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Is Bitcoin Truly Decentralized?

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The top buzzword you hear associated with bitcoin is “decentralization.” Everyone talks about the weaknesses of a centralized fiat currency and how a digital currency that runs on the blockchain can solve many of these problems.

Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) have gained a lot of steam over the last year, but nobody has stopped to ask the question, is bitcoin moving towards decentralization?

Exchanges and Gatekeepers

Right now, almost all of the top exchanges for cryptocurrencies are centralized. They have a few shareholders who hold the majority of control, and with this comes the ability to censor the flow of funds.

Decentralized exchanges are on their way, but all of the currency decentralized solutions only allow for crypto-to-crypto trading, which is limited in its use.

Centralized exchanges also often manage the online storage of cryptocurrencies as well. The private keys stay in control of these exchanges, which is not only the exact same set up as leaving your money with a bank (and placing a large amount of trust in a single institution), but also creates a honeypot for potential hackers.

Maintaining custody of your private keys is something that is generally encouraged from a risk management perspective, but is also in line with the ethos behind bitcoin. Centralized exchanges retain a ton of data and have the power to censor the movement of funds.

Future regulation is still hazy for cryptocurrencies, and know-your-client laws require a certain amount of data to be stored by companies, but it is possible that these companies retain or sell this information in the future. The fact that your private key can be associated with you instantly takes away the anonymous aspect of cryptocurrency, which means you and your funds can be censored.

Mining in China

Examining this from a different angle, mining is an essential part of the governance and maintenance of the bitcoin network. The original idea was to have a widely distributed network that was so large that it was immune to any single entity that wished to dominate 51% of the currency and therefore control the fate of bitcoin.

However, this has not proven to be the case. There are an estimated 12,000 nodes currently in operation on the Bitcoin network, and they collectively have the power to vote on resolutions like SegWit 2x. As more nodes are added to the network, it has begun to trend towards a higher level of concentration in China. Now, have approximately 70% of the nodes controlled by entities within China.

Bitcoin doesn’t suffer from some of the same problems as other cryptocurrencies like Ripple, where the management is explicitly controlled by a single person, the CEO of the company. Satoshi Nakamoto designed and released bitcoin, then disappeared. The development team has the power to propose certain innovations, but it is far from an autocracy.

Many cryptocurrencies are set up in a way where a single player can steer the future with little oversight. This past form of governance is beginning to disappear and presents another reason why a democratic (and decentralized) solution like bitcoin has future potential.

The Bitcoin Ethos

Bitcoin’s promise is to deliver a digital currency that runs independently of any meddling top-down management, but right now this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Until the crypto ecosystem is run in a way that makes it possible to acquire, exchange, and store cryptocurrencies in a completely private manner, the innovations are negligible. Additionally, having a high proportion of the nodes in operation controlled by a country that doesn’t allow free access to the internet is another point against the decentralization of bitcoin.

None of this is to say bitcoin is going to fail or has no merit, but that “decentralization” isn’t a core trait it currently possesses. Certain changes are necessary to improve the robustness of the network, and it is highly possible they will be enough to maintain bitcoin’s dominance in the cryptocurrency world.

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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3 Comments

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  1. bitfalls

    March 25, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Indeed. Here’s three more posts about worrying weaknesses: https://bitfalls.com/?s=isps

    It’s going to need a hardcore shift in what’s powering it – in particular PoW – before it can become what it was meant to be.

  2. Mister.Ticot

    March 25, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    It’s nice to have some writings about philosophy & ethics here on hacked.

    As sidenote decentralized exchange sometimes allow for national currency trading. I hold euros on Stellar block chain for example. It’s not real Euros but in a bank account it’s a promise as well right?

    • tommudd

      March 25, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      How come I cannot log in???

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin Reverses Gains as Bears Eye Breakdown of Major Support Level

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Bitcoin swung lower on Sunday, giving back all of Saturday’s gain and setting the stage for a possible re-test of a long-term support level.

BTC/USD Update

Bitcoin’s price fell 4% to $3,596.96, where it was approaching an important long-term support. That level is located at $3,550. A successful penetration south by the bears could set the stage for a bigger drop toward new yearly lows. As a refresher, bitcoin bottomed near $3,100 last month before rebounding more than 30%.

Read: Bitcoin Approaches “GTFO” Level.

The bulk of the selloff on Sunday occurred over the span of one hour beginning around 06:30 UTC. Trading volumes have remained elevated throughout the session, with roughly $5.4 billion worth of BTC trading hands on virtual currency exchanges.

More on this story: Return to $100 Billion Awaits as Crypto Market Loses $5B in One Hour.

