On December 17, 2017, BTC reached an all-time high of over $20,000. Three days later, on December 20, BCH would peak at almost $4,000. In the same general time period ETH, XRP, LTC, and other market cap leaders would also achieve apogee, with the at-press-time-valued $0.0024, dogecoin then being worth well over a penny. While it’s clear to see why interest in the 2000+ altcoins on the market has waned since 2018 shattered so many crypto fantasies, market activity last week indicates something new may be on the horizon for crypto’s forgotten class.
During the crypto bull market of 2017, everybody was happy. It wasn’t just the BTC maximalists, BCH enthusiasts, or proponents of ETH. Privacy coins like monero were doing great, and even charity-supporting “comic relief” coins like doge were riding high. Since that enchanted time, however, the diverse class of tokens known as altcoins has somehow faded into obscurity. Just recently though, the tectonic plates of alt-crypto deadlock appear to be rumbling, and change might be just on the horizon for the spare change of the crypto world.
The Lost Altcoin Conversation
Weekly numbers are up for many non-BTC tokens.
In the past week, a slight dip in BTC dominance has gotten some in the space excited about their altcoin pet projects, announcing with gusto to crypto Twitter that alt season is back. Others are not so sure, and remain understandably wary of the recurrent hype. Regardless, at press time EOS, ETH, and XMR are all up significantly over the last week, with EOS enjoying a seven-day price surge of over 12%. Though not merely an “altcoin” by the standards of many, BTC competitor bitcoin cash has also experienced a significant rally.
Crypto Twitter in a nutshell:
____#altseason $btc $alts pic.twitter.com/TsHJyDlYdK
– CryptoLeee ? (@CryptoLeee) September 10, 2019
The Forgotten Fun of Hunting Longshots
Time was that folks used to find interesting, fledgling projects, research them, and then load up on mounds of tokens for fractions of a penny. The excitement of this heavy bag holding for nascent projects was intoxicating. “If this even hits one dollar, I’m gonna be rich!” While investors are still doing this, the focus at large in the crypto space has shifted to the narrow world of BTC maximalism and basic religious hatred for anyone, not into the “right” crypto, or dominant ones. Still, Twitter accounts like that of Crypto Seer are holding out hope:
#Altcoin Marketcap Dominance. If you’re not too zoomed in it’s not that hard to really be patient. You just gotta wait for 2-3 months of sideways and you’ll know where we’ve bottomed. pic.twitter.com/1h5ciVmzxg
– Crypto Seer (@crypto_seer) September 4, 2019
Financial experts and other Twitter commentators, however, are speculating that until BTC hits a new all-time high, nothing much should be expected from the legions of hopeful tokens in the shadows. RT host and well-known BTC maximalist Max Keiser doesn’t mince words when it comes to his own views on the matter. Citing a still steady and growing BTC dominance, the bombastic crypto influencer tweeted on September 3rd:
Alts never coming back… Sorry.
How Altcoins Can Gain Traction
In the fast-moving, oft-sensationalized world of crypto, there is no shortage of scams. Unfortunately, this reality has led to a kind of polarization in the space, where sometimes, no matter how good an idea is, if it ain’t BTC, it often isn’t going to be well-received. The tendency of money in economics is to consolidate into the most saleable good. For students of the Austrian school, this fact is well understood. The money that is most useful and liquid globally, will be the one most people want to use. On top of this framework, though, micro-economies and unique demand for various customized projects and initiatives still exist. This is where altcoins and unique tokens like those of the Simple Ledger Protocol (SLPs) can come in and provide flexible utility to major players.
Interesting projects like Augur, an incentivized system for predicting future events accurately, and dividends for anonymous bearer shares on BCH using SLPs, are illustrative of the continuing innovation the crypto space encourages. Stablecoins and exchange coins like USDT and BNB are also an emergent force, and are molding the market in unique ways, with a tendency to be viewed as more respectable and reputable than other alts.
The number of coins on the market has proliferated exponentially over the past years, so sifting through the heaps obscure tokens to find a winner can be a daunting task. Back in May, 2018, there were around 1,500 altcoins on the market. At press time there are well over 2,300. Deciding which are gems and which are shit takes time, so in a sense the migration to major tokens and the proportional, contemptuous distaste for alts is understandable. This shift could bode well for SLPs, however, and tokens built on top of established and reputable chains, providing unique functionality to already well-respected blockchain eco-systems.
USD: The World’s Biggest Shitcoin
If all the world is a crypto market, and Carl Menger’s monetary theory was correct, there will eventually be a clear winner as the top dog, used-for-almost-all-transactions money of the world. Viewing the current global reserve currency under the lens of a crypto perspective, the USD fails to pass the test of a good token. It’s centralized, built on extremely shoddy and dysfunctional “code” (violent laws and fiat mandates), and, in the words of Donald Trump, is created not from market demand but from “thin air.”
Whether alt season is upon us or not is anybody’s guess. That notwithstanding, many crypto advocates are happy to see their beloved class of tokens reemerge from the shadows a bit, and step back into the mainstream conversation. Polarized and venomous as the space may be, there is still one thing many agree on, and that’s the fact that the broken fiat system is rapidly becoming obsolete, and a new system is on the way. Which long-shot alt or top market cap player will finally upset the apple cart is worthy of some popcorn-munching attention, either way.