What Abra Thinks About Some of the Most Popular Altcoins (ETH, LTC, XRP, XLM, DASH, QTUM, NEO, ZEC)

Siamak Masnavi

On Saturday (21 July 2018), Abra, the publisher of the mobile app (available for both Android and iOS) that combines a crypto wallet with a crypto exchange, released the "Ultimate Guide to Altcoins." This article focuses on the highlights from this 30+ page report, in particular what makes each of these cryptocurrencies special.

Ethereum (ETH)

"A growing number of entrepreneurs and developers view Ethereum as a valuable tool and have started to use it to build decentralized businesses that couldn’t have existed before. Ethereum smart contracts can be used to eliminate third parties from many industries, which would lower costs and creates more secure products. Ethereum use cases are many, including decentralized identity registration, supply chain management, and democratized crowdfunding.

Due to the demand for ether, the value has increased rapidly over the past year. The Ethereum network now processes more transactions per day than Bitcoin. The number of applications and businesses have also been increasing at an exponential rate. Ethereum is only three years old, but it is showing tremendous potential to create trustless, decentralized applications that will be used by millions of people across the world."

Litecoin (LTC)

"The main advantage of Litecoin is that it made day-to-day purchases possible. When the price of Bitcoin was low, purchasing something quickly and cheaply may have been possible, but at its all-time high in December 2017, buying a single cup of coffee with Bitcoin would have cost $30+ in fees. On top of that, the transaction would take at least an hour to process, if not much longer — not exactly ideal for everyday purchases. The cryptocurrency community is actively trying to solve this problem with technologies such as Lightning Network for Bitcoin, but as of today, these protocols have not yet been fully implemented.

Litecoin on the other hand, was designed to make payments instant, by enabling transaction verifications that take minutes rather than hours, which lowers transaction fees."


"Having raised over $93 million through traditional investment methods from some of the biggest names in venture capital, Ripple is much more than just a small team with a white paper or successful ICO (initial coin offering). The company itself is well-funded and counts the likes of UBS, Santander, Standard Chartered, UniCredit and American Express as customers.

Ripple primarily seeks to modernize cross-border payments on a global scale. Transferring money across borders using traditional methods, such as third-party services, is painfully slow, and almost always expensive. The fastest way to get money from San Francisco to Berlin is to literally hop on a plane with cash and y it there. A standard wire transfer or SWIFT payment can take days, and incur hefty fees. So, in an era of technological progress and rapid delivery of just about everything else on a global scale, why is it so difficult to move money from one country to another? Antiquated systems have created a need for new, less restrictive methods for transferring funds, and Ripple has developed a solution in an attempt to address this and modernize the global financial system.

Ripple and the XRP token run on the Ripple Protocol, which is built with private, centralized nodes. A node is a computer on the Ripple network that is authorized to verify transactions and keep the entire process running smoothly. In this fashion, the XRP ledger is not truly decentralized (like Bitcoin’s permissionless, distributed ledger which allows anyone with a computer and internet connection to download and run a node) but rather functions through the collaboration and agreement of 55 validator nodes, held by private institutions such as Microsoft and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This gives the nodes authority over the network as opposed to a more decentralized system."

Stellar (XLM)

"Stellar considers itself “finance with a mission.” Large portions of the world’s population remain unbanked, and Stellar seeks to make access and participation in the global economy universal. This philosophy is fundamentally inclusionary, and the entire codebase is open-source, meaning anyone can change or modify the code, and everyone can participate. Whereas Ripple is for-profit, Stellar plans to cover operational costs by setting aside 5 percent of the total available lumens for their own use, along with accepting donations. If Ripple is going after the banking industry, Stellar is going after the individual.

One of the strengths of Stellar is the team they have created to guide the network they are building. They offer grants of up to USD $2 million in lumens to developer partners on behalf of the Stellar Build Project. Stellar recently partnered with IBM as part of their Hyperledger project, where they will attempt to solve the problem of global cross-border payments together.

Furthermore, Stellar contains one critical component that is not found with Ripple — the ability to conduct ICOs on the Stellar network. In other words, new cryptocurrency projects can use the Stellar blockchain to release their own token. So far, most new projects in the cryptocurrency space have launched ICOs using Ethereum using ERC20 tokens. But, due to Ethereum’s popularity coupled with current scaling mechanisms, the past year saw massive backlogs of transactions with slow transaction speeds and volatile, hefty fees. Stellar promises faster transactions and lower costs than Ethereum, which is why some crypto startups have started to use Stellar as a platform to launch initial coin offerings.