The leading digital currency received a boost heading into the weekend, as buyers re-emerged following a period of hesitation. Bitcoin climbed back above $3,700 on Saturday before the latest reversal took root.

Broad Market Reversal

Even with the recent decline, bitcoin’s share of the overall cryptocurrency market was little changed at 52.5%. That’s because altcoins and tokens registered bigger percentage losses, with Ethereum, bitcoin cash and EOS each falling 4.5% or more.

Alternative cryptocurrencies tend to gravitate around bitcoin, especially during bearish trends. Justified or not, bitcoin continues to be a major influence on how other assets perform. At the time of writing, the total cryptocurrency market cap was worth $119.8 billion.

Trading across all virtual assets has remained elevated over the last 24 hours, with total volumes exceeding $16.7 billion. Cryptocurrencies have seen a substantial rise in circulation over the past three months as long-dormant accounts became active once again.

In less than one month, cryptoassets will enter its longest bear market in history, according to CNBC’s Ran NeuNer. As of Sunday, the bear market has stretched on for 394 days. The longest on record was seen back in 2014-15 when the bear trend lasted for 420 days.

2019 could be a year of accumulation for bitcoin, as long-term holders and institutional investors look to capitalize on low prices. As we recently speculated, bitcoin will likely prove to be an attractive investment in the $2,000-$4,000 range. The current hesitation reflects uncertainty about whether the market has reached a definitive bottom.

Read: Bitcoin’s Year of Accumulation.

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 742 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

Crypto Markets Get a Boost Heading Into the Weekend as Debate Over Bitcoin ETF Intensifies

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Cryptocurrency prices rose on Saturday, alleviating the risk of an imminent pullback following days of mostly lateral moves. As history has shown, longer periods of sideways trading are often followed by brisk selloffs in bitcoin and altcoins.

Flush of Green

The biggest cryptocurrencies all reported gains at the start of the weekend. Bitcoin, the largest by market cap, climbed back above $3,700 in a show of momentum for the bulls. At last check, the bitcoin price was valued at $3,744.11, having gained 2.5% from Friday.

Bitcoin’s price broke out on Monday but failed to generate sustained bids throughout the week. As a result, it spent most of that period hovering between $3,600-$3,700. Bitcoin faces a major long-term support at $3,550; a break below this key level could be a momentum killer for the bulls.

The leading digital currency continues to be a good barometer for the overall market. With a market dominance rate of 52.5%, bitcoin has a direct impact on how altcoins and tokens perform. It comes as no surprise that coins other than bitcoin rose by more than $2 billion on Saturday, according to CoinMarketCap.

The total market cap of all cryptocurrencies improved to $124.7 billion, up markedly from a 24-hour low of $120.9 billion.

Litecoin was the top gainer among major cryptos, rising 4.4% to $32.65. XRP added 1.7% to $0.3313, Ethereum climbed 2.5% to $125.01 and bitcoin cash rose 1.4$% to $130.70.

Outside the top-ten, IOTA rose 4.1% to $0.3246. NEO advanced 5% to trade at $8.09.

Bitcoin ETF Debate Continues

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a big decision to make in roughly five weeks: approve or reject the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust. Unlike previous crypto ETF applications, the VanEck-SolidX application proposes a physically-settled bitcoin fund that addresses many of the SEC’s ongoing concerns around investor protection and market manipulation.

Some investors are clinging to the hope that SEC approval of the VanEck-SolidX product will give the market a much needed boost by the end of the first quarter. But the impact of the approval/rejection could depend largely on how the market performs heading into the decision, now slated for Feb. 27. As Hacked reported last month: “The rejection of an ETF approval could affect the market if the price of Bitcoin has been increasing in anticipation of the announcement.” More here.

The consensus among analysts and market observers is that the SEC is unlikely to approve any bitcoin ETF this year. This view was recently echoed by bitcoin bull and CNBC contributor Brian Kelly, who says the bitcoin futures market isn’t mature enough to allow for an ETF to be approved. He didn’t comment specifically on the VanEck application, which has been designed as an alternative to futures-linked products by holding a repository of physical BTC as opposed to derivatives.

The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) named crypto as one of six regulatory focal points for 2019. In a recently released report, OCIE said: “Given the significant growth and risks presented in this market, OCIE will continue to monitor the offer and sale, trading, and management of digital assets, and where the products are securities, examine for regulatory compliance.”

For more on this story, read: As Race for Bitcoin ETF Heats Up, SEC Identifies Cryptocurrency as a Top Priority in 2019.

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 742 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 444 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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