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Stellar Lumens: Analysis for a HODL (or Non-HODL)

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2018 is off to a fast start for many coins, with the past couple of days being a thorn in an otherwise positive trend. Stellar Lumens was a coin that I have always been curious about. XRP was a marketing unicorn. It was perfectly palatable for the government, and it was designed to do things that were government friendly. The co-founder of XRP went on to found Stellar Lumens, a company that has a very similar system to Ripple, but a different marketing plan altogether. Let’s go into it.

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Leadership

Jed McCaleb is the brains of this company. He was also the brainchild of Mt. Gox, the exchange that was tragically hacked after his departure. If we are talking about big guys in the industry, I don’t think we are going to find many more like this guy. He’s an American success story that also builds government friendly cryptocurrencies. I am hoping this is our Rocky Balboa, because we certainly need one in 2018. I haven’t seen many people step up to the plate and talking on behalf of blockchain, so I do believe the void is certainly open for these folks to join in. Garlinghouse is already the darling of CNBC, there is room for more!

Purpose

There are three in my opinion. They are first trying to get into the micropayment space with a rapid settlement software and ledger system. They are focusing on “banking the unbanked”. The costs for using their services are low, no matter what the amount that is being transacted. Sounds like a fork in Ripple! Oh, because it is. The vision is that holding lumens could be a way for people to store their money in something that isn’t a closet anymore. There are roughly 2B “unbanked” that could be considered a target market.

Compliance-focused. These guys want the banks to be able to use them! This is the McCaleb special sauce in my opinion. He is making sure that all of his stuff is always working with the powers that be, not against them. The network is set up for banks to plug themselves in, put in a clients money, and Lumens will spit it out the other side to anyone, anywhere, in any currency. Great middleman! Ripple is the institutional version, Lumens is the use case version. I believe this is why Jed left.

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Lumens also built an excellent platform for design. If you want Raiden’s take, I think Mr. McCaleb saw that a platform is going to be a hell of a lot more important than a instrument of exchange. He has built a platform that is incredibly easy to design your own tokens on, that are so transparent that it can help you toe the line of the law. When the USA is just ramping up for their own regulations on ICOs, and you have Mr. McCaleb on the sideline with a  straight edge token maker, I think there could be some sweet music. I am not a tech person, so I will yield to others in it’s comparison to Ethereum. It has been advertised as a more advanced version of what is available. AKA, a newly paved road with custom car dealerships.

Competitors

Depends on which purpose. Personally, banking the unbanked is being worked on (and touted) by every cryptocurrency out there. They have debit cards, QR codes, CELL PHONES for it. There is a huge market for it, but the reason swaths of humanity are unbanked is because it is difficult to access basic services, including the education on cryptocurrency account set-up, payment and management. This is an “eventually” problem that will be solved. If this was the only part of this coin, I would move on. I am going to be leaving “banking the unbanked” up at the top. This doesn’t excite me. I am going to be talking about their near sighted solution cases moving forward.

The platform for creation is something I like very very much. I love when things can be worked on by entrepreneurs. When things are developed on a platform, their work is as good as being nailed into the walls of the block chain. I want to attract the most amount of smart people to use the coins I own, as their ingenuity in various forms will create a desire for the coin. Ethereum and NEO are the platforms I would say compete with Lumens right now.

Ethereum, which does have a Silicon Valley presence, has been around for quite some time, and the prospect of lightning is anyone’s guess as to effectiveness. I personally never bet against Ethereum, regardless of competitors. I just bet on all platforms.

NEO, “Chinese Ethereum,” is also an advanced platform that currently boasts the most robust way for developers to create. They have the best paint brushes at the moment, in this author’s very humble opinion. I don’t believe the NEO team is going to be focusing on the US ACO market just this moment (I could be wrong). I think NEO could very well be the advanced Chinese Lumens. No real need to deviate from that market for them…

Target Market 

This is the best target market anyone can ask for, and it is the reason I am writing about this coin. Business. High quality businesses that can transact in tokens quickly and compliantly for uses with every day transactions.

Let’s do an example: With Lumens I can have my bank send them USD, Lumens then encrypts that USD on XLM, and sends it off to the bank across the world in China. The bank gets that payment in Yuan, deposited directly to my friend. This target market is not being drooled over like it should. Decentralists will do their own thing, but for me USD is what puts gas in the tank. It will be that way. I want someone to play nice with my USD, and the keepers of my USD. Strong points to Lumens here.

