Crypto Billionaires Among China’s Wealthiest

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There is no question that the entire cryptocurrency sector is in a bear market, with many cryptocurrencies losing over 50% of their value.  However, this certainly hasn’t prevented individuals from becoming very wealthy through cryptocurrency-related ventures.

Specifically, despite the decrease in market capitalization of various cryptocurrencies, several Chinese businessmen have landed onto a list of China’s wealthiest individuals thanks to companies associated with cryptocurrency.

Notable Figures

The Hurun report is released annually, and 13 cryptocurrency-related businessmen have made the list, which includes individuals with at least a net worth of 2 billion yuan, or $289 million USD.

The highest entry belongs to Micree Zhan Ketuan, the founder of Bitmain Technologies, and the only cryptocurrency-related businessman to penetrate the list of the 100 wealthiest people in China, with an estimated net worth of 29.5 billion yuan.  This is not surprising, considering Bitmain – the largest bitcoin mining company in the world – is on track to reach $10 billion in revenue by the end of this year, and is valued at over $10 billion already.  Another high entry belongs to the other co-founder of the same company, Bitmain, Wu Jihan, who comes in at #204, with an estimated worth of 16.5 billion yuan.

China has been known to dominate the bitcoin mining sector.  In fact, Bitmain, and its two main competitors, Canaan Creative and Ebang International Holdings, have all applied to go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX).  Nine of the thirteen entries on the Hurun report come from these three companies alone.

China Crackdown

This is even more interesting considering the fact that China has been cracking down on the cryptocurrency sector in general.  The Chinese Central Bank has repeatedly warned bitcoin exchanges about their activity, and went on to ban initial coin offerings, which led to the iconic cryptocurrency exchange BTCC closing, which many in the cryptocurrency community felt was a symbolic end to an era where China seemed to tolerate cryptocurrency – and that the tides were shifting.

Ironically, it was this crackdown that actually helped Binance, the world’s largest exchange by daily volume, adapt and expand to countries such as Japan and Singapore, rather than keep China as headquarters.  Zhao Chenpeng, 41, also makes the list, at #230, with an impressive 15 billion yuan.

It is clear that despite the crackdowns on cryptocurrency in China, and the volatility of the markets – the leaders in the cryptocurrency market have certainly been able to accrue substantial wealth in 2018.

Star Xu, the founder of exchange services provider OKCoin and the world’s second-largest crypto exchange OKEx, has allegedly been detained in China in relation to suspected digital currency fraud, local news outlet Sina News reports September 11.

According to the news outlet, Xu is currently being held in the Shanghai Weifang Xincun police station, and will be released within 24 hours if insufficient evidence is found of his participation in suspected fraud.

Tech news sources ZeroHedge reports that investors in WFEE Coin — a company where Xu is a shareholder — complained to the police about the company’s allegedly fraudulent practices, prompting the police to bring Xu in for questioning.

As ZeroHedge writes, WFEE issued tokens and sold them through their website. As a WFEE shareholder, Xu can be held responsible for any kind of fraud related to the company.

However, the investigation has seemingly shown that Xu’s company in Shanghai is not related to issuing the WFEE Coin, ZeroHedge notes, adding that it makes “little sense” for them to defraud investors through a Beijing subsidiary.

The news of Xu’s detentions comes shortly after OKEx volumes significantly surged this summer.  OKEx posted a new record in July 2018 with $5.7 billion in volume, as compared to June’s $2.9 billion.

After the news of Xu’s alleged detention broke today, CoinMarketCap data showed that OKEx saw an almost 3 percent drop in trading volume over a 24 hour period, having traded around $714 million on the day.

China’s anti-crypto onslaught continues, as a prohibition against commercial venues from hosting crypto-related events has been extended to Guangzhou Development District, local media outlet Jiemian reports August 29.

Guangzhou Development District is a special economic zone in southern China, close to Hong Kong. The district’s Financial Development Bureau reportedly issued a notice of the new ban August 24, warning of the need to “maintain the security and stability of the financial system.”

As reported last week, the move follows an almost identical ban first imposed upon venues in Beijing’s Chaoyang district in mid-August.

