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GIVE BITCOIN A CHANCE: INTEGRITY AND LEGITIMATE BACKING ARE FACTORS THAT WILL BOOST CRYPTOCURRENCIES

SHEENA B. RICARTE

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Creatively  named  digital  platforms  and  flamboyantly  designed  logos for  their  diverse  native tokens  highlight  the  cryptocurrency  world.  Besides the  mainstream  Bitcoin  (BTC),  Ethereum (ETH), and Ripple  (XRP),  there are Dogecoin  (DOGE), Aelf  (ELF),  Cabbage (CAB), HoboNickels (HBN), and Monaco (MCO).  According  to  Coinmarketcap.com,  this  industry  is  a  vast  ocean  of  over  500  digital currencies, each with its own trading price and market capitalization. Every platform and their virtual  coins  are fighting to  increase their  trading  value  through visibility  among traders and investors and for eventual survival through widespread adoption.

The  cryptocurrency  coming-out  party  in  2017  was  marked  by  the  debut  of  Bitcoin  as  the industry’s  crown   jewel.     Bitcoin’s  market  capitalization  currently  stands  at  $158  billion, according  to  Coinmarketcap.com, putting it  the  neighborhood of Citigroup  Inc. and Visa  Inc. Trading  at  $9,350.85  at  the  time  of writing,  most  Bitcoin  price analysis  have presented the virtual currency’s price going wild. Climaxing to its meteoric rise of $20,000 by the culmination of 2017, however, the dismal first quarter of 2018 saw Bitcoin’s dramatic price drop a bearish

60%,  slashing  billions  of  dollars  in its total market  capitalization  and erasing  its wild ride  in

2017.  Since  the  onset  of  2018,  numerous  setbacks  have  materialized  with  Bitcoin  going  in limbo due to tax seasons, continued governmental oversight worldwide, and the repercussions of the  Tokyo-based  Mt. Gox Bitcoin  Exchange fallout. These uncertainties may have signaled the  waning interest  for  cryptocurrency investing as  well  as  speculations that  the  end  of the cybercurrency frenzy loomed.

The  eventual adoption of digital currencies remains a debate with two dominant perspectives: the upbeat bulls’ and the defeatist bears’ opinions. Who will triumph?  How can the hundreds of digital currencies thrive in the long haul?

BULLS

Bulls  –  or  the  optimistic  enthusiasts  of  cryptocurrencies  –  believe  that  Bitcoin  can  possibly supplant  fiat  currencies and is reckoned to be the future of money.   Furthermore, they   view this  digital  asset  as  an  opportunity  for  anyone  to  be  a  part  of the  longstanding  elitist  and intelligentsia-only world of finance. Bitcoin certainly became a global sensation that even in a destitute  town  in Kenya,  uneducated  farmers  who wanted to  get rich fast have transformed themselves  into  amateur computer  programmers.  They are firmly  convicted  that  their  basic knowledge of ‘mining’  digital  currencies is their gateway not only to a better life but  also to sudden wealth.

Crypto  bulls have incessantly worked towards pushing Bitcoin’s price north of $8,000 after its nosedive continued in the first quarter of 2018. They believe that investors are still to grow in number,  arguing  that  the  blockchain  technology  awareness  is  still  in its early stages.   With heightened consumer demand for faster remittances, mainstream FinTech firms like Microsoft and Expedia  demonstrating  their  interest  in adopting  Bitcoin  payments, and retail giants like Walmart,   Costco,   and   Amazon   possibly   joining   the   bandwagon,   Bitcoin’s     widespread acceptance is expected to be realized.

In China, the possible prohibition in crypto-trading contributed to the price drop, though hopes are up  with Yi Gang, the new governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC). In addition, the Seoul  mayor,  a  Blockchain  technology  supporter,  has  introduced  the    capital’s  very  own cryptocurrency — the ‘S coin’.

