The resurgence of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether and Dogecoin in the past few weeks is largely due to renewed interest from individual retail investors.
Bitcoin reached above $48,500 on August 14, the highest it has been since May 16. This price point means a gain of 290% year-on-year, which came to 644% for Ether and 1,431% for newly minted third place Cardano. Meanwhile, meme-crypto Dogecoin is up 9,157 year-on-year, according to CoinGecko data.
However, behind the recent moves is a resurgence in interest from individual retail investors. According to the Wall Street Journal they have returned after “after cryptocurrencies received a jolt of momentum in late July.”
“A jolt of momentum”
What else could have catalyzed such a dramatic movement for Bitcoin but another statement from Tesla CEO Elon Musk? At “The B Word” conference co-hosted by the Crypto Council for Innovation, Musk said he and his other company, SpaceX, held bitcoin. That same week, Amazon listed a new job posting seeking an expert in digital currency and blockchain, generating further buzz.
Spot trading volume of cryptocurrencies also increased sharply around that time on major exchanges including Binance, Kraken, Coinbase, and Gemini, according to Coin Metrics. Although some of that volume could include some institutional buying, “in all likelihood most of the exchange spot volume is retail,” said CoinMetrics senior research analyst Nate Maddrey.
Apart from volume, other signs are indicative of retail investor activity. For instance, besides Bitcoin, the prices of altcoins have surged recently. As professional investors tend not to trade in the altcoin space, according to cryptocurrency analysts, it is a sign that retail investors are active. This is because they are seeking cheaper digital assets with small market capitalization that have a greater potential for larger gains.
In addition to these events occurring, the recent surge can also be attributed to the relocation of Chinese cryptocurrency miners. Bitcoin mining difficulty spiked to 15.55 terahash in light of those in China settling in more crypto-friendly climates. In a sense, a higher Bitcoin mining difficulty represents higher overall hashpower miners are contributing.
According to the most recent data from BTC.com, Bitcoin mining difficulty’s recent spike began on July 17. Since then, the Bitcoin ecosystem has witnessed a 13.77% increase in mining difficulty in two consecutive jumps. While formerly contributed three-quarters to the global hashrate, China’s contribution has reduced to nearly 46%, according to data from Statista. Several countries have picked up the slack, with the United States hosting almost 17% of the global mining hashrate.
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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.
Head of “Facebook Coin,” David Marcus discussed the up-and-coming Novi wallet, saying users do not need to worry about security or privacy.
However, Facebook’s reputation on both counts is somewhat in the gutter. As such, Marcus may well be trying to achieve the impossible in convincing people otherwise.
Nonetheless, in his latest interview, he states his case pleading with people to give Diem a chance.
Facebook Wants Your Trust
Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Marcus wanted to reassure users that Diem, and the Novi wallet, are safe to use. What’s more, he said that no data will be used for ad targeting or any purpose related to the Facebook advertising model.
Marcus points out that from the onset, the Diem infrastructure was designed in such a way to avoid “commingled” financial and social data. That way, there is no controversy over a single entity holding data across different categories on its users.
“And, you know, basically, the way that we’ve designed this– and it actually took us a lot of effort to build it the right way– is that your financial data is not going to be commingled with your social data.”
Diem is looking to disrupt the overseas retail remittance market. Marcus said it’s a huge market that is ripe for the picking. With that, he hopes that people will give Diem a shot. And once they do, the firm will do its utmost to overturn people’s skepticism.
Although, given the scandals of the past, he admits that this is a long play.
“Over time, we plan to earn people’s trust so they give us a shot for other things over time. But it’ll take time and I’m cognizant of that.”
User Comments Discussed
When it comes to social media dominance, Facebook is up with the best of them. Despite being known as a platform for boomers, it still pulls in 2.9 billion monthly active users. Meaning, Diem’s potential userbase is bigger than anything that exists in crypto right now.
Based on trend analysis, it seems as though there’s no stopping its growth, with India, the United States, and Brazil ranking as the countries with the highest number of users.
Nonetheless, on the matter of trusting Facebook and Diem, the (so far) 16 comments on this article are all overwhelmingly against. While that may not represent wider views, it’s still telling that 100% of comments slam the idea of trusting Facebook with financial data.
One user wrote of his concerns of political bias and censorship, which together make an untrustworthy “combo.”