China’s has this month redoubled its efforts to crackdown on the domestic crypto space. A spate of fresh measures have targeted communication channels and other “loopholes” through which Chinese investors can gain exposure to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and crypto trading.

On August 21, the 1-billion-user social media platform WeChat permanently blocked a number of high-profile crypto and blockchain-related accounts that were accused of publishing crypto “hype” in violation of regulations introduced earlier this month. WeChat operator Tencent subsequently issued a statement announcing a ban on crypto trading, with other tech giants also following Beijing’s draconian lead.

China’s ‘Google,’ Baidu, has closed at least two popular crypto-related chat forums, with a notice reportedly informing users that the move comes “in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and policies.”

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba – whose subsidiary Ant Financial runs the popular internet payment app Alipay – has now clarified that it will restrict or permanently ban any accounts it finds to be engaged in crypto trading. On August 24, Alipay had first targeted those accounts using its network to transact in Bitcoin (BTC) over-the-counter (OTC) trades.

On August 24, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) issued its own risk alert against “illegal” ICOs, warning that blockchain and the idea of “financial innovation” are being used to lure investors as a “gimmick” that conceals essentially fraudulent Ponzi schemes.

New measures are also reportedly underway to bolster the “clean-up” of third-party crypto payment channels, including those used for OTC trade. This January, Beijing banned fringe platforms including peer-to-peer (P2P) and OTC resources, tightening a blanket embargo on crypto-to-fiat trading and ICOs in place since September 2017.

Chinese tech giant Baidu has joined Tencent and Alibaba in imposing new anti-crypto measures in line with Beijing’s toughened stance, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports Monday, August 27.

China’s ‘Google,’ Baidu, has closed at least two popular crypto-related chat forums, according to SCMP, with a notice reportedly informing users that the move comes “in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and policies.”

Meanwhile, Tencent — the operator of the 1-billion-user social media platform WeChat, has reportedly issued a statement announcing its own ban on crypto trading. The platform has said it will monitor daily transactions in real time and block any suspicious transactions accordingly.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba — whose subsidiary Ant Financial runs the overwhelmingly popular internet payment app Alipay — has for its part said it will restrict or permanently ban any accounts it finds to be engaged in crypto trading.

All three announcements follow closely upon the heels of last week’s onslaught of toughened anti-crypto measures in China. These included a ban on all commercial venues from hosting any crypto-related events in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, alongside measures targeting communication channels or “loopholes” through which Chinese investors can gain exposure to Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and crypto trading.

As reported August 21, WeChat permanently blocked a number of high-profile crypto and blockchain related accounts — including CoinDaily, Deepchain, and Huobi News — that were accused of publishing crypto “hype” in violation of regulations introduced earlier this month.

On August 24, Alipay announced that it would block those accounts that use its network to transact in Bitcoin (BTC) over-the-counter (OTC) trade, and would further establish an inspection system for “key websites and accounts.” Ant Financial has also reportedly said it plans to conduct a “risk prevention” program intended to educate users about the dangers of false crypto-related “propaganda.”

On August 25, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) issued its own fresh warning declaring that it would be ratcheting up stringent measures against “illegal” ICOs.

According to CT Japan, new measures are also reportedly underway to toughen the “clean-up” of third-party crypto payment channels, including those used by OTC platforms.

This January, a fresh crackdown from Beijing had notably already seen fringe trading platforms including as peer-to-peer (P2P) and OTC resources banned, adding to a blanket embargo on crypto-to-fiat trading and ICOs in place since September 2017.

When cryptocurrency development firm Block.one concluded its initial coin offering (ICO) and released the first version of the EOSIO software, it didn’t just raise a record ~$4 billion in crowdfunded contributions — it also received 100 million of the 1 billion EOS tokens distributed through the network’s Genesis block. Now, the well-funded blockchain startup is vowing to use those tokens to stave off any block producer voting cartels, whether they are present now or arise sometime in the future.

Writing in an official statement published on the company’s blog, Block.one CEO Brendan Blumer stated the firm intends to use its EOS stake to ensure that the network’s on-chain governance model is characterized by a “free and democratic election process.”

