stocks on the blockchain

From January 9th, investors will be able to buy tokenized shares in leading tech companies. The initiative is powered by Estonian-based cryptocurrency exchange DX.Exchange and Nasdaq. 

Using the DX.Exchange platform, investors can purchase shares in Apple, Tesla, Facebook and others, represented by an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain.

Stocks on a blockchain: how does it work?

If you want to buy stock in Facebook, you’d purchase the relevant token on the DX.Exchange. The exchange’s partner MPS MarketPlace Securities will then buy the corresponding Facebook stock, and issue an ERC-20 token to you.

As explained in the accompanying press release: 

“Digital stocks are backed 1:1 to real-world stocks traded on conventional stock exchanges. You purchase tokens for leading assets that you choose to invest in, such as Google, Amazon, etc. Therefore, when you are a token holder, you own shares of the company.”

Token holders are also entitled to the same cash dividends as real shareholders.

The trading platform itself will also tap into Nasdaq’s SMART technology, which monitors suspicious trading activity and manipulation.

Why buy tokenized shares?

Firstly, it means you can buy fractions of a share. If you don’t want to buy one whole share of Amazon stock (at $1,500), you could purchase a third of a share via the tokenized platform.

It also means you can buy stocks with bitcoin. Since DX.Exchange is a cryptocurrency exchange, you can simply buy tokenized shares with BTC.

Lastly, you can purchase shares after-hours. Normal stock market trading is restricted to working hours. But with tokenized shares on DX.Exchange, you can buy stocks in the middle of the night.

Speaking to Bloomberg, DX.Exchange CEO Daniel Skowronski said “We saw a huge market opportunity in tokenizing existing securities. We believe that this is the beginning of the traditional market’s merge with blockchain technology. This is going to open a whole new world of trading securities old and new alike.”

Which stocks are available?

The platform will launch with ten leading stocks from the Nasdaq exchange:

  • AlphaBet (Google)
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Tesla
  • Netflix
  • Baidu
  • Intel Corporation
  • Nvidia

More will be added as the platform expands. The tokenized shares will open in Europe on January 9th, and launch in US in mid-late 2019.

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proof of keys

Proof of Keys is a new movement that encourages all crypto users to withdraw their funds from centralized exchanges like Coinbase, Gemini, and others.

Initiated by investor Trace Mayer, the first ever Proof of Keys event will take place on 3rd January 2019 – the anniversary of the bitcoin genesis block – with a view to establishing an annual tradition.

To participate in the Proof of Keys movement, you simply need to withdraw any crypto you hold on an exchange and store it safely in a personal crypto wallet where you control the private keys instead.

Why Does Proof of Keys matter?

There are two main reasons for removing your crypto from exchanges on Proof of Keys day:

  1. To ensure cryptocurrency exchanges actually have the funds they claim. If everyone withdraws their crypto funds on the same day, crypto exchanges will be forced to pay out. If they fail to do so, it’s a huge red flag for exchanges that claim to store your money safely.
  1. To take control of your own crypto. As Andreas Antonopoulos said: not your keys, not your bitcoin. If all your bitcoin is stored on a crypto exchange, you don’t actually own the private keys; the exchange does. That means you’re not in control of your bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

Protect Against Hacks and Centralization

If you leave your funds on a cryptocurrency exchange, it’s much more vulnerable to hacks. $1 billion in crypto was stolen in 2018; the vast majority from crypto exchanges.

Exchanges are huge targets for hackers because they store vast amounts of crypto in one place. Instead, move your crypto to a personal wallet where it is much less vulnerable.

As Block Explorer previously reported, at least 25% of all litecoin in circulation is held by Coinbase. That’s a dangerously large amount of litecoin stored in one place. Not only that, but Coinbase technically owns all that litecoin; not you the depositor.

Proof of Keys is a, therefore, a practical and philosophical movement.

How to move your funds off an exchange

To withdraw funds, you’ll first need a wallet and a corresponding address.

