Cryptocurrency religions: Will altcoins survive?

Cryptocurrency religions: Will altcoins survive?

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Cryptocurrency religions: Will altcoins survive?
Bitcoin was the first and every other cryptocurrency came from it. Will Bitcoin survive? Will altcoins survive? This has been a heated debate with one side predicting the demise of the other. Bitcoin maximalists claim that we are heading to Bitcoin dominance and that altcoins are dying, urging the people to sell their positions in other crypto assets to put it all in Bitcoin. In a tweet last year, Charlie Lee wrote: “Some self-proclaimed Bitcoin Maximalists, are actually Bitcoin Extremists. They think all other coins are scams and will go to zero. Maximalists think Bitcoin is and will remain the dominant cryptocurrency, but there is room for altcoins to exist and even do well. What are you?” Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become a belief system. Faith in the value and power of cryptocurrencies is good. But just like different religions, every cryptocurrency is on its own path to the truth. On January 2019, Roger Ver, posted: Coinism is the new nationalism. pic.twitter.com/v4RP2swRre — Roger Ver (@rogerkver) January 5, 2019 Like Orthodoxy in some religions, people tend to become extreme and intolerant to any other faith and deviation from the original. In the cryptocurrency world, these people are called “maximalists”. A maximalist is a person that has extreme views and is not prepared to compromise. In his tweet Ver, a Bitcoin Cash evangelist, posted a picture of two identical sides, where “ours” has only good attributes, and “theirs” is shit. Bitcoin’s dominance is unquestionable, its market cap is 8 times bigger from Ethereum, the second cryptocurrency. Yet, there’s not one truth in the path to enlightenment. The fact is that as blockchain and cryptocurrency technology develops, we’re going to see many alternatives. As different cryptocurrencies make technology choices and trade-offs, trying to solve problems, we will see different coins occupy different niche markets. Even at the top it’s it’s going to be crowded, with at least two or three competitors in every application you can imagine. We’re not going to end up with one system that does everything. That doesn’t make sense with this technology. When you look at the evolution of cryptocurrencies, initially we had one, Bitcoin. Since we’ve seen the appearance of hundreds of coins, now thousands and in the future we will even see tens of thousands. The growth of new blockchains and tokens, doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In the last decade a thousand coins died, while close to 3,000 are still in existence. Number of cryptocurrencies You can expect to see more failures and initiatives come and go, just like we saw in the 90s dotcom market.  But this is great from a technology perspective, because it only contributes to the evolution of the industry. Keep in mind that just because there are many alternatives, it doesn’t mean that every coin listed on Coinmarketcap.com is worth looking at or even buying. In the crypto market there are no barriers that would stop someone from building something different or allow someone to build a monopoly. That’s one of the great aspects of this market, its openness. The competition to create the best cryptocurrency has sparked an evolution that led to forks, birthing new cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin Gold, to name a few. The idea that an environment of multiple competing cryptocurrencies is undesirable, is just wrong. While Bitcoin has clearly outperformed most cryptocurrencies, to expect that this will always be the case strikes me as stupid. Cryptocurrencies keep on increasing because of our desire for constant improvement. Having several thousand cryptocurrencies isn’t a bad thing. Each represents a solution to a different problem. While many are still ahead of their time, as technologies and communities mature, they will begin to disrupt industries like never before. IOTA, which uses a blockchain-like variation, is working to connect IoT devices. Using this network, your car will be able to interact with sensors and devices all around the city you live in. The “Ethereum Virtual Machine” (EVM) is capable of running smart contracts that represent financial agreements, employment contracts, and act as trusted escrow for the purchase of high value items. Even if some coins don’t stand the test of time, they will surely influence the direction of cryptocurrencies to come. We love some and hate others. Freedom offers choices and this is what cryptocurrency is all about. Image Source Subscribe by email to join the other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research) The post Cryptocurrency religions: Will altcoins survive? appeared first on Daily Fintech.
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The Digital Wallets of the Future: Money and Identity

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The Digital Wallets of the Future: Money and Identity
Cryptocurrency wallets have been closely linked to other transactional services. A digital wallet refers to an electronic device or online service that allows someone to make electronic transactions. Usually they are bundled with other services, like exchanges (Coinbase, Binance), physical devices (Trezor, Ledger), or other services (Casa). What if cryptocurrency wallets weren’t just about storing digital assets, but were about identity, serving as a single passport to both the physical and digital world? Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com. In the cryptocurrency world, wallets act as a gateway to access a service. A crypto wallet, unlike a physical wallet, a custodial or exchange wallet, or bank account, doesn’t control currency. It moves money between two parties, similar to services like Paypal.   Cryptocurrency wallets let people connect to services to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. They also act a way to store the user’s cryptographic private key, needed to perform these transactions. In essence, your cryptocurrency wallet holds the private keys to your assets sitting on a blockchain and lets you transact by “signing” orders. Crypto wallets have become very popular in recent years. Over 36 million crypto wallets have been created since 2012.   