We Need A Better Coin Now!

Cryptocurrency today as of the time of this writing is in a bit of a flux and identity crisis.  Part of this is due to a well directed campaign in the news via government and banking entities.  However, I will always give credit where it is due and many of the flaws that have been pointed out by these entities are completely true.  In fact, from a business, security and IT standpoint I find that most cryptocurrencies are almost impossible to use.  There are coins that individually address “some of the issues” but I have never seen a coin or team that “just seems to get it”.

Whether it’s how an ICO is run, basic functionality, security, privacy, getting out information it seems apparent to me that the vast majority of teams and coins do not sufficient combined IT and Business Knowledge to make things work.

There are just so many issues with a lot of the top coins that could kill them, let me name a few in no particular order.

Speed – 99% of cryptocurrencies are extremely slow taking minutes, hours or several days to complete a transaction!

Expensive – A lot of times you can spend a small fortune just sending a small amount of coin to someone (you could spend $100 to send $5 of coins with some Ethereum tokens for example)!

Security – Most coins are by default completely insecure.  Any coin that has a public ledger is insecure and has 0 privacy.  This allows for replay attacks and all kinds of nasty things.  It also means your activities are easily tracked and traced.  Imagine if your competitors can see exactly who is paying and who you are paying including the full amounts?  It would put your business at a huge disadvantage.  Having “public, permissionless blockchain” such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin etc..  will mean the coins can never be secure when the whole public is involved.

Hardforks – Most coins are easily counterfeited, hard or softforked where basically anyone can copy an entire coin and just rename it and call it their own, while confusing and devaluing the original coin holders.  This should never be able to happen just for the reason of sanity, continuity and integrity.  There have already been scams like the BTG Scam and replay attacks.

PoW/Mining – It is absolutely crazy that mining still exists, as cool as it originally was, mining is now a hindrance in many ways to the cryptocurrency community.  Not only is it wasteful in terms of energy resources, it is unsustainable in both environmental, monetary and functional terms.  Returns are so slow with most major coins that it is almost not worth it unless your power is cheap or free.

To top it off why on earth should we let transactions be controlled by “miners finding the next block”.  It doesn’t secure the network anymore and that is because coins like Bitcoin were created before ASICs and assumed “no one would party would hold more than 10% hashing power”.  Of course single pools in China have way more than 10% power and so do some mining farms possibly.  This means that pools and large farms could work together to defraud people by sending false transactions and confirming it among themselves.  By the time the scam is realized the parties who initiated the scam would already have escaped with the money.

Mining also leads to centralization, the very thing that cryptocurrency was meant to avoid.  This inevitable because as difficulty increases, only large corporate or government players with deep pockets can continue.

The same applies with running full nodes, large organizations will be the one running them.

Usability – Most coins are unusable because they are slow and insecure but to make it worse there’s more.  The current coins are not easily integrated in a secure way.  You shouldn’t have to run a full Litecoin, Bitcoin or Ethereum node on a huge mega server with tons of RAM and HDD just to create receiving addresses and receive payments.  This not only inefficient, it is insecure because the same computer that generates the receiving addresses is usually the one that holds the wallet/funds.

To top it off you can send to a wrong or non-existent address and lose your money forever with virtually all currencies.  Blockchain is just a big database, couldn’t some query be done to make sure the address actually exists?!  On top of that there is no feedback, send by e-mail or notifications by e-mail you always need to keep your wallet open to notice.  It would be much easier if these different functions are kept separate.  However this is a problem too because most cryptocurrencies are admittedly not secure if you don’t sync the entire chain.  And that’s another issue, syncing is a huge issue with coins like Ethereum it is extremely slow and takes a ridiculous amount of CPU cycles.  Imagine paying someone from Craigslist in person  and one of you says “hold on mate sorry I have to wait for my wallet to sync for hours or days!”.

 

Ripple Performance Beats Bitcoin and Ethereum!

