Bitcoin’s share of the cryptocurrency market is sliding, with a host of alternative digital coins gaining ground as developers race to create digital cash that can gain a footing in mainstream commerce and finance.
As these “altcoins” grow in prominence, Reuters is publishing a series of stories that examines the features and characteristics of some of the alternatives to bitcoin that have grabbed the attention of developers, investors and regulators.
Since its launch in 2014, Monero has grown to be the 12th biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation with around $1.4 billion-worth in circulation.
Every transaction involving Monero obscures the digital addresses of the senders and receivers, as well as the value of the transaction. That offers users near-total anonymity, allowing them to instantaneously send digital cash without leaving any clues.
Bitcoin was initially seen as opaque, as the identity of the owners of digital wallets used to send and receive bitcoin is not public.
But details recorded permanently on the blockchain after bitcoin is sent and received can, in fact, give up clues that can be used to pinpoint those identities. This has become increasingly easy with the advent of firms that specialise in analysing blockchain transactions.
When Norwegian police earlier this year gave details of the kidnapping of the wife of a wealthy businessman, they said the family had demanded a ransom in cryptocurrencies. Local press reported that the suspects wanted to be paid in Monero.
The unusual request underlined a growing trend for criminals to seek alternatives to bitcoin, which through its first decade has become the cryptocurrency of choice for illicit activities from buying contraband to laundering money, cyber security experts and law enforcement agencies say.
Bitcoin proponents say that traditional cash is also widely used for criminal activities.
Three of the biggest five darknet markets now accept Monero, Robinson said, though he added the caveat that bitcoin is still the most widely used cryptocurrency for darknet payments.
One of Monero’s developer team said Monero enables crime no more than cash. Its developers should stay out of debates on its traceability or risk undermining its decentralised nature, Francisco Cabanas told Reuters.
“It doesn’t selectively encourage crime, it encourages commerce,” said Cabanas, who goes by the nickname “ArcticMine,” in an interview via Skype from Vancouver. “In that respect, it’s no different to cash.”
Monero is also widely used for “cryptojacking,” or illicit cryptocurrency mining, where hackers infect computers and steal their power to mine new coins – a highly lucrative endeavour.
Nevertheless, over 4 percent of the 17 million Monero in circulation were mined using malware, said Guillermo Suarez de Tangil, a cybersecurity lecturer at King’s College London who has researched Monero.
“There is a clear phenomenon of the underground using Monero, and selling malware that will contribute to Monero mining,” he said.
Monero’s developers say its characteristics make it a useful tool for companies looking to maintain commercial secrecy. Users in repressive countries looking to avoid censorship or surveillance can also safely move money in the form of Monero, they say.
IS LAW ENFORCEMENT WORRIED? WHAT DO REGULATORS SAY?
Cryptocurrencies are mostly unregulated. Though countries from Britain to the United States are looking at how to deal with the phenomenon, few have set out comprehensive strategies for dealing with digital coins.
Asked about Monero, Borja Pastor de la Morena, an official at Europol in The Hague who oversees the agency’s work on money laundering said: “This kind of alternative cryptocurrency is more opaque and better at concealing the activity of the users.”
He said: “It’s a phenomenon that we are paying attention to”
And though aware of the propensity for cryptocurrencies to be used for money laundering, few financial national-level regulators have specifically addressed privacy coins.
“We recognise the risks with cryptoassets like ‘privacy coins’ being used for illicit activity,” a spokesperson said, adding that it would “soon” launch a consultation on bringing crypto-related companies under anti-money laundering regulation.
Japan’s financial watchdog, sensitive to money laundering potential of privacy coins, last year asked a Tokyo-based exchange to review its listings. The exchange later ceased trading Monero.
WHO’S BEHIND MONERO?
Like bitcoin, Monero is governed by a virtual community of hundreds of developers that lacks any centralised authority.
Cabanas is one of only two publicly-known members of its seven-person core developer team, who act as stewards for updates to its code.
Mitchell Krawiec-Thayer, a San Francisco-based blockchain developer who is part of Monero Research Labs, said Monero is designed so it can be easily mined by individuals rather than powerful groups that team up to mine coins in industrial quantities.
“This lowers the barrier of entry to everyone,” he said. “The downside is that criminals have started using that. Stealing other people’s resources, putting strain on their equipment – it’s a straight-up threat.”
Monero has recently launched a response group, where those infected by malware can seek help, Krawiec-Thayer said.
WHO USES MONERO FOR LEGITIMATE PURPOSES?
Data on who uses Monero, and why, is scarce. That’s a challenge for understanding the usage of any cryptocurrency, even more so for one designed to obscure its tracks.
Daily transactions for Monero – one proxy for how widely the cryptocurrency is used – have hovered around 8,000 this month, data from website CoinMetrics shows. The number of active digital wallet addresses for Monero has hung around 5,000.
By comparison, bitcoin sees around 320,000 transactions a day, with about 785,000 active addresses.
Monero is not the only privacy coin. Others, such as ZCash, have grown popular with investors, often for speculative reasons but also because of interest in their privacy features.
