Come On Amazon, Get Into Crypto Already

In Big Tech, Apple was usually the one who was late to the party. When it comes to crypto, that does not seem to be the case. Apple has made moves to hire an “alternatives payment” manager that we can assume involves cryptocurrency. It became obvious when one of the key qualifications mentioned was experience with cryptocurrency. Google has been involved with blockchain technology related matters like their partnership with Theta Labs network. Other Big Tech companies like Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft have dabbled with blockchain and cryptocurrency on occasion but there is one company that we have not heard much about recently being involved in crypto … Amazon.

Amazon has actually patented a blockchain-based product authenticator back in 2020. It is not using cryptocurrency (as of writing) and has not really been in the news much. Amazon even removed crypto from their payment methods from the Twitch.TV platform . There is however news that Amazon is moving towards cryptocurrency payments. Just like Apple, Amazon is looking for a digital currency and blockchain expert. They might be considering crypto payments for their online retail business.

It is a big deal if Amazon embraces crypto. Not just for payments, but if the company invests in digital assets like Tesla. Amazon has a large retail empire which they could open to retail for cryptocurrency. This will most likely require payment processors like Visa, who have started to process cryptocurrency for payments in 2021. Amazon may permit payment processors to handle cryptocurrency to fiat conversions, meaning the final payment will still be in fiat.

Developers would find it an opportunity to create gateways for payment processors from crypto to fiat. Regulations must be followed as part of jurisdiction laws, so how it will be implemented is the challenge. The less you have to deal with regulators, the better it will be to just allow others to deal with it. Then again why would Amazon need a third party, when they are more than capable of implementing a system with their vast resources available.

According to an Amazon spokesperson:

“We’re inspired by the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency space and are exploring what this could look like on Amazon. We believe the future will be built on new technologies that enable modern, fast, and inexpensive payments, and hope to bring that future to Amazon customers as soon as possible.”

It sounds like the type of news that can move the market to the upside. It is also what speculators want to hear because it can generate more interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. That usually leads to FOMO buying sprees that help drive prices of digital assets higher. While the news cycle from the media had been full of FUD the past few weeks since “Elon FUD” back in May, it has since become more positive. Whether or not Amazon does finally consider cryptocurrency payments or develop their own token, they have confirmed their interest. For many analysts that is a sign that cryptocurrency is not about to go away any time soon.

(Cover Photo Credit by Anna Shvets)

Apple Pay and Coinbase Bring Crypto Payments To Retail

As of June 2021, users who have Apple Pay can now pay for items with cryptocurrency by way of the Coinbase debit card. The card also supports Google Pay with the option to pay with cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and Ethereum. In a press release statement (From the Coinbase blog):

“You can now use your Coinbase Card with Apple Pay and Google Pay to make it even easier to spend crypto at home and on the go.”

It is Coinbase that has integrated cryptocurrency payment options, and is not directly from Apple Pay. This means that users will need a Coinbase card first, which can then be added as a payment option on Apple Pay.

Coinbase provides a debit card from which users can attach their cryptocurrency wallet to use funds. One of the perks it offers is a cash-back spending feature (up to 4% according to Coinbase). This rewards heavy users back to their iPhone.

Before a user can pay with cryptocurrency, it is clear that it is not a direct exchange of value. It must first be converted to fiat at the point-of-sale. The merchant must also support payments in cryptocurrency, so this means that users cannot just use their card to make any payment in cryptocurrency. Merchants who accept the card can offer designated cryptocurrency payment methods (e.g. ETH, XLM, BTC).

Cryptocurrency debit cards are providing users not just a new payment method, but a way to actually use digital assets as a medium for exchange. They can be used to pay for goods and services where it is accepted, and that allows more utility for cryptocurrency. There are other types of cards offered by Crypto.com and BitPay, with their own reward system for users.

With crypto payments going toward mainstream adoption, the question is whether the volatility will have any negative effect. An example of this is sudden change in price of a cryptocurrency in the middle of a transaction. How will payment processors handle the variations, which can suddenly increase or decrease without warning? The idea is making the payment at the point-of-sale, but users may delay in paying from the time of quote. In the real world, prices are fixed with fiat currency and users pay for an item as listed. Prices don’t suddenly change after a few minutes. With crypto, prices can suddenly change while a user is waiting to make a payment. This is certainly something that will be tested.

