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Opinion

Can Stellar Become the Next Major ICO Platform?

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If you’ve been paying attention to ICOs, you’ve probably noticed a consistent trend: the vast majority of token raises are built on Ethereum. The protocol has quickly emerged as one of the blockchain community’s undisputed leaders. And just like that, of cryptocurrencies were born.

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Although there’s little evidence to suggest that startups are thinking about abandoning the ether platform, a new kid on the block is proving just as worthy of consideration.

Stellar Payment Network

Stellar actually isn’t all that new. It was founded in 2014 as an open platform for developing financial products. Though largely flying under the radar amid the latest crypto boom, Stellar has earned a market cap of nearly $3 billion. That’s enough for 11th spot on the CoinMarketCap chart of leading cryptocurrencies.

Stellar made headlines last month after Smartlands became the first company to launch a token on the payment platform. Smartlands, which markets itself as the platform for agriculture, touted Stellar’s superior transaction protocol and massive reach. Proceeds from the ICO will fund the development of the company’s Asset Based Tokens, which are offered on the Smartlands platform.

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With Smartlands latching on to Stellar, market participants are curious to see whether more ICOs will follow suite. As it turns out, Stellar has a number of unique advantages that could make it the ideal platform for future token raises.

Stellar for ICOs: The Rationale

ICOs have raised $3.5 billion and counting this year. Although most token raises continue to be delivered through Ethereum, there is a strong case to be made for Stellar.

1. Cheaper and faster

One of Stellar’s most defining attributes is its ability to avoid the gas problem facing Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. As ether prices march toward $500, transactions are becoming more expensive. Stellar does not need gas to execute programs and has a miniscule transaction fee (i.e., fraction of a penny). The Stellar network is also able to process 1,000 transactions per second, making it ideal for token raises with a strong transaction component.

2. Customizable

As we’ve mentioned before, there’s no shortage of industries represented in the ICO market. Projects are diverse in scale and nature, making customization an essential feature of the underlying infrastructure. Stellar allows token issuers to customize their accounts, payments, tokens and special offers.

3. Decentralized Exchange

As the number of cryptocurrencies continues to rise, a platform that enables efficient trading will be viewed more favorably by the investing public. As Lindsay Lin describes on the Stellar blog, any token created on the platform can be bought and sold via Stellar’s decentralized exchange. Companies that launch their ICOs on the Stellar network do not need a third-party cryptocurrency exchange to make their token available. This is an extremely attractive value proposition at a time when crypto-market liquidity is going through the roof.

4. Security Features

The Stellar system doesn’t offer the same breadth of features as Ethereum. This was done on purpose to limit risk and keep the bad actors from exploiting the program. As an added layer of security, token issuers can choose which nodes are allowed to validate their transactions. Security often comes at a cost, but Stellar has taken a reasonable approach to protecting its infrastructure.

5. The Team

Stellar is backed by one of the strongest teams in the industry, with co-founder Jed McCaleb already building two cryptocurrency companies. For those who are unfamiliar with McCaleb, he created Mt Gox, the now defunct exchange that at one point handled nearly three-quarters of global bitcoin transactions. After the Mt Gox debacle, he went on to found what would eventually become Ripple. The Stellar team currently consists of 12 employees, four board members and eight advisers. It’s advisory group is, shall we say, stellar. It includes the founders of Y Combinator, AngelList, WordPress and Apache Software. The chief scientist of White Ops is also involved in the project.

Of course, none of these attributes diminishes Ethereum’s capabilities as a superior programming platform. Its smart contract applications continue to be a major draw for prospective token raises. As the ICO Ratings page clearly shows, Ethereum remains very much in the driver’s seat.

That being said, keep your eye on the Stellar network. We wouldn’t be surprised if more ICOs are launched on this platform in 2018.

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 410 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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Steppa75

    December 7, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Yes certainly one I’ve been looking at closely, I thing even the recent big gains could be just the start. Maybe a good long term buy, even at current prices.

  2. JL1671

    December 9, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    You might also want to remark, that Ripple XRP offers the same thing on their ledger – with a far better team, and actively pursuing compliance with authorities. Alhough it must be said: yes, Ripple does not concentrate on it (yet). But imagine they would, being the trustworthy partner (contrary to shady McCaleb) towards our real-life regulators that enforce compliance upon us. ICO ban? “Comply through a trustworthy partner, and you’re ok after all” ? Who knows…

    In any case – whatever a future outcome on this might be, the Ripple protocol allows for just the same as well.