Also a study from Juniper Research found that the number of people using digital wallets will increase from 2.3 billion to nearly 4 billion, or 50% of the world’s population, by 2024. This in turn will push wallet transaction values up by more than 80% to more than $9 trillion per annum. Usually, when users signup to use a cryptocurrency wallet, they validate their identities, before being able to transact. If you live in the US, you were most likely asked to provide your social security number and license or equivalent if you’re outside the US. Depending on other factors, the cryptocurrency wallet provider may have also ask for more information in alignment with KYC regulation. The world’s economy is built by institutions that collect our data, such as banks, telecoms, insurance companies, brokers, drug companies, governments, online services and others. Every year, hackers steal billions of dollars worth of data. Our data, not just the data we give voluntarily but also data collected as we interact with the services we use, is harvested and processed by few huge centralized companies and organizations. Our data is trapped inside accounts on services and apps. Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon Microsoft,, LinkedIn, Experian, and Visa, all exist collect and monetize our data. The need to decentralized our data is an absolute necessity. As we move from accounts to wallets, we will be able to manage our data, just like we manage Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital assets, being able to switch between vendors easily and freely. Wallets will evolve beyond the simple function of buying and selling digital assets. Our wallets will become our primary identity authentication platform, that will contain everything we carry in our physical wallets and more. A wallet in the physical world contains multiple pieces of your identity. Imagine your passport, drivers license, medical card, and other types of IDs being replaced by a single digital wallet on your phone. A driver’s license can is used to prove your ability to drive, to buy alcoholic drinks or accessing identity-specific services like opening a new bank account. Most of us have debit cards that allow us to access funds from our bank accounts and use them wherever we want to buy things, with our pin that validates our identity to merchants. Our wallets will be able to store everything related to our identities along with cryptocurrencies and tokenized assets (stocks, bonds, etc). Since crypto wallets already validate our identity, they could act as a third party references of our identity for others. One of the biggest pain points is that every we sign up for a service we need to verify our identities, uploading passports or other documents. It’s not far-fetched to think that companies might be willing to accept a trusted wallet verification, instead of conducting their own independent checks. The internet was not built to transfer value. It was built to transfer information which didn’t need as much security, as value does. Today, blockchain technology allows us to store and keep our data and assets in our own secure wallets, with absolute control over how and when they’re used. Being in full control of your own identity and assets in a decentralized way makes a lot of sense. The future wallet will be an interface to protocols and services, and will represent our professional financial status, and personal identity. Wallets will change from something we use sometimes, when we want to buy and sell things, to something we use all the time. Our digital wallets will become the single most important place, where we store everything, from our money, to our identity. Image Source Subscribe by email to join the other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research) The post The Digital Wallets of the Future: Money and Identity appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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This Week in Fintech 7th February 2020

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From ICOs to STOs and IEOs. What is next in the evolution of crypto fundraising?

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From ICOs to STOs and IEOs. What is next in the evolution of crypto fundraising?
Funding is a prerequisite for any new crypto project or startup. At the dawn of the new decade, we’ve seen a decline in token sales as source of funding. Where is the capital for crypto projects going to come from? Will traditional investment vehicles, like venture capital become more significant or will we see another evolution in crypto fundraising? Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com. In 2017, ICOs were the most popular cryptocurrency trend. During that year 875 projects sold $6 billion worth of their tokens. In 2018, 1253 ICOs raised $7.8 billion, but 2019 was a completely different story. In 2019, we saw the introduction of the IEO. In total, token generation events during 2019 raised $3.2 billion (ICOs raised less than $370 million). But very few IEOs last year were able to raise a decent amount capital and only on selected exchanges. The drop can all be attributed to lack of regulatory oversight, a large number of exit scams, failed projects and delayed developments, severely damaging investor sentiment around token sales. While the price of Bitcoin bounced back after the first quarter of 2019, the fate for most of the other coins, like Ethereum, EOS and Tron, was not the same. The introduction of IEOs provided an extra layer of trust and security, when compared to ICOs. An IEO is very similar to an ICO. Investors receive tokens at a discounted price, in exchange for investment. IEOs are conducted on cryptocurrency exchanges, that claim to perform strict due diligence checks, to filter out any bad actors and protect their users. At a first glance IEO figures are impressive. The launch of BitTorrent on Binance in January ended in 15 minutes with over $17 million worth of tokens sold. But only a small number of IEOs have been able to get this kind of activity. IEOs have their own share of problems and many are still skeptical. For the most part, IEOs were more secure than the conventional ICOs. While the IEO experiment showed that ICOs can be rebranded, it also showed that some of the inherent flaws couldn’t be evaded. As smaller exchanges, with more lax requirements, launched their own IEO launchpads, once again fraudulent token sales appeared With declining ICOs and IEOs, blockchain startups are looking for other ways to raise money. Even when ICOs were red hot, there was venture capital investment in crypto companies. Companies like Coinbase and Circle raised money from VCs. In 2018, VCs invested around $3 billion in crypto and blockchain-related startups, around 40% of what was raised by ICOs. In 2019, venture capital investment took a step back. By the middle of 2019, VC funding in cryptocurrency startups accounted for USD 822 million. Security Token Offerings (STOs) have emerged as an alternative. While launching an STO is a complicated process, in 