Certain crypto, like Bitcoin, may be considered too valuable to spend. However, that would probably be the digital asset merchants would like to accept for cryptocurrency payments. Users will have to consider whether they want to spend fractions of their BTC for a pair of sneakers or just HODL it. There are other crypto options of course, which is why this can still work out for both users and merchants. Another thing to take note of are the transaction fees. Users would probably want to use a blockchain where transaction fees are cheapest to spend their crypto.

Stablecoins may provide a better solution to go around the volatility. This might be a good option since it is pegged to more stable assets. Users can set their Coinbase card to use a stablecoin like USDC as their payment option method. All users will need to do is convert a certain amount of their base crypto like Bitcoin to a stablecoin. From there they can fund their debit card with less worries about volatility.

Both Apple Pay and Google Pay come from large tech platforms that serve millions of users. Integration with cryptocurrency payments is further simplified through the use of smartphones. Apple Pay users have iOS (iPhone) while Google Pay users have Android (Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, etc.). This finally takes the world of retail digital payments to the blockchain.

Meme Coins – Opportunity Or Stupidity?

I am convinced that the rise of Meme Coins in the cryptospace is nothing innovative like DeFi (Decentralized Finance), but more a distraction. If the pumps going into these coins were instead going to legitimate projects, perhaps the market would be better off. Perhaps I am wrong, but when you think about it, why do coins like Dogecoin (DOGE) have a market cap of $40+ Billion (as of June 15, 2021)? I feel the same way about hard forks that could have injected more liquidity into the original coin, but instead are diverting funds away to an offshoot. There is plenty of hype behind it, and it can be fueled by public figures who have influence (e.g. Elon Musk for Dogecoin).

After the Dogecoin hype, the Meme coin mania continues with Shiba Inu (SHIB), Safemoon (SAFEMOON), Cumrocket (CUMMIES) and more dog themed coins. At first glance many would think there is no particular utility for these coins. SHIB actually wants to help protect the Shiba Inu dog breed, so it has a specific cause. Other than that it seems like a pump and dump scheme. CUMMIES offers a crypto for adult themed entertainment. SAFEMOON claims to be a DeFi token despite its classification by some exchanges like Coinmarketcap as a Meme Coin.

Critics say that these coins lack fundamentals when it comes to money supply. If you look at Dogecoin, it has no supply limit which means that it is highly inflated. Others implement a sort of burn mechanism to deflate the supply, but the total circulating supply is already very high (in the billions). It doesn’t seem to make much sense that the circulating supply is so high, but you can buy them cheaply because they are barely 1 cent in value. Buying at such low prices appears to be a bargain but with no limit to money supply, prices just don’t really increase unless there is some scarcity or deflation.

Meme Coins do not really have any ground breaking purpose other than transfer value on a blockchain. The coins target specific use cases like causes and communities for the purpose of the coin. That already gives it a use case, but it is not like other projects that have a more serious purpose. Instead, developers of Meme Coins are doing it more for fun. They were meant to be a joke for good humor. It surely does not seem like a wise long term investment or even for storing value. It can all be lost when a big bag holder dumps the market. Then you have to wait for more people to come in with their money, but there are no guarantees that will happen.

For starters, most of these coins were copied from existing projects. Since many of the top crypto are based on open source code, it is easy to copy them and create a new crypto. Dogecoin was copied from both Bitcoin and Litecoin. Another path for Meme Coin developers is the issuance of a token using a standard like ERC-20 on the Ethereum blockchain (e.g. SHIB) or a BEP-20 token issued on Binance Smart Chain (BSC). The reason they are called a meme is because they don’t offer any specific purpose other than “going to the moon”, which is the term for making money in the cryptospace. Some Meme Coin developers offer their rationale behind their coin, but many of these talking points do not have solid proof or evidence behind the theory.

The main concern is that when these coins pump, they can as easily dump. That would leave the newcomers as the bag holders until new money pumps. It is a sort of Ponzi scheme since liquidity is determined not by utility, but from hype. Those who came late give their money to those who came early during a dump, leaving newcomers rekt (i.e. losers). The system will not be sustainable unless you have new people who put money in the coins. So far, it seems to be working and there is a reason why.

First there is a community driven market that is keeping these coins alive. Without the network effect, there would be no further liquidity in these markets. There are evangelists and shillers of each coin who propagate the benefits of putting money. These groups are all over the Internet on social media sites like Instagram, messaging apps like Telegram and video streamers on YouTube. The power of the network is exponential, and this is what has led to market caps that are in the billions. There is a belief system around most crypto, including Bitcoin, and this also helps to drive Meme Coins. A lot of the enthusiasm with DOGE was led in part by tweets from Elon Musk. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban also added to the hype by accepting DOGE as payment for his Dallas Maverick’s sports merchandise.

