Bitcoin: The Return of The King

Most of you have seen this little, tiny, minuscule, almost invisible jump in volume that happen on the 12th April 2018. So far, it has been the singular highest jump in volume ever seen as market cap went from ~ $270 Billion to ~ $300 Billion. It means around $30 Billion were added to the market in less than 3 hours.

Bitcoin’s dominance remains over 40% and I suspect it will continue to rise as most money that just entered the market should be institutional. There are some strong contenders, like Ripple, due to the nature of the backers (mainly banks and financial institutions).

Nevertheless, there are two ways of looking at this, in my own personal opinion:

  • Either the money that just entered the market stays with the King, or
  • It’s distributed among preferential projects (top-10 I would bet on).

Because there is currently a huge time gap between technological developments and price, meaning price moves due to pure speculation rather than technological advancements or issues that arise. If you think differently look at the examples of IOTA or Verge which have been hacked, however prices of both coins kept rising afterwards. Heck, think about bitcoin: when did the price hit its maximum valuation? At the same time fees were the highest ever.

Price is dictated by volume and what happened was a grand spike in smart-money coming into the market. Maybe some of the money that left at the end of January is coming back.

 

Should we expect the price to continue rising?

Some technical analysts believe price will continue to rise. Then again, the opposite might happen depending on many factors:

  1. Geopolitical tensions between Russia and the U.S. will most definitely shake-up traditional markets. This will no doubt influence the amount of money available to invest in the cryptocurrency market. I’m just not sure how this will affect all markets as at the end, there might be a surprising shift; people could begin to trust more in bitcoin due to its security, resilience and the fact it’s independent from governments and economies.
  2. Investors going short on bitcoin got destroyed and likely lost a lot of money. What can counter this is the CME Bitcoin contracts futures price, as I expect the futures’ volume to rise exponentially. Why? That’s easy: because it’s profitable for those investing in both markets.

  1. News sources. When many positive news start to arrive we usually see a growing euphoria and hype (check google trends) from dumb-money entering the market leading to massive price runs. I see no reason for this to be different this time. If history taught us something is that it “repeats” itself, going around and around in circles.
  2. Small technological hops (pun intended) will play a massive role in the long-term future, as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are being given time to prepare for adoption worldwide. Hopefully exchanges won’t need to block new hordes of users signing up, bitcoin’s lightning network will be fully operational and segwit adopted by most mining agents and trading platforms.

We cannot forget price is crucial to bring new people into the market, but to keep those users technology must answer today’s problems. People do not care if money is centralized, decentralized, distributed, digital, or physical; People care about:

  • How can I get that money?
  • How much do I pay to store and transfer that money?

For truly massive adoption either the bitcoin team thinks of a way to easily distribute it among where is needed, this is, in countries where banking is limited for example, or a benign group of people develops a way to distribute the currency directly to people in exchange for something, other than money (time, attention, services, etc). I understand those who think until this currency is used by business worldwide it’s a joke. I get it, I truly do, however if the purpose of this cryptocurrency is to bank the un-banked and to be successful in connecting communities worldwide by allowing anyone to transfer and store value over the internet, then maybe the right way to do this would be to simply find ways to trade bitcoin for time and services in those places.

–note: i did not mention the question “how long does that money take to get to another account?”as the current banking system needs 3-5 business days for international transfers to take place. When the bitcoin network is clogged, i have personally waited around 24h for a bitcoin transfer to get approved. It still beats the banking system for personal transactions, which is the final aim of this cryptocurrency (in my opinion)–

Easier said than done

The reality, of course, is that acceptance dictates the rules of the game; businesses  have to start pushing cryptocurrencies by accepting them. At the end of the day for cryptocurrency to be used, all intervening agents must participate.

We must not forget there will always be two sides to the same coin:

  • Should we focus solely on price and volume, to master our gains? Or
  • Should we focus in improving technology scalability and marketing, to achieve worldwide adoption?

Doing one alone would be unwise as balancing both seems to be the right way for the market to grow. My only hope is that the entire community keeps improving the consensus in bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies), never forgetting its true purpose

Ethereum , Ripple and other cryptocurrecies values riseas Bitcoin price spikes

The price of bitcoin rose by $1,000 in less than an hour, sparking massive gains across cryptocurrency markets

Bitcoin’s sudden price rise has resulted in gains across cryptocurrency markets, with ethereum, ripple and litecoin all surging in value.

Within the space of an hour on Thursday, 12 April, bitcoin rose by more than $1,000 – breaking above $8,000 for the first time since March.

The movement’s of the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency is usually reflected across other virtual currencies, and this unprecedented spike was no exception.

Ethereum, which boasts a market cap of around $45 billion, shot up in price by 10 per cent, taking it close to $500. At its peak in January, one ether was worth more than $1,300.

Similar percentage gains were experienced by ripple, which has the third highest market cap behind bitcoin and ethereum.

The altcoin EOS saw the largest gains out of all the top five most-valuable cryptocurrencies, rising by over 30 per cent to take its market cap above $7 billion.

The market-wide shift follows several months of steadily sliding prices for bitcoin, which peaked at nearly $20,000 in December 2017.

Dramatic market movements are not unusual for the notoriously volatile cryptocurrency, which can often be triggered by positive or negative news surrounding regulation and laws.

