Considering traditional assets Bitcoin’s price has been on a roller coaster from its 2017 peak of $20,000 to its continuous decline of a multi-year low of less than $3,000. But as always, Bitcoin is bouncing back and is now priced well above $10,000. During the heydays of crypto, along with the rise of Bitcoin, we saw a number of altcoins popping up. This was mainly facilitated through the Ethereum network, the new phenomenon of ICOs was one of the main factors for the 2017 price surge.
Beginning of altcoins
Although ICOs sound like IPOs, they are not similar in many ways. The phenomenon of ICOs came forward as a direct result of the Ethereum network. Until then, the utility of crypto was limited. Bitcoin was mainly used as a means of value transfer, but with Ethereum everyone could release their own crypto, and it was rightly called Bitcoin2.0 by many. ICOs presented startups and other projects with a unique and easy way of funding. Now, they didn’t have to go through a months-long process to acquire funding. All they needed was an ICO, a web page or whitepaper explaining their projects and done. But the ease at which many startups collected funds attracted many bad actors who used ICOs to scam or didn’t have the sufficient knowledge to use the funds. There were failed coins before Ethereum, but the speed increased after the advent of ICOs. Let’s look at a few failed coins.
Bitconnect, NEM, and Universa
Let’s look at a few of the so-called dead coins. ‘Deadcoins’ and ‘Coinopsy’ are services in tracking coins that have either ceased their operation or whose value has dropped significantly. According to them, over 1000 coins have failed in 2018. The top reasons cited by Deadcoin for the decline of many of these coins are low liquidity, theft, Ponzi schemes, lack of utility and management feud. The most famous and biggest scam in crypto history goes to Bitconnect, which promised great returns on Bitcoin deposits but the return policy was sketchy, and later the US law enforcement froze their assets. NEM or New Economy Movement was an open-sourced project which enabled many innovations, but large hacks made the coinless viable and Coincheck dropped NEM from its exchange. Universa, a Russia based crypto, had the backing of both EY and one of Russia’s top banks, Alfa Bank.
This made the project unique, but infighting among the promoted had killed initial momentum of the project and legal battles are now being fought among the founders in courts.
The market favorite: Bitcoin.
For most people in the crypto community Bitcoin is a favorite for many reasons, not just because it is the first among crypto. Fundamentals of marketing like brand recognition also apply to crypto. Bitcoin is the most famous among all the crypto. This drives in both capital and talent which acts as positive feedback, this, in turn, makes it more popular. For people looking at crypto purely as an investment, Bitcoin has both the highest volume as well as the highest market cap. And finally, Bitcoin is one of the few truly decentralized cryptocurrencies unlike Ethereum(DAO hacks), which makes it more attractive to crypto purists as well.
The wounds of the ICO heydays are still fresh, but this time around markets have evolved. During the initial days of ICOs, there was a fear of FOMO(Fear of Missing Out), but after many failed coins, investors are more cautious before investing. The market also understands the risks better, unlike the last time. Initially, all you had to do was just put a website with an ICO and funds will start coming in. Nowadays, investors really dig into to the project before investing. This has lead to some reversal in trend. The trend of altcoins is dying, and the market is getting consolidated with a few coins. Newer investors’ preference for Bitcoin is mainly because it has been around for a long time and as it is the most famous among crypto. Another trend that has started to wane away is the price correlation among crypto. This is a sign of maturing markets.
The journey of Bitcoin has been nothing but phenomenal, from a white paper in the fringes of the internet, then a humble beginning with a few devout followers, to congressmen discussing bills to curb crypto. It has slowly but consistently grown to a significant size, and along the way, it has created a few bad apples. Crypto, we could say, has passed through its infancy and is gaining maturity, a phase we all saw with the internet with the dotcom bubble. This means that there will be fewer cryptos and less volatility, but a more stable environment for growth. But as a whole this is good for the industry as only the strongest will survive.
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