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Blockzero Jed McCaleb Interview: My Outlook on XLM

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In terms of price trends, we recently saw a bit of a dip, with Ethereum and bitcoin losing about 10% no reason. I am staying away from this market until it starts to act according to good news and bad news. All of this bouncing around for no reason just smells like market manipulation and/or stupidity. Two things I don’t trade into.

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As I have looked through the content YouTube “stars” and some of the more well-known cryptocurrency enthusiasts are putting out, I am noticing one shocking thing. They come up with new coins daily to invest in. They just poof one out of thin air, they say how great the idea (not the business) is, and that it could change stuff. Wow. Well, I pride my reputation on being a broken record. I only like 4-5 coins, and I only talk about those coins. I don’t invest in anything else, nor do I want to talk about anything else. Stellar Lumens is one of those coins, and a great interview just came out with CEO Jed McCaleb. Although I have followed what Jed has said throughout Stellar’s business cycle since 2014, hearing him talk about the market right now (as of Feb. 8) was something I sorely needed as an investor when XLM is trading at a mere $0.38.

Most of these coin projects have founders who shouldn’t be anywhere near a microphone, as their explanations of their businesses is actually detrimental to marketing, not helpful. Digging into deep technical jargon on a public forum when you are supposed to be marketing your coin is not helping anyone. There are so few people who understand blockchain that companies are paying high s9x figure salaries for amateurs. Marketing should be an explanation on who’s buying, why, and how much. Jed did exactly that in his interview. He talks faster than a New York City stock broker on speed, but wants to provide only information that will give investors better insight into the XLM business; not the deep tech of the coin. I will touch on some of the key points that I loved: update on corporate relationships, innovations for public use, and ICO platform.

Corporate Relationships

CEOs are not often people who talk candidly. They are the head salespeople of the firm, and everything has to be perfect at the company. Jed is taking a humble blockchain approach. He wants to make sure that the record is straight about what partners are doing at Stellar, and how it will help/affect XLM specifically. Case in point: he said explicitly that bank relationships are far off for Stellar, and the market as a whole. He admitted the banks he works with are very early on in the sales cycle, and that 1,000+ year incumbents aren’t too used to working with new entrants. The trial runs and beta versions are all common practices in every industry. They don’t mean adoption. This was a surprise to me. I was under the assumption that these banks had a fire lit under them to catch up to blockchain. It seems they aren’t in a hurry, or just making it seem that way.

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This is where it gets good. Jed has since re-shifted focus to companies that he knows will be immediate adopters, just because of how easily it can fit into their structure. Remittance companies (Western Union, Moneygram, etc.) are the low hanging fruit in his mind. These are high volume transfers of cash, with high fees to come with it. The biggest demographic of remittances are obviously foreign workers, who also happen to be the last people who can afford to spend 5-10% of their capital on transfer fees. With an industry size of $500 billion in 2016, remittances can feed quite a few companies that have friendly corporate technology.

XLM is a shell. It can take form of fiat currency, transfer anywhere in the world, and settle in a bank account in any currency. There are 300 coins that claim they can be the new PayPal, and most them are still spouting off about decentralization. This is a company that wants control mechanisms so it can give tangible control to their corporate customers.

The way he spoke about his corporate partnerships is translucent. He doesn’t tweet (says he only watches, not talks) out random fodder that happens each day. He wants to be the business person that people can depend on. People will go back and read through the information that all of these coins put out during late 2017/early 2018. I think his spot in the annals of the crypto boom will prove to be very noble. I am happy with remittances, and I am happy he was open that banks just aren’t there yet. I haven’t heard anyone else admit it, have you?

Public Use

I was unaware of the infrastructural scope that Stellar has built since 2014. Jed created a conglomerate, not a business. He has a platform for the public to launch DAPPs/smart contracts, token offerings, and an exchange soon capable of atomic swaps (no base currency; you can trade LTC for KMD). His main goal is to create an exchange capable of housing the U.S. cryptocurrency market, while also having ICOs launching on it in tandem. The recent $30 million ICO of Mobius (I don’t invest in any ICOs) had all the looks and smells of a compliant offering. If the exchanges play well with the government, we can see some very big moves.

