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Controversy Surrounding Tether Builds After Coin Circulation Spikes in Wake of Subpoena

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Embattled startup Tether increased the supply of USDT tokens dramatically in December after being handed a subpoena by federal regulators, raising fresh suspicion the company has been manipulating the bitcoin market.

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USDT Circulation Spikes

Data provided by Bitcoin.com and CoinMarketCap have confirmed that the supply of USDT tokens has risen by about one-third since Dec. 6, the day the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued the subpoena. In January alone, the number of USDT tokens released to the market was 850 million.

The sharp increase in new tokens coincided with a record rally in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in December and early January. Although many in the cryptocurrency community have outed Tether as a scam, a wholesale collapse of the company could have a devastating impact on the market.

On Jan. 24, a website by the name of tetherreport.com claimed that the digital currency was responsible for 48.8% of bitcoin’s price rally in 2017. The authors, who remain anonymous, concluded that more Tether is created when the price of bitcoin falls.

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On the flip side, there’s strong reason to believe that the company’s collapse would have the opposite impact. Just as Tether propped up the market, it could also be responsible for a 30% to 80% price correction, the authors claim.

Controversy surrounding Tether has been partly responsible for the market’s sharp correction in recent weeks. Combined with regulatory uncertainty and a series of cyber attacks targeting cryptos and ICOs, the digital currency market is down more than 50% from record levels .On Friday, the price of bitcoin fell below $8,000 for the first time since late November, when the market was heading in the opposite direction.

At the time of writing, the total supply of USDT tokens was 2,217,140,914. Each token is priced at $1.00, giving the cryptocurrency a market cap of more than $2.2 billion.

Dollar-Backing Under Scrutiny

Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Tether’s USDT token is supposedly pegged to the dollar, making it an attractive substitute for the greenback. Although the company has produced documents disclosing its holdings, it has not provided conclusive evidence of its financial backing. A document posted to the company’s website shows a balance of $443 million as of Sept. 15, although no details about the bank or account holders were provided.

Investors recently learned that Tether is run by the same CEO as Bitfinex, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges. Like Tether, Bitfinex was also subpoenaed by U.S. regulators in December. That both companies are run by the same management has raised suspicion over collusion in propping up the bitcoin market.

Analysts cited by CNBC have claimed that a growing number of USDT has shifted to the Bitfinex exchange in recent months. This could be to cover up the exchange’s solvency woes.

Bitfinex was the fifth largest crypto exchange on Saturday when measured by market volume. The platform processed nearly $430 million in bitcoin trades, according to CoinMarketCap. It also facilitated the buying and selling of $194 million worth of ether. Upbit was the top ranked exchange, followed by Binance, OKEx and Bithumb.

Many investors are hoping for a swift resolution to the Tether controversy, even if it ends in a debacle. Their rationale is simple: if Tether is manipulating the market, it should be stopped so that the forces of supply and demand prevail. In the long run, this will only serve to strengthen the market.

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 415 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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Five Ethereum-Based Tokens That Made It Big

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Proponents of Ethereum have long argued that ETH will one day become the world’s largest cryptocurrency. Though the jury is still out on whether ether can leapfrog bitcoin for top spot in the market cap ranking, the protocol has already established itself as the premier building block for the crypto economy.

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Hundreds of cryptocurrency projects have been launched on the Ethereum blockchain. At last check, Ethereum-based tokens accounted for more than 90% of token capitalization.

Amid the hundreds of ICOs launched via ERC-20 or ERC-23, about 50 stand out from the perspective of market capitalization. Among those, six coins have a market cap of $1 billion or greater. That figure that was as high as a dozen during the peak of the crypto bull market.

Below is a breakdown of the five largest Ethereum projects by market cap. Despite their success, these currencies can still be had at a fraction of the cost of ether.

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1. EOS (EOS)

EOS is currently ranked No. 1 among Ethereum projects with a total market cap of nearly $9.9 billion. The cryptocurrency made significant moves last month and eventually reached the fifth spot on the crypto-market ranking. Though the official explanation was tied to a lucrative airdrop and growing optimism over the upcoming eos.ios platform, suspicion of an elaborate pump-and-dump soon materialized.

At its core, EOS provides infrastructure services for the fast-growing and highly-touted decentralized applications market. As deployment of dApps continues to grow, EOS could be poised to reap the benefits.

EOS trading volumes are averaging more than $1.6 billion daily. Its major markets include Bithumb, Huobi, Bitfinex and OKEx.

2. Tron (TRX)

The Tron hype machine, led by founder Justin Sun, has catapulted TRX into a premier cryptocurrency when measured in terms of market cap and overall trade volumes.

Tron’s vision is to develop a blockchain-based content sharing platform to tap into the trillion-dollar digital entertainment industry. Though the project has succeeded in establishing strong partnerships, it has also been accused of plagiarizing content from projects like Filecoin and IPFS.

