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Cambridge law students prepare to launch cryptocurrency

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Tech frenzy hits new heights

A group of University of Cambridge law students are gearing up to launch their own cryptocurrency for the legal market.

The ambitious project is the brainchild of Ludwig Bull, Rebecca Agliolo, Jozef Maruscak and Nadial Abdul. Regular Legal Cheek readers will recognise these students as the people behind an online legal service launched last year to help victims of crimes.

The AI-style system — first named LawBot but later renamed LawBot X — has received a number of updates over the past 12 months and now handles legal queries relating to all aspects of the law. In an attempt to secure £5 million in external funding, the students have now unveiled plans to launch their very own cryptocurrency.

According to the students, LawBot X needs a significant cash injection to help increase its general legal intelligence. However, they’ve been unwilling to punt for more traditional investment routes (e.g. a share offering) over fears they may lose control of the company.

Instead, they are turning to the weird and wonderful world of digital currencies. For those unfamiliar with these, crytocurrencies are essentially a form of virtual monies that use special encryption techniques to regulate the generation of units and verify the transfer of funds. These operate independently of a central bank. One of the first examples to hit the market in 2009 was Bitcoin, which since then has increased in value hundreds of times over.

The Lawbot X team hopes law firms and members of the public will purchase the new currency, which in turn can be used to buy its services. Commenting on the somewhat unique approach to raising cash, Maruscak, chief operating officer of Lawbot X, told Legal Cheek:

An ICO (initial coin offering) minimises risk for each individual investor and allows our currency to increase in value extremely quickly, making investments more likely.

The funding update comes just a month after Legal Cheek reported LawBot X was in the process of undergoing a major makeover. The system is soon to be accessible via Facebook Messenger, and will enable users to to be transferred to “a network of law firms” for more tailored legal advice.

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18 Comments

Gordon

Good on them – ICOs are currently an almost guaranteed ‘get rich quick’ scheme, much like the startup craze of the Dot Com Bubble twenty years ago.

Who cares that 90% of these launches will go tits up in under 12 months, those foolish enough to put actual fiat currency into these schemes ought to know better… Caveat emptor.

(12)(2)

Anonymous

How is this not a bubble-in-making?

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Someone needs to tell them this is a stupid idea.

And it was incorporated 6 months ago, they’re not making any money and it’s not a charity. Valuing the business anywhere near 5 mill shows breathtaking arrogance and naivety.

Nothing more than trying to get some cheap CV points. Nothing wrong with that when it involves actually making money. Like running a decent profitable bar. That would be awesome actually.

(12)(2)

Anonymous

Actually a startup valuation of 5 Million in the tech space is quite common, stick to applying to normie training contracts.

(1)(7)

Anonymous

They are not valuing their business at £5m because they are not giving away any equity. They are trying to pre-sell £5m worth of services to law firms before they have even finished their platform. It is kickstarter crowd-funding spiced up with tech jargon. Even people with “normie training contracts” can see that.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

More chance of retiring than practising law tbf

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I just don’t get it. What is an ICO? What connection is there between crypto-currency and LawBot X? Why are they issuing a new crypto-currency at all? What benefit will their crypto-currency have over any other crypto-currency?

I think they are using new jargon to appeal to speculators in a new tech bubble. I don’t think there is much substance to it at all.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Yeah, an “ICO” is a niche non-term used by internet snake oil salesmen re these silly currencies…I had to make a few google searches before to find it (ICO to UKers means the Information Commissioner’s Office).

And confusing all of the links which explain it also say it’s HUGELY, HUGELY risky and completely unregulated;

http://fortune.com/2017/06/26/ico-initial-coin-offering-investing/

Yet the only thing Ludwig (is he an owl from Harry Potter?) tells us is that it MINIMISES risk.

(0)(0)

Duncan Bannatyne

I’m out.

(7)(0)

David G

This is very confusing.

The article seems to indicate that the students are launching a cryptocurrency of their own (much like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin etc) and then selling those via an initial coin offering (an ICO). I don’t know how it would be possible to raise £5mm via this route. Newly launched cryptocurrencies have basically zero value.

To raise £5mm, they would need to raise money in an established cryptocurrency, exchange that cryptocurrency for GBP, and use the hard cash to develop their technology.

It sounds like these law students have no idea what they’re doing.

(7)(0)

mjzski

I doubt they’re going to create a new digital currency, rather they’re almost certainly going to create and sell a token. The token will be used to pay for LawBot X services in future, by the sounds of things. In any event, the tokens will be sold during the “ICO” for Bitcoin and/or Ether, both of which are reasonably liquid and can be sold for GBP via established exchanges.
The hope of any token creator is that the tokens themselves become tradeable as digital assets in their own right (i.e. on exchanges such as Poloniex and Bittrex which list tokens as well as digital currenices).

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It’s not a currency or crypto-currency in any true sense. This essentially sounds like a form of IOU/credit which can be redeemed against the services of the body issuing it.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Very much so. You’d be utterly insane to take this ICO at face value though.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

When you see ICO, you run ICO’s (Initial Coin Offerings) are perhaps the most dangerous unregulated form a raising capital and or investing in any blockchain/ cyrptocurrency. They are usually completely unregulated and the creators incorporate the company in relaxed jurisdictions like Costarica or Switzerland… if they’re planning to incorporate in the UK, they could fall under some form or securities regulation.
Despite bashing them, they’re clever for recognising the opportunity, done right it could be very lucrative. The Isle of Man would be their best starting point.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

We can all see the “opportunity” in scams which enrich no one but yourself and leaves customers shafted. We just let them fall by the wayside because we have very basic moral fibre and don’t want to screw people over for, in real terms, relatively little upside/remuneration versus the amount of hard work and lies you have to peddle as per the article where the scammer describes them minimising risk.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The crypto Zimbabwean-dollar in the making!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Many people bought into ICOs in the last year purely to flip the tokens when listed on exchanges for profit on speculative value. Some I’m not sure even read or understood the whitepapers, and plenty of the whitepapers were marketing crap with no real explanations anyway, let alone any presentation of risk factors!

Since then, quite a few have been performing below their overvalued ICO price and were manipulated like the rest of the market, so the fun died but there’s still plenty of dumb money around. Other ICOs have been flat out greedy and gone on record to say they’re raising more than they realistically need and others still have been ‘hacked’ (by the Russians, presumably), so people are starting to wise up to this nonsense.

No whitepaper on this one yet and no explanation whatsoever why they need their own token other than ‘give us money’.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The SEC has now confirmed what most of us already knew – US securities laws may apply to ICOs. Best hope these two weren’t counting on US ‘investors’.

(0)(0)

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