gives some like idea of how big this could be. Obviously, it’s also borderless as well. So, the same games are enjoyed pretty much around the world. So, unlike like regional sports, there’s really that borderless element to it where people from around the world tune into eSports. So, this presents an absolutely enormous advertising opportunity. And many advertisers are starting to like wake up to the potential of placing their Ads either in game or sponsoring tournaments or running adverts as tournaments are playing essentially. And actually, we just had an interesting call with a UK, regulatory steering body for advertising just before this, this podcast. And they’re looking to get back now into like Metaverse, and eSports advertising and how that may shape the industry in the years to come. So, one of the things that we do through very sports, we negotiate exclusive tournament rights with a number of games developers.

So, at the moment, we’re in talks with a lot of different games developers, some of which it’s my hope we can announce very shortly. But we already have a partnership with Riot Games, who are owned by 1010. Riot Games have the well they develop like VALORANT, which is basically like the game that we’re streaming at the moment. So, that’s were streaming their valor and champions towards 2022. In the APAC region, it’s an absolutely massive, massive game. It’s got a huge viewership like a huge viewer base around the world. They also do League of Legends as well. So obviously these like some of the biggest games on Earth. And what our what our strategy is with very eSports is that we are going to use the we’re going to use the tournaments that we bring through very eSports. And we’re going to use those tournaments and the viewership to basically test out our VeraViews Ad Tech Stack, to say we get like, say we get a couple of million views on a tournament through varying eSports. We can then use that to measure the effectiveness of our Ad Tech Stack. And we can also license out that tournament content as well to our advertising partners. So, we can offer Ads on the tournaments. We can offer Video on demand content partners through Brian Cove. And we can also use it to advance our own technology through VeraViews as well. 

Jefferson Nunn  13:32   

Yeah, that’s fascinating and glad you mentioned advertising, because I think that’s another you know, great, you know, need within the crypto space. But one of the challenges I think that we all face is, you know, fake views, you know, Facebook, Google, all these different places, literally have clicked fraud and they haven’t done anything about it. I think Elon Musk’s plan to buy Twitter just so you can fix that problem. But what how about you guys? How do you plan to come back to the whole big D problem? 

Elliot Hill  14:13   

Yeah, so I mean, this is what VeraViews are tech stack does, essentially. So, the VeraViews our tech stack, is it’s made up of 13 core modules. Some of these are like the modules that you would find in traditional tech stacks. They use a series of like on chain and off chain components, basically to track fraudulent viewers so bot viewers, and to combat that the source. So, the reason why ad fraud is so like sinister is the way that I communicate it to people who maybe don’t know much about the advertising industry is that imagine you had like a city like New York or London and everyone in the city wakes up one morning and they put, they all put their television sets on. And then they all leave the house and go to work. And only a few people actually stay and watch the television. So, throughout the day, adverts would be running to these empty rooms essentially. Now the advertisers who are paying to run those adverts, they still have to pay to run the adverts. But unfortunately, no, like, no one’s watching them. Now we’ve got the exact same issue online except it’s a little more sinister in that people are actually actively trying to defraud these advertising networks.

So, what happens is people deploy botnets. And as I said earlier, it’s becoming an avenue for organized crime, they deployed botnets, which essentially are just an army of bots, who open up video content, so it could be like a video on YouTube or another platform. And they appear to be watching video so that they are served Ads, and then the content creator would get the revenue from that. So, obviously, this has to have some collusion with like less than honest, content creators are less than honest advertising network. But unfortunately, it’s very prevalent. And it hurts honest content creators because they won’t get as much for their Ad serve. And it also obviously really hurts advertisers as well, because they don’t have, they don’t have as much bang for their buck in terms of ad spend. So VeraViews essentially uses a number of components that are common to a lot of our tech stacks. But we also probably our like secret sauce is our proof of view modules. That’s what we’ve got the payment on. And that essentially records this data, like add serve data on the blockchain, which is highly transparent. And it makes it available instantly to both the advertiser and the content creator. So, at the moment, one of the biggest pain points for the advertising industry, and it’s very hard for new content creators, is proving that they’ve actually served ads to real people. And part of this approval process, you know, the whole approval process can take many months.

