In this issue, we look back at the year that was. 2019 was rough for many cryptocurrencies, but not all. Bitcoin (BTC) finished the year up 85% and more secure than ever with its hash rate surpassing all-time highs. The Litecoin price climbed about 30%. Of course, our focus here is not the market but the products and services bringing crypto to the masses. The market’s ups and downs are merely the backdrop as we review the year’s biggest events for mainstream crypto adoption.
Along the way, we’ll preview our new format.
Going forward, each issue of Popular Crypto will be a Top Ten list of the most important developments for crypto mainstreaming. We’re switching formats to bring more focus to our coverage.
All that and more in this week’s issue. But first, here’s a . . .
🥂 Message From Nomics
2019 was a great year for Nomics.com. We accomplished a lot as a company, beat our revenue goal by 100%, and our traffic goal by much more.
But we’re just as proud of our contributions to transparent data initiatives. As a provider of crypto market data, we see ticker stuffing, exchange spam, and other forms of fake volume on a daily basis. And we started the year on a mission to clean things up.
In April, we introduced our new crypto exchange rating system, which grades exchanges according to their willingness to provide auditable histories. See Nomics’ Exchange Transparency Ratings (And The Correlation Between Transparency & Fake Volume, and Toxic Activity).
In August, we followed up with the release of our transparent volume indicator. Indeed, for each cryptoasset on Nomics.com, we now provide the amount of trading volume occurring on transparent exchanges.
Finally, in September we also released the Nomics Manifesto (entitled Transparency Must Be Trustless) to affirm our commitment to transparency. By shining a light on shady exchange practices and proposing innovative solutions, we hope to push the space towards the day when average consumers can save and spend crypto as comfortably as they use fiat.
And now, 2019’s biggest events for mainstream crypto adoption.
😍 Thanks To Our Sponsor: Nexo.io
- 🥂 Message From Nomics
- 😍 Thanks To Our Sponsor: Nexo.io
- 😎 Top Ten of 2019
- #1. DeFi Lending Jumps 100%
- #2. Human-Readable Addresses
- #3. Improved UX for Lightning Mobile Wallets
- #4. Crypto Exchange Support for Lightning
- #5. Expansion of Crypto Options/Futures Exchanges, Volumes, & Products
- #6. Advances in Plug-n-Play Bitcoin Nodes
- #7. An Affordable Blockchain Phone
- #8. Blockchain-Friendly Browsing
- #9. Crypto Payment Solutions
- #10. Hardware 2FA Gets Even Better
- 🏆 Our Weekly Poll
😎 Top Ten of 2019
The following list is in no particular order and includes items from most issues of Popular Crypto, which started back in September 2019. Each item contains links to the relevant issue as well as the highlighted product or service.
#1. DeFi Lending Jumps 100%
- Sablier released v1 of its protocol for continuous and trustless payroll. The Ethereum-based DApp enables users to “stream money” as simply as inputting a deposit amount and duration. The primary use case is payroll, but the possibilities are endless. Colleges could use Sablier to stream scholarships, parents could stream allowances, tenants could stream their rent. Sablier supports payments in Dai (DAI), Sai (SAI), USD Coin (USDC), and Compound’s Dai and USD Coins. [Link]
- MakerDAO (MKR) launched Multi-Collateral Dai (also known as MCD) which can be backed by multiple forms of collateral – including Basic Attention Token (BAT). Contrast that with original Dai, renamed Single-Collateral Dai, which was backed solely by Ethereum (ETH). Users can secure their collateral assets through Oasis Borrow. The following video shows how to create an Oasis Borrow Vault. [Link]
#2. Human-Readable Addresses
From Popular Crypto Issue 9
- The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) auctions ended, which means that all remaining three to six character .ETH names are available for instant registration. Built on Ethereum, ENS allows participants to register human-readable addresses for sending money or interacting with smart contracts. For example, “0x4cbe58c50480…” could be changed to “alice.eth.” [Link]
- Naming is also the subject of our latest Flippening episode, Ethereum Name Service & The Internet Naming Revolution. In our interview with ENS Director of Operations Brantly Millegan, we discuss the history of naming systems, how ENS works, and more. Check it out.
