PayPal vs Square: Which Fintech Stock Is A Better Buy?
The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating digitalization and has led to a spike in online transactions and e-commerce sales. According to PayPal, the penetration of e-commerce as a percentage of retail sales in the first half of 2020 outpaced prior external forecast by 3 to 5 years. Both consumers and merchants are increasingly adopting digital payments as contactless transactions have become increasingly important amid the current crisis. The rapid penetration of digital payments led to double-digital revenue growth in the second quarter for PayPal and Square. Using the TipRanks Stock Comparison tool, we will place these two fintech payment firms alongside each other to assess which stock offers a more compelling investment opportunity. PayPal Holdings (PYPL) PayPal, which was spun off from eBay in 2015, has emerged as the digital payment leader. In the second quarter, PayPal added 21.3 million net new active accounts, reflecting a 137% Y/Y rise and marking the strongest growth in the company’s history thanks to a surge in e-commerce and digital payments. As of the end of 2Q, PayPal had 346 million active accounts with over 26 million merchant accounts. The company’s 2Q revenue surged 22.2% Y/Y to $5.26 billion. And adjusted EPS rose 49% to $1.07 as the adjusted operating margin expanded 504 basis points to 28.2%. Total Payment Volume or TPV, which indicates payments processed through the PayPal platform, grew about 29% to $222 billion. Venmo, Paypal’s mobile payments platform, witnessed a 52% growth in its TPV to $37 billion. Following the strong 2Q momentum, PayPal reinstated its 2020 guidance and in fact, raised it. The company expects revenue growth of 20% and adjusted EPS growth of about 25%. It anticipates adding 70 million net new active accounts this year. To boost its top-line further and promote touchless payments, PayPal launched QR Code technology in 28 markets globally in May. CVS Pharmacy will be the first retail chain to offer its customers the option to use PayPal and Venmo QR codes at checkout in its US stores. The company will also launch Venmo credit card this year. PayPal has also expanded its Visa Direct partnership globally to accelerate real-time access to funds for small businesses, consumers and partners across its platform. This collaboration enables PayPal to extend global white label Visa Direct payout services through PayPal and its Braintree, Hyperwallet and iZettle platforms. On Sept. 22, Mizuho Securities analyst Dan Dolev reiterated a Buy rating for PayPal with a price target of $285 as the Mizuho E-Commerce Tracker showed that unique views across key PayPal partner sites (like Etsy, Groupon and Wayfair) remained strong in July and August and also pointed to potential signs of life in the beleaguered travel category. The Tracker also indicated that PayPal’s unique views continued to grow ahead of partner websites in the last two months, reflecting persistent share gains for the checkout button. Overall, the analyst expects strong July and August e-commerce trends coupled with share gains to bode well for the company’s second-half TPV. (See PYPL stock analysis on TipRanks) PayPal stock has rallied about 74% year-to-date and could rise further by 17% in the coming months as indicated by the average analyst price target of $219.77. The stock scores a Strong Buy consensus based on 28 Buys, 5 Holds and no Sell ratings. Square (SQ) Payment facilitator Square is growing rapidly as consumers and businesses are migrating online at a faster pace amid the pandemic. From February through August 2020, there was a 13.2 percentage point increase in the share of Square sellers accepting online payments and by August, over 40% of all Square sellers were accepting online payments. Also, by August, more than 7 in 10 Square sellers were accepting contactless payments. The company’s Cash App ecosystem delivered $1.2 billion in revenue in the second quarter, reflecting a whopping 361% Y/Y growth. The Cash App had over 30 million monthly transacting active customers in June. Aside from the accelerated digital migration, Cash App also gained from the impact of Fed stimulus, unemployment checks and tax refunds. Second-quarter revenue grew about 64% Y/Y to $1.92 billion. But excluding bitcoin revenue, net revenue of $1.05 billion was flat Y/Y. Meanwhile, 2Q adjusted EPS declined 14.3% to $0.18. The strong growth in Cash App revenue was offset by the 17% decline in the company’s core higher-margin Seller business to $723 million. Square’s gross payment volume or GPV fell 15% Y/Y to $22.8 billion. The Seller segment was impacted by lower volumes as several businesses were forced to close amid the shelter-in-place orders triggered by the pandemic. However, the company stated that the Sellers business improved with each month in the quarter as restrictions eased and more sellers adapted to the contactless platform. Meanwhile, GPV from online channels grew over 50% and accounted for 25% of the Seller GPV reflecting the rapid adaption of online solutions by the sellers. (See SQ stock analysis on TipRanks) Recently, the company announced two new features called On-Demand Pay for employees and Instant Payments for employers. These new features will further integrate Square’s Seller and Cash App ecosystems to offer financial services and simplify payroll. Loop Capital analyst Kenneth Hill has just initiated coverage of Square with a Buy rating and a price target of $169. The analyst sees a great deal of upside ahead in the fintech company, driven by further investment in the business and monetization of the Cash App. Hill also believes that on the Seller side, the SMB network should "hold in well and continue a sustained recovery." The Street has a cautious Moderate Buy consensus for Square with 14 Buys, 12 Holds and 2 Sells. Square stock has risen a stellar 149% year-to-date, so the average analyst price target of $151.77 indicates a possible downside of 2.5% ahead. Bottom line Both PayPal and Square have strong growth prospects in the digital payments world. If we look at the Street’s consensus and further upside potential, PayPal stock appears to be a better choice than Square currently. To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/paypal-vs-square-fintech-stock-102007024.html
Square is positioned to be a winner by helping small businesses digitize post-pandemic: Oppenheimer
Square shares are up 146% in 2020 so far, and analysts at Oppenheimer think the stock can still go higher. On Thursday, Oppenheimer upgraded Square (SQ) to outperform, with a price target of $185. (The all-time high was $166 on Sept. 1; shares were trading at around $152 on Thursday afternoon.) The upgrade is based on the growth of Square’s Cash App, and on the company’s opportunity to help merchants transition to e-commerce. But really, the note is a post-pandemic vote of confidence. As Oppenheimer writes, the COVID-19 pandemic has initiated a “massive shift in digital commerce, requiring merchants to rapidly adopt omni-channel solutions.” Of course, it was already obvious before the pandemic that the retail landscape was barreling toward e-commerce, but the pandemic has sent the trend into hyperdrive. Walmart, Target, and Best Buy reported enormous surges (100%+) in digital sales in Q2; online-only retailers Etsy and Wayfair blew out their Q2 earnings; Dick’s Sporting Goods is thriving thanks to a combination of online sales and curbside pickup. All of those are big retail names. Square’s bread and butter are SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses), which also need to immediately prioritize their e-commerce presence, if they didn’t already. Hundreds of thousands of small business have shut down due to the pandemic, but those that have survived will need to beef up their digital presence. Oppenheimer believes Square is well-suited to serve those small businesses coming out of the pandemic, positioning Square “for outsized share gains as economic activity normalizes.” Oppenheimer pegs Square’s TAM (total addressable market, the “it” tech stat of the moment) at $160 billion, and within that, puts Cash App’s TAM at $63 billion, noting that “by reinvesting profits from prior Cash App cohorts, combined with its seller ecosystem, Square can develop significant network effects and products that will be challenging for other neo-banks to replicate in the digital wallet space.” In other words, Square has an advantage over banks in the mobile payments race. Oppenheimer also notes the “impressive volume and gross profit growth” of Cash App’s bitcoin trading feature. Square enabled bitcoin trading within Cash App in 2018. It reaped $875 million in bitcoin revenue in the second quarter, up 600% year over year, and $17 million in bitcoin gross profit, up 711% year over year. ($17 million is small for a company with $4.17 billion in revenue in 2019, but the growth is the point.) Oppenheimer cites the growth in bitcoin revenue as proof of “the scalability in the Cash App business model.” Bitcoin has been a noted (and some believe problematic) obsession of CEO Jack Dorsey. Square has always touted that it serves both sides of the small business equation: sellers (i.e., businesses, through its point of sale hardware, payroll software, and Square Capital loan business) and shoppers (consumers paying with Square devices and/or using Cash App). Oppenheimer writes that this “two-sided network” will make Square “a structural winner during the recovery.” Of course, there’s an obvious downside case against Square: “Economic pressures persist longer than anticipated” if the pandemic drags on or even worsens, hitting small businesses harder; “competitive responses dampen growth,” and Square certainly has big competitors, including FIS (which acquired Worldpay last year), PayPal, ShopKeep, and Shopify; and if “new product launches and adoption slow,” which will be up to Dorsey and Square’s own pace of innovation. Oppenheimer sees Square profit growing at a 37% annual rate from the end of 2020 through the end of 2022. Square was Yahoo Finance’s Company of the Year in 2018. — Daniel Roberts is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance and closely covers fintech and payments. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite. https://money.yahoo.com/square-is-positioned-to-be-a-winner-during-the-recovery-postpandemic-oppenheimer-191528365.html
