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Bitcoin Leads Crypto Market to Record Highs After New Year

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It was gains across the board for the world’s top-15 cryptocurrencies, with the likes of bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin leading the rally.

BTC/USD Price Levels

The value of a single bitcoin spiked more than 10% on Tuesday to $15,022 for a market cap of $255 billion. The cryptocurrency reached a session high of $15,222.

More than $16.4 billion worth of bitcoin was transacted over the last 24 hours, according to CoinMarketCap. Binance emerged as the biggest processor, with TRX/BTC trades accounting for 6.5% of the daily transactions. ETH/BTC trades on Binance also accounted for 2.5% of the daily turnover.

Bitcoin has had a wild ride the past five days, with prices fluctuating between today’s highs and lows near $12,000. The coin’s dominance of the digital currency market has slowly faded, with less than 38% of the total market cap allocated to bitcoin. That’s down from nearly 90% a year ago.

Altcoins Surge

Alternatives to bitcoin have picked up the slack in recent months, as investors continue to be drawn to assets with higher transaction capacity. The latest altcoin surge has brought assets such as Litecoin, Ripple and even Cardano to the forefront. Each of these cryptocurrencies seeks to become a lighter, more transaction-friendly bitcoin.

According to CoinMarketCap, the top 15 cryptocurrencies by market cap were trading higher on Tuesday.

Ripple held on to the no. 2 spot with a market cap of $90 billion. Prices were up more than 11% to $2.13. Meanwhile, Ethereum spiked 12% to $858 for a total market value of $85 billion.

The ever popular Litecoin posted gains of nearly 10% to trade at $251. The coin has declined sharply over the past week as markets corrected from their most recent highs.

The recently forked bitcoin cash rose more than 10% to $2,601. Bitcoin cash has experienced significant volatility ever since Coinbase announced it would support the cryptocurrency. Allegations of insider trading triggered a sharp reversal in BCH tokens, which likely explains the sharp drop from record highs north of $4,100.

At the time of writing, the total value of all cryptocurrencies in circulation was $669 billion, the highest level on record. A total of 1,380 coins make up the market.

The number of coins in circulation is expected to rise steadily through the first quarter as more businesses issue token raises. ICOs generated more than $5 billion in funding last year, according to one estimate, and are poised to continue their streak at the start of 2018. Growth will likely continue until regulators intervene.

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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4.6 stars on average, based on 601 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Coordinated Pump Pushes Steem Coin Price Up 25%

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Steem (STEEM), one of the native currencies on the Steemit social media platform, felt a 25% pump in the early hours of Tuesday morning shortly after a bug saw the site go down temporarily.

Round about the same time a flurry of buy calls resounded around the Twitter ecosystem, urging traders to buy into STEEM in anticipation of the upcoming Hardfork 20, which is due to be implemented on September 25th.

With Hardfork 20 now a week away, it appears that a pump and dump group may be trying to draw new hands into STEEM with the intention of dumping their coins when the price hype reaches an appropriate crescendo.

Calling For Buyers

Several posts like this one appeared on Twitter in the late/early hours of last night, urging followers to accumulate STEEM:

“Accumulate $STEEM On Binance Its having HARDFORK on 25th sept price can go x2 soon !!”

The buy pattern started late last night and peaked this morning between 09:00 and 10:00 UTC. By 11:00 UTC tweets like this celebrated the price pump and the assumed gains made for the account’s followers:

“VIP members were told to buy #STEEM and hold. Btw it is 25% pure profit.”

As anyone who has used Steemit will know, whenever a large price movement takes place the platform suddenly receives its own flurry of activity, as users try to figure out where the price is going to end up. STEEM prices affect the subsequent value of Steemit profile accounts, and exchanges like this one were common on the site this morning:

Steemians, as the site’s users refer to themselves, will now be watching the run up to Hardfork 20 very closely. Hardcore users remain skeptical of today’s sudden rise in coin price, and naturally assume that pumpers are using Hardfork 20 as a trigger to make some easy money.