Weaknesses

All friends of Raiden know I hate large supplies. This coin is designed for a specific use, and that use is certainly not being a $30,000 coin. 103B. That means it’s going to take a massive wave of adoption before we start seeing some price appreciation.

I want their vision to be a little more geared toward beating Ethereum. I think banking the unbanked will take significant amounts of time, and will require a lot of all hands on deck to get going. If we could shelf this goal for after we figure out whats going on with primary offerings in America, we may have more resources to speed up the process of such a noble goal.

Strengths

This is an American company solving an American problem. There are no hurdles to jump here! We have a gigantic market of investors/businesses that need a platform that they can begin to toy around with. If they can successfully offer tokens that will require payment in XLM, this is now a very good investment. This is the Ethereum Model, and look how well its doing from way up there.

Jed McCaleb. I think this darn guy is the one who saw the bureaucratic needle in the haystack and decided to jump in. The government friendly cryptos will always win over the anti-government cryptos. I am not going to the bonfire with those people, I want to make money this year. I have said this before. Americans want something simple, at their doorstep. This is beginning to sound like just that.

Technical Jargon 

  • Current Price 1/15/18- $.63
  • Current Supply- 17,890,569,956 XLM
  • Total Supply- 103,590,302,054 XLM
  • Market Cap- 11,447,227,515 USD
  • Market Cap Rank- 9

Partnerships

IBM. This is the big one. You may not know this, but IBM essentially controls every single corporate office in America. Their software, wiring, and hardware is what keeps most places up and running. IBM has used them for settlement, while they clear the transactions that they are doing thousands and thousands (and thousands) of. Baby steps partnership right now. However, this is already a working relationship. IBM is not a company to discount in the new wave of technology. Their technical infrastructure in American professional society is second to absolutely none. This partnership alone can tell you many things about Stellar Lumens. It is quite interesting IBM is also hiring Ethereum Developers.

Overall

I sold off some of the portions I had before the sell-off a week ago. It performed well for me, but I was going to be migrating back to my ETH. Now that I have done some real digging here, I love what this is. It is Jed McCaleb. I trust that man. I have no idea of his coding experience, or overall involvement in the nuts and bolts of any currency he has worked on behalf of. However, this man is preparing an American Noah’s Ark. This is the boat that he thinks everyone will get on, AND B2C BUSINESS OFF OF. The most important thing is the business part, hence the caps. If we are talking about a warming up ICO/ACO market in the United States, there is no better place to be apart of than a mass customization shop that can give you a filled out form to hand into the government. That hasn’t been mastered yet, even on the exchange side. I just really hope they focus on the platform first. Business comes first to set up their store fronts. People go shopping second. Lumens is a coin with customers and a lonely target market. I can’t think of that being a bad thing.

 

I am not recommending you buy XLM, or any of the currencies I have listed. You must look into each and every investment, and analyze all angles based on your savings and risk tolerance. A lot of people ask me thoughts on currencies. No currency is made for everyone. I would have to know income, savings, investment background, risk tolerance, and the list goes on. This is the reason why no one can ever recommend something to you through a long term price prediction. I want you to make money. I wish you the best of luck.


A look at the mountain range.

Disclaimer: The author holds investment positions in the cryptocurrencies discussed in this article. 

Image courtesy of Pexels and 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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4.4 stars on average, based on 27 rated postsMythological God of Lightning. Cryptocurrency/Blockchain writer, evangelist, and friend. May the odds be ever in our favor.




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Opinion

Yale Economist Robert Shiller Has Little Faith in Cryptocurrencies

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Yale economist Robert Shiller warns that for all their innovation, the new money that is cryptocurrencies is an experiment that in the end may fall short. According to Shiller in a blog post posted today, computer programmers are the only ones who get cryptocurrencies enough to explain them, which he suggests “creates an aura of exclusivity”, attaches a certain “glamour” to this “new money” and inspires the devout loyalty within blockchain circles.

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It’s déjà vu for Shiller, who has seen this all play out before in the history books, each time over the past 100-plus years ending in utter failure. This time it’s the rise of some 2,000 digital currencies and millions of believers who are not deterred by the smoke signals that regulators are sending up. Cryptocurrencies aside, money “is rich in mystique,” he says, and fueled by the faith that people and institutions place in it.