In recent market sentiment analysis, other bullish cybercurrency aficionados have continued to uphold   cryptocurrency  prices   through    growth-stimulating  activities.     Therefore,  besides Bitcoin,  bullish  momentum   have  facilitated   encouraging  highs  for  virtual  currencies  like Cardano  (ADA), EOS  (EOS), Bitcoin  Cash  (BCH),  and Lisk (LSK) which are some of the massive gainers in the cyber-currency market as reflected by continuous trading price upswings, some even soaring to consistent double-digits gains.

BEARS

Bears – or the cryptocurrency cynics – on the other hand, have continued to ‘short and distort’ digital currencies.  The bears have strongly maintained their opposition against Bitcoin through the following key developments:

1) International Governments’ Regulation Intensifies.

Increased scrutiny for cryptocurrencies has recently affected the daily price analysis for digital currencies like  Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin   Cash (BCH), Ripple (XRP), Stellar (XLM), Litecoin (LTC), Cardano (ADA), NEO (NEO), and EOS (EOS).

The  US  Securities  and Exchange Commission (SEC) and government  officials  worldwide  have viewed  cryptocurrency  trading  as  shady  or  rigged,  lacking  a  verifiable  structure.  Due to  its concern for the public, the SEC issued a statement on cryptocurrency investing. SEC Chairman Jay  Clayton has been wary of the widespread use of the blockchain technology by scammers. He clarified that more stringent steps will be taken by the SEC to combat these fraudsters and to further safeguard the public.

The  SEC  has  cracked  down  on  ICO  fraud  and is  applying  securities  laws  to  everything from cryptocurrency exchanges  to digital asset storage companies known as wallets. SEC Chairman Jay  Clayton said  the  government  watchdog is devoting a “significant portion of resources” to the  ICO  market.  Exchanges  and  initial  coin  offerings  (ICOs)  are  now  faced  with  tightened oversight  to  prevent  victimization  of  impressionable,  gullible,  and  mindless  investors  who expect higher returns overnight.

Aligned with the mission of the SEC, the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has also heightened strict regulations of virtual currencies, disputing their legality and nature of being an obvious hype. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) have questioned the legitimacy of Bitcoin and other electronic money, asking the public of considering getting rid of anything that they don’t understand.  Just like  the  SEC,  the  CFTC and the  BOJ are concerned  about the prevalence of fraud  and the  use  of these   virtual  currencies in transnational  crimes  like money laundering because scammers delight in the untraceable nature of electronic currencies.

In  South  Korea,  a  polarized approach to  cryptocurrencies prevail.   With  emphasis on  taxing virtual currencies, regulation is under way  and is expected to come in full circle by mid-June. Countries  like  China,  Colombia,  and  Nigeria  have  seriously  denounced  Bitcoin’s  ability  to replace their legal tender.

2) Mainstream Social Media Websites Expressed Their Rejection of Crypto-related Ads.

To further rub salt to cryptocurrencies’ wounds, tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all prohibited Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) advertising.

Facebook is the first social media titan to outlaw misleading and deceptive cryptocurrency ads in  January  2018.     Following   Facebook’s     footsteps,     Google  is  also  cracking  down  on cryptocurrency-related  advertising.   In its annual “trust and safety”  ads report, the company expressed that it is no longer allowing ICOs, wallets, and trading advice in any of its advertising platforms effective June 2018.

Twitter  has  decided  on  the  sitewide  prohibition of virtual  currency  ads in March, citing the safety of its users as its primary motivator.   The social media behemoth affirmed that its new policy  restricts  advertisements  of    ICOs  and  token  sales  globally.  In  a  report  by  the  Coin Telegraph,  cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet services are  also included in the ban, unless they’re publicly listed in major stock exchanges.

Twitter  CEO  Jack  Dorsey  previously  acknowledged  the  prevalence  of  account  fraud  in  the cryptocurrency arena. Thus, his social media platform is joining the dissenters’  chorus against scam-infested  cryptocurrency  ads  and  trading.  Investors’  fears  are  expected  to  rise  as  the Twitter ad ban will certainly impact their cash flow.  The trend of Bitcoin’s price plummeting is expected to carry on as well.