“In context; Facebook has a history of political activism as well as working with the democrat government censoring free speech. Not a trustworthy combo.“
And despite Marcus’ explanation of separating financial and social data, another user remained skeptical of the claim by saying:
“And now they track your every purchase. Or at best gather stats for the retail business selling them data on what and where people are buying.“
All in all, it’s understandable that Facebook wants to pivot into finance and crypto. But changing hearts and minds will not be easy to do.
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There are even more lessons in the “This Machine Greens” documentary. Could Bitcoin mining actually be a net positive for the environment? That’s their thesis. The documentary has Swan Bitcoin’s seal of approval, Enrique Posner produced it and Jamie King, of “Steal This Film” fame, directed it. In the first part of this analysis, we learned that the Bitcoin network tends to use wasted energy and goes wherever there’s cheap energy available. And renewable sources of energy are usually cheap because they’re efficient.
What will we learn in part two? Keep reading to find out.
But first, we should let you know that “This Machine Greens’” talking heads are these heavy hitters: Lyn Alden, Alex Gladstein, Meltem Demirors, Nic Carter, Caitlin Long, Samson Mow, Magdalena Gronowska, Greg Foss, Adam Ortolf, and Hass McCook.
This Machine Greens’ Stance On Energy
Civilization began with the discovery and mastery of fire. Which, of course, is energy.
Money is energy. The things we use as tokens, “Exist as unforgeable proof of the time and energy spent in creating them.”
Money is “one of the key human tools in supporting civilizational coordination and organization.”
Bitcoin is energy.
BTC price chart for 09/17/2021 on Bitstamp | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com
Creating Money Is Crucial
Back to the gold is Proof-Of-Work idea that Lyn Alden proposed, the narrator tells us, “Embeded in each Bitcoin, like a bar of gold or a string of sheels, is proof that this work was done.” And Lyn Alden cuts to the chase and states the problem, “Creating money can seem like a waste to people who are not familiar with the needs that money serves.” Money increases the efficiency of ALL other transactions.
“Whatever energy is expended in the production of Bitcoin and the maintenance of the system should be more than recouped by the increased efficiency of every system that uses Bitcoin as a transactional device.” Boom! If we take that into account, “There’ll be a net energy gain and not a net energy loss if you calculated it across the entire system.”
Bitcoin Will Fund Clean Energy
According to Alex Gladstein, Bitcoin can fund the “Electrification of new areas and creation of new economic activity.“ This machine greens, if you will. And if we’re talking infrastructure for clean energy, Magdalena Gronowska breaks it down:
“It’s derisking constructions of renewable energy facilities. It’s derisking it because it’s willing to buy 24/7, 365. And when you have a predictable buyer, a predictable revenue stream, it’s easy to plan out your operations. And that certainty means that that site gets built.”
This Machine Greens Refers to Bitcoin
How does “This Machine Greens” end? With a bang. They talk about inflation in the US, something every other country in the world knows intimately, but they’re just starting to feel. And then, they go to the reasons Bitcoin is needed. Concepts that this website’s audience is very familiar with, but will fall like a ton of bricks over the head of any casual viewer.
The documentary concludes that the conversation is actually between those who think Bitcoin is useful and those who think it isn’t. If you’re in the first camp, Bitcoin’s promises to the world far outweigh its energy consumption. Plus, it might fund the next revolution in clean energy that the planet so desperately needs. A win/ win situation.
One of the familiar themes seen in previous crypto market cycles is the shifting market caps, popularity and ranking of the top 10 projects that see significant gains during bull phases, only to fade into obscurity during the bear markets. For many of these projects, they follow a recognizable boom-to-bust cycle and never return to their previous glory.
During the 2017–2018 bull market and initial coin offering (ICO) boom, which was driven by Ethereum network-based projects, all manner of small smart contract-oriented projects rallied thousands of percentage to unexpected highs.
During this time, projects like Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Monero (XMR) and ZCash (ZEC) also rotated in and out of the top 10 ranking, but to this day, investors still argue about which project actually presents a “useful” use case.
While all of these tokens are still unicorn-level projects with billion-dollar valuations, these large-cap megaliths have fallen far from their previous glory and now struggle to stay relevant in the current ecosystem.
Let’s take a look at a few of the current projects that threaten to unseat these dinosaur tokens from their perch.
