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Taming Volatility: Saga Aims to Fix the Boom and Bust Nature of Cryptocurrency

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A group of leading economists are launching a new cryptocurrency by the name of Saga. Its aim: become the world’s first low-volatility cryptocurrency backed by actual reserves.

An Introduction to the Saga Foundation

The cryptocurrency market has witnessed tremendous growth over the past 15 months, but volatile price swings have made it less appealing for many in the financial establishment. Critics say a lack of certainty around coin valuations undermine the growth of digital currencies as viable methods of payment.

To address these concerns, an impressive list of economists and academics have come together to launch Saga, a reserve-backed cryptocurrency that aims to eliminate volatility. In doing so, it seeks to position itself as a more market-friendly bitcoin – and do so without the anonymity.

Saga will essentially operate as a stablecoin backed by a so-called “variable fraction reserve” that is pegged to the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights (SDR) basket. The SDR was created nearly five decades ago, with the Chinese yuan being its most recent entrant back in 2016.

Serving on the Saga investment board are an impressive group of people who have helped shape the global financial markets. They include Dan Galai, co-creator of the CBOE VIX Volatility Index, Jacob Frenkel, Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International, former CME Chairman Leo Melamed and Nobel Prize-winning economist Myron Scholes.

Frenkel, who also served as governor of the Bank of Israel, issued the following statement, according to the Financial Times:

“While blockchain technologies have gained growing acceptance, encryptic currencies have raised public policy concerns, since they are anonymous, unbacked, and are highly volatile. I share these concerns and see great value in Saga’s vision to address them properly.”

The Saga foundation has already raised $30 million from investors, but unlike other digital currency projects, will not pursue an initial coin offering (ICO) because the model doesn’t align with its vision of a low-volatility, low-speculation cryptocurrency.

Saga is under development in Israel with approximately 25 staff on board. By the end of the year, that number will nearly triple.

Volatility: Both Havoc and Reward

Volatility has been at the center of cryptocurrency since the very beginning. The crypto market adds and sheds tens of billions of dollars daily, with recent price wings proving even more volatile. While this has made many traders very rich, it has lowered the investment appeal of cryptos among traditional financial circles – as well as those with a weak stomach for dramatic price swings on a daily basis.

Proponents of traditional asset classes have suggested many ways for approaching – and taming – volatility. The launch of bitcoin futures in December was perhaps the biggest step toward weeding out volatility from crypto trades. While this may be the case for traders of the futures contracts, the bitcoin market as a whole remains extremely volatile.

That being said, some analysts have made a strong case that bitcoin’s intraday volatility has declined substantially since the early days of crypto trading. According to Chris Burniske, author of the influential ARK Invest whitepaper on crypto assets, bitcoin’s price volatility fell by half between 2011 and 2017.

The year 2018 may tell a different story entirely. According to Google Trends, searches for “volatility” reached a record peak in February. The search term achieved a Google Trends score of 100 in the week ended Feb. 10. That’s the highest score attainable. Interestingly, Feb. 10 was also the week of the epic crypto crash.

Searches for volatility have declined over the past seven weeks but remain high overall. Based on the Google Trends “related queries” information, searches for volatility have been strongly associated with the cryptocurrency market. At the time of writing, the top-three related queries all relate to Bitconnect, the now defunct cryptocurrency exchange that was accused of running an elaborate Ponzi Scheme. Numbers four and five on the list are “bitcoin volatility software” and “bitcoin volatility index.”

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 660 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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Blockchain Utilitarianism: Solutions People Can Use

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Mainstream blockchain adoption is on the lips of many pundits and analysts due to the proliferation of token-investment.

For example, one in five university students in the US have been reported to hold either Bitcoin or another currency as of August 2018; whilst simultaneously there has been an incremental convergence of government and big industry with blockchain.

These are unions between traditional power-holders, and innovators within a new sector: with the demands of business being satisfied thanks to vast institutional funding and support.

Whilst these relationships present a potentially positive future for each party, they do not speak to the utilitarian value that crypto can offer to the average person – rather than its value as a currency alone.

For that reason, we have decided to present four of our favourite new projects which are seeking to offer solutions that have value derived from real people can do with them, rather than other machines or protocol.

#1. Blockfolio

Cryptocurrency portfolio management solutions are a competitive sector. Beyond ‘top 10’ clickbait lists, even a browse of community resources like Reddit result in a vast assortment of threads featuring individuals asking, “what is the best portfolio management software?”

Blockfolio (founded in 2014) is one of the most well-known offerings in the space and has amassed several million users. The company made headlines mid-October due to having raised a $11.5 million in Series A funding led by famed crypto hedge fund Pantera Capital.

Key features include support for tracking over 6,000 cryptocurrencies, over 300 exchanges as well as multiple portfolio capabilities. Another feature that has helped the project stand out from the pack is “Blockfolio Signal”, which is a feature that allows crypto teams to broadcast update messages to their communities.

Notable teams on-boarded amongst the 100+ actively utilizing the Signal beta platform so far include Ethereum Classic, Augur, 0x, Monero, and Dash.

