Cryptocurrency – Looking Forward from May 2017

Cryptocurrency – Looking Forward from May 2017

Cryptocurrency – Looking Forward from May 2017

For cryptocurrency enthusiasts, developers and investors, the first half of 2017 has been nothing but exciting. Very few people would have predicted the trends that we are now seeing today: a vibrant and rapidly growing altcoin market, massive all time highs for both Bitcoin and Ethereum and an initial coin offering (ICO) crowdfunding mechanism that is creating enormous investor hype.

Among all of this noise are a number of very interesting developments. These developments could indicate what’s to come in the second half of 2017, and this article aims to summarize events so far and what may be to come. Whatever your role in the cryptocurrency space, this piece should serve as some inspiration as to where to look next.
 

RIPPLE – BITCOIN FOR BANKS

The popularity of Bitcoin’s blockchain stems from its ability to circumvent banks and allow users to engage in peer to peer transactions without authority; creating an enormous array of applications for Bitcoin gambling and dark net markets, as well as limitless “white hat” models. This ideology is more powerful than ever today, but the introduction of Ripple in 2013 has demonstrated that banks themselves can be revolutionized by overhauling their systems to use blockchain-based payments.

Ripple is unlike most other cryptocurrencies, in that it operates on a private or “consortium” blockchain, whereby the nodes (transaction verifiers) are controlled by trusted financial institutions that have been vetted to join the network – on the contrary, anyone in the world is free to join and use the Bitcoin network. The Ripple tokens (XRP) power international transactions on the network, whether that’s fiat to fiat, crypto to crypto or a mix of the two – with currency exchange conversions happening on the fly. Ripple allows banks to reduce global (and domestic) payment times from days and weeks down to seconds, with layers of transparency that are unprecedented in the traditional banking sector.

Despite being a private blockchain, anyone in the world is able to purchase XRP, and with a fixed supply of 100bn, scarcity may play an important role in the future price of XRP. This scarcity has also been compounded by the founding team of Ripple agreeing to verifiably “lock up” well over half of that total supply – adding some predictability to the XRP price. This lock up time is possibly planned for extension, which – combined with the listing of XRP on major exchanges like Bitstamp, and Ripple’s partnership with Japan’s largest bank – has led to a meteoric rise in the value of XRP from $0.01 to $0.18 in a matter of weeks.

Over the past several months, it has become apparent that large financial institutions are leaning towards consortium based blockchains as opposed to the public ones offered by Bitcoin – although Ethereum may buck that trend as discussed below.
 

ETHEREUM – EEA AND DEVELOPMENT ROADMAP

Ethereum was the first blockchain to successfully convince investors that altcoins had a viable place in what was largely considered a Bitcoin-only ecosystem. Popular due to its built-in smart contract protocol, Ethereum is able to run computations that can transact value without middlemen. As a result, the project has led to the formation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) which connects dozens of businesses and academics who are rapidly researching and developing smart contract technology.

While a number of the projects being worked on are private forks of Ethereum – such as JP Morgan’s Quorum protocol – the interoperability with the main Ethereum chain, as well as the lessons being learned (and shared among EEA members and the open source community), is having profound effects on Ethereum as a whole.

The EEA is just one offshoot of Ethereum that has attracted enormous investment, however there are other developments which have led to a recent upsurge in the price of Ether, from $10 to roughly $90 at the time of writing.

ETHEREUM NAME SERVICE

In May 2017, the Ethereum Foundation (EF) launched the Ethereum Name Service (ENS). This protocol is analogous to the separate Domain Name Service (DNS), which ties domain names to i.p. addresses – making them more readable to human users. In a similar way, the ENS will tie long and unreadable smart contract or personal wallet addresses to a memorable “name” such as mywallet.eth. These names are currently at auction, and there has so far been $7m worth of bids, with exchange.eth receiving a massive $600,000 bid. Note that this is a proxy bid, meaning the winner would only ever pay a trivial amount more than the next highest bidder.

