CoinDesk’s Most Influential in Crypto 2018

CoinDesk’s Most Influential in Crypto 2018

You voted. Our writers debated. Meet CoinDesk’s Top 10 2018 Crypto Influencers. This year, we’re celebrating the biggest people in blockchain with a special edition CoinDesk Crypto Collectable Store, where the biggest names are available for purchase (and in-game play) on the blockchain, right alongside our feature articles and videos. You can own the original digital trading cards designed for this series by bidding for them on OpenSea, an open marketplace for NFTs.

Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, Stellar, Litecoin, Bitcoin SV, TRON, Cardano: Price Analysis, Dec. 31

Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, Stellar, Litecoin, Bitcoin SV, TRON, Cardano: Price Analysis, Dec. 31

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision. Market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange. It is the last day of a very tough year for crypto traders. While 2018 started on an upbeat note, it is ending with uncertainty. Traders and analysts are divided on whether cryptocurrencies have bottomed out. This, in a way, is good, because markets are cautious and excesses have been removed. There are a number of events in 2019 that could turn crypto markets around. All eyes will be on institutional investors because their involvement is needed to propel markets to the next level. Even in the wake of a crushing bear market, crypto traders are looking to invest in virtual currencies. 40 percent of participants in a  recent Chinese survey showed interest in investing in cryptocurrencies in the future. Similar surveys in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom have all projected favorable demand for cryptocurrencies. We are bullish on digital currencies for 2019, however, we believe that it will be a gradual move higher and expectations should be muted. Trade safe so that we are around to reap the benefits when the next vertical run happens. Are there any tradeable setups at current levels? Let’s find out.   BTC/USD Bitcoin is struggling to breakout of the 20-day EMA that has turned flat. Failure to break out will attract selling that will pick up momentum below $3,598.99. The downtrend will resume on a breakdown of the Dec. 15 low. The falling 50-day SMA confirms that the long-term trend is still down. The BTC/USD pair will show signs of a probable reversal if it breaks out of the neckline of the developing inverse head and shoulders pattern. The 50-day SMA and the horizontal resistance at $4,255 are all located close by. This makes it a critical level to watch on the upside. The breakout of the neckline has a pattern target of $5,500. Though there is a minor resistance at $4,914.11, we expect it to be crossed. Short-term traders can wait for a close above $4,255 to buy.…

Bitcoin’s Warrior Queen: Lightning’s Elizabeth Stark Is Building an Army

Bitcoin’s Warrior Queen: Lightning’s Elizabeth Stark Is Building an Army

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– A former academic, Elizabeth Stark likes to play devil’s advocate. Take, for instance, her appearance at the Crypto Springs conference in October 2018. It’s a sunny morning in Palm Springs, California, and a handful of attendees are lounging by the pool; onstage, however, Stark is busy describing some of the darker potential scenarios for the cryptocurrency industry, ones in which it could fall short of its potential. But if the words of warning aren’t drawing a response, it’s perhaps because the price of bitcoin is still north of $6,000, and some are optimistic that the so-called “crypto winter” will soon be over, evaporated by an end-of-year upswell in institutional money entering the industry. It’s not a sentiment shared by Stark, though, who warns attendees that legacy financial players could take stronger measures to impede the sector’s growth. “When you change how money is created and valued, there is going to be major pushback,” Stark says. Later, Stark draws applause when she castigates the previous year’s explosion of initial coin offerings (ICOs), and the sometimes shady startups that used them as a means of securing fundraising from a market that was suddenly full of unsophisticated buyers. “I’m all for experimentation, but I’m not for experimentation if it means that retail investors are going to get sluiced,” she says. “Ninety-five percent of the coins that we have right now will probably fail.” The stance has come to dominate more and more of Stark’s talks of late, that innovation can and must be balanced with steps that avoid consumer harm, and it’s one that’s taking on increasing relevance as the crypto market cools and the industry attempts to take stock of why billions in consumer money came in 2017, only to quickly retreat. “If you really believe in decentralization then why are you creating all these centralized services?” she continues. Referring to the way crypto exchanges and certain wallet providers control the private keys to their customers’ wallets, thus undermining the value proposition of personal financial sovereignty, she adds: “We need to get to a world where people can hold their own keys … have this autonomy.” Yet, as frank and sobering as her talk might have been, Stark has the clout to not only call for change in…