2019 they gained more traction and capital, with 64 STOs, collectively raising almost $1 billion. STOs were born out of the need to raise money in a more regulated way, while keeping the flexibility that tokenized assets offer. Only a few platforms are licensed to host STOs, but a huge surge in interest has led many to seek licenses. Because of this, 2020 will likely bring a new wave of STOs, though these will mostly only be offered to accredited investors, while a regulatory framework evolves. We are also seeing another trend, the Initial DEX offering (IDO). Very similar to IEOs, IDOs are conducted on decentralized exchanges, instead of centralized exchanges used IEOs. Last year, Raven Protocol (RAVEN) conducted an IDO on Binance’s DEX. But for now decentralized exchanges still need to mature in terms of users and volume. For example, Binance’s DEX has a daily trading volume that is under $2 million. When ICOs first came out, I thought they were revolutionary. The IEO model fixed some of the flaws that plagued ICOs and gave developers an effective and faster way to get to market. Even though IEOs started early last year with some fireworks, they did not completely resolve the trust issues, so the investor enthusiasm quickly fizzled out. To make investors feel comfortable again, we need more than ease and accessibility, that ICOs and IEOs offer. We also need to offer IPO-grade regulation and compliance. But most startups are not able to do that. So what’s the middle ground? Well, maybe the solution is STOs, tokenized securities that comply with regulations. But for now STOs are still a hard route, that lacks liquidity and regulatory clarity. Image Source Subscribe by email to join the other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research) The post From ICOs to STOs and IEOs. What is next in the evolution of crypto fundraising? appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Ethereum Strikes Back

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Ethereum Strikes Back
Decentralized finance (DeFi) has literally exploded this year. 2020 is set to be even bigger. DeFi offers a unique way to earn interest on digital assets without a middleman taking a cut. Decentralized finance is evolving and Ethereum based DeFi is at the forefront. While several other smart contract platforms have been taking pot shots at Ethereum’s lead, none of Ethereum’s would be killers have been able to gain significant traction this year. When we look at the Ethereum ecosystem, 2019 was a year of continued growth and innovation.  Looking at the numbers: 80m+: Total Ethereum accounts 4 million: New active Ethereum addresses 4.7 million: Ether issued his year from block rewards. 8,516: Live Ethereum nodes 520: New decentralized applications in 2019 If you’ve have followed Ethereum’s narrative in 2019, you have likely noticed the growth of the Decentralized Finance ecosystem. DeFi brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in value into the Ethereum ecosystem. The first killer app for Ethereum was ICOs and raising money for cryptocurrency projects. The ICO was a revolutionary shift in fund raising, which drove a massive bull market. The ICO craze in 2017 raised billions of dollars, peaking in January 2018, and launched the programmable money race and the crypto app ecosystem, we have today. DeFi is Ethereum’s second killer app. In 2019, the DeFi was the most impactful trend in the crypto ecosystem. I expect that will continue to be the story in 2020, as DeFi could be worth $5 billion this year. The traditional banking system on the verge of collapse, interest rates are negative and people that save are penalized for putting money aside. The story use to be that when you would give your money to the bank, to keep it safe, the bank would lend it to others and charge them interest on the money they borrowed and in turn the bank would pay you interest for using your money, minus the cost of running the bank account. Well, DeFi lets people earn interest again, this time from their crypto assets. DeFi is an umbrella concept describing financial services built on top of public blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum. DeFi runs on trustless protocols, without the need for financial intermediaries. It lets individuals and businesses borrow, lend, trade, invest, exchange, hedge, and store crypto assets. DeFi includes things like Maker which is both a stablecoin and a collateralized lending system. Today, just about all DeFi projects are built on Ethereum, making it the gold standard for dApps. DeFi accounts for a substantial share of Ethereum’s ecosystem, with applications like: Lending: Dharma Lever, Compound, Celsius Network. Margin Trading: dYdX, Nuo Derivatives: dYdX, MARKET Protocol Tokenization: Abacus, Centrifuge, Harbor Insurance: CDx Prediction markets: Augur   Today most of these projects aren’t making money. For example MetaMask processes thousands of transactions every day, but doesn’t have a way to monetize. The way to measure DeFi’s growth is by the Ether (ETH) that’s locked in smart contracts. Currently it’s worth over $680 million (around 2.5 million ETH), with MakerDAO dominating across the major apps. This year several contenders have tried to unthrone Ethereum, like Waves, Cardano, EOS and Tron, but Ethereum’s, network effects and abundance of developers (Ethereum has 4x more developers than any other crypto ecosystem), make it very difficult for other smart contract platforms to sway away DeFi apps. What about Bitcoin, can DeFi be replicated on Bitcoin? DApps are possible on Bitcoin, but coding them is much more complicated, than on Ethereum. So far, Bitcoin’s most successful DeFi application is the Lightning Network. In 2019, the Lightning Network had impressive growth, with more than 6,000 active users and $6.2 million locked in the network. Other Bitcoin dApps are decentralized exchanges like Bisq or Sparkswap. Ethereum is growing and getting stronger. Network activity is up, development is on track, and DeFi is hitting record figures. The only thing not so positive, is Ethereum’s  price. You would expect the price to follow suit as DeFi has been growing and it probably will in 2020. With Ethereum becoming a programmable store of value, it’s well on track to find the niche that will fuel the next bull run. Because the last bull run was based on ICO speculation, some had written off Ethereum based finance. DeFi could provide a tangible value and an opportunity to build financial infrastructure that is open to everybody, and starts to change how we interact with markets. This is nothing to take lightly and I am excited to watch this growth and the applications that will develop in the coming months and years. Image Source Subscribe by email to join the other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research) The post Ethereum Strikes Back appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Why London could become the Bitcoin capital of the world