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Opinion

Yale Economist Robert Shiller Has Little Faith in Cryptocurrencies

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Yale economist Robert Shiller warns that for all their innovation, the new money that is cryptocurrencies is an experiment that in the end may fall short. According to Shiller in a blog post posted today, computer programmers are the only ones who get cryptocurrencies enough to explain them, which he suggests “creates an aura of exclusivity”, attaches a certain “glamour” to this “new money” and inspires the devout loyalty within blockchain circles.

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It’s déjà vu for Shiller, who has seen this all play out before in the history books, each time over the past 100-plus years ending in utter failure. This time it’s the rise of some 2,000 digital currencies and millions of believers who are not deterred by the smoke signals that regulators are sending up. Cryptocurrencies aside, money “is rich in mystique,” he says, and fueled by the faith that people and institutions place in it.

Shiller harkens back to the Cincinnati Time Store, which was a retail store in the 1800s founded by Josiah Warner and fueled by labor notes as well as “time money” surfaced shortly thereafter, which relied on time instead of precious metals. Neither of those experiments succeeded.

The revolution, he says, is nothing new, and the shine associated with reinventing money eventually grows dim.

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“The cryptocurrencies are a statement of faith in a new community of entrepreneurial cosmopolitans who hold themselves above national governments, which are viewed as the drivers of a long train of inequality and war.” – Shiller

Shiller taps into the emotional case for cryptocurrencies, suggesting that the allure of new money is shrouded in the mystery of “advanced science.” Perhaps.

But while payments are a key application of cryptocurrencies, they’re not the only use case. And blockchain and cryptocurrencies have a symbiotic relationship, one in which neither wouldn’t exist without the other. But not once in his epilogue does he mention blockchain, the very technology that sets cryptocurrencies apart from historical attempts at new money, or the $143 billion market cap achieved by bitcoin alone currently.

‘A Clever Idea’

Shiller is a Nobel prize winner for his theory on asset prices. His Twitter profile evokes Alan Greenspan’s Fed with a description as being “irrationally exuberant.” Shiller actually shines when he is predicting doom and gloom, having presciently called both the bursting of the dot-com bubble and the housing crisis.

As economists go, Shiller has been more open-minded about bitcoin than his peers, his prediction for a “total collapse” notwithstanding. Shiller once called bitcoin a “clever idea.”

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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 7 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. Full disclosure, she's invested in bitcoin.




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Opinion

How Monetary Goods Compare: Bitcoin, Gold and the U.S. Dollar

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One of the most common arguments against the value of cryptocurrencies, and monetary ones like bitcoin in particular, is how they compare to current assets. Gold and the U.S. dollar are the two counter-examples which get used the most, which is why it can be helpful to compare each of their attributes to figure out where each one shines.

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Monetary goods can be compared on a few different terms. Gold was the original “money,” but we presently use fiat currency, and are talking about the bitcoin as being the future of monetary assets.

Scarcity and Verifiability

The first thing that needs to be compared is whether they are scarce or not. In this regard, fiat currency is actually the least scarce. The last few decades have seen many politicians print more money to create short-term solutions, but this means the scarcity is almost non-existent.

Gold fares better, as there is a limited amount available at any time, but if there were any innovations in mining technology, the supply could increase immediately. Bitcoin is actually the most scarce (despite what detractors might say) because there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins and the schedule of their mining is relatively fixed.

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In terms of verifiability, bitcoin also beats both gold and fiat currency. Counterfeits of both exist, but there are no passable counterfeits for bitcoin. In terms of durability, gold triumphs over all since it is relatively robust, but fiat can be destroyed quite easily. Bitcoin falls in the middle, as it can be destroyed if the network is destroyed or the private keys are lost.

Portability

This plays in a bit with being scarce and verifiable, but is most of all about the ability to cross borders with the coin or send money all the way across the world. It is hard to argue that gold or fiat currency are easier to do either of these with.

The capital controls and government regulations present in the world make it very hard to send fiat currency to other countries. However, with cryptocurrency, you can just put the money on a USB drive and go anywhere.

