Xapo president claims that 90% of cryptocurrencies will disappear

Ted Rogers, the president of Xapo – a Hong Kong-based company dealing with Bitcoin wallets – has claimed that a shocking portion of the cryptocurrencies currently listed will be wiped out.

Rogers believes that 90% of the tokens currently listed on CoinMarketCap are facing “extinction” if they are not the heavyweight cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

Rogers further stated that now, when the market is down, is a good time to invest in more Bitcoin before it starts peaking again.

In response, Erik Voorhees of Shapesift.io, a company which offers global trading in digital assets, suggested that perhaps the market movements have more to do with the “extinction”.

The idea of Bitcoin dominance – whereby Bitcoin holds more than 50% of the cryptocurrency market trading volume –  has been a topic that investors are not shy about. Tom Lee, CEO of Fundstrat, believes that Bitcoin dominance will make a huge improvement in the cryptocurrency space, saying that “Bitcoin is the best house in a tough neighborhood” and suggesting that investors should focus on the original cryptocurrency and ignore other altcoins.

At the time of writing, almost half of the 15 leading cryptocurrencies including Ripple, Cardano, IOTA, TRON, Dash, NEO, and NEM while Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Monero have seen 80% or more dips.

Whether Bitcoin will naturally emerge as dominant over falling altcoins will be evident quickly within the market movers and we can only wait to see what will happen.

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Is Monero holding strong through the bear market? A retrospective

While 2018 has brutalized several pre-eminent cryptocurrencies, Monero has been fortunate to grace headlines in a variety of ways; whether for the fact that – for better or worse – cryptojacking software has reportedly mined some $175 million USD worth of XMR, or the launch of Tari – a merge-mined sidechain for digital assets.

At the start of the year, Monero entered proceedings as the thirteenth most valuable cryptocurrency by market cap on January 7th, and traded at $476.33 USD. At the time, the cryptocurrency bore a total market cap of $7,417,611,689 USD.

Fast forward to August, and time seems to have taken its toll on all things in interesting ways. Now the tenth most valuable cryptocurrency, Monero trades for $89.38 USD, and bears a total market cap of $1,453,909,220 USD.

In relative terms, Monero has lost some 81% of its trading value over the past eight months, while its market cap has similarly diminished by approximately 80%.

Transaction volume

At its height on the 9th of January, the Monero network saw some 8.2k XMR transacted daily – down from a record of 10.8k XRM on the 6th of December in 2017.

The network’s lowest point saw only 1.1k XMR transacted on the 7th of March, while the network’s next high point of 7.53k XMR shifted hands on the 1st of May.

Development changes

While the Monero protocol itself is under constant development, the cryptocurrency network drew attention earlier this year when it adopted an emergency hard fork to mitigate the impact of ASIC mining.

The move specifically targeted Bitmain’s Antminer X3 – which was designed to mine Monero in the first instance – and instead increased the presence of consumer-grade laptops and other entry-level hardware – all of which can mine Monero through the cryptocurrency’s Cryptonight script.

In a declaration on GitHub, core developer Riccardo Spagni decried that “I will do everything in my power to help the community prevent the proliferation of centralization-inducing ASICs on the Monero network”.

The decision had relatively little impact on Monero’s trading price, which shuffled from $182.11 USD on the 3rd of April to $165.95 on the date of the fork on the 6th of the month. Monero regained its strength shortly thereafter, and traded for $184.15 USD on April 12th.

Adoption

While Monero’s trading price may have diminished along with a majority of the cryptocurrencies present in digital currency markets, Monero has seen notable adoption cases.

Perhaps most significantly, Tari – a new project spearheaded by Riccardo ‘FluffyPony’ Spagni, Naveen Jain, and Dan Teree – aims to cut out ‘middleman’ ticket and asset vendors, and instead empower the original the original owners of digital assets such as artists, sports teams, or even event promoters. Tari will be built as a merge-mined sidechain which will function in concert with Monero itself.

Elsewhere, Monero further found inroads into charity – earlier this year, Change.org has jumped on the crypto bandwagon with a new, downloadable screensaver that mines (and donates) Monero.