Second motivation is the money. Obviously, there is plenty of money to be made just by looking at the market cap of the top Meme Coins. It gives many the belief that there is a chance to become rich, and that has already happened to some people. There are reports that a Goldman Sachs executive quit their job after striking it rich with Dogecoin. There are people who will get rich, but others will lose a lot of money. Those who are mortgaging their homes or selling their cars just to get into Meme Coins should be aware of the risks from price volatility in the cryptospace. There are no guarantees with Meme Coins. It is like gambling when you place your life savings in a coin with the hopes that it will increase in future value. Always put no more than what you are willing to lose, as the saying goes.

Meme coins add a new dimension to the cryptospace. I call it distraction because of the amount of capital it has taken away from the rest of the market. There is approximately $48+ Billion (based on Coinmarketcap data in June 2021) total value in Meme Coins. Some would say that money would have been better off going into Bitcoin or Ethereum. It can be an opportunity for the wise when used as a way to earn quick money from a small amount invested. You can have a million of some of these Meme Coins for less than $20 initial investment. It does become stupidity when you decide to invest all your money into one Meme Coin. There are other coins where that money could have been yielding higher profits and earning from DeFi protocols.

In seems you cannot stop people who are motivated by community and money. Greed backed by a strong support system will keep the belief in Meme Coins alive. Some jurisdictions are taking a harsh stance on Meme Coins. Regulators may determine the momentum moving forward. The SEC in the US has the power to restrict trading in Meme Coins if they deem it to be more harm than good for investors. What could be good news is if some of these Meme Coins actually do succeed not just from new users, but in accomplishing a purpose. Dogecoin is seeing some form of development in the works. In any case, be very careful with Meme Coins. Anything is possible, but it can go either way. Do plenty of research and understand the risks involved. There is just no way of knowing what will happen.

Disclaimer: This is not financial or investment advice. The information is an opinion piece for reference purposes only. Always do your own research.

Ethereum Berlin Is Here, Next Stop Is London

The Ethereum blockchain has implemented the Berlin hard fork at block 12,244,000 this past Thursday (April 15, 2021). This was not the anticipated Optimism Rollout yet, but instead are a set of improvement proposals to help the network with gas costs and security.

Berlin was supposed to implemented in 2020, but as with most Ethereum projects it got pushed back. There were centralization concerns around the Geth client on which most Ethereum nodes operate. An important feature of Berlin is the live swapping of Ethereum from a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake blockchain.

Other important features of Berlin are optimizations for smart contracts including gas efficiency, updates to EVM code and protection against DDOS attacks.

The upgrade implements the following:

  • EIP-2565, reduces gas cost for a specific transaction type that uses modular exponentiation.
  • EIP-2718, makes all transaction types “backwards compatible” using so-called “envelope transactions,” which allows the addition of new transaction logic into Ethereum.
  • EIP-2929, increases gas costs for “op code” transactions, a pain point for denial of service attacks on Ethereum in the past.
  • EIP-2930, a new transaction type (made possible by EIP-2718’s envelope transactions) which allows its users to create templates for future, complex transactions in a bid to lower gas costs.

The upgrades are in line with the bigger upgrade that will introduce EIP 1559 called London.

Tokenizing Stocks Is The Next Financial Instrument

Binance is offering a new financial instrument on its digital exchange. They are offering a way to purchase fractions of a company’s shares using a tokenized stock trading service. This will provide stock traded equities in financial markets for investors. Binance will begin with Tesla stock on their exchange. The instrument is called a Binance Stock Token, and this allows users to buy a stock or a fraction of a share and earn dividends as well. The prices will be settled in Binance’s BUSD stablecoin token.

For users who have no access to financial markets, they now have an opportunity to own as little as 1/4 of share in an equity like Tesla (TSLA). There is no more need to purchase several stocks when you can have just a fraction and earn from it. This gives exposure to the non-traditional crypto investors who don’t have to wait for other platforms to offer the service.

S = Shares of A Stock
p = Price of the Stock
b = BUSD

b = S(p)

The user will purchase the stock in BUSD prices (b).

Binance claims that they are not creating synthetic assets to offer as stock. They have an asset that is backed by a depository portfolio of underlying securities, which is also managed by a German investment firm. In order to follow compliance, the service is not available to all jurisdictions and only where the exchange is allowed to offer such a service. Those interested will definitely be required to submit a KYC/AML document for legal purposes.