Overnight News Heading into Thursday August 27th 2020 (News Yet to be Traded 8:00 PM - 4:00 AM EST)
ADXN ($14.40) Addex and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics Receive Innosuisse Grant to Repurpose Potent Dopamine Antagonist Using Computational Modelling
ALGT Allegiant Announces Seven New Routes With Fares As Low As $29* Each Way
TLSA ($3.97) Tiziana Life Sciences CEO Updates Shareholders on its Patent Portfolio, Clinical Pipeline, and Strategy in an Exclusive Interview
LBTYA Liberty Global Publishes Offer Prospectus for Sunrise Communications Group Tender Offer
NSP DEADLINE ALERT: Rigrodsky & Long, P.A. Reminds Shareholders Of Insperity Of Upcoming Deadline
CGG ($1.88) Adds Second Azimuth to Northern Viking Graben Multi-Client Survey
UAA ($9.88) Under Armour Sued By UCLA Over $280M Sponsorship Contract Breach
PHG Philips to expand its image-guided therapy devices portfolio through acquisition of Intact Vascular
CCC Clarivate Announces Appointment of Stefano Maestri as Chief Technology Officer
RDY Dr. Reddy's Laboratories announces the launch of Penicillamine Capsules USP, 250 mg in the U.S. Market
End of Day and After Hours News Heading into Thursday August 27th 2020 (News Traded 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM EST)
ABT ($103.19) Abbott's Fast, $5, 15-Minute, Easy-to-Use COVID-19 Antigen Test Receives FDA Emergency Use Authorization; Mobile App Displays Test Results to Help Our Return to Daily Life; Ramping Production to 50 Million Tests a MonthNSP DEADLINE ALERT: Rigrodsky & Long, P.A. Reminds Shareholders Of Insperity, Inc. Of Upcoming Deadline
CLVS ($4.96) FDA Approves FoundationOne® Liquid CDx to Serve as Rubraca® Companion Diagnostic to Identify Eligible Patients with BRCA1/2-Mutant, Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
DSS ($6,27) Interview to Air on Bloomberg International on the RedChip Money Report
AMC ($5.60) AMC ready to open another 170 theaters for weekend
NTAP NetApp Stock Spikes After Earnings Crush Estimates
RIOT ($3.41) Riot buys more bitcoin miners, sees hashing capacity over 2 EH/s next year
FE FirstEnergy Utility Crews Mobilize to Assist Hurricane Laura Power Restoration Efforts in Texas
MESO Mesoblast Reports Substantial Operational Progress and Financial Results for the Year Ended June 30, 2020
GME GameStop Announces Second Quarter Fiscal 2020 Earnings Release Date
SPLK Splunk Slides as Revenues Miss Amid Business Model Shift
MSFT Microsoft Brings Back Halo Veteran to Get Delayed Game Back on Track
ET ($6.46) Army Corps seeks reversal of Dakota Access pipeline ruling
Why we need to think more carefully about what money is and how it works
Most of us have overlooked a fundamental problem that is currently causing an insurmountable obstacle to building a fairer and more sustainable world. We are very familiar with the thing in question, but its problematic nature has been hidden from us by a powerful illusion. We think the problem is capitalism, but capitalism is just the logical outcome of aggregate human decisions about how to manage money. The fundamental problem is money itself, or more specifically general purpose money and the international free market which allows you to sell a chunk of rainforest and use the money to buy a soft drink factory. (You can use the same sort of money to sell anything and buy anything, anywhere in the world, and until recently there was no alternative at all. Bitcoin is now an alternative, but is not quite what we are looking for.) The illusion is that because market prices are free, and nobody is forced into a transaction, those prices must be fair – that the exchange is equitable. The truth is that the way the general money globalised free market system works means that even though the prices are freely determined, there is still an unequal flow of natural resources from poor parts of the world to rich parts. This means the poor parts will always remain poor, and resources will continue to accumulate in the large, unsustainable cities in rich countries. In other words, unless we re-invent money, we cannot overturn capitalism, and that means we can't build a sustainable civilisation. Why does this matter? What use is it realising that general purpose money is at the root of our problems when we know that the rich and powerful people who run this world will do everything in their power to prevent the existing world system being reformed? They aren't just going to agree to get rid of general purpose money and economic globalisation. It's like asking them to stop pursuing growth: they can't even imagine how to do it, and don't want to. So how does this offer us a way forwards? Answer: because the two things in question – our monetary system and globalisation – look like being among the first casualties of collapse. Globalisation is already going into reverse (see brexit, Trump's protectionism) and our fiat money system is heading towards a debt/inflation implosion. It looks highly likely that the scenario going forwards will be of increasing monetary and economic chaos. Fiat money systems have collapsed many times before, but never a global system of fiat currencies floating against each other. But regardless of how may fiat currencies collapse, or how high the price of gold goes in dollars, it is not clear what the system would be replaced with. Can we just go back to the gold standard? It is possible, but people will be desperately looking for other solutions, and the people in power might also be getting desperate. So what could replace it? What is needed is a new sort of complementary money system which both (a) addresses the immediate economic problems of people suffering from symptoms of economic and general collapse and (b) provides a long-term framework around which a new sort of economy can emerge – an economy which is adapted to deglobalisation and degrowth. I have been searching for answers to this question for some time, and have now found what I was looking for. It is explained in this recently published academic book, and this paper by the same professor of economic anthropology (Alf Hornborg). The answer is the creation of a new sort of money, but it is critically important exactly how this is done. Local currencies like the Bristol Pound do not challenge globalisation. What we need is a new sort of national currency. This currency would be issued as a UBI, but only usable to buy products and services originating within an adjustable radius. This would enable a new economy to emerge. It actually resists globalisation and promotes the growth of a new sort of economy where sustainability is built on local resources and local economic activity. It would also reverse the trend of population moving from poor rural areas and towns, to cities. It would revitalise the “left behind” parts of the western world, and put the brakes on the relentless flow of natural resources and “embodied cheap labour” from the poor parts of the world to the rich parts. It would set the whole system moving towards a more sustainable and fairer state. This may sound unrealistic, but please give it a chance. I believe it offers a way forwards that can (a) unite disparate factions trying to provoke systemic change, including eco-marxists, greens, posthumanists and anti-globalist supporters of “populist nationalism”. The only people who really stand to lose are the supporters of global big business and the 1%. (b) offers a realistic alternative to a money system heading towards collapse, and to which currently no other realistic alternative is being proposed. In other words, this offers a realistic way forwards not just right now but through much of the early stages of collapse. It is likely to become both politically and economically viable within the forseeable future. It does, though, require some elements of the left to abandon its globalist ideals. It will have to embrace a new sort of nationalism. And it will require various groups who are doing very well out of the current economic system to realise that it is doomed. Here is an FAQ (from the paper).