The safest option is a hardware wallet from Ledger, Trezor or KeepKey. These are similar to external hard drives designed specifically for crypto storage. Since they’re offline most of the time, they’re difficult to hack (known as “cold storage”).

There are other wallet options that give you full control of your private keys including software desktop wallets and simple paper wallets.

Want more information? 12 best bitcoin wallets for safe and secure crypto storage

Once you have your wallet address, simply withdraw funds from the exchange to the wallet address.

Be aware that there may be high transaction volume on January 3rd which may cause congestion. You should also test the wallet address by sending small amounts of crypto to the wallet first.

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crypto mainstream

To round out the year, we asked our Block Explorer writers to tell us what they’re most excited about for blockchain and crypto in 2019. In this piece, Ana Balashova looks at the startups hoping to take crypto mainstream, as well as the tokenization of assets and next-generation blockchain projects.

This year wasn’t all cuddly and fluffy for crypto. The fearsome bear entered the market and trampled everyone’s dreams of becoming a billionaire in a couple of months. And although crashes aren’t new to crypto, this year things are a bit different: many more people are involved and larger mainstream brands are embracing digital money as payment. 

Banks, governments, and regulators are accepting the fact that bitcoin is here to stay. All of that makes me seriously enthusiastic about crypto in 2019. Here’s the list of the things I’ll keep my eye on:

Universal Crypto Solutions

Even though Coinbase has more than 20 million users and Blockchain.com boasts more than 31 million registered wallets, crypto is still far away from mass adoption. And the convenience of using it is still only appreciated by the more techy part of the population. 

Real-life example: if my mom would like to purchase bitcoin she always has to ask me to do that. And she is quite capable of using traditional plastic cards or other financial services like money transfer through a mobile app on her phone.

So, there’s still room for improvement in creating those universal solutions, both for consumers and business. One that will work internationally and will allow seamless transactions from crypto to fiat and back. One that boasts a super intuitive interface and straightforward features. That’s why I am quite curious to follow Abra, Blockchain, Purse, Bread, Ethos, EOS Lynx, STK, Metal, PundiX, Request Network, Monetha and all the numerous projects in the field.

Pundi x
A Pundi X point-of-sale solution

Securitization and Legal Clarity

Authorities of various countries are cooking up all sorts of crypto regulatory frameworks. The choice of crypto-friendly countries is growing (Malta? Gibraltar? Finland?) That alone makes the existence and the future perspectives for cryptocurrencies much more compelling. 

Even without proper regulations, as much as $22 billion was raised in Initial Coin Offerings in 2018 according to Bloomberg’s numbers.

There are a lot of question marks about those projects. However, the development of the legal side of the story will most likely make a positive impact on the industry. Not to mention the whole new infrastructural solutions that have to be evolved to make it work: properly regulated crypto exchanges, platforms for legal Security Token Offerings, the whole bunch of wallets for securitized assets, etc.

As for now, savvy entrepreneurs with successful track records in the business world are joining the bubbling startups in the crypto space or collaborating on ones. Like Overstock.com (OSTK at Nasdaq, with a market capitalization of more than $420 million at the time of writing) and its founder Patrick Byrne who is planning to sell Overstock’s retail business to fund a crypto platform, tZERO.

Some real-deal startups are also considering new cryptocurrency financing opportunities, like Spin, an electric scooter startup from San Francisco. During this summer, the team planned to launch a security token offering, although they ended up selling their operations to Ford for around $100 million. 

That all adds up to bringing digital currencies from the world of tooth fairies and leprechauns to reality. 

Making Blockchain Great Again

In spite of all the awesomeness of distributed ledger technologies, there is always someone to complain. The transactions on Bitcoin blockchain are getting too expensive, or Ethereum got all clogged again because of a popular token sale, Cryptokitties, decentralized exchanges vulnerabilities, and so on.

So all the tools and projects that are supposed to improve what we have so far and to solve all related problems – is something I am personally very interested in. 

And, just to clarify, when I mention “problems”, I am talking about things like scalability,  interoperability, transaction costs, blockchain developers education, etc. Some of the exciting projects working on these problems are EOS, Aion, Wanchain, Ethereum, POA network, Zilliqa, and others).  