Amid growing acceptance of privacy coins, a number of major exchanges list Monero. For example, Malta-based Binance, one of the world’s largest exchanges, allows users to trade the coin.
Binance declined to comment on Monero, but said it has a comprehensive review process for evaluating coins and tokens for listing, and that it carries out periodic reviews on projects.
Monero’s [XMR] Riccardo Spagni calls Craig Wright ‘so dumb’; attacks Wright’s lawyer credentials
Craig Wright, Chief Scientist at nChain, has been in cryptocurrency hot waters for quite some time now, with his claims of being Satoshi Nakamoto being disputed by most of the cryptoverse. The latest chapter in this episode was written when Wright filed a copyright for the Bitcoin whitepaper, something that was seen by the Twitter community as a gimmick and “just another form.”
The latest proponent to come out and attack the Bitcoin SV proponent is Riccardo Spagni, the lead developer at Monero. In his latest tweet, Spagni wrote,“PSA: Craig Wright is so dumb he made it illegal to run Bitcoin SV test net using the Bitcoin SV code when he illegally re-licensed it. He claims to be a lawyer, but fails to get something this simple correct…?”
According to the screenshot attached with the tweet, the mistake is in the hash number pointed out by Spagni. The hash does not define the algorithm, therefore a user can use any algorithm to come up with the given value. Spagni’s sentiment was shared by many members of the cryptocurrency community, with many starting a series of hashtags such as #CraigWrightissodumb. One user, Catoshi MeowMotonaut, tweeted,
My entry “Craig Wright is so dumb that he sued a cartoon character on twitter”
This tweet was followed by a tweet from @amritha, a Bitcoin enthusiast, who added,“… and then called the owner of Twitter a criminal for liking alt-coins and was banned for life from the platform, resigned to writing articles to himself on Medium.”
The copyright registration was met with a lot of trepidation by the community, but the story received another twist after Jerry Britto, Executive Director at Coincenter, clarified that just because a copyright is filed, it does not mean that the claim becomes legitimate. Post the filing, the copyright office will proceed to check if the clauses in the copyright document were true or not and only if it comes out green, does the ‘Bitcoin creator’ title go to Craig Wright. Britto added,
“Unfortunately there is no official way to challenge a registration. If there are competing claims, the Office will just register all of them. Someone else could today also register themselves as the author of the white paper, thus inviting a suit from Wright and letting a court decide on the validity of the claim. I volunteer @petermccormack.”
Monero and Zcash are ‘privatizing the blockchain,’ claims Nym Technologies’ Harry Halpin
Monero, the privacy coin, and its fundamental features – ring signature, ring confidential transactions, and stealth addresses, have received a lot of attention in the past. However, in a recent edition of the Keiser Report, Nym Technologies’ CEO, Harry Halpin, said that Monero and Zcash were basically “privatizing the blockchain” itself and the sensitive data can be easily viewed by fraudulent entities. To prevent network-level transactions to become visible to a third party entity like a well-funded company, the CEO said,
“When you want to send a Bitcoin transaction you’re doing a peer-to-peer broadcast on the network level so even if you use like zero knowledge proves and you use ring signatures like Monero or whatever it is on the chain itself that peer-to-peer traffic is actually capturable/recordable by any enemy who is watching the network”
Tor, which started out as a Navy research project, has been added to Nym as a solution to conceal sensitive data on its platform, which according to Halpin, makes Nym better than Monero and ZCash. He added,
“Tor is like a really great product if your enemy is like the government of Venezuela the government of Iran some government which can’t see the entire internet or some company which can only see a small portion of the internet”
In light of the ability of some entities to be able to monitor the entire internet, an older design called the mix networking or “mixnet” can help conceal exposure of network data, he said. The CEO added that mix networking destroys the pattern of the data sent, first by reshuffling it, then by manipulating the timelines data sent and lastly, by sending “dummy packets” of data.
Further, he also clarified that Nym does not take grants from the US government, but is an open-sourced software ran by volunteers. He added that the firm is non-profit and does not take incentives.
MONERO Price Prediction: Long-term (XMR) Value Forecast – May 19
- The long-term outlook remains in the uptrend.
- The two EMAs are strong support for bullish continuation with $120.00 on the card.
XMR/USD Long-term Trend: Bullish
Supply zone: $140.00, $180.00, $220.00
Demand zone: $40.00, $20.00, $10.00
XMR remains in a bullish trend in its long-term outlook. After breaking the upper supply area of the range the bulls have sustained the momentum up north. On May 16th May, the cryptocurrency was up at $97.00 in the supply area the first time since 12th November 2019.
While price was above the two EMAs in the daily chart on 16th May, It was a breakout at the 50-EMA in the weekly chart an indication of a possible rally in the long-term.
The market correction was necessary hence the drawdown to $77.51 in the demand area on 17th May with the rejection of further downward movement by the 10-EMA. This confirms the bullish continuation.
The new trading week began on a bullish note with price at $79.90 at the opening and currently up at $86.96 in the supply area an indication of more buying positions are been taken by traders
$120.00 in the supply area is on the horizon as the bulls kept pressure strong.