Two things that I can expect to see:

  1. Increase in BUSD trading as a result of the tokens use for investing in stocks. BUSD prices will not surge because it is pegged 1:1 with the USD.
  2. Open up the stock market to first time investors who have never had exposure to equities. This allows users who were either not allowed to trade because of lack of funds or not have access to stock investments to get their chance.

It is interesting to note if other DeFi products will follow that can interact with the Tesla stock. Binance also has its native Binance Smart Chain(BSC) which uses smart contracts that can lock tokenized stocks in a different protocol and earn from it. Some DeFi protocols may even accept tokenized stocks as collateral, depending on how valuable it is in the market.

This can also further boost Tesla stock prices as it has seen a phenomenal surge. Binance can gain more investors while helping bring Tesla stocks higher. While the trends look good for Tesla, investment always involves risk so users must do their due diligence and research always before investing.

Disclaimer: This is not financial advice. The information provided is for educational and reference purpose only, not for making investments. Do your own research always.

VISA Forges New Connection Between Fiat And Cryptocurrency

Payments giant and credit card company VISA, have announced they are providing support for cryptocurrency payments using the USDC stablecoin starting with partner Crypto.com. USDC is an ERC-20 token that runs on top of the Ethereum blockchain network. This makes use of a stablecoin to settle payments using VISA payment products through their partners. At the moment VISA will pilot the payment system with Crypto.com, a cryptocurrency platform and digital exchange, with plans to offer the service to other partners. VISA is going to make using cryptocurrency much more available for payments. This legitimizes cryptocurrency payments for goods and services, since VISA is a financially regulated entity.

This is a bridge between traditional finance with emerging fintechs involved with cryptocurrency and digital assets. VISA had tried to bridge cryptocurrency payments before, but plans fell through. Perhaps VISA is now ready to provide the service with more knowledge and understanding of cryptocurrency. This allows VISA to better understand the new space fintechs are operating from, which involves innovative products that implement digital currency and blockchain technology. Perhaps it is a sign that changes are coming to traditional financial systems. VISA has been warming up to cryptocurrency and other digital currency (non-crypto) as evident from their more recent postings.

Before VISA, payments processors like PayPal and Square have provided support for cryptocurrency. PayPal has paved the way for users to buy cryptocurrency like Bitcoin through their app. Square allows their customers to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrency through their platform, including the Cash app. Prior to that, there were not many mainstream apps other than those provided by digital exchanges like Coinbase that allow their users to purchase cryptocurrency. VISA is different in that it is providing a way for customers to make payments with the cryptocurrency they hold. This is a layer that has been missing and it could accelerate utility of cryptocurrency as a payment method. Using the blockchain may also provide faster settlements compared to the current system, but scaling remains to be seen on blockchain networks like that of Ethereum.

While the purpose of cryptocurrency is for open direct payments system (Peer to Peer), VISA is not exactly that type of platform. It still operates under the traditional financial system, which is highly centralized and permissioned. That means VISA is not exactly an open network, it requires a membership for its customers. That is why the product they offer is more of a bridge between the traditional fiat system and cryptocurrency. The decentralized aspect of a transaction still falls under the blockchain layer, but through a VISA payment gateway. In the case of USDC, the payment is from a user’s digital wallet on the Ethereum blockchain or even a custodial wallet that supports USDC. What VISA provides is a way to make that payment possible to retailers who will accept the transaction. VISA has so many partners in the retail space that they work with, this opens opportunities for cryptocurrency companies like Crypto.com to have access to more traditional financial markets.

VISA could also open another bridge, this time to the DeFI space of the blockchain. Most platforms in DeFi run over the Ethereum network, but other platforms like Binance, Polkadot and Cardano offer their own ecosystems that provide DeFi apps. If there is integration to support VISA, that can bring more users to the DeFi space who are using VISA credit cards or payment applications supported by the VISA network. At the moment, VISA and other credit card companies do allow customers to purchase cryptocurrency from digital exchanges. Opening up to support decentralized exchanges in the DeFi space are more challenging due to regulatory compliance. If this can be resolved, it opens up the space to allow interoperability of dissimilar payment networks to become possible.

This is overall good for the Ethereum network. VISA will not only need to have USDC, but also Ethereum’s native token ETH (ether). In order to process transactions using USDC, small denominations of ETH are used to pay for costs called “gas” which are part of the transaction fees paid to the network. This is for processing transactions that have to be verified and secured on the blockchain. It may also be likely that it will be VISA’s partners who hold the USDC and ETH, while VISA just helps bridge the retail merchants with the cryptocurrency payment as the settlement layer. The main issue with Ethereum has been scaling, but the development community is fast tracking efforts to scale the network.