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Why London could become the Bitcoin capital of the world
Editor’s Note: this is the 8th post on Daily Fintech, written in 2014 – before all the political craziness of Brexit To give our authors a break over the holidays, we are re-posting from our archive of over 1,000 articles. Rather than pick favourites we elected to simply repost the first 8 articles (as that was over 5 years ago you may have missed them; we were pretty unknown then).  As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! Fresh insights will be coming from our knowledge bakery tomorrow. This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. First, my bias. I am a Brit. When I left the UK in 1990, the start up scene was dismal, new ideas were greeted with skepticism and the status quo was glorified. It is a great pleasure to see that point of view so totally reversed now. There is a vibrancy, optimism and big ambition change-the-world thinking that is “oh dear, so Unbritish”. The UK tech scene has had false starts before. 8 years ago I was writing about how innovation was going global and yet Silicon Valley still dominates to an extent that I did not envisage when I wrote this post on ReadWrite in 2007. I think this story about London as a leading global Fintech/Bitcoin center has legs for 3 reasons: Critical mass of techies and rich people. Paul Graham of Y Combinator fame famously said that all you need for an innovation center is (i paraphrase) techies and rich people. There is one caveat. The rich people must have made their money from the domain you are asking them to invest in. If the rich person made their money in property or manufacturing, a digital startup just looks ridiculous. London has plenty of people who made their money in Finance. They know that even the most venerable institutions are “data centers with fancy lobbies”, so a new tech powered innovation is not too big a stretch for them. A light regulatory touch. Compare what the Cameron government is proposing vs what the New York State Department of Financial Services has proposed. It is clearly a fine line to walk. It is counterproductive if a center becomes a haven for scamsters and consumers to lose a lot of money. Bitcoin is a global phenomenon and many Bitcoin startups have global teams who can decide where they want to be based and regulation (along with talent and capital) is key to that decision. Regulation to protect consumers is good. Regulation to protect incumbents from competition is bad. New York has a lot of incumbents that certainly want protection; if they succeed in getting it, London will have a playing field tilted in their favor. Talent with the right mix of domain expertise and deep tech. Fintech needs both. Deep tech expertise can be found in any location with good Computer Science colleges. Fintech startups need those engineers in the same room with people who understand the nuances of things like credit rating, derivatives, exchanges, asset management and so on. The devil is in the details that sit at the intersection of both deep tech and. domain expertise. I see three “straws in the wind” to indicate that this is happening now: MeetUp attendance for hot new Bitcoin 2.0 platforms such as Ethereum. These could be huge or they could be flashes in the pan. What matters is how the techies are voting with their time. London is doing well on that score. The VC funding for Bitcoin startups. The numbers from Coinbase show Europe ahead of Asia in Q2 ($30.9 vs $20.8). This is still a long, long way from the $186m for America and I would like to see the regional numbers (e.g NY vs Valley and London vs Berlin) but I suspect that London is far ahead of any other European center. The Valley will always score on access to big Funds. What matters is London vs New York i.e two centers with deep Financial Services domain skills and networks. Big Silicon Valley Funds such as Accel see the trend lines and are setting up in London or strengthening their operations. This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole   As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! The post Why London could become the Bitcoin capital of the world appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Bitcoin VC Funding is now over 30% of Fintech and catching up fast

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Bitcoin VC Funding is now over 30% of Fintech and catching up fast
Editor’s Note: this is the 7th post on Daily Fintech, written in 2014 – to close out 2019. Happy New Year to our Western readers To give our authors a break over the holidays, we are re-posting from our archive of over 1,000 articles. Rather than pick favourites we elected to simply repost the first 8 articles (as that was over 5 years ago you may have missed them; we were pretty unknown then).  As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. Actually this understates it, but more on that later. First the basics. I looked at data from Coindesk on Bitcoin VC funding and data from CB Insights on Fintech. The Coindesk data is for Q2 and the CB Insights data is for 2013, so I multiplied the Coindesk data by 4 to get an annual run rate of $960m vs total Fintech over $3,000m. Thus the 30% headline number. This understates the Bitcoin number. Where would we record the pre-mining that funds a lot of Bitcoin 2.0 start-ups? However the bigger story is around momentum. Bitcoin startups only started to get serious money in the last 12-18 months. As some of these like Coinbase and Bitpay get real traction, this will pull in more funding. More importantly, the Bitcoin 2.0 platforms such as Ethereum, Maidsafe and Counterparty are getting funded through pre-mining and they are platforms to attack Fintech markets well beyond what we narrowly think of as Bitcoin today. My guess is that if did the same analysis in Q4 of 2014, the Bitcoin run rate would be closer to 50% of total Fintech. Some time during 2015, this analysis will no longer be useful as most Fintech startups will use Blockchain technology in some way. By 2016, it will be like saying “we use the cloud”. This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! The post Bitcoin VC Funding is now over 30% of Fintech and catching up fast appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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What will trigger Wall Street Adoption of Bitcoin?

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What will trigger Wall Street Adoption of Bitcoin?