REDUCING MINER REWARD

A poll taking place on carbonvote.com has indicated that an overwhelming 99.73% are in agreement with a move to reduce the miner reward from 5 ETH per block to 2 ETH (with blocks continuing to be mined at roughly 15 second intervals). The motivation behind such a change is to reduce uncertainty about the future total ETH token supply, helping to drop ETH inflation from 13% to a figure that is more inline with Bitcoin’s 4% inflation.

PROOF OF STAKE

Proof of Stake (PoS) is an alternative consensus protocol to the Proof of Work (PoW) mechanism that was made famous by Bitcoin’s blockchain. In order to secure a blockchain, miners must be rewarded by processing valid transactions, and ignoring invalid transactions. In a PoW system, a miner must expend enormous amounts of energy (with a significant cost in doing so) to process a “block” of transactions and to earn their reward. PoW protocols are enormously inefficient, with huge energy requirements that are not inline with modern day environmental considerations.

Proof of Stake serves as an alternative consensus protocol that achieves similar levels of security, but requires “miners” (called validators) to stake value in the form of cryptocurrency – expending little to no energy at all. If the validator tries to game the system for their own advantage, they lose all of their staked value. Validators that act honestly are rewarded by receiving what is analogous to interest payments.

Ethereum plans to move from their PoW structure to a PoS one, and this move is pegged for the end of 2017/start of 2018. Such a change in protocol would lock enormous amounts of Ether in staking contracts, removing said Ether from the ecosystem and reducing circulating supply.

 

BITCOIN – SEGREGATED WITNESS AND THE LITECOIN TEST BED

Bitcoin has been unswayed by the incredible rise in altcoin market caps over the past 6 months and remains one of the best performing cryptocurrencies in the market. Having matured beyond the “pump and dump” phase, the currency has now established itself as the gateway into the world of crypto. Bitcoin is, in its current form, the ultimate store of value and medium for exchange when dealing with other currencies. All of this is despite major concerns over the currency’s ability to scale. Transaction fees have increased several fold, and the mempool (unconfirmed transactions) has seen enormous growth – leading to delays of several hours or even days.

Thankfully, Bitcoin’s little cousin – Litecoin – has played a vital role in abating fear amongst Bitcoin investors. Litecoin, whose market cap is a fraction of Bitcoin’s, has acted as a test bed for introducing Segregated Witness (SegWit) – a code change to help mitigate some of the scaling problems mentioned above. Litecoin’s activation of SegWit has given developers, users and miners renewed confidence in what this code change can do for Bitcoin, providing a “light at the end of the tunnel” on a 3 year long debate.
 

WHERE DO CRYPTOCURRENCIES GO FROM HERE?

Many early adopters have hailed blockchain technology as “the internet 2.0”. In past years, a number of key figures in the industry analogized the current state of blockchain to that of email in the 1990s, suggesting that what we see today is a fraction of what can be achieved with the protocol in the years ahead. That analogy, which was (and still is) heavily criticized by skeptics, is now becoming too obvious to ignore.

Rather than blockchains competing with one another, we are seeing interoperability take hold, and growth is practically ubiquitous amongst all majro cryptocurrencies. Smart contract technology is destined to have an enormous impact on a broad range of markets in the years to come, and the impact that blockchain-based banking will have on global economics is undeniable.

It is likely that cryptocurrencies will continue to grow at an unprecedented rate until, in the same analogous way to the Internet, we experience a gigantic bubble. At what point the bubble bursts is an unknown, however – sticking with the analogy – it wasn’t until the Internet reached a value well into the trillions that the market crashed. Compare this figure with that of the blockchain market which is worth no more than $100bn and it seems that we may still be some way off. Despite what seems like an inevitable bubble, the very long-term outlook for blockchain users, investors and developers could not be brighter.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

Author: Mark

 

David

How Ripple is Targeting an Entirely Different Market to Bitcoin

How Ripple is Targeting an Entirely Different Market to Bitcoin

Bitcoin was introduced in 2009 as an alternative network to the global financial system monopolized by centralized institutions and strictly regulated financial service providers. By providing a peer to peer protocol wherein users can send and receive transactions with the absence of intermediaries, Bitcoin essentially became the first decentralized financial platform.