What is a complementary currency? It is a form of money that can be used alongside regular money. What is the fundamental goal of this proposal? The two most fundamental goals motivating this proposal are to insulate local human subsistence and livelihood from the vicissitudes of national and international economic cycles and financial speculation, and to provide tangible and attractive incentives for people to live and consume more sustainably. It also seeks to provide authorities with a means to employ social security expenditures to channel consumption in sustainable directions and encourage economic diversity and community resilience at the local level. Why should the state administrate the reform? The nation is currently the most encompassing political entity capable of administrating an economic reform of this nature. Ideally it is also subservient to the democratic decisions of its population. The current proposal is envisaged as an option for European nations, but would seem equally advantageous for countries anywhere. If successfully implemented within a particular nation or set of nations, the system can be expected to be emulated by others. Whereas earlier experiments with alternative currencies have generally been local, bottom-up initiatives, a state-supported program offers advantages for long-term success. Rather than an informal, marginal movement connected to particular identities and transient social networks, persisting only as long as the enthusiasm of its founders, the complementary currency advocated here is formalized, efficacious, and lastingly fundamental to everyone's economy. How is local use defined and monitored? The complementary currency (CC) can only be used to purchase goods and services that are produced within a given geographical radius of the point of purchase. This radius can be defined in terms of kilometers of transport, and it can vary between different nations and regions depending on circumstances. A fairly simple way of distinguishing local from non-local commodities would be to label them according to transport distance, much as is currently done regarding, for instance, organic production methods or "fair trade." Such transport certification would of course imply different labelling in different locales. How is the complementary currency distributed? A practical way of organizing distribution would be to provide each citizen with a plastic card which is electronically charged each month with the sum of CC allotted to him or her. Who are included in the category of citizens? A monthly CC is provided to all inhabitants of a nation who have received official residence permits. What does basic income mean? Basic income is distributed without any requirements or duties to be fulfilled by the recipients. The sum of CC paid to an individual each month can be determined in relation to the currency's purchasing power and to the individual's age. The guiding principle should be that the sum provided to each adult should be sufficient to enable basic existence, and that the sum provided for each child should correspond to the additional household expenses it represents. Why would people want to use their CC rather than regular money? As the sum of CC provided each month would correspond to purchases representing a claim on his or her regular budget, the basic income would liberate a part of each person's regular income and thus amount to substantial purchasing power, albeit restricted only to local purchases. The basic income in CC would reduce a person's dependence on wage labor and the risks currently associated with unemployment. It would encourage social cooperation and a vitalization of community. Why would businesses want to accept payment in CC? Business entrepreneurs can be expected to respond rapidly to the radically expanded demand for local products and services, which would provide opportunities for a diverse range of local niche markets. Whether they receive all or only a part of their income in the form of CC, they can choose to use some of it to purchase tax-free local labor or other inputs, and to request to have some of it converted by the authorities to regular currency (see next point). How is conversion of CC into regular currency organized? Entrepreneurs would be granted the right to convert some of their CC into regular currency at exchange rates set by the authorities.The exchange rate between the two currencies can be calibrated so as to compensate the authorities for loss of tax revenue and to balance the in- and outflows of CC to the state. The rate would thus amount to a tool for determining the extent to which the CC is recirculated in the local economy, or returned to the state. This is important in order to avoid inflation in the CC sector. Would there be interest on sums of CC owned or loaned? There would be no interest accruing on a sum of CC, whether a surplus accumulating in an account or a loan extended. How would saving and loaning of CC be organized? The formal granting of credit in CC would be managed by state authorities and follow the principle of full reserve banking, so that quantities of CC loaned would never exceed the quantities saved by the population as a whole. Would the circulation of CC be subjected to taxation? No. Why would authorities want to encourage tax-free local economies? Given the beneficial social and ecological consequences of this reform, it is assumed that nation states will represent the general interests of their electorates and thus promote it. Particularly in a situation with rising fiscal deficits, unemployment, health care, and social security expenditures, the proposed reform would alleviate financial pressure on governments. It would also reduce the rising costs of transport infrastructure, environmental protection, carbon offsetting, and climate change adaptation. In short, the rising costs and diminishing returns on current strategies for economic growth can be expected to encourage politicians to consider proposals such as this, as a means of avoiding escalating debt or even bankruptcy. How would the state's expenditures in CC be financed? As suggested above, much of these expenditures would be balanced by the reduced costs for social security, health care, transport infrastructure, environmental protection, carbon offsetting, and climate change adaptation. As these savings may take time to materialize, however, states can choose to make a proportion of their social security payments (pensions, unemployment insurance, family allowance, etc.) in the form of CC. As between a third and half of some nations' annual budgets are committed to social security, this represents a significant option for financing the reform, requiring no corresponding tax levies. What are the differences between this CC and the many experiments with local currencies? This proposal should not be confused with the notion, or with the practical operation, of local currencies, as it does not imply different currencies in different locales but one national,complementary currency for local use. Nor is it locally initiated and promoted in opposition to theregular currency, but centrally endorsed and administrated as an accepted complement to it. Most importantly, the alternative currency can only be used to purchase products and services originating from within a given geographical range, a restriction which is not implemented in experiments with Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS). Finally, the CC is provided as a basic income to all residents of a nation, rather than only earned in proportion to the extent to which a person has made him- or herself useful in the local economy. What would the ecological benefits be? The reform would radically reduce the demand for long-distance transport, the production of greenhouse gas emissions, consumption of energy and materials, and losses of foodstuffs through overproduction, storage, and transport. It would increase recycling of nutrients and packaging materials, which means decreasing leakage of nutrients and less garbage. It would reduce agricultural intensification, increase biodiversity, and decrease ecological degradation and vulnerability. What would the societal benefits be? The reform would increase local cooperation, decrease social marginalization and addiction problems, provide more physical exercise, improve psycho-social and physical health, and increase food security and general community resilience. It would decrease the number of traffic accidents, provide fresher and healthier food with less preservatives, and improved contact between producers and consumers. What would the long-term consequences be for the economy? The reform would no doubt generate radical transformations of the economy, as is precisely the intention. There would be a significant shift of dominance from transnational corporations founded on financial speculation and trade in industrially produced foodstuffs, fuels, and other internationally transported goods to locally diverse producers and services geared to sustainable livelihoods. This would be a democratic consequence of consumer power, rather than of legislation. Through a relatively simple transformation of the conditions for market rationality, governments can encourage new and more sustainable patterns of consumer behavior. In contrast to much of the drastic and often traumatic economic change of the past two centuries, these changes would be democratic and sustainable and would improve local and national resilience. Why should society want to encourage people to refrain from formal employment? It is increasingly recognized that full or high employment cannot be a goal in itself, particularly if it implies escalating environmental degradation and energy and material throughput. Well-founded calls are thus currently made for degrowth, i.e. a reduction in the rate of production of goods and services that are conventionally quantified by economists as constitutive of GDP. Whether formal unemployment is the result of financial decline, technological development, or intentional policy for sustainability, no modern nation can be expected to leave its citizens economically unsupported. To subsist on basic income is undoubtedly more edifying than receiving unemployment insurance; the CC system encourages useful community cooperation and creative activities rather than destructive behavior that may damage a person's health. Why should people receive an income without working? As observed above, modern nations will provide for their citizens whether they are formally employed or not. The incentive to find employment should ideally not be propelled only by economic imperatives, but more by the desire to maintain a given identity and to contribute creatively to society. Personal liberty would be enhanced by a reform which makes it possible for people to choose to spend (some of) their time on creative activities that are not remunerated on the formal market, and to accept the tradeoff implied by a somewhat lower economic standard. People can also be expected to devote a greater proportion of their time to community cooperation, earning additional CC, which means that they will contribute more to society – and experience less marginalization – than the currently unemployed. Would savings in CC be inheritable? No. How would transport distances of products and services be controlled? It is reasonable to expect the authorities to establish a special agency for monitoring and controlling transport distances. It seems unlikely that entrepreneurs would attempt to cheat the system by presenting distantly produced goods as locally produced, as we can expect income in regular currency generally to be preferable to income in CC. Such attempts would also entail transport costs which should make the cargo less competitive in relation to genuinely local produce, suggesting that the logic of local market mechanisms would by and large obviate the problem. How would differences in local conditions (such as climate, soils, and urbanism) be dealt with?It is unavoidable that there would be significant variation between different locales in terms of the conditions for producing different kinds of goods. This means that relative local prices in CC for agiven product can be expected to vary from place to place. This may in turn mean that consumption patterns will vary somewhat between locales, which is predictable and not necessarily a problem. Generally speaking, a localization of resource flows can be expected to result in a more diverse pattern of calibration to local resource endowments, as in premodern contexts. The proposed system allows for considerable flexibility in terms of the geographical definition of what is categorized as local, depending on such conditions. In a fertile agricultural region, the radius for local produce may be defined, for instance, as 20 km, whereas in a less fertile or urban area, it may be 50 km. People living in urban centers are faced with a particular challenge. The reform would encourage an increased production of foodstuffs within and in the vicinity of urban areas, which in the long run may also affect urban planning. People might also choose to move to the countryside, where the range of subsistence goods that can be purchased with CC will tend to be greater. In the long run, the reform can be expected to encourage a better fit between the distribution of resources (such as agricultural land) and demography. This is fully in line with the intention of reducing long-distance transports of necessities. What would the consequences be if people converted resources from one currency sphere into products or services sold in another? It seems unfeasible to monitor and regulate the use of distant imports (such as machinery and fuels) in producing produce for local markets, but as production for local markets is remunerated in CC, this should constitute a disincentive to invest regular money in such production processes. Production for local consumption can thus be expected to rely mostly – and increasingly – on local labor and other resource inputs.