The next public project was partnered out. Because remittances are so large, the big companies are just necessary evils in the early adoption phase. He is working with a confidential company on creating a global Venmo-type network that can work directly with any kind of bank account. You can send USD from an American bank account, and it will deposit in yen in a Japanese bank account. All on the app in 3-5 seconds. XLM was designed specifically for this purpose, and its use cases are beginning to take up speed. XLM is the sought after technology, not private chaining. I am very excited to see what he comes up with here because this fiat currency settlement mechanism is almost monopolistic right now.

ICOs

Staying far away from ICOs right now, even Stellar’s. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t find the winning race horse before the race. Stellar’s platform works with fiat currency, and it can launch ICOs. Need I say more? I have harped on this fact many times, but this is just too good not to repeat. If central banks, corporations, institutions, and high net-worth individuals feel comfortable enough with Stellar’s way of handling their native paper currencies, we could see Regulation D token securities being offered on Stellar. Big American business is waiting for the rulebook to be written, and then they will pounce. Stellar is already working with banks in the South Pacific with America’s tech darling IBM: we are seeing the heir being groomed in my opinion. All of the information listed is leading to me to a rather large conclusion.

Conclusion

My conclusion is getting fast out of XRP, and putting it all into XLM. XRapid, Xcurrent, X-me out of this XRP business. Ripple is creating blockchain systems, and has gotten the taste of private chain revenue. Their coin does not need to be used, and each company they work with has specific press releases saying they aren’t using XRP.  On the contrary, we have the head of blockchain for IBM saying they love XLM, and are actively working together to introduce it to banks. XLM, not just Stellar. That is crucial for coin holders. I am not running over to the computer to sell right now, but I will get up to my basis, and exit. I will most likely keep some for a Coinbase push, but XLM needs more of Raiden’s money. Jed McCaleb has created 3 gigantic blockchain companies (Mt. Gox, Ripple, Stellar), and smart money doesn’t bet against him. I sure won’t be.

 

This is not a recommendation to buy cryptocurrencies. I am not buying or selling anything right now, and I suggested you don’t either. If you do, be aware of the risks. I wish you the best of luck.

Disclaimer: The author has an investment stake in XRP.

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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4.4 stars on average, based on 27 rated postsMythological God of Lightning. Cryptocurrency/Blockchain writer, evangelist, and friend. May the odds be ever in our favor.




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  1. citizen_x

    February 11, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Really great and very interesting article, like your reasonable point of view, the fundamentals have to be solid for the project to succeed long term. Thanks for sharing those ideas.

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Decentralization

JP Morgan’s Surprise Cryptocurrency Fees are a Reminder of Why Decentralization Is Sorely Needed

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JP Morgan Chase & Co has been hit with a class-action lawsuit by cryptocurrency traders over allegations of unannounced fees and higher interest rates on purchases of digital currencies. Though the allegations have not been proven, extra fees are a tactic routinely employed by traditional banking institutions. In the case of JP Morgan, this has karma written all over it given the way its chief executive has ridiculed digital assets by associating them with fraud.

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Class Action Lawsuit

Traders from across the United States are seeking statutory damages of $1 million for unannounced interest charges and fees on cryptocurrency transactions between January and February of this year. The named plaintiff in the lawsuit is Brady Tucker, an Idaho resident who paid a total of $163.91 in fees and surprise interest charges over a six-day stretch.

According to information obtained by Reuters, the lawsuit accuses the bank of violating the U.S. Truth in Lending Act, a piece of legislation that requires credit card issuers to inform customers in writing of any notable change in fees.

The lawsuit asserts that Tucker tried to resolve the dispute by calling Chase’s customer support service directly. His request was turned down, prompting him to seek legal help. According to Bloomberg, the case in question is Tucker v. Chase Bank USA NA, 18-cv-3155, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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The Growing Case for Decentralization

Depending on who you ask, the allegations against JP Morgan are akin to cryptocurrency fraud not unlike the kind Jamie Dimon talked about while ridiculing bitcoin. But the irony in Dimon’s comments extend far beyond Chase’s latest dealings.