Despite so much turbulence in the markets Ripple has returned 4.8% vs Bitcoin’s 2.64% in the last 24 hours or Ethereum’s -.75%.  Ripple is proving itself to be able to withstand strong headwinds after nearly hitting the $5 mark last year.  Of course $.70 is a far cry from its all time high but considering the market as of lately this is impressive.  I think despite the concerns over XRP’s future in terms of it being associated with large and central banking clients, there is value in it being a hedge.  This is one of the reasons I invested in Ripple as I feel with increasing government scrutiny, regulation, threats, bad news etc.. that this would all cause Ripple to return much better in the long-term.  However as I’ve said in past posts, there appears to be the very real fear and possibility that Ripple may just dump XRP if the banks tell or pay them to.  In fact I even e-mailed them with detailed concerns from another blog and they had no comment other than asking me to check their news, blog and website so at this point I feel it is very plausible.  Ripple’s affiliation with banks and government will either help it right to the top or it could weight down Ripple.  Besides that I feel Ripple is a fairly good currency but does suffer from a few other flaws that I won’t get into here.

 

CoinmarketCap-2018-03-20

The Future Of Blockchain Currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin belong to governments, banks and large corporate players.

One aspect of cryptocurrencies that some users aren’t aware of is that decentralized blockchain based currencies are in their own ways their own worst enemy.  The blockchain is the problem, as currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum keep getting slower due to their limited transactions per second, and the blockchain gets large this has started the end game.   The end game is clearly spelled out in Ethereum’s current white paper and it’s that essentially the blockchain will get so large no small players (individuals) will be able to participate.   This is because all transactions are stored in the blockchain ledger, and the more transactions the larger it gets.  Eventually the blockchains will grow to several terabytes and require more memory.  This will mean that only big corporate, government and banking players will have the resources to control these so-called decentralized currencies.  It is really inevitable unless a mechanism is adopted for off-loading this storage to trusted third parties.

I may not be a huge Microsoft fan but I think Ankur Patel has stated what many in the cryptocurrency already understand to be correct.

Patel said that blockchains that increase network capacity through on-chain scaling, which involves raising the blocksize, will eventually experience degraded centralization and will not be able to function on a “world-scale.”

https://www.ccn.com/public-blockchain-chain-scaling-degrades-decentralization-microsoft-researcher/

This is something that Stellar Lumens and Ripple essentially do.  They are a centralized blockchain that are generally faster than the competitors but are centralized and literally supported by big corporate players and banks.  These have pros and cons.  As an investment they are an excellent hedge against threatened regulations that people fear for the decentralized currencies and they also provide real value and work very well.

Is this all bad?  It’s hard to say because public blockchains can be attacked literally with DDOS/SPAM/bad blocks and this has happened with all the major currencies.  On top of that you are still giving up trust to unknown people and the value and stability of these currencies are at risk for other reasons such as hardfork cash grabs like Bitcoin Cash and the Bitcoin Gold Group.

The future is bright for crypto but these uncertainties need to be accounted for and sorted out.  It may be that the future is going to involve a combination of foundations and semi-decentralized currencies.

Neo, the Ethereum Competitor from China. How does it stack up?

Some friends have asked me for my thoughts, I admit I haven’t paid much attention to Neo myself but I am happier with this project, the team, architecture, planning and thought that has gone into it.

First of all, Neo, in my opinion has the technical superiority and is the better and faster coin to use everyday.  It has similar features such as the digital asset/smart contract option and API.   Neo is based on C# basically the fastest and most efficient programming language.  Ethereum is based on my arch nemesis, Java which I’ve always found to be efficient, slow, buggy and riddled with security issues (which is one thing that makes me very nervous about major bugs or hacks impacting the Ethereum network and blockchain in the future).

My belief is that because Neo is seen as Chinese based that it has scared away investors and this is the only reason why we see Ethereum as #2 or #3 in terms of market cap.  Neo is not far behind and if more attention and awareness shifts towards it I believe it’s only a matter of time before it overtakes Ethereum.

I’ve also seen much more evidence that the Neo team cares about the community by actively participating in discussions.  By comparison I can see endless complaints about issues that the ETH community has on their own forums with seemingly no response from the team.  Another factor is that the NEO team seems to be a professional and experienced team.  The ETH founder is only 18-years old and originally from Russia (nothing against Russia I am long there and we have many wonderful clients from there and around the world!).  I am highlighting that both teams are overseas but the fact that Neo is entirely Chinese and based inside China is probably the stumbling block for its growth.