Editor’s Note: this is the 6th post on Daily Fintech, written in 2014 – well before the ICO wild days of 2017. To give our authors a break over the holidays, we are re-posting from our archive of over 1,000 articles. Rather than pick favourites we elected to simply repost the first 8 articles (as that was over 5 years ago you may have missed them; we were pretty unknown then).  As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. Bitcoin is: 1. A payment network 2. A currency 3. A store of value. So far I have focused on 1 & 2. In this post, I am focused on 3. Call it a currency or call it a commodity (as the IRS does), the store of value question is simply “will I get a better risk-adjusted total return than other alternatives?” Let’s parse that question for Bitcoin: “Total return”. This means capital appreciation PLUS Interest (Bonds) and Dividends (Equity). You receive no Interest or Dividends if you hold Bitcoin. Indeed the cost of Cold Storage makes it a cost to own Bitcoin. “risk-adjusted”. Bitcoin is more like Gold, which also pays no Interest or Dividend and you pay to store it in a vault. Gold has thousands of years of price history, Bitcoin about 5. It is inconceivable that Gold value will decline to zero. It is possible that Bitcoin will decline to zero; unlikely but possible. It is inconceivable to forecast a 10x or 100x return for Gold but one can paint many scenarios in which the price of Bitcoin will be 10x more than it is today (which makes it a 100x return for early speculators and miners). So, you might lose everything or you might get a 10x or 100x return. Does that sound familiar? Or course it does, this is like investing in tech startups. If this is like investing in startups, what stage is the deal? Is this Seed or Series A or B or C or is it IPO stage? I don’t think it is Seed stage. That was investing in Bitcoin in 2010. Today it is more like a Series A deal. You probably won’t lose everything at a Series A stage (a lot of the risk has been taken out by the time a venture gets to Series A). So the upside is also more constrained. Some ventures do get a 100x return from Series A valuation but 10x is a more reasonable expectation. It is easy to paint the scenario in which Bitcoin declines to zero. Merchant adoption stalls and a better cyber currency emerges to replace Bitcoin. To paint the 10x or more picture, we have to imagine things like: People in a significant sized economy with a failing currency (think Argentina, more than Zimbabwe which is too small an economy to make a difference) decide to use Bitcoin rather than US$. This sounds plausible enough until you try to imagine the actual scene where the black market guys exchange tourist dollars for Bitcoins and then the tourist offers Bitcoins to the vendor. Rich people worried about taxation, store their money offshore in Bitcoin rather than in US$. Again this sounds plausible, except for one inconvenient fact, which is that this is viewed as money laundering in most jurisdictions i.e. illegal. If somebody does this illegally, they won’t want to keep it in Bitcoin, they will want to turn it back to Fiat and get Interest and Dividends. Gold bugs become Bitcoin hoarders. Despite a libertarian bent to both communities, I see this as unlikely. Gold bugs love the fact that it is physical and has thousands of years of history. If any of the above scenarios pans out, fast money such as Hedge Funds and retail currency speculators will pile into Bitcoin and then there will be “meltup” in price. That will lead to more hoarding and so more price rises. What I find hard to see is what sort of investor will feel drawn to this type of risk/return. If you like 10x or 100X upside with the possibility of 100% loss, you will be drawn to investing in startups. If Bitcoin succeeds as a payment network, it won’t have much impact on the price, it will just be an enabler for lower cost payments. For bitcoin to succeed as a currency it needs to become boring and non-volatile, floating up a down compared to Fiat currencies like USD floats up and down compared to EUR. Speculators will find something else to play with. For Wall Street to get really comfortable with investing in bitcoin, they will want an ability to short bitcoin. That of course will help to stabilize the price and ensure that it is less volatile, which will make it less attractive to speculators. Of course, the reality is that Wall Street does not need to get comfortable with investing in Bitcoin, they just need others to get comfortable. If Wall Street firms can earn fees and commissions from selling Bitcoin, they will do so and many will become rich from doing this even if investors actually lose money (“where are the customer’s yachts?”). These periods of irrational investing last longer than a rational person might expect, but they do eventually implode. Personally, I prefer the risk/reward of tech startups and I think that Bitcoin the payment network and bitcoin the currency is fundamentally at odds with the volatility that speculators love. If Bitcoin does become a viable currency, it can be traded just like any other currency and will have similar levels of volatility, which still leaves plenty of room for intra day trading to make money. This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! The post What will trigger Wall Street Adoption of Bitcoin? appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Bitcoin transaction volume through merchants is the single most important metric in the Bitcoin economy

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Bitcoin transaction volume through merchants is the single most important metric in the Bitcoin economy
Editor’s Note: this is the 5th post on Daily Fintech, written in 2014 – sadly not much progress on this front in 5 years. To give our authors a break over the holidays, we are re-posting from our archive of over 1,000 articles. Rather than pick favourites we elected to simply repost the first 8 articles (as that was over 5 years ago you may have missed them; we were pretty unknown then).  As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today!   The future of Bitcoin as an alternative currency is tied to one simple metric – merchant acceptance and the velocity of money through those merchants.   Bitcoin has potential as a) a payment network, b) a store of value that you can invest/speculate in and c) a currency. This article is only about bitcoin as a currency.   Like others before me, I have become more positive about the future of bitcoin the more that I learn about it. A few months ago I would have leaned to the view that Bitcoin the payment network had a great future but that bitcoin the currency would be a footnote in history. Today I am more positive, because the trend lines and motivations around merchant acceptance are positive.   If mainstream merchants accept bitcoin, it will thrive. If not, anybody owning bitcoin will need to first transfer bitcoin into Fiat currency and the regulatory off ramp problem will kill it as an alternative currency. Without mainstream merchant acceptance, bitcoin the currency will live on only in the shadow economy and become a footnote in history. Forget the headlines about bitcoin price fluctuations or the latest VC deal; these are “noise on the line” compared to merchant acceptance.   We have been through two phases of merchant acceptance and we may be about to start the third phase (phases overlap i.e. one does not have to end before another one begins):   Phase 1. Illegal online transactions, made famous by Silk Road. This got some media attention and confirms the old saying that, “there is no such thing as bad press”.   