Replicating or being inspired by Bitcoin’s structure, alternative cryptocurrencies or altcoins emerged. One of the most successful cryptocurrencies that has maintained its market cap and client base over a relatively long period of time is Ripple. It consistently has ranked in the top three altcoin, falling behind Bitcoin and Ethereum. Ripple’s vision was to provide a more efficient infrastructure for the centralized institutions and the conventional finance industry.

Ripple is significantly different to Bitcoin philosophically and structurally. If bitcoin is described as a decentralized peer to peer network developed to operate as an alternative financial network to that of the existing global financial system, Ripple can be explained as a protocol structured to serve and enhance the existing global financial system. It has partnered with leading banks and major financial institutions to settle cross-border and cross-bank transactions transparently, with strong security measures in real time.

The current global financial system operates on top of an outdated and inefficient IT infrastructure and system. For a transaction to become fully verified and settled, it could take days to weeks with a substantial fee, usually in the range of $30 to $50 per transaction. Often times, transactions initiated by banks through an international financial network such as SWIFT get lost within the system, requiring manual confirmation and a period of weeks for the transaction to be recovered and settled.

Essentially, Ripple utilizes blockchain technology and the concept of digital tokens to simplify global banking. Major banks and financial institutions are in agreement with Ripple’s vision and strategy and have adopted Ripple’s system. Most recently, CryptoCoinsNews reported that Spanish banking giant BBVA began to utilize Ripple blockchain for Spain-Mexico money transfers.

“This pioneer initiative is a clear demonstration of how payment processes can be vastly improved through the implementation of emerging technologies. These improvements will benefit our clients’ transnationality,” head of digital transformation in investment banking at BBVA stated.

However, an ambiguous component of Ripple’s services is the necessity of intermediaries. In an email, Ripple representative told CryptoCoinsNews that Ripple executives believe “bank’s aren’t going away” and that “bitcoin is getting it wrong.” Yet, by growth, bitcoin has evidently appealed to a wider range of users, businesses and investors as it is valued at $23.7 billion at the time of reporting. Ripple’s market cap is below 10 percent of bitcoin’s.

`An intermediary such as BBVA utilizing the Ripple network for a customer can be understood as an intermediary using another intermediary to process transactions. Thus, in the long run, one of the two intermediaries could be rendered ineffective. Either users will solely rely on the Ripple network and utilize XRP to make transactions with each other or banks will develop their own blockchain network similar to SWIFT and simply discard its partnership with Ripple.

The issue with banks developing their independent blockchain networks is the necessity of cooperation and collaboration. Hence, by relying on an existing blockchain network structured to serve financial institutions, banks can cut development costs.
 

Three advantages Ripple offers to its banks is speed, certainty and cost. By utilizing a decentralized blockchain in Ripple, banks can potentially see a reduction of billions of dollars in operating costs. Whether banks will remain with Ripple and work on the development of a cross-bank network or form their own blockchain network like JP Morgan is still difficult to speculate.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

Source: CryptoCoinNews

David

Top 10 Alternatives to Bitcoin

top 10 alteratives to Bitcoin

Top 10 Altenatives to Bitcoin

Blockchain currency is revolutionizing money. Since Satoshi Nakamoto unveiled his cryptocurrency in 2008, we’ve witnessed a proliferation of digital cash companies and codebases. Utilizing his public, distributed ledger, dozens of promising currencies have emerged. Only a select few have proven themselves as true contenders to Bitcoin, however.