The latest surge does not appear to be related to any significant news within the cryptocurrency space, however, with some analysts suggesting the gains come from a change in sentiment amongst investors.

“In this scenario traders with short positions will start to lose money and liquidate their positions by buying bitcoin,” Ed Cooper, head of mobile at fintech startup Revolut, told The Independent.

“This causes the price to rise further and as more people start to notice the rise they buy in for a quick gain. This continues the cycle.”

Despite the gains, Cooper advised investors to be cautious about betting on a positive direction of the market beyond the short term.

“We’d need to see a sustained rise over a number of weeks to signal the end of the bear market,” Cooper said. “We’re definitely not there yet.”

UK Watchdog to Publish its Review on Cryptocurrencies Later this Year

Britain’s financial regulator and markets watchdog outline its policy thinking on cryptocurrencies with a review to be published later this year.

In revealing its business plan for the coming financial year, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) underlined cryptocurrencies as ‘an area of increasing interest for markets and regulators globally’. While admitting that cryptocurrencies do not directly fall under its regulatory scope, the FCA stressed that certain models of their usage bring them under its purview in a ‘complex’ landscape.

Pointedly, the FCA confirmed it would reveal its own take on cryptocurrencies, policy-wise, later this year. The regulator said:

We will work with the Bank of England and the Treasury as part of a taskforce to develop thinking and publish a Discussion Paper later this year outlining our policy thinking on cryptocurrencies.

The FCA is notably a member of the ‘Cryptoassets Task Force’ established by the British government in March 2018, consisting of the regulator, Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Bank of England (the central bank). The working group will explore and study the benefits and risks of cryptocurrencies, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said last month, helping the UK’s fintech sector to ‘grow and flourish’ in a regulatory climate that has broadly been supportive of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies over the years.

On Friday, the FCA mandated firms offering cryptocurrency derivatives to comply with all applicable rules to be authorized, stating it would be a ‘criminal offence’ otherwise.

Earlier in February, the UK’s Treasury Select Committee, an influential group of cross-party members of parliament (MPs), launched an inquiry into cryptocurrencies in an effort to better understand them.

While the Treasury Committee confirmed it would look at risks and threats posed by cryptocurrencies to ‘consumers, businesses and governments’, committee chair Nicky Morgan stressed the group would “also examine the potential the potential benefits of cryptocurrencies and the technology underpinning them, how they can create innovative opportunities, and to what extent they could disrupt the economy and replace traditional means of payment.”

Committee member Alison McGovern added that the inquiry would help UK lawmakers and politicians to better educate themselves on cryptocurrencies before enforcing policies. “It is time that Whitehall and Westminster understood cryptocurrency better and thought more clearly about the policy environment for blockchain technology,” she stated.

Cryptocurrency news: Will Litecoin ever overtake Bitcoin?

LITECOIN is currently ranked as the fifth cryptocurrency on the market, it has grown more than 3855.16 percent over the past year and has shot from $4.26 this time last year to a price of $168.49. So why has it experienced this remarkable growth and could it overtake the number one cryptocurrency bitcoin?

Litecoin was founded in 2011, two years after bitcoin was born.

The token is often referred to as the ‘silver to bitcoin’s gold’, as it was launched using the same code as bitcoin and its aim was to improve on the transaction speed of bitcoin.

Instead of using bitcoin’s SHA256 network, Litecoin used scrypt functions which helped to improve transaction speeds.

Bitcoin creates a block of information with data encrypted in 10 minutes, whereas Litecoin does it in two and half minutes per block.

As a cryptocurrency, it is favoured by traders as it is considered to be not as congested as bitcoin and is a lot cheaper as a result.

And experts claim Litecoin has asserted itself as a cryptocurrency which deserves to be in the top five, but does it have the potential to ever overtake bitcoin?

Will Litecoin ever overtake Bitcoin?

Litecoin has experienced remarkable growth this year, increasing in price by 3855.16 percent, compared to bitcoin’s 593.39 percent.

Bitcoin has been plagued by extended transaction speeds as users flood the network – many have said it has become a victim of its own success and has become too congested.

Despite this, experts do not predict Litecoin overtaking bitcoin any time soon.

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency on the market so has first advantage and is recognised as a well-know cryptocurrency name, Nicholas Cawley, analyst at Daily FX explained to Express.co.uk.

The number one cryptocurrency managed to garner a critical mass and drew in investors and traders, and Mr Crawley said he does not envisage Litecoin ever outshining bitcoin.

However the analyst also predicts Litecoin will overtake another cryptocurrency this year, which is currently fourth on CoinMarketCap.com.

“I think Litecoin will overtake Bitcoin cash but in market capitalisation terms will struggle to overtake Bitcoin,” Mr Cawley said.

Bitcoin Cash has just under 17 million tokens in circulation against a maximum of 21 million, while Litecoin has 55.5 million of a maximum 84 million in supply, so if prices remain the same litecoin’s market cap will grow faster than Bitcoin Cash.

“I also like the Litepal payment system and when we eventually see the launch of the Litepay debit card, then I can see Litecoin overtaking Bitcoin Cash.”

Kristjan Dekleva, head of product development at Blocktrade was in agreement and did not forsee Litecoin taking the number one spot on the cryptocurrency market.

Mr Tekleva said: “I don’t believe that Litecoin will overtake bitcoin. Litecoin does its intended job well for certain intents and purposes and has somewhat wide market penetration.