In Bed With Brenna Sparks: Porn’s Rising Star Might Be Crypto’s Best Advocate

In Bed With Brenna Sparks: Porn’s Rising Star Might Be Crypto’s Best Advocate

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Brenna Sparks wills herself to try new things. Equal parts adult star and crypto evangelist, she’s not the kind of Las Vegas denizen who never hits the strip. But when asked if she wants to take the High Roller, the city’s 550-foot tall Ferris wheel with a serious view, the thought clearly petrifies her. Still, she insists we go. It’s fitting, as Sparks embraces the highs and lows – both in life and in crypto. In an email following our meeting, she writes about how she believes crypto is getting stronger and stronger. She writes: “Traveling upwards doesn’t require the path to be linear. The path can be paved on hills, too.” That said, Sparks is admittedly a bit of a newcomer to crypto, best known as an advisor for SpankChain, one of a handful of projects that have raised funding via an initial coin offering and released tokens designed to power a protocol in a bid to disrupt the adult industry. But her work has since taken her to unexpected places. Take the promotional stunt she took part in this year that involved the bitcoin price and a body part that’s not known for its role in crypto conversations. Let’s just say that she encourages others to try new things. That applies broadly, too. Sparks boosts what’s known as the decentralized internet, a term that’s come to refer to a time when the intermediaries we know today – think Google, Amazon, Facebook – have been replaced by code owned by no one and operated by users. “I don’t believe in the current ideas people are pushing for adoption. I’m hoping to go and do my own thing and focus on mass adoption,” she tells us. But we’re going to have to wait to see what she wants to do. In Brenna Sparks’ apartment. (Photo by Brenna Sparks) If there’s a plan, Sparks is shy about saying it. “Right now, it’s all about keeping crypto people in crypto. Many just want to leave,” she says. For example, she’s shot one sexy-but-educational video aimed at helping viewers buy their first cryptocurrencies, but she still hasn’t published it. She’s convinced her work can do more good when the market gets out of this funk. She adds:…

Ethereum’s New Radical: Glen Weyl Isn’t Vitalik But He’s Its Next Best Hope

Ethereum’s New Radical: Glen Weyl Isn’t Vitalik But He’s Its Next Best Hope

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Dr. Glen Weyl speaks with the calm of a man who has history on the mind. With an unbroken gaze and an unambiguous delivery, the author, economist and Microsoft researcher calmly espouses a clear and revolutionary vision: that the world’s hierarchies can be challenged and reconceived with the power of markets. But if his theories were trapped before in the pages of academia, in 2018, Weyl has captured the imagination and devotion of the leading minds in ethereum, and, by extension, what is likely the world’s largest cryptocurrency community. It has so far been the perfect match for the co-author of “Radical Markets,” whose collaborations with developers may soon enable his ideas to escape the page in ways he never conceived. It was no surprise then to see Weyl at Devcon4, the annual ethereum conference in Prague in October, where he was running on three hours sleep. At the time, Weyl reported to having given 73 talks in the previous six months alone. Just in from the UK, his trip had brought him to Belgium, Denmark, Norway and France – a series of dates he jokingly compares to a Rolling Stones tour. Still, they don’t all get the fanfare of his Devcon talk – which he defined as a “rally cry” against individualism; here it’s met with blustering applause from the audience. As a speaker, Weyl has no shortage of charisma – a trait he brushes off as “an unfair advantage” among developers. This charisma is no doubt helpful given Weyl’s sometimes obscure ideological inspirations. He sees himself as seeking to resurrect a liberal tradition from the 19th century; combining it with modern mechanism designed to displace entrenched power structures. According to Weyl, this enables his preferred school of thought – sometimes referred to as liberal radicalism – to break the left- and right-wing dichotomy he sees as having stagnated change in the world’s most essential systems. In the place of traditional hierarchies, then, Weyl promotes new, democratic structures – markets that are diverse, inclusive and decentralized. Some of his ideas go even further. In an email to ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, one he republished on Medium, Weyl went so far as to suggest a tax to penalize “using standard white English.” Elsewhere, he’s…

