Bitcoin drops below $7,000; Cblocks: Crypto mystery box; OpenBazaar raises $5 million

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The Blockchain Bitcoin & Crypto Weekly CXO Briefing is all you need to know, each week, jargon free for CXO level business leaders and investors who will use this technology to change the world. Each week we select the 3 news items that matter and explain why and link to one expert opinion.

For the intro to this weekly series, please go here.

News Item 1: Bitcoin is falling back to Earth. It’s now below $7,000

Decrypted: The market cap of cryptocurrencies dropped from $820 billion high to under $300 billion. This is not the first time cryptocurrencies have experienced such significant losses and it certainly won’t be the last.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, went even further below the $7,000 on Friday morning dropping to $6,726 on March 30, 2018. This was a huge slide from the day before, when Bitcoin was trading around $8,000.

This was the first time since February when Bitcoin dropped below $7,000. Bitcoin was not alone in this free fall. Other major cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Ripple, also had significant price drops.

Our take: Bitcoin has dropped roughly 50%, since the start of the year, below $7,000 on Friday. This is less than four months ago, when it was trading close to $20,000.

To say Bitcoin is volatile is an understatement. Its price can swing wildly on the turn of a dime, making and breaking fortunes in the process.

What affects the price of Bitcoin, anyway?

Well, this may be the another turn in what has been a long battle against the public image of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The fact that Bitcoin challenges the status quo and breaks the lucrative positions of middlemen in the financial world is enough reason to assume that these attacks will continue and increase in intensity and in scope.

The latest losses follow moves to step up regulation of cryptocurrencies in Europe and Asia. In Japan, two currency exchanges shutdown down, amid increasing scrutiny from the country’s financial services watchdog. New rules in Europe that limit the amount of money that investors can borrow to trade cryptocurrencies could also be weighing on bitcoin’s price, said Innes, who is betting it has further to fall.

Last week, Snapchat and Twitter announced they would no longer be running ads tied to cryptocurrencies in the coming weeks and months. Reddit, a community hub popular in the crypto community, no longer accepts Bitcoin payments. Both Facebook and Google have announced similar bans on ads, including for initial coin offerings, a fundraising method using cryptocurrencies.

Denmark’s largest financial institution, Danske Bank, warned investors about the threats of investing in cryptocurrencies due to the lack of backing by a central bank.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has been trying to rein in cryptocurrency trading in recent months, saying that investors should only buy and sell crypto on registered exchanges.

Google Trends, a barometer of how popular a certain topic is, shows that worldwide searches for Bitcoin are at their lowest level, since October 2017.

This week’s Newsweek headline, predicted Bitcoin would reach $30,000 by the end of the year. The past few weeks have been full of articles predicting higher and higher highs for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, predicting $100,000 by the middle of 2018.

Just like any new technology, there will be more challenges in early development and adoption phases. But Bitcoin has been running non-stop for nine years, with almost zero financial loss on the chain itself. Bitcoin has become the most reliable and secure financial network in the world. When you send a valid Bitcoin transaction, you can bet it will be sent. Its as certain as death and taxes.

For better or for worse, Bitcoin is flawed, yet beautiful. Today you might not be able to use it to buy a cup of coffee, but it has proven to be an excellent solution to safeguard wealth. The next recession is not a question of if, but when. Bitcoin was originally created in response to these worries, as a way to transfer money outside the traditional financial system. As the world turns toward recession again, cryptocurrencies could fulfill that purpose and also act as a store of value not tied to traditional currencies or assets.

Also with new layers right around the corner, like Lightning Network, transacting with Bitcoin will become even easier. Banking, currency exchanges, hedge funds, social networks, advertising, education, energy, real estate, IoT and mesh networks and every industry will settle their accounts on the Bitcoin blockchain, including your neighborhood coffee shop.

The Lindy Effect states that every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy for things like technology. Nine years after its inception, Bitcoin has overcome most major risks that would pose a threat. With each passing day, with each block added to the chain, the confidence increases, and its network effect grows stronger.

Yesterday was Lazarus Saturday in the Greek Orthodox Church. In the past Bitcoin has shown its resilience, bouncing back from the dead. It will rise again.

News Item 2: CBlocks.io: Earning $32,000 in 30 Days With a Crypto-Filled USB Drive

DecryptedThe fact is that there are close to 1,600 on the market today, according to CoinMarketCap. Its impossible to follow everything that is going on. Very few of these cryptocurrencies have widespread adoption and in fact, very few have a market cap that is even close to 1% of Bitcoin’s cap.

As blockchain technology becomes more useful in our daily lives, many of these 1,600 coins, including cryptos that have not been created yet, will become absolutely critical in just about every industry.

CBlocks is a new service that aims to lower the cryptocurrency entry barrier, by choosing what coins to buy for you. The company picks cryptocurrencies from the top cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap, buys them and then ships them to your physical address on a USB wallet.

Our take: Mystery boxes have been around in retail shopping for a while. They got a marketing jump in 2013, when Neiman Marcus partnered with PopSugar to offer limited-edition boxes filled with luxury gifts and shipped to consumers’ homes.

Today, mystery boxes with random products are sold on eBay and they are a fun and affordable way to discover new products. Sometimes they are also offered as monthly subscription basis.

Now with CBlocks, we are seeing mystery boxes being introduced the crypto world.

Cblocks is a Miami startup that launched this past January, with the idea to allow anyone to invest in cryptocurrencies without being an expert.

It works in a pretty simple way.  Cblocks runs a script that picks 5 random crypto’s from the top 300 on coinmarketcap.com. They generate paper wallets using an offline personal and transfer them to a USB wallet. They buy the coins on an exchange and send the cryptocurrencies to the public addresses of the user’s wallets. In the final step, they send the USB to the user with a sheet of paper, explaining each cryptocurrency they purchased.

The page contains details like private keys, recovery phrases and passwords for each cryptocurrency. In case the user wants to move your funds to another wallet, they can use this data to access the original address where the coins are stored.

Currently, CBlocks offers four different packages starting from $75 and going all the way up to $475. For the service they charge $25 to cover expenses, like shipping and loading your coins to your USB wallet.

While this space is only getting started, there have already been some scams. Recently Outline wrote about @CryptoMystery, a similar cryptocurrency mystery box service, that tried to run away with customer funds.

Everyone loves surprises and everyone wants to get into crypto. But as with all things, I would suggest caution. You don’t want to spend $500 and end up with coins you don’t understand or want. While we may very well need and use lots of cryptocurrencies in the future, it’s not really reasonable to think that people will own, or even keep track of, more than one or two different cryptos at a time. Especially when you consider atomic swaps, that will make it possible to hold one cryptocurrency and instantly exchange it for another, whenever you need access to a token for a specific purpose.

News Item 3: OpenBazaar 2.0 Is Live

Decrypted: OB1, the development company behind decentralized online marketplace OpenBazaar, has raised $5 million in a Series A funding round.

The round was led by OMERS Ventures, the venture capital arm of the OMERS, Canada’s biggest pension fund. Bitmain also participated in the round joining existing investors Andreessen HorowitzUnion Square VenturesBlueYard CapitalDigital Currency Group, and angel investor William Mougayar.

OpenBazaar is an e-commerce marketplace that offers secure, commission-free trade for both buyers and sellers. Originally, the project was named DarkMarket and was built in response to the seizure of the darknet market Silk Road. The project was created during a Bitcoin Hackathon in Toronto in April 2014 and received $12 million in funding from different venture capitalist firms and angel investors.

Our take: The new Openbazaar 2.0 platform has three search engines including OB1, Duo, and Raw Flood which give users more depth while searching for products. In addition to the improved search functionality, the platform now utilizes the Tor browser, has a native Bitcoin wallet, Shapeshift integration, and offline stores.

Since the launch of the updated platform near the end of 2017, over 40,000 nodes globally have joined the OpenBazaar network. In early 2018 OpenBazaar enhanced its value to buyers and sellers by enabling purchases with Bitcoin Cash and Zcash, due to BTC’s very high fees.

Some of the company’s plans for this year include releasing web and mobile versions of the application, as well as giving users new ways to trade with each other, such as making requests and buying and selling cryptocurrencies.

Will decentralized displace centralized marketplaces?

Since the 1990s, the growth of internet has been synonymous with growth of another thing that is central to day to day living: online marketplaces. eBay is the poster child for web marketplaces. Since several others have come along: oDesk, Etsy, Kickstarter, Airbnb and so on. But the main issue with centralized marketplaces is related to trust. We trust a complete stranger with our money before he has sent any goods.

I think this  post outlines the reasons why they will:

  1. Throughout history middlemen have suffered a common fate. Markets like to be efficient and middlemen get replaced with more efficient alternatives, whether that is travel agents being replaced by Kayak and Expedia or expensive financial advisors being replaced by Wealthfront. The blockchain gives us a chance to cut out those rent-seeking middlemen, with revolutionary new business models that allow fees to go to ~zero.
  2. The blockchain is not owned or controlled by any central entity. There’s no single point of failure. This lack of centralization gives us censorship resistance — not only from governments that like to ban certain types of marketplaces, but also from centralized marketplaces which like to pick and choose who is welcome to use their platforms. Look at Uber and Airbnb as examples. Both companies have been banned or heavily regulated in cities all around the world. Likewise, those companies have a history of banning certain individuals for life from ever using their marketplaces.
  3. Decentralized marketplaces allow us to redistribute value to the people who actually contribute the most value in the network. Uber and Airbnb wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the first 100 drivers or hosts, but what did those drivers or hosts get in exchange? Meanwhile, the early employees, investors and founders get filthy rich. New token economics give us a “better than free” business model that incentivizes people to use a platform that rewards early participants in the network.
  4. Blockchain powered marketplaces are instantly global. This is a non-trivial advantage over anyone who attempts to create a centralized marketplace and has to wade through the local laws and banking regulations for each and every jurisdiction in the world where they wish to operate.

Decentralized marketplaces are inevitable.

Blockchain unlocks the idea of a “network state” giving us the ability to manage all that information and make choices, without middlemen. But beyond that, blockchain also enables smart contracts, automating not just business logic, but also governance. Blockchain and decentralized marketplaces will do much more than allow us to trade with each other, without middlemen. They will change the supply chain.

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Ilias Louis Hatzis is a Blockchain entrepreneur who writes the Blockchain Bitcoin & Crypto (BBC) Weekly CXO Briefing each Monday.

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