Phase 2. Attracting rich Bitcorati for legal products. This is the phase we are in today. The merchant logic here is very simple. If a rich person wants to pay me in some unusual currency, I am motivated to accept that currency. Enough people got rich speculating in bitcoin or mining bitcoin in the early days for this to be a real niche market. These Bitcorati are bitcoin enthusiasts, so if they see two objects they desire equally and one says “we accept bitcoin” then that rich Bitcorati will choose the merchant who accepts bitcoin. This is fundamentally different from phase 1 because a) it is legal and b) we will start to see merchant success stories akin to the merchants who were early adopters on the Internet.   The enabler for phase 2 is the elimination of the volatility problem. The same volatility that is a boon for speculators is a showstopper issue for merchants. There is no value in getting rid of those hated 2-3% Credit Card fees if the bitcoin price moves more than that before you can use it to pay your suppliers and live your life.   The two leaders in processing Bitcoin for merchants are Coinbase and Bitpay. At time of writing both claim 35,000 merchants. Both have raised a lot of money from top tier investors. Their pitch to merchants is that accepting Bitcoin is as easy as accepting a credit card – with lower fees. Coinbase’s pitch to merchants for example:   “When a sale is made, you can instantly sell the bitcoin received to Coinbase to avoid exposure to bitcoin volatility.”   A leader in merchant adoption could be the first VC backed Bitcoin success, analogous to the Netscape moment. An IPO would give the venture mainstream visibility and kick-start the next wave of Bitcoin innovation, funding and adoption. It’s a pity that the bar is so much higher for an IPO than it was 20 years ago, but that is another story.   The tipping point is simple. It comes when merchants switch from asking, “why should I bother accepting bitcoin?” to, “is there any good reason not to accept bitcoin?” When that happens and consumers see the bitcoin symbol on more merchants checkout (online or offline) they will be more interested in paying by bitcoin.   2014 has been a good year so far for merchant adoption with the following big e-commerce players announcing that they are accepting Bitcoin – Overstock, Dell, DISH, TigerDirect and Newegg. Overstock was the bridge from Phase 1 to Phase 2. Patrick Byrne, the founder CEO of Overstock is known as a critic of the establishment while running a large mainstream business.   We have to move beyond the Bitcorati to get to the tipping point. Somebody who has not got Bitcoins from mining or speculating early in the game has to be motivated to buy using bitcoin instead of a credit card. I have been talking to some small merchants to ask them what might trigger them to accept bitcoin. These are merchants who do not have an obvious Bitcorati customer base; some may do so and the merchant won’t know until they try which speaks to the “is there any good reason not to accept bitcoin?” story. Most had been totally put off Bitcoin due to the volatility issue and the story that the volatility problem has been fixed has not yet reached them.   However in their busy lives, there still has to be a good reason to take the time and trouble to accept bitcoin. One story that made these merchants think about accepting bitcoin came up a couple of times and this could become Phase 3 of bitcoin merchant adoption:   Phase 3. Micro-multinationals who want to accept international customers. Big businesses have already got doing business globally nailed. Small businesses don’t have very good solutions that are a) easy to implement b) inexpensive. Getting international payments via credit cards is easy but expensive; you pay a lot for the currency transfer back to your home currency. You could accept payment in foreign currencies but that gets complex. First, you have to decide which foreign currencies to offer and Murphy’s Law says that the one currency that you omitted is the one that your ideal customer wants to use (an American merchant may enable EUR and GBP and miss the Swiss customer who really wanted that high margin upmarket product as long as she can pay in CHF). Then you will have the hassle of getting your bank to accept multiple deposits in foreign currencies and when they do that you will find that you lose a lot when your bank converts it back to your home currency.   Doing this via bitcoin won’t be simple, but at least Bitcoin will be solving a real problem for merchants. Nobody has sized the micro-multinational market, but anecdotally it is large and tools such as VOIP now make it more natural to transact across borders, so this is likely to increase. This Phase is important because it will get more consumers (who have not mined or speculated) to use bitcoin. Lets say a consumer wants to buy something online that is priced in a foreign currency. If consumers see a simple calculator that tells them how much cheaper it is to pay via bitcoin than their credit card or debit card and it looked as easy as using their credit or debit card, consumers may give it a go. Phase 4. When Bitcoin becomes universal, just another option alongside cash and the usual Credit Cards in main street shops and e-commerce sites. To look at how could Bitcoin to cross the chasm from early adopters (Bitcorati and Micro-multinationals) to a universal payment option, we need to move into some spec [...]
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The real value of Bitcoin is in the P2P stack

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The real value of Bitcoin is in the P2P stack
Editor’s Note: this is the 4th post on Daily Fintech, written in 2014 – well before the ICO wild days of 2017. To give our authors a break over the holidays, we are re-posting from our archive of over 1,000 articles. Rather than pick favourites we elected to simply  repost the first 8 articles (as that was over 5 years ago you may have missed them; we were pretty unknown then).  As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! This is one of a series called Explorations down the BItcoin rabbit hole. Will developers use Ripple, Ethereum, Maidsafe or Open Transactions or some combination to build the killer apps of the Bitcoin era? As I started down the road to understanding Bitcoin, one of the most confusing things was distinguishing between a payment network (“Bitcoin” upper case) and a currency unit (“bitcoin” lower case). That is now the first thing I explain to people who ask me about bitcoin. It is lower case bitcoin – the currency – that has the media attention. It is simple enough to understand; it could be like gold or tulips or a reserve currency that replaces the US$ for international trade. It could be a currency or a commodity. Whatever it turns out to be (probably none of the above because the future always surprises) everybody understands the concept of a currency or a commodity. It is possible that lower case bitcoin – the currency – may not change the world. For the bear case, read Felix Salmon’s post and for the bull case read Ben Horowitz’s rebuttal annotated to his post. They set up a bet: Five years from now, in January, 2019, we’ll poll a representative sample of Americans. If 10 percent or more say they have used Bitcoin to buy something in the past month, Ben wins. If it’s fewer than 10 percent, Felix wins. Even if bitcoin the currency becomes a footnote in history, it is possible that Bitcoin the payment network based on Blockchain technology may change the world. This is what has VCs excited. A new payment network could not only disrupt the global financial services