Zilliqa is one of the first to implement experimental sharding technology to achieve huge throughput

Tokenization of Assets 

As we know, one of the first applications of blockchain technology was digital money. And the fact that it created so much convenience, transparency, and speed of actual ownership made “tokenization” a viable technology for other assets. 

We could see gold -backed tokens (like OneGram, Goldmint, etc.), natural resources backed tokens (e.g. Petro, Venezuela’s controversial cryptocurrency backed by oil), and so much more than that. 

With the further development of crypto-related regulations and taxes, more projects tokenizing real estate, pieces of art, rare cars, shares in Silicon Valley startups etc., will pop up. 

And the fun has already begun. In October, Forbes announced the first tokenized real estate project in New York, ran by Propellr, the platform for digital assets management and Fluidity, the trading and tokenizing solution.  

It’s already possible to purchase a share of ownership of off-campus housing for students at the University of South Carolina. The cost per share is $21,000. Currently, those are being sold by Harbor, the blockchain startup which raised $28 million of venture capital in a fully compliant security token offering earlier this year. 

And if you are looking for more affordable ownership options, there’s something interesting offered by Brickblock. The project in development is a 50-unit residential property in the UK. The team is raising £3.35 million by selling tokenized shares valued at £34 per pop. 

There are also some moves in the art world. 31.5% ownership of Andy Warhol’s “14 Small Electric Chairs” was recently sold at an auction run by blockchain startup Maecenas this summer. The total value of the sold tokens was $1.7 million with the total estimated worth of the artwork of $5.6 million.  

Tokenization of Real Estate on Mars?

I trust that weirder things will find their way to fully compliant blockchain existence. And we might be able to purchase frozen brain cells and other vital organs, square meters and milliseconds in cryogenic cameras, a fraction of space trip tickets (or maybe partial ownership of a cozy industrial loft on Mars), and the list goes on. I can’t wait! 

And what are you excited the most?  Go ahead and share it in the comment section below. 

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worst-performing cryptocurrencies 2018

It’s been a brutal year for crypto, but which are the worst cryptocurrencies? After the boom of 2017, the whole crypto market is in the red. Some projects are on the verge of bankruptcy while others are taking drastic measures such as cutting staff and re-organizing. 

However, some cryptocurrencies have performed worse than others. Here, we rank the ten worst-performing cryptocurrencies of 2018 and look at some of the reasons for their poor performance.

Worst-Performing Cryptocurrencies, Criteria: 

  • This list only includes coins in top 100 by market capitalization, thereby excluding lower-ranked altcoins. 
  • We exclude all stablecoins pegged to another asset, such as Tether, PAX, and Dai.
  • We exclude any project that hasn’t been around for at least six months.
  • All prices sourced from CoinCodex, tracked from January 1st, and ranked by percentage fall in market capitalization. 
  • All prices correct at time of publishing (10th December, 2018).

10. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) -95.5%

Bitcoin Cash suffered a disastrous end to the year after a contentious hard fork split the community. A vicious war of words broke out between the two sides and miners went to war. The blockchain ultimately split in two, spawning a new cryptocurrency, Bitcoin Cash SV. The controversy had a wholly negative impact on the value of BCH which has dropped 95.5% this year.

Further reading: Everything You Need to Know About the Bitcoin Cash Fork

Bitcoin Cash price chart 2018

9. Elastos (ELA) -95.58%

Elastos (ELA) is a cryptocurrency that aims to be used as part of the first completely safe and decentralized infrastructure for the internet. According to comments on various social media channels, here are some negative things to note about ELA. The inflation rate is too high, not many exchanges list this crypto, and specialized hardware (Elastos server) is needed to run applications. As of late 2018, there also isn’t support for ELA on major hardware wallets like Trezor and Ledger.

Elastos price chart 2018

8. ICON (ICX) -96.08%

ICON (ICX) launched with the goal to “hyperconnect the world” and “enrich our everyday lives through ‘connection’”. This is one of many projects aiming to improve blockchain interoperability. AION, Wanchain, and ARK are considered by many to be ICON’s top competition. 