He wrote:

“We are aware of some unverified claims regarding irregular block producer voting, and the subsequent denials of those claims. We believe it is important to ensure a free and democratic election process within EOS and may, as we deem appropriate, vote with other holders to reinforce the integrity of this process. We continue working on our potential involvement with the goal of empowering the intent of the greater community through a transparent process that incorporates community feedback.”

Blumer’s statement was prompted by allegations, first circulated on Chinese social media platform WeChat, that a group of block producers was operating a voting cartel.

EOS cryptocurrency

Unlike Bitcoin and other Proof-of-Work (PoW) cryptocurrencies, EOS does not use mining to secure the network, verify transactions, and introduce new coins into circulation. Rather, it uses a Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) consensus, through which users can “stake” their tokens to vote for a group of 21 entities — called “block producers” — who take turns validating transactions and adding blocks to the blockchain. According to an unverified document allegedly leaked by an employee of a top 21 block producer, node operators have formed a cartel to circumvent that democratic process.

Per the document, various block producers have inked mutual voting pacts, through which they agree to stake their tokens to vote for a group of candidates in exchange for the other candidates voting for them in return. The document further purports to show that at least one cryptocurrency exchange is also operating a pay-for-play scheme, voting for certain block producer candidates in exchange for a percentage of their revenue or outright EOS payments.

China-based cryptocurrency news source cnLedger reports that this exchange — Huobi — has denied having a financial relationship with other block producers.

Block.one first announced in June that it planned to use its EOS tokens, which still account for nearly 10 percent of the cryptocurrency’s circulating supply, to participate in block producer elections.

However, those funds account for an even larger percentage of the network’s votes, since many token holders decline to stake their tokens and participate in on-chain governance. According to data compiled by block producer candidate EOS Authority, 54 percent of EOS tokens are currently staked, though — because votes “decay” over time to encourage users to remain active in network governance — actual voting power is much lower, at just under 26 percent.

Shanghai Hongkou District Court has declared that Ether is protected as “general property” by law.

The statement was a result of an unjust enrichment case filed by a tech company in Beijing.

In September 2017, crypto companies in China started closing their doors after China banned ICOs and crypto exchanges. Caught in the middle of the ban was a company, headquartered in Beijing, which had released its tokens to raise Ether and Bitcoin in August 8, 2017.

However, the company reimbursed the funds to investors as early as September 4, 2017. Four days later, the company sent 20 ETH to a man named Chen, instead of an investor, due to “operational errors”. The company reached out to Chen and tried to contact him through text messages and legal letters. When it was clear that Chen was unwilling to cooperate with the company, an unjust enrichment case was filed.

Chen was able to justify his position by pointing out that Ether, as well as other cryptocurrencies, were not recognized as legal currency. Furthermore, China had banned the circulation of these virtual currencies completely. However, the court clarified that while both these statements were true, the country still considered Ether to be protected under the property law. Therefore, in June 2018, the court ruled in favor of the company.

The lawyers representing the company listed three important points for such cases in the future. Firstly, even though cryptocurrencies are banned in China, the country still supports crypto unjust enrichment cases under the Civil Law.

Secondly, the accused must be identified by the court under the Civil Procedure Law. Since the use of cryptocurrencies allow people to remain anonymous, it can result in legal problems. In this case, the company must maintain a digital chain of custody, such that they are able to submit communication records (from social media applications) to the court. Luckily, the tech company had sent Ether from two different companies, Nanchang Digital Network Technology Co. Ltd. and Hangzhou Rongzhi Technology Co. Ltd., which helped them in winning the case. However, it is advised that transactions should be completed via crypto exchanges, which already require users to fill personal details.

Thirdly, if funds are transferred to an account located abroad, the laws of the place where unjust enrichment has occurred are used.

Earlier in September 2018, China’s Supreme Court stated that blockchain evidence is now legal and admissible in court.

 

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In my latest couple of articles I’ve been kind of focused on Bitcoin and its underlying technology, the blockchain. I discussed the lightning network, why I see Bitcoin as the King of Kings and, of course, why so many people mistake blockchain for DLTs.