News Heading into Thursday July 23rd 2020 NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT YOLO THE VARIOUS TICKERS WITHOUT DOING RESEARCH. THE TIME STAMPS ON THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES MAY BE LATER THAN OTHERS ON THE WEB. THE CREATOR OF THIS THREAD COMPILED THE FOLLOWING IN A QUICK MANNER AND DOES NOT ATTEST TO THE VERACITY OF THE INFORMATION BELOW. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR VETTING YOUR OWN SOURCES AND DOING YOUR OWN DD.
Senate Republicans, White House near agreement on coronavirus relief package
CNTG ($12.15) CENTOGENE Announces Convenient At-Home Coronavirus Test Solution Now Available in Germany on Online Marketplace
BIOL ($0.45) BIOLASE Announces Closing Of Oversubscribed Rights Offering
INUV ($0.57) Inuvo Announces Proposed Public Offering of Common Stock
DRIO ($7.25) reported 8 new insider (buys) trades to the SEC
ALGN%20today%20announced,for%20Invisalign%20and%20iTero%20doctors.&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;text=The%20goal%20of%20ADAPT%20is,Invisalign%20doctors%20and%20their%20staff) Align Technology Launches the Align Digital and Practice Transformation (ADAPT) Program for Invisalign and iTero Doctors Globally
Montage Resources Divesting Wellhead Gathering Infrastructure for $25 Million, Announces Preliminary Second Quarter 2020 Production Performance, Lowers Full Year 2020 Capital Spending Guidance. Montage Resources trims full-year capex forecast (MR)
ETH Hashrate Reaches 20-Month High Amid DeFi Tokens Price Surge
Crypto Traders` Optimism Suggests Ethereum Price Will Continue To Increase Throughout The Year Еthereum’s network hashrate, or the computing power of the network, reached a new high, surpassing the levels which Ethereum reached last year. Data from Etherscan shows that Ethereum’s network reached levels of over 201,000,000 GH/s. In 2019, the computing power of Ethereum peaked at about 200,000,000 GH/s. Source: Etherscan The hash rate record is a result of an increased demand for ETH, which dates back from mid-June this year. The reason for the increased demand is the relatively new DeFi sector, as the majority of the DeFi projects are based on the ETH network, and more and more users are utilizing DeFi platforms. In turn, this leads to clogging up the Ethereum network. The result of the bottleneck on ETH network is increased transaction fees, which are currently around the all-time record high level, and are a result of spikes in transactions of DeFi assets. When looking at ETH transactions fees, there is a drastic rise from only $0,84 in January 2020, to exceeding the $3 mark as of press time. Crypto experts have mixed opinions about whether the increase of hashrates is good or bad for the Ethereum ecosystem. Nevertheless, the increase of hashrate means more Ethereum miners are joining the competition for transaction validations. Also, hashrate increases because of higher mining rewards, especially in times of network congestion, where miners put higher transaction fees for validating blocks. Source: Glassnode The higher transaction fees directly result in more profits for miners, especially when the DeFi sector is blooming. Higher miner revenues would attract more miners to join the race, which would push hashrate to even higher values. However, the current hashrate levels are still way below the mid-2018 record of 295,911.9974 GH/s, recorded on August 9, 2018. The recent DeFi boom, however, managed to outpace Bitcoin in terms of transaction fees. Kraken-owned crypto data provider noted that: “on-chain transaction fees on Ethereum continue to outpace Bitcoin and the gap is now up to $1 million a day”. However, some crypto experts expressed concerns that higher fees may have a negative effect on users` experience and usage of Ethereum’s network. Source: CoinMetrics Meanwhile, the DeFi ecosystem marks another week of growth. Chainlink (LINK), for example, managed to hit another all-time high, reaching a price of $17.86. Chainlink also managed to surpass cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin SV (BSV), based on market capitalization. The price explosion means LINK is up 64% over the past week, while the crypto leader, Bitcoin, slipped with 2 percent. Because of the DeFi boom, Bitcoin also managed to lose a part of its dominance, currently sitting at little over 60%. Tezos (XTZ) also made a huge leap, hitting its all-time high of $4.48 on August 13, 2020. The upwards rally for the 11th largest cryptocurrency began on August 8 and is continuing to grow exponentially.