3) Distrust for Bitcoin Prevail in the Investment, Banking, and Finance World.

When  Bitcoin  gained  renown, it was speculated to supplant the dollar and gold. However, its share of critics like seasoned investors and FinTech experts have signaled the red light against cryptocurrencies.  Berkshire  Hathaway  chairman  Warren  Buffett  and  his investment partner, Charlie Munger,  are both  Bitcoin  naysayers, dismissing  digital  currencies as mere speculative bubbles.

As Bitcoin entered limbo at the onset of 2018, its believers reckoned that they were learning a key  economic  concept  the  hard  way:  the  nature  of  speculative  bubbles  and  its  being  a self-fulfilling  prophecy  for  the  cryptocurrency.  A  speculative  bubble  like  the  tulipomania  in 17th-century  Netherlands  is  an  economic  event  in  which  investors  go  on  a  hype  over  a speculative asset like tulips, houses, or Bitcoin. Conspicuous of its 5 stages are “euphoria” (the stage  of  “irrational  exuberance”  or  intense  excitement  among  investors)  and  “panic”  (after skyrocketing  to  high  price  levels  which  tempted  its  gamblers,  the  asset’s  price  drastically returns to normal, low levels).

JPMorgan  Chase  CEO Jamie Dimon has also maintained that Bitcoin is a fraud, cautioning the curious and uninformed enthusiasts that they might end up in tears. Finally, Apple co-founder Steve    Wozniak,  who bit the  Bitcoin  bait by  purchasing the  digital  tokens  back when it  was valued at $700, lost roughly $71,400.

4) More Scam Victims Surface.

Believing that they’re getting wealthy by mistakenly basing their financial gains in the hasty exponential surge in Bitcoin prices,  uninformed investors believe that the cryptocurrency is their gateway to affluence. Blackmailers also use Bitcoin to demand payment.   These negative practices highlight the shady and hazardous nature of adopting Bitcoin in one’s financial life.

The  bear  market  territory  may  have  been  a  significant  influence  towards  the  prevailing downbeat  market  sentiments.    The  cryptocurrency  industry  has  been  weathering  market storms  like  regulation  and  the  dearth  of  investors that  may  have severely  impacted  virtual currencies, contributing to their flat trading volumes and trading prices relentlessly advancing downwards.

With these bearish developments, in order for a rosy picture of cryptocurrencies as a sterling investment  can  be  painted,  potential  investors  —  institutional  and  individual  alike  —  are necessitated  to  reverse  this  bleak  scenario.  Notable  price  movements  indicate  the  level  of investor’s  interest  whether they  should buy or merely wait and see until prices are favorable for themselves already. These people can make positive differentials in the daily price analysis and cryptocurrency investing attractive.

PROJECTS & INITIATIVES

Image Source: Themerkle.com

Digital  currency  investors  are  usually  after  more  computing  power  as  well  as  secured data storage. They may have had a harrowing experience with their insecure investments’ trading

prices   heading   southward,   yet  some  can’t  help  but  remain  bullish.  Defiant  against  the prevailing   bearish   market   sentiments   engulfing   the   digital   currency   world   today,   for cryptocurrency developers and watchers, the show must go on as they launched enhancement projects,  activities,  and  events  open  to  all  in order  to  raise   token awareness and visibility, increasing their trading values and hurdling the downtrend dash.

Some  happenings  serve  as  the  saving  grace  of  these  cryptocurrencies  because  despite  the bearish  run  in  the  digital  currency  market  with  most  digital  currencies  experiencing  price slumps  and  lackluster  investing,  there  are  coins  that  have  picked  up  bullish  trends  and increased positive market outlooks.  They appear to be outperforming most cryptocurrencies, trading  price-wise.   Fighting  the  current, the   upward  movements in their  price graphs have erased  their  trading  price  slumps  and have become promisingly  competitive  and poised for mainstream  success  like  popular  virtual  currencies Bitcoin  (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Ripple (XRP), proving that success isn’t far from the horizon.