Steem’s 25% Price Hike

From yesterday’s low of $0.699509, STEEM rose in value to the tune of 25.9% en route to a valuation of $0.881178. That peak came at 10:00 UTC this morning, as trade volumes rose 261%, from $2.1 million yesterday to $7.6 million at the time of writing.

The above tweets suggested Binance as the hub for STEEM trades, and around 27.5% of activity has originated from there, with STEEM/BTC the most popular at 24.7% alone.

The most popular hub for STEEM trades, however, is Korea. Over 50% of the day’s movements have come from Upbit and Bithumb, where STEEM/KRW trades dominate. The STEEM price on Bithum even climbed as high as $4.27 at one point, however CoinMarketCap and other statistics aggregators have excluded this price from overall market readings.

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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4.3 stars on average, based on 57 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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Stellar Acquires Blockchain Startup Chain to form Interstellar

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The commercial arm of the Stellar Development Corporation has acquired a promising blockchain startup by the name of Chain, paving the way for possibly higher enterprise adoption of distributed ledger technology. The deal adds to Stellar’s credibility as one of the world’s leading blockchain companies.

Chain Acquired

Chain, a San Francisco-based startup pursuing enterprise grade adoption of blockchain technology in finance, has sold to Lightyear in an undisclosed cash agreement. Lightyear, the subsidiary of the Stellar Development Corporation, will be re-named Interstellar, according to official reports. Jed McCaleb, Stellar’s founder, will be the chief technology officer of the newly formed company, which he said should help companies build on the Stellar network. He adds:

“Chain’s team has led the market for enterprise adoption of blockchain technology, which is a critical component of building a future where money and digital assets move over open protocols.”

Interstellar’s new CEO Adam Ludwin explained how the newly merged company will work together:

“Chain has worked from inside the enterprise while Stellar has focused on the network between organizations. As a single team we will have a complete view and set of capabilities to make value-over-IP a reality.”

Chain is said to be a leader in the world of fin-tech, having built enterprise-grade blockchain solutions for Visa, Citigroup and Nasdaq, among others. With the merger, Interstellar will have access to Sequence, Chain’s powerful cloud solution that enables companies to monitor assets moving between private ledgers and the Stellar network.

Previously, Chain had raised more than $43 million across multiple deals. Financiers included Capital One, Citigroup, Pantera Capital and Blockchain Capital.

XLM Price Update

Although the merger between Chain and Lightyear has not had a demonstrably positive effect on XLM’s price, the cryptocurrency continues to outperform leading assets such as Ethereum and bitcoin cash. The XLM price was down 4.4% on Tuesday but has gained 3.2% over the past seven days. By comparison, bitcoin has declined nearly 1% over that period while Cardano has lost more than 10%. Ethereum is trading in positive territory over seven days as prices recovered from 16-month lows.

XLM, which is currently valued at $0.197, has declined roughly 12% over the past month. At current values, it has a market capitalization of $3.7 billion, placing it sixth among active cryptocurrencies. Bitbox is the most active market for XLM traders, accounting for more than 54% of daily transactions.

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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4.6 stars on average, based on 601 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Kovri & Bulletproofs: How Monero is Improving Privacy

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Kovri Bulletproofs Monero

Monero is one of the premier privacy conscious cryptocurrencies currently on the market.

It makes use some of the most advanced technologies in cryptography and blockchain technology. These include such features as stealth addresses, transaction mixing and Ring Confidential transactions.

These have made Monero (XMR) almost untraceable. Yet, “almost” is not good enough for the Monero community as they have strived to improve the protocol in their latest updates.

These updates include the Monero Kovri I2P implementation as well as what are termed “bulletproofs”. These developments have been in the pipeline for sometime and we are starting to see them being actively rolled out.

So what are they and how are they going to make Monero even more secure?

Before we can delve into the technology, we have to take a look the current state of Monero’s privacy.

Secure, Untraceable Digital Cash

Currently, Monero is able to hide all details about a transaction. Making use of stealth addresses, they are able to hide the recipient’s and payers’ details from the rest of the network. They are also able to hide the amount that has been transacted.