#2. BitMart

BitMart is a cryptocurrency exchange which this writer has been following for some time. They have made bold attempt at implementing a community token-voting investment system, and one that has otherwise received dire controversy due to failed attempts by rivals – alongside a lack of community evidence to fully verify their integrity.

According to CoinMarketCap, Bitmart ranks at number 15th on the list of ‘Top 100 Cryptocurrency Exchanges by Trade Volume (adjusted)’.

Since last I wrote on the company, the response to ‘Mission X’ has been largely positive – with the team having established valuable partnerships with a wide range of tokens.

Though the consensus (like for many blockchain projects at present) is yet to be fully confirmed, BitMart has been pushing forwards nevertheless – with frequent detailed statistical reports being released on a weekly basis. Two of their most recent releases are fully-featured iOS and Android based apps – featuring highly accessible user interfaces and support services.

These mobile applications incorporate many of the core features present in its bigger desktop cousin, with the added functionality of push notifications and instant updates for the market as well as your chosen coin. Another appealing aspect of BitMart is their ‘Investment Lab’, a fundraising hub for new ERC-20, NEP-5 and Stellar Smart Contract tokens.

‘Investment Lab’ is intrinsically linked to the BMX market, which is an OTC exchange where investors can purchase and trade different fiat and crypto-assets. In fact, the site boasts 53 trading pairs at present with all new listings being thoroughly verified by an in-house coin review team

#3. Ares Tech

From arcade-machines, to home consoles and smartphone apps: video-games have had a long and storied history with digital currencies.

It began as the exchange of pocket change in return for ‘credits’ which could be exchanged for a round of play and has since become ubiquitous across all forms of interactive entertainment. More recent examples include ‘points’, and these are used to purchase from a library intellectual property and services. See Xbox Live, and ‘Free-to-play’ business models, as well as purchasable digital games.

The problem is that the market leading service platforms which facilitate these purchases are centralized (Steam, Xbox, etc), and the currency is complete non-fungible in most cases to comply with various legislation. The only exception for this is gambling.

Another symptom of a select handful of platform-holders is a monopolisation of hardware and software distribution and licensing rights, resulting in astronomical fees and barriers to entry for independent creators.

Ares Tech claims to have identified and created a solution for the disparate nature of ‘social game’ development in particular, producing a unified set of tools. Use and adoption of this framework will (if according to plan) allow for interoperability between different software titles. User data for example, and profile assets could be used to log-in to multiple games whilst protecting the participants data through blockchain storage and encryption.

It will be open source and with all games to be published on GitHub. Ares promises to allow for the browsing and management of assets and currencies in one unified interface and include BTC and ETH with protocols: ERC20, ERC233, ERC721, and ERC998.

#4. MenloOne

MenloOne is an open-source framework which aims to streamline the development process for decentralized applications (DApps) and resolve pre-existing constraints that are conducive to poor user-experience, performance and security.

Their latest news is the release of their first DApp to be built using their framework, entitled ‘Block Overflow’. It acts as a use-case and potential precursor to their MVP which apes ‘Stack Overflow’ which is a well-known Q/A website aimed at the software development community.

The proposed hook is that the problem-solving process will be expedited by offering user queries as bounties with time-sensitive rewards. Block Overflow also utilises the ‘Townhall’ communication layer which was created to attribute token-based user rewards (as per the team’s technical roadmap).

With a strong team and whitepaper there, team has a strong chance is a strong chance that the team is poised for success in the accomplishment of their ambitious and disruptive goals.

Founder and CEO Matt Nolan is also known for his position as a speaker and resident at TED as well as having previously worked at blue-chip companies like JP Morgan and IBM; whilst COO David Dawson is a veteran engineer formerly of Microsoft where he worked on flagship projects such as Windows, Xbox and Office.

This project was brought to this writers’ attention when it was listed in articles such as a recent Forbes list comprising the ‘Top 10 New Blockchain Companies to Watch For in 2018’ – alongside the likes of Gameflip.

#5. Unification

Singapore based Unification is one such project and hopes to carry the torch of a blockchain based ‘sovereign identity.’ This is a concept that numerous “ICO’s” have tried and failed out, mainly because the predecessors have attempted to outreach to consumers directly or asked “DApps” to build within their proprietary walled garden.

Unification is doing it a little differently, focusing on the decentralized UVCID identity protocol and instead of asking companies to build from scratch – they are integrating with existing enterprises through a structured outreach program to non-blockchain based apps and enterprises.

It exists in a diametric opposition to the status quo – in which users submit their information to separate platforms (from market leaders like Facebook and Twitter, to smaller businesses, and e-commerce merchants like Amazon). What’s more, the storage of this information has been proven to be less than secure in many examples – with an opaque representation of statistics to customers, and absolute anonymity.

For example, you would be more likely to see the Unification team at CES or Mobile World Congress bringing over the uninitiated than to be meeting with the same people over and over again at the same crypto conference. This outwardly looking enterprise model is refreshing and indicative of our industry evolving past the initial speculative bubble into building toolkits for practical applications.