It’s time to take these articles one step further and look into different technologies and projects.

I’m also going to completely ignore price for a while, as I’m not a professional trader (nor investor), and I know technology and price rarely come hand-to-hand.

Also, I’m going to assume a great deal of you have lost during the last couple of months, so I’m going to give you my rather positive outlook for the medium-term and why this technology is unstoppable; meaning, if you hodl your crypto, you’ll eventually see some profits.

Unless you mistakenly invested in absolutely shitty ICOs.

If that’s the case, just do like a proper ship captain would: accept the outcome and go down with it. It’s pointless to sell an asset that’s +90% devalued. If you disagree, repeat after me:

  1. I won’t invest what I cannot afford to lose,
  2. I Will buy low, and sell high.

I tend to see market cycles as mini-bubbles, constantly growing and then exploding, which gives me enough confidence to understand the reality of things is rather generous: if you do follow the above rules, independently of the moment in time you have invested in, there’s a high chance you can still profit from your bags. Just hang on to them a little longer. Some expert crypto-traders agree there could be a rally during October, which could potentially last until the end of the year. Will this be the case? Prices’ history does not repeat itself, but we can surely learn valuable lessons from it.

Now, to the good part.

Which Cryptocurrency Projects Do I like?

As I’ve previously pointed out, some main concerns of people involved in crypto-trading and investing seem to be about scalability and user adoption. Of course, as the two issues remind us of the chicken and egg problem, we could argue: either some major cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum scales due to a technological breakthrough, like the Lightning Network, PoS and sharding, or it goes the other way around and people adopt cryptocurrencies due to a number of different reasons, such as the actual need to use a decentralized, peer-to-peer, digital currency – think of Venezuela, Argentina, soon Brazil? – or the fact people like to speculate on highly unregulated markets (as it sort of allows anyone to do major manipulations and just gamble money away).

In line with those issues, I’ll discus two projects which show great potential by promoting different ways to scale: Ethereum and Stellar.

Both remain my top 2 choices, for the time being.

Ethereum

The first real bitcoin contender, as so many of you like to put it.

The playground of ICOs. The magic land of assets tokenization, where anything is possible.

I remember at some point people talking about the flippening, when Ethereum would surpass Bitcoin’s market valuation.

(and then you want me to think we behave rationally? Good lord)

Ethereum was the project that really drove my curiosity about cryptocurrencies. The first paper I actually digested was Ethereum’s; and, oh boy, did I like it!

The concept of tokenizing, virtually anything, made my feeble little brain explode with ideas. And I wasn’t alone, as the more I felt down the rabbit whole, the more projects I would find taking advantage of a new way to create value.

If you’ve been here long enough, you’ve heard about a million master-gurus saying something like:

The Ethereum Ecosystem

Although I do enjoy thinking how wonderful it would be to have a decentralized world where all materials, products and things in general could be registered into a blockchain, I wonder “how useful would that really be?”.

I do not doubt there are projects in ethereum like Modum or Wabi, which aim at actually making a significant impact on how supply-chain management and distribution businesses operate (in terms of transparency, that is). Is it working? How far have they gotten? Is there a real need for these types of applications?

There are quite a few mixed opinions on the matter, but the truth is, success depends greatly on adoption; and adoption depends on either speculation or rewards.

A quick visit to WaBi’s website, for example, shows a business that registers milk-products onto an immutable and transparent ledger, so that citizens in China can feel safe about buying milk for their babies. This is actually a huge deal.

But, what about user rewards? Loyalty points, insurance schemes and other partnerships don’t seem the right way to go, according to some opinions. You might even ask if a blockchain is needed for that sort of rewards distribution. Does this company really need a token in their ecosystem?

If we are to live in a non-authoritarian system, then I see not one  single currency, but a plurality of cryptocurrencies, behaving differently according to its proposed intentions. You can have assets, some behaving like stock (paying dividends and such), others giving its users the power to vote within a given community, or even allowing people to register information (land? deeds? In-game items?) representing a physical  or virtual asset. Whatever end-result you want to achieve if you can do it through decentralization, by giving a proper incentive to your user base, isn’t that what matters?