Thus far, there have been a few relevant criticisms of the project. For example, after the mainnet launch in January 2018, the token swap was a slow process that dragged on all the way into late October 2018. Although the project has been in development for two years, the website still doesn’t have a proper roadmap listed.

ICON price chart 2018

7. Verge (XVG) -96.35%

Verge (XVG) announced a big partnership with PornHub in April 2018; however, this hasn’t had a positive impact on prices long-term. The biggest issue for this project in 2018 has been the constant 51% attacks. Although security issues have affected a number of exchanges and blockchains this year, Verge’s security woes are some of the most reported in crypto, and for good reason. 

In May 2018, one attack alone affected over 35 million coins in around five hours. The hacker stole around $1.8 million in XVG. While other projects that have suffered from 51% attacks, XVG has clearly been the most impacted this year. 

Verge price chart 2018

6. Populous (PPT) -96.69%

Populous Platform Token (PPT) is a cryptocurrency for Populous’ smart contract invoice finance platform, which runs on the Ethereum & RSK blockchains. There appears to have been a number of issues with the project’s technical features throughout 2018. For example, users of the beta version of the platform received error 502 and faced other problems. Therefore, many found it difficult to test the platform’s functionality. 

Another common criticism is a lack of responsiveness from the project team to questions from the community. As this article points out, this issue was also prevalent in 2017. The Telegram channel account owner has been inactive since July 2017, and this platform only had around 1,300 members.

PPT price chart 2018

5. Ardor (ARDR) -96.86%

Ardor (ARDR) is a cryptocurrency designed specifically for business applications. Looking at the project website, the Ardor platform itself is being developed for blockchain-as-a-service purposes. This project evolved from the Nxt blockchain, the first Proof-of-Stake consensus network. Ardor also features a unique parent-child chain architecture. 

Compared to others on this list, there doesn’t seem to be too many negatives regarding this project in 2018. Despite some wallet and network issues earlier in the year, it’s tough to pinpoint the exact cause of ARDR price declines. Perhaps the biggest issue (as with many blockchain projects) is that the tech is still underdeveloped.

Ardor price chart 2018

4. Bitcoin Diamond (BCD) -97.11%

Bitcoin Diamond (BCD) raises a few potential red flags for some people. For instance, its two main developers go by the pseudonyms “007″ and “Evey”, and source code isn’t available. Regardless, BCD aims to reduce transaction fees and completion times. Compared to BTC, BCD has larger block sizes, a higher total supply, and simplified mining processes. 

According to the first Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratings released in April 2018, BCD and a few other Bitcoin hard forks are merely copycats. While this report does highlight some of the positives of these new cryptocurrencies, it notes that BTC being the first-mover does take away some momentum from projects like BCD.

Further reading: 5 Failed Bitcoin Forks that Never Made It

Bitcoin diamond price chart 2018

3. Bitcoin Private (BTCP) -97.26%

Bitcoin Private (BTCP), as the name suggests, provides the possibility of private transactions. If you’re well-versed on cryptocurrencies, you know that BTC isn’t really anonymous. That’s why BTCP was created as a merge fork of Bitcoin and ZClassic. BTCP aims to compete with Verge, Monero, and other privacy coins. 

Earlier in 2018, a big discussion on the BTCP subreddit surrounded the lack of listings from top exchanges. Since then, low liquidity trading and conflicts within the team and community have all continued to be major issues. Still, it’s important to note that BTCP is one of the newer projects (launched in March 2018), in the top 100 market cap rankings.

Bitcoin Private price chart 2018

2. Qtum (QTUM) -97.36%

Qtum (QTUM) is another project that aims to become a leader in the smart contract market. The project made significant progress after its ICO ended in March 2017. The testnet launched only three months later. 

The mainnet launched three months after the testnet release, very quick when compared to the vast majority of blockchain projects. The issue seems to be that Qtum’s competition has implemented better technology, at least as of late 2018. According to one article, Aion and ICON are both ahead of Qtum. There are also other competitors to consider like Ethereum, NEO, Zilliqa, and many more.