1) Enlistment in Massive International Coin Exchanges

*Listing  in Huobi,  the largest cryptocurrency exchange, is a tailwind for Cardano (ADA) and is expected to help its trading price soar northwards. As it helps maintain a bullish trend, Huobi has listed over 200 digital assets and has helped their trading volumes climb higher.

*Litecoin’s  (LTC)  unprecedented  enlistment  in world  coin exchanges — South Korea’s Bitcoin exchange,  Korbit,  and  the  Winklevoss  twins’  Gemini  Exchange  —  highlights  a  positive  gain, advancing   the   cryptocurrency’s  marketability  and  consumer   reach.     This  lightning-  fast, successful  enhancement initiatives  under  way for  Litecoin  (LTC)  has given it the upper hand, boosting  its  value  and  is  anticipated  to  further  expose  the  virtual  currency  in  the  largest electronic  money  markets.  Litecoin  (LTC)  has  gained  ground  more  than  the  other  coins  so much  so  that  it  is  highly  likely  to  be  the  selected  currency  for  digital  payments.    The introduction of Litecoin Core has also resuscitated Litecoin (LTC) against further pullbacks.

*April  19  marks  the  commencement  of  the  Monaco (MCO) coin’s availability  for  trading  at Bithumb. This resulted to an astronomical gain of 101% in the cyber-currency’s value in just a short  period. One  of the  massive  virtual  currency exchanges in South Korea, Bithumb boosts the  fledgling  Monaco  (MCO)  with  its stature  in the  cryptocurrency industry. Monaco (MCO) will, hence, earn more visibility to investors as it is now procurable through sending, receiving, purchasing, as well as live trading.

*Liquidity is a setback for Stellar (XLM) but this can be compensated by its enlistment on coin exchange juggernauts Binance and Bittrex. The fledgling native asset of Stellar, the Lumens or XLM, stuns bears as a dark horse relative to Ripple (XRP), steadily soaring this year despite the bearish market environment.

*Crypto  bulls  see  great  potentials  for  EOS  (EOS)  because  of  the  main  contributors  for  its spectacular  bullish  run  and  heightened  visibility  and  liquidity:  being  well-received  by  Asian markets and being a component of 116 virtual currency exchanges worldwide.

2) Tie-ups with established FinTech companies

*Better  trading  position  is  on  the  horizon for  Litecoin  (LTC)  with  its recent  partnership with Abra Global, a massive wallet and cryptocurrency firm.  Opening more doors of possibilities to the  inexpensive  cryptocurrency,  Abra  Global  and  its  application,  the  Abra  App,  opens  up manifold  assets  in  the  cryptocurrency  industry  besides  virtual  currencies  and  fiat  money, promoting digital assets exposure.

*Two  popular  cryptocurrency  wallet  developers,  Wirex  and  TenX,  share  similar  ideas  of developing a Litecoin (LTC) debit card, showing that the development of debit and credit cards integrated to digital currencies are among the projects on the cards for some cryptocurrencies.

*After  getting  the  official  authorization  from  the  American  multinational  financial  services corporation, Visa, the Monaco (MCO) development group collaborated with their Singaporean counterparts  in  creating  Visa  debit  cards.  In addition,  they  also  intend to  contribute to  the large-scale adoption of these digital assets.

*Stellar (XLM) is poised to be the darling of the cryptocurrency world with its propitious deals with  FinTech  behemoths  Deloitte  and  IBM,  and  an  international  monetary  institution,  the Industrial Credit  and Investment  Corporation  of India (ICICI)  Bank. These tailwinds for Stellar (XLM) centers on  promoting  blockchain education, resolving  digital  banking woes, as  well as the likelihood of eventual widespread adoption of Stellar’s  (XLM) native token, the Lumens. As with the partnership forged with the ICICI, the digital currency will be instrumental in civilizing the  massive,  unbanked  Indian  population  who  are  just  starting  to  engage  in  electronic currencies.

