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Ripple XRP: Poised for Another Breakout?

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Ripple’s price surge has moderated this week, but all signs are pointing to a sharp acceleration in demand as hedge funds and institutional traders pivot toward cryptocurrency. And as we all know, the XRP token has favorable characteristics that could resonate within institutional circles.

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XRP/USD Price Levels

The XRP/USD was in consolidation mode Friday after a volatile week. Between Tuesday and Thursday, prices fell more than 20% to reach their lowest levels in two weeks.

Price action was relatively calm overnight, with XRP/USD hovering around 0.2363 for a total market cap of $9.7 billion. That’s enough for fourth place on the global leader board. Twenty-four hour transaction volumes topped $266 million, with South Korean exchanges driving nearly half of total turnover.

XRP broke out earlier this month as cryptocurrencies added tens of billions to their collective market cap. Prices briefly traded above 0.2800 earlier this week before correcting sharply lower. That was the second time in as many weeks that prices broke through that threshold.

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Poised for Breakout

Despite a recent string of heavy declines, Ripple prices remain in a general uptrend above the key support threshold near 0.2250. However, the case for Ripple’s breakout extends far beyond the immediate technical indicators.

Earlier this week, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington announced the creation of a $100 million cryptocurrency hedge fund that will also hold stake in token sales. He recently tole Fortune that the fund would invest primarily in cryptocurrencies (no matter how exotic) as well as initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The new entity is called Arrington XRP Capital due to the requirement that all limited partners make investments in Ripple cryptocurrency. The hedge fund will also use the XRP token to pay distributions, fees and salaries.

According to Arrington’s blog, the hedge fund has commitments for over $50 million so far. He adds that Ripple was the natural choice to underpin the fund due to its “super-fast and secure settlement infrastructure.” This essentially means that “non-U.S. investors in our fund will have an easier time investing in us and making redemptions easier.”

Arrington’s initiative is more important than most care to realize. Although there is no shortage of institutional interest in cryptocurrency, the XRP hedge fund will be the first to be denominated in cryptocurrency rather than fiat money. We’ve seen with bitcoin what institutional demand can do for a digital asset.

There’s plenty of reason to believe that Ripple is already on Wall Street’s watch list. As a bank-friendly digital asset, Ripple is frequently talked about at international conferences and within central bank circles. It is one of the few (perhaps only?) cryptocurrencies to have successfully added major banks to its client list.

Ripple is often viewed as a ‘centralized’ cryptocurrency because it operates as a shared liquidity pool where any person or entity can deposit and withdraw funds. Of course, many of its proponents do not see it that way, and instead argue that the platform does not limit anyone from participating. Naturally, the permanent ledger encoded on the Ripple network makes the entire process transparent and without the need for a central administrator.

Currently, the consensus on Ripple’s blockchain is controlled mostly by Ripple validators. This is expected to change in the future as validators assume a minority stake in the network. That being said, the XRP token is not controlled by any person or entity.

Though difficult to predict, the investment climate is expected to sway continuously in Ripple’s favor. All it takes is for a major U.S. exchange, like Coinbase, to add the cryptocurrency for prices to gain serious traction.

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. 

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Monero Forges Ahead as Prices Cross $290

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Monero shot up again on Tuesday, as the privacy-focused altcoin approached new highs on the promise of lower transaction fees.

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XMR/USD Price Levels

Monero has been on a tear for the past five weeks with prices more than tripling since Nov. 5. At press time, XMR/USD was up 7.5% at $289, where it was not far from session highs. The cryptocurrency recently established new lifetime highs north of $307. A re-test of those highs could be imminent as XMR continues to push north of $290.

With the latest gain, Monero has added 20% over the past five days, and is ranked no. 7 in terms of dollar-denominated market cap. The total value of XMR in circulation is now $4.6 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That puts it above NEM (XEM), bitcoin gold (BTG) and Stellar Lumens (XLM).

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Monero’s trade volumes remain well below altcoin leaders Ethereum, Litecoin and IOTA. As of Tuesday, XMR turned over $188 million over the previous 24 hours, with South Korea’s Bithumb responsible for about a quarter of total transactions. The XMR/BTC exchange on HitBTC saw nearly 17% of the daily turnover. XMR/USD traded on Bitfinex also saw more than 16% of total transactions.

Although significant, Monero’s gains have occurred in lockstep with the broader cryptocurrency universe, with altcoins benefiting significantly from bitcoin’s record highs.

Bulletproofs Present Cost-Saving Potential

Monero Research Labs is working hard to reduce the network’s transaction fees by up to 80%, a signs of a bright future for the leading altcoin. The implementation of Bulletproofs also appears to be working in favor of lowering transaction sizes on the network.

For the uninitiated, bulletproofs are essentially an improvement in the bandwidth efficiency of Monero’s confidential transactions. Bulletproofs are also capable of lowering both the transaction size and transaction fee of the Monero platform. The implementation of this protocol is expected to benefit Monero in other important ways, such as faster verification times.

Monero developers are implementing bulletproofs in two stages, the first being the single-output proofs. This will be followed by multiple-output proofs at a later stage. As of last week, Monero said bulletproofs are moving into testnet shortly.

“Overall, bulletproofs represent a huge advancement in Monero transactions,” Sarang Noether wrote in a Dec. 7 blog on the Monero website. “We get massive space savings, better verification times, and lower fees.”

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.

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Ethereum Flirts With Record Highs as Buterin Compares Crypto Surge to Salvator Mundi Auction

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Ethereum prices climbed to fresh records on Tuesday, as crypto mania picked up where it left off before the launch of bitcoin futures over the weekend.