Qtum price chart 2018

1. Aion (AION) -97.57%

Aion (AION) is a third generation blockchain project that (as mentioned above) competes with ICX and others by focusing on increasing interoperability between various chains. Some potential use cases listed on the project website include supply chain logistics, Internet-of-Things, online media marketplace, fundraising, and digital identities. 

As with Ardor, Aion doesn’t seem to have faced too many major issues in 2018. Nonetheless, some people have said that the project is too ambitious and it finds itself with the biggest percentage drop in market cap of 2018.

Aion price chart 2018

Conclusion

After the euphoria of 2017 and the rapid growth of altcoins, this year has been tough for cryptocurrency projects. It has been predicted that most altcoins will “go to zero,” but can the projects on this list turn it around next year? Join us tomorrow for our run-down of the best performing cryptocurrencies of 2018.

Crypto Curious? Subscribe to the Block Explorer newsletter to get exclusive crypto insights before they appear on the site.

blockchain holiday reading

Happy holidays, folks. It’s been a long, tough year in the world of crypto, but if you’re reading this, I think you’ll be on the right side of history when the dust settles.

We’re riding out this crypto winter by putting together some of the best blockchain guides out there. The most important thing you can do right now is build knowledge, expand your understanding, and gain confidence in this new technology.

So, whether you’re bored over the holidays or hiding from the in-laws, let’s dive into some of our most popular guides so far. (If you like them, stick around because we’ll have plenty more in the new year).

1. What is Bitcoin? Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

This is our flagship beginner’s guide to bitcoin. It’s written in simple, easy-to-understand language, but you’ll feel like a pro by the end of it. We cover everything from bitcoin’s mysterious creator, the technology that powers it, and how to buy it.

Read it now.

2. What is Ethereum? Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

A beginner’s guide to the third-largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum. Like our bitcoin guide, it’s written in simple language designed to level up your knowledge as you read through it. Discover how Ethereum is different to bitcoin and how it could disrupt an entire generation of existing services.

Read it now.

3. The Silk Road: A History of Bitcoin, Drugs, and the Dark Web

Launched in February 2011, the infamous Silk Road marketplace became a hub for drug dealers using bitcoin and the dark web to sell their wares. Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht is currently serving a double life sentence, plus 40 years, without parole. But the story is not so simple. It’s a story of corrupt police detectives, aliases, and deep conspiracy.

Read it now.

4. Who is Satoshi Nakamoto (Bitcoin’s Mysterious Creator)?

We reveal 24 clues about the elusive creator of bitcoin. Known only as the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto,” Bitcoin’s founder has never been identified. He disappeared completely in 2011, but not without leaving a few possible hints at his identity.

Read it now.

5. 13 of the Best Blockchain Games (& How to Actually Play Them)

In late 2017, a blockchain game called Cryptokitties became so popular it congested the entire Ethereum network. But it gave us an insight into how big blockchain gaming could become. Although most blockchain games are still quite primitive, there’s huge potential out there. Here are 13 of the best so far.

Read it now.

6. The Most Important Women in Blockchain

As the New York Times reported earlier this year, the blockchain industry has been dominated by “blockchain bros,” with women accounting for just four-to-six percent of blockchain investors. We shine a light on ten groundbreaking women taking the industry forward.

Read it now.

7. A Complete History of Bitcoin

We track the cryptocurrency timeline back to the very earliest attempts at digital currency (ten years before bitcoin was created). Along the way, we point out the biggest moments in bitcoin history including the infamous Mt. Gox hack, the Silk Road dark-web marketplace, to the historic $20,000 price tag.

Read it now.

8. The 12 Best Bitcoin Wallets

Storing your bitcoin in a safe and secure wallet is the most important decision you’ll make in your crypto journey. But how do you find one you trust? We dive into the 12 best wallets in 2018 and beyond.

Read it now.

Happy holidays from all of us here at Block Explorer!