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Ethereum: Death Through Economic Abstraction?

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Cryptocurrency entrepreneur Jeremy Rubin caused quite the stir last week when he declared the collapse of Ethereum to be inevitable. In a TechCrunch article that appeared on Sept. 2, Rubin argued that Ethereum’s scalability issues and failure to adopt more secure contract authoring practices would eventually lead ether to be upstaged by its competitors. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin took to Reddit on Monday to issue a lengthy response to the article.

Death by Economic Abstraction

The core of Rubin’s argument centers on “economic abstraction,” a term used by the Ethereum community to describe gas payments in a non-ETH asset. Economic abstraction is basically paying smart contract fees through an ERC-20 token instead of Ethereum. In Rubin’s view, allowing smart contract fees to be paid in ERC-20 tokens will eventually make Ethereum redundant, leading to its price collapse.

To illustrate this point, he used the example of “BuzzwordCoin,” a fictional decentralized application that will pay gas in ether. According to Rubin, requiring every BuzzwordCoin transaction to also depend on Ethereum for fees creates significant risk, third party dependency and downward pressure on the underlying token price. In other words, if a user had to sell BuzzwordCoin for ether ahead of time to facilitate a BuzzwordCoin transaction, then the selling will happen before the transaction needs it.

Rubin adds the following:

“Instead of paying for Gas in ETH, we could make every BuzzwordCoin transaction deposit a small amount of BuzzwordCoin directly to the block’s miner’s address to pay for the contract’s execution. Paying for Gas in a non-ETH asset is sometimes referred to as economic abstraction in the Ethereum community.”

Vitalik Responds

In a lengthy Reddit response, Vitalik Buterin partially agreed with Rubin’s analysis but said Ethereum is “likely not doing “full economic abstraction.””

“In Ethereum as it presently exists, this is absolutely true, and in fact, if Ethereum were not to change, all parts of the author’s argument (except the part about proof of stake, which would not even apply to Ethereum as it is today) would be correct.”

To address economic abstraction, Buterin clarified that developers are considering two proposals that require ETH to be paid at the protocol level. The two proposals – modified fee market and storage maintenance fees – would basically make gas payments in ether mandatory.

Buterin said economic abstraction can still happen at the user level but block proposers would still need to “cough up ETH.”

ETH/USD Price Update

Ethereum declined sharply on Wednesday as part of a wider market pullback. At the time of writing, the ether price was down 9.9% at $259, according to CoinMarketCap. The second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap briefly traded above $300 over the weekend but was unable to hold that critical  level. The panic sale has put ether at a weekly loss of more than 11%.

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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Altcoins

Your Guide to Stablecoins 2019

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Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies with a value pegged to a currency or to exchange traded commodities. Many projects today are researching and developing such technology. Issuers distribute stablecoins to customers in exchange for fiat currency such as USD at a 1:1 fixed exchange rate. USD is a desirable medium of exchange and globally accepted unit of account, making it a good choice for a stablecoin. Stablecoins most often take the following shapes.

  • Fiat-collateralized: Reserves in a national currency collateralize the creation and issuance of such tokens. The goal is price stability by pegging a token’s value to a reserved fiat value.
  • Crypto-collateralized: Cryptocurrencies backing cryptocurrencies. That might sound far fetched or futuristic, but it is possible in the present day. Forget the Gold Standard. Now you can hold a cryptocurrency backed by a basket of cryptocurrencies.
  • Seigniorage: These tokens are not-collateralized. Software maintains the price stability.
  • Hybrid: When you blend the three basic approaches above – or some assortment thereof – you get a hybrid stablecoin.

Let’s go deeper.

Fiat-backed

Fully-backed by fiat money at a 1:1 ratio, you might receive $1 of fiat-backed stablecoins in exchange for $1 of fiat money. Custodians (third-parties) typically manage the fiat in such an arrangement. In order to maintain a stable price, fiat-backed tokens may be issued or destroyed as needed. When holders redeem cash with tokens, for instance, the company might wire money to a bank account, then destroy or otherwise remove the tokens from circulation so as to maintain the fiat currency peg.