“But one it lacks the name recognition that Bitcoin has, which helps it stay where it is despite its flaws, and two there are numerous other altcoins that do Litecoin’s intended job, quick and cheap transactions, much better.

“Ultimately, it functions ok, but not well enough to break out of mid-market in the long run.”

While Andrei Barysevich, Director of Advanced Collection at Record Future, believes Litecoin has the capability to overtake bitcoin at some point, but not in the current climate.

“Bitcoin is not going anyway, everybody knows about bitcoin, in my view, it is going to remain as a gold standard. People will continue to use and continue to store money in bitcoin,” he said.

“However in day to day operations, I think Litecoin is to become more dominant currency, as soon as we start to see established e-commerce websites accepting Litecoin, that’s the time when i think Litecoin is going to dominate bitcoin cash.”

Mr Barysevich added to say he believes Litecoin will continue to experience growth in 2018 and will add on the success it is already experienced.

 

Israel: Steps Toward Cryptocurrency Support

In terms of technological innovation, Israel has been labeled by some as “The Startup Nation”with Israeli ventures raising over $5 billion in capital in 2017. This is almost 10% of China’s yearly fundraising total. While there’s a number of popular applications, platforms, and products including USB flash drives, the Waze navigation app, SodaStream carbonation machines, the country has set its foot in the crypto industry as well.

Back in 2017, Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, partnered with Microsoft to create a Blockchain-powered platform to “make the process of signing up guarantors simple and quicker.” And in February 2018, the Israeli Tax Authority (ITA) stated that cryptocurrencies will be taxed by the capital gains as properties.

On February 26, 2018, the country took it even further, when the Israeli Supreme Court handed down a decision that would temporarily block Leumi Bank, limiting a local broker, Bits of Gold, from facilitating the sale of cryptocurrency.

Though many were quick to laud the temporary ruling as ‘precedent-setting,’ it still leaves ample room for further developments. The judge ruling the case, Anat Baron, said that her decision was “not intended to harm the bank’s rights to analyze with specificity every transaction that takes place with the bank account or to take any actions that are related to minimizing risks.” This likely means cryptocurrency brokers and exchanges putting transparency first will be regarded as lawful—for now

Founder and CEO of Bits of Gold Yuval Roash sees this decision as justified, saying,

“Regulation is one of the things that has been important to us since the beginning. From the very beginning, we saw the problem with Bitcoin in terms of its anonymous characteristics, and we wanted to receive a currency service certificate—and we received it in August 2013.”

This is significant progress from December of last year, when a Tel Aviv district court ruled in favor of Leumi Bank, who had refused service to Bits of Gold because of Bitcoin’s inability to meet anti-money laundering standards. Bank Leumi had also been piggybacking on the Bank of Israel’s June labeling of exchanges as “websites that facilitate gambling transactions”, which is a sore spot for Israel especially. The country proved to be careful about upsetting the balance within its borders, and even blocked popular ride-sharing application Uber from an Israeli debut.

After examining the last five years of Bits of Golds’ operations, Judge Baron determined Leumi’s previous assumption that violations of the law would occur if Bitcoin were left unchecked were false.

In relation to the ruling, Yair Geva, head of the Hi-Tech Department of Israeli law firm Herzog, Fox & Ne’eman, remarked:

“It should be emphasized that the Court did not rule on the fundamental question—which has not yet been decided—whether Bank Leumi is entitled to refuse banking services for cryptocurrency trading. Although the final decision is still pending, it seems that this recent verdict of the Supreme Court will continue to give tailwinds to the tremendous growth of the crypto industry in Israel particularly, and to hi-tech as well as the financial industry in general. One of the reasons for this is that the Supreme Court clarified that Bits of Gold operated transparently and did not violate any statutory provision. In other words, the Supreme Court determined that currently there is no direct legal prohibition on cryptocurrency trading in Israel. It remains to be seen how regulators in Israel will respond to this landmark decision.”

Regardless of how regulators will respond, it’s already clear that progress on Israeli blockchain innovations hasn’t slowed.

“As with any new and promising technology, jurisdictions that instate well-balanced policies to promote innovation and adoption, will find themselves attracting talent and business to their ecosystems on grand scales. The best frameworks will be the ones that take a learning approach, allowing entrepreneurs and institutions to deeply understand how these technologies affect all stakeholders and develop the policies which are beneficial to most while educating the public on tradeoffs and accountability. Israel has always seen the advancement of technology as a strength and opportunity, and is well positioned to lead in Blockchain development and applications,” said Galia Benartzi, Co-founder of Bancor.

Itay Nagler, Israeli citizen and CEO of blockchain-driven travel startup Cool Cousin, says that Israelis, as a default, undercut the perception that things can’t or shouldn’t change.

“We are almost raised to believe that there is always a better, more efficient way to do things. That is one of the main reasons such a small country is home to many great innovative companies and individuals. This is also an explanation to why Israelis were among the firsts to adopt blockchain technology and crypto. A lot of us see it as a wonderful solution to many problems and our mentality of “no fear” to change, and relatively easy access to quality human resources and funding allows us to act on it. This, I believe, helped us during the past decades to position ourselves as pioneers and experts in many industries.”