With VISA’s announcement, other payment companies like Mastercard and American Express should take notice. This introduces a business model that brings cryptocurrency native platforms with the traditional retail space. The predominant form of payment in the VISA network is by credit and debit card. By integrating a cryptocurrency method into the network, it opens up new channels for making payments. The choice of using a stablecoin also makes plenty of sense given that cryptocurrency is very volatile. This changes the narrative that cryptocurrency is trying to replace traditional finance. Before that can happen, it must have greater utility. Perhaps VISA can help bring it to more mainstream adoption, to the point where we can buy toilet paper with cryptocurrency.

(Image Credit: Photo by Tom Fisk)

EIP 1559 And Ethereum As A Deflationary Currency

An issue with Ethereum is about to be addressed regarding its non-capped supply of ETH (Ether) with EIP 1559. The proposal aims to introduce a new protocol for addressing the transaction fees on the network targeted for release in July/August 2021. In the proposed change, during a transaction a small amount of Ether (ETH) is “burned” every time it is used to pay for gas fees. This token burn can somehow control the circulating supply of ETH as well, leading to a more deflationary money supply. The burned tokens are removed from circulation forever but new ones can still be created. Overall, this can add some controls on the amount of ETH being put out in circulation as form of inflation control.

Transaction fees are not consistent on the Ethereum network. They fluctuate every so often, but when there is high network demand the fees surge to sometimes ridiculous levels. For the seasoned trader it may not matter, but for retail and new traders it can be too much for smaller sized transactions. More experienced traders may deal with large transactions where the cost of gas does not matter as much. The prices are still high and there needs to be some improvement in which issues like scaling and layer 2 solutions aim to resolve.

TxFee = Total Gas Used * Gas Price Paid

As of March 7, 2021, the average cost of a transaction is $15.53. Just a few months earlier on January 17, 2021 the transaction fee was only $5.41. That goes to show a sudden increase of 187%, which could have been worth at least 2 transactions back in January or earlier in 2021. The demand for ETH in the DeFi space and hodling portfolios due to the good news coming out about ETH2.0 is helping to drive prices and at the same time increasing network activity. The congestion is expected, as the same thing happened back during the cryptokitties and ICO era. This puts plenty of strain on the network, but it has problems scaling since it can do at most 15 tps (transactions per second). The promise of ETH2.0 is a bring faster consensus with more efficiency through a staking protocol (i.e. Proof-of-Stake) to scale the network.

EIP 1559 is an improvement proposal to help make transaction fees more consistent and prevent it from getting to such high levels that many are not willing to pay. Currently with Proof-of-Work, the miners can determine the fees and increase it in order to prioritize a transaction. Nodes called miners set the price of gas used to process transactions, based on the supply and demand of computational resources available from the network. It is in units called Wei or Gwei, just smaller denominations of ETH. The proposal is to use what is called a BASEFEE, that is set based on the network’s level of transactions. What it aims to provide is a market rate rather than a reference based on prices that users are paying for. This structure eliminates the guess work often involved in calculating the transaction fees.

Some see this as adding deflationary measures because of the token burning feature. As tokens are created, they are also destroyed. That keeps the circulating supply in check and prevents any inflationary pressure, according to some analysts. This form of negative inflation could lead to less ETH in circulation, thus increasing market price. While this looks good to traders and core developers, some miners don’t exactly agree with the proposal. They don’t derive the same benefit as much since the token burn benefits token holders more than miners. The miners lose out on their profits that would have been the burned tokens.

The outcome may push for EIP 1559 despite the protests. Ethereum plans on moving away from mining and into staking, so it does make more sense to implement the protocol rather than continue with the current system. Mining will also become more difficult as specified in the protocol for ETH2.0 (e.g. difficulty bomb), that nodes would rather switch to staking since mining will be less profitable until it is totally no longer possible due to the increase in difficulty level. That leads to questions about whether the miners will hard fork Ethereum, but that may be a horrible idea. If no one supports the fork then the miners have a lot to lose, while the mainnet remains profitable with new nodes entering the network. EIP 1559 will surely be activated with > 50% consensus, but the miners can signal a no to the network and not activate it. What is important that still needs to be addressed are the high transaction fees, The hopeful resolution is that the miners and developers come to some agreement to determine transaction fees which really needs to be addressed to further the momentum of growth on the network.

