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5 Things Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Investors Should Beware of in 2019

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Just over ten years on from its inception, the cryptocurrency and blockchain space is still in the nascent stages of its development.

However, that should not be taken as a sign of slow progress. On the contrary, the blockchain space is evolving fast – so fast, in fact, that already we’re starting to see a departure from old standards, methods and practices, even those that were born very recently.

Here are five imminent trends to look out for in 2019.

Bullshit Artists Will Evolve

If you dig through cryptocurrency websites and whitepapers for long enough you start to notice certain trends. There was a time when all that accompanied the launch of a cryptocurrency was a Bitcointalk forum announcement and some Github links.

By 2017 the paradigm had evolved to where if you didn’t have a snazzy website, replete with edgy-looking space-age graphics, accompanied by appropriate links to thirty-page whitepapers and the LinkedIn profiles of various unknown Asian tech-geniuses – then you probably didn’t have much in the eyes of the average ICO investor.

Yet by 2019 that trend appears to be evolving already. More and more new projects are moving away from the standard model in an attempt to stand out from the crowd. Now, instead of dev groups competing to have the longest whitepaper, they’re competing to have the shortest.

One-pagers are becoming increasingly common, as is the use of video. Animations and graphics are evolving to attract and inform investors without the use of text, and one new project even launched with two issues of a manga comic which explained its use-case.

This might sound quite nice at first glance, but I suspect it will only serve to obfuscate, and make it more difficult to differentiate between genuine projects and shitcoins in the near future. ICO investments sunk like a stone towards the end of 2018, but the potential payoff for greedy team members is still enough that stumping up thousands of dollars for an extensive branding/PR campaign is a cost I’m sure most would be happy to pay.

Coins Will Die

The cryptocurrency landscape is in constant flux, and a glance at the front page of CoinMarketCap from 2013 reveals the fickle nature of the altcoin market. Only three coins from 2013’s top-fifty are still in the top-hundred today – Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and XRP (XRP).

This past year alone saw numerous coins lose their mainstay status in the top hundred, such as Syscoin (SYS), CyberMiles (CMT), Iconomi (ICN) – and RChain (RHOC), which fell over 99% since January 2018.

In 2019 we may be surprised to see some major players fall by the wayside, and the reasons could be many-fold. If the market continues to sink as it has been of late, then the incentive structures of many major altcoins could find themselves being forced to endure severe stress-tests.

EOS (EOS), for example, is already perilously close to becoming an unprofitable venture for block producers. Meanwhile, mining rewards for such major coins as Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin have already fallen to such lows that all but the largest mining pools have perished.

Falling market prices could spell doom for many major players, but to put a positive spin on things: we should consider the bear market a factor of natural selection – it will allow us to see in real-time what works, what doesn’t, and what to look out for in the coming years.

The SEC Will Lop Heads

When SEC chairman Jim Clayton brought up the topic of cryptocurrency last November, he was crystal clear about Bitcoin’s legal status, namely that BTC does not fall under the category of a security.

However, that can’t be said for all the coins and tokens out there, and based on Clayton’s comments, the chances are that the typical holder is in possession of at least one security issuance:

“Many of the ICOs that you see and you talk about, they are securities. And if you’re going to offer or sell securities, you have to do so in compliance with our laws. We’ve been clear about that, the recent actions further emphasized that our securities laws to apply to the ICO space…”

To say that we’re still in the wild west of the crypto space is an understatement, and the SEC will have plenty of potential targets when they eventually decide to make their move.

Blockchain Will Thrive

Blockchain and cryptocurrency are proving to be two very different things. One is shrouded in mystery, taboo and FUD, while the other is shaping up to be at the core of digital, financial infrastructure.

Andreas Antonopoulos warned of the financial elite’s growing interest in blockchain (without crypto) back in 2014. And on January 29th, 2019, the chair of global research for JPMorgan Chase, Joyce Chang, called for blockchain to be further separated from cryptocurrency, which she regards as an apparent failure due to lack of merchant adoption, and falling trade volumes. She told Bloomberg:

“It’s been difficult to get through the regulatory issues (citing lack of ETF approval). We need to separate out blockchain from crypto. There’s been progress made on blockchain – there are successful use cases.”