Even though there were no concrete regulations of the industry before, it didn’t stop entrepreneurs from launching blockchain projects of their own. Bancor was one of the first major ICOs, raising over $150 million in mere minutes, and has its origins in Israel. IOTA , an IoT-focused Blockchain solution, recently opened an office in Tel Aviv, noting that the city is “a well-established tech hub, always ranking in the top 10 of start-up reports.”

These positive changes, however, go contrary to the recent decision by the Israeli regulators of not including companies involved in the crypto industry in the TASE, Tel Aviv Stock Exchange indices, due to its ‘trading volatility.’

Israel appears to be setting itself in the Blockchain ecosystem, along with the rest of the world, but tries first guarantee that the market’s grey areas be limited while its most useful attributes allowed to flourish

Bittrex Will Remove 82 Tokens Due to Lack of Liquidity in Small Cryptocurrencies

Bittrex, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges which also powers UpBit, South Korea’s second biggest exchange operated by Kakao subsidiary Dunamoo, has stated that it will remove 82 tokens from its trading platform.

Token Removal

“Occasionally, there are circumstances that lead Bittrex to remove a coin’s wallet or market from the Bittrex Exchange,” said the Bittrex team. “We will be removing the wallets included in the list below on March 30, 2018. Once these wallets are removed, we will no longer be able to recover these coins. Users must withdrawal their coins before March 30, 2018, in order to keep them.”

The Bittrex team also stated that several cryptocurrencies have broken blockchains that have disabled users from withdrawing their balances.

“The coins marked with an asterisk (*) have broken blockchains or wallets that will not allow withdrawals,” said Bittrex, referring to cryptocurrencies like CRYPT.

On leading trading platforms, it is difficult for exchanges to sustain a stable order book if a cryptocurrencies does not have enough liquidity and demand from users of the platform. Lack of liquidity leads to price manipulation, which can be initiated with funds as little as $50,000, as shown in the recent study done by cryptocurrency trader Sylvain Ribes.

By using a method called slippage–a process of selling $50,000 worth of a particular cryptocurrency on a trading platform to measure its impact on the price–, Ribes evaluated the liquidity of digital assets on major exchanges like OKEx and GDAX. While GDAX had a slippage of less than 1 percent, on OKEx and other cryptocurrency-only exchanges with low market cap or volume cryptocurrencies, each sale of $50,000 led to a 2 to 10 percent drop in the market value of cryptocurrencies.

“A bit of wash trading and artificial volume inflation is to be expected in a thoroughly unregulated market. What I did not expect was the magnitude of the fraud,” said Ribes. “Many pairs, albeit boasting up to $5 million volumes, would cost you more than 10% in slippage, should you want to liquidate a mere $50k in assets,” he added.

Wash trading and price manipulation is common on major trading platforms with small cryptocurrencies or low-volume cryptocurrency pairs. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently warned investors against pump and dump schemes that are often seen in the cryptocurrency market.

“Fraudsters often try to use the lure of new and emerging technologies to convince potential victims to invest their money in scams. These frauds include ‘pump-and-dump’ and market manipulation schemes involving publicly traded companies that claim to provide exposure to these new technologies,” SEC’s statement read.

SEC’s Involvement

Earlier this month, the SEC requested cryptocurrency exchanges to either de-list ICO tokens or register with the agency in order to continue providing support for tokens. For US-based cryptocurrency exchanges like Bittrex, it is mandatory to register with the SEC before processing trades involving tokens.

Throughout next few months, many major exchanges will likely de-list or remove small cryptocurrencies that are prone to pump and dump schemes, and market manipulation.

Could Ripple, Bitcoin and Ethereum return to previous high?

CRYPTOCURRENCIES such as Bitcoin, Ripple and Ethereum are all in the green today after a turbulent start to the year. But could all three top tokens return to their previous record highs? Here are the latest price predictions.

Bitcoin had a good weekend after a poor start to 2018, dropping to under $6,000 at the start of February.

As of Marsh 17, CryptoCoinHubs  highlights a peak up to $8,150  at the time of writing.

Ethereum is up at $600  with Ripple  at $0,66. While LiteCoin , a Litecoin is currently worth $160

The rises come after a damaging month for cryptocurrencies as a whole. After peaking at about $834billion on January 7, the market plunged an eye-watering 66 percent, wiping out some $553billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

But with Bitcoin, Ripple and Ethereum all back in the green today, many crypto experts are confident that the market can reach new heights this year.

Could Ripple, Bitcoin and Ethereum return to previous high?

Thomas Glucksmann of GateCoin told CNBC: “Increasing regulatory recognition of cryptocurrency exchanges, the entrance of institutional capital and major technology developments will contribute to the market’s rebound and push cryptocurrency prices to all new highs this year.”

He added bitcoin, the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, could be “pushing $50,000 by December”.

Jamie Burke, CEO at Outlier Ventures, is bullish about the cryptocurrency market, insisting it has the potential to reach $1trillion.

He told CNBC: “We believe after February the market will likely go on a bull run comparative if not greater than last year potentially reaching the trillion-dollar mark before a proper crypto winter sets in where the market becomes more focused on proper market fundamentals.”

And Panos Mourdoukoutas, writing for Forbes, suggested that after “ being in a deep correction for a few weeks, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin have been coming back nicely over the last week, gaining 19.87%, 10.48%, 30.57%, and 53.90% respectively”.

