Though PayPal’s Peter Thiel recently described Bitcoin as “a reserve form of money – like gold” you wouldn’t know it watching the duo’s prices. Bitcoin, the market’s most established cryptocurrency, has plunged by nearly 70% this year, seven times gold’s comparatively sleepy 15% correction.
But new technologies are famous for their rocky beginnings. Take Commodore computers, one of the leading personal computer makers during that sector’s infancy – its demise certainly did not signal all PC makers were finished. The 1990s Biotech boom and bust is a similar story, just as the share price of a 1990’s tech upstart called amazon.com is also instructive. After rocketing from $1.50 to $86 – almost 6,000 percent higher, Amazon’s share price crashed to a more earthly $6. What happened next, a 16-year parabolic ascent to a recent high of $2050, is an example of what many crypto coin holders are hoping for.
But compared to Bitcoin, Amazon’s share price looks to have barely left the ground. Bitcoin’s low, in June 2010, was less than a penny, while its high last January was $19,875. Its rise exceeds a mind-numbing 20,000 times to the power of three. Bitcoin was not alone. The market cap for the entire crypto-coin space peaked last November at $828 billion, a more subdued if you can call it that, 40 times its $20 billion value less than a year earlier.
Amazon’s earlier crash translated to a 93% share price haircut. Bitcoin has so far plunged 70% since January. The entire crypto space, which is now valued at $195 billion, has fallen by as much. If Amazon’s initial crack-up and the warnings of the sector’s more sober authorities are anything to go on, yet lower crypto prices seem likely.
In Bloomberg, Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin says the rapid growth of crypto is moving to the stage of “real applications of real economic activity.” He warns most educated people have a superficial awareness of the industry so there is little explosive upside left. It’s like a gold rush where giant discoveries have already been made. The frontier is now crowded with companies and people trying to do replicate the feat. Greed eventually fades and fear for the mere viability of what has already been discovered becomes the over-riding worry.
“Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are useless”
The Economist, which is among the world’s most respected financial papers, says fear is now “in charge” and its recent leader “Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are useless” does little to calm coin holders. The paper describes crypto as a failed attempt to create an online version of cash that eliminates “the possibility of interference from malicious governments or banks”. Instead, they write, crypto is principally used for speculation and is an “overcomplicated, untrustworthy casino”. Poor security for users, volatility, complicated software, zero consumer protection, and a dearth of merchants willing to accept it are what the magazine sees as crypto’s fatal flaws. Not mentioned are the often high and unpredictable transaction costs, together with excruciatingly long authorization times, which add further to its grim outlook.
“Everyone’s getting rich but me”
But we have been here before. Major publications have a habit of predicting market turns, but not in the way one would expect. Recall 1995’s best selling book ‘Silicon Snake Oil’and a Newsweek cover ‘Internet Blah’, both which basically described the Internet as a bunch of over-hyped baloney. By 1999 the same magazine performed a flipflop with a cover titled“Everyone’s Getting Rich but me” when it highlighted how easy making money trading internet stocks had become – with little attention paid to the apparent risks. Perhaps more ill-timed, The Economist’s post-crash March 2001 leader, ‘The Dotcom Wreckage’, warned that the Dotcom bubble’s biggest stars’ best hope of survival was to find old-economy partners – Amazon with Wal-Mart and eBay with Microsoft. And while their opinion may look silly now, Amazon Chairman Jeff Bezos’ advice in 2001 looks even worse. The e-commerce mogul said investors should not buy internet stocks including the shares of his own company. At the time Amazon was trading around $7.77, it bottomed a few months later at $5.80 and as they say, the rest is history.
The Crypto ecosystem: 40 million to one billion people in 5 years?
In the midst of the current crypto free fall, a fearless Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong remains bullish. He thinks that the total number of people in the crypto ecosystem can reach one billion within the next five years, up from around 40 million today. He also sees an explosion in the number of tokens. “It makes sense that any company out there who has a cap table… should have their own token. ” Novelist Mark Twain wrote that “During the gold rush its a good time to be in the pick and shovel business”. Similarly, Armstrong’s Coinbase, which provides the tools for crypto-currency trading, should do well if his predicted rush to create more tokens occurs and the crypto ecosystem grows larger.
In contrast, an ever-expanding supply of tokens may dampen future token or crypto price increases. This would be a welcome development as flatlined crypto prices would discourage speculation, and more important, a lack of volatility would make crypto-commerce less risky, thus helping Buterin’s “real economic activity” become a reality.
BlocPal – the key to cryptocurrencies’ mass adoption?
Volatility or not, a Canadian company called BlocPal Inc. has developed an elegant smartphone-based multi-currency platform it says will make using crypto exceptionally convenient, and cost-competitive. And like Coinbase, BlocPal stands to capitalize on the growing ecosystem as it promises to make cryptocurrencies in general far more consumer friendly. But Blocpal goes much further as its platform eliminates virtually all of the barriers which prevent crypto from going mainstream.
