Over the past few weeks of ‘Meme History’ we’ve covered the basics; Sminem, theWojaks, and Bobo the Bear. But in all the commotion, the lowest hanging fruit has yet to be plucked. What is probably the most well-known and mainstream of crypto-meme stories has yet to be told. And how poignant the story is in this, seemingly, never-ending bear market. The story of Carlos Matos or Bitconnect Carlos.
Figure 1. The Original Bitconnect conference video featuring Carlos Matos
Now defunct, Bitconnect was a cryptocurrency lending platform that operated like a pyramid or “Ponzi” scheme. Launched in December of 2016, the Bitconnect platform asked users to convert their bitcoin into Bitconnect coins and lend those coins out to other users. The lenders were rewarded with interest; the more you lent, the more interest you accrued. Bitconnect’s anonymous lending platform had people crying Ponzi from the start. It duped many bitcoin holders and in the process became crypto’s most iconic fraud. Carlos Matos was its most iconic sucker.
During the bull market that was Q4 of 2017, coins needed little merit to see a jump in price and early Bitconnect adopters like Carlos Matos were raking in the coins. His success on the platform led to his attending of an October symposium and appreciation ceremony in Thailand.During the event, Carlos made and ill-fatedly enthusiastic attempt at shilling Bitconnect. A coin many in the crypto-community recognized as a fraud. And ended like everyone expected.
Screaming “Bitcooooonect!!,” and “Wassup!” like a 1990’s beer frog, Carlos’ presentation struck a chord with the crypto-community and we all lol’d together for weeks. In no time, parodies started hitting YouTube, and Bitconnect became as close to a household name as any shitcoin has ever gotten. It even got as far as PewDiePie.
Figure 4. Pewdiepie’s Bitconnect video.
It’s probably the most ‘mainstream’ crypto meme out there. With good reason. Carlos is the embodiment of the dupe and everyone loves a dupe. Especially when you’re missing out on the bull run that was 2017.
Bitcoin is officially ten years old. On this day ten years ago, Bitcoin’s elusive creator Satoshi Nakamoto mined the first Bitcoin block. Known as the “genesis block” or Block#0, it marks the very start of the Bitcoin blockchain.
A decade later, there are now more than half a million blocks on the Bitcoin blockchain. And the price of one bitcoin has soared from almost zero to $3,900.
The block contains just one transaction: the 50 BTC reward for mining it.
The block also contains a pointed message about the existing banking system with a message written into the code:
The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks
The message refers to the headline in The Times newspaper on that day. You could argue it’s a simple time stamp. However, it’s more likely a comment on the failing banking system. British Chancellor Alistair Darling was considering a bailout for the banks after the financial crisis in 2008.
It’s no coincidence that Satoshi included this message as he ushered in a radical new monetary system of his own.
Satoshi was rewarded with 50 bitcoins for mining the first block. However, due to the way the bitcoin blockchain is coded, the reward for the first block cannot be spent. Over time, people have donated additional BTC to the block.
Even today, the Genesis block received a gift from the following address:
To celebrate the anniversary, crypto exchange BitMex took out an advert on the front page of The Times. It reads: “Thanks Satoshi. We owe you one. Happy 10th Birthday, Bitcoin.”
It’s a subtle nod to Satoshi’s hidden message on the genesis block which referenced The Times newspaper headline.
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:
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.
There are two main reasons for removing your crypto from exchanges on Proof of Keys day:
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.
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.
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.
2018 was a brutal year for the bitcoin price. Shortly after hitting an all-time high, the crypto bubble popped. Over the following twelve months, the bitcoin price slowly bled out to end the year on a low note.
Bitcoin began 2018 at $13,464 and ended the year at $3,742 – a 72% loss in value.
The total cryptocurrency market capitalization fell from $626.6 billion to $125.6 billion – an 80% drop.
How did bitcoin lose 72% in price?
To understand the phenomenal fall in price, we must go back to 2017 – a year of irrational exuberance and hype in the crypto space. Bitcoin became a mainstream talking point and hundreds of new cryptocurrencies emerged. “Initial coin offerings” promised easy returns.
But the mania quickly turned into anguish. As millions flooded to cryptocurrency, Bitcoin came up against severe scaling issues, hindering its adoption as a currency alternative.
And the reality of ICOs was laid bare. Most projects couldn’t possibly deliver on their wild promises. Many were nothing more than scams designed to part investors with their cash.
The subesequent 72% price crash in 2018 was the dose of reality.
Bitcoin price fall triggers layoffs across the industry
As the year progressed, blockchain and cryptocurrency firms began to announce layoffs. Many of these companies had raised money in crypto so the dramatic price falls tore away at their operating funds.
In more high-profile layoffs, Bitmain -the world’s largest bitcoin mining company – is reportedly downsizing with up to 50% of staff members at risk. And cryptocurrency exchange Huobi is streamlining its team, although exact numbers are yet to be revealed.
This is the harsh reality of “crypto-winter.”
$1 billion crypto hacks
The discussion of cryptocurrency security reared its head again after the biggest exchange hack in history took place in January 2018. Coincheck was hacked to the tune of $532.6 million with further hacks at Bitgrail and Bithumb through the year.
The constant hacks weakened trust in the crypto exchange ecosystem and put further selling pressure on the bitcoin price.
Some progress is being made with a landmark move into crypto insurance from the Winklevoss Twins. All funds on their Gemini exchange and custody service are now fully insured.
Even traditional players are stepping into the ring as Fidelity announced a crypto custody service. Expect secure custody services, aka bitcoin banks, to develop at pace in 2019.
Bitcoin hits a regulatory brick wall
Cryptocurrency regulation continued to hinder progress throughout 2018.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took action against numerous ICOs. The SEC chairman concluded that “every ICO I’ve seen is a security,” which means stricter investor rules should be applied.
China maintained its ban on cryptocurrency exchanges, while South Korea authorities raided exchanges on suspicion of money laundering and tax evasion.
Most notably, the SEC rejected or pushed back at least nine bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The inevitable launch of a bitcoin ETF is often cited as a major catalyst for the bitcoin price, but the continuous delays weighed on crypto prices throughout 2018.
Any good news for the bitcoin price?
There are plenty of potential price triggers to look forward to in 2019. The much-hyped Bakkt platform is expected in early 2019. Bakkt is a futures trading service settled in real bitcoin and is backed by ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange.
We will continue to see bitcoin ETF proposals thrown at the SEC. At least one SEC commissioner, Hester Peirce, is supportive of bitcoin and serious discussions are taking place. Expect this to dominate bitcoin conversation for the coming year.
Elsewhere, huge leaps are being made in cryptocurrency technology. The lightning network is rapidly gaining pace in a bid to facilitate micropayments for bitcoin. Blockstream’s satellites are now beaming the blockchain to every landmass on earth, eliminating the need for internet access for bitcoin transactions.
Ethereum and Ripple 2018 price roundup
Ethereum fared worse than bitcoin through 2018, falling 85%. ETH started the year at $880 and ended at $133.
Ripple XRP also fell 85%, starting the year at $2.31 and closing at $0.35.