These features, combined with the decentralized and altruistic mission of Stellar, have attracted favorable attention in contrast to the criticism facing Ripple. The two are pursuing very different things, and many feel there is room for both in the big picture of the global financial ecosystem."

Dash (DASH)

"Dash is fungible. What this means is that one dash can be substituted for another dash, much like how one dollar can be traded for another dollar, regardless of where that dollar has been. As part of a transaction, once dash is mixed through a native-feature called PrivateSend, all previous history is cleared, making it impossible to distinguish one dash from another.

Since the digital cash is not held by a bank, purchase histories are private and they can never be tracked or intercepted. Transactions occur near instantaneously, with low or even zero fees because there’s no bank in the middle. What’s more, many businesses accept dash already — web hosts, VPN providers, web stores, marketing services, online games, and online casinos."

Qtum (QTUM)

"Qtum features a strong team lead by Patrick Dai, who was recently acknowledged as one of China’s '30 under 30' to watch, with other team members coming from prestigious and well-known Chinese tech companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent. Beyond their ICO capital, they are backed by more traditional capital from established angel and private investors in China.

A rarity in the blockchain world, Qtum is also backward compatible with Ethereum contracts as well as Bitcoin gateways and will remain backward compatible even after updates. This allows for easy platform adoption and a “plug and play” methodology that leans upon what other technologies in the space have done well.

Qtum is making a big push to create technology that is nimble and flexible enough to enable smart contracts on mobile devices and also plans to expand into IoT (internet of things) devices. Based in Singapore, Qtum is positioning itself to go address the Asian markets and even more specifically, the Chinese market."


"One of NEO’s biggest design features is accessibility because NEO projects can be coded in common programming languages such as C#, Python, and Java. This opens many doors to new developments within the ecosystem, with lower barriers to entry, and a more inclusive approach to collaboration on the project platform. This is important to any cryptocurrency platform allowing ICO’s, such as NEO, Ethereum, and Stellar, where other projects can release their own cryptocurrency on the underlying blockchain built by NEO.

With connections to both Chinese tech giant Alibaba, as well as potential good standing with a skeptical Chinese government, NEO is poised to address the Chinese market. It also features partnerships with Agrello, Bancor, and Coindash. The team behind NEO is also working with Fadada and Microsoft to collaborate on a project called Legal Chain, seeking to modernize and address the shortcomings of the legal system through digital applications.

NEO doesn’t allow forks and instead makes use of a special consensus mechanism known as dBFT (Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance). Transaction volume is another key component of NEO — up to 10,000 transactions per second are possible.

NEO also has some future-proofing baked into its core components. More specifically, the blockchain is being developed to be 'quantum resistant,' which will become increasingly important as quantum computers are developed that may be fast enough to crack the encryption."

Zcash (ZEC)

"Zcash is important because Bitcoin lacks some privacy controls. Consider the following: With Bitcoin you have the sender’s address, the receiver’s address, and the amount transferred visible with every transaction. This is potentially problematic because let’s say you purchase an everyday item at a cafe — the restaurant will see your sender address, be able to look up your wallet on the public ledger, then be able to find the amounts of all payments you’ve sent and received. All this information is publicly available on the Bitcoin ledger, permanently recorded in the blockchain in a way that can never be altered. Great for verification that these digital funds have not been spent twice, but not so great for privacy.

Zcash addresses this problem by making all aspects of the transaction completely anonymous, private, and built upon strong encryption. This is possible using a system of zero-knowledge proofs called zkSNARKs.

Zcash has caught the attention of huge players such as JPMorgan, even establishing a partnership with the firm in their development of the enterprise-scale blockchain known as Quorum. JPMorgan may find such a system appealing in the case of wanting to secure their trades from the eyes of competitors, or in diligence required to protect data. As far as partnerships within the cryptocurrency world go, this one is a big deal."


Featured Image Credit: Image Courtesy of Abra




Brazil Is for Blockchain but Against Crypto

Brazil, or the Federative Republic of Brazil, is a Portuguese-speaking state in South America with more than 200 million inhabitants. It is in fifth place among all countries of the world in terms of area and sixth in terms of population.

The Brazilian economy ranks ninth in the world in terms of nominal GDP and seventh in purchasing power parity. The country is a member of the UN, G20, WTO, Mercosur and the Union of South American Nations, and is also one of the BRICS countries.