business (for good or bad depending on your point of view). It could also return the Internet to its roots as a decentralized P2P system (aka “re-decentralization”). A decade from now, centralized cloud servers may be seen as a footnote in the history of the Internet. For this to happen, we will need to see platforms that make it really simple for developers to create applications that reside on the unused cycles of all of our machines in order to deliver value to us in the way that Skype or Bit Torrent does. The emerging P2P Blockchain technology stack This got me exploring technologies that are sometimes tagged Crypto 2.0 or Bitcoin 2.0, such as Ripple, Ethereum, Maidsafe and Open Transactions. I prefer to think of them as an emerging Bitcoin stack (capital B, used for more than bitcoin the currency). If Bitcoin is as revolutionary as many believe, this stack will be at least as important as the Wintel stack that ushered in the modern digital age. Before diving into these platforms and the sometimes-heated debates between the adherents, it is worth reading the original Satoshi White Paper. He envisaged: “a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network” “Double-spending” is the problem created by the fact that anything digital can be copied (for almost no cost). Many ventures have used this perfect copy machine capability; it’s great for communications and media. However, for anything involving financial assets, this is a problem; if I own this asset, you do not own it. If you can simply copy the record that says that I own it, then I regard that as stealing. As anybody involved in cybersecurity will tell you, anything digital that is connected to the Internet can be copied i.e. stolen. Satoshi’s solution was to have a cryptographically verified record of each transaction stored on every computer in a P2P network, which he called the “Blockchain”. The Blockchain is fully distributed; it sits on every machine in the network. That is how the double-spending problem is solved and trust is enabled. You can “see” all the transactions. The “mining” concept is simply a way to financially motivate people to use their compute cycles to verify transactions. Many consumers have a strange image of peer-to-peer networks. They either see something illegal and piratical like Napster or they use something every day like Skype without realizing that it is peer-to-peer. That is probably the way that the Internet will return to its peer-to-peer roots; consumers will trust the Cloud and the Cloud will move from centralized servers to peer-to-peer networks. What is a seamless transition for consumers – the same product but just cheaper – will be a revolutionary change in the IT industry. Bitcoin and the Blockchain will play a key role in this as people start to grasp the strange notion that it is trustworthy precisely because it is peer to peer. This goes against all our 20th century faith in centralized institutions. Who will be the Red Hat of the Blockchain era? Any platform will have to be open source. Thus the question is who will be the Red Hat of the Blockchain era? Nobody wants “one Blockchain to rule them all”. Nobody wants to see this critical layer of the new financial services stack dominated by one company. Yet the logic of peer to peer will tend towards network effects and a winner takes all market (just like it did in the Wintel, Google and Facebook eras). Consumers will have to trust something enough to accept a download of code that will have control over their machine; this is a scary proposition and a level of trust that people won’t give to many companies. So the prize at this platform layer is huge. Building Internet scale decentralized P2P systems is technically really, really hard. Ask the guys who built Skype. Building a payment system is far harder than a VOIP system because the risk of loss is so much higher. Some noise on the line that forces you to ask your buddy to repeat something is OK and a small price to pay for getting something free; losing some money through a technical glitch is not OK. It is a hard technical problem because you have to deploy to millions of machines of varying power and type that are only intermittently connected to the Internet and deliver a service that is as fast and reliable as the centralized server based competition. This is not something that your average Ruby on Rails or Javascript developer can do. Yet, for the Internet to return to its roots as a decentralized P2P system, we will need the platforms and tools that make it as easy to build and deploy to a decentralized P2P network as it is to build and deploy to AWS or the machine in your closet. To understand this emerging stack, I started by interviewed people from two decentralized development platforms that use Blockchain concepts: Ethereum and Maidsafe. Warning, bleeding edge alert, these platforms are not yet ready for live applications; despite this they have many developers spending time on them because the prize, if they can deliver on the promise, is very big. First, I wanted to know if Ethereum and Maidsafe are competitors. It’s an obvious question that is being asked in Google searches and Bitcoin related forums, because they are both positioned as Blockchain related tools. Ethereum pitches itself as a full stack platform with a “logic layer” and a “storage layer”. However, as the Ethereum storage layer is based on Bit Torrent, Ethereum see their core competency in the logic layer and so the [...]
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The Bitcoin off-ramp regulatory problem.

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The Bitcoin off-ramp regulatory problem.
Editor’s Note: this is the 3rd post on Daily Fintech, written in 2014. How things have NOT changed! To give our authors a break over the holidays, we are re-posting from our archive of over 1,000 articles. Rather than pick favourites we elected to simply  repost the first 8 articles (as that was over 5 years ago you may have missed them; we were pretty unknown then).  As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! Will the Bitcoin off-ramp regulatory problem limit it to transactions within national borders? Technically, converting Fiat to Bitcoin (on-ramp) and converting Bitcoin to Fiat (off-ramp) is easy. This is an Exchange function and the Internet is perfect for setting up Exchanges. So, the problem is almost entirely a regulatory problem. I don’t think there is an on-ramp problem. Regulators want to protect consumers against scams and frauds; they want to make sure that your grandmother does not buy fake Bitcoins. However it is hard to argue that one should prohibit the purchase of any commodity. The American tax authority, IRS, has declared that Bitcoin should be treated like a commodity. You can buy gold or wheat or tulips, so you can buy Bitcoin. Bitcoin is of course different from all other commodities, because Bitcoin is a digital commodity that can be transferred as easily as an email or any other digital file. Which leads us to the off-ramp, converting Bitcoin to Fiat. There are legitimate reasons for regulators to control the off-ramp. This is far too easy for money launderers and other bad actors to abuse. Libertarians can rant against this, but entrepreneurs and investors are wise to treat it as a fact of life. Betting against regulatory control of the off-ramp is a huge speculative risk. Regulators tend to be happy with a digital currency that only works within the borders of the nation state that they control. There are many of these already such as M-Pesa and and Dwolla. Google has their own currency which you can send as an email attachment – within