Would You Buy Bitcoin For $6,000 In 2021? In The Philippines It Happened

A digital exchange in the Philippines called PDAX sold Bitcoin (BTC) for $6,000 or roughly worth PHP288,000 (in Philippine Pesos). This comes from a report from Bitcoin.com (link here) about an incident that occurred in the middle of February 2021, amidst Bitcoin reaching new all time highs. Some users on the PDAX exchange noticed that BTC was selling for $6,000. That was at a time the rest of the market was selling BTC at prices over $50,000, so this was almost like a steal. Perhaps that was the way PDAX saw it because they are now asking for their Bitcoin back. It appears that there was a system glitch that caused an error when listing BTC prices. The exchange had also experienced an outage due to a surge in volume of network activity.

It sounds crazy to think that you can reverse transactions with Bitcoin. You won’t be able to because the blockchain is immutable and not modifiable. You cannot undo a transaction once it has been committed on a blockchain. According to the report, the exchange is requesting the users to return their BTC or else they will face legal action. Some accounts were even locked to prevent them from further activity. How can you force the users to return something they bought legally, which by all means was compliant to the rules and regulations set forth?

In all of this, the one thing that has been proven is that the blockchain does work the way it was intended. If the blockchain could be manipulated, then PDAX would have reversed the transactions already and this would probably not be reported. Users will lose the BTC they bought at $6,000 but will get a refund from the exchange. Instead, the blockchain secured the transaction and proved that it was allowed by PDAX. The BTC the users purchased can also not be confiscated by any entity because BTC requires the private key of the owner. It can be forcibly taken, but that would still require a user to grant access to their BTC through a digital wallet.

The users merely used the exchange to make their purchase and go about their way. This is how a blockchain is supposed to work and to think otherwise goes against the basic principles of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. How this case ends up is something to follow because we shall see how things unfold. Can an exchange require users to return digital assets due to unusual activity or are transactions on the blockchain final? I would like to think the latter but we shall see if further investigations reveal anomalies or will the ruling be in favor of the users.

Who Let The DOGE Out?

When investing in cryptocurrency, the fundamentals seem very important. How then can a coin that was meant to be a meme remain so popular it has a market cap over a $1 Billion (as of this writing)? That is a lot of value for something that has no distinct utility or feature, yet has captured a large share of the market. It is certainly FOMO for noobs. Meme coins were meant to be just for fun, and that is the image many have of Dogecoin. Yet there are some things about Dogecoin that are actually fundamentally what cryptocurrency should be all about.

First and foremost, this is not financial advice. This is for reference and informational purposes only. Cryptocurrency is very volatile and there are risks to consider when investing. This is not a direct promotion of Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency or investing in a digital asset. Instead this is a look into why it is popular and how it fits in the current cryptocurrency landscape. With that said, what is all the fuss about Dogecoin?

What Is DOGE Coin?

A meme coin is a cryptocurrency that is not meant to be taken seriously. It does not serve any purpose other than for exchanging and trading. It can be used as a form of payment for tipping or just a way to exchange value over a blockchain. It doesn’t have the core principal of being a store of value like Bitcoin, or an application development platform like Ethereum. First released in December 6, 2013, Dogecoin was just meant to be a simple P2P (Peer-to-Peer) electronic payment software like Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency got its name from the popular Doge meme which features a Shiba Inu dog as the logo. DOGE is the listing name used for the digital asset.

DOGE, while not anything sophisticated, did not initially have any sort of application other than P2P. It is based on open source software from the cryptocurrency Luckycoin and Litecoin. DOGE uses the scrypt algorithm with a PoW(Proof-of-Work) consensus mechanism. There are 127 billion coins in total supply with a 1 minute block time. The block reward for miners is 10,000 DOGE per block produced. Unlike other cryptocurrency, Dogecoin’s founders (Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer) have not continued promoting or even associating with DOGE. They have pretty much been on the sidelines, but DOGE has flourished in part due to its community.

Pump And Dump

While Dogecoin seems like a fun and trendy cryptocurrency that is nice to have, it is also notorious for pump and dump schemes. This has been encouraged in large part by users from Reddit, social influencers and public personalities that include Elon Musk. All it takes is a tweet from a well known personality, and DOGE prices on the market surge. These pumps do not seem to follow any sort of fundamentals other than the encouragement of influencers.

DOGE became a TikTok trend in July 2020, promoted by fans of the popular social media app. It began going viral as users began to spread the word through the platform. This was a push to pump up the price of DOGE and it worked. DOGE volume spiked by 683% after TikTok user urged a buying spree pump. Another surge occurred when Elon Musk tweeted in support of the cryptocurrency. That led to the value of DOGE to surge from $0.003 to $0.005. What do you think happens with all the viral videos on TikTok and tweets from Musk? It creates attention, and people will either Google search Dogecoin to learn more or ask someone they know about it. This type of news is not something you would expect on mainstream media.