It’s a win-win scenario. The more companies compete to provide better incentives, the merrier. There are more twists and turns around the proper application of rewards and their ultimate effectiveness, yet, the underlying hypothesis of decentralization and community-driven collaboration is on the assumption the more you give, the more you receive: it has been discovered, apparently, we are not single-minded beings focusing simply on our well-being and maximizing our utility; at least not one hundred percent of the time. Nor we base our decision-making process on rational thoughts.

If by using some application (like sharing resources) I can now  easily receive rewards, loyalty points in the form of tokens, and I can also trade those assets for one another who’s to dictate what the real value of anything is?

To answer the question of Ethereum’s real value (and utility), as a medium to create and exchange value, we need to first understand the goal of its currency.

The Purpose of Ether

Recently, an article arised around the usefulness of Ether. The gist of the whole thing was that the Ethereum network should allow for different tokens to be accepted to pay for gas, which would undermine the need for a native currency.

I admit, at first i saw it as nonsense. Why would anyone want to accept erc20 tokens? They’re just a mask on top of ether, using its core functionalities. In my mind I’ve always seen Ethereum as a framework, or a toolkit, allowing developers to create products on top of a decentralized network. Of course we’re still in its infancy, and due to the “lack” of perceived progress, people tend to come out with strong-minded arguments on the value of things. I remember the exact same line of argumentation when the colored bitcoin update was being discussed.

Still, isn’t the author’s critique valid? What is the value of Ether, if there isn’t a need to pay fees with the network’s appointed currency?

None whatsoever.

If we all choose to not use Ether and instead some ERC20/223/etc token, while at the same time miners also accept those tokens as a payment for including a certain transaction into a block, then there is no purpose for Ether (except if people still want to use it).

As Vitalik puts it:

In Ethereum as it presently exists, this is absolutely true, and in fact, if Ethereum were not to change, all parts of the author’s argument (except the part about proof of stake, which would not even apply to Ethereum as it is today) would be correct.

Ether’s current value is to secure the network. In the long-term, when Casper, sharding and atomic swaps are all in place, then I see no reason for people to be subjugated to using Ether to pay for gas fees. Let them use whatever cryptocurrency they want.

The purpose of Ether is to pay block creators for helping us reach consensus. Hence, even if we allow users to pay fees with tokens, miners will receive block rewards in eth. Which they will need to sell to convert into btc, usd, etc. If there are no buyers, then what happens to the price?

It goes down the sink. And no miner/staker (when PoS arrives) wants to hold a devalued asset. We would then have to allow for multiple tokens to be awarded to miners for creating blocks, as well.

This whole idea seems way too troublesome, to be honest. Why wasting time complicating everything? If there is pressure from both the user and miner communities to allow for other tokens to be paid as gas, then the development team should probably heed the call. Even though my gut tells me the likelihood of said proposal having a devious intent would be great, in fact.

Until then, why bother?

At the end, what do you do with that kind of information? I mean, if that happens to Ether because people prefer to use tokens, then so be it.

Isn’t that the purpose of decentralization? To allow people to chose?

At the same time, I would argue there are few too users who actually care about tokens or dapps.

State Of The Art Decentralized Apps

A mandatory metric for success, as we’ve seen above, is user adoption.

That’s not the case for Dapps, at least during the time of writing.

Just by looking at dappradar, a website focused on showing statistics about decentralized applications, we clearly see there isn’t much adoption yet.

Meaning, although  I absolutely agree with the author’s concern, it seems a tiny bit too soon to jump into any sort of conclusions.