The company’s encrypted data payloads and multi-sig transaction guarantees make BlocPal ultra-safe while transaction costs are 1% or lower, making micro-payments such as buying a cup of coffee a realistic option for the first time ever. Transferring money or converting currencies held in BlocPal’s wallet is instant and validation of business transactions are in real time.
BlocPal’s bitcoin blockchain based wallet is designed to hold any type of currency though it has initially been launched with Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin, Canadian Dollar and the US Dollar. Other crypto or fiat currencies can quickly be added as demand requires. Having the ability to easily and instantly convert back and forth from crypto to fiat is a big plus not only for the consumer but also for any merchants that may be worried that the crypto they have just been paid might depreciate. Once the transaction is authorized a merchant can use the platform’s auto-convert feature to transform the crypto payment into another currency if she so chooses. Larger businesses may wish to have their own branded crypto payment wallet and can through BlocPal’s white-label service.
In “Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy” tech oracle and Bitcoin cheerleader George Gilder compares Bitcoin to a massive multiplayer online game which mobilizes millions of players that validate or mine transactions – all beyond the manipulations of the world’s central banks and their respective countries’ often opposing national interests. This reality helps explain BlocPal’s ability to develop what looks to be a transformational platform, as its creators hail from the gaming business. The company’s ecosystem is the culmination of decades spent developing a proprietary back office payments system together with expertise acquired while completing more than $30 billion worth of encrypted, internet payment processing gaming-related transactions. Worth noting is that they have never been hacked or suffered a data breach – an especially relevant fact given that cryptocurrency theft by hackers continues to plague the industry – the most recent being the theft of $60 million worth of cryptocurrencies from the Zaif exchange in Japan.
BlocPal’s advantage over other systems is its simplicity as it eliminates the need for multiple wallets by integrating a unified wallet to store and transact with fiat currencies and all of the major crypto coins. Currently, consumers have around 1500 currencies to choose from, many of which are compatible only with specific platforms. For example, a single Ethereum-oriented wallet can hold numerous ERC20-based coins, but the same wallet cannot hold Bitcoin with all its forks, Cardano, or EOS. Other wallets like the physical Ledger Nano S, allow users to store most of the top coins, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, but not fiat currencies and unlike the BlocPal wallet, which is free and is downloaded onto a user’s smartphone, you actually have to buy the physical Nano S device. Another plus is how easy it is for merchants to integrate BlocPal’s platform into both physical and online businesses so that consumers can buy their goods or services with their BlocPal wallets. BlocPal can also provide associated accounting and invoicing services to its business users.
Given that coins are in a free-fall and consumer use is less than half what it was at its peak, BlocPal has launched its platform just when it is needed the most. And though Coinbase’s Armstrong is probably correct in predicting the crypto ecosystem’s explosive growth, this alone will not translate to the easy money made in the crypto space over the past few years.
Nick Mellios the soft-spoken founder of BlocPal says “we expect to reverse the current decline in crypto use and instead accelerate the global spread of cryptocurrency commerce as our solution makes the user experience really pleasant. We want to make the consumers and merchants lives easier by providing a nearly effortless, cost-effective and worry-free solution”.
From an investor’s viewpoint it will be a challenge just to keep things in perspective and ignore the kind of pessimism that prompted even Bezos to dish his own company in 2001, and to instead, with a cool head, identify the next major tech success story.
BlocPal’s central role in making crypto an online alternative to cash.
It is improbable that we will see a repeat of 2017’s massive coin price moves just as Vitalik Buterin infers. A more reasonable expectation is that for the foreseeable future the big money will be made owning stakes in companies that make crypto an integral and viable part of real economic activities.
This is where BlocPal comes into the picture. The company has the all the makings of the next great success story as it possesses a massive advantage because, while it does not compete directly with any of the coins in the crypto space, its business instead focuses on radically improving the user experience for a multitude of coins in the crypto ecosystem.
It will take time, but if BlocPal’s platform is as successful as looks likely, we may just yet read in The Economist that crypto has finally evolved from being a failed attempt to create an online version of cash, to become a compelling online alternative, with BlocPal playing a central role.
Neil Maedel is a South East Asia based venture capitalist with an extensive multi-decade background in finance and analysis of micro-cap companies. Beginning as a trader at the Vancouver Stock Exchange, market researcher and later an editorial writer for Canada Stock Watch he founded the Minicap Analyst financial letter and Protrader Finanz AG, in Zurich, Switzerland which assisted in financing micro-cap companies globally.
Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Global Coin Report and/or its affiliates, employees, writers, and subcontractors are cryptocurrency investors and from time to time may or may not have holdings in some of the coins or tokens they cover. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency and read our full disclaimer.
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