Simply called ‘The Mining Screensaver’, the utility functions similarly to a standard screensaver save for the fact that it leverages idle processing power to mine Monero.

Finally, in perhaps one of its most significant moves, Circle Invest proceeded to list ZCash and Monero amongst its existing inclusions of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Litecoin earlier this year.

Into the future

While cryptocurrency markets shudder and shake under the pressure of roaming bears, Monero continues to generate robust transaction volumes and, with Tari, has found a new utility in digital asset management.

The cryptocurrency may yet be well placed to thrive in the future – as Bitcoin was years ago, Europol has noted that that Monero has quickly become the flavor of choice for cybercriminals and online black markets given its privacy mechanics, and has notably played a role in the rise of cryptojacking.

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How the biggest proof-of-work algorithms for cryptocurrencies compare

Not all coins are created equal.

Some cryptocurrencies require the equivalent of hours of computing time and energy to mine, while others are produced in a matter of minutes.

The term “mining” in cryptocurrencies refers to a collection of techniques to validate transactions known as proof of work (PoW). This is when a computer performs many calculations to try and solve a mathematical puzzle.

These puzzles use are typically based on cryptographic hash functions, which are designed to be one-way. The nature of these functions is exploited so that a miner must make many millions or even trillions of guesses per second to find a solution. It is then usually possible for any other computer to easily check that the solution is true.

In the case of distributed ledger systems like Bitcoin, other computers on the network can easily check someone else’s calculation, and must then build upon it to generate solutions for the next block of transactions.

Each block of transactions is its own mathematically difficult puzzle to solve, and becomes part of the puzzle for the next block of transactions, creating a chain. Hence the term “blockchain”.

By building the next block of transactions on one which came before, a network is able to come to a consensus of which transactions are valid. Proof-of-work algorithms are therefore also referred to as a consensus mechanism.

Other examples of consensus mechanisms is proof-of-stake and Istanbul Byzantine Fault Tolerance, but this article is only going to look only at proof-of-work algorithms, and how they compare.

Among the factors mentioned below will be resistance to mining hardware based on application specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

Application-specific integrated circuits, as the name implies, are chips designed for a specific use, as opposed to general-purpose computers. In the case of blockchains, they are chips designed to perform the calculations of a particular proof-of-work algorithm as efficiently as possible.

Criticism of ASICs is that they are expensive and make it difficult for people to participate in mining a blockchain without a significant capital investment. They also skew the ability mine a particular coin in favour of companies who can develop their own ASICs.

While some mining algorithms are designed with ASIC resistance in mind, it is worth keeping in mind the comments the lead developer of Sia made earlier this year: “At the end of the day, you will always be able to create custom hardware that can outperform general purpose hardware.”

SHA–256 — Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash

What better place to start with a comparison of algorithms than where the cryptocurrency craze all began — Bitcoin.

The Secure Hash Algorithms are a family of cryptographic hashing functions published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Short for Secure Hash Algorithm, the first variants of the SHA family, SHA–0, SHA–1 and SHA–2, were developed by the U.S. National Security Agency. SHA–256 and its bigger brother, SHA–512, are part of the SHA–2 family.

SHA–256 is not designed to be ASIC resistant, and ASICs to mine Bitcoin are readily available.

Scrypt — Litecoin, Dogecoin, Neo

Scrypt was designed to make it more difficult for specialised hardware like ASICs to be used to crack passwords that were hashed using the algorithm.

It did this by using a large amount of memory compared to similar functions, making it more expensive for an attacker to target.

However ASIC-based miners for cryptocurrencies which use Scrypt, like Litecoin, have been available since at least 2014.

Ethash — Ethereum, Ethereum Classic

Ethereum’s proof-of-work algorithm is a modified version of Dagger-Hashimoto, which was designed to be memory hard and ASIC resistant.

This means it tends to favour graphics cards with higher memory bandwidth, and has been the domain of people who want to mine a cryptocurrency with standard computer hardware (like high-end graphics cards) rather than specialised components.

Bitmain has produced a specialised Ethereum miner, but the creator of the platform, Vitalik Buterin, surmises that the “ASIC” is just an optimised regular computer with non-essential components stripped out.