Despite the active development of IT in the country and massive investments in this industry, large investors and financial institutions have preferred to stay out of cryptocurrencies. Brazil has tightened crypto control: investment funds are now banned from buying cryptocurrencies, and banks have demonstrated unfriendly attitudes by blocking the accounts of cryptocurrency companies and crypto owners.

Nevertheless, Brazil is actively integrating blockchain technology into its infrastructure and economy and even launching its own instant payment system. More on that in the article written by Solomon Brown, Head of PR for Freewallet, a cryptocurrency wallet developer.

Cryptocurrency Regulation in Brazil

Interest in the crypto industry is growing in Brazil, and regulation is slowly catching up. The main managerial authority that currently deals with crypto companies is CADE - Council for Economic Protection of Brazil. Regulators have still not taken decisive action. They first showed their willingness to do so in November 2018, submitting for consideration a bill on the taxation of crypto assets.

On May 31, 2019, the chairman of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies ordered the creation of a commission to consider cryptocurrency regulation in the country. The commission is tasked with overseeing the digital asset industry. Also, the Brazilian Federal Revenue Office (RFB) has issued new rules requiring cryptocurrency exchanges to inform the regulator of user transactions in order to detect tax fraud, local news outlet Livecoins reported.

The guideline states that cryptocurrency trading platforms in Brazil have to inform the agency about the movement of user funds in cryptocurrencies and comply with the requirements of standard 1.888 / 2019, published last May, “whenever the monthly volume of operations exceeds 30,000.00 Brazilian reals ($5.140).” In addition to the transaction volume, operators must also provide additional data including the citizenship of the owner of the digital currency, his place of residence, registration number and a description of the crypto assets used in the transaction.

At the moment, there are no other specific laws regarding holders: those who store crypto without transferring their assets to fiat don’t have to pay income tax. Some investors have to report to the tax service — there is a provision requiring you to pay a 15% income tax on earnings of more than 35,000 reals per month, which is approximately $6,000.

Meanwhile, the four largest financial agencies in Brazil have teamed up to create a regulatory sandbox and develop regulation for new technologies, including blockchain. The Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, the Securities Commission and the Superintendent for Private Insurance of Brazil announced their intention to put together a set of rules for fintech and cryptocurrency businesses.

Regulators said the new rules will affect Brazil's securities, finance and capital markets. In addition, institutions will create a normative sandbox to facilitate new developments in technology.

A new regulatory initiative came soon after the announcement of plans to establish a Cryptocurrency Regulatory Commission in Brazil. Although new regulatory efforts are defining the boundaries of using cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies in business, many cryptocurrency sellers are still not classified in the financial market.

The Minister of Finance has hailed the benefits that DLT technology has brought to Brazil's financial markets, also mentioning cryptocurrencies and ICOs in the field of finance. Brazil currently has the largest number of cryptocurrency users in Latin America and ranks fifth in the world in this respect. According to experts, at the end of 2019, 8% of the Brazilian population owned some form of crypto asset. But with all that red tape, a basic question arises: How do locals buy cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies in Brazil: Where to Buy and How to Spend

Local Bitcoin Exchanges

Despite the government’s bearishness, Brazilian cryptocurrency exchanges and exchangers still exist and are operating, but not actively enough, compared to the countries that are more friendly to the crypto industry. Here is a summary of the volume data of Bitcoin buy and sell transactions collected from 40 local exchanges, such as BitBlue and Braziliex.

According to Cointrader Monitor, a local website monitoring cryptocurrency quotations in Brazilian brokerages, exchanges reported having handled 395,209.48 Bitcoins from January 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. The highest volume exchange was demonstrated by MercadoBitcoin with 120.889.34 Bitcoins traded, corresponding to 30.58% of the national market.

The day that registered the biggest Bitcoin movement in the period was June 26, 2019, with 5,070.38 BTC. And the day with the least movement was January 1, 2020 with 64.90 BTC. Analysts suggested that the downtrend might be a consequence of cryptocurrency companies having lost credibility due to litigation with their clients.

Talking about the BTC trading volume, it is interesting to note that the 2020 numbers are encouraging, compared to the figures from the first quarter of 2019.

img 1.png

Source: CointraderMonitor

From January to March 2019-2020, the national Bitcoin market saw a 32.64% increase. Thus, if the trend continues, we can expect a volume of more than 480,000 Bitcoins traded in Brazil in 2020.

These figures prove a considerable number of Brazilians are sticking to local crypto services, exchanges and wallets. Nevertheless, the country is in Freewallet’s top 20 list by number of users, which makes us extremely proud.