They're not just a POS business, they are building infrastructure to be the financial institution of a tech-driven world. They have their own Venture Capital firm that gives out loans to SMBs and screens their historical transactions to gauge the risk and interest rates. Capital can be accessed the same business day instead of going formally to a bank with your papers and giving out a standardized interest rate to all businesses and waiting so many days for capital. The FDIC recently approved Square's bank charter application. All this to me suggests regulation accepting the grand network of financial tools in a world that has been skewing more and more towards technology.They're working on making it a multi-faceted company that will meet all of your business needs. e.g. small loans, payment processing, payroll, restaurant logistics; the all-in-one ecosystem that is intuitive and easy to use and impossible to leave. Earnings per share this year = 950% Earnings growth nxt yr = 245% Future ROE = 63.5%; The return on equity is a measure of the profitability of a business in relation to the equity.SQ became profitable this year for the first time. Square has two ecosystems: 1- POS 2- Cash App Imagine combining both, using cash app to purchase stocks, receive dividends, receive tips, receive pay check. Why invest in SQ? This company can takeover the world literally with internet currencies. During these times of printing so much money can devalue our currency so much. The collapse of fiat currency is almost impossible but if ever something like that happens; SQ will be a world champion compared to all its financial peers. https://preview.redd.it/1gapxa0qcpd51.png?width=1142&format=png&auto=webp&s=2d51010439b1523a46e52b8915adfbc870d84f40 As we can see, Bitcoin revenue segment has been going up huge and will be going higher because of covid19. Yes, transactions will fall because less consumer spending but BTC will rise ( as seen in the past days) therefore SQ is in a good position because of recessions. This is why I believe there is a good chance that SQ will post a profit this Q. Revenue has been growing immensely every Q. https://preview.redd.it/t13le2prcpd51.png?width=1155&format=png&auto=webp&s=35376a7d989867438758b9e8691698c2ca73feae https://preview.redd.it/47n5pegtcpd51.png?width=913&format=png&auto=webp&s=00aa7ee5f0baefa32047e16246dd9bd0cd5c8d24 China GDP = dark blue; Mobile payment transactions = purple; In only 5 years, the transactions are 3x the GDP of China. This is an immense growth potential that SQ will be first in line to take in that growth. Competitors only for cash app? Venmo & Zelle"Cash App's rising performance is in part thanks to its ability to monetize its growing user base: It brought in $30 in annualized revenue per monthly active customer, excluding Bitcoin, in December 2019, up from less than $15 in December 2017, Ahuja said. However, the revenue gained from P2P transactions alone likely isn't enough to successfully monetize a platform — Cash App has managed to monetize from several services while some of its competitors have struggled to do so, strengthening Square's already important subscriptions and service-based revenue segment.“ Basically, this means that these companies are struggling to keep up with SQ because cashapp is incredibly quick to create new services for customers. Secondly, it is better to invest with SQ just because you access two different ecosystems. These two ecosystems can be combined, which will change the world and disrupt banks. Yes, Square will have to work with banks because of jurisdiction and regulations. But as the regulations ease up, SQ will depend less on banks."Fueled by the improving user metrics, June witnessed Cash App growth of 130% above April/May levels, indicating a steepening adoption curve. Cash App is a peer-to-peer mobile payment app developed by Square that now offers enhanced functionalities such as receipt of direct deposit payments, ACH payments, and stock and bitcoin trading. The recent momentum, according to the analyst, is tied to government stimulus payments and equity trading. "Cash App adoption related to these factors, among others, likely offer monetizable second-order benefits such as Cash Card and Instant Deposit adoption," Beck wrote in the note.” https://finance.yahoo.com/news/squares-cash-app-growth-adoption-164046320.html Technical Analysis: https://preview.redd.it/mrc169uvcpd51.png?width=1213&format=png&auto=webp&s=068a65d4a696aa6b82c728e2dc11694754fd37c8 We see a wedge at the current price. It is stagnant at the moment because investors are waiting for earnings. If earnings are green, it will go break $134 resistance point. If earnings are bad, it will not break $100 strong support line. If you are looking for a short-term play, you can buy it now and expect a minimum of 10$ profit per share if earnings are good. If it is bad, I would say it will go down to $105 at the minimum (loss of around $20 per share) I believe the perfect entry price would be around $110 at the moment. My personal price target for 2022 is $375. Disclosure: **I hold a massive amount of ARKK. Planning to add SQ ASAP**
Decentr ($DEC) - foundational cross-chain and cross-platform DeFi protocol
Decentr is a protocol designed to make blockchain/DLT mainstream by allowing DeFi applications built on various blockchains to “talk to each other”. Decentr is a 100% secure and decentralised Web 3.0 protocol where users can apply PDV (personal data value) to increase APR on $DEC that users loan out as part of of our DeFi dLoan features, as well as it being applied at PoS when paying for stuff online. Decentr is also building a BAT competitor browser and Chrome/Firefox extension that acts as a gateway to 100% decentralised Web 3.0
Allows DeFi Dapps to access all Decentr’s dFintech features, including dLoan, dPay. Key innovation is that the protocols is based on a user’s ability to leverage the value of their data as exchangeable “currency”.
Decentr is building foundational chain-agnostic protocols that will support “true” 100% DeFi Dapps, a 100% secure and decentralised, user-centric alt economy. DeFi dApps inter-connected by Decentr can talk to each other and share PDV (personal data value) of their users. PDV is best described as a personalized “exchange rate” (in a sense social reputation where more effort leads to more rewards and NOT more capital to more rewards. ) between currencies that users apply at point-of-sale to make the cost of goods and services cheaper online. PDV is applied to the APR users earn on $DEC (native token) that they hold that they loan out as part of the investing pool. PDV will also allow uncollateralized loans on their dLoan platform, and also on platforms like Aave and Compound.
Decentr will implement ZKsync to get super cheap and super fast transactions across the ETH network. It is also working with HoloChain and Tomochain to allow connect their DeFi ecosystem to the Ethereum DeFi ecosystem. Decentr has DEEP TIES and a PARTNERSHIP with Holochain: https://medium.com/@DecentrNet/decentr-holochain-ama-29d662caed03
Decentr is also building a browser and Chrome/Firefox extension - a gateway that “transitions” Web 2.0 into a 100% decentralised Web 3.0 via their suite of decentralised dFintech and dCommunications features. The browser adds a 100% decentralised “user layer” to current blockchain protocols so that applications built on blockchain can actually “talk to each other”. The browser uses encryption all the time and the power of blockchain to keep private keys safe. Browser will offer a more robust and innovative type of blockchain storage and caching that is much faster than VPN or TOR. It will allow surfing .onion addresses as well as the regular ones. >>BAT browser 400m marketcap, DEC marketcap 4m<<
Decentr is researching a hardware application, powered by Decentr software, that would greatly enhance current IoT networks. It’s called a “Smart Chip Node” (SCN) and will adhere to 4G LTE standards (with in-built 5G capability), which means connectivity between devices will match or exceed current speed and connectivity, dramatically improving stability and coverage of standalone devices, such as a laptop or tablet, as well as IoT devices, such as home routers and modems.
Decentr uses Coinbase API to optimise integrated implementation of the user layer and Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) to allow users to leverage cloud-based solutions to build, host and use their own blockchain apps. Tierion’s technological infrastructure, the Chainpoint Proof protocol, will come into play whenever a user adds something in Tierion’s data store. Hyperledger Fabric and R3 Corda private blockchains are used as an immutable transaction database for data transfers, including the following tech: R3 Corda, Hyperledger Fabric, Ansible, Bitbucket Pipelines, AWS, Node.JS, GoLang, Kotlin and CouchDB.
Implements a system of layered security protocols based on a radically-new software architecture that combines Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC)4 and Sobol sequencing with a n-dimensional chain as part of AI-enhanced, platform-wide community consensus mechanism — a mechanism that assigns mutually agreed value to data and user security protocol upgrades (further encouraging enhanced data integrity) by deploying a Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) protocol.
Bank of England has reached out to Decenr to discuss the potential of a UK CBDC upon hearing about the potential of their tech. Decentr is consistent with their own R&D into a "dGBP" and they requested a top-level document for review >> Decentr created this proposal: https://decentr.net/files/Decentr_Consultancy_Doc_UK_CBDC.pdf
A fee is charged for every transaction using dPay whereby an exchange takes place between money (fiat and digital) and data, and vice versa, either as part of DeFi features or via a dApp built on Decentr. They are launching pilot programmes in the following industries:
Banking/PSP Industry: On Product launch, due to Decentr’s powerful PSP connections (including the worlds #2 PSP by volume), a medium-scale pilot program will be launched, which will seed the network with 150,000 PSP customers in primarily the Spanish/LAC markets, generating revenue from day one.
“Bricks and Mortar” Supermarket/Grocery Industry: Decentr aims to ensure the long-term competitiveness of “bricks and mortar” supermarkets against online-only grocery retailers, such as Amazon, by a) building secure tech that allows supermarkets to digitise every aspect of their supply chains and operational functions, while b) allowing supermarkets to leverage this incredibly valuable data as a liquid asset class. Expected revenue by Year 5: $114Mn per year.
Online Advertising Industry: Decentr’s 100% decentralised platform credits users secure data with payable value, in the form of PDV, for engaging with ads. The Brave browser was launched in 2012 and in 8 years has reached over 12 million monthly active users, accented by as many as 4.3 million daily active users.
TOKEN $DEC AND SALE
Decentr recently complete their token sale on a purchase portal powered by Dolomite where they raised $974,000 in 10 minutes for a total sale hardcap of 1.25M. The $DEC token is actively trading on multiple exchanges including Uniswap and IDEX. Listed for free on IDEX, Hotbit, Hoo, Coinw, Tidex, BKex. Listed on CoinGecko and Coinmarketcap. Listed on Delta and Blockfolio apps. ➡️ Circulating supply: 61m $DEC. ➡️ Release schedule and token distribution LINK -> NO RELEASE UNTIL 2021.