He added the crypto turnaround after the recent crash comes as equity markets rebounded from the sell-off early in the month.

And he also wrote the cryptocurrency “technicals” remain strong, saying “83 cryptocurrencies [are] advancing and only 17 declining among the top 100 listed currencies.”

Dennis de Jong, managing director of UFX, says he believes cryptocurrencies remain strong and will not plummet for good in 2018.

He told Express.co.uk: “It may not capture the headlines like the volatility of bitcoin has in recent months, but there have been considerable advances in the underlying technology of the blockchain.

“Many industries are already live with, or in the process of testing, blockchain use cases that have potentially huge knock-ons for data management and security advancements.

“The relationship between crypto usage and investment in the space underpins bitcoin’s value to an extent, and for this reason I can’t see it going anywhere soon.”

But as central banks attempt to kickstart regulation – Citibank India being the latest financial authority this week to ban cryptocurrency payments on debit or credit card – some investors believe the market slump could be an indicator of an overall crash in all financial markets.

Bleakley Financial Group CIO Peter Boockvar said: “If bitcoin resumes its decline here, I think that equity investors should pay attention.”

Ripple Could Be The Next Bitcoin

Bitcoin has made some investors very rich. Those who purchased the digital currency back in the old days when it was trading for a few dollars. And it could make more investors rich provided that it continues to rise to new highs.

But that’s unlikely, as large percentage gains are hard to come by at these price levels—north of $10,000.

Coin Price* Market Cap
Bitcoin (BTC) $10,751.90 $181,767,449,663
Ethereum (ETH) $788.19 77,266,069,902
Ripple (XRP) $0.91 35,513,987,185
*As of Wednesday, 11 a.m.

Still, there’s Ripple, trading below a $1. And there are experts who believe that it could be the next Bitcoin, one day.

Craig Cole of CryptoMaps is one of those experts.”Ripple just might be the catalyst in making cryptocurrency more mainstream,” says Cole.

Its faster transaction speeds and lower fees make it easier for financial systems to embrace the virtual currency, which is partly why Ripple’s value has increased dramatically just this year. Ripple is helping financial institutions save money and it is only expected to become even more prevalent in payment flows. The virtual currency is certainly on the rise and has the potential to be the first token to truly disrupt an industry, and if it does, expect XRP to reach Bitcoin-like levels of ubiquity in the near future.

John-Paul McCaffrey, Associate Director ITRC, Long Island University, agrees. “Although currently there isn’t a platform to exchange fiat currency for Ripple (XRP) this may change sooner than you think,” says McCaffrey. “There is speculation that Coinbase will be adding this to their list of cryptocurrencies they have available for fiat exchange. Providing easy liquidity through Coinbase alone will attract new interest in XRP.”

That will take some time says Roman Guelfi-GibbsCEO, Lead Systems Designer for Pinnacle Brilliance Systems Inc.

Ripple certainly has the potential to move up a notch in 2018, but I think it will be more likely in 2019. As the market observes more projects being coded in other algorithms such as XRP, ETH will likely take a backseat to the next big coin/token. It will take some time for the markets to digest this, so I am projecting 2019 to be the likely time for it to take place. Of course, with crypto, anything can happen, so watch closely.

Not everyone is that enthusiastic about the prospects of Ripple catching up with Bitcoin. Like Shidan Gouran, president of Global Block Chain Technologies.

Ripple is unlikely to go up by one or two notches in the cryptocurrency world in 2018, and this is the case for three reasons. The first reason is the sheer dollar volume that separates each of the three currencies in the top positions, in terms of their market cap. Bitcoin is at over $191 billion, Ethereum is at over $84 billion, and Ripple is at over $35 billion. To displace Ethereum would require a deficit of about $49 billion to be closed (which is more than double Iceland’s entire national GDP). The second reason is that the use cases for Ripple are mostly for the trade of assets, not for day-to-day spending. As consumer awareness of cryptocurrencies will rise significantly in 2018 and beyond, the interest of the masses will be on cryptocurrencies that can be used as currencies, not just for investment transactions. Finally, the third reason is that because Ripple cannot be bought with fiat currencies, one must purchase existing cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum to purchase XRP. This goes on to feed demand for Bitcoin and Ethereum, and will only solidify their positions as the top two cryptocurrencies on the market.

Actually, the last point is no longer true. Recently, the French exchange bitit.io added Ripple and Litecoin to its coin offerings. This means that Ripple can now be purchased directly. At least that’s what the site claims, though I couldn’t verify how easy the process is and what are the relevant fees.

Still, Ripple investors have to wait for quite some time before they replicate the success of early Bitcoin investors, provided that it gains traction by users—and that big governments, big banks or hackers do not crush cryptocurrencies across the board.

[Ed. note: Investing in cryptocoins or tokens is highly speculative and the market is largely unregulated. Anyone considering it should be prepared to lose their entire investment. Disclosure: I don’t own any Bitcoin.]

