Crypto tribes threaten power of unity

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The crypto sphere is becoming a little like a football league table. Owners decide to give their allegiance to a particular ‘team’: let’s say Bitcoin is Real Madrid, and that’s your main team, and your friend likes ETH, let’s call it Arsenal. However, is being part of the Bitcoin fan club, and therefore competing with ETH supporters a healthy way to develop the potential of cryptocurrency?

People have a tendency to take a ‘tribal’ approach to pretty much everything, from dietary choices, to coffee brands, to football teams. But, it isn’t very helpful for crypto. Here’s why.

The cypherpunks had a beautiful idea

Privacy, free speech, and the ability to act as an autonomous individual are increasingly under attack, but decentralisation can protect these. Let us not forget that blockchain technology arose out of a community of cypherpunks who wanted more freedoms. Yet, it looks as though the crypto community now is just going to bow its head to the centralised institutions and retreat into the same old narrow-minded worldview.

As Kent Barton describes it in Medium: “The prevailing question has insidiously morphed from “how can we make the world a better place?” to “how can we defeat other blockchain platforms?”

He also argues that tribalism in the crypto sphere, “distracts the community from the crucial work of building scalable technologies that people will want to use.” And he adds, “Personal attacks and outright trolling make the environment uncomfortable or even untenable for newcomers.”

Social media channels have developed an “Us vs Them” discourse and influencers, like rocks stars, with their adoring fans fight it out with other influencers for the Top Dog spot.

Let’s show some respect

Measured and respectful discussion about the merits of various cryptocurrencies have been replaced with increasingly emotions attacks form the ‘opposition.’

Bartons says: “To an outsider, it must seem ludicrous to watch countless smart minds working on blockchain technology — developers, entrepreneurs, and other enthusiasts gifted with an ability to think outside the box and see a vision for a better future — descend into internecine bickering.”

And all the while the team battles are at the forefront of activity, the less time is being devoted to advancing the blockchain, and it is probably fair to say that this boils down to it being all about the money; not about cryptocurrency itself, but making millions and billions of fiat currency out of cryptocurrency. And that takes everyone back to the status quo before the blockchain emerged as tool for a real revolution that could make the world a better place and take power away from those who have had control of it for too long.

Say goodbye to the zero-sum game

Tribalism in crypto, particularly the desire to see one platform emerge as the winner at the expense of another will mean that we continue to be the slaves of power-holders, rather than channelling the power of the blockchain so that the people can reclaim power for themselves – at least some of it.

We will miss this opportunity by only supporting one team – it’s time to be an O.G. crypto fan and support the whole blockchain ecosystem rather than continue this zero-sum game.

 

 

 

What decision will the SEC make about Ethereum?

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This week, Monday May 7th to be exact, the Security & Exchange Commission (SEC) started a series of meetings to decide whether Ethereum 9ETH) is a security. At the moment we’re not sure how the decision will turn out, but let’s think about what the SEC will be considering and how it might affect ETH owners.

If you’re an ETH owner, you might expect to see two extremes as a result of any decision: an unexpected high, or a devastating low. For example, if ETH is considered a security by the U.S. government, then there may be a negative, short-term price reaction. However, because Ethereum’s underlying technology, is borderless and does not depend on the opinion one country’s regulatory committee, its long-term prospects should be unaffected. And, if it is decided that it is not a security, then it is very likely that the long-term prospects of the technology and its financial standing within the community will prosper.

If no decision is made about the status of ETH we might see a major upsurge in the market, especially as Buterin and his developers have been talking up new solutions for scaling in recent days and while this might be a short-term uplift in the market, there is also reason to think it might become a long-term trend.

What is Ethereum saying?

For it’s part, ETH founders are sure that it is not a security. Joseph Lubin, one of the co-founders said prior to the SEC meeting this week: “We spent a tremendous amount of time with lawyers in the US and in other countries, and are extremely comfortable that it is not a security; it never was a security… many regulators that matter understand what Ethereum is.”