As the actions of Chase bank and other financial institutions have clearly demonstrated over the years, those who control the size and growth rate of fiat money cannot be trusted to do the right thing. As Nassim Taleb argues in The Black Swan, banks have a tendency of losing as much money as they make in the long run due to shady business practices and high-risk ventures. Decisions like these are easy when you are Too Big to Fail.

Decentralization, like the kind advocated by blockchain startups and cryptocurrencies, allows users to trade directly with each other without having to go through a (predatory) middleman. Decentralized systems not only help participants avoid unnecessary fees, red tape and other forms of unwanted intervention, they are virtually impossible to shut down. In this vein, decentralized currencies give people a fighting chance in their battle against never-ending inflation. As we’ve argued before, this is not only a prudent fight, but a noble one as well.

Cryptocurrencies that rely on decentralization offer society a unique value proposition unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history. What’s more, their adoption is not contingent upon us leaving the realm of traditional finance – at least, not yet. That’s because cryptocurrency started off as an obscure and esoteric asset class but has since become a value store for investors. Tomorrow, it will become a viable medium of exchange accepted worldwide.

That said, we are still in the very early days of the crypto revolution and it may be a while still before we can conclusively prove people like Dimon wrong. But crypto backers and investors should take comfort in knowing that big banks rarely lead in disruption these days. They have the resources to play catch-up, which they are clearly doing with 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 348 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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Altcoins

Will Dash Be the Bitcoin Killer?

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Well, it has finally happened.  We’ve gone a full week with crypto prices showing positive returns.  OMG, what a big surprise; ether is leading the pack, advancing nearly 15% at the time of this writing.  This is encouraging because it shows that perhaps finally value investors are stepping in and helping set a pricing bottom.  

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It hasn’t hurt a bit that stock and bond market investors have become seasick from all the volatility.  Suddenly, a tiny little weekly Litecoin move of +0.46% or even a 2.47% bitcoin cash gain, looks like pure serenity.  

 

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For a while now our focus has been on relative value and there is very little argument that, after the first quarter price collapse, a whole lot of risk has been taken out of bitcoin, ether, Ripple and thousands of others.

The question is where to go and what to go with from here.  The big crypto names are the safe way to go in the short run, but each has become mired in network limitations on scaling and the concomitant cost issues.  

Yes, transaction fees have dropped like a stone from their prohibitively high levels of December but then transaction volumes have fallen by half and more.  That is not the stuff an investor wants to see.

Both bitcoin and Ethereum hope to solve scaling issues with the Lightning Network and Raiden. But for now, if transaction volume were to suddenly rise, the same network limitations would be there.  So even though the big crypto names offer the safest short term options, does that mean we shouldn’t look further out to find value?

Will Dash Solve Bitcoin’s Problem?

Dash emerged last year as one of the most popular and most valuable altcoins. At the time it was considered a real competitor to bitcoin and the leading cryptocurrency of the future. The price of Dash increased from $11 to over $1,430. Dash had a capitalization of over $11 billion at its December peak. Since then it has tumbled more than 80%.  Is now the time to move into Dash? The timing could be very good but before making that decision, we should consider a few things.

Judgement Time

If a jury of its peers were to grade Dash on its performance in 2017, the majority would say it lived up to its billing.  Using Dash, users could send money instantly using the InstaSend feature that allowed for complete anonymity. At the peak, transaction costs were around $0.60, which were dwarfed by bitcoin’s high of $30. 

Since then, Dash fees have fallen to about $0.20, making them attractive for small sized transactions. All alone this represents a compelling feature of Dash.  Add to that the immediacy of InstaSend and you have the makings of a genuine challenge to Bitcoin.