What to Buy for BTC

In the Brazilian city of Fortaleza, citizens will be allowed to pay for public transport with cryptocurrency, according to Cryptoglobe, which cited local media. The Ceart State Autonomous Carrier Cooperative (COOTRAPS) announced that a new function for buying tickets via QR codes will appear as part of a special application. Currently, debit and credit cards are the supported means of payment.

COOTRAPS is also considering adding cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin. City authorities want to increase the efficiency of the payment system, reduce its cost and attract more people who will use this service. This is a way to reduce bureaucracy and make the system easier for users with the help of crypto.

In December 2018, Oásis Supermercados began accepting cryptocurrencies as a payment method. Now, shoppers in Rio de Janeiro can pay for purchases with Bitcoins, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin. For this, the supermarket chain is working with CoinWISE. In this arrangement, the withdrawal of cryptocurrencies to fiat occurs every three days.

In Brazil, more and more local companies are beginning to support crypto. Clients of the Technisa construction company can get a 5% discount when paying with Bitcoins. Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin are accepted by transport companies Brasil Sul and Viação Garcia and metro operator Metrô Brasília.

In 2017, Dash announced a partnership with the Brazilian platform CoinBR. After that, the altcoin began to be accepted in 13,000 stores. Earlier Dash announced a collaboration with the Uphold platform.

According to a statement by Dash CEO Ryan Taylor, this will allow 94 percent of the population to use tokens in everyday life. Simultaneously with these events, the digital currency rate has more than doubled, since November 2017, when the coin was worth $300.

Analysts even believed at one point that, due to its widespread distribution in Brazil, the price of the altcoin would rise to $1,000, which wasn’t that far-fetched back when the price was around $840.

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Source: newsbtc

But, as we all know, nothing lasts forever, and Dash is currently trading around $74, according to CryptoCompare.

Brazil: Blockchain for Good

Unlike crypto, which hasn’t been warmly welcomed, blockchain is employed in many Brazilian social institutions.

In early September 2019, the first birth certificates were issued exclusively through blockchain technology without having to go through registration in the registry office. A new type of registration project was developed by technology company Growth Tech in partnership with IBM. Registration is done through Growth Tech’s Notary Ledgers platform, which provides virtual notarial services.

The Brazilian Ministry of Education has proposed the creation of a blockchain platform for the issuance of digital certificates of education among non-state universities in order to combat the falsification of diplomas. Brazil Education Minister Abraham Weintraub said the government is considering this opportunity. The resources for financing the development of the platform will come from private educational institutions themselves, as they will be solely responsible for issuing diplomas.

In addition, to implement this measure, the ministry will require universities to create independent departments responsible for managing the blockchain-based platform. Local media have also reported that at least 14 private universities have already shown interest in the government’s proposal. Gilberto Garcia, the former president of the National Board of Education, said the initiative also includes all educational institutions in the system, which will support the concept of transparency that the blockchain can offer.

PIX: The Prospects of Cryptocurrency in Brazil

Brazilian cryptosphere has had a bumpy road due to the slow development of crypto regulation in the country. For instance, recently the XDEX Brazilian cryptocurrency exchange, owned by the largest brokerage company in Latin America, XP Investimentos, announced its closure. And it’s not the only company that has had to make this difficult decision due to disappointing market forecasts. A lot of cryptocurrency companies have had  to continue fighting banks in order to be provided with financial services. Just recently the Mercado Bitcoin exchange won its court case over a bank closing its bank account this March.

Nevertheless, the government is eager to implement blockchain decisions to improve the lives of its citizens. For instance, this February, the Central Bank of Brazil launched the PIX instant payment system which uses QR-codes and doesn’t require personal data. This initiative is a tool to fight against alternative digital payment means, including cryptocurrencies.

The system, which involves all state banks, will allow for almost instant payments using mobile applications, Internet banking and ATMs 24/7. Hopefully, this measure will add to the blockchain adoption that’s happening right now in Brazil. And, who knows, maybe after PIX proves the benefits of anonymity and cashless transfers, cryptocurrencies will also get regulated and be welcomed by the state.

Featured image by sergio souza on Unsplash

Solomon Brown, Head of PR at Freewallet. Drawn to the blockchain space by a belief in its ability to restructure global finance and passionate about telling stories, Solomon cut his teeth in blockchain startup promotion before joining Freewallet's Team in 2018. LinkedIn