So, to actually verify that they have those users and for the advertisers to accept them can take many months. And that results in basically content creators not getting paid for, you know, could be up to like six months, actually, after they’ve actually served the ad. With our solution, because it’s transparent, and it’s on a blockchain ledger. It can, we can essentially reduce those payment times. So, advertisers could essentially see in real time, how many of their ads are being served. So, it really is like a big innovation in the space. We pretty much one of the only blockchains. One of the only projects doing this with Blockchain at the moment. That’s why our solution is painted. And we’re really proud to have got that that paint and in China as well, because China is going to be one of the world’s biggest advertising markets in the next couple of years, maybe the biggest advertiser market, already the second biggest ad market in the world, just behind the USA. And typically, they’ve been a little bit critical, I’d say a blockchain based technologies. So, to gain like recognition through proof of view payment in China is a really big milestone. And I don’t think that can be like understated when you look at a project as a whole. 

Jefferson Nunn  18:49   

That’s great. Matter of fact, I realized, on my iPhone, I have the new iPhone 13. I forget where I was, but I actually looked away from an Ad my son came up to me for a second. And then when I look back to the Ad, it picked up exactly where it left off. And I was like, wow, talk about prover. Yeah, that’s, I think that’s where it’s going. But I think it’s a necessary component. I think there’s a lot of these fake views. And I’d be happy to just watch one Ad once, rather than be slammed with 100 Ads, and you hope that I watched one right. And plus, you know, had the Ad may be targeted towards my interests, rather than something that I could care less about, you know, so yeah, I think there’s an evolving market, especially as we get into the metaverse. It’s gonna be fascinating. So, turning our attention to the future, you know, 2023 and beyond. What do you think is next for the industry as a whole? Do you think the metaverse is going to be huge shared or a big mess? Or what do you think? 

Elliot Hill  20:08   

Yeah, so I mean, this is like the million-dollar question, I think. And it’s totally predicated on how many people actually have an appetite for Metaverse technologies. Think in terms of advertising opportunities, there’s going to be a lot of opportunities to advertise within the metaverse, especially like maybe to a younger audience who are already well used to like seem product placement in those sorts of things. For us, like as an industry, I think that esports is far more interesting. In actual fact, we’ve seen probably, I would say, like a fairly slow uptake of Metaverse and VR technologies within the eSports space. And actually a lot of a lot of like, players and viewers have expressed way more of an interest in just watching like traditional, I guess I you know, non VR non or non-augmented reality games, which is interesting, you know, like, I think, in actual fact, they’ll be like the, the format for the next like, decade, at least, maybe with some of the some of the like developments that have been happening with the unreal five engine for gaming, we could definitely see some very interesting, like, nearly true to life VR gaming, which I think is gonna also open up, open up huge opportunities for the metaverse.

But actually, at the moment, you know, I wouldn’t say that I’m skeptical of the metaverse, but I really do think that more needs to be done to bring it up to a standard where people are gonna want to use it. Because at the moment, a lot of the metaverse things that have been offered and had a little look at like, Facebook’s, you know, foray into the metaverse, and it sort of looks like Nintendo Wii graphics like it’s like almost quite dated, which is weird, because it’s cutting edge. And I know that the focus isn’t on graphics, per se, it’s about the experience. But I think if you’re going to bring in serious eSports enthusiasts who are our core audience, and you’re gonna bring in people who, you know, they want to see like a really immersive experience, then I think we’ve got a little way to go in terms of building out those games. But for now, like NFTs within eSports, I think is really big, some, some eSports. And sunlight gaming developers have been a little slow on the uptake for NFTs in games. So, for instance, steam just banned any game that had like NFTs or a blockchain based element from the Steam platform. So, that’s obviously the Valve Corporation is the owner of steam. And that’s a little bit disappointing, but I think it’s not because I don’t think that’s indicative of the technology itself. I think it’s actually more the they’re like waiting in the wings, trying to see how it’s going to be useful to them. And if they can build their own solutions. And also, I’ve used this analogy before, but it’s a little bit like internet-based gaming back in like the, the late 90s and early 2000s. So not many people know. But Apple were actually the first producer a games console that had internet capabilities. So, internet playability, it was called the Apple Pippin. But it really didn’t take off. Although it was like that first step into internet-based gaming, it didn’t take off because they, like, the people at home, they still had dial up and this sort of thing.

So, the experience was really lackluster basically. So, though the technology was there, the experience for people to actually, you know, experience that in a consumer unit wasn’t there. And the reason why I sort of used this analogy is because now internet-based games and internet-based gaming, you will struggle to find a game that supported split screen because everyone plays online. Now, every single game pretty much has online capabilities. It’s just taken for granted. And I think that’s sort of where we are with NFTs. So NFTs are clearly useful. NFTs clearly have a lot of utility, but until now, the infrastructure hasn’t been there. So, games developers, I think, need to see that that they actually can be useful and the infrastructure exists. And this is where you know, things like very sorry, the very first NFT marketplace comes in. We’re gonna make it a really seamless experience for you aims developers to issue NFTs that the players fans, and you know, like professional gamers can use in game and maybe even issue their own assets or something. So, yeah, we need to bring up as an industry, we need to bring the infrastructure up to a point where it’s usable. 

Jefferson Nunn  25:19   

Fascinating. And yeah, I think there’s a lot that can happen over the next few years. And this is definitely an exciting space to be in along with that. So, Elliot, when did you find crypto and how did you get involved? I’m always fascinated by that. 

Elliot Hill  25:42   

Yeah, so it’s a good question. So, I’ve been in crypto and pretty much since 2016. And, you know, I’m from a communications background. So do PR and cons. And I started writing a little bit in in the blockchain space, and just doing some, like general interest articles and that sort of thing. Right, and some of my like, thoughts and perspectives down and then started writing about some of the projects I was particularly interested in. One of which back then was Cardano. And I still am like a big Colorado fan. So, from that pastored Cardano enough that they eventually let me work with them. That was in I think, like 2019 or 2020, probably. So yeah, that’s sort of how that was my route into crypto. It’s just been like six years of research and writing, and doing comps.

So now my like, expertise is very much in PR and comms and how we position products like within the blockchain industry. So, I’m like a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations here in the UK. But in actual fact, like the number of communications professionals that that know about blockchain in depth is quite limited.

So, there’s a lot of work to be done there about how we like how we talk about ourselves as an industry. And I think that’s, I think that was a challenge when blockchain was young, because, you know, like we have a lot of work to do in educating people in government and you know, your average investor about what blockchain is, and what our actual, you know, like benefits as an industry are. That’s how I got into blockchain. Yeah. And I’ve been lucky enough to work with some big protocols like Cardano, it’s a little bit with changing sector signum digital asset bank, it’s one of the first banks that would like to get a digital asset license. And also, with AACOM, finance, which are like a defy protocol, and now with veracity. So, you know, I’ve been around the industry for a while, I think that if you had worked in any other industry for like, six years, it wouldn’t be that much time at all. But in blockchain that might as well be. Yeah, like a Lifetime Achievement Award. Because, you know, it was only three years before then that, that people had really started hearing about Bitcoin even so, yeah. 

Jefferson Nunn  28:22   

Yeah, and I think we’re now getting into this massive adoption phase. So, yeah, it’s a good time to be joining in and growing adoption. And so this has been a fascinating and very informative interview. So, thank you, Elliot, for coming on the show. Do you have any final thoughts for our listeners? 

Elliot Hill  28:45   

Um, no, I think that’s pretty much it. It’s been a really great podcast, and thanks for having us. All I’d say is if anyone’s interested in learning more about Verasity, please do head over to Verasity.io its veracity with an S. Not a C so. And yeah, follow us on Twitter as well. It’s just @Verasitytech at Twitter. Yeah. 

Jefferson Nunn  29:11   

Very cool. Thank you, Elliot. Thanks for coming on the show. 

Elliot Hill  29:15   

Thanks, Jefferson, and have a great afternoon. 

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Jefferson Nunn

Since 1999, Jefferson Nunn has been a consultant to high net worth individuals. Always an innovator, his ideas have generated millions for his clients including Ronco and GoWireless. He has been involved in the CryptoCurrency industry since mining his first Bitcoin in 2010. Since then, he has met with many of the early pioneers in the CryptoCurrency space including the founders of Ethereum and the founders of Crypto Capital in Panama, and more.