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Dr. Holger Bartel: Making Betting Fair by Bringing the Power Back to the User Through Blockchain Powered Prediction Markets

DigiOptions makes betting fair by bringing the power back to the user through blockchain powered prediction markets.

Tell us about yourself?

I am a serial fintech entrepreneur who is passionate about leveraging innovative technology to create powerful solutions that improve the world.

After a rigorous academic experience within economics, finance, and statistics, where I got a PhD, I applied my technological acumen as an actuary and risk manager in the insurance industry and subsequently in founding several financial technology companies.

In my first startup, Prozentor, we used statistics to provide equity market forecasts and act as market makers for financial institutions. Almost two decades later, when blockchain started proving itself as a fundamental gamechanger for the entire financial industry, we decided to leverage the prediction models we built to offer permissionless prediction markets to the people.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

To trade Dogecoin, Gamestop, and Bored Ape Yacht Club! Jokes aside, I would say that the most important lesson that I’ve learnt in the past year or two is how surprisingly well remote teams work. While it has long been a pillar of the blockchain space, it wasn’t until the pandemic when it became standard in the rest of the economy, and in my experience, it has worked better than I was suspecting.

What problem does your business solve?

At the core of our value proposition is the same problem that most decentralized projects built on the blockchain are solving: to cut out rent seeking middlemen and bring the power back to the users.

While existing projects have done a great job of taking the power back from financial institutions (DeFi), media conglomerates (NFT), and technology behemoths (Web3), we are focusing on taking the power back from the gambling and high-risk derivatives industry.

There are numerous examples of lives ruined by actors in this industry, who repeatedly have exploited their clients through predatory sales strategies and rigged markets, while penalizing profitable players. E. g. my very first Bitcoins were stolen in the Mt. Gox hack already years ago.

We want to change this, starting with simple prediction markets for crypto tokens where users can make bets on price movements and create markets to earn fees.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Besides the important issue of righting the wrongs of the gambling industry, and helping blockchain technology build momentum to create a brighter tomorrow, my greatest inspiration for DigiOptions is my brother Ulf.

Ulf is the main developer behind the project, and as a real crypto aficionado, he is my constant source of inspiration for the power of blockchain to improve the world. To work alongside my brother, leveraging the learnings from my first startup and contributing to a better world is a gift that keeps on giving.

What is your magic sauce?

Our magic sauce is the powerful algorithms that power the backend of our platform. They have been in the works since the 90s, long before Satoshi Nakamoto or crypto was a thing, and become extremely powerful at creating prediction markets when coupled with modern blockchain technology.

Currently we are working on coupling this powerful backend with an extremely easy to use and pretty interface, which will make the application easy to use even for beginners.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

While we are starting with prediction markets for price movements of tokens only, we are working towards a vision of a much broader prediction market universe.

Ultimately, we are envisioning an app where users themselves can create prediction markets on whatever they would like; from politics, to sports, to culture, and anything else they would like to bet on (within ethical limits).

We believe that an offering like this would not only be able to make the betting markets much more fair, but also that it would create predictive data that could work as an oracle, providing statistical data on the likelihood of things to come.

The underlying science behind prediction markets is built upon the wisdom of the crowds, and it has repeatedly been proved that the opinion of many, when represented by money, usually averages out to much more accurate predictions than predictions made by a few experts who are not betting money on the outcome.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

The biggest challenge was finding a solid legal framework for operating. We chose to provide our services from Germany, having one of the toughest regulations worldwide. We are being 100% transparent, fair and compliant. I learnt that commitment from my job as an Appointed Actuary in a German insurance group.

Second, I should mention – as all blockchain developers are very well aware of – that development on the blockchain is a challenge in itself. Writing some smart contracts in Solidity is easily done, but there is a huge environment around, changing at high speed. And Web 3 still is not really developer-friendly.

What has made you have to change course? What issues have you run into?:

While blockchain technology is extremely powerful, it is also a quickly emerging technology that regularly changes and evolves, which presents problems for development as compared to traditional applications.

Certainly, many plans that were made in the early days of planning the product have become obsolete with recent technological developments, and it has been imperative to remain agile in the tactics and tech stack used to build the platform.

Despite issues like surging gas prices on the Ethereum blockchain and frequent breaking updates of APIs, the ecosystem is constantly expanding, and we have been able to find recourse in modern technologies like the Thundercore blockchain.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Our platform will soon be officially launching at digioptions.com and the Thundercore Hub, where anyone is welcome to use our application to make bets, create markets, and provide us with feedback on how we can make the platform even better.

We are additionally always looking to partner up with talented individuals who believe in our vision and want to play a part in building the betting markets of tomorrow. If this is you, please email me at [email protected]

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