These pumps are usually followed by dumps, as can be observed from the latest that occurred in 2021. This was a result of the Gamestop Short Squeeze in which retail investors were temporarily shut off from buying stocks for Gamestop. This led to users urging a pump for DOGE because at least they can buy it freely without any restrictions. It was more about making a statement to the establishment by some, but more people probably did it in order to make gains. That was exactly what happened and then came the dump. During this time (January 28, 2021) DOGE surged by 1,100% to an ATH of $0.082 but would dump a few days later.

In these pumps, many were motivated to see the price surge. However, once it reaches the highs it is really hard to control people from taking profits. After all, DOGE does not really have the same value for HODLing as BTC. You can hold thousands of DOGE in your bag, which really does not seem to be worth much. When prices surge it becomes valuable for converting to fiat, like winning money from a casino. Unfortunately this does not end well for noobs who probably got into the pump craze with no idea what was about to happen. They probably expected that their investment was going to go up, but not realizing that when others cash in the prices go back down and they can lose their initial investment.

DOGE Is In Theory What Cryptocurrency Should Be

While many would berate and laugh DOGE off as just a meme coin used for fun, it actually does have fundamental features of a cryptocurrency. People will be surprised that Dogecoin is capable of many things that modern banking systems cannot do. Dogecoin takes the innovations from blockchain technology and applies it to a community driven environment. Despite not having a platform of its own, what matters is that it provides the basic needs for cryptocurrency which is the direct and decentralized P2P transfer of value. There are also no barriers to purchase it that require proof of documentation, like with other financial assets.

Transactions in DOGE are cryptographically secured, which is important in cryptocurrency. Dogecoin uses a blockchain to allow two people to exchange or trade without knowing each other personally and without requiring permission from a third party to conduct a transaction. Today before we can purchase an item with a credit card, it actually requires permission from the issuer of the card. They can stop a transaction any time they want since it is under their control. This can happen to certain individuals who credit institutions may want to limit or target for any reason.

Dogecoin is highly decentralized after all. It is not controlled by any one entity or organization. Its founders cannot even shut it down and it is open source and available to everyone. There are no constraints to access the source code which users can do with as they wish. No one is going to stop you from buying or selling DOGE, because there are is no censorship against a user. Instead you have a permissionless and trustless system like Bitcoin that is peer to peer at best. Many do not realize that you can also use DOGE to transfer money across borders, but of course when you convert it to fiat it is your responsibility to meet KYC requirements from digital exchanges.

Banks take days or longer to settle payments. With Dogecoin it can be done much faster and at a lower cost as well. There are no middle men or third party to pay when conducting a transaction between two users. If Bob wanted to tip Alice with DOGE, he can do so directly to Alice’s digital wallet with no one to prevent the transaction or require arbiters to facilitate it. The Dogecoin blockchain network provides a neutral service users need to transfer value. So during any pump and dump, the blockchain is still being used to record all transactions in a transparent and immutable manner.

Takeaways And Closing Thoughts

Dogecoin is for the most part the simplest blockchain decentralized app for cryptocurrency. What started out as something just for fun, turns out to have a large following. What this did is foster a community of individuals that brings power to the people. We can see how much that is the case when influencers and public figures join in to participate in pushing the price of DOGE higher. Through social media and the Internet, information spreads faster and coordination becomes easier as the network provides the necessary infrastructure to allow that. Just be careful though when you participate, things can quickly change if you commit more than what you are willing to lose during pumps. It is not a good idea to invest life savings, pay checks or even mortgage a house just for DOGE. Think rationally and it should be fine.

DOGE as a digital asset is not actually worthless like so many penny stocks. It is cheap, but due to its popularity is gaining the attention of the mainstream. Many digital exchanges (e.g. Binanc) and wallets (e.g. Exodus) do support DOGE, which is why it can be purchased by many people. Developers of the Flare blockchain have announced their support for DOGE, which could introduce smart contracts to Dogecoin users. There is also interest in the gaming community to use DOGE, for online gambling, tips and purchasing game items (e.g. badges, powers, etc.). Ren has provided a path for DOGE into DeFi with their renDOGE token. This can bring more applications for DOGE when it comes to liquidity for cryptocurrency lending, payments and trading.