Here are the top 10 altcoins on CoinMarketCap (note that the list is changing constantly, especially in the tail part, with other altcoins like MaidSafeCoin, Golem and Augur playing musical chairs with others):

ETHEREUM

J.P Morgan Chase, Microsoft and Intel allied in order to create the fiercest rival to Bitcoin in circulation today: Ethereum. The main purpose of the endeavor was to program binding agreements into the Blockchain itself. This incarnated into the now-popular smart contract feature.

Interestingly, Ethereum is not just a currency. It’s a Blockchain platform powered by the Ether cryptocurrency. The New York Times describes the technology as “a single shared computer that is run by the network of users and on which resources are parceled out and paid for by Ether.”

RIPPLE

Ripple attracted a great deal of venture capital during its inception. The Google-backed altcoin startup managed to pull in upwards of $50 mln from banking institutions, gathering an impressive $90 mln in total funding. Ripple is unique in that it allows for transacting with any unit of value, from fiat currency to frequent flier miles.

“Ripple provides global financial settlement solutions to enable the world to exchange value like it already exchanges information giving rise to an Internet of Value (IoV). Ripple solutions lower the total cost of settlement by enabling banks to transact directly, instantly and with certainty of settlement,” reads the company’s copy on their official website.

Initially a middling contender, Ripple has gained momentum in the cryptocurrency market, seeing a marked surge earlier this year. In fact, Ripple experienced a 100 percent increase in value within a 24-hour period in late March.

LITECOIN

Former Google engineer Charles Lee created this altcoin in an effort to improve upon Bitcoin. Namely, the speed to generate a new block is improved dramatically. Transactions are much faster. By the same token, however, this speed makes Litecoin’s Blockchain larger and more prone to producing orphaned blocks.

DASH

Dash, a combination of the words “digital” and “cash,” is the Internet’s cash-in-hand. Dash is quick. Its transactions are instant. “Your time is valuable. InstantSend payments confirm in less than a second,” Dash claims. By comparison, Bitcoin’s transactions can take up to an hour to process.

GPU/CPU mining is no longer cost effective. In order to mine, you’ll need specific hardware, computers known as ASICs to complete Dash’s proof-of-work puzzles.

NEM

NEM is written in Java; built on an entirely new codebase separate and apart from Bitcoin’s open-source code. There are a few other intriguing differences from Bitcoin as well. In NEM, you harvest rather than mine. It’s essentially the same as mining in Bitcoin, only that multiple people profit – albeit in much smaller quantities – from a generated block.

NEM introduced the proof-of-importance algorithm to the digital ledger. A user’s wealth and number of transactions are used to timestamp transactions.

NEM has seen rapid growth in its valuation since the beginning of 2017 as the altcoin is currently being embraced in Japan.

ETHEREUM CLASSIC

A parallel Ethereum platform exists and sustains a sizeable usership with a market cap hovering just below $430 mln.

Why do two versions of the same platform exist?

The Ethereum community fractured when a disagreement over how a technically legal theft of funds should be handled. The majority of users wished to change Ethereum’s code in order to get the lost funds back. A minority believed that Ethereum should not be tampered with or altered by third parties. Even in cases of users exploiting the smart contract feature to trick others, the Blockchain must remain “immutable.” Thus, the minority created the Classic version of Ethereum, which still survives and thrives.

MONERO

Monero is geared toward those who desire greater anonymity. The cryptocurrency allows you to “send and receive funds without your transactions being publically visible on the Blockchain.” Transactions are completely untraceable due to Monero’s leveraging of ring signatures. Unfortunately, because of Monero’s emphasis on privacy, it has seen adoption by the darknet and other criminal organizations.

ZCASH

Zcash, like Monero, offers greater privacy to users. Unlike Monero, transactions are shielded rather than made completely private. Meaning, the details of the transaction itself, such as the users involved and the amount traded, are hidden. Zcash does this by using a “zero-knowledge” proof that allows for parties to exchange funds without revealing each other’s identity.