CRYPTOCURRENCY : From Centralization to Decentralization

CRYPTOCURRENCY

From Centralization to Decentralization

The major drawback of the traditional fiat currency payment system is high transaction fees with a long settlement period, which has led people to alternative currencies that allow for shorter peer-to-peer (P2P) processing time without intermediaries, resulting in a thriving market for digital currencies that have lower settlement risk. Prior to the creation of cryptocurrencies, there were many other types of digital currencies. The most common example is a digital currency created by an institution and transacted on a platform. Such currencies can be loyalty points created by companies or digital coins created by Internet-based platforms. The institutions or legal entities control the creation, transaction, bookkeeping, and verification of the digital currencies. In other words, these platform-based digital currencies are centralized. A notable example is the loyalty points of e-commerce companies like Rakuten and iHerb, which function like cash on the platform. Q-coin, introduced by the Chinese social platform Tencent, can be bought using the Renminbi and can be used to buy services at Tencent. World of Warcraft Gold is a game token that can only be earned through completing in-game activities and cannot be bought or exchanged into fiat currencies .

These centralized digital currencies are transacted within a specific platform and are designed to support the business of the issuing institutions. It is difficult to use them as a substitute for fiat money because these centralized digital currencies are not legal tender. Therefore, decentralized digital currencies seem a potential replacement for fiat money as no central authority is needed to verify the transactions. However, there are still many obstacles to overcome without the use of an intermediary or central authority. One main obstacle is the double-spending problem: It is possible to spend the same digital coin more than once. This problem has remained unsolved for a long time, discouraging the prevalence of decentralized coins. To ensure every transaction is accurately reflected in the account balance for digital currencies to prevent double spending, there is a need for a trusted ledger without a central authority.

The first cryptocurrency, eCash, was a centralized system owned by DigiCash, Inc. and later eCash Technologies. Although it was phased out in the late 1990s, the cryptographic protocols it employed avoided double spending. A blind signature was used to protect the privacy of users and served as a good inspiration for subsequent development. Shortly after the discovery of cryptography protocols, digital gold currency became popular, among which the most used was e-Gold. It was the first successful online micropayment system and led to many innovations, making transactions more accessible and more secure. However, the failure to address compliance issues finally resulted in its liquidation in 2008, despite an annual transaction volume of over US$2 billion .

The global financial crisis in 2008, coupled with a lack of confidence in the financial system, provoked considerable interest in cryptocurrency. A ground-breaking white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto was circulated online in 2008. In the paper, this pseudonymous person, or persons, introduced a digital currency that is now widely known as bitcoin. Bitcoin uses blockchain as the public ledger for all transactions and a scheme called PoW to avoid the need for a trusted authority or central server to timestamp transactions . Because blockchain is an open and distributed ledger that records all transactions in a verifiable and permanent way, it solves the double-spending problem.

Bitcoin and “bitcoin”

The cryptocurrency, denoted by bitcoin or BTC, can be accepted as a payment for goods and services or bought either from other people or directly from exchanges/vending machines. These bitcoins can be transacted via software, apps, or various online platforms that provide wallets. Another way to obtain bitcoin is through mining.

The Bitcoin system runs on a P2P network, and transactions happen directly between users with no intermediary. Bitcoin decentralizes the responsibilities of verifying the validity of transactions to the entire network. Transactions are recorded in the public ledger called blockchain and are verified by network nodes, which could be any individual using a computer system with Bitcoin software installed. Once users have made a transfer, the transaction will be broadcast between users and confirmed by the network. Upon verification, it will be recorded in the blockchain, and then the transfer is completed. This record-keeping process is referred to as mining, and people offering the computing power to do so are called miners. Bitcoins are created as an incentive for solving the cryptography puzzle using transaction data; thus, successful miners are rewarded with the newly created bitcoins, on top of transaction fees.

Each transaction contains inputs and outputs. An input has the reference to the output from the previous transaction, and the output of a transaction holds the receiving address and the corresponding amount . In general, in a transaction, a certain number of bitcoins is sent from a bitcoin wallet to a specific address, if there is a sufficient bitcoin balance in the wallet from previous transactions. Transactions are not encrypted and can be viewed in the blockchain with corresponding bitcoin addresses, but the identity of the sender or receiver remains anonymous. Typically, bitcoin wallets have a private key or seed that is used to sign transactions. This secured piece of data provides a mathematical proof that the coins in the transaction come from the owner of the wallet. With the private key and the signature, the account can only be accessed by the owner, and transactions cannot be altered by someone else.

Mining is also the process of adding newly verified transaction records to Bitcoin’s public ledger. The records are grouped and stored in blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block so that the blocks are chained together, thus the name blockchain. The blocks are mined in sequence, and once recorded, the data cannot be altered retroactively. A complete record of transactions can be found on the main chain. Each block on the chain is linked to the previous one and can be traced all the way back to the very first block, which is called the genesis block. However, there are also blocks that are not part of the main chain, called detached or orphanedblocks. They can occur when more than one miner produces blocks at similar times, or they can be caused by attackers’ attempt to reverse transactions. When separate blocks are validated concurrently, the algorithm will help maintain the main chain by selecting the block with the highest value.

There are several systems by which miners can earn rewards through the mining process. Bitcoin uses the Hashcash PoW system and the SHA-256 hashing algorithm. Under the PoW system, rewards are given according to the number of blocks that are mined successfully. Therefore, mining is quite competitive; the miner who first solves a given puzzle or gets the highest value will take all the newly created bitcoins, and the other miners will receive nothing. Rewards thus encourage miners to take an active part in mining data blocks. In addition, mining usually involves a large amount of computation and can be quite energy consuming.