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ETH/USD Price Levels

The value of ether touched an intraday high of $522.63, which was the highest level ever recorded for the world’s no. 2 cryptocurrency. Ether’s previous record was set on Saturday when prices crossed $518.

At press time, the coin was valued at around $513 for a gain of more than 8%. That gave ether a total market cap of nearly $50 billion. The cryptocurrency has added more than 4,000% this year, putting it among the world’s top altcoins.

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Trade volumes approached $2 billion over the previous 24 hours, which is equivalent to 118,000 bitcoin. Coinbase’s GDAX exchange had the highest turnover, with ETH/USD accounting for more than 9% of the volume. Bitfinex also processed more than 9% of ether transactions via ETH/USD. Meanwhile, Bithumb’s ETH/KRW cross saw 6% of the daily volume.

In all these cases, more than half a billion in ether was transaction.

Ether has successfully traded above $500 on several occasions, but has struggled to maintain those price levels. The previous record high was partly associated with the latest CryptoKitties craze, which promises frictionless trading of digital assets via blockchain.

Looking ahead, ether could struggle to break free from its recently defined trading range between $450 and $500. Although the market is slowly recovering from a congested network, record highs have been much harder to come by in recent months than other cryptocurrencies. By comparison, bitcoin has set multiple record highs over the same period. Several leading altcoins have also managed to climb to new heights on multiple occasions. Ethereum’s rally continues to be very much off-and-on.

Buterin Weighs In

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin recently compared the cryptocurrency market with the Salvator Mundi auction, which raised $450 million in November. The 23-year-old said growing interest in cryptocurrencies was “a reflection of the world at large. Buterin highlighted the growing popularity of CryptoKitties in sending his point across.

“I actually like the digital cat games,” Buterin said in a Dec. 4 tweet about CryptoKitties. “They illustrate very well that the value of a blockchain extends far beyond applications that would literally get shut down by banks or governments if they did not use one.”

Ethereum Use Cases on the Rise

Ethereum’s smart contract capability is being used by Switzerland’s largest banks to prepare for new European financial regulations. UBS announced Monday it has entered into partnership with Barclays, KBC and others to advance the MiFID II data collection initiative. The program will be driven by Ethereum smart contracts and run on the Microsoft Azure platform.

The combination of smart contracts and cloud will ensure banks can meet more stringent regulations on a common platform that will enable industry-wide reconciliation. Presently, these institutions must perform checks independently.

MiFID II will officially launch Jan. 3, 2018, and will replace the current regulatory directive.

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.

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Ethereum’s Pullback from Record Territory Continues as CryptoKittes Effect Wears Thin

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Ethereum resumed its descent Monday, a mere 24 hours after hitting new highs, a sign that the CryptoKitties bump was beginning to wear down.

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ETH/USD Price Levels

Ether’s dollar-denominated trade value plunged 10% on Monday to reach an intraday low near $429. Prices would later recover near $450 for a loss of nearly 6%. ETH/USD has declined 2.7% over the past five days in what has been a period of relative calm for the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency.

That being said, prices briefly traded at record highs over the weekend, touching $518. That narrowly beat the Nov. 29 high of $514.

At present values, the ether market is capitalized at nearly $44 billion, which is only a fraction of bitcoin’s $260 billion value. Ether’s 24-hour transaction volume came in at nearly $1.5 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

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Volumes were evenly dispersed across the exchanges. Bitfinex’s ETH/USD pair saw the highest volume at 7.4% of the total market, which was equivalent to $108 million. Poloniex processed nearly 7% of ether’s daily turnover via ETH/BTC.

Ethereum rebounded from record lows against bitcoin, but remains relatively subdued as the world’s no. 1 crypto continues to dominate the market. ETH/BTC plunged 11% to 0.028040.

CryptoKitties

Much of the excitement surrounding Ethereum lately has centered on CryptoKitties, a simple collectibles-based game that was built on the ether blockchain. The game, which was released Nov. 28, allows users to purchase, trade and even breed digital kittens. Some analysts have likened the game to Tamagotchi, a handheld digital pets game launched in 1996.

Transactions on Cryptocurrencies are processed using ether, which is Ethereum’s native token. Industry estimates show that Cryptokitties transactions account for nearly 20% of all computations on the Ethereum platform. This figure appears to be growing continuously.

Although the game was immediately dismissed by members of the cryptocuurrency community,  Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and Earn.com CEO Balaji Srinivasan said the game had more virtues than some cared to recognize.

“Why is Cryptokitties actually important?” asked Balaji. “It’s one of the first examples of what people have been talking about for years: frictionless international trading of digital assets (not just cash!) on a blockchain. Basically what Fred Wilson saw.”

Earn.com markets itself as the “first token-based social network.”

At the same time, the CryptoKitties phenomenon presents several challenges for the Ethereum ecosystem related to scalability, future growth and ICO risk.

Ethereum continues to be the platform of choice for the budding ICO industry. The amount of money raised through the controversial crowdfunding model is fast approaching $4 billion for the year. The phenomenon doesn’t appear to be dying off anytime soon as more startups look to raise money to fuel their expansion.

That being said, many token raises and the issuers that back them are attempting to circumnavigate securities regulations by building a utility token. It remains to be seen how the regulatory landscape will evolve to keep up with the evolving nature of the industry. Equally important is how the cryptocurrency community will come together to address regulatory issues.

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 money you can't afford to lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here.



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