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This meetup is building a way for you to bet on the cryptocurrency market

With a $5 buy-in, it's a low-stakes way to teach people about digital currency, said organizer Jake Vartanian. Attend Thursday's meetup to help build the product.

The Cryptocurrencies 2.0 DC meetup. Jake Vartanian is at center, holding a white board with early design ideas for the smart contract. (Courtesy photo)

Cryptocurrencies 2.0 DC is designing a hands-on learning experience for anyone interested in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
The meetup group is building a product using blockchain platform Ethereum that will let people enter a betting pool and wager on the performance of newer cryptocurrencies. (Lost? Here’s a handy Ethereum primer from our sister site Technically Brooklyn.)
The meetup will be on the second floor business center of the Mosaic District in Fairfax, Va. at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Sept. 15.
Twenty-three-year-old organizer Jake Vartanian said when he first heard about bitcoin, he immediately when to his local CVS and used the red Moneygram phone to order some.
“When I was 18, I remember reading a news article about bitcoin. As soon as I heard about the concept I thought, ‘This is it.’” Vartanian told us over the phone Tuesday.
Five years later, Vartanian says cryptocurrencies have become his main focus. So when he moved to Warrenton, Va., last month for a marketing job with Brooklyn-based “blockchain entertainment studio” Singular DTV, Vartanian rebooted a dead cryptocurrency meetup and began designing the betting project. (Singular DTV has a satellite office in Warrenton.)


Jake Vartanian. (Courtesy photo)

The project is a “smart contract,” or a contract that executes itself, being built on the Ethereum blockchain. Users will pay a small buy-in ($5) for a fraction of an Ether coin. Then the contract will allow people to pick which new cryptocurrency they want to bet on with their buy-in.
Over a five-day window, the contract calculates the exchange rate from the Ether coin buy-in to the chosen cryptocurrency. The goal is for your cryptocurrency to become more valuable over the week. It’s winner take all for whoever picks the currency with the highest percent market capital increase.
Vartanian hopes to have a minimum viable product by the end of the month.
The meetup is sponsored by Singular DTV.
Over in Brooklyn, where the cryptocurrency force is strong, we’ve written about Singular DTV cofounder Joseph Lubin. He’s also the CEO of Consensys, a company that builds businsses for the Ethereum platform, and the cofounder of Ethereum. According to Vartanian, Lubin is planning on stopping by future meetups to give cryptocurrency master classes to attendees.
The D.C. cryptocurrency scene is in its infancy. Last year, the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center announced a public-private Blockchain Alliance to tackle misperceptions about digital currency.
About a dozen people attend the Cryptocurrencies 2.0 meetup regularly, Vartanian said, and it attracts a range of professionals from developers to patent lawyers.
“But we could actually really use one or two Javascript developers,” admitted Vartanian.
In the future, he says there are other ways people could play with cryptocurrencies, such as betting on which users can choose the best currency or increasing the buy-in to show people how the market capital of up-and-coming currencies are affected by investments.
“I know personally one hundred people who’d wanna play that game with larger than $100,” he said. “But I don’t think pushing it too far at this time makes sense. We want to be inclusive.”
That’s because for Vartanian, who dropped out of a college finance program, the end goal is about more than viability or profitability
“It’s not even just about the product or the value of the product,” he said. “Going back to that Molina article you wrote, it’s about being able to do some good.” (He’s talking about a story we did about the ethics of technology.)
“You can build smart contracts in a way that facilitates people’s activities and makes life easier for everybody,” he said. “Cultivating that side of things is where my focus is, and where I want this project to eventually end up.”


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