Another commonly seen system is proof-of-stake (PoS). Unlike PoW, no additional work is required under the PoS scheme because investors are rewarded based on the number of coins they hold. For example, a user holding 1% of the currency has a probability of mining 1% of that currency’s PoS blocks . In general, this system does not require a large amount of work for the computation. It provides for higher currency security and is usually used in combination with other systems, as in the case of Peercoin, the first cryptocurrency launched using PoS.

Because the supply of bitcoins is limited to 21 million, the bitcoins awarded to a miner for successfully adding a block will be halved every 210,000 blocks (approximately every four years), according to the Bitcoin protocol. When Bitcoin was first run in 2009, the reward amounted to 50 newly created bitcoins per block added to the blockchain, but the reward has been halved twice to 12.5 as of July 9, 2016. The supply of bitcoins on the network is 16.907 million as of March 6, 2018, with a total circulating supply market capitalization of US$ 159.1 billion.3

Features of Bitcoin

Decentralized. Similar to conventional currencies that are traded digitally, bitcoin can also be used to buy things electronically. Unlike any fiat money or platform-based digital currencies, however, bitcoin is decentralized. In other words, there is no single group or institution that controls the Bitcoin network. Its supply is governed by an algorithm, and anyone can have access to it via the Internet.

Flexible. Bitcoin wallets or addresses can be easily set up online without any fees or regulations. Furthermore, transactions are not location specific, so bitcoins can be transferred among different countries seamlessly.

Transparent. Every transaction will be broadcast to the entire network. Mining nodes or miners will validate the transactions, record them in the block they are creating, and broadcast the completed block to other nodes. Records of all transactions are stored in the blockchain, which is open and distributed, so every miner has a copy and can verify them.

Fast. Transactions are broadcast within a few seconds, and it takes about 10 minutes for the transaction to be verified by miners. Thus, one can transfer bitcoins anywhere in the world, and the transactions will usually be completed minutes later.

Low transaction fees. No transaction fee is required to make a transfer historically, but the owner can opt to pay extra to facilitate a faster transaction. Currently, low priority for mining transactions (a function of input age and size) is mostly used as an indicator for spam transactions, and almost all miners expect every transaction to include a fee. Miners historically have been incentivized mainly by newly created coins, but that is changing. As the number of bitcoins in circulation nears its limit, transaction fees will eventually be the incentive for miners to carry out the costly verification process.

Altcoin Market

Bitcoin is open source and the source code is available on GitHub.4 Therefore, coders around the world have been enlightened by the invention of Bitcoin and have created hundreds of cryptocurrencies, which are referred to as alternative cryptocurrencies, or altcoins. Bitcoin is not perfect. Every new purpose or pain point is an incentive to invent new coins. Coins are invented to address specific issues such as high computation cost of PoW, to increase the number of transactions per second, to increase the block size, to ensure that the ledger is not as transparent, to accommodate more efficient use of smart contracts, and so on. Moreover, to pay for development and launch expenses, developers can raise funds for the project even before the cryptocurrency is launched. In particular, initial coin offerings (ICOs), initial crypto-token offerings, and initial token sales are similar approaches to raising funding to develop new crypto-tokens and cryptocurrencies. ICOs allow people to invest in a project by buying part of its cryptocurrency tokens or prelaunched ERC20-compliant tokens residing on the Ethereum network in advance, typically based on a white paper or other documents on the project for investors to evaluate.

As of October 6, 2017, 869 cryptocurrencies and 269 crypto-tokens were launched and traded,5with a total market capitalization of over US$148.4 billion. Different from fiat money, cryptocurrencies have a circulating supply, total supply, and maximum supply. Maximum supply refers to the best approximation of the maximum amount of coins that will ever be created in the lifetime of the cryptocurrency, and total supply is the total number of coins existing at the present moment. However, some coins will have been burned, locked, or reserved or cannot be traded on the public market, so the circulating supply is computed by deducting those coins from the total supply. When determining the market capitalization, circulating supply is used because it denotes the amount of coins circulating in the market and accessible to the public.

Based on cryptocurrency market value as of June 27, 2017, Bitcoin dominated the market with more than half of the total market value and the highest price. Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin also have large market capitalizations of more than US$1 billion. In addition, the supply of different coins varies substantially due to the unique characteristics of each coin, and some coins are not mined, suggesting a fixed amount of supply. The price of the coins ranges from US$0.002 to well over US$1,000.

In general, some altcoins are very similar to bitcoins, whereas others are created by adopting very different methods or ideas. Market capitalization, different categories of altcoins, .

Appcoins, such as MaidSafeCoin, function like digital shares in a decentralized autonomous organization and are sold in token sales for a portion of future profits. Most altcoins are direct copies of Bitcoin, with some minor changes in parameters such as block-generating time and the maximum limit of coin supply. However, many altcoins have adopted other innovative changes. Among the widely accepted altcoins, Ethereum is the one with the most innovative ideas and widely followed besides Bitcoin. The value token of the Ethereum blockchain is called ether and denoted by XRP. It provides a decentralized Turing-complete virtual machine that features smart contract functionality, as do four other altcoins that have launched based on Ethereum: Ethereum Classic, Golem, Augur, and Gnosis. NEM falls under the third category in  (i.e., coins coded in a different programing language): It is operated using JAVA programming, as is Nxt. Stellar Lumens and Factom are excluded because they are based on Ripple and Bitcoin protocols, respectively.