A tradeable unit of value that is both internal and external to the Decentr platform.A unit of conversion between fiat entering and exiting the Decentr ecosystem.A way to capture the value of user data and combines the activity of every participant of the platform performing payment (dPay), or lending and borrowing (dLend), i.e a way to peg PDV to tangible/actionable value.Method of payment in the Decentr ecosystem.A method to internally underwrite the “Deconomy.
The power players of consumer finance in the 21st century will be crypto-native companies who build with blockchain technology at their core.
The crypto landscape is still nascent. We’re still very much in the fragmented, unbundled phase of the industry lifecycle. Beyond what Genesis Block is doing, there are signs of other companies slowly starting to bundle financial services into what could be an all-in-one bank replacement. So the key question that this series hopes to answer:
Which crypto-native company will successfully become the bank of the future?
We obviously think Genesis Block is well-positioned to win. But we certainly aren’t the only game in town. In this series, we’ll be doing an analysis of who is most capable of thwarting our efforts. We’ll look at categories like crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, centralized lending & borrowing services, and crypto debit card companies. Each category will have its own dedicated post. Today we’re analyzing big crypto exchanges. The two companies we’ll focus on today are Coinbase (biggest American exchange) and Binance (biggest global exchange). They are the top two exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume. They are in pole position to winning this market — they have a huge existing userbase and strong financial resources. Will Coinbase or Binance become the bank of the future? Can their early success propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market? Is their growth too far ahead for anyone else to catch up? Let’s dive in. https://preview.redd.it/lau4hevpm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c5de1ba497199f36aa194e5809bd86e5ab533d8
The most formidable exchange on the global stage is Binance (Crunchbase). All signs suggest they have significantly more users and a stronger balance sheet than Coinbase. No other exchange is executing as aggressively and relentlessly as Binance is. The cadence at which they are shipping and launching new products is nothing short of impressive. As Tushar Jain from Multicoin argues, Binance is Blitzscaling. Here are some of the products that they’ve launched in the last 18 months. Only a few are announced but still pre-launch.
Binance is well-positioned to become the crypto-powered, all-in-one, bundled solution for financial services. They already have so many of the pieces. But the key question is:
Can they create a cohesive & united product experience?
Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
Traders & Speculators Binance is currently very geared for speculators, traders, and financial professionals. Their bread-and-butter is trading (spot, margin, options, futures). Their UI is littered with depth charts, order books, candlesticks, and other financial concepts that are beyond the reach of most normal consumers. Their product today is not at all tailored for the broader consumer market. Given Binance’s popularity and strength among the pro audience, it’s unlikely that they will dumb down or simplify their product any time soon. That would jeopardize their core business. Binance will likely need an entirely new product/brand to go beyond the pro user crowd. That will take time (or an acquisition). So the question remains, is Binance even interested in the broader consumer market? Or will they continue to focus on their core product, the one-stop-shop for pro crypto traders?
Controversies & Hot Water Binance has had a number of controversies. No one seems to know where they are based — so what regulatory agencies can hold them accountable? Last year, some sensitive, private user data got leaked. When they announced their debit card program, they had to remove mentions of Visa quickly after. And though the “police raid” story proved to be untrue, there are still a lot of questions about what happened with their Shanghai office shut down (where there is smoke, there is fire). If any company has had a “move fast and break things” attitude, it is Binance. That attitude has served them well so far but as they try to do business in more regulated countries like America, this will make their road much more difficult — especially in the consumer market where trust takes a long time to earn, but can be destroyed in an instant. This is perhaps why the Binance US product is an empty shell when compared to their main global product.
Disjointed Product Experience Because Binance has so many different teams launching so many different services, their core product is increasingly feeling disjointed and disconnected. Many of the new features are sloppily integrated with each other. There’s no cohesive product experience. This is one of the downsides of executing and shipping at their relentless pace. For example, users don’t have a single wallet that shows their balances. Depending on if the user wants to do spot trading, margin, futures, or savings… the user needs to constantly be transferring their assets from one wallet to another. It’s not a unified, frictionless, simple user experience. This is one major downside of the “move fast and break things” approach.
BNB token Binance raised $15M in a 2017 ICO by selling their $BNB token. The current market cap of $BNB is worth more than $2.6B. Financially this token has served them well. However, given how BNB works (for example, their token burn), there are a lot of open questions as to how BNB will be treated with US security laws. Their Binance US product so far is treading very lightly with its use of BNB. Their token could become a liability for Binance as it enters more regulated markets. Whether the crypto community likes it or not, until regulators get caught up and understand the power of decentralized technology, tokens will still be a regulatory burden — especially for anything that touches consumers.
Binance Chain & Smart Contract Platform Binance is launching its own smart contract platform soon. Based on compatibility choices, they have their sights aimed at the Ethereum developer community. It’s unclear how easy it’ll be to convince developers to move to Binance chain. Most of the current developer energy and momentum around smart contracts is with Ethereum. Because Binance now has their own horse in the race, it’s unlikely they will ever decide to leverage Ethereum’s DeFi protocols. This could likely be a major strategic mistake — and hubris that goes a step too far. Binance will be pushing and promoting protocols on their own platform. The major risk of being all-in on their own platform is that they miss having a seat on the Ethereum rocket ship — specifically the growth of DeFi use-cases and the enormous value that can be unlocked. Integrating with Ethereum’s protocols would be either admitting defeat of their own platform or competing directly against themselves.
The crypto-native company that I believe is more likely to become the bank of the future is Coinbase (crunchbase). Their dominance in America could serve as a springboard to winning the West (Binance has a stronger foothold in Asia). Coinbase has more than 30M users. Their exchange business is a money-printing machine. They have a solid reputation as it relates to compliance and working with regulators. Their CEO is a longtime member of the crypto community. They are rumored to be going public soon.
Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
Different Audience, Different Experience Coinbase has been smart to create a unique product experience for each audience — the pro speculator crowd and the common retail user. Their simple consumer version is at Coinbase.com. That’s the default. Their product for the more sophisticated traders and speculators is at Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). Unlike Binance, Coinbase can slowly build out the bank of the future for the broad consumer market while still having a home for their hardcore crypto traders. They aren’t afraid to have different experiences for different audiences.
Brand & Design Coinbase has a strong product design team. Their brand is capable of going beyond the male-dominated crypto audience. Their product is clean and simple — much more consumer-friendly than Binance. It’s clear they spend a lot of time thinking about their user experience. Interacting directly with crypto can sometimes be rough and raw (especially for n00bs). When I was at Mainframe we hosted a panel about Crypto UX challenges at the DevCon4 Dapp Awards. Connie Yang (Head of Design at Coinbase) was on the panel. She was impressive. Some of their design philosophies will bode well as they push to reach the broader consumer finance market.
Early Signs of Bundling Though Coinbase has nowhere near as many products & services as Binance, they are slowly starting to add more financial services that may appeal to the broader market. They are now letting depositors earn interest on USDC (also DAI & Tezos). In the UK they are piloting a debit card. Users can now invest in crypto with dollar-cost-averaging. It’s not much, but it’s a start. You can start to see hints of a more bundled solution around financial services.
Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
Slow Cadence In the fast-paced world of crypto, and especially when compared to Binance, Coinbase does not ship very many new products very often. This is perhaps their greatest weakness. Smaller, more nimble startups may run circles around them. They were smart to launch Coinbase Ventures where tey invest in early-stage startups. They can now keep an ear to the ground on innovation. Perhaps their cadence is normal for a company of their size — but the Binance pace creates quite the contrast.
Institutional Focus As a company, we are a Coinbase client. We love their institutional offering. It’s clear they’ve been investing a lot in this area. A recent Coinbase blog post made it clear that this has been a focus: “Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has been laser-focused on building out the types of features and services that our institutional customers need.” Their Tagomi acquisition only re-enforced this focus. Perhaps this is why their consumer product has felt so neglected. They’ve been heavily investing in their institutional services since May 2018. For a company that’s getting very close to an IPO, it makes sense that they’d focus on areas that present strong revenue opportunities — as they do with institutional clients. Even for big companies like Coinbase, it’s hard to have a split focus. If they are “laser-focused” on the institutional audience, it’s unlikely they’ll be launching any major consumer products anytime soon.