Earlier this year Unification debuted the prototype demo of its flagship product: an interface called ‘BABEL’ is aimed at businesses and utilises a C++ smart contract protocol to standardize interoperable data into a single and unified format which can be used on any participating platform. It also allows for the integration of existing mainstream applications and decentralized apps (DApps).

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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Crypto Miner Bitfury May Pursue an IPO in Amsterdam, London or Hong Kong

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In what could be a blockbuster deal for the European equity markets, crypto mining hardware maker Bitfury is the latest blockchain startup to be considering an IPO. The company is “weighing strategic options,” among which is a public listing in Amsterdam, London or Hong Kong, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Bitfury would reportedly fetch a valuation of between $3 billion and $5 billion and could become a listed company in 2019 or later. Bitfury generated sales of approximately $450 million in the 12-month period leading up to March 2018.

An IPO is not the only option on the table, as Bitfury could also issue debt or selling a minority stake, but they are already engaging investment banks as possible underwriters of the deal, according to the Bloomberg report. If they decide to pursue a public listing, Bitfury would be joining the likes of huge crypto mining company Bitmain, which has already filed for an IPO in Hong Kong. Bitmain controls much of the crypto mining market and could raise as much as $3 billion in an IPO.

IPO Trend

Clearly, there is a trend unfolding among bitcoin miners to raise funds in the equity markets. It’s less than an ideal time to be making a public debut with neither stocks nor crypto prices at their best. Nonetheless, crypto IPOs would give the market the opportunity to gauge institutional investor interest in this space amid much speculation that they are ready to come off the sidelines. It remains unclear how investors would respond to crypto stocks considering the bitcoin price has lost more than half its value this year.

But it’s not just crypto miners eyeing the public markets. CNBC crypto market host Ran NeuNer is reporting that U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase plans to announce an IPO as early as today. Coinbase management has hinted at a public listing before. A year ago, Coinbase COO Asiff Hirji said that an IPO was the “most obvious path for Coinbase.”

It’s also possible that the rise of crypto-fueled IPOs could be the tide to lift all boats, as more exposure for the blockchain and leading crypto companies only stands to benefit the industry. If Coinbase decides to pursue an IPO in the U.S., it would give Wall Street investors a way to gain exposure to a regulated crypto security as long as a formal regulatory framework remains elusive.

Meanwhile, many signs are pointing to a breakout in the bitcoin price after what has been a subdued October with modest volatility, suggesting that speculators are out and the bottom is in, Bloomberg analysis suggests.

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 70 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. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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Uber: $120 Billion IPO?

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Uber Technologies Inc., the global ride-hailing giant, is reportedly eyeing an initial public offering (IPO) worth as much as $120 billion. According to The Wall Street Journal, the IPO could take place early next year, giving investors ample time to prepare.

More Valuable than the Auto Giants

The $120 billion value proposal was delivered to Uber last month by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS), two of Wall Street’s largest banks. The banks were presumably advising Uber on how to position stock offerings to potential investors before underwriting the IPO.

The new valuation far exceeds the one Uber received from Toyota Motors Co (TYO), which priced the ride-sharing service at %72 billion.

At $120 billion, Uber would be worth more than the General Motors Co (GM), Ford Motor Co (F) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) combined. The Detroit auto giants have seen their valuations rise in the wake of the financial crisis, buoyed by a prolonged recovery and increased appetite for automobiles. However, their growth has paled in comparison to Uber’s, which was founded in 2009.

Uber’s expansion hasn’t been without growing pains. The company has been mired by regulatory bottlenecks, workplace scandals and the alleged theft of trade secrets from Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), Google’s parent company.

It is not entirely clear what metrics the Wall Street banks used to evaluate Uber’s potential value. The company reportedly told Morgan Stanley it won’t be profitable for at least another three years, though annual revenues are expected to reach up to $11 billion this year. That’s a marked rise over the $7.78 billion generated in 2017.

While there’s no guarantee that Uber will go public in the proposed timeframe, it must issue a public offering by the end of 2019, according to WSJ sources. That’s the agreement it has in place with investor SoftBank Group Corp.

Uber by the Numbers

Uber’s startling growth over the past nine years can be represented by a few statistics. As of May 8, 2018, the company had 19,000 employees. This doesn’t include the more than 3 million drivers who are getting paid through the ride-hailing service. Since inception, Uber drivers have completed some 10 billion rides. This averages out to about 15 million rides each day. Gross bookings in 2016 alone amounted to $20 billion.

As of June, 75 million riders were using the Uber app. In the U.S. alone, adult users are projected to reach 48 million by the end of 2018. The Uber app is installed on 21% of U.S. adult Android devices.

Currently, Uber owns up to 87% of the U.S. ride-hailing market. The growth and widespread adoption of the service has opened the door to other competitors, with Lyft being the biggest. Founded in 2012, Lyft is available in about 220 cities across the U.S. as well as in major cities across Asia.

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 660 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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