2018 Q1 for Bitcoin has not been a positive one seeing the price drop from around $ 14,100 to $ 7,130. Aside from the dramatic drop (the price has effectively halved) over the first quarter, it has increased from the $ 1,000 level a year ago.
In simplistic terms, the value of Bitcoin is pretty much dictated by the supply and demand principal. In a bullish market, the more people buy, the more the price is driven up. In a bearish market, when selling transactions dominate, demand will diminish, and the price will go down. Simple economics. Factors that drive buying and selling are varied. Hype (mostly driven by media) is created when positive news strengthens the confidence levels and perception of cryptocurrencies. People buy because of this. Lack of confidence or pessimism (also mostly driven by media) causes people to dump their holdings. So, the value of Bitcoin (and most of the altcoins) is driven mostly by public perception.
The decline over the past few months has been created by several negative events that have diluted a lot of the hype seen toward the end of 2017. 2018 Q1 has been dominated by the bears and it is anyone’s guess as to when things may change. There are many that feel cryptocurrencies are dead and that they cannot recover from the current loses - the proverbial bubble has arrived. Then there are those that still believe in the underlying technology and the supposed value that cryptocurrencies can bring.
Ironically, some of the main drivers that push the price down are where Bitcoin is supposedly meant to differentiate itself. The philosophy behind Bitcoin and the various cryptocurrencies is that through the nature of being decentralised, they are meant to be completely democratised. No single entity or element should be able to control them. However, centralised banking institutions and governments seem to have the most control over the price of Bitcoin. Negative sentiment or the threat of regulations from banks or government pushes the price down. Support from these entities pushes the price up. Another issue (according to Bloomberg) is that approximately 40 percent of bitcoin is held by about 1,000 users. And another interesting fact is that the top 100 bitcoin addresses control about one-sixth of the issued currency. These massive swings could be controlled by Bitcoin “whales” that are buying and selling in large quantities to alter that state of the market. This indicates that the supposed decentralised technology, is quite centralised.
If we unpack the first three months of 2018; below are some of the factors that have influenced the price of Bitcoin (and most of the cryptocurrencies negatively).
- Government regulation has started to gain traction to help protect investors along with collecting taxes. Regulation is mostly perceived as negative since it implies a central control over cryptocurrencies. There is also a feeling that regulation will stifle innovation.
- There have been many scams, specifically in the ICO space. Cryptocurrency news site Bitcoin.com surveyed last year’s ICOs and found that of 902 tracked by TokenData, 142 failed before raising funding, and another 276 failed after fundraising. Another 113 projects were labelled “semi-failed,” because the people that launched the crypto have abandoned it and the communities that supported it have disappeared. That is a 59% failure rate to the estimated tune of $233 million.
- Tether, a cryptocurrency whose value is pegged to the United States dollar, has been used by traders to get the value of their money back to dollars without have to convert to fiat. Tethers are supposed to be redeemable for dollars at any time, but in recent months Tether has struggled to gain access to the conventional banking system and has failed to produce a financial audit demonstrating its solvency.
- A few of the major exchanges were hacked. About $ 530 million of virtual coins was lost earlier this year in Japan – the major exchange Coincheck was one of the victims to the attack. BitGrail, an Italian exchange, was hacked and lost about $ 170 million in the Altcoin called Nano. The security of blockchain is supposedly strong and “immutable” once mined. But the weak link is still the exchange.
- Warren Buffett (renowned as the world’s leading investor) has predicted “with almost certainty that cryptocurrencies will come to a bad ending.”
- China banned domestic Crypto exchanges and ICOs in early 2018.
- Facebook, Google and Twitter have all banned the advertising for cryptocurrency-related services
- Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Capital One, Discover, and Lloyds say they have or plan to ban customers from using their credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
These events along with others have harmed the growing confidence in cryptocurrencies as an alternative means to exchange value as opposed to the current expensive, centralised banking institutions. It is anyone’s guess as to what the prices will do over Q2. There does seem to be a common theme that the cryptocurrencies have a weak start to the year. Is this just a pattern repeating itself? We can only wait and see. I think that it will be a tough ride from some time to come. The underlying technology and architecture that support the cryprocurrencies could ultimately be what decides the value. As blockchain is implemented in more and more industries (outside of banking), the technology will become more understood and strenthen as it matures. This will potentially build higher levels of trust which would translate to a higher adoption of cryptocurrencies across a much broader audience.
There is a lot of discussion on what defines the value of a cryptocurrency. It seems that some of the value is driven by costs and inefficiencies in traditional banking. Consumers are becoming more open minded in the way that they wish to transact and looking at alternative means transact across borders.
Africa constantly needs to look at ways to trade and compete with global markets. Perhaps making it easier for the international consumer community to trade with Africa (by bypassing the traditional financial institutions) would assist with making the continent more competitive.
I came across a really great article where this is happening in Nigeria. Interestingly, Nigeria has the world’s third largest Bitcoin holding as a percentage of GDP. The global financial system is too slow and cumbersome and they are hit with heavy fees for swapping currencies.
A consideration would be a “Crypto for Africa” for internal trading (i.e. between Nigeria and Zimbabwe) but this may hinder global exposure. So it seems the likes of Bitcoin (and potentially Ripple with its main driver being low-cost, fast inter-currency exchange) could assist in making the continent more agile.
I came across this article which provides good examples of some of the challenges https://www.newsbtc.com/2018/02/08/nigerians-continue-to-turn-to-bitcoin-when-established-financial-institutions-wont-help/
So the title is a bit misleading, there is no lighter side to cryptographic hash functions. They are complex. Very. And you need a serious mathematical background to understand the different algorithms used to secure data.
Since the development of rotor cipher machines in World War I and the advent of computers in World War II, the methods used to carry out cryptology have become increasingly complex and its application more widespread.