#3. Improved UX for Lightning Mobile Wallets
- ACINQ, the team behind the Eclair wallet, introduced Phoenix, a mobile Lightning wallet that offers a similar experience to a traditional Bitcoin wallet. For a few trade-offs (which ACINQ openly details), users enjoy access to instant and inexpensive Lightning Network transactions without the hassle of managing channels or updating backups. [Link]
- Japanese startup Nayuta released a hybrid full-node/SPV Lightning mobile wallet. The wallet, which is available for Android, lets users choose between a fully validating Bitcoin node, a lighter SPV (simplified payment verification) version, and a hybrid mode that switches between the two. Hybrid mode could be used to run SPV during the day – when battery life is a consideration – then switch to the full node at night. [Link]
#4. Crypto Exchange Support for Lightning
From Popular Crypto Issue 12
- Bitfinex became the first major crypto exchange to support the Lightning Network for Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals. As if that weren’t news enough, the exchange also announced a partnership with Bitrefill, enabling customers to use their Bitcoin to shop Bitrefill’s catalog of 2,000+ digital gift cards and mobile phone refills. Transactions are instantly settled over the Lightning network using a dedicated channel. [Link]
#5. Expansion of Crypto Options/Futures Exchanges, Volumes, & Products
From Popular Crypto Issue 13
- Bitcoin futures exchange Bakkt launched two new products: Bakkt Bitcoin Monthly Options and Bakkt Bitcoin Cash-Settled Futures. The former became the first Bitcoin options contract to be regulated by the CFTC. The latter serves as an alternative for participants who are unable to trade the physically-settled contract. It is available through ICE Futures Singapore, which is open to traders worldwide. [Link]
- Crypto exchange OKEx also launched cryptocurrency options trading. OKEx already offered customer-to-customer, spot, and futures trading. [Link]
#6. Advances in Plug-n-Play Bitcoin Nodes
- Casa announced the Node 2, a new version of its flagship plug-and-play Bitcoin full node. The device runs on a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. Existing Casa members can get it for $300, while the price for new clients is set at $399. [Link]
- Incognito released the Incognito Node, a device that allows you to send, receive, and store crypto. According to the team behind the project, Incognito’s main advantages are privacy and the ability to earn from each transaction taking place on the network. Incognito supports BTC, ETH, and BNB and comes with a one-year guarantee. [Link]
#7. An Affordable Blockchain Phone
From Popular Crypto Issue 7
- HTC released an affordable cryptocurrency phone – the Exodus 1s. The smartphone has the capability to run a full Bitcoin node, which allows users to make trades as well as send and receive cryptocurrency. The phone is priced at €219 (~$244) and can be bought with cryptocurrencies. Those who purchase the Exodus 1s will also have to invest in an SD card as the phone’s integrated memory isn’t enough to support the Bitcoin ledger (currently at 260GB). [Link]
#8. Blockchain-Friendly Browsing
From Popular Crypto Issue 10
- Brave released version 1.0 of its privacy-focused web browser, enabling users of iPhones and iPads to participate in its blockchain-based advertising model, which pays Basic Attention Token to users who opt-in to ads. Previously, rewards were only available on desktop and Android devices. [Link]
#9. Crypto Payment Solutions
- Abra announced that its customers will be able to sell their crypto at 6,000 7-Eleven stores across the Philippines. [Link]
- Binance.US enabled customers to purchase cryptocurrency using their debit cards. In a blog post, the exchange announced the addition of debit cards to existing USD on- and off-ramps like ACH and bank wire. [Link]
- Coinbase added five new cryptocurrency options to its Visa debit card, which instantly converts crypto to fiat at the point of sale. Holders can now spend Augur (REP), Basic Attention Token, Stellar (XLM), XRP (XRP), and 0x (ZRX). The card was also expanded to 10 additional European countries, bringing the total number to 29. [Link]
- The Cardano Foundation partnered with COTI to launch AdaPay, a solution that lets merchants take payment in Cardano’s ADA cryptocurrency. Participating merchants can now accept ADA and instantly convert it to one of 35 fiat currencies. [Link]
- Japanese conglomerate SoftBank launched a new payment card that lets users store and spend crypto with 10,000 retailers across Japan. The SoftBank Card features hot and cold storage functionality plus a smart LED screen that displays user balances. [Link]
#10. Hardware 2FA Gets Even Better
- Yubico and Google joined forces to manufacture the USB-C Titan Security Key, a hardware two-factor authentication (2FA) solution. The device is compatible with Android, macOS, Chrome OS, and Windows. [Link]
- Yubico used the Microsoft Ignite conference to unveil its new biometric security key, the YubiKey Bio. The device takes 2FA to the next level by requiring a user’s fingerprint. Hardware 2FA has long been recommended by cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance and Coinbase as the best way to secure an account. The Bio supports both biometric- and PIN-based logins and functions out of the box without batteries, drivers, or software. [Link]
- Apple’s iOS 13.3 release enabled Yubico to add NFC support for its iOS authenticator app. Previously, YubiKey 5Ci was the only Yubico key that could be used on iOS devices, and it had to be plugged in via the Lightning port. With 13.3, YubiKey 5 NFC and Security Key NFC can also be used. Combining a key with an authenticator app adds a second layer of security because it requires the key to access the code generated by the app. [Link]
🏆 Our Weekly Poll
In our last poll, we asked you about crypto tax software. Here are the results: