Behind the Scenes at BetMoose

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So I’ve been seeing a lot of social media activity from the site BetMoose recently. BetMoose is the world’s first social, feature-rich, distributed P2P betting exchange and prediction market. BetMoose allows anyone to place or create bets about ANYTHING. If you are a sports fan, you can find a bet about your favourite team, sport, or playoff season and place bets with others on the same bet.

Anyone can create their own futures contract or “bet” under their own proposed terms. During the ‘Betting Period’, anonymous and registered users place their bets on whichever option they predict will come out to be true. At the ‘Bet Deadline’, the betting stops, and a waiting period begins until the outcome time is reached. At the outcome time, the host sets the correct outcome. At this point, bettors have up to 24 hours to report the bet if the host chose an incorrect outcome.

BetMoose seemed like a really interesting idea to me so I decided to sit down with the BetMoose team and speak with them about the product, Bitcoin and more. After seeing them posting on Bitcoin Talk, Reddit and other places I reached out with a message to try and get a bit of time from them while they are busy working away on the product.

Adam the CEO at BetMoose was glad to oblige and talk with me even further about BetMoose.

Adam, why did you start BetMoose?

When I first learned about bitcoin last year, I went into a research spree (as I’m sure most do when they first get excited about bitcoin) on everything from the back-end technology, to the use cases that came from it. It was all very new to me but I definitely saw a future in it, so I bought some to test out the process first-hand. As I learned more about the community and everyone’s projects, I ended up coming across BetsofBitco.in (now defunct) and was inspired by the potential of an anonymous ‘real life bets on anything’ platform. I was also frustrated though – it seemed like a very low-key operation, operated by probably 1 guy somewhere from a home server, with no features, and massive scalability design flaws. That’s when I decided that I wanted to improve on that model. After consulting with my close friend who was working for another start-up at the time, we got to the drawing board.

So you’ve been building a team and really an entire startup around this idea. That is awesome, you had mentioned that you wanted to build something scalable, can you tell me more about your scaling and if you’ve taken any sort of outside investment to grow your team?

We have a team of 6, though we try to keep our model as lean and sustainable as possible. This comes from how our model works – also our key feature. In the past, intrade (the famous fiat prediction market) did 24 billion within contracts (‘bets placed’ on their site)), though they still had to use some of that money (and thus also operate a fractional reserve) to keep afloat, and thus failed. This is partly due to the fact they had to write, fund, and resolve their own contracts.

We are instead focused on building a P2P system for others to do that themselves, hence why our hosts make a cut from the payout This means that in theory, if we stopped development and marketing, we could run with minimal overhead expenses as a distributed platform.

That said, we do have some other connections that help out, including a private investor which we have worked with in the past and have plans to in the future on unrelated projects as well.

Sounds like you have the team and the want to build something awesome here. Can you tell us about some of the future features you and your team are working on?

Short-term, our goal is to continue to build out our platform (security, social interactions, UX, etc) and get out of beta.

Medium-term our goal is to introduce automated proof-of-solvency reports and tools for our users to feel comfortable with us not running (both for trust and technical reasons) with coins, nor running a fractional reserve for whatever reason.

Long-term we have one of two goals;
1. Become a DAC or
2. Move into fiat.

Notice the ‘or’ instead of ‘and’. This is intentional. We do not currently believe there’s a way to do what we’re doing with accepting fiat AND operating as a DAC. Accepting fiat will bring significant volume, whereas operating as a DAC brings in significant(ly more) trust, reduces costs, but may also reduce volume as the current available means make it much more user-unfriendly.

We post constant updates in 2 of our threads on reddit.com/r/betmoose – one is the changelog with what the site has been updated with, and the other is ‘What we’re working on right now’ which gives a glimpse of what we’re building/testing as we speak. Likewise, we keep our bitcointalk.org thread up to date. I could tell you more about awesome new stuff we’re working on, but by the time this gets published/read, I have a feeling we’ll be working on more awesome new stuff so the best bet is to check those 2 sources. Roughly though, we’re working on more social interactivity (like an ‘activity center’), minigames for the chat box, and a referral program.

Wow, becoming a DAC?!? Can you tell us your thoughts as to why you would do that and maybe an explanation for our readers as to what a DAC is?

DACs are quite a complex concept to discuss in detail in a single paragraph but basically, it’s a corporation with no centralized group of directors. Instead, it is either automated based on a set of pre-established rules and guidelines, and/or decisions are made through decentralized leadership (by multiple people) anonymously.

It’s worth noting that DACs are highly abstract, theoretical organizational constructs, ones that haven’t been tested really in practice. BetMoose COULD be a DAC in theory. We wouldn’t meet all the technical definitions but decentralized ownership (through investment or another path) may make it possible. This is because the core activities by site admins long-term can be automated in a decentralized way. Activities such as deciding to remove flagged content, and resolving unresolved and disputed bets being the primary tasks.

The funds could then be held in multi-signature wallets controlled by the host, the user and one where the key is found through consensus of these ‘master’ oracles. This will turn BetMoose into a decentralized contract exchange. The tricky part is finding hundreds if not thousands (would probably be a fraction of the total site userbase) of these trusted oracles, which will mediate disputed bets (as an example), without introducing attack vectors like Sybil attacks (aka 1 physical person acting as 100 oracles and thus swinging the vote).

Why do this? For science! (among other rational business reasons)

What is one of the challenges you are facing with BetMoose?

Our biggest challenge (as other P2P platforms) is users and volume. It gets easier as the platform grows (as we have been, which is good), and the bets that get going usually keep going at an increasing rate, however, if you’re a new host with no starting liquidity (even though you may have a good bet!), it may be a challenge to get that crucial bit of beginning liquidity.

We try our best to help out, but it’s ultimately up to the host to at least post his bet somewhere to get some outside eyes on it.

Lastly, we’ve been a little bit concerned with the overall market of bitcoin using statistics from http://bitinfocharts.com/top-100-richest-bitcoin-addresses.html (as one example). From our analysis, we believe ~500K people (at the most) have bitcoin that is 0.01 BTC or more (just $3). Realistically though, that amount is halved if you look at those that own anything more than 0.1 BTC. So even if every single person who had bitcoin was using it on our site, we’d be at no more than 250K users.

What are some of your goals with BetMoose?

Our goal as bitcoin entrepreneurs should be to bring more people into the bitcoin ecosystem, not fight over the existing one. We’ve created something that isn’t available or easily repeatable with fiat, hopefully to show the power of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. We’re also planning to give out free coins to new users (a meaningful amount, like $2-3 each) – we want to become the first, fun and friendly step into bitcoin for them. And unlike a faucet, they’ll be able to use them right away. We hope more people join us in our vision for bitcoin adoption.

Does the recent rulings in Canada have any effect on what you guys are doing? I’m not a lawyer but it sure doesn’t seem like it would apply but even still I’d be happy to hear about you and your teams thoughts regarding it and what it may mean if anything for BetMoose.

No. There was a good summary somewhere but basically (paraphrased from someone else’s summary):

If the business model is fiat BTC touching exchange, then you’re a MSB and you need a license.

If your business model is NOT about moving fiat person to person, and is a bitcoin store, game, service etc (like BetMoose), then there’s nothing to worry about.

This ruling is all about the fiat – Canadian dollars are the jurisdiction of Canada, hence they can create this ruling.

All of that said however, we do not operate in Canada (we have 2 servers in 2 jurisdictions (one is a fail-safe backup which we haven’t had to use yet)), and we do not target Canadians directly. BetMoose is as much ‘in the cloud’ as it gets, so no physical presence is our strong point. We also maintain anonymity exactly for this purpose, trying our best to replicate btc-e’s model.

Thanks for you time Adam! I can’t wait to keep watching BetMoose grow!

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