Spring sees cryptocurrencies jostling for space

There is no doubt the winter has been long and hard.

Several contenders for second position are leading their charge. Picture: Contributed.

Living on a farm, I can see how the Beast from the East and its little brother affected the lambing season. But people are again perking up and the daffodils have pushed through. It definitely feels like spring has arrived, albeit a little late. And so too with the crypto currency markets. Things are beginning to burst into life after a filthy, dour start to the investing season.

But with spring and a new spark comes the next stage in the maturation cycle of this little-known market.

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Many of you will recall that Bitcoin was trading at nearly $20,000 a coin at the end of 2017, up from only $930 a year earlier. So, its rise was meteoric to say the least. For anyone involved in Bitcoin and following social media, John McAfee, the cyber security pioneer, tweeted that Bitcoin could reach $1 million by the end of 2020.

In fact, Mr McAfee was so bullish on this that he publicly stated that he would eat part of his anatomy if the coin did not hit his target price. Suffice to say that with the coin floundering around $8,000, it has a way to go and Mr McAfee may have to eat more than his words. But, that forecast aside, the temperature in the crypto world is gently beginning to rise.

As we all know, entrepreneurs love to disrupt what is not working, in their opinion or experience. Much of this is as about changing the status quo as it is about their egos. Having spent time with hundreds of pretty decent entrepreneurs, from millionaires to those who jolly well could be very soon, disruption is all about creating value. But to disrupt means one has to have sharp elbows and this means some casualties and bad blood along the way.

If you can tell me of any entrepreneur story that has not involved politics, bad feeling, subterfuge or fierce competition, then I’ll be most surprised. In fact, I might eat my… maybe not. And this is playing out in the crypto markets right now, as these crypto, tech entrepreneurs build, code, develop and battle it out on the pitch.

Bitcoin’s little brother is called Ethereum. This is an open source, public, blockchain computing platform. It features smart contract functionality and many other crypto currency start-ups build on it. Where Bitcoin has been a bit clunky, slow and oiltanker-like in its steering and pace, Ethereum has come in more like a Royal Navy frigate.

Agile and faster, albeit not quite a speed boat – yet. Ethereum has been the platform that many had built their code upon and up until now it has been lucrative for Ethereum and its investors. But change is in the air and the maverick entrepreneurs are now locking horns to own the crypto world in the next decade.

With the spring, then, has come a war of words between the co-founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin and the chief executive of Tron, Justin Sun. This is not the time nor place to get into the nitty gritty of each platform, what they do, could do and could be valued at in the future. No, as spring has sprung, the battle for control of the crypto currency markets has well and truly begun.

While Ethereum, currently trading at $634 a pop with a market capitalisation of $62 billion, has had a pretty good run at the number two spot behind Bitcoin, other contenders for this position are leading their charge. Tron fancies a go as it creates its own platform moving away from Ethereum, while others like Ripple, Litecoin and Stellar are all busily developing their own products in the blockchain fintech and currency world.

It's fair to say each crypto venture is an adventure and not for the faint-hearted. But each coin is trying to cement itself and present itself as valid, useful and capable of building long-term value for investors and users. I do find it fascinating to watch this whole arena develop. Who will still be standing at the end of 2020 is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure. John McAfee is not backing down on his predictions. Mind you, he has a lot at stake…

Jim Duffy is co-founder of Moonshot ­Academy and author of Create Special.