Newcomers to crypto are generally attracted to conferences because of the big name personalities used in marketing. This year, attending events like World Crypto Con (Vegas, NV), Coinvention (Philly, PA), Blocktech Connect (Hamilton, OT), and the Bitcoin and Blockchain Superconference (Dallas, TX).
I quickly learned the real draw isn’t who’s on the main stage, but what’s being said in the “hallway cons.”
These are simply conversations held away from center-stage, and this is where you really learn what’s going on in the crypto space! Here you can talk directly to people like Paul Puey (co-founder of Edge Wallet), developers like Vortex, tech giants like John McAfee, and noted crypto influencers like Crypto Blood and Kenn Bosak.
If you look at the mainstream media or ask someone who’s involved in cryptos in the last 24 months what’s on everyone’s mind, the first thing mentioned is the price correction of Bitcoin. Over the previous 10 months, it has made an 80% market correction compared to December 2017. That means the price took a massive drop, from just shy of $20K to under $4k.
Now even though it’s a draw-dropping price change; those who have been in the crypto space long enough aren’t too worried about an end of the year market correction, which tends to have a cycle if you compare it to previous years.
So, price correction aside, the more accurate question is–what are the more experienced members in the crypto community talking about? Well, depending on where you look and what part of the community you’re talking to, the answer can vary.
The 4 Main Community Sectors
Within the community, there are basically four sectors that work interdependently to make up this continually evolving ecosystem. They are the traders (Digitex’s favorites), the HODLers (investors), the miners, and the developers (devs). These groups can be broken down into smaller groups, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll just use these four.
1. Traders Want More
For the more experienced traders, it’s common knowledge you lose more times than you win. The price correction was expected, and some even think it may go lower than $3,000. But the real water cooler talk is around the SEC allowing for a cryptocurrency ETF to come to market.
Multiple attempts have been made by the owners of the crypto exchange Gemini. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss were denied again in a 3-1 vote by the SEC in creating a Bitcoin ETF.
The SEC chairman Jay Clayton has made some statements this year, opaquely explaining why he doesn’t support allowing crypto-based ETFs. His basic talking points were worrying about the manipulation of price, centralization, and custody security.
For profit-hungry traders, these were like the boxing version of KO punches. Why? Because a crypto ETF would open up a whole new market that would potentially see trading volumes in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions. For traders, this is money on the table they aren’t being allowed to touch.
Family trusts, institutional investors, and whales are eagerly waiting for BAKKT to be available. And according to a Twitter post they made Nov 27, 2018, it looks like 2019 could be the year:
However, considering the original launch date was pushed back once already, this really boils down traders crossing their fingers and waiting to see how it plays out.
With Digitex launching in a few weeks, zero-fee trading on crypto futures contracts will no doubt be the most talked about subject of water cooler talk for traders.
2. HODLers Thinking Like Traditional Investors
Now getting into the HODLers pools, the focus is more about the long run of having the actual crypto and not some promissory note version of it. For those who had skin in the game since the Mt. Gox days, a dip like this only means get more cryptos–but choose them wisely.
Bitcoin took the biggest plunge, and everyone followed as usual. For HODLers this is like a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, but you can’t just grab whatever is in front of you. Part of the reasons for this is because regulators globally have started to make legislation that is having a negative impact on some ICOs and their ability to function in that country.
One glaring example is China’s outlawing ICOs. Then there is the US, for the founders Centra (a crypto debit card), poor business decisions and using big name celebrities like the boxer Mayweather and music entertainer DJ Kahil for PR, warnerd the attention of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). The ICO was invested and shut down for being a scam, even though technically the card worked.
HODLers need to have a bigger picture perspective of whether a coin or token that sounds like it has promise or even if already in use will be safe three or more years down the road. It should be noted that with this perspective, technically even the legacy coins like BTC, LTC, are ETH could have an issue in the coming years.