Beware the Hybrids

The final six months of 2018 were dominated by XRP’s rise through the market cap rankings, fuelled by numerous partnerships with major banking institutions.

But it’s worth bearing in mind that much of the XRP hype train was founded on adoption of xCurrent – a semi-centralized blockchain payment service completely separate from XRP.

Likewise, one of the biggest pieces of news of 2019 so far – enough to gain coverage on CNBC with Ran Neu-Ner – was the launch of the BitTorrent Token (BTT). But as Tron founder Justin Sun eventually revealed, BTT payments will also make use of ‘hybrid payment channels’ outwith the Tron blockchain.

Furthermore, Over $3 billion in profit was reportedly made by the creator of online-gaming juggernaut Fortnite in 2018 alone. All of those in-game V-Bucks transactions were executed without a decentralized, distributed ledger, and are a possible sign that the booming digital payments industry could continue to push ahead, maybe even without blockchain.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 144 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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Analysis

Crypto Update: Another Spike Fails in Crypto-Land

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The major cryptocurrencies continue to follow the pattern which consists of sudden spikes followed by choppy sideways periods. Today, the top coins jumped higher, with the strongest currencies testing their recent swing highs, but the move quickly failed. The market continues to be dominated by low liquidity and the bearish long-term forces, making it difficult to make money trading the long side.

That said, the short-term break-outs, which were formed one week ago, remain intact and our trend model is also on short-term buy signals in the case of the relatively stronger coins. Despite the buy signals, traders should remain cautious with new positions, as the long-term forces continue to work against bulls here.

The leadership of last week’s move continues to be weak and without a new batch of coins hitting new short-term highs, it’s hard to see what could propel the market higher. The top 3 coins haven’t been able to pull their weight either, so odds clearly favor the continuation of the bear market from a broader perspective.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Bitcoin remains stuck below the $3600 level despite today’s spike, and the bearish drift that started last week in the coin continues. BTC’s relative weakness is a negative sign for the whole segment, and although it’s still above the support/resistance zone just north of $3450, the long-term setup continues to point of the $3250 and $300o support levels.

That said, the short-term buy signal is still in place in our trend model, and traders could open small, speculative positions in BTC, with strong resistance zones being ahead near $3850 and between $4000 and $4050.

XRP/USDT, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ripple has also been showing relative weakness in recent days, and today it dipped back below the key $0.30 support/resistance level following the failed rally attempt. While the coin once again avoided a move towards the next main level of interest at $0.28, it is still likely to violate that level and test the August low near $0.26.

With that in mind, traders should stay away from XRP, with our trend also being on short- and long-term trend signals, and barring a move above $0.32, the immediate outlook is also negative, with further resistance levels ahead near $0.3550 and $0.3750.

Litecoin Tests $44 Level Again as Ethereum Clings to $120

LTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

After settling down near the $41 price level, last week’s star LTC spiked as high as $44 today, but it failed to break-out above the key resistance zone. While the break-out remains intact and the MACD indicator still only points to a correction, the market-wide trends remain negative, and the previously leading coin hasn’t shown signs of relative strength in the last couple of days.

Traders could still hold their positions here even though a swing low is not yet confirmed, but strict rsik management rules should still be applied. A move back below $38 would trigger a downgrade in our trend model, which is still on a short-term buy signal. Above the initial resistance at $44, further levels are ahead near the recent swing high near $46 and at $51, while support below $38 is found near $34.50 and between $30 and $30.50.

ETH/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ethereum has been trading in a narrow range today and the recent short-term swing high capped the rally attempt in the second largest coin. While the coin is still holding on to most of its gains from last week, trading well above the $112 level, the lack of bullish follow-through is a negative sign even regarding the short-term outlook.