DECRED

Decred’s primary aim is to focus on “community input, open governance and sustainable funding and development.” The currency melds proof-of-work and proof-of-stake mining algorithms to ensure a minority of users do not own the majority of the funds and that decisions are led by the community rather than a handful of developers or early investors.

PIVX

PIVX stands for Private Instant Verified Transactions. Another open-source decentralized Blockchain currency, it is built upon Bitcoin Core. Like Zcash and Monero, PIVX boasts its heightened privacy and security.

“We believe that you have the right to exchange privately and securely, without interference from corporatocracy pressures, governmental influences, prying eyes, and nefarious individuals and movements,” PIVX contends.

PIVX is highly volatile, experiencing massive spikes in trading volume and valuation as of March of this year. Again, because of the currency’s emphasis on privacy, PIVX is susceptible to criminal activities.

Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and the altcoins it has spawned, may bring about a new global economy. They allow us to transact in a peer-to-peer fashion, without third-party bodies governing us. Bitcoin introduced the Blockchain, but other developers are quickly improving upon Nakamoto’s idea. Some currencies have focused on speed, as is the case with both Ripple and Litecoin. Others have honed in on privacy, currencies like Zcash going so far as making all transactions private and untraceable. Each altcoin comes with its own strengths and weakness. Surely, we’ll discover more as time goes on. For now, these 10 currencies are at the top. Their fate could turn, however, at a flip of a coin.

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

Source: cointelegraph.com

David

Poloniex-Traders-Panic-and-Suffer-Losses-Due-to-System-issues

Poloniex-Traders-Panic-and-Suffer-Losses-Due-to-System-issues

Poloniex – Traders Panic and Suffer Losses Due to System issues

Plenty of cryptocurrency traders are not too amused with Poloniex right now. The popular altcoin exchange suffered from several brief outages yesterday. During the panic, the Ripple price crashed hard and Ethereum lost US$1bn in market cap. It is unclear what occurred exactly, but we do know traders lost a lot of money in the process. It is unclear what will happen to the people who lost money, though.

Trading cryptocurrencies is always a risky business. Money can be earned and lost in a matter of mere seconds. However, if a popular exchange goes down and traders can’t execute orders, something is definitely amiss. Poloniex had a lot of issues last night after Ripple reached a new all-time high. Shortly after this happened, the platform became unresponsive.

Poloniex Suffers From Brief Outages Once Again

It was not just the web frontend suffering from these problems. The Poloniex API, used in tools such as TabTrader, became unresponsive as well. The company acknowledged the outage and trading resumed back to normal relatively quickly. However, a lot of users have suffered from spotty accessibility for several hours. During that time, trading just continued as normal, allowing some people to take advantage of the situation.

To be more specific, Ethereum lost close to US$1bn of its market cap during the trading frenzy. Events like these should not occur in the first place. Moreover, some people feel Poloniex should have halted all trading until the platform was operational again. This goes to show the platform cannot handle increased trading volume for an extended period of time. That is quite disconcerting, to say the least, given Poloniex’s position in the market.

One thing is certain: a lot of people have lost faith in Poloniex for the time being. One Reddit user even calls it an ‘organized scam crime website”, although that may be a too strong sentiment. It is true this is not the first time the exchange suffers from such outages, though. If these problems continue, Poloniex will quickly lose its market position. After all, the company has to provide exchange services around the clock, yet appears incapable of doing so.

It is unclear how much money people lost due to these issues, though. Ethereum’s market crashing and the unexpected Ripple dump raise a lot more questions than answers right now. Poloniex has some explaining to do, albeit it is safe to assume no one will be reimbursed for their losses. Centralized exchanges continue to pose a problem for traders. No exchange is always reliable or accessible, that much is certain.

Many years ago I suffered a significant loss when fiat currency trading, when I loss Internet access to my trading site at a crucial time. These outages underline the importance of setting stop losses.

David Ogden
Entrepeneur

 

Author JP Buntinx

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

David