Coinbase Wrap Up
At Genesis Block, we‘re proud to be working with Coinbase. They are a fantastic company. However, I don’t believe that they’ll succeed in building their own product for the broader consumer finance market. While they have incredible design, there are no signs that they are focused on or capable of internally building this type of product. Similar to Binance, I think it’s far more likely that Coinbase acquires a promising young startup with strong growth.
Other US-based exchanges worth mentioning are Kraken, Gemini, and Bittrex. So far we’ve seen very few signs that any of them will aggressively attack broader consumer finance. Most are going in the way of Binance — listing more assets and adding more pro tools like margin and futures trading. And many, like Coinbase, are trying to attract more institutional customers. For example, Gemini with their custody product.
Coinbase and Binance have huge war chests and massive reach. For that alone, they should always be considered threats to Genesis Block. However, their products are very, very different than the product we’re building. And their approach is very different as well. They are trying to educate and onboard people into crypto. At Genesis Block, we believe the masses shouldn’t need to know or care about it. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto. Most everyone needs banking — whether it be to borrow, spend, invest, earn interest, etc. Not everyone needs a crypto exchange. For non-crypto consumers (the mass market), the differences between a bank and a crypto exchange are immense. Companies like Binance and Coinbase make a lot of money on their crypto exchange business. It would be really difficult, gutsy, and risky for any of them to completely change their narrative, messaging, and product to focus on the broader consumer market. I don’t believe they would ever risk biting the hand that feeds them. In summary, as it relates to a digital bank aimed at the mass market, I believe both Coinbase and Binance are much more likely to acquire a startup in this space than they are to build it themselves. And I think they would want to keep the brand/product distinct and separate from their core crypto exchange business. So back to the original question, is Coinbase and Binance a threat to Genesis Block? Not really. Not today. But they could be, and for that, we want to stay close to them. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Price fluctuations in the bitcoin spot rate on cryptocurrency exchanges are driven by many factors. Volatility is measured in traditional markets by the Volatility Index, also known as the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX). More recently, a volatility index for bitcoin has also become available. Known as the Bitcoin Volatility Index, it aims to track the volatility of the world's leading digital currency by market cap over various periods of time. Bitcoin's value has been historically quite volatile. In a three-month span from October of 2017 to January of 2018, for instance, the volatility of the price of bitcoin reached to nearly 8%. This is more than twice the volatility of bitcoin in the 30-day period ending January 15, 2020. But why is bitcoin so volatile? Here are just a few of the many factors behind bitcoin's volatility.
Bad News Hurts Adoption Rate
News events that scare bitcoin users include geopolitical events and statements by governments that bitcoin is likely to be regulated. Bitcoin's early adopters included several bad actors, producing headline news stories that produced fear in investors. Headline-making bitcoin news over the decade or so of the cryptocurrency's existence includes the bankruptcy of Mt. Gox in early 2014 and, more recently, that of the South Korean exchange Yapian Youbit. Other news stories which shocked investors include the high-profile use of bitcoin in drug transactions via Silk Road that ended with the FBI shutdown of the marketplace in October 2013. All these incidents and the public panic that ensued drove the value of bitcoins versus fiat currencies down rapidly. However, bitcoin-friendly investors viewed those events as evidence that the market was maturing, driving the value of bitcoins versus the dollar markedly back up in the short period immediately following the news events.
Bitcoin's Perceived Value Sways
One reason why bitcoin may fluctuate against fiat currencies is the perceived store of value versus the fiat currency. Bitcoin has properties that make it similar to gold. It is governed by a design decision by the developers of the core technology to limit its production to a fixed quantity of 21 million BTC. Since that differs markedly from fiat currency, which is dynamically managed by governments who want to maintain low inflation, high employment, and satisfactory growth through investment in capital resources, as economies built with fiat currencies show signs of strength or weakness, investors may allocate more or less of their assets into bitcoin.
Uncertainty of Future Bitcoin's Value
Bitcoin volatility is also driven in large part by varying perceptions of the intrinsic value of the cryptocurrency as a store of value and method of value transfer. A store of value is the function by which an asset can be useful in the future with some predictability. A store of value can be saved and exchanged for some good or service in the future. A method of value transfer is any object or concept used to transmit property in the form of assets from one party to another. Bitcoin’s volatility at the present makes it a somewhat unclear store of value, but it promises nearly frictionless value transfer. As a result, we see that bitcoin's value can swing based on news events much as we observe with fiat currencies.
Large Currency Holder Risks
Bitcoin volatility is also to an extent driven by holders of large proportions of the total outstanding float of the currency. For bitcoin investors with current holdings above around $10M, it is not clear how they would liquidate a position that large into a fiat position without severely moving the market. Indeed, it may not be clear how they would liquidate a position of that size in a short period of time at all, as most cryptocurrency exchanges impose 24-hour withdrawal limits far below that threshold. Bitcoin has not reached the mass market adoption rates that would be necessary to provide option value to large holders of the currency.
Security Breaches Cause Volatility
Bitcoin can also become volatile when the bitcoin community exposes security vulnerabilities in an effort to produce massive open source responses in the form of security fixes. This approach to security is paradoxically one that produces great outcomes, with many valuable open source software initiatives to its credit, including Linux. Bitcoin developers must reveal security concerns to the public in order to produce robust solutions. It was a hack that drove the Yapian Youbit to bankruptcy, while many other cryptocurrencies have also made headlines for being hacked or having stashes of cryptocurrencies stolen. As an early example, in April 2014, the OpenSSL vulnerabilities attacked by the Heartbleed bug and reported by Google security's, Neel Mehta, drove Bitcoin prices down by 10% in a month. Bitcoin and open source software development are built upon the same fundamental premise that a copy of the source code is available to users to examine. This concept makes it the responsibility of the community to voice concerns about the software design, just as it is the responsibility of the community to come to consensus about modifications to that underlying source code as well. Because of the open conversation and debate regarding the Bitcoin network, security breaches tend to be highly publicized.
High-Profile Losses Raise Fear
It is worth noting that the aforementioned thefts and the ensuing news about the losses had a double effect on volatility. They reduced the overall float of bitcoin, producing a potential lift on the value of the remaining bitcoin due to increased scarcity. However, overriding this lift was the negative effect of the news cycle that followed. Notably, other bitcoin gateways looked to the massive failure at Mt. Gox as a positive for the long term prospects of bitcoin, further complicating the already complex story behind the currency’s volatility. As early adopting firms were eliminated from the market due to poor management and dysfunctional processes, later entrants learn from their errors and build stronger processes into their own operations, strengthening the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency overall.
High-Inflation Nations and Bitcoins
Bitcoin’s use case as a currency for developing countries that are currently experiencing high inflation is valuable when considering the volatility of bitcoin in these economies versus the volatility of bitcoin in USD. Bitcoin is much more volatile versus USD than the high-inflation Argentine peso versus the USD. That being said, the near frictionless transfer of bitcoins across borders makes it a potentially highly attractive borrowing instrument for Argentineans, as the high inflation rate for peso-denominated loans potentially justifies taking on some intermediate currency volatility risk in a bitcoin-denominated loan funded outside Argentina. Similarly, funders outside Argentina can earn a higher return under this scheme than they can by using other debt instruments, denominated in their home currency, potentially offsetting some of the risks of exposure to the high inflation Argentine market.
Tax Treatment Lifts Volatility
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), bitcoin is actually considered an asset for tax purposes. This has had a mixed impact on bitcoin's volatility. On the upside, any statement recognizing the currency has a positive effect on the market valuation of the currency. Conversely, the decision by the IRS to call it property had at least two negative effects. The first was the added complexity for users who want to use it as a form of payment. Under the new tax law, users would have to record the market value of the currency at the time of every transaction, no matter how small. This need for record keeping can understandably slow adoption as it seems to be too much trouble for what it is worth for many users. Secondly, the decision to call the currency a form of property for tax purposes may be a signal to some market participants that the IRS is preparing to enforce stronger regulations later. Very strong regulation of the currency could cause the adoption rate of the currency to slow to the point where it is not able to achieve the mass adoption that is critical for its overall utility in society. Recent moves by the IRS are not clear as to their signaling motives and therefore have mixed signals to the market for bitcoin.