Equihash — Zcash, ZenCash, Bitcoin Gold

Similar to Ethereum, the developers of Zcash created a memory-oriented proof-of-work algorithm for their cryptocurrency to make it ASIC resistant.

It uses Blake2b in the proof-of-work, and as a key-derivation function.

Bitmain has sold ASICs for Equihash, defeating its originally stated goal of democratising mining, rather than having it limited to only those who could afford specialised gear.

Blake, Blake2, and Blake2b — Siacoin, Decred

Blake was an entry into the competition by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology for a new SHA algorithm to complement its older SHA-1 and SHA-2 standards.

It made it to the final round, but ultimately lost to Keccak.

The algorithm is fast, and was not designed specifically with resistance to ASIC mining in mind.

Bitmain has released as ASIC miner for Blake2b-based coins. The developers of Siacoin themselves also launched an ASIC project called Obelisk about a year ago, and reported in detail about their findings of the state of the mining space.

Keccak — SmartCash, MaxCoin

Keccak won a competition in 2012 to become SHA–3, the next variant of the Secure Hash Algorithms family.

It proved to be faster than all other entrants to the competition, and faster than SHA–2 and SHA–1.

While Keccak was not designed to resist ASIC mining, it was built to resist cryptanalysis and brute-force attacks with specialised hardware like ASICs.

Keccak is therefore currently considered ASIC resistant, and there are no ASICs on the open market which target the algorithm.

CryptoNight — Monero, Bytecoin

CryptoNight was designed to be ASIC-resistant, and accessible. The aim was to close the gap between miners who only have access to consumer CPUs and can’t afford hardware like graphics cards and ASICs.

This is to foster more egalitarian mining, and greater decentralisation.

However, Bitmain announced in March that it developed an ASIC for the algorithm and was going to sell a specialised miner called the Antminer X3.

In response, the developers of Monero announced an emergency fork to update its hashing algorithm. They also announced that they will be forking Monero twice a year to try and ensure that it remains ASIC resistant for as long as possible.

X11 — Dash

X11 is an algorithm originally built for Dash which uses multiple rounds of 11 different hashes: Blake, BMW, Groestl, JH, Keccak, Skein, Luffa, Cubehash, Shavite, SIMD, Echo.

It was not designed to be ASIC resistant, and ASICs for X11 are available from several manufacturers including Bitmain, Baikal, iBelink, Innosilicon, and Pinidea.

Variants of this idea—in the form of X13, X15 and X17—are used by several other cryptocurrencies.

Multi-algorithm coins — Verge, Myriad

Where X11 uses multiple rounds of a number of different hashing algorithms to mine a coin, there are also coins which allow many different algorithms to be used to mine them.

The aim is to allow CPU, GPU, and ASIC miners a fair opportunity to mine the coin, and enhance the security of the cryptocurrency.

Essentially, multi-algorthm cryptocurrencies adjust the difficulty of mining their tokens for each algorithm independently to prevent one algorithm from becoming dominant.

In theory, this should also make “51% attacks” more difficult. Such attacks are possible when one person or group control the majority of the hashing power for a coin, allowing them to rewrite the blockchain as they see fit.

Verge supports Scrypt, X17, Lyra2rev2, Myr-Groestl, and Blake2s.

Myriad supports SHA256-D, Scrypt, Myr-Groestl, Skein, and Yescrypt.

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Five privacy-focussed cryptocurrencies you need to know about

While Bitcoin represents an open and transparent peer-to-peer monetary system, its use hasn’t granted participants the privacy once thought. While Bitcoin is pseudonymous in that the identities of transacting parties are obscured, trades aren’t anonymous – meaning that transaction details and transferred funds are open to all to see.

Those seeking to conduct private transactions can, however, turn to privacy coins – cryptocurrencies that intentionally obscure or obfuscate the details and/or identities of transacting parties.

Monero

Originally created in 2014, Monero is sometimes recognized as the most visible privacy coin.

Monero leverages the concept of ring confidential transactions – a means which essentially bundles together sending and recipient addresses and renders transaction flows opaque. Further, technologies such as ring signatures and stealth addresses can obscure both the sender and receiver in any given transaction.