Some takeaways from an amazing data scientist are:

  1. We are orders of magnitudes away from consumer adoption of DApps. No killer app (outside of tokens and trading) have been created yet. Any seemingly “large” DApp (ex. IDEX, CryptoKitties, etc) has low usage overall.
  2. All of the top DApps are still very much about speculation of value. Decentralized exchanges, casino games, pyramid schemes, and even the current collectible games (I would argue) are all around speculation.
  3. What applications (aside from value transfer and speculation) really take advantage of the true unique properties of a blockchain (censorship resistance, immutability of data, etc) and unlock real adoption?
  4. For new protocol developers, instead of trying to convince existing DApp developers to build on your new platform — think hard about what DApps actually make sense on your protocol and how to help them have a chance at real adoption.
  5. We as an ecosystem need to build better tools and infrastructure for more widespread adoption of DApps. Metamask is an awesome tool, but it is still a difficult onboarding step for most normal users. ToshiStatus, and Cipher are all steps in the right direction and I’m really looking forward to the creation of other tools to simplify the user onboarding experience and improve general UI/UX for normal users.

Even my project’s website, Bityond, gets more hits per day than some of these dapps. Why are we so hasty to pass on judgement?

I would think if users are rewarded their incentive would be to participate in as many networks as possible. Hence, crypto-projects might not necessarily be competing for users; there’s loads of room for Ethereum, EOS, IOTA, NEO and others to grow without trying to slam down competition.

There should be little room for maximalism of any kind, as it defeats the purpose of innovation.

Be classy, ladies and gentleman. We’re all on the same boat whether you like it or not. Don’t bash each other’s projects. That adds little value to the community. 

Ethereum’s future?

I know price action is the major roadblock for adoption; but the underlying values Ethereum holds and the constant development being done on its EVM, keep me quite optimistic about this protocol.

This is how cycles behave. When smart-money comes back again and the rest of the herd follows, then we’ll see projects releasing better updates and more positive news coming around. Let us be patient and wait for the bearish cycle to end.

Projects that have no purpose will most likely go away and investors learn two important lesson:

A) companies take time to build and,

B) You’re likely to make some bad choices in your lifetime.

If you still need convincing about the seriousness of this protocol, and you happen to be a big data lover, check out this tool released by our dear friend google, which let’s you run big-data queries on the ethereum ledger. It’s absolutely awesome. 

The purpose of making the Ethereum blockchain data accessible on Google Cloud is to make all data stored on the blockchain easily accessible. While Ethereum’s software contains APIs for functions that can be accessed randomly, such as checking wallet balances, the API endpoints are not easily accessible for all data stored on the blockchain.While API endpoints do not enable viewing blockchain data in aggregate, BigQuery’s OLAP features enable such analysis. The blog displayed a chart showing Ether transfers and transaction costs year to date, aggregated by day. Such visualization supports tasks like prioritizing changes in the Ethereum architecture, should an upgrade be needed.

Bonus: Stellar

I had to throw Stellar into the mix, as I really like how it works. Not only because I’ve played around with stellar labs and the documentation was incredibly detailed, but also because I think it’s a serious contender to Ethereum and Bitcoin – although it is more centralized from a  governance’s perspective.

Not that stellar replaces any, as it clearly doesn’t, but it can be used as an alternative by institutions and corporations to access the power of blockchain and trade amongst themselves; at least for the time being.

The way the stellar blockchain works is that it reaches consensus through slightly different mechanics than proof-of-work – called Stellar Consensus Protocol. It simply builds on the Federated Byzantine agreement which brings open membership and decentralized control to Byzantine agreement = Anyone can join and vote for the Federated nodes.

FBA determines quorums, or groups of nodes sufficient to reach agreement, in a distributed way. Each node decides which others to trust. Different nodes don’t need to rely on the same combination of trusted participants to reach consensus.

In FBA, each participant knows of others it considers important. It waits for the vast majority of those others to agree on any transaction before considering the transaction settled. In turn, those important participants do not agree to the transaction until the participants they consider important agree as well, and so on. Eventually, enough of the network accepts a transaction that it becomes infeasible for an attacker to roll it back. Only then do any participants consider the transaction settled. FBA’s consensus can ensure the integrity of a financial network. Its decentralized control can spur organic growth.”

Parties who have nodes need to be identifiable, not users, and you chose which line of trust you want to enable. It’s not as decentralized as one would hope, but then again we can’t have it all. Rather, i still prefer Stellar’s openness and transparency to NEO’s – especially as the later is not censorship resistant.