Dollar-pegged stablecoins take the stage as the most “transactable” currency
Bitcoin’s (BTC) original use case stipulated that it would simplify the process of conducting transactions, but the network’s “slow” transaction time and the cost associated with sending funds makes it a better store of value than a medium of exchange when the other blockchain networks are considered as options.
Terra (LUNA), a protocol focused on creating a global payment structure through the use of fiat-pegged stablecoins, has emerged as a possible solution to the issues faced when trying to use the top proof-of-work (PoW) projects as payment currencies.
The main token used for transacting value on Terra aside from LUNA is TerraUSD (UST), a U.S. dollar-pegged algorithmic stablecoin that forms the basis of Terra’s decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem. The market cap of UST has steadily been increasing throughout 2021 as activity and the number of users in the ecosystem increased.
The recent addition of Ether (ETH) as a collateral choice for minting UST on Anchor protocol has given token holders a way of accessing the value in their Ether without having to sell and create a taxable event.
This opens the possibility for other tokens such as BTC to be utilized as collateral to mint UST that can be used in everyday purchases.
As it stands, the borrowing APR for UST on Anchor stands at 25.85%, while the distribution APR is at 40.67%, meaning users who borrow UST against their LUNA or Ether actually earn a yield while borrowing against their tokens.
From privacy coins to privacy protocols
Privacy is also a cornerstone characteristic of the cryptocurrency sector and privacy-focused projects like XMR and ZEC offer obfuscation technologies that support covert or what, for a time, were thought to be untraceable transactions.
Unfortunately, regulatory concerns have made it more challenging for users to access these tokens, as many exchanges have delisted them for fear of drawing the ire of regulators and the overall demand among crypto users has declined alongside their availability.
Their lack of smart contract capabilities has also limited what these protocols are capable of and, so far, users do not appear to be too excited about utilizing Wrapped Monero (WXMR) for use in DeFi, as the token loses its privacy capabilities in the process.
These limitations have led to the development of privacy-focused protocols such as the Secret Network, which allows users to create and use decentralized applications (DApps) in a privacy-preserving environment.
Privacy features are not common among smart contract capable platforms in the crypto ecosystem, which makes Secret something of an experimental case in the ever-evolving Web 3.0 landscape.
Secret is also part of the Cosmos ecosystem which means it can utilize the Inter-blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol to seamlessly interact with other protocols in the ecosystem.
The network’s native SCRT can be used as the value transfer medium on the platform as well as to interact with protocols that operate on the network, including Secret DeFi applications and the network’s NFT offering, Secret Heroes.
New enterprise solutions aren’t better but they come without controversy
One of the ways cryptocurrency projects sought to differentiate themselves from the “medium of exchange” label was to offer enterprise solutions as a way to help corporations navigate the transition to a blockchain-based infrastructure.
XRP and Stellar (XLM) are two of the veteran protocols that fit this bill, but continual controversy and slow development has resulted in these early movers now playing catch up with newer networks that also don’t have the legal controversy that has followed Ripple for years.
Hedera Hashgraph has emerged as a competitor in this field and data shows that the network is capable of processing more than 10,000 transactions per second (TPS), with an average transaction fee of $0.0001 and a time to finality of 3-5 seconds.
These statistics are comparable to both XRP and XLM, which have indicated that their ledgers reach consensus on all outstanding transactions every 3-5 seconds with an average transaction cost of 0.00001 XRP/XLM.
Hedera is also smart contract capable, meaning users can create both fungible and nonfungible tokens, and developers can build decentralized applications to accompany the network’s decentralized file storage services.
For each sector (stablecoins, privacy and enterprise solutions), the main difference between the old-school and next-generation projects has been the introduction of smart contract capabilities and plans to develop within the side-chain and DeFi sectors where the top protocols exist. This gives newer projects additional utility, allowing them to meet the demand of investors and developers, thus increasing their token values and market caps as a result.
With smart contracts, the ability to interact with the growing DeFi landscape comes built-in, whereas the legacy tokens like LTC, XMR and BCH require special wrapping services which insert middlemen and thus insert additional fees, rigor and risk into the process.
Newer protocols have also embraced the more eco-friendly proof-of-stake consensus model that aligns with the larger global shift toward environmental awareness and sustainability. A plus is that holders can also stake their tokens directly on the network for a yield.
It remains to be seen if the slow march of time will eventually lead to a capital migration from older large cap projects to the newer generation protocols or if these legacy blue-chips will find a way to evolve and survive into the future.
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The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
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