3. Miners Questioning Their Future
All Proof of Work miners worry about their ability to afford being a part of the ecosystem. The electricity to run miners can quickly eat up any potential profit. With the new year fastly approaching, price questions are relevant. If the market makes a correction anywhere near what happens this year, the numbers won’t make sense to stay in operation.
This November there were signs of the hashing power dropping, indicating some miners were shutting down as a reaction to the price dip. Independent miners were basically being priced out. Even mining farms are feeling the crunch, US based Gigia Watt declared bankruptcy in Washington state early in November.
The Ethereum blockchain is looking to move to Proof of Stake. According to the foundation, 2019 will be the implementing year. Miners will then be losing another option of mining for profit. Why? Because this consensus method doesn’t use miners to verify transactions. Yeap, they’ve been taken out of the equation.
Then there is the elephant in the room, the Bitmain IPO. Love or hate their business model or how they push out S9 ASIC miners, they are the big kid on the playground, for now. In September, the manufacturer filed papers for an IPO in Hong Kong. Aside from the lawsuit, more issues are coming to light.
The fallout from the recent Bitcoin Cash fork is still unclear, but Bitmain was neck deep in with it. On the podcast “What Bitcoin Did?” Samson Mow and Katherine Wu reviewed the IPO documents and raise questions about certain statements made and numbers calculated. Then there is the issue of who is actually a part of the IPO. WeChat and SoftBank are some who deny being onboard.
There’s been some speculation over what happens if the IPO doesn’t go through. Can they maintain the business as it is now? That seems unlikely. Oh, and what about the US trade sanctions? Can’t forget those. They’re a Chinese based company after all. How will that play out with more than 50% of the sales were made outside the country for 2017?
4. Developers Shrug Their Shoulders
At heart, devs are about tech over price any day and all day, generally speaking. For the hardcore devs the dip meant nothing much. Why? Because blockchain-based businesses still need to hire more devs than there are in the space who actually know how to work with the technology. So for them, the job market is golden.
More questions have been popping up about prosecution for making an open source software and certain governments having an issue with it based on whatever real, made up, or interpretation of a law.
Once again, look at what the SEC did this year going after developer Zachary Cobourn of the “decentralized” crypto exchange EtherDelta. He was charged with operating an unlicensed security exchange. In the end, he settled out of court, just paid around $400K and went on his merry way. Although a little costly, that’s the fairytale version of how that could have played out for him compared to Ross Ulbricht.
Ross was the creator of the infamous Silk Road website. In 2015, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Putting aside the illegal items sold, the underground website was the first working real world example that Bitcoin could be used as means of commerce.
These situations open up a can of worms about what open source means and the legal responsibility of devs. If a dev creates software and puts it out as free and open for public use, are they still responsible for what the end user does with it?
Devs always talk about what happened to Ross and how far the jurisdiction of the law reaches to go after people, especially when it comes to the US, who will go to other countries to prosecute American citizens and noncitizens as history has shown. How will this impact the development of decentralized exchanges? There is no clear answer right now in the community.
Even with potential questions of legal responsibility looming overhead, for devs, this price drop may help the community refocus on the more important goal of developing the technology and dealing with things like atomic swops, expanding the Lightning Network, streamlining UIs, and solutions to scaling like Plasma protocol. For Digitex, this is a significant interest as we’re working hard on incorporating it into our exchange.
The Take Away From It All
Yes, Digitex Futures is paying attention to all the price talk in the community, but we also realize that there are other prudent matters being discussed by the more seasoned members in the space.
Those conversations have value because when putting them together one gets a clearer picture of how the community is growing and developing. This helps with taking a more level-headed approach to how the exchange will move forward in the space.
In a Twitter direct message to me, Bitcoin, Ben (American YouTube personality) summed up the water cooler chat like this:
“The devs are far less worried about price. HODLers are happy for low prices. Traders want more fluctuations in price, up and down. Miners just want more transactions.”