Modern cryptography is heavily based on mathematical theory and computer science practice; cryptographic algorithms are designed around computational hardness assumptions, making such algorithms hard to break in practice by any adversary. It is theoretically possible to break such a system, but it is infeasible to do so by any known practical means. These schemes are therefore termed computationally secure.
Why are cryptographic hash functions important to cryptocurrencies? In essence, they are used for managing the addresses of information in the blockchain (each block has an address) and they are also used for securing (or hiding) the information from potential attackers.
For more information on the cryptographic hash function used for Bitcoin, I have put together a page with a SHA256 (the cryptographic hash function used by Bitcoin) calculator. This is a simple practical example of how raw data is encoded into a fixed length string. The page can be found here.
So the music industry is notorious for eating up most of the profit that should go to the artist.
The image below illustrates that the average amount an artist gets is $ 23 out of $ 1000.
No doubt this varies, bit is a classic case of how quickly the pie gets divided in the process - clearly one with lots of overhead.
A company called Choon (https://www.choon.co) has proposed a model that leverages off of blockchain to assist the artists in getting the music direct to the consumer and their financial remuneration is based on how often their music is listened too.
The proposed solution is as follows
"Backed by the Ethereum Blockchain, Choon will create a music and digital content ecosystem powered by music, streaming and curation. A token called NOTES (NTS) will become the currency by which artists receive fair payment for streams, downloads, Q&As, merchandise, and more. Fans can also receive NOTES by curating popular playlists and listening to promoted music."
In essence, Choon wants to achieve this by being backed with the following principles
- To offer return of up to 80% from the proceeds of streamed music immediately and directly to content creators like artists.
- To develop a crypto-currency understandable and accessible to a majority of the population
- To develop a licensing and music contracting ecosystem through its “Smart Record Contracts” with the capability to simplify music contracts, payments and licensing.
A great explanation of how blockchain supports the mechanism can be found at https://www.choon.co/crypto
The ICO is likely to happen in April / May 2018
I am definitely going to be keeping an eye on this one!
I came across this cool website called Coinvision.co - it is an AI solution that crawls websites, blogs, social media pages, channels, credible Redditors and other sources to deliver alerts directly to it's community via Facebook Messenger.
An article that caught my eye can be found at https://www.coinvision.co/articles/8-altcoins-likely-to-pump-in-january-2018-view-source-to-read
Below are a list of Altcoins they recommend - interesting to see the technology variations along with value proposition. I have condensed this info from original article for brevity.
- Runs its own blockchain
- Improves on Ethereum’s algorithm which has made it more efficient and secure than Ethereum
- Designed to support a smart economy using digital identity technology
- Facilitates smart contracts
- Decentralized cryptocurrency exchange for ERC20 tokens
- Established on top of the Ethereum blockchain
- It aims at overcoming security issues related to the centralization exchanges
- Offers a blockchain environment that supports financial applications
- Efficient and secure
- Architecture that has both users and regulators in mind
- Could offer e-commerce providers the benefits of blockchain while still adhering to regulation
- Aims at rewarding users, rather than miners
- Business or users can host apps or websites on their network
- Individuals can easily allocate part of their CPU’s capacity to run the nodes that forward the content from the website hosts, paying them back in Substratum ($SUB)
- It provides a safe and private way of accessing the Internet without censorship
- Runs its own blockchain architecture
- Highly scalable
- Capable of supporting accounts, authentication, databases, asynchronous communication and any type of application on top of its blockchain
- Can process millions of transactions per second at nearly zero cost.
- Uses hybrid intelligence to make financial projections on the price of crypto assets
- It uses the collective reasoning from its thousands of users coupled with machine learning capabilities, to reach its conclusions
- identifies itself as a third generation crypto
- Designed to serve developments within the Internet of Things
- Structured on a blockchain transaction confirmation structure called Tangle.
- Technology enables the removal of transaction fees.
Salt Lending ($SALT)
- Blockchain-based cash lending structure
- Allows users to acquire loans in fiat currency using their cryptocurrency assets as collateral.
- This permits borrowers to maintain their positions in crypto, instead of liquidating their positions when they need cash.
Three other coins with some powerful attributes for 2018 are mentioned on
The global shipping industry has not seen much change since the container was invented in the 50s. Trading across borders is filled with bureaucracy. However, IBM and Maersk have partnered to look at building an open platform for shipping. The underlying technology will be block chain (developed by IBM). The success of the project will be on how effectively adoption can be driven with the shippers, freight forwarders, ocean carriers, ports and custom authorities.
There are 10 of millions of containers being shipped globally and this technology should enable data sharing on the tracking of these containers across networks.
Another key driver will be standardisation across the industry.
IBM has a nice blog article here the describes the planned implementation in some detail
Reference : http://bitcoinist.com/ibm-partners-shipping-giant-maersk-launch-blockchain-solution-global-logistics/
As of 1 January 2018, I have been committed to a three month sabbatical that will allow me to learn and explore the following areas of interest
- Cryptocurrencies and the underlying technology - blockchain
- Machine Learning and predictive analysis
- Technical Analysis for trading
- Bot development
My project is to build a trading bot that will be able to track cryptocurrency prices and using a combination of technical analysis, trading strategies and machine learning be able to produce buy and sell signals.
My research will be based on gathering information from online courses, eBooks, the internet and social media platforms.
Below is a list of some courses that I have registered for;
The objective is that by creating a trading bot, based on my research above, I will have learnt a lot about Cryptocurrencies, Machine Learning and Technical Analysis.
Most of my work will be published on this website along with information for those that are also interested in the similar topics.
I welcome any feedback, so please feel free to drop me an email or post on one of my social media platforms.