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Development in Crypto Is Exploding Despite the Price

Cryptocurrency prices may be in the gutter, but how is the industry holding up? According to some sources, the answer is “surprisingly well.”

A Little Background

Digital currencies experienced solid bull runs in 2017. Bitcoin, for example, surged to nearly $20,000 by December of that year, while currencies like ether would spike to nearly $1,400. Unfortunately, the good fortune wasn’t built to last. Beginning in January 2018, prices started falling faster than anyone could have anticipated, and they haven’t let up since.

In November 2018, bitcoin dropped to the mid $3,000 range and lost roughly 80 percent of its overall value.

Things Are Stronger Than They Seem

With news like that, it might be easy to assume that businesses and investors alike would steer clear of crypto and label it a massive failure, but truth tells a different story. Blockchain – the “energy” behind cryptocurrencies – stands as a popular new form of technology that continues to attract developers everywhere.

Last August, ConsenSys – a blockchain software company stationed in New York – produced a list of 40 new Ethereum-based applications available for use. At the time, Ethereum had fallen in price by well over $1,000 and was trading in the low $200 range, yet the currency’s blockchain remained one of the most attractive in existence for the creation of new apps and digital tokens.

Killer Applications Built on Blockchain Are Coming

Among the applications available was a web browser known as Brave. Developed by Brave Software in 2015, the browser implements a blockchain-based advertising system that gives users control over which ads target them. Users can choose the ads they view while performing searches and are subsequently rewarded with Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) – the official cryptocurrency of Brave – depending on their decisions.

The goal of Brave is to give internet users more control and ownership of their private data. Versions of the browser were released in late 2018 for the Android and iOS phones, as well as Mac and Windows-based computers.

A New Kind of Coin…

Ethereum is also paving the way for new stable coins that could potentially make volatility a thing of the past. A stable currency is one that’s pegged to a reputable asset or fiat money, such as gold or the U.S. dollar. Thus, its less susceptible to market threats like inflation. Many institutional players have been hesitant to get involved in cryptocurrencies thanks to their fluctuating prices, but stable coins are designed to alleviate some of the worries that come with crypto investing.

Among these currencies is USD Coin (USDC). As an ERC-20 token, USDC is compatible with Ethereum smart contracts. The currency is a joint venture between U.S.-based exchange Coinbase and peer-to-peer (P2P) payments company Circle and is programmed to be compatible with all United States money transmission laws.

Other stable coins built on the Ethereum blockchain include True USD (TUSD), Paxos (PAX) and Gemini Dollar (GUSD), the official currency of the Gemini Exchange in New York. All these coins are regulated, transparent and fully audited, allowing them to provide many of the same banking services and trade abilities as traditional finance institutions and bringing a higher level of legitimacy to Ethereum and the cryptocurrency space.

Video Games Revamped by Blockchain

Ethereum is also paving the way for new gaming experiences with applications like Gods Unchained and CryptoKitties. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, both platforms give collectors, gamers and crypto fans something to enjoy.

CryptoKitties, for example, is one of the first examples of blockchain technology being utilized for leisurely purposes by offering players the chance to buy and sell virtual cats they’ve bred themselves. Released in 2017, CryptoKitties experienced the height of its popularity in December of that year. Activity surrounding CryptoKitties clogged the Ethereum Network; transactions exploded to an all-time high, causing Ethereum’s speed to slow down significantly.

Gods Unchained is similar in that allows players to collect special items, only this time, the products are digital trading cards – not cats. Players purchase and sell cards accordingly with the goal of building the most powerful decks they can. These decks are then used to declare war on other collectors via video game settings, with winning players earning in-game rewards.

A professional tournament will be held later this year. The last person standing will be eligible for a $1.6 million prize accumulated partially from the company’s ongoing deck sales.

Seeing Money Differently

But it isn’t just decentralization and blockchain power that speaks to the true testament of cryptocurrency. Many are still intrigued by the prospects of digital money and the change it can bring to the globe’s financial infrastructure. Last December, bitcoin was at its lowest point in over 15 months and was trading for about $3,400. The currency had undergone a stagnant summer and fall season after dropping to the $6,000 range and remaining there for roughly five months. Though small declines and spikes would occur along the way, nothing lasted long, and bitcoin always managed to find its way back to the $6,000 comfort zone.