The interest in Dogecoin is going to help sustain the digital asset as something of value to users. This keeps the momentum of holding the coin for longer terms. What Dogecoin showed is that through a coordinated effort by a decentralized community, the market can drive the prices. That is what free market laissez-faire economics should be all about. People are free to enter and leave the market at their own will. When DOGE is surging there is no one group or individual who can stop people from buying it, like what Robinhood did with Gamestop (the reasons are due to how the current financial system works). DOGE is not to be treated as a sure bet financial instrument by any means though, it is a risk that must still be evaluated. With these new possibilities and opportunities coming to Dogecoin, who is to say it is worthless and only for pump and dumps.

Disclaimer: This is not financial advice. The content shared is for informational purposes only. Please do your own research always before investing in cryptocurrency.

The Double-Spend That Never Was

On Thursday, January 21, 2021, news outlets began circulating reports of a Bitcoin double spend flaw which led to an 11% drop in the price of the digital asset. This would have been a major exposure of a flaw in the blockchain … except it never was. In fact, what happened or reportedly occurred would be a part of how Bitcoin is supposed to work. It is hard to explain the full details unless you get technical, but let us try to explain it in simpler terms.

First, what is a “double spend“? This was the problem Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto was able to solve for digital currency. Prior to that, it was a problem in computerized electronic payment systems that other developers had proposed solutions for. Since computers are digital, when currency is created it can be easily copied just like a file made in Excel or Word. If you have a file that represents your money in a computer, without any means of control a user can create infinite copies and spend it all they want. It is possible to use the same digital money to purchase two different items, so long as there is no system checking for it.

Nakamoto solves the problem by implementing a blockchain to support provenance and verification. That means that the amount of currency like Bitcoin (BTC) that a user holds, is determined by a mechanism that is verified through a consensus or agreement. In this case it is called Proof-of-Work (PoW) on the Bitcoin blockchain. You have nodes (computers) called miners that run software which run algorithms to try and solve a complex puzzle to discover a block for validation. The block contains transactions that are verified based on cryptographic hashes that can be traced back to what is called a genesis block. If it can be verified, then it is added to the blockchain.

Before a block is added, there is a competition among the miners to try and discover a number called the nonce. This is what is needed in order to validate a block. The miner who discovers it first will become the block validator and will receive a reward in return for their effort. The miners also collect fees for helping to validate transactions on the network. No transaction is ever allowed to pass unless it goes through a consensus among the miners on the network. Double-spends are prevented by the miners through this verification and validation process which also includes confirmations.

Bitmex Research first reported the incident in a tweet of a potential double-spend that occurred in the wild. They were the ones who also pointed out that it was a double-spend, but here is the problem. It was unconfirmed and the researcher who discovered it should have probably waited for what is called a chain reorganization, which is a part of the blockchain’s protocol. It is true that a BTC could appear to be spent two times on different transactions. It must undergo a series of confirmations, usually 6 but it could be more (depends on network activity). This was mentioned by Satoshi Nakamoto in the Bitcoin White Paper.

It is possible for two blocks to be mined simultaneously on the blockchain. This creates a temporary anomaly that can be observed by anyone who has access to the mempool of a Bitcoin node. There is a built-in feature in the code that corrects this problem. It is part of a chain reorganization in which the nodes must add the valid block to the longest chain, or the main network. You can see two transactions that appear to have spent the same BTC, but after the chain reorganization and block confirmation it is resolved. Only one of those blocks that contain the transaction will be valid and added to the blockchain. The other block will be orphaned and not validated.

Many cryptocurrency and blockchain experts like Andreas Antonopoulos, Bitfinex CTO Paolo Ardoino, Coin Metrics Bitcoin Network Data Analyst Lucas Nuzzi and later, even Bitmex Research all agree that it was not a double-spend that occurred. There are counter points though, especially from among the Bitcoin SV (BSV) camp who do have some thoughts of their own. What we know for sure is that only one of the transactions has been verified and validated on a block. The user tried to use a feature called Replace-By-Fee (RBF) in which you can speed up a transaction by paying a higher transaction fee which invalidates a previous transaction that was sent out. What happened here was the lower fee somehow made it to valid block first, perhaps because of the timing. The user had waited too long and by the time the higher paying transaction fee was sent the previous one had already been added to a block on the longer chain which validates it first.

Should we be worried that an actual double-spend can occur? It is always good to be alert and aware of what is happening. While the code does what it is supposed to do, there will be bad actors who may try to exploit these types of attacks to see if they can get past the logic. What will be proof or testament to Bitcoin’s legitimacy as a cryptocurrency is how these measures will stand against the test of time. As long as it is working, it will help the network to remain secure and operational. Until the next news, HODL.