Why will the switching to TkeyNet take place this year, and not later, as planned?
Let’s look at the project history. The TKEY concept dates back to October 2017, and it was in the fourth quarter of 2017 that the distributed infrastructure concept was approved. In early 2018, the formation of the TkeyNet architecture began. To make the whole course of events clear, we highlighted the main points and commented on them: The projected development period for TkeyNet is 2.5–3 years.
This forecast was made in 2018 when the development of TkeyNet began.
The course of events that was part of our strategy
Core 1.0 launch and exchange The company planned to launch a Protocol based on Core 1.0 and conduct a subsequent listing of the asset on the exchange in late 2018-in the first half of 2019. Depending on the completion of work on Core 1.0. Why launch Core 1.0? There is a fixed practice in the market when a project starts on a ready-made blockchain, and then switches to its own, for example, EOS. This project was launched based on the Ethereum blockchain, and later the transition to its Protocol was made. Our main task was to launch a Protocol with non-standard technical solutions for the market and enter the auction to expand the project audience and obtain liquidity for the asset. With an increase in the asset price, the company would be able to increase its financial resources and reinvest them in the development of the project. Thus, the launch of a blockchain-based on Core 1.0 fully met these tasks.
In Core 1.0, new transaction models introduced and multi-blockchain support implemented. The first version of the Protocol supported the inclusion of 10 separate chains. The mechanics allowed you to change the number of parallel chains in the blockchain. To increase throughput, the team implemented PostgreSQL support, instead of the typical key-value database that is present in most cryptocurrencies.
Switching to Core 2.0 during trading and then switching to TkeyNet Next, the plan was to upgrade the network to Core 2.0 and continuously modify it. The modification means the gradual implementation of functionality and standards from TkeyNet so that it is easy to make the transition from Core 2.0 to the new TkeyNet Protocol during trading on the exchange. https://preview.redd.it/zcf5vnsgg2f51.png?width=1191&format=png&auto=webp&s=d5d5e41551ccc95f8a8a401f8fd2d081f1068939 In 2019, a Core 1.0 — based system launched. The year was simultaneously busy: the first presentation of TkeyNet at APA-2019, presence at IFC-2019, work on draft laws, and at the same time, the year was quite difficult for our company, which affected the timing shifts for products and all project plans in General. The listing did not take place. Reasons for switching to TkeyNet There is a silver lining. In the period from April to May, there was positive news from developers: work on TkeyNet will be completed much earlier than planned. By the end of June, we were preparing to launch a test network based on TkeyNet, to start the final testing of all functions.
On June 22, 2020, the core 1.0 network suspended. For more information,see the link.
Shortly, we will be able to switch to TkeyNet and list the TKEY asset to crypto exchange.
Upon completion of the launch of TkeyNet, the official date of listing of TKEY on the trading platform will publish at the link:tkeycoin.com/start/;
What is TkeyNet?
We have already talked about TkeyNet in the previous article: TkeyNet-release date, a brief analysis of the system, further plans, gave examples of how the use of technology, told what products can be created based on TkeyNet, all this covered in General terms. https://preview.redd.it/olp8lviig2f51.png?width=7418&format=png&auto=webp&s=9403b97e8bd2080fb8678530dbb418053db317c3 In this publication, we share some theses so that you will gradually develop an objective picture of the new TkeyNet system and its capabilities, which many of you will be able to apply in the future in business or everyday life. From the very beginning of development, — TkeyNet was intended to improve the existing financial system, not to replace it. From a technical point of view, the system and its functionality entirely based on blockchain technology. However, this is not a classic variation, as, for example, with bitcoin, but the new implementation of It — more secure, more suitable for global use, more perfect. In simple words, our developers took the best from Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and other market leaders, combined their pros, eliminated their cons, and modified existing solutions on the market, resulting in new technology with new features. For the user, TkeyNet is a fast payment network that allows you to store, use, and move various assets in the payment network, such as currencies, shares, real estate, and precious metals, etc. Businesses will be able to legally conduct international transfers in seconds and significantly save on transactions. For developers and startups, this means best practices, infrastructure, liquidity, and access to ready-made solutions that can complete in their products. Among competitors, TkeyNet is much faster than its predecessors, more profitable, and cheaper in terms of transactions. For businesses and financial institutions, it is an infrastructure that will significantly improve existing financial processes, from payment routing to multi-level exchange and clearing operations. If we compare the giants of the financial industry-banks, and the new paradigm — distributed payment systems, we will notice a significant difference. The total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies estimated at ≈340 billion US dollars and the capitalization of 10 world banks is 2 trillion dollars. A significant difference, don’t you agree? http://www.outsourcingportal.eu/en/bitcoin-would-rank-as-8th-largest-bank-globally-with-169-billion-in-market-capitalization You can’t argue with the numbers, and we must understand that banks remain vital objects of the financial system. Banks help us send funds within the country and abroad, and provide a lot of services, such as loans, deposits, and a lot of other services. Anyway, using cryptocurrency, users actively exchange it for Fiat currencies to pay for any formed needs. Therefore, TkeyNet will serve as a bridge between fiat and digital currencies, providing its users with best practices and tools through which we will all have access to various digital and cash at any time and anywhere in the world. The Asian Parliamentary Assembly actively raised the issue of trust and the development of financial products in underdeveloped countries. The problem in such countries is total state control of property registers. Citizens prefer to dispose of their funds in informal settings because they do not consider state systems reliable.
According to the World Bank alone, about 1.7–1.8 billion people do not have accounts in any financial institution, and about 47% of them located in developing countries. The problem of interaction between a person and a financial institution consists of three main reasons: poverty, trust issues, and geographical difficulties. With systems such as TkeyNet, it is possible to connect people and financial institutions with a single source of trust. With the use of such systems, a person does not need anything other than access to the Internet. https://www.statista.com/chart/18497/countries-with-the-highest-share-of-adults-without-a-bank-account-in-2017/
The investments that bring us all together
On the other hand, the audience of the TKEY project is quite diverse: our investors represent a variety of professions, a variety of cities, and a variety of age groups. However, one thing, nevertheless, unites us all — this thing is an investment. And therefore, some of the users may not be interested in technical details or the difference between 1.0, 2.0, or TkeyNet. But at least the thesis, the main message, must be understood by absolutely everyone.
The more popular the company’s products are on the market, the stronger it is and the development. Due to the reliability of the company, the prices of its assets grow.
From 22 to 24 July, the test network TkeyNet was successfully launched. Our team is currently actively testing the entire network and conducting a security audit. Developers are testing the network with different scenarios: security, reliability of the full system, as well as individual modules and functions. Given the different number of similar-looking formulations, but at the same time completely different from each other, some users wondered what is the difference between such concepts: Mainnet, Testnet, and TkeyNet. Testnet should consider as a demonstration network for testing, testing concepts, new features, experiments, and debugging without the risk of losing any data. Testnet is a polygon for the development team that used to improve the system and introduce new features. Mainnet (Main Network) this is a complete product, ready to use. TkeyNet is the name of the infrastructure, the entire system that we are developing, and Testnet and Mainnet are technical concepts within this system. After testing the system is complete, TkeyNet will launch. We will issue instructions on how to upgrade to the new Protocol and new software, respectively.
Testing takes place without any excesses, and the launch of TkeyNet is just around the corner.
Thank you for being with us! Follow the project news to stay up to date. If you missed the latest news, you read the notification on the site: https://tkeycoin.com/en/news/.
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
Technology and some more:
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here. Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017. Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand. Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”.Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
“Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
Business & Partnerships
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
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