After bitcoin fell to just over $3,000, December brought news of a startup in Sydney, Australia. Known as, the company had developed a new cryptocurrency debit card that stored both bitcoin and ether tokens. Customers could then use these cards at bitcoin ATM machines in their areas or at participating retailers. A linked bank account proved unnecessary with the card, and customers could enjoy its services without inducing fees.

Despite the sinking prices of both bitcoin and ether, CEO Danny Ariti says that the number of users has grown faster than anyone could have expected.

“We’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response, and the uptake has been far beyond our expectations,” he stated in an interview with “The card program has given us some great insights into just how broad of a demographic this technology attracts. We’re seeing applications from hobbyists and professionals, some as young as 18 or as old as 80. The market never ceases to surprise us, and it’s great to see such a broad range of people making use of our platform.”

So, What’s Attracting People?

Ariti says his team is now working to expand the card’s capabilities by adding more digital assets to its repertoire. He commends that while crypto prices were best in 2017, they prevented people of limited financial means from entering the space and taking advantage of the industry’s benefits.

Now, however, he says that prices have been lowered to where more people can feel relaxed, which explains the growing number of new entrants to the market despite the ongoing bearish conditions.

“We’re receiving a large amount of inquiries, which is refreshing as we’re seeing interest and an increasing number of new adopters,” he explains. “The recent price drop has had a surprisingly positive effect in that it is allowing those who were priced out of the market during December 2017’s bull run to enter the market at a price point they feel comfortable with.”

Bakkt Exchange & Fidelity’s Custody Can Be Massive For Crypto: Here’s Why

At press time, cryptocurrency prices are trapped in a downward slump that has seemingly lasted more than 13 months. Beginning in January 2018, bitcoin – which had previously been trading for over $19,000 – began experiencing drops that ultimately caused the currency to lose over 80 percent of its value and slip into the $3,000 range last November. Bitcoin went from a year of consistent gains in 2017 to some very big losses, and thus far, the trend has refused to let up…

Big Things Keep Happening

But that hasn’t stopped developments in both cryptocurrency and blockchain from entering the market. Among the biggest ones that enthusiasts have shown excitement for are Bakkt – a new trading platform designed to ease conditions for retailers willing to accept cryptocurrencies as payment – and Fidelity Investments, who’s new crypto custody division has opened for business.

First introduced last August, Bakkt has endured something of a “rocky” debut. Though rumors swelled in October 2018 that the platform would emerge for business the following month, things remained on hold until last January, when Bakkt launched its bitcoin futures trading.

How It All Works

The project is a joint venture between the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), coffee king Starbucks and leading software company Microsoft. Bakkt is slated to provide new scalable trading options for institutional players interested in cryptocurrencies, along with regulated custody services to properly store customers’ BTC funds. By attracting institutional investors, Bakkt may bring bitcoin a level of legitimacy it’s only dreamed of and usher in waves of new money that could potentially lead the bulls back to the crypto pasture.

Bakkt will also allow retail players to have greater stakes in digital assets. While customers will not actually purchase items with cryptocurrencies, Bakkt will convert these assets into fiat to alleviate the threat of volatility and enable corresponding sales.

Some Added Benefits

Bitcoin sold on Bakkt will be added to custody, ensuring funds remain safe and secure. Bakkt futures contracts are also alleged to be settled within 24 hours, meaning whatever bitcoin is purchased is usually part of one’s stash the next day.

All this could bear huge potential for the crypto market. For starters, the bitcoin futures daily volume for both CME and BCOE combined is hovering at around 9,000 BTC. Institutional volume could expand greatly through Bakkt to rival even the totals held by global exchanges. In addition, investors could transition their activity from OTC markets to Bakkt given the latter’s stronger clarity and security regulations. This can lead to less volatility and greater liquidity.

