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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.

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.

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.

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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Bankers and Bitcoin

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Something special happens when someone becomes threatened by an idea. They often lash out with their reasons for believing that it won’t work, but don’t address the fact they have a vested interest in it not working. This is exactly what is starting to occur with bankers commenting on Bitcoin.

You hear all the standard criticisms from these people: that it enables crime, that the cryptocurrency isn’t backed by anything, and governments will never let Bitcoin survive.

This is true of all politics and most arguments. People argue from a point of self-interest that they never unpack, so it becomes hard to take their viewpoint seriously when it is just a thinly veiled defense of themselves.

Disruption of a Monopoly

The banking industry has been a source of wealth to many people over the last few decades, but in the last few years the trend of working in tech has emerged as the smarter move for young graduates. The skills are said to be in higher demand and the chances of making the big bucks are greatly improved.

So in a way, cryptocurrency just represents one more threat against the financial industry. Now tech has gotten so big it threatens to completely replace parts of the financial industry, and they don’t like that. The big banks have had a monopoly on the consumer financial sector for decades, and this is about to change.

To be fair, this is completely reasonable, but blockchain technology is coming, and even if Bitcoin isn’t the coin to topple the financial system, there will be numerous innovations based on the same technology. The result will be an industry upended by automation and more trustworthy systems.

Criticizing Bitcoin

There are many valid criticisms of Bitcoin, but when someone argues so vociferously that they don’t address the issues with these criticisms, it hampers their argument. The truth is not a lot of people know what is going to happen and the market for cryptocurrencies is almost irrationally exuberant.

The problems with the criticisms of bankers is they don’t take into account the most important part of cryptocurrencies: decentralization. And that’s because their jobs and careers are based on centralization, or the idea that one person can be smarter and more trustworthy than the entire system. As long as they continue to see Bitcoin as a replacement for the dollar rather than an evolution of money, they will miss the point.

When people argue against the utility of Bitcoin, they falsely go after the micro-level mechanism. There are definitely problems here, as have been demonstrated by scaling issues, forks, and hacks of exchanges. But we can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The ideas behind Bitcoin that allow for a decentralized management of a money system are clearly a step forward. To be against decentralization is to be against progress.

Karma Finally Strikes

Perhaps the funniest part of bankers protesting the spread of Bitcoin is they created the conditions that bred its necessity. The financial collapse of 2008 and every other collapse before that have been proof of too much trust being put in a centralized system. It has become clear that no single group can be trusted to run the entire economy, especially with so much at stake. It is no coincidence that Bitcoin was first released at this time.

Knowing this, we can start to think about whether these financial crises would have occurred if we were using decentralized applications. Obviously, we can’t know for sure, and it is likely something bad still would have happened, but it could have been greatly reduced by democratizing the management of the economic system.

This “democratization” is the act of letting everyone vote on whether a transaction is viable or not. The system solves the ‘double-spend’ problem by looking for a relative consensus in the network. If one person is claiming something that is out of sync with what everyone else is claiming, it can be “voted” out of existence.

To the common person, this looks and feels a lot better than having an arbitrator control the fate of his or her financial future. That is where the appeal comes to many of those who are disenchanted by the current economic system and are looking for a change.

So there is a very valid case for the decentralized aspect within Bitcoin. Whether Bitcoin will be the one to bring it to fruition or if it will be a different currency is yet to be seen.

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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Altcoins

Why Investors Should Pay Attention to OmiseGO

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Decentralization is a word that receives a ton of lip service in the blockchain community, but some companies are actually doing an amazing job getting their actions to back their words. OmiseGO is one such company.

Omise was founded in 2013 as a payment services company, and OmiseGO is an extension platform that operates separately. It is important you not confuse the two.

As an ERC-20 token that operates a smart contract platform, OMG is a high-performing proof-of-stake protocol with a massive mission to bring decentralization to trading.

What Need is OmiseGO Fulfilling

Ripple was originally seen to be the top solution in the payment providers sector, but its lack of decentralization has shown that there are significant downsides to their operating model. OmiseGO aims to become a decentralized Ripple, but operating a high-powered decentralized exchange (DEX), and has already become the top name in on-chain and cross-chain transactions.

With decentralization and the ability to connect fragmented payment processors, OmiseGO would also be able to help the unbanked gain access to the banking system.

There is currently a massive gap in the legacy financial network, since payment networks (such as SWIFT) have unilateral control over the flow of financial services on their network. Paypal and Venmo have proven to have similar centralization risks, even if they bring some competition to the table.