Caveat Emptor

In appraising Dash’s performance it is useful to look at Metcalfe’s Law, which values social media assets based on a formula of network size.  For Dash, it’s network is processing a tiny fraction of bitcoin’s. The limitations of its network have very likely not yet been tested, so proclaiming Dash the speed king is a bit early. There is still a larger issue to consider.

In the case of Metcalfe’s Law we need to include merchants and other service providers that accept Dash as payment.  That is the big hump for them to overcome before overturning bitcoin. So far, after all, bitcoin is accepted by only about 10,000 or so merchants.  

Further progress by bitcoin is stymied by transaction costs that remain far too high.  Even so look at how many years it has taken bitcoin to attract merchants. Dash faces the same hurdles.

In other words, the trick for Dash is the find a way to gain mass acceptance quickly. That is when the huge $11 billion valuation of last December will begin to be justified. Look over your shoulder bitcoin – faster, lower cost competition is looking to eat your lunch. Dash could be one of those.

 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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4.4 stars on average, based on 62 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Op-Ed

Crypto: Looking For Leadership

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Cryptocurrencies

The crypto world needs a messiah.  Well, maybe the crypto world doesn’t need one, but crypto investors sure do.

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For all the ballyhoo over decentralization, sometimes it would be nice to have a central authority.  Someone that everyone in the industry looked to provide the vision for the future. In the past guys like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs filled those roles.  

Behind Gates was the power of the WinTel monopoly.  Steve Jobs held the enormous power of his creative genius to give us all a vision of the future.  If either of these two spoke, you could pretty much take it as gospel.

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These days, there are tons of brilliant developers whose vision is practically Hawkingian in depth.  But understanding the english language version is made impossible by loads mathematical mush or linguistic portmanteaus.

You may ask, why is any of this relevant? It is not just the fact that crypto prices have collapsed this year.  Only about 8% of Americans own cryptocurrencies and less than 2% of institutional capital is involved.

At the time of the first iPhone, fewer than 8% of Americans owned smartphones.  Steve Jobs helped them see why they desperately needed to own one. Call this nothing more than salesmanship but satisfying that desperate need added almost $600 billion to investors pockets by the time iPhone 10 came along.

 

Ethereum started the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance a year ago to connect Fortune 500 companies with experts on blockchain capabilities.  So far they have about 200 members and could be genuine crypto evangelists. So far they have been working hard but the last news out of EEC was three months ago.  Obviously, the price of Ether is not their first priority. There are plenty of qualified spokes people leaving the White House these days.

Acceptance Of The Present State Is Necessary

If we were dealing with Microsoft or Apple corporations there would be a full staff of PR types spinning the virtues of Windows or Mac products.  But with crypto we are dealing with greater democracy in a decentralized public forum that anytime in history.

So, everything from honest differences of opinion to downright rebellion comes through in public forums.  It is not always cool but it is democracy in action.

Missed Opportunity

The recent Deconomy conference in South Korea Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin was there to present his 12-month vision for Ethereum.  This was the perfect time for this 24 year old industry leader to step to the plate and lead the crypto world. Instead, according to reports from CoinDesk, he scrapped the whole thing.

The thrust of his remarks focused on the slow transaction speeds of the present network leading to the headline: Vitalink:“Ethereum Apps are being ‘Screwed’ by scaling”.

In the true spirit of democracy, Buterin was addressing Ethereum research scientists at the conference about the needs to change in order to accommodate a growing level of developer needs.  The problem for ordinary investors like you and I is that there were no solution for journalists to pounce on only the frustrations over present limitations. If this had been a corporate environment none this would have been news.  

Restating The Obvious?

There may only be 8% of Americans who own Bitcoin, Ether or one of the thousand plus others but 99% of those understand the issue of scaling.  Bitcoin recently launched The Lightning Network and Ethereum has Radien and others. And then let’s not forget EOS. So what is the point of one of the industry’s truly brilliant figures reminding us what is wrong in the world of Ethereum?

In the real world of depressed prices and diminished expectations, crypto investors need a messiah.  

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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4.4 stars on average, based on 62 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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