Bakkt will also offer regulated initial coin offerings (ICOs). ICOs became a major source of concern in 2018. Many have proven fraudulent or phony over the last 12 months and have resulted in more than $500 million worth of investors’ funds being stolen. Thus, organizations like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have taken a much firmer position in the establishment of ICO regulations and are dishing out some big punishments to companies that don’t play by the rules.

Bakkt is slated to attract more capital funding through ICOs by enforcing stricter laws surrounding trading and selling practices.

A New Way to Trade Crypto

On the other side of the coin is Fidelity, which is also slated to assist the cryptocurrency market through the release of its new trading division devoted to cryptocurrencies. Known simply as Fidelity Digital Assets, the company will offer institutional players custody services similar with those of Bakkt. It will also provide professional advice and a fully-regulated crypto trading platform.

Fidelity’s crypto branch came to fruition last October. While it only covers about five percent of the $7.2 trillion in assets the company presently handles, that amount still surpasses $350 billion.

Paving the Way for the Future

BKCM CEO Brian Kelly believes that Fidelity could set two trends. The first is that it will attract more institutional players to the field with the appeal of hedge funds, endowments and pension plans. Fidelity is giving a “stamp of approval” to an otherwise widely speculated asset class, which could alleviate some of the fear and hesitation amongst professional traders.

The second is that other investments firms may decide to take on cryptocurrencies and offer similar services to their own customers, which could expand the market even further. Kelly explains, “Custody has been a very big hurdle, and having somebody like Fidelity put their stamp on it and say, ‘yes, this is a new asset class and we’re going to custody this’ – I believe they even said they have some insurance… That is a step closer.”

Litecoin Price Lifted Following Abra Announcement

Amex-Backed Digital Wallet Abra Joins Forces with Litecoin

Litecoin got a boost in early April when the crypto trading app, Abra, announced that it is moving away from Bitcoin for smart contracts and moving towards Litecoin smart contracts feature to power the company’s exchange and wallet products.

A digital wallet designed for smartphones that lets people around the world buy and hold up to 20 cryptocurrencies and 50 fiat currencies, Abra recently raised over $40 million in funding from American Express, Fidelity’s venture capital arm, and Foxconn, the asian manufacturer of parts for Apple.

Describing the decision to choose Litecoin’s smart contract feature for the company’s exchange and wallet products, Abra CEO  Bill Barhydt cited three critical reasons: Litecoin’s commitment to Bitcoin compatibility, better scalability than Bitcoin in the short term, and lower mining fees.

So, what does this news mean for the future of Litecoin as a currency? Let’s take a closer look.

Litecoin’s Trajectory

Often described as the “silver to Bitcoin’s gold,” Litecoin was developed in 2011 as an alternative to Bitcoin. Litecoin uses the Scrypt algorithm to verify transactions, which is faster and more energy-efficient than Bitcoin’s SHA-256 mining algorithm.

Even so, Litecoin is considered underrated by many cryptocurrency experts. The cryptocurrency gained quite a bit of attention following Abra’s announcement about joining forces, and the weekly high on April 3 reached $136. Now, a few weeks later, it is still around the same price, and many cryptocurrency experts are setting their sights high on Litecoin’s price by the end of 2018, with some predicting it will reach $600 and others, such as Founder of Cryptosrus George Tung, predicting it could go as high as $1,500.

Crypto’s Bright Future

Abra CEO Barhydt is optimistic about the future of crypto despite the many recent regulations in the space. He believes that the crypto market will boom again in 2018 as appetite grows for so-called altcoins. “People are really interested in altcoins, what’s going to be the next big thing,” he said. “We weren’t expecting the growth to be this fast.”

Barhydt also believes that, given crypto’s mainstream adoption, it’s only a matter of time before large-scale institutional money will start coming in.

“There really is zero large-scale institutional money from the west in crypto right now,” Barhydt said. “That is happening in Japan. Once a large sizable chunk of Western institutional money starts to come in – watch out,” before adding: “Institutional interest is now starting to grow regardless of the Google trends.”

To learn more about how you can diversify your retirement portfolio with Litecoin, give one of‘s IRA specialists a call at 877-936-7175.

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