Justin Sun’s company was in the spotlight again last month when it announced a $2 billion reward pool for its development program.

TRX sees average volumes of around $600 million, with the bulk of activity generated on Upbit, Bithumb and Binance. It has a total market cap of roughly $4.7 billion.

3. VeChain (VEN)

VeChain hasn’t generated the same media storm as an EOS or a Tron but has quietly emerged as a top-20 cryptocurrency with a market cap close to $2 billion. The IOT blockchain is doubling down on technologies such as RFID chips, near-field communication and sensor keys in pursuit of hyper connectivity.

Although IOT has generated a lot of buzzwords in the tech industry, Cisco has described it as the $19 trillion opportunity. The extension of the internet to the real world is occurring at a rapid pace, with the likes of Samsung vowing to embed AI and connectivity in all its appliances by 2020.

As for VeChain, it has already developed strong partnerships with the likes of PwC and DNV GL, a global risk management company.

VEN tokens generate less than $80 million in daily turnover, with LBank and Binance facilitating the vast majority of market orders.

4. Binance Coin (BNB)

If we’re measuring the top ERC projects solely by market cap, then Binance Coin is a top-five coin. In terms of trade volume, it ranks all the way down in eleventh spot.

As the name implies, Binance Coin is the crypto asset issued by the Binance exchange, which is the world’s largest by total trade volume. Launched with a strict limit of 200 million tokens, BNB allows users to pay for trading, exchange and listing fees on the Binance exchange.

Binance recently burned roughly $30 million worth of BNB tokens. Under its repurchase plan, a maximum of 50% of BNB tokens will be burned throughout the coin’s life cycle, leaving only 100 million in circulation.

This article is certainly no plug for Binance, but the exchange’s rapid growth over the past eight months is reflected in the performance of its native currency. BNB was launched last July via initial coin offering. Today, it averages more than $66 million in daily turnover.

5. OmiseGo (OMG)

OmiseGo may not have the same name recognition as the top altcoins, but its fundamentals are among the strongest in the market. The company has made significant inroads in Southeast Asia, including signing a Memorandum of Understanding with a major South Korean credit card company.

These developments are key in light of OmiseGo’s stated objective, which is to boost financial inclusion and interoperability through the blockchain. In other words, it seeks to provide better financial services for people in developing countries who lack traditional banking infrastructure.

As far as the author is aware, OmiseGo is the only crypto asset outside of Ethereum that is backed by Vitalik Buterin. The Ethereum founder serves on the OMG advisory board.

The OMG token is capitalized at roughly $1.1 billion with daily turnover of $45 million. The cryptocurrency is available on several leading exchanges, including Binance, Huobi and OKEx.

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 415 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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The Great Unwind: Cryptocurrency Prices Shed $50 Billion in Market Cap on Wednesday

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Cryptocurrency prices faced a brisk selloff Wednesday, with bitcoin threatening a bearish reversal and altcoins touching their lowest levels in over a month.

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Market Update

The cryptocurrency market touched a low of around $324 billion Wednesday following a $50 billion reversal from the previous day’s high. At press time, the market had recovered at $334.6 billion, according to data provider CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin touched a low near $7,450, its worst levels  in over a month. According to analyst Omkar Godbole, bitcoin faces a bear market indicator last seen about four years ago – namely, a breakdown of the five-month moving average below the 10-month MA.

Bitcoin was trading at $7,537 at press time.

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Altcoins shed as much as $36 billion on Wednesday. Excluding bitcoin, cryptocurrency values touched a low of $198.8 billion.

Most major altcoins were off their lows by the early evening, though bitcoin cash, Ethereum and EOS had booked losses of at least 9.3%.

Among the top 100 coins by market cap, 0x was the lone gainer on Wednesday, climbing more than 14%. Tether’s USDT stablecoin was little changed.

Trading volumes picked up to around $21 billion from a low near $16 billion earlier in the week. It was abundantly clear last week that the vast majority of cryptocurrency trades were sell orders, a trend that appears to have intensified in recent sessions.

As of Monday, the percentage of cryptocurrency trades ‘in the buy’ was 12.86%, according to TurtleBC. That was the lowest level since early April. At the height of the crypto market rally last month, buy orders accounted for nearly 93% of total market activity.

The Great Unwind

There was no immediate catalyst for the massive price decay on Wednesday, though some have speculated that it represents a broad consolidation following last month’s exorbitant gains.

Others have pointed to uncertainty in South Korea, a market known for being highly speculative, amid controversy surrounding digital currency exchanges Bithumb and Upbit. A new tax policy at Bitfinex may have also rattled investor sentiment.