What is wrong with Neo?

One big issue that I believe will be a huge problem is the fact that Neo is not divisible.  You cannot buy a fraction of a Neo.  This will be a huge problem even at it’s current value of $108 USD.  What if you want to buy a bag of chips or a USB stick?  It completely fails as a currency even though it’s otherwise superior to Ethereum.  How about if you want to invest in an ICO and you want to send .5 Neo?  No, not going to happen so Neo has set itself on the path to self-destruction in my opinion.  I’m very disappointed as otherwise it has done everything much better than Ethereum but shoots itself in the foot over the inability to ever be a real currency or used in daily transactions and this will only worse as the value increases.   This in itself almost makes the currency fail and is major stumbling block.  I also take issue with Neo’s GAS which will become another huge issue just like Ethereum, it is confusing and annoying.  See my blog post about how a $5 transaction in ETH cost me over $105 in gas fees!

Don’t get me wrong on this issue, I am long China, but with all the news coming out of China I believe it scares people away from this currency.  This aspects actually draws me towards it, in China there is such high regulation that the kind of scams I see many other developers pull is much harder to do even compared to Japan.

I would be all over Neo if the coin was divisible.

Would I invest in Neo?

Not at these levels, but I also won’t buy more Ethereum for similar reasons.  I do think Neo is a much better implementation of the Ethereum concept minus one huge issue with the currency division not being possible.

The hype on this digital asset/smart contract sounds great but in practice I am strongly against directly mixing currency and other assets in the same technology especially after Ethereum’s parity issue (we’ve seen nothing yet and I believe most of these smart assets will experience huge issues in the future).

Neo could still very well be an Ethereum killer but suffers from GAS and non-divisible currency.

Mercatox Cryptocurrency Exchange Review

I found Mercatox because they were one of the few that had some coins I wanted to buy but have since given up out of both frustration and lack of trust.  Unfortunately in traditional form these smaller exchanges are usually broken or worse, some are often unreliable or outright scams.

The first notice I saw was a warning of “not to deposit to old BTC addresses due to security issues”.  It is good to warn your users but why couldn’t they secure their own wallet?

So why not send some ETH?  Oops it’s not working.

Mercatox-ETH-Deposit-Not-Available

Dogecoin is “Not Available”

LTC is “Under Maintenance”.

Mercatox-Broken

So basically you have an exchange that isn’t working from the start and can’t accept deposits.

That’s when I clicked the “Logout” button as fast as I could, never to return to Mercatox.  I’d rather not deal with the myriad of other issues that are the symptom of problems at the front end.  This is also because in the cryptoworld 9/10 companies will never help you no matter what (eg. missing coins, deposits, withdrawals) good luck unless you sue them (if you can find them since most are anonymous without real contact information or ownership).

 

 

Ethereum High Transaction Fees/Gas, Tokens and Exchanges = Bad Investment

Unlike many other coins with low withdraw fees and low transaction fees, Ethereum based ERC20 tokens are horribly expensive.  If you don’t spend a good amount on them you could actually be unable to purchase any due to the “high gas and transaction fees” of Ethereum, something that has been a huge problem.  Even Bitcoin is not as bad in the sense that at least you can just send a maximum amount and not worry about this ridiculous “gas calculation fee” which make Ethereum transactions more difficult and less predictable, and sometimes impossible due to randomly expensive gas prices.  You shouldn’t have to be a mathematician or programmer to figure out how to send Ethereum.  Unlike more simple, faster and easier to use currencies such as even Litecoin that just work.

Let’s give an example test of what happens if you send .1 Ethereum to an exchange and what it costs you.

I sent about .1 ETH to an exchange (about $100 USD) and the transaction fee was about $2.34.

I’ll show you what I mean and part of this is Binance but not exactly, their ERC20 Tokens have a high fee because they are expensive to send!  Compare this to a small amount of XLM I bought and sold.

Here is a good example of BAT I purchased 31 of them.  When I withdrew I only received 9.969!