And Lumens?

As Stellar is a blockchain it needs a cryptocurrency; the Lumens (xlm),allow users to write transactions onto Stellar’s blockchain. These transactions also work as smart-contracts, in a sense you can create trust-lines to crowdfund a new asset (token) or release company shares, create bonds, or any many other types of financial instruments.

Stellar, as mentioned above, is nowhere close to being similar to Ethereum, or even bitcoin for that matter; a former fork from Ripple with a nicely tweaked consensus protocol and a set of huge corporations backing it up.

A great example of Stellar’s use-case is the partnership with Veridium Labsin order to sell carbon offset tokens on the Stellar blockchain. Each company has a role here with Veridium setting up the structure and determining the value formula. Stellar acts as the digital ledger for the transactions and IBM will handle the nuts and bolts of the trade activity of buying, selling and managing the tokens.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little piece on two of my preferred projects.

The cryptocurrency market crossed an unwelcome milestone on Wednesday, as it not only fell to a year-to-date low but also surpassed the Nasdaq Composite Index’s 78 percent peak-to-trough decline in the throes of the dotcom bubble that kicked off the new millennium.

Cryptocurrency Decline Now Worse Than Dotcom Bubble

Following a fresh rout this week, the cryptocurrency market cap — the combined nominal values of all coins and tokens in circulation — is now valued at just $186.8 billion, down a tech bubble-style 78 percent from the $835.7 billion all-time high its set on just eight months ago, on Jan. 7.

cryptocurrency
Source: CoinMarketCap

The crash is even more pronounced when viewed without bitcoin‘s stabilizing effects. Since peaking above $550 billion in early January, the altcoin market cap has declined approximately 85 percent and is now valued at $78.4 billion. For reference, ripple (XRP), the third-largest cryptocurrency, was once nominally valued at $145 billion.

cryptocurrency altcoin market cap
Source: CoinMarketCap

Remarkably, the altcoin market cap is valued lower today than it was one year ago, when, even after the uncertainty surrounding China’s ban on cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs), altcoins collectively traded above $80 billion on Sept. 12, 2017.

Bitcoin Dominance Hits 9-Month High as Altcoins Crash

The rout is perhaps even starker when viewed in its individual components. Thirteen of the 15 most valuable cryptocurrencies by market cap have declined at least 78 percent from their all-time highs, according to data from OnChainFX.

cryptocurrency prices
Source: OnChainFX

Six, meanwhile, have declined at least 90 percent, including XRP (93 percent), bitcoin cash (90 percent), cardano (95 percent), IOTA (91 percent), tron (94 percent), and NEO (92 percent).

Bitcoin, of course, has not been immune to the decline. Since peaking near $20,000, the flagship cryptocurrency has taken a 69 percent hit and is now testing whether support will hold at $6,000.

Even so, bitcoin’s position within the cryptocurrency market itself has seldom been stronger, at least since the beginning of the ICO boom, which has now swelled the number of cryptocurrencies to nearly 2,000.

bitcoin dominance index
Source: CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin dominance now stands at a commanding 58 percent, its highest point since Dec. 13, 2017. That’s a notable about-face since January when bitcoin briefly accounted for less than one-third of the total market cap.

Indeed, it’s been a long time since anyone has mentioned the “Flippening,” and Roger Ver’s May prediction that ethereum would surpass bitcoin in 2018 appears increasingly comical.

Bitcoin, it seems, is still the king.

The Dotcom Bubble’s Silver Lining

Often lost in the dotcom bubble comparison is that, though many companies went bust, tech stocks as an asset class eventually came back with a vengeance, and the Nasdaq Composite Index now stands far above its dotcom bubble peak.

Nasdaq composite index chart
Nasdaq Composite Index | Source: Yahoo Finance

There’s no guarantee that the cryptocurrency market’s trial-by-fire will produce similar results, but if it is truly analogous to the dotcom bubble, the real question isn’t when the market will crash to zero, it’s “Which cryptocurrency is Amazon, and which is Pets.com?”