the US only. So, regulators will be comfortable with the idea that you can buy Bitcoins in US$ for example and then convert those Bitcoins back to US$. This will be a way for traders/investors to buy Bitcoins in the hope that the price will go up and then sell them for a profit – just like any other commodity. Regulators are more keen to stop cross border transactions. That is hard for regulators because digital bits don’t stop at borders and present their passport. That is why regulators seek to control the off ramp. It is possible to imagine a fully regulated global money transfer business that allows you, for example: 1. Buy Bitcoins with US$ 2. Send those Bitcoins to the UK. 3. Convert the Bitcoins into UK £ This hypothetical fully regulated global money transfer business would have to go through all the usual KYC (Know Your Customer) checks that regulators have put in place to prevent money laundering and other illegal activity. In that case it cannot offer free exchange and existing money transfer businesses will be able to do exactly the same thing. Consumers who want to change currency only care about a) price and b) speed/convenience. If adding Bitcoins as an intermediate step makes it cheaper and quicker to change currency then this will happen. However, given a regulator/KYC level playing field, it is unclear how adding Bitcoin as an intermediate step makes the transaction cheaper/easier. This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago. We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today! The post The Bitcoin off-ramp regulatory problem. appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Five Crypto Predictions for 2020

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Five Crypto Predictions for 2020
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house Not a trader was trading, not even a mouse; The stocking were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that Saint Nicholas and Trezor were there; Investors were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of Bitcoins danced in their heads; The sell orders were posted on exchanges with care, In hopes that a Bull Rally soon would be there; More rapid than lightning, the rallies they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name; “Now Bitcoin! Now Litecoin! Now Ether and Ripple! If Monero can double, then you can triple; The mining rigs hummed in the cellar with clatter, In hopes that new bitcoins would soon be there; From Papa John’s pizza all the way to the moon, You all will be riding the rocket ship soon; I heard him exclaim as he checked coin market cap, Merry Crypto to all and HODL for now! Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com This year, 2019 was a decent ride picking up steam after the first quarter, while 2020 doesn’t seem ready to slow down or put on the brakes. Instead 2020, might be a breakaway year, especially after the halving in May. Who would of guessed that Libra’s wheels would come off? That Wyoming would be the only US state with friendly regulations for digital assets and digital-banking? That Bitcoin would have triple-digit gains since December 2018, when the market bottomed out? That cyberattackers compromised the Binance and made off with $41 million in Bitcoin? That Wall Street moved in with J.P. Morgan rolling out their own coin? That China went from a complete ban of cryptocurrencies to a highly publicized all in attitude on the blockchain? That crypto index funds and ETFs, among other things, would show us that with crypto, wealth building is for everybody? Nevertheless, 2020 is swiftly approaching and it’s time to start the crypto predictions. #1 Libra: Will go live, but with limited functionality Governments worldwide work overtime to regulate the rapid emergence of cryptocurrencies and companies in the industry. Facebook has faced enormous hurdles from regulators across the globe, for Libra. It’s not even certain whether the project will be launched at all, if regulators are fully in line with it. But iteration is part of Facebook’s core fabric. Nine years ago Zuckerberg said at a press conference, “We’re trying to be innovative and iterative with our development”. I think this will be how they approach the regulatory problems. An iterative approach can result in ever-closer approximations of a solution, as accuracy improves with each step. Most likely, Libra will go live in one jurisdiction and with very limited scope, partners and functionality, as Facebook iterates everything. #2 Digital yuan to be followed by digital euro and dollar While in recent years, China has moved to regulate the cryptocurrency industry, it has been avid supported of blockchain and has been developing its own digital currency, that it will launch in 2020. There has been a consensus among central banks that they need to control money. Mark Carney of the Bank of England, was probably the first leading central banker to talk about the importance for the West to embrace crypto and digitally-enabled money. Christine Lagarde, the ECB chief and former Managing Director of the IMF, thinks a digital euro is a good thing for the EU. It is very likely that Steve Mnuchin, US secretary of the treasury, will announce the digital dollar in 2020, continuing his past narrative about tracking cryptocurrencies. #3 Developing nations will embrace Bitcoin While the big global economies are working on the their own versions of fiat backed cryptocurrencies, there are three billion people around the world that don’t trust in their government issued money. Across developing nations in South America and Africa (Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Zimbabwe etc) , we’ve seen rapid adoption for Bitcoin. I expect that across many developing nations in the world, people will want to have a form of digital money that they can rely on. #4 Stablecoin heaven The stablecoin trend will continue. While stablecoins are still in the discovery stage, they have become the holy grail, with dozens of projects trying to develop a digital currency with low-volatility, that can withstand speculative attacks and debasement. In 2019, the stablecoin market cap grew from $3.3 to $5 billion. In 2020, the stablecoin market will exceed $20 billion, as we see the launch of Libra and a few others and multi-collateral DAI, accepting BTC and other assets as collateral. #5 The Lightning Network will do great things The existence of the Lightning Network on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, already enables cheap, private and instant transactions and payments. The current number of nodes are 10,861 and the number of channels is at 35,000, with the network capacity at 859 BTC (or $6.5 million). In December 2019, Bitfinex announced that their exchange would support Lightning Network transactions. Now even Airbnb allows customers to book stays using the Lightning Network via the Fold App. In 2020, we will see an increased number of applications like the Breez app, created on the Lightning Network. The new year, we will see crypto and blockchain move from away from something that’s trying to disrupt the old, into mainstream and becoming a bigger part of daily lives. With China’s digital currency set to be rolled out in 2020, digital money will come to the front and center stage. As global governments embark on a new moon race, to launch their own cryptocurrencies, mainstream adoption is set to accelerate. Subscribe by email to join the other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research) The post Five Crypto Predictions for 2020 appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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