Crypto bulls are banking on the fact that market fundamentals haven’t changed very much in recent months despite extremely volatile swings in prices. A look at major news sources reveals a more sanguine approach to digital assets compared with two or three months ago.

Coverage of cryptocurrencies has improved after several major institutions announced their intent to enter the market. Though institutional uptake remains weak overall, banks, hedge funds and other institutional players are expanding their presence in the crypto arena.

On Wednesday, Deutsche Boerse confirmed it is “deep at work” in evaluating whether to offer bitcoin futures. The marketplace is currently gauging client interest in crypto products before deciding whether to move forward.

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 415 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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Five Low Market-Cap Altcoins With Huge Potential

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With more than 1,600 altcoins in circulation, finding the appropriate balance between risk and reward isn’t always easy. Making matters more challenging is the fact that hundreds of projects have already been labelled duds by researchers who have tracked the life cycle of digital currencies beyond their initial coin offering.

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While many investors are perfectly content sticking with bitcoin, Ethereum and a couple of others, those of us in search of the next ‘diamond in the rough’ must venture beyond the ten largest cryptocurrenices by market capitalization.

Below, we look at five low market cap altcoins with significant upside potential. It’s difficult to say whether these coins will generate 100 times ROI or anything that mirrors the rapid rise of bitcoin and Ethereum. However, the project specifications suggest they are a good place to start.

DragonChain (DRGN)

The DragonChain project emerged out of Disney in 2016 and was later developed as an open source platform. In its modern form, DragonChain is a business platform that allows for the creation of a secure and scalable blockchain. Part incubator, part marketplace, DragonChain provides smart contract infrastructure with a focus on security, development and scalability.

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DRGN, the currency powering the DragonChain platform, has a total market capitalization of $185 million and a price-per-coin of less than $0.80. When measured in terms of market cap, DRGN is a top-100 cryptocurrency project. Given its potential to transform small business adoption of blockchain technology, DRGN may be considered undervalued due to its limited exchange listings. The coin has yet to make its way onto the major exchanges but can still be found on platforms such as Kucoin, IDEX and EtherDelta.

Ark (ARK)

Those of us familiar with ICON know there is huge potential in connected networks. The Ark platform is a smaller-cap alternative that connects every single cryptocurrency through a “virtual spider web of endless use cases.”

Ark employs a Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) consensus protocol that promotes decentralization and universally accessible programming language in support of wider adoption. Ark falls within the broader category of platform coins, which means it is best served as a buy-and-hold strategy.

ARK token is currently ranked 62nd in terms of market cap with a price per coin of less than $3. Its primary markets include Binance, Bittrex and Upbit.

Vertcoin (VTC)

The next cryptocurrency on our list is ranked all the way down at 153rd in terms of market cap. Vertcoin captured our attention for its outstanding development team, transparency and ASIC-resistant standard (the latter makes VTC one of the most decentralized cryptocurrencies on the market). Proponents of decentralization will therefore find plenty of upside with this coin.

Interestingly, Vertcoin is also one of the oldest cryptos on the market. Founded in 2014 as an alternative to bitcoin and Litecoin, VTC aims to become the utility coin of the future. The project is on the forefront of Lightning Network development and was even mentioned in Litecoin’s whitepaper as a candidate for cross-chain atomic swaps.

At the time of writing, VTC token is valued at over $2. It has not been immune from the recent market downturn but its long-term prospectus is as solid as they come.

Power Ledger (POWR)

The POWR token is also ranked outside the top-100 in terms of market cap, putting it alongside some of the more obscure cryptocurrencies. However, the platform’s value proposition is as tangible as it gets.

Power Ledger is headed by Jemma Green, who recently became the major of Perth, Australia. The platform allows consumers to trade electricity with one another in exchange for real-time payments facilitated through the blockchain. The company calls itself the “peer-to-peer marketplace for renewable energy” because it allows consumers to select clean energy sources and receive more money for excess power using low-cost settlement technology.

PWR experienced explosive growth during the height of the bull market. Tokens are currently valued at around $0.40.

Deepbrain Chain (DBC)

Hacked reviewed Deepbrain Chain during the ICO stage back in December. Though the results were underwhelming at the time, much of the concern stemmed from KYC implementation issues and unusual token metrics.

Valued at less than $1 a coin, Deepbrain Chain can be considered a bargain for its role in using artificial intelligence (AI) to lower the cost of computing. Deepbrain Chain is operating in one of the fastest-growing markets (AI), which partly explains its undervalued status. As the company rightly explains in its whitepaper, 5,000 AI startups came into existence between 2012 and 2016, collectively raising over $22 billion. However, unlike those companies, DBC has already established a firm partnership with Neo and is widely considered one of the leading AI projects in the blockchain space.

Deepbrain Chain has a total value of $139 million, placing it in 113th spot by market cap.

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 415 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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