Tether (USDT)

Tether’s daily volume on January 18 was $189,134,405. Traders use tether as a way to hedge and to convert holdings into the equivalent USD value without having to cash-out. Detractors argue that Tether lacks transparency when it comes to reserves, though the company claims all issued USDT tokens are backed on a one-to-one basis. The CEO of Bitfinex is also the CEO for Tether Limited, which issues Tether.

TrueUSD (TUSD)

TrueUSD claims to be more transparent than Tether, while still enabling TUSD customers to exchange USD through an escrow account over which the TUSD team claims to have no control. The company uses smart contracts to ensure the 1:1 parity between real USD reserves in the escrow accounts and the TUSD tokens issued.

Gemini

Gemini took a different approach than most stablecoins, receiving permission from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) before creating its USD-pegged stablecoin. Designed to provide traders and institutions with a “regulated” version of tether (USDT), Gemini claims their stablecoin establishes trust through cryptographic proof and regulatory oversight.

Gemini’s ERC20 stablecoin includes an “upgrade feature, an offline approval mechanism for high-risk actions, and a hybrid online-offline approval mechanism for high-risk actions and token issuance that provides the desired level of security and flexibility.”

Gemini links licensed financial institutions and examiners. They form a network of trust that backs the Gemini dollar. This regulated stablecoin is to serve as a medium of exchange and unit of account for centralized and decentralized applications. Gemini has pledged to create a network of trusted and licensed financial institutions and examiners. These implementations combined form the Gemini dollar, a regulated stablecoin that can serve as a viable medium of exchange and unit of account for centralized and decentralized applications.

Gemini’s proof-of-solvency is also a unique selling point requires a trusted third party. It plans to have the audit committee of the board of directors of Gemini engage an independent registered public accounting firm to attest to the underlying US dollar balance.

Paxos Standard

Paxos Standard is built upon the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 token. Rather than issuing new money to maintain price stability, as past coins have attempted, Paxos Standard provides a more stable representation of existing money with accepted and trusted value. The company posits early use cases for the technology as a payment means; hedge against volatility; contracts for more complicated transactions, and more. Longer term use cases include asset mobility and settlement and ecosystem development.
Centre

CENTRE is creating a network scheme to manage the creation, redemption and mechanisms enabling issuing members to mint and burn/redeem asset-backed fiat tokens, ensuring price stability. CENTRE’s fiat-collateralized approach entails a unit of tokenized fiat currency being backed by one unit of reserved fiat. According to CENTRE, Circle will become a “licensed member of the CENTRE network”, but an independent entity will govern and develop CENTRE protocols separate from Circle.
Commodity-Backed

Commodity-backed stablecoins are pegged to a specific value of, say, gold. One token, for instance, might represent one gram of gold. Physical gold is often claimed to be stored in a trusted third party vault. BitShares was one of the first projects to introduce a commodity-backed stablecoin. Backed by real assets and redeemable at the conversion rate of the real asset, commodity-backed stablecoins try to maintain the stable value of gold, while being easily transferred.

Digix Gold Tokens (DGX)

Digix has two tokens. Digix Gold Tokens (DGX) and DigixDAO Tokens (DGD). DGD tokens are used for DigixDAO’s governance model. DGX tokens are used as collateral and a trading pair by other crypto projects like MakerDAO, Kryptono Exchange, Kyber Network, WeTrust, Monolith, and others.

A Digix customer might buy gold through the Digix platform. The vendor then supplies gold and a custodian stores the customer’s gold. Relevant details (vendor, custodian, customer, etc.) are stored on a digital card, and sent to smart contracts so new, gold-backed coins can be minted.

DGX, created by DigixGlobal, is an ERC-20 token backed by physical gold. Fully-audited and stored in a vault in Singapore, the Safe House, each token’s value is fully redeemable and pegged to price of gold. Digix’s Proof-of-Provenance algorithm ensures that each gold bar’s custodianship status is tracked on the Ethereum blockchain. Reserves are audited each quarter.

Cryptocurrency-Backed Stablecoin

Backed by other cryptocurrencies, crypto-collateralized cryptocoins can be less stable than fiat and commodity-backed stablecoins because the underlying asset is less stable. Cryptocurrency-backed stablecoins might sometimes be over-collateralized to account for the volatility. While a US-backed stablecoin might be pegged 1:1, an Ethereum-backed stablecoin might be worth 2:1. (US $2 worth of ethereum for US$1 worth of stablecoin).  Still, cryptocurrency backed stablecoins are more volatile than stablecoins backed by other assets like commodities and fiat money.