Shiller harkens back to the Cincinnati Time Store, which was a retail store in the 1800s founded by Josiah Warner and fueled by labor notes as well as “time money” surfaced shortly thereafter, which relied on time instead of precious metals. Neither of those experiments succeeded.

The revolution, he says, is nothing new, and the shine associated with reinventing money eventually grows dim.

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“The cryptocurrencies are a statement of faith in a new community of entrepreneurial cosmopolitans who hold themselves above national governments, which are viewed as the drivers of a long train of inequality and war.” – Shiller

Shiller taps into the emotional case for cryptocurrencies, suggesting that the allure of new money is shrouded in the mystery of “advanced science.” Perhaps.

But while payments are a key application of cryptocurrencies, they’re not the only use case. And blockchain and cryptocurrencies have a symbiotic relationship, one in which neither wouldn’t exist without the other. But not once in his epilogue does he mention blockchain, the very technology that sets cryptocurrencies apart from historical attempts at new money, or the $143 billion market cap achieved by bitcoin alone currently.

‘A Clever Idea’

Shiller is a Nobel prize winner for his theory on asset prices. His Twitter profile evokes Alan Greenspan’s Fed with a description as being “irrationally exuberant.” Shiller actually shines when he is predicting doom and gloom, having presciently called both the bursting of the dot-com bubble and the housing crisis.

As economists go, Shiller has been more open-minded about bitcoin than his peers, his prediction for a “total collapse” notwithstanding. Shiller once called bitcoin a “clever idea.”

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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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4.4 stars on average, based on 7 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. Full disclosure, she's invested in bitcoin.




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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Principles of Money and How You Should Think of Bitcoin

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To really understand bitcoin and what it aims to do, you need to understand what money is. The two terms that get thrown around a lot in regards to whether bitcoin or any other digital currency is a good investment are “medium of transfer” and “store of value”. These are important components of monetary assets, but aren’t the end of the conversation.

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What Makes a Monetary Good

There are three main purposes you need to think of when you determine how useful a monetary good is: medium of exchange, store of value and unit of account.

Store of value means that users are comfortable storing their wealth in terms of that monetary good. This is generally a sign of stability and trust in the long-term value of the monetary good.

Next, you have medium of transfer, which is basically a “cash” use case. Everyone is willing to transfer value to each other by using the asset. They might not necessarily hold this for long, but it is widely used enough that you can trust in its usefulness.

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The less heard of quality for a currency to have is being a unit of account. This means that people value their goods in terms of that particular currency. If you were to ask someone how much something costs, chances are they would quote the value in terms of their local currency. That makes the local currency the unit of account.

Right now, bitcoin is not a unit of account because there is no set bitcoin price a good would be sold in. Instead, you have values quoted based on the current BTC/USD exchange rate, which is very different.

The Path of Monetary Evolution

It can take decades for a good to go through the full evolution of its use as a monetary good, and that use can change with shifts in the economy. For example, gold would have been used for all three purposes, but is now only used as a store of value. Similarly, PayPal captured the medium of transfer use case, but never developed a meaningful solution to become a unit of account or store of value.

So where is bitcoin now? Based on the way it is being traded, it is mostly a store of value. In the beginning, there were lots of situations where users would spend bitcoin on trivial objects, but now with the meme “HODL” and the number of rabid bitcoin supporters, it is mostly a long-term investment.

This is the standard path a new monetary good takes. Nobody would want to use it as a medium of transfer because the value is fluctuating so much that it is infeasible for daily use. Until the equilibrium amount of demand for the good comes online and the price somewhat stabilizes, it is unlikely to become a medium of transfer. The same applies to unit of account, as mentioned above.

No Defined Outcome

A common gripe against bitcoin is that it is not a useful currency because it does not fulfill the store of value condition, but this ignores the shortcomings of fiat currency. Nobody holds more than a small proportion of their net worth in fiat, because it is not a good store of value. Inflation is constantly eroding the value of the currency and that is its core weakness.

Additionally, when you look at unstable countries, such as Argentina, there are multiple monetary assets in use. They use the Argentinian peso as a medium of transfer, but opt for the US dollar as a store of value.

So there is no defined outcome for bitcoin’s evolution. It doesn’t have to fulfill all the use cases for it to be useful, it just has to be better than our current options for a use case.

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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