Not only would OmiseGO decentralize payment processing and create a DEX, but they have released a software development kit (SDK) to enable the creation of new applications and wallets on their system.

Meet the OmiseGO Team

OmiseGO is run by a well-reputed team (headed by Jun Hasegawa) who in the past have been referred to as “Fintech Rockstars” by Forbes. Their advisory board is packed with big names like Vitalin Buterin, Gavin Wood, and Joseph Poon, to name a few.

By contributing $100,000 to the Ethereum foundations DEVGRANTS program, they have indicated a strong commitment to the future of Ethereum and their investment within the community.

Every token needs to have its utility, and OMG is paid to holders in exchange for validating transactions. These holders have the right to confirm blocks, and effectively work as income producing assets in the course of the operation of the network.

The incentives here lie in the value of the network. The more transactions that need to be validated, the more token holders will need to confirm transactions, and therefore the more money is likely to be distributed to OMG holders in exchange for their confirmations.

OmiseGO’s Recent Performance

OmiseGO is now trading at around $3.30 USD, which is down an incredible amount from its high above $24 USD in January. This has been typical of many assets in the industry, but could be a sign that OMG is oversold.

There has also been a lot of news about OMG recently. In July a partnership with Status was announced that would result with the integration of the services of the two companies. Status is an open source dapp (decentralized app) for phones and browsers, and was one of the first clients to be developed on the Ethereum blockchain. Their core project is to link mobile chat and social media by using Ethereum tokenization.

With the goal of ultimate decentralization, OmiseGO has its work cut out for it. Although founded in 2013, they are still in the early stages of their expansions. More good news came in early June, when OMG was listed on Unocoin, one of the top asian exchanges located in India.

OmiseGO’s dream of connecting all the disparate financial systems and rails gives it the potential to become the DEX of the future. The question is whether they can displace the already dominant Ripple by going in a different strategic direction and sticking to their core tenets of decentralization and trustless networks.

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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Altcoins

The Long-Awaited Altcoin Extinction Event May Be Near

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The cryptocurrency market is undergoing a major paradigm shift as low-quality altcoins embark on a mass extinction event, according to Xapo President Ted Rogers. This view, which is shared by industry titans like Vitalik Buterin, suggests things will get a lot worse before they get better.

Mass Extinction

In a Monday tweet, Rogers warned that more than 90% of altcoins and tokens could disappear in the not-too-distant future.

“We could be in the midst of the extinction-level event for “cryptoassets” that many maximalists have predicted. 90%+ of CoinMarketCap list will disappear eventually – might as well happen now.  Meantime, lower BTC price means incredible opportunity to buy more bitcoin,” he said.

Rogers’ tweet echoes previous comments by Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, who believes that 90% of tokens listed on CoinMarketCap will go to zero. Buterin made the comments back in October during the historic run-up in cryptocurrency prices.

Whereas Buterin emphasized the emergence of higher quality coin offerings following a mass-scale correction, Rogers believes now is the ideal time to buy more bitcoin. The leading digital currency continues to cannibalize altcoins with its share of the total market crossing 54% on Tuesday.

At the time of writing, there were 1,833 cryptocurrencies listed on CoinMarketCap. A couple hundred were added to the website’s tracker in the last few weeks.

ICO Cash-Out?

Crypto assets have shed roughly $220 billion over the past three months and are trading at less than a quarter of their all-time highs. Although the recent meltdown originated last Tuesday when the SEC communicated its non-decision on the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin ETF, the extent of the selloff suggests there are other factors in play.

With the bulk of the declines concentrated in altcoins and tokens, many are blaming the latest rout on a large-scale cash-out of initial coin offerings (ICOs). This has direct implications on Ethereum, which is one of the most important bellwethers of the ICO market.

The ether price has experienced an unprecedented drop over the past seven days, losing more than a third of its value to trade at its lowest level in 14 months. Previously, the developer’s cryptocurrency had shown resilience in the face of broader market moves.

While ICOs have raised more than $6.6 billion this year, investors appear to be selling too early. Short holding periods are placing significant pressure on the market.

Although the path forward is paved with uncertainty, a structural shift in the ICO market will ultimately benefit cryptocurrencies. As Buterin said last October, “there are some good ideas, there are a lot of very bad ideas, and there’s a lot of very, very bad ideas, and quite a few scams as well.” Cleaning up this image is a good thing even with the accompanying pain it has produced.

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 548 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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