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Crypto Markets Search for Catalysts as Bitcoin Lightning Network Sees a Surge in Capacity

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Crypto markets followed in bitcoin’s lead on Wednesday, establishing a more predictable trading range following a week of volatile moves. The search for direction suggests two possible outcomes: the market is basing for a potential move higher or is falling back into the hands of the bears.

Market Update

The cryptocurrency market is presently valued at $127.4 billion, having declined $20 billion from the most recent peak. Trading volumes subsequently dropped to $17.6 billion. No major gains or losses were reported among the biggest coins, though bitcoin cash rebounded following sharp losses at the beginning of the week.

Cryptoassets added a whopping $46 billion in less than two weeks, led by a sudden reversal for bitcoin, which crossed the $4,300 mark on Monday. So-called ‘digital gold‘ reached its highest level of the month, which helped propel other cryptocurrencies higher.

However, not everyone is convinced that the market has made a permanent turn. Morgan Creek Digital Assets founder Anthony Pompliano recently told CNBC that bitcoin will probably fall below $3,000 in the short term. This contrasts with the view presented by Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin, who recently proclaimed that ‘crypto bottom 2018’ had been reached.

Price action over the past two months has been overly technical in nature, and this is also true of the most recent rally. It remains to be seen whether the continued meltdown in stocks could propel bitcoin higher or whether the decline in tech shares will have a psychological influence over existing holders. The latter was put forward as a hypothesis by CNBC during the interview with Pompliano (namely, the possible correlation between FAANG stocks and bitcoin).

Bitcoin Lightning Network

Lightning Network, the highly-touted bitcoin scaling solution, has witnessed a sharp rise in capacity, raising optimism that the blockchain will one day facilitate large-scale transactions.

According to 1ML, the Lightning Network’s capacity has risen by 13% to 510.65 BTC. That’s equivalent to $1.9 million at current prices. The number of active channels has surged more than 23% to 15,876. Active nodes also increased 14.2% to 4,803.

The Lightning Network has made notable progress in recent months, having added nearly 6,000 channels since July. Over that period, the network’s capacity has increased over 400%.

Read more: Lightning Network Reaches 10,000 Channels And Total Capacity Of 100 Bitcoins.

Efforts to boost bitcoin’s transaction speed and lower the cost of payments are at the center of the Lightning Network. The second-layer scaling solution is based on the idea of creating smaller bidirectional payment channels that operate as a ‘running’ tab between two accounts. It is said that the trade-off for increased speed is a slight loss of security given that transactions are not carried out on the blockchain directly.

Scalability is a core debate within the blockchain community. Increased adoption of Lightning Network is a promising sign that bitcoin payments can one day become more mainstream. Real-time statistics on Lightning Network adoption can be found here.

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 741 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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Analysis

Crypto Update: Coins Drift Lower but Damage Remains Limited

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The major cryptocurrencies continue to trade in narrow ranges following last week’s decline and this week’s failed rally attempt. While Bitcoin is stuck near the $3600 support, the other top coins have been losing ground today, with Ethereum dipping below the $120 level, Ripple violating the $0.32 price level and Litecoin testing the $30-$30.50 support zone yet again.

Trading volumes and volatility remain very low across the board, but correlations are still high between the majors, and despite the quiet environment, we haven’t seen bullish signs in the market. That said, the trading ranges that developed this week are still intact, and although the overwhelmingly bearish long-term picture still makes the continuation of the decline more likely, a failed break-down pattern could still develop in the segment, should the top coins recover above their weekly highs in the coming days.

For now, our trend model remains on sell signals on both time-frames in case of most of the majors, and traders and investors should still stay away from entering new positions here, with still no bullish leadership being present.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Bitcoin is still relatively stable even in the very quiet environment, and the most valuable coin is trading right at the $3600 support/resistance level. BTC formed a volatility compression pattern in recent days, and that formation points to a more significant move in the coming days, with a move out of it being inevitable as soon as this weekend.

Bulls are still looking for a move above $3850, towards the key zone between $4000 and $4050, but the bearish long-term setup continues to favor a dip below $3600, with support zones still found near $3250 and $3000, and traders and investors should still not enter positions here.

ETH/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ethereum failed to get close to the $130 resistance level again, and as it dipped below primary support, the test of the swing low near $112 is likely in the coming days. The coin remains on sell signals on both time-frames in our trend model, and a move towards the key support zone and between $95 and $100 is likely in the coming weeks, barring a quick reversal above $130. Further resistance is ahead at $145, $160, and near $180 while the bear market low is found near $80

Ripple Under Pressure Again in Weak Environment

EOS/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Altcoins continue to trade without a clear direction despite today’s dip, but the bearish drift of the recent days means that the key support levels could be in focus during the weekend, should the volatility compression finally end. The few major coins showing signs of strength haven’t been able to maintain the bullish momentum, like EOS, which gave back yesterday’s gains today.

XRP/USDT, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

While the market of Ripple is still very quiet, the coin fell below the $32 support yet again, and it remains relatively weak compared to its closest peers. It is also on sell signals on both time-frames in our trend model, and a dip below $0.30 will likely be the next significant move. Further strong support is found near the $0.26 level, with resistance ahead near $0.3550 and $0.3750.

LTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Litecoin is trading just above the key $30-$30.50 support zone, and it sill failed to get anywhere near the next major zone near the $34.50 price level. Given the hostile long-term setup and the short-term sell signal our trend model, traders should stay away from the coin here, with a move toward the $26 level being likely in the coming weeks. Further strong resistance is ahead near $38 and $44 and with another support level found near $23.

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 443 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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Bitcoin

Bitcoin Maintains Range Formation as BTC Dominance Grows

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Bitcoin’s price continues to trade in a narrow range formation as of Friday morning, extending a period of relative calm for the digital currency and potentially weakening the case for an imminent bearish reversal.

Steady Trading

Bitcoin is presently trading at $3,651.98, based on aggregate data provided by CoinMarketCap. That represents a gain of 0.6% over the past 24 hours. Over the past week, BTC has declined by a little more than 1%, though it has maintained a steady trading range north of $3,500 during that period. Prices peaked near the $3,750 range on Monday before the rally lost steam later in the week.

The hourly chart view, based on Bitstamp exchange data, shows weak underlying momentum. This raises doubts about the possibility of a strong weekend bounce back toward Monday highs. That being said, bitcoin’s weekly stretch of relative calm alleviates the risk of an imminent correction back down to December lows.

Interestingly enough, bitcoin’s stable trading range has been accompanied by a noticeable rise in trading volume. Since Sunday, virtual exchange trading has exceeded $5 billion. In the most recent 24-hour cycle, roughly $5.3 billion worth of BTC traded hands.

BitMEX continues to be the largest exchange market for bitcoin trades, though its share has dwindled significantly. As Hacked reported on Tuesday, the exchange is permanently closing U.S. accounts amid growing regulatory scrutiny.

Bitcoin Dominance Rises

At nearly $64 billion, bitcoin is easily the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. Its share of the overall market has increased slightly since the beginning of the year as altcoins and tokens struggle to emerge from its strong gravitational pull. At the time of writing, bitcoin’s dominance rate was 52.4%.

The following chart highlights bitcoin’s share of the overall crypto market during the last 12 months. As you can see, BTC accounts for a bigger slice during bearish trends.

During bear-market trends, altcoins and tokens tend to mirror bitcoin’s trajectory. Although there are notable exceptions, particularly for coins like XRP and recently, Ethereum, the market is strongly correlated with BTC during periods of instability.

For bitcoin at least, the volatility regime has declined significantly over the past month. On Thursday, bitcoin’s 30-day volatility index fell to 4.17%, the lowest since Nov. 23. The volatility tracker from bitvol.info measures the extent to which the asset’s price varies over time.

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 741 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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MIT and Stanford Professors are Creating the Answer to Bitcoin’s Scalability Issues

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Researchers from America’s most prestigious universities are coming together to create a new cryptocurrency that will overcome bitcoin’s greatest technical challenge: scalability. Although academics have a poor track record of solving real world problems, the researchers have teamed up with Pantera Capital to develop a cryptocurrency that could serve as a viable payment network in the future.

Academics Designing ‘Better Bitcoin’

According to Bloomberg, professors from seven U.S. universities have joined hands to create a new cryptocurrency capable of achieving faster processing speeds without sacrificing decentralization – a core tenant of the blockchain revolution. The so-called Unit-e cryptocurrency is the first project to be carried out by Distributed Technology Research, the non-profit group uniting the academics.

Among the schools represented are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of California. They are joined by hedge fund Pantera Capital, which has an impressive track record in generating stellar crypto market investments. Read: How Pantera Capital Engineered a 10,000% Return Investing in Cryptocurrency.

Although several initiatives are underway to boost bitcoin’s transaction speed and scalability, the researchers say the cryptocurrency’s design has inbuilt restrictions that impede on its usefulness as an everyday payment system. The goal of Unit-e is simple but highly ambitious – namely, use blockchain technology to develop a cryptocurrency that can process transactions faster than Visa.

Unit-e is scheduled to go live in the second half of 2019. When released, it will process as many as 10,000 transactions per second, according to DTR. By comparison, Visa processes roughly 1,700 transactions per second.

The Bitcoin Scalability Debate

The issue of scalability is one of the biggest impediments facing bitcoin, so much so that dozens of alternative cryptocurrencies have been designed specifically to address this problem. Some proponents of the original cryptocurrency believe the debate over scalability could be put to rest once Lightning Network achieves full potential. The highly-touted bitcoin scaling solution has seen notable improvements in recent months, including a double-digit percentage gain in processing capacity.

As of Thursday, Lightning Network’s capacity has increased to 529.21 BTC, which is equivalent to just over $1.9 million at today’s prices, according to 1ML. That represents a gain of more than 3% since the last time we covered Lightning Network’s processing power on Dec. 26. At the time, the network saw a 13% surge in processing capability.

Lightning Network has achieved 20,586 channels, an increase of 31.8%. The number of nodes is up nearly 20% to 5,472.

At the core of Lightning Network is the desire to boost bitcoin’s transaction speed while lowering the cost of payments. This is done by creating a second-layer scaling solution that operates as a bidirectional payment channel. Basically, this creates a ‘running’ tab between two accounts, which eliminates the need to record every transaction on the blockchain.

Lightning Network has its fair share of detractors who claim the protocol promotes centralization and suffers from inefficiencies that could allow hackers to target channels holding a high volume of bitcoin. Bitcoin advocate Andreas Antonopoulos addressed some of these concerns in a YouTube Q&A last February. Click here for more.

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 741 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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