Will the SEC agree with Lubin’s assessment, and with the way other regulators claim to see it – that I what we’re waiting to find out.

 

 

Is the crypto market history repeating itself?

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At the turn of the twentieth century, Jesse Livermore wrote a book titled “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.” It’s about his life as a trader. One of the things he said back in 1900 was this:

 “When you read contemporary accounts of booms or panics the one thing that strikes you most forcibly is how little either stock speculation or stock speculators to-day differ from yesterday. The game does not change and neither does human nature.”

And he also wrote: “I used to think that people were more gullible in the l860’s and ’70’s than in the 1900’s. But I was sure to read in the newspapers that very day or the next something about the latest Ponzi or the bust-up of some bucketing broker and about the millions of sucker money gone to join the silent majority of vanished savings.”

Doesn’t this sound familiar? It does to me. It’s pretty much what people are writing about the cryptocurrency market. It’s a bubble, it’s a Ponzi scheme, it’s another boom and bust.

But the most important point he makes is this: that the game doesn’t change and neither does human nature.

The derivatives market provides us with a good example of the sameness between what is happening in crypto now and markets of the past. A derivative is “an arrangement or product (such as a future, option, or warrant) whose value derives from and is dependent on the value of an underlying asset, such as a commodity, currency, or security.” Derivatives trading has been around since ancient Mesopotamia. For example, a tablet from 1809 BC documents a Mesopotamian merchant borrowing silver, promising to replay it with sesame seeds “according to the going rate” after six months.

The Briitish South Sea Company of 1711 led to a wave of new joint-stock companies with dubious business plans that created one of the first bubbles, alongside the Dutch tulip fever.

What emerged from this was the realisation that derivatives, and now the crypto market, need governance and regulation. Self-policing must be encouraged, and work in tandem with government-enforced rules. Bad actors must be kicked out of the market, just as they were in early days of the London Stock Exchange.

 

 

 

There’s another way to look at Crypto Tokens

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Crypto tokens, and their ICOs, have taken a fair amount of bashing in the media over the past few months, but a paper published by two researchers from MIT and University of Toronto, argues that utility tokens might have a “valuable price discovery role,” according to Coindesk. It also suggests that tokens that act as ‘true commodities’, which the report authors attribute to Bitcoin and Ether, could offer the same service.

When you look at crypto tokens form this perspective, it looks like consumers could turn out to be the biggest winners, provided the tokens are correctly designed.

The paper, called, Initial Coin Offerings and the Value of Crypto Tokens by Christian Catalini (MIT) and Joshua S. Gans (University of Toronto) explores how entrepreneurs can use initial coin offerings — whereby they issue crypto tokens and commit to accept only those tokens as payment for future use of a digital platform — to fund venture start-up costs. It makes interesting reading for ICO entrepreneurs, because as the paper’s synopsis states, “the ICO mechanism allows entrepreneurs to generate buyer competition for the token, which, in turn, reveals consumer value without the entrepreneurs having to know, ex ante, consumer willingness to pay,” amongst other things.

In fact, it goes so far as to claim that in the future, tokens will “empower consumers to choose an optimal price for a service collectively.” It also looks at the benefits of tokens, including the aforementioned benefits of entrepreneurs being able to test the token fundraising model with consumers to see how it goes. This could greatly minimise risk for ICO startups and their founders.

As we have seen, regulatory bodies like the SEC have started to show more interest in ICOs and the remarkable sums of money they are capable of raising. However, Gans, told Coindesk: “”The problem the regulators have is they don’t know what the goals are. Instead the regulators are coming in saying ‘I don’t really know how the market should be working, but it smells terrible.'”

This new paper and its authors want to start a new conversation about “the right way to think about tokens so that societies could rationally consider the correct approach to managing them.”

It’s a more helpful and sane approach than the ‘just ban them’ rhetoric that is coming from some corporate entities and other organisations. It is not against regulation; that is necessary for transparency and consumer comfort. As the guys admit, they have no idea how the ‘token economy’ will play out, but they have laid the groundwork for more research and more balanced thinking. That’s a good start.