Another example is SNT I purchased 69 but only received 36.931!

I already have XLM but to illustrate the difference see how much better it is to buy non ERC20 tokens, you lose so much value in sending ETH and then sending them back to your wallet.

I bought 44 XLM (Stellar Lumens) and was able to withdraw and receive 43.946!  Talk about low withdrawal fees.  It’s not Binance trying to rip us off but it comes down the high gas fees for these ERC20 Ethereum based tokens.  Unless you are buying a minimum of hundreds of thousands of these tokens they are simply not worth it.  This is strong disincentive for many to add to their position vs the low fees of buying other non ERC20 tokens.  I’ll go so far as to say Ethereum is disrupting trade with their high fees, not only this but ERC20 tokens will not grow for long with these kinds of ridiculous fees.  If the token/currency cannot be easily, quickly and affordably traded they will probably not have a strong future once others catch on.

Buying ERC20 tokens on Binance

Binance-Purchase-VS-WithdrawalFees

Withdrawing ERC20 tokens on Binance see how little you actually get because of high Ethereum transaction/gas fees!

BinanceWithDrawalvsBuyAmount

Some tokens get trapped look at what happened to my QSP!

I cannot withdraw it or sell it so it’s stuck in Binance unless the value goes up.

The reason is that Binance’s minimum is 60 QSP due to high transaction fees.

I cannot sell it because the minimum sell on Binance for this coin is 0.02 ETH.

Again this is all down to high transaction fees on these tokens making it impossible.

Binance-QSP-Trapped

How about trying to buy KIN a new ERC20 Coin?  I just want a few thousand of them no problem right?

Me: Good day dear sir! I’d like to buy 5959 KIN the hot new ERC20 token!

Bancor teller: Yes sir that will cost you 0.004 ETH.  Let me directly access your Ethereum wallet (promise not to take any of your coins) and process this transaction.

Screenshot at 2018-01-10 13-44-25

Me: No problem OK I see the transaction request………

Me: Wait……..I am just trying to pay you 0.004 ETH or about $5.15 but the Gas/Transaction Fee is $103.45 or 0.080354 ETH.  Sorry this is ridiculous but I’m not paying it and I won’t buy any ERC20 tokens today.

Screenshot at 2018-01-10 13-48-55

Ethereum and its tokens are conning people out of money and may lead to its own implosion and have a huge impact on ICOs

As we can see above this is just one big problem with Ethereum aside from security, slow transactions and being extremely user unfriendly it’s also unfriendly to your bank account.  I predict in the future this will have a massive and negative impact on the crypto industry.  As more people find that these tokens are essentially wasted money due to high fees they will eventually start investing in and using proper currencies that work and that have fair fees and higher transaction speed.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Altcoin Crash – What You Need To Know

So essentially overnight Bitcoin lost 40% but at this point is still at this point at nearly $15000 and I believe will recover the $20K mark before the New Year (probably).  Some people have asked me what “FUD” is and blame it for the drop which stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.  I’m not buying that.  I also want to give a shoutout to Max Kessler who called a lot of things right about Bitcoin and predicted a sharp correction around the $20K mark but insists Bitcoin will keep running much higher.

If you look at the charts for the top 100 cryptocurrencies you will see an almost simultaneous drop in all of them.  Now if this just happened in the top 10 or a handful I would believe it is people taking profits randomly (nothing organized or not VERY large sellers).

Could Charlie Lee (creator or Litecoin/LTC) have triggered this? Yes I believe so and I don’t understand his reasoning for selling all of his position.  It’s no conflict to own your own coin and try to make it succeed.  To many acute investors they would have viewed this like a company about to bankrupt and the executives dump all of their stocks.  I certainly don’t think this was Charlie’s intention or concern at all though.

Look at the chart of the top 10 or even top 100 and they look eerily similar.  Massive selloffs with similar percentage losses of up to 30%.  The only good news or winner here is that Ripple (XRP) hardly lost anything and recovered faster than the others.

So am I worried about crypto or that there is a bubble? Yes and no, I think it has a number of years to run before the risk of a formed bubble bursting happens (and it will be massive bleeding when it does…).  But what triggered this current drop of all currencies simultaneously?