To conclude, many cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin are traded actively with a wide assortment of features for investors to invest in. The complet coins list with over 1300 cryptocurrency , tokens and altcoins on https://cryptocoinhubs.com

INTRODUCTION OF CRYPTOCURRENCIES WORLD

Bitcoin (BTC)

Bitcoin was created in 2009 by an anonymous person,  under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. It has a maximum limit of 21 million, and  16,955,337   bitcoins are in circulation as of April 2018. It is widely accepted as the most popular cryptocurrency and has the largest market capitalization.

Ethereum (XRP)

Ethereum is an open-source, blockchain-based platform that runs Turing-complete smart contracts. The value token of the Ethereum blockchain is called ether. It was invented by Vitalik Buterin in 2013 and later developed using a fund, US$18 million worth of bitcoins, raised via an online public crowd sale of ether in 2014.

Litecoin (LTC)

Litecoin was released in October 2011 by Charles Lee, using a technology similar to Bitcoin. Compared to Bitcoin, the main differences are a block generation time that is decreased from 10 minutes to 2.5 minutes per block; a maximum limit of 84 million for Litecoin, which is four times as high as that of Bitcoin; and the adoption of a different hashing algorithm.

Dash (DASH)

Dash (formerly known as XCoin and Darkcoin) was initially proposed in January 2014 by Evan Duffield, who is also the lead developer. Dash has released the decentralized governance by blockchain system, and it is the first decentralized autonomous organization. It is a privacy-centric cryptocurrency. It uses a coin-mixing service called PrivateSend to anonymize transactions and InstantSend to allow for instant transactions.

Dogecoin (DOGE)

The two creators of Dogecoin, Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer, hoped to create a fun cryptocurrency that would appeal to more people. Hence, they used the Shiba Inu dog from the “Doge” Internet meme as the logo and created Dogecoin in 2013. There is no limit to the number of Dogecoins to be produced. Transactions of Dogecoins are made in online communities such as Reddit and Twitter.

Monero (XMR)

Monero (originally named BitMonero) is another open-source, privacy-centric altcoin created in 2014. It is a 100% PoW cryptocurrency. The privacy of transactions is protected by ring signatures (that hide the sending address), RingCT (that hides the amount of transactions), and stealth addresses (that hide the receiving address).

BitShares (BTS)

BitShares is an open-source public cryptocurrency platform that offers a variety of features and was invented by Daniel Larimer. It allows users to issue and trade stocks or debts on the distributed ledger.

MaidSafeCoin (MAID)

MaidSafeCoin is designed for the secure-access-for-everyone network. The data of users and transactions are safe and secure. The network encourages users to provide their resources, such as storage space, central processing unit power, and bandwidth, by giving them the coins as a digital token. The maximum number of MaidSafeCoins in circulation is 4.3 billion.

Nxt (NXT)

Nxt was released in 2013 by an anonymous software developer, BCNext. It is the first cryptocoin that uses purely PoS for consensus, thus making the money supply static—1 billion in the case of Nxt. The block generation rate is 1 minute per block. Despite the additional risks, the complex core infrastructure of Nxt makes it a flexible platform because it is easier to build external services on top. For example, it allows for currency creation and has a messaging system and marketplace.

Bytecoin (BCN)

Bytecoin is the first cryptocurrency invented with the CryptoNote protocol. It secures transactions because the identities of the sender and the receiver and the amount of transaction are all concealed. The number of Bytecoins is capped at 184.47 billion, and the block generation time is 120 seconds per block.

Other Cryptocurrencies

In addition to the aforementioned 10 cryptocurrencies, the following altcoins have also been drawing investor attention.

Ethereum Classic (ETC). Ethereum Classic is a continuation of Ethereum’s original blockchain, so it is also an open-source, blockchain-based platform that supports Turing-complete smart contract. It was created after the hard-fork debate in 2016 and is designed to allow smart contracts to run exactly as programmed without any possibility of third-party interference.

Factom (FCT). Launched in 2014, Factom is an open-source, distributed, and decentralized protocol built on top of Bitcoin. Instead of storing only financial transactions, Factom blockchain technology can record any type of data, making it an ideal platform for real-world business record-keeping systems.

NEM (XEM). NEM is a P2P platform that provides services like payment and messaging system. It uses a proof of importance algorithm, so it does not require much computing power and energy to mine. Together with Mijin, which is a licensed version of NEM, it is the first public/private blockchain combination.

Ripple (XRP). Ripple was created by Chris Larsen and Jed McCaleb. It is one of the first cryptocurrencies not developed based on Bitcoin’s protocol. It is an open-source, distributed P2P payment network, but it is centralized—managed by the company. Any currencies, including the ripple digital currency and ad hoc currencies that have been created by users, can be transferred on the payment system. The maximum number of ripple is 100 billion.

Zcash (ZEC). Launched in 2016, Zcash provides privacy and selective transparency of transactions. Although the transactions are recorded in the public blockchain, Zcash allows for completely transparent transactions using t-addresses, and it can also offer a greater level of privacy to its users using z-addresses. It adopts zero-knowledge cryptography to protect the sender, amount, and recipient of a transaction using a z-address. As with bitcoin, the total amount of Zcash is capped at 21 million

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