For these reasons, Monero has quickly risen in popularity – and its focus on privacy has presented a strong focus on fungibility.

Zcash

In a somewhat alternative approach to the protocols leveraged by Dash and Monero, Zcash has risen to fame for its use of ‘zero-knowledge proofs’ (called zk-SNARKS).

Fundamentally, this allows data recorded on a blockchain to serve as a private means of verification. The Zcash enables the encryption of both sender and recipient addresses alongside transaction amounts – meaning that any analyst attempting to determine the origin, destination, and nature of a given transaction might well be stymied.

Importantly, Zcash does not obfuscate the IP addresses of its users – meaning that Zcash cannot hide personal identifiers linked to public data.

Bitcoin Private

A newer entrant on the list of privacy-focussed cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin Private has its origins as a ‘merge fork’ of Zclassic and Bitcoin.

If that doesn’t make any sense, let’s back up.

In the beginning, Bitcoin itself was forked into Zcash, which was then again forked into Zclassic. Earlier this year, Zclassic proponents elected to re-brand the cryptocurrency project to Bitcoin Private in a bid to enthrall new users by using the Bitcoin brand name. Fortunately, the bid paid off, and Bitcoin Private is now ranked as one of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market cap.

Bitcoin Private essentially introduces Zcash’s zk-SNARKS technology to Bitcoin users, and offers both a larger block size and advocates ‘decentralized mining’ through ASIC resistance.

Dash

Digital Cash, or Dash, originally started life as DarkCoin – a privacy-focussed effort. Today, Dash is one of the largest cryptocurrencies by its market capacity alone, which presently stands at some $2 billion USD.

Dash is unique in the sense that it provides both a transparent and ‘opaque’ method of transaction. While Dash users can opt to issue Instant transactions which are recorded on a blockchain similarly to how the Bitcoin blockchain functions, transacting parties can also use its PrivateSend feature, which uses a decentralized ‘mixing’ service.

Essentially, this enables three or more participants to pool their funds – leaving any intended transaction obfuscated. The cryptocurrency has its limits, however, and at present only allows 1,000 DASH to be spent per PrivateSend transaction.

Verge

Similarly to Dash, Verge is a newer cryptocurrency which offers its users the option to either send public or private transactions.

Verge leverages its ‘Wraith Protocol’ to enable users to differentiate between sending transactions on a private or public ledger.

Unlike other privacy-focussed cryptocurrencies, Verge does not ensure cryptographic privacy – instead, the cryptocurrency uses Tor and I2P routing to conceal a user’s identity when participating in transactions.

Verge has, however, suffered numerous hacking attempts in the recent past, which has seen malicious parties walk off with undisclosed sums.

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Circle Invest adds Monero to its growing ranks of listed cryptocurrencies

When Circle Invest announced that they were adding ZCash to their listed cryptocurrencies last week, the announcement came with a promise that more exciting news would follow soon. It looks like the company is fulfilling the promise quicker than expected with the latest announcement that they will be adding another currency in the form of Monero to their listings.

Monero, a cryptocurrency with a focus on privacy like ZCash, has been added to their growing collection of coins and the company are excited that there are now seven cryptocurrency tokens available on their platform, which they boast makes “Circle Invest one of the only platforms you can invest instantly and seamlessly in the widest breadth of coins by using your bank account.”

Circle Invest now lists the two privacy-focused coins ZCash and Monero as well as the earlier inclusions of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Litecoin.

As previously reported, the announcement of the launch of ZCash on the application came shortly after the Circle Invest application confirmed that it had acquired Poloniex, U.S. based cryptocurrency exchange. It was suggested when the acquisition took place that chances of future cryptocurrency-related efforts and platforms that were likely to increase.

Bearing in mind that Circle Invest is still a young startup, they are making it a point to make waves as “app that’s actually built around investing, not trends”. There is talk that the platform might be working to include Ripple’s XRP as a supported platform. However, nothing has been confirmed.

The announcement concluded with a call to action for users to get connected, promoting and hinting at new assets which might be added to the platform.

“Stay tuned and follow @circleinvest on Twitter for more information on how we think about adding assets into our products, and a few more great features along the way!”

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