Usually backed by a basket of cryptocurrencies instead of a lone currency, some such stablecoins require users to stake and lock cryptocurrency via a smart contract to create a fixed ratio of stablecoins. Considered a more decentralized alternative to fiat and commodity-backed stablecoin, cryptocurrency backed stablecoins offer quick liquidation from one cryptocurrency to another.

MakerDAO (DAI)

Maker, a smart contract platform based on the Ethereum platform, stabilizes the value of Dai, a collateral-backed cryptocurrency, through a dynamic system of Collateralized Debt Positions (CDPs), autonomous feedback mechanisms, and appropriately incentivized external actors.

Collateralized debt position are smart contracts on the Maker system. CDPs keep track of assets deposited by users so that users can generate Dai. The value of an active CDPs collateral is higher than the value of the debt. Ether is used as collateral for new coins, and must be sent to a CDP, which locks the staked ETH so new DAIs are minted. Dai is designed to be sent to others, used as payments for goods and services and held as savings. MakerDAO also issues MKR token.

Seigniorage-Style Stablecoin

Seigniorage-Style stablecoins are uncollateralized and stabilized by algorithms. Algorithms might maintain the value and stability of a coin by controlling the supply of the uncollateralized stablecoin, shrinking and growing it based on certain indicators.

Seignoriage-style coins’ algorithmically governed approach to expanding and contracting a stablecoin’s money supply. New stablecoins are minted to maintain stable prices, when, say, demand increases or decreases.

Conclusion

Technologists claim that stability offered in stablecoins would be a boon to cryptocurrency by minimizing fluctuations of value. A stablecoin theoretically represents a stable means of payment and trade, making it appealing for daily use, and perhaps more palatable for the general public. Yet, stablecoin technology is still nascent, and questions such as how to manage supply and demand in such a way as to create stable value have yet to be fully answered and understood. Of the coins listed here, Digix, Gemini, MakerDAO and Paxos represent under-publicized products on which to keep an eye.

Image: Artem Beli

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 1 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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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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Altcoins

Ethereum Price Analysis: ETH/USD Bearish Flag Structure Eyed

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  • Ethereum price has stabilized but is moving within a dangerous range-block formation.
  • ETH/USD via the daily chart view is forming a bearish flag pattern.

ETH/USD price action has stabilized over the past five days, and is moving within a narrowing range. This movement appears to be somewhat expressing potential downside risks after the selling pressure seen in the second week of January. As a recap, the price was supported in its move north from mid-December 2018 up to 7th January. An ascending trend line was proving necessary comfort in this trend higher, however markets bears managed to force a breach. The support gave way, opening the door to a fresh wave of selling from 8th January.

ETH/USD daily chart.

Around 30% of the bull run that was seen in the above-mentioned period has been reversed. Vulnerabilities continue to linger, as ETH/USD trades around key daily support. The level to be aware of is $116.70, which is vital ahead of the big psychological $100 mark. A breach could see a test of daily support at $102, with the price likely to consolidate between here and $116. Given prior behavior around these areas, ETH/USD may be forced to retest the December 2018 low, $83.10. This would likely be the case, should a return of bullish momentum not see a pickup in pace soon.

Constantinople Hard Fork Delay

The stability in price is surprising given the let down for the community with regards to the heavily anticipated Constantinople hard fork. As reported by the CCN team, Ethereum’s core developers called for the Constantinople upgrade to be delayed. This was just some hours before the hard fork was scheduled to go live on the network. ETH/USD fell double-digits on the back of this being postponed. A drop of 10% was observed.

Technical Review – ETH/USD

Looking via the daily chart view, price action is forming a bearish flag pattern structure – the pole which is seen with the fall from 7-10th January. In terms of the actual flag, this is the current range-block viewed. Upside resistance can be seen just ahead at $135, and lower support noted the mentioned $116.70 area. The next major areas of support are the $102 daily pivot point, the December 2018 low of $83.10, and then lastly, the May 2017 low of $65.85.

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 110 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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