Censorship Resistance

One of the key factors that makes bitcoin so powerful is its inability to be censored or controlled. The First Amendment is all about free speech and the right to say what you want, and there needs to be a corresponding right that applies to currencies. Being able to fund what you wish without gaining the permission of another entity is what makes the network so valuable.

The presence of gatekeepers in the fiat system is a lot of what has created such strong demand for a censorship resistant currency. Governments have outlawed certain uses of currency (e.g. illicit drugs or sex trafficking), which is clearly a good for the world. But at the same time, if one was trying to flee China, it would not be possible to do so while maintaining a hold on all their fiat currency. This is where the opportunity for bitcoin begins.

Understanding Monetization

Now that we’ve compared these goods on several different dimensions, we can see that bitcoin has merit compared to gold or USD in some respects. The only thing that it lacks is an established history, having been created in 2009. This is important because it enables the path from inception to widespread use. which is referred to as monetization. The process can take a long time, but there are a few things we can expect.

The prices will naturally continue to go up above the intrinsic value of the good, as a monetary premium is necessary. Monetary premiums are the difference between the market value and intrinsic value of a cryptocurrency. A dollar is worth far more than the paper it is printed on and the utility of a bar of gold is less than 10% of its current market value.

The increases in price are expected, since each monetary good must rise above its intrinsic value to a market derived value. Bubbles are a standard part of the monetization process, which is counter-intuitive to what we’ve heard so far. This can look like a bubble to doubters, but it is only a bubble if it pops. If it doesn’t it is just the market searching for an appropriate monetary premium for the cryptocurrency. In the end, there is no objectively correct monetary good in the world and network effects and evangelization are key.

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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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Opinion

The Principles of Money and How You Should Think of Bitcoin

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To really understand bitcoin and what it aims to do, you need to understand what money is. The two terms that get thrown around a lot in regards to whether bitcoin or any other digital currency is a good investment are “medium of transfer” and “store of value”. These are important components of monetary assets, but aren’t the end of the conversation.

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What Makes a Monetary Good

There are three main purposes you need to think of when you determine how useful a monetary good is: medium of exchange, store of value and unit of account.

Store of value means that users are comfortable storing their wealth in terms of that monetary good. This is generally a sign of stability and trust in the long-term value of the monetary good.

Next, you have medium of transfer, which is basically a “cash” use case. Everyone is willing to transfer value to each other by using the asset. They might not necessarily hold this for long, but it is widely used enough that you can trust in its usefulness.

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The less heard of quality for a currency to have is being a unit of account. This means that people value their goods in terms of that particular currency. If you were to ask someone how much something costs, chances are they would quote the value in terms of their local currency. That makes the local currency the unit of account.

Right now, bitcoin is not a unit of account because there is no set bitcoin price a good would be sold in. Instead, you have values quoted based on the current BTC/USD exchange rate, which is very different.

The Path of Monetary Evolution

It can take decades for a good to go through the full evolution of its use as a monetary good, and that use can change with shifts in the economy. For example, gold would have been used for all three purposes, but is now only used as a store of value. Similarly, PayPal captured the medium of transfer use case, but never developed a meaningful solution to become a unit of account or store of value.

So where is bitcoin now? Based on the way it is being traded, it is mostly a store of value. In the beginning, there were lots of situations where users would spend bitcoin on trivial objects, but now with the meme “HODL” and the number of rabid bitcoin supporters, it is mostly a long-term investment.

This is the standard path a new monetary good takes. Nobody would want to use it as a medium of transfer because the value is fluctuating so much that it is infeasible for daily use. Until the equilibrium amount of demand for the good comes online and the price somewhat stabilizes, it is unlikely to become a medium of transfer. The same applies to unit of account, as mentioned above.

No Defined Outcome

A common gripe against bitcoin is that it is not a useful currency because it does not fulfill the store of value condition, but this ignores the shortcomings of fiat currency. Nobody holds more than a small proportion of their net worth in fiat, because it is not a good store of value. Inflation is constantly eroding the value of the currency and that is its core weakness.

Additionally, when you look at unstable countries, such as Argentina, there are multiple monetary assets in use. They use the Argentinian peso as a medium of transfer, but opt for the US dollar as a store of value.

So there is no defined outcome for bitcoin’s evolution. It doesn’t have to fulfill all the use cases for it to be useful, it just has to be better than our current options for a use case.

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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