Reckoned  to  be  a  game  changer  in  the  banking  and  finance  sectors  and  revolutionizing cross-border financial  transactions,  Stellar’s  (XLM) power  partnership  exposes the Lumens to numerous international central banks, possibly making it their cryptocurrency of choice.

3) Supercomputer and Other Initiatives

*Events like the Mainnet launch throughout 2018 among several cryptocurrencies are another positive  market  bellwether.  Causing  excitement  in  the  digital    currency  world,  Aelf  (ELF), Skycoin  (SKY),  and  Golem’s  (GNT)  engagement  with  super  computer,  Mainnet, is  positive  in this bear market, making favorable possibilities within reach. The Mainnet project is expected to be the first-ever global super computer. It will operate with the congregation of computers worldwide  using  one  network,  the  Golem  (GNT)  network,  among  others.    The  Mainnet initiative  is foreseen to become a goldmine for computer researchers as well as machine and AI enthusiasts.

*The   trading   price   of   TRON   (TRX)   has   been   on   an   upswing   lately,   thanks   to   its bouncebackability highlighted  by  its latest introduction  of the  Testnet. In light  of this bullish progression,  this  project  is  expected  to  a  success,  bringing  in  more  interested  parties  and decentralized application developers, and increasing the likelihood of TRON’s (TRX) promotion within  the  top five,  joining  popular  digital  currencies like  Bitcoin  (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Ripple (XRP) atop the list.

*More trading flexibility and price upturn for Cardano (ADA) are anticipated with international cryptocurrency  exchange  Binance  adding the  trading  pairs  ADA/USDT  (Tether; price fixed  to the US dollar) and ADA/BNB (Binance coin).

*Proponents  of  the  Lisk  (LSK)-based  projects  encourage  the  youth  to  further increase their understanding of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. The distribution of rewards like the  Rencoin (REN) as promotional items which can be used, swapped, spent, or stored, to its young  fandom  can  help  Lisk  (LSK)  gain  ground,  enticing  more  cryptocurrency investors and aficionados.

*Competitions  like  the  first-ever  NEO  (NEO)  Hackathon  was  recently  held  for  the  “Chinese Ethereum”, helping its trading price rally. NEO (NEO) coin enthusiasts embarked on a European tour  in April,  primarily to  propagate  blockchain education, besides the improvement of their users’ decentralized applications (dApps) and dissemination of NEO (NEO) coins as accolades.

Some  digital  currencies may  still  have a  long way to go before it reaches mainstream. But in time, their developers and supporters are optimistic of a spectacular bullish run.  They believe that  these  organized events may mitigate listless buying and prove to be effective as prelude to their electronic money’s smooth-sailing and lucrative ride in the cryptocurrency ocean.

BLOCKCHAIN

Image Source: CNBC.com

Despite this prolonged debate between the cryptocurrency bulls and bears, innovation and the trend towards a digital future is unstoppable. Pundits may find  cryptocurrencies questionable yet the blockchain technology has emerged as the digital money’s saving grace and is expected to highlight 2018. The support for the blockchain technology which facilitates Bitcoin and other cybercurrencies has been unprecedented, particularly by  mainstream financial institutions like the ING Group, JPMorgan Chase, BNY Mellon, State Street, and the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

The  personal  stance  of  Securities  and  Exchange  Commission  (SEC)  Chairman  Jay  Clayton apropos to ICOs and crypto regulations has softened, retracting that ICOs are not bad at all. In addition,  he affirmed  that  the  blockchain technology is auspicious for the financial industry’s future.  Affirming  that  ICOs are “absolutely not”  duplicitous,  Chairman  Clayton defended the regulatory  measures  pursued by  his bureau, stating that  ICOs and crypto  regulations  have a symbiotic  relationship.  He  believes  crypto  regulations  exist  to  develop  virtual  currencies, protecting gullible and uninformed investors.