My theory is that billions of dollars of hedgefund money has come in, and in the last few weeks the currencies had significant appreciation and like some stock traders, these managers took massive profits which will look very great to the portfolio and their clients.

Now this is where it gets scary because if a small amount of people precipitated this event then it becomes easy for a small group of people to control, manipulate and play the market.

I’m not shaken from what happened, nor do I believe it was the “FUD”, I’m still long on crypto including Bitcoin but as always proceed with caution as we are heading into completely uncharted territories with massive volatility being the norm for now.  I will believe more in the FUD as Bitcoin gets higher though because those who have bought in at such high levels have a lot more to risk and worry about.

Ethereum’s Issues Stem From the Basics

Ethereum is certainly #2 in the market capitalization only second to Bitcoin but it doesn’t mean it’s as easy to use.  In fact I suspect my recent experience is what is keeping it from rising, Ethereum makes me nervous and reluctant to use it everyday. As someone who has used the client’s/wallets for both I find Ethereum’s is cumbersome and at times impossible to use, thus preventing the user from using it to do any transactions at all.

Imagine if a simple eTransfer or Wire from your bank took over a week to initiate?  That’s way too long and beyond the purpose of the infamous but in practice non-realtime transactions in the cryptoworld.

I spent nearly a week syncing 4 months of blocks!

I needed to do a transaction in Ethereum and opened up my Ethereum Client which slowed my whole computer down and ultimately wouldn’t update past a certain point.

I consider myself an above average user who is good at troubleshooting issues.

I updated to the latest Ethereum client and that still didn’t fix it.

Some users suggest deleting the “chaindata” folder and that didn’t fix it.

Eventually I decided to do delete the whole “Ethereum Wallet” folder (never do this without backing up your keystore files safely).  Also be aware that this folder “Ethereum Wallet” is not where your keys/wallet data are stored.  In Linux they are stored in “~/.ethereum/keystore”which is very misleading when you have a “~/.config/Ethereum\ Wallet” (which is not where your wallet data or keys are stored).  I stress this because I came across many who had sworn off the Ethereum Coin and team because of this confusion where they lost their keys and ultimately their investment and coins.

The solution was to delete “~/.config/Ethereum\ Wallet” but the fun didn’t stop there.  It was updating so slow through the missing blocks that it felt like I was mining the entire blockchaining (you could literally count 1 by 1 as it was processing or sometimes it would take minutes on a single block).  I’ve been able to sync the whole Bitcoin or Litecoin Blockchain more quickly and without or much impact on my computer.

I decided to switch the chaindata for Ethereum to SSD it did speed things up but not significantly and still took about a day to catch up and my computer still did slow down.

What I Learned About Ethereum

For all of its features I think the team is out of touch with getting the basics right first, as evidenced by the “Parity” fiasco where through no fault of the users people have essentially lost or have 160M worth of Ethereum coins frozen and lost presumably forever.  I have never seen this with another major coin.

Nor have I seen or experienced the confusion on basics of why their client is so complex.  Why does it use another program geth to sync the data?  Why are there so many different choices, fast sync (which didn’t help speed things up for me), a MIST client and so many different confusing and unnecessary choices and complexity?

I like how I can just download the Bitcoin client or Litecoin client and it works simply, there’s no guessing or confusion.

When it comes down to it, if someone with my background is having to troubleshoot and it slows me down from doing transactions, or I fear my coins could randomly be lost it doesn’t bold well for Ethereum’s future.  I don’t mind leaving other wallets running but Ethereum just takes too much computing with SSH so it’s not practical.  I will consider Ethereum a wise investment with some risks I’ve highlighted above but for any cryptocurrency to truly be accepted and successful it must be secure, fast, reliable and easy to use (something which most cryptocurrencies still fail at if not for the reason that you require the whole blockchain to keep your money in your own possession or have to rely on dangerous uninsured third party exchanges or services that are often hacked).

As we can see below this is not a sustainable practice for cryptocurrency going forward and I will be posting more about how I think the future of crypto will be significantly different than we currently see.

Screenshot-Ethereum Wallet-19