Making use of Ring Confidential transaction and transaction Mixin, information about future transactions is also hidden from the original sender of these funds.

Therefore, a Monero transaction is probably the closest you will get to making a payment with untraceable bank notes.

Monero USPs. Image source: Monero.

However, there are two outstanding quirks that the Monero community was not 100% comfortable with.

The first related to the potential of user IP address leaks and the other revolved around the inefficiencies of current Monero “Range proofs”.

Kovri and IP Anonymization

As mentioned, Monero is almost completely private. However, there was always a question that remained around the IP addresses of those who interacted with the Monero network.

When you initiate a transaction on the Monero blockchain, your IP address is being exposed to the network. If there was a malicious actor, they could observe this event and log your IP address. This could create the potential for meta data analysis by large and determined adversaries.

While this is a really difficult attack to complete, it is still a concern for some.

This is the reason that the community has been excited about the release of Kovri and its potential to encrypt and route transactions through I2P (Invisible Internet Protocol) nodes. Technically, Kovri will make use of “Garlic encryption” and “Garlic routing”

We won’t go into more detail about Garlic routing but one can think of it as a more secure version of the Onion routing. Onion routing is the current networking implementation that is on use in the TOR network.

By using this routing protocol, your connection to the Monero network is masked and your IP address cannot be identified. According to the Kovri lead developer, Anonimal, the Kovri protocol will:

“Essentially, we will be able to anonymise monero transactions even more than what monero is capable of doing right now, technically speaking, at the network layer”

Kovri is currently in alpha release stage and there is still a great deal of testing that needs to be done. There are currently 48 contributors who are working on it and the project still has a healthy chunk of funding to move the project forward.

BulletProofs and Lower Fees

While Monero transactions are completely private, they are relatively inefficient. This basically comes down to the nature of Monero’s “range proofs”.

Range proofs basically allow anyone to verify that a particular commitment represents an amount within a particular range without revealing anything else. These are needed in order ensure that transaction input and output amounts are positive.

This may sound like a mouthful, but all you need to know is that these range proofs are essential components for the private transaction.

However, the current range proofs on the Monero network are inefficient as they make up the bulk of the size of the transaction. This means that a great deal of mining resources goes towards verifying these range proofs and increases the cost of these transactions.

This is where BulletProofs come in.

Despite the catchy name, BulletProofs are the ideal solution to the Monero range proof problem. They scale in size differently to Monero’s current proofs and as a result, save space as transactions inputs and outputs increase.

A full explanation of Bulletproofs is beyond the scope of this article but if you wanted to flex your intellectual muscles you could read the paper on it by Bünz, Bootle et al.

The most important takeaway from the bulletproofs is the space that it saves in Monero transactions. For example, a simple Monero transaction that has two outputs is about 13.2kb in size. However, with bulletproofs the transaction is only 2.5kb in size. This is a full 80% reduction in size which will translate into a commensurate reduction in fees.

Given that bulletproofs scale logarithmically, the space savings on these transactions are even more pronounced with multiple output transactions.

In short, bulletproofs is a solution that all Monero users will notice immediately.

So where in the pipeline are Monero bulletproofs?

In July, Kudelski securities completed their audit of Monero compatible bulletproofs. While there were a few minor issues, it passed audit stage and was ready for implementation on the Monero test network.

If all goes well in the testing phase, then the bulletproofs are expected to be released live on the Monero network in October.

Conclusion

Monero has proven itself to be one of the premier privacy coins on the market. The community is thriving and is comprised of some of the smartest and most privacy conscious individuals in the world.

Of course, as Monero has garnered attention from government backed entities, so too have the risks increased for vulnerabilities and deanonymization.

The Monero developers are well aware of this and are always looking for solution to improve on the Protocol.

Kovri and bulletproofs are two really important improvements that will help cement Monero’s market leading status.

We will keep a keen eye on the rollout of this technology.

Featured Image via Fotolia

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 3 rated postsNic is an ex Investment Banker and current crypto enthusiast. When he is not sitting behind six screens trading Bitcoin, he is maintaining his numerous mining rigs.




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