The hostile long-term setup raises the odds of a failed short-term rally, and although pour trend model remains on a short-term buy signal, traders should only consider small, speculative positions here. The $120 level continues to be at the center of attention, with another strong resistance above that being found near $130, while further support is found in the $95-$100 zone.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Disclaimer:  The analyst owns cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but doesn’t engage in short-term or day-trading, nor does he hold short positions on any of the coins.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 464 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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The “Accessibility Premium”: How Coinbase’s Overseas Expansion Could Affect Crypto Prices

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The accessibility premium refers to the affect on a cryptocurrency’s price when it is added to Coinbase. The $8 billion valued exchange is now looking to expand beyond its U.S-based institutional trading business to offer institutional services worldwide. Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin may end up being the greatest beneficiaries. These cryptocurrencies could gain from increased accessibility; the new “Coinbase Effect”.

In 2018, as the exchange added more cryptocurrencies, some writers wrote about a perceived “Coinbase Effect”, like Ari Paul. They theorize about an “accessibility premium”, in which those crypto-assets that are more accessible rise in price. With Coinbase bringing crypto to worldwide investors, it could bolster demand for those coins that are listed on the San Francisco-based “Goldman Sachs of Crypto”. They would be more accessible. When a new cryptocurrency or token hit the exchange, traders might expect a bump in price. 

On May 3, 2017 Coinbase integrated Litecoin, resulting in a 30% increase in the price. When Coinbase listed Bitcoin Cash on December 19, 2017, trading on global exchanges skyrocketed. Bitcoin cash closed at $4,000. Two days prior, its price had been $2,200. Volume increased from $2.5 billion on December 18 to nearly $12 billion on December 20 for a 380% increase.

Coinbase added Ethereum on July 21, 2016, resulting in a modest 14% rally. Things changed when Brave browser’s token, BAT, launched on Coinbase. It declined in price. Further data is needed to know the truthful dynamics. By the time BAT was listed, the price of crypto had long since started a consolidation, leaving sentiment low.

Fast forward Q1 2019, and Coinbase is expanding overseas. It is laying down infrastructure for the long-term as it looks towards Asian markets, amid moves to attract international institutional money to cryptocurrency trading. (Coinbase’s product GDAX offers US-based institutional trading) New traders might find Coinbase’s familiarity welcoming. Higher volumes would be to expected for the cryptocurrencies offered by the Silicon Valley giant. 

So, the popular exchange is undergoing an extensive expansion. Coinbase customers residing outside of the U.S. can now trade without a domestic bank account. This could be a boon to the prices of cryptos offered by Coinbase, led by Bitcoin.

There has been discussion about the correlation between simplicity and demand. Opinions on the effect ease of use has on demand are not entirely aligned. As Donald Norman says in his book “Living with Complexity”:

… the so-called demand for simplicity is a myth whose time has passed, if it ever existed.

Make it simple and people won’t buy. Given a choice, they will take the item that does more.

Features win over simplicity, even when people realize that features mean more complexity. You do too, I’ll bet. Haven’t you ever compared two products side by side, feature by feature, and preferred the one that did more? …

Would you pay more money for a washing machine with fewer controls? In the abstract, maybe. At the store, probably not.

Ultimately, Norman argues for managed complexity. But, the demand for simplicity – or at least clarity – seems logical in a chaotic, complex world. In a blog on their website called “The Customer Demand for Pervasive Simplicity”, Cisco writes of this perception, and how it tailors its products towards this end.

A bastion of crypto-simplicity, Coinbase has long courted institutional investors in the U.S., but now its targets are clearly set on a global institutional book. The stage is set for crypto’s first truly global exchange, though Coinbase will need to first successfully assimilate into new countries, with their unique business practices languages, laws, and regulations. Currently, differing regulations in different countries keep crypto’s exchange ecosystem quite regional.

Coinbase holds 5 percent of all bitcoin, 8 percent of all ethereum, and 25 percent of all litecoin in circulation in cold storage. Its success overseas would likely underpin their prices if the “accessibility premium” holds true.

Marcus Hughes, recently appointed as lead counsel for Coinbase in the United Kingdom, has been tasked with overseeing cross-border expansion: “Coinbase takes the long view on bitcoin and wider cryptocurrency prices,” Hughes said, “We need to move beyond the speculation phase of bitcoin and cryptocurrency to the utility phase.”