Contrived  by an unverifiable Japanese man, Satoshi Nakamoto, in 2008, Bitcoin is paired with the  blockchain    technology.  A  secured  online  ledger  resistant  to  data  modification  and  is supported  by   bankers   for   the  promotion  of  more  secure     transactions,  the  blockchain technology is a powerful technology tantamount to the future of the Internet.  It is believed to boost   virtual currencies’ and blockchain-based equities’ trading prices. Inter-industry benefits like  fraud  elimination,  cost  reduction,  improved   value-based care, and swifter payments are also anticipated with this technology.

Given this blue-skies attributes of blockchain technology,  cryptocurrency developers can be in a celebratory mood because they can certainly find support from blockchain.  If these platform developers’  growing  initiatives  will  work  not  in  a  shady  manner,  the  trading  prices  of their tokens  can  set  to  climb higher,  marching  ahead of those which  outperform  them.   Massive gainers  with  trading  price  upswings  entering  the  double-digit  territory  and  other  future patterns of new highs for these coins  can be on the cards.

RESOLUTION

With  the  blockchain  technology  saving  the  day  for  now,  keeping  the  cryptocurrencies  in existence,  how  can   the   creatively  contrived   virtual  currencies  survive  in  the  long  run? Apparently,  just  like  commercial products  and services, they need to win the investors’ trust as well as gain full financial backing from established partners.

Cryptocurrencies should first be proferred the benefit of the doubt.  Sticklers don’t understand or  simply  reject  their  existence.  Yet,  it  should  be  understood  that  electronic  money  is  a product of the human nature to innovate.  Cryptocurrencies present the side of human nature which  is  marked by curiosity and innovation — the desire to move forward and to be better. Hence, the will to develop money’s future is obviously inevitable.

Trust  can  be  secured  by  providing  an  easy-to-comprehend  and  rules-based  cryptocurrency trading.     The  developers  should  be  transparent  on  how  they  do  business,  with  special emphasis on their legitimacy. As laid out by the SEC and the BOJ, credible answers to investors’ questions should be given and not leave the latter in the dark.

Gemini,   the   cryptocurrency  exchange   founded   by   Bitcoin   investors  Cameron  and  Tyler Winklevoss,  has teamed up  with  mainstream  electronic  stock exchange  Nasdaq  Inc. and will use   the   Nasdaq   software,   SMARTS,  to   monitor   its  markets   for   potentially   abusive   or manipulative trading practices.

Nasdaq Chief Executive Adena Friedman is supporting existing cryptocurrency exchanges and is considering  the  stock  exchange  in  becoming  a  crypto  exchange  over  time.  The  Nasdaq exchange  group  declared  it’s  exploring  the  launch  of  its  own  Bitcoin  futures  as  well  as  its involvement in several projects that use blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin, for the objectives of shareholder voting and trading private shares.

Full  financial  backing  by  established  and  credible  institutions  would  also  help  the  virtual currencies gain support for the long term. Recent market sentiments for Bitcoin (BTC), Monero (XMR), and IOTA  (MIOTA) were  largely technical-based, with their trading prices edging on a vigorous   northward   momentum   of   their   respective   critical   price   levels.   While   most cryptocurrencies  are  treading  the  downtrend path,  market  sentiment analysis  indicates that more  interested  investors  are  necessary  in  order  to  boost  these  cryptocurrencies’  trading prices.

The  growing  interest  of  prominent  global  investors  like  George  Soros  and  the  Rockefeller family  in  virtual  currency  investing  may  contribute  to  bullish  market  sentiments,  making substantial value  gains  for  digital  currencies possible and a  repeat of the glorious year 2017. Persuading multi-millionaire and multi-billionaire investors to pour their investment funds and be  a  co-owner  of  the  native  tokens  will  certainly  help  achieve  integrity  for  cryptocurrency platforms and their tokens.

With  the  achievement of gaining the trust and confidence of the public, besides the financial support of established entities and sustained buying, succeeding cryptocurrency price analysis will  eventually  lean  on  the  positive  for  longer  terms  and  more  importantly,  their  target of futuristic digital money progressing to eventual adoption can come to fruition.

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