Two local governments in West Bengal, India are integrating the application for birth certificates on a blockchain system developed by Lynked.world, a blockchain app company based in the Netherlands.

Bankura Municipal Corporation and Durgapur Municipal Corporation will be using blockchain tech to handle administrative operations such as processing requests and verifying legal identities to make processes like applications for legal documents such as birth certificates more streamlined.

Lynked World CEO and Founder Arun Kumar cited the need for an overhaul of the “cumbersome” systems currently being used for these processes, saying government agencies are still a position where they need citizens standing in front of an agent with their ID in hand to access basic services.

The platform is ready for launch and that both West Bengal municipalities will be able to issue birth certs and other legal documents and other certificates as early as September 2018, with 1 million birth certs expected to be placed on blockchain by the end of the year.

“These Birth and other certificates would be digitally authenticated by issuing authorities (municipalities) and that authentication will be stored on blockchain which facilitates verification of these documents by any third party organization to whom owners provide access.

Basically Blockchain would be used to write the hash value of certificate together with owner of certificate and who issued it for the authentication and verification.”

The LYNK token will be the native token of the platform and enable citizens to make applications. The company broadly specializes in ID verification via its app which includes a digital wallet for storing personal information contained in documents like passports, medical records, academic degrees, and driver’s licenses which can be securely verified on blockchain technology. A QR code is used to quickly connect users to their legal records stored on the blockchain network, greatly reducing the amount of time and money that needs to be spent on basic ID verification.

India has embraced blockchain technology by establishing a blockchain district in the country of 1.3 billion people and pledging to provide regulatory support for companies and startups. The government has also stated its intention to use blockchain technology to increase transparency and reduce government corruption.

Meanwhile, other nations have implemented blockchain ID verification pilot programs in areas like voting from abroad in the US, verifying academic degrees in Australia, and government auditing in China.

The initiative to streamline birth cert applications and put citizen birth records on the blockchain in India is the latest in a series of important steps in adoption that continue to demonstrate the usefulness of the new technology. While it’s arguably too soon to say whether the systems will be ultimately successful, the intercontinental adoption is a strong vote of confidence in DLT as groundbreaking innovation continues to disrupt high-level government systems and pave the way for growth in the sector.

GMO Internet, a leading Japanese bitcoin mining firm, has informed investors that it has stopped mining bitcoin cash, documents purportedly distributed by the company show.

Those documents, made public by “The Bitcoin Knowledge Podcast” host Trace Mayer, indicate that the Tokyo-based GMO mined 0 BCH in July, down from a high of 287 in February.

However, it’s possible GMO will resume mining BCH if its profitability increases in the future. The firm’s bitcoin cash mining operation has been highly-sporadic, and it also mined 0 BCH in April before mining 37 and 62 BCH over the next two months.

GMO’s bitcoin mining operation, however, has been characterized by a steady increase in BTC revenue. In July, GMO mined 568 BTC — worth $3.8 million at the present exchange rate — up from 528 the month prior and just 21 in Dec. 2017.

Earlier this year, GMO said that it hoped to scale its mining operation to 3,000PH/s by December. However, that now seems unlikely, as declining cryptocurrency profits have squeezed miner profit margins and reduced the incentive to invest in new hashpower. Indeed, GMO mined with 384PH/s in July, which made it the first month this year that it did not bring new devices online.

In June, GMO unveiled the B2, first bitcoin mining chip wholly-developed by a Japanese company. The device, which also featured the world’s first 7nm chip, quickly sold out. GMO is now accepting preorders for the B3, which the firm claims can achieve a hashpower as high as 33TH/s, compared to the 14TH/s offered by the Antminer S9, Bitmain’s flagship mining rig.

Bitmain is currently planning the cryptocurrency industry’s largest-ever initial public offering (IPO). However, the China-based firm, which once had a market share as large as 85 percent, is facing increasing competition from GMO and others, leading market research firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. to speculate in a recent report that the ASIC designer has lost its competitive edge.

“I respect Bitmain,” GMO CEO Masatoshi Kumagi said in June, perhaps presciently, “but we will top them.”

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