Ethereum is another use-case for a blockchain that supports the Bitcoin network, and theoretically should not really compete with Bitcoin. However, the popularity of ether has pushed it into competition with all cryptocurrencies, especially from the perspective of traders. For most of its history since the mid-2015 launch, ether has been close behind bitcoin on rankings of the top cryptocurrencies by market cap. That being said, it's important to keep in mind that the ether ecosystem is much smaller than bitcoin's: as of January 2020, ether's market cap was just under $16 billion, while bitcoin's is nearly 10 times that at more than $147 billion.
Why? Is it my inflation terror driving me on? No. Ethereum is onto a new crypto winning phenomena. DeFi (decentralized finance). Well, that’s what it’s called, but most DeFi is dull and almost pointless, the exciting bit is the crypto lending part where you can stash your cryptocash in a blockchain system and get paid interest on it in a “risk free” way.
The de facto cryptocurrency leader, no other coin even comes close to Bitcoin, or BTC. At the time this article was written, the dollar value of all outstanding Bitcoin was $150 billion. The total market capitalization for all cryptocurrencies is $230 billion, and the second-most valuable digital currency was Ethereum, with a market value less than $18 billion.
That network now sustains its financial system, a decentralized microcosm of the massive traditional one. It takes tokenized versions of the underlying currencies that users most value (whether bitcoin or fiat) and provides disintermediated mechanisms for lending or borrowing them or for creating decentralized derivative or insurance contracts. What’s emerging, albeit in a form too volatile for traditional institutions, is a multifaceted, market for managing and trading in risk.
TRUST ME, BOND MARKET, PLEASE. James Glynn at The Wall Street Journal had a piece this week about how the Federal Reserve is considering following Australia’s lead in using “yield caps” as a policy tool to keep long-dated interest rates down. The thinking is if the central bank explicitly signals it will always institute bond-buying if the yield on a benchmark asset such as the 10-year Treasury note rises above some predefined ceiling, the market will be less inclined to prematurely believe the Fed is going to start tightening monetary policy. In other words, we won’t see a rerun of the 2013 “Taper Tantrum,” when the U.S. bond market, worrying that the Fed would start tapering off its bond-buying, or quantitative easing, drove down bond prices, which pushed up yields. (For bond market newbies, yields, which measure the effective annual return bondholders will earn off a bond’s fixed interest rate when adjusted for its price, move inversely to price.)
The transaction, which may be viewed via Etherscan, an Ethereum (ETH) blockchain explorer, confirms that a “blacklist(address investor)” function was initiated on June 16, 2020, by 0x5dB0115f3B72d19cEa34dD697cf412Ff86dc7E1b, which is an address that’s controlled by CENTRE, the Coinbase and Circle backed entity responsible for issuing the USDC stablecoin.
Gold has had at least three millennia to establish itself as a store of value people turn to when social systems are in stress. Bitcoin has only existed for 11 years. While plenty of investors are willing to speculate on the possibility bitcoin might supplant or compete with gold, the idea is far from ingrained across society. When will it be more widely accepted? Perhaps when the international crisis of global leadership unleashed by COVID-19 undermines the capacity of institutions like the Federal Reserve to sustain economic and social confidence. Whatever new institutions and systems we create going forward will need to address how the internet has upended society’s centralized systems of governance. When that happens, we’ll need a decentralized, digital reserve asset as the base value layer. As I said, it will take time. Meanwhile, the developers will keep building.
ZIMBABWE ACCIDENTALLY LEAVES DOOR OPEN FOR CRYPTO. Here’s a recipe for creating a fertile environment for alternative payment systems: outlaw the system everyone is currently using. When the Zimbabwean government made the nutty step of banning digital payments – used for 85% of transactions by individuals, due to severe shortage of cash – it clearly wasn’t trying to promote bitcoin. In forcing people to go to a local bank to redeem funds locked in popular payments apps such as Ecocash, its goal was to protect the embattled Zimbabwean dollar. In a statement, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, said the move was “necessitated by the need to protect consumers on mobile money platforms which have been abused by unscrupulous and unpatriotic individuals and entities to create instability and inefficiencies in the economy.” The thinking is that Ecocash, which enables currency trading, is making it easier for people to dump the local currency. But here’s the thing: Ecocash, which said it suspended cash-in-cash-out functions (presumably because its banking lines will be cut) is still keeping in-app payment facilities open. And it said nothing about stopping its fairly popular service allowing people to buy cryptocurrency. Not surprisingly, since the ban “demand for bitcoin has skyrocketed,” according to African crypto news site, bitcoinke, with “sources claiming bitcoin is now selling at at 18% premium above the market rate.”
Decentralized exchanges (DEXs), which allow peer-to-peer crypto trading without centralized exchange (CEX) taking custody of your assets, have integrated WBTC into their markets to boost the liquidity needed to make them viable. Sure enough, DEX trading volumes leapt 70% to record highs in June. (It helped, too, that June saw a surge in “yield farming” operations, a complicated new DeFi speculative activity that’s easier to do if you maintain control of your assets while trading.)
So, let’s dismiss claims like those of Ethhub.io co-founder Anthony Sassano. He argued that because bitcoin token transactions on Ethereum deny miners fees they would otherwise receive on the bitcoin chain, bitcoin is becoming a “second-class citizen” to ether. You’d hardly expect people in countries where dollars are preferred to the local currency to think of the former as second class. And just as the U.S. benefits from overseas demand for dollars – via seignorage or interest-free loans – bitcoin holders benefit from its sought-after liquidity and collateral value in the Ethereum ecosystem, where it lets them extract premium interest.
Interestingly, USD Coin (USDC), the world’s second-largest stablecoin from Coinbase and Circle, was ranked at 1.00 by the Crypto Rating Council (CRC), whose members include Coinbase, Circle, Kraken, Bittrex, Genesis Capital, eToro, OKCoin, Radar, Anchorage, Cumberland, among others). The CRC supports and promotes regulatory clarity in the distributed ledger technology (DLT) space.