He added: “The utility phase will mean bitcoin and crypto becomes more widely accepted and understood.”

This solidifies bullish sentiment from the exchange which will be strengthened should it be successful in its bid to attract ‘big money’, not just from a core user base in the U.S. but also from thriving crypto markets in countries such as Japan.

Coinbase reports that, “In the past twelve months, hundreds of crypto-first hedge funds have launched around the world, and many hundreds more traditional institutions have begun [actively trading digital assets]. High-volume clients across Asia will now have access to Coinbase’s flagship trading platforms for institutions. As part of this rollout, we now support inbound and outbound international (SWIFT) wire transfers, allowing Coinbase clients in Asia to fund their accounts from non-US bank holdings.”

Coinbase predicts a bright future for digital currency in Asia, it says, and looks to enter into a market that could help it to cement a role as one of the global leaders in crypto trading. But there remains a big question mark over cryptocurrencies, prominently over how regulation is going to play a role.

Marcus Hughes opines that this year will see a “massive change” for global bitcoin regulation. He says that Europe will gradually lead the way out of a “crypto winter” into regulated digital currency markets with more potential for long-term stability. But, in the short term, irrational trading might paint an entirely different picture. 

As we see Coinbase invest in the long-term it bolsters confidence in a currently inhospitable climate for bitcoin. Should prices continue to fluctuate market sentiment may dip, but it is the notion of institutional money that may serve to give cryptocurrency markets much-needed price stability. 

Image: David McBee, Pexels

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 2 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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Bitcoin Price Sees Renewed Stability as Average Block Size Reaches All-Time High

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Bitcoin’s price drifted slightly higher on Friday, as the potential for further downside continued to erode following a week-long drop in volatility. In terms of fundamentals, bitcoin’s average block size has reached a new record high, reigniting a long-standing debate over full blocks and the so-called capacity cliff.

BTC/USD Update

The bitcoin price is currently trading at $3,684 on Bitfinex, a figure is much higher than comparable exchanges and well above the average price quoted by CoinMarketCap. In terms of averages, bitcoin is presently trading at $3,637.69, having gained 0.7%.

Trade volumes have declined steadily in the latter half of the week. On Friday, 24-hour volumes dropped below $6 billion for the first time since Sunday. Market activity tends to decline heading into the weekend, which is understandable given the continuous 24-hour cycle of cryptocurrency trading.

BitMEX continues to be the single-largest virtual exchange market for BTC trades, though its share of total volume has fallen below 8%. Spot trading accounts for the remaining 92%. As Hacked reported earlier this week, derivatives trading has witnessed a substantial boost over the past six months, with “private bilateral” contracts valued anywhere between $125 million and $500 million per month. Read more: Bitcoin and Derivatives: Why $4,200 is So Critical.

Bitcoin’s modest upside has resonated with the broader market. Most of the top 20 cryptocurrencies reported gains Friday, dragging the total market capitalization back above $121 billion.

Average Block Size Climbs

Bitcoin’s average block size has surged through the first half of February, reaching the highest level on record, according to data from blockchain.com. The average block size peaked at 1.305 MB on Feb. 11, up from 0.899 MB the week before. The following chart illustrates fluctuations in the average block size going back 60 days.

At the time of writing, the average block size was 1.08 MB. This figure is updated continuously every 10 minutes.

In any case, the recent surge in block size has exceeded the previous limit of 1 MB established by the Bitcoin network. It has also reignited the debate over full blocks and their impact on the network. For some, “full blocks” essentially mean a backlog of transactions waiting to be incorporated into future blocks. This not only clogs up the network if blocks are consistently full, it raises the risk of long transaction delays and even outright rejection. This is a painful tradeoff for a network that is promoting bitcoin for everyday use.

Some members of the bitcoin community still advocate for smaller block sizes. They argue that large block sizes could increase centralization because it would mean that full nodes could only be run in large data centers.The debate over how to alleviate these concerns is still ongoing.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 770 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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