McCaleb’s Quiet Comeback: Breakups, Breakdowns and Stellar’s Big Break-Out

McCaleb’s Quiet Comeback: Breakups, Breakdowns and Stellar’s Big Break-Out

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– You might know Jed McCaleb as the creator of Stellar, the world’s sixth most valuable cryptocurrency, and if you do, it can’t be exaggerated just how big of a miracle that is. In the pantheon of early cryptocurrency evangelists, there might be no one whose name has been run through as much mud as McCaleb’s. Sure, Charlie Shrem went to jail, Roger Ver was branded a heretic and Gavin Andersen faded into obscurity. Even amidst such company, though, McCaleb has seemed to excel at being five feet from the dumpster fire. But the point of this article isn’t to rehash the past, to talk about how he (technically) started Mt. Gox, the defunct crypto exchange that now only lives in court dockets, or to discuss Ripple and XRP, the often intertwined company and cryptocurrency he helped create, only to abandon in a story that, years later, is still one of the tech’s most tabloid-worthy. No, because someday, when the history book is written, McCaleb might come to be best known for Stellar, a project that, while launched four years ago, arguably became the quiet comeback story of 2018. Read between the lines of some of the year’s biggest stories, and you’ll be apt to find Stellar, silently omnipresent. IBM, the blue-chip behemoth whose executives once swore IBM would never “do coins”? They’re moving real money with cryptocurrency now, via a partnership with the Stellar Development Foundation, the non-profit that manages Stellar’s code. Blockchain, the bitcoin wallet provider that’s chosen airdrops as its next best strategy? There’s a billboard at one of San Francisco’s busiest intersections boasting of how it’s giving away $125 million in crypto users (unmentioned is that the asset in question is XLM, the cryptocurrency that powers Stellar). The year’s biggest crypto acquisition? Stellar can lay claim to that, too; Stellar’s San Francisco offices are now home to Adam Ludwin and Devon Gundry, the founding team behind Chain, formerly one of the best-funded and most publicly visible startups seeking to connect financial incumbents to the blockchain. Yes, at some point during 2018, Stellar, the cryptocurrency that was roundly derided at launch as a spiteful Ripple rip-off, came of age, emerging from a period in which McCaleb admits people “forgot Stellar existed” into…

A Psychic Visit with Nouriel Roubini: The Mother and Father of All Crypto Skeptics

A Psychic Visit with Nouriel Roubini: The Mother and Father of All Crypto Skeptics

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Admit it – you already hate that this article exists. That itself is no small testament to the man it’s about, Dr. Nouriel Roubini, the outspoken economist and professor whose tweets, interviews and public testimonies this year have seemed to treat the entire cryptocurrency movement with all the tenderness of an insubordinate prison inmate. In the process, Roubini has arguably become the embodiment of an incumbent intellectual class that sees cryptocurrency as responsible for not just a massive price bubble but a flurry of frauds and scams that have bilked consumers out of billions with the promise that their token of choice could eradicate everything from poverty to disease. “The mother and father of all bubbles gone bust?” That’s still how Roubini describes what others have called the next internet, and if there’s any hope he’ll soften his stance when the cameras aren’t rolling, Roubini quickly snuffs it out. “The words are not a provocation,” he reaffirms. In person as in video, he draws almost no distinction between the technology and the admittedly opaque industry that has sprung up around it, even going so far as to dismiss bitcoin’s answer to the double-spend problem, its core technical innovation, as having earned it a spot in a “future museum on clever economics of the past” – and little else. Over two days of interviews, this is the closest he’ll get to a compliment. Still, if there’s a moral to our sprawling conversations, it’s this: while innovators in the crypto community are quick to demand that others see their vision (and overlook their faults), Roubini is living proof they aren’t always so empathetic as to extend this courtesy to others. Indeed, what’s surprising in Roubini’s case is how unilaterally he’s inspired hostility. He is, after all, no recent apparition in the world of economics, where he’s hovered between rock star and also-ran status in the decade since his 2006 prediction of a global financial crisis. Further, he shares many of the same critiques of the financial system as cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Have you ever stopped to read any of Roubini’s articles? Have you actually read his 37-page testimony before the U.S. Senate? (He has a suspicion you haven’t.) But if Roubini is to blame for his gleeful…

The FUD Stompers: Like It or Not, XRP Army Is Winning Crypto’s Hashtag War

The FUD Stompers: Like It or Not, XRP Army Is Winning Crypto’s Hashtag War

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– When it comes to crypto, everyone loves to talk about “community.” Every cryptocurrency has one, we’re led to believe, but often as not the community is just a Telegram channel peppered with demands of “@admin wen airdrop.” There is one cryptocurrency, however, for which the word is anything but a cliche. I’m talking of course about XRP, the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, which is closely – if contentiously – associated with the San Francisco-based startup Ripple. “It has become a second family to me,” TplusZero, one of XRP Twitter’s most active and followed members, told CoinDesk. Search Twitter for XRP-related content, and you’ll find yourself among thousands of accounts dedicated mostly or entirely to XRP and the ecosystem around it – which, in addition to Ripple, includes startups such as Coil, which aims to help content creators monetize their webpages. A few big names will quickly become familiar – XRP Trump, Hodor, Tiffany Hayden, Bank XRP. Seemingly nothing happens in the world of XRP without these accounts knowing about it, and if they happen to miss an update, there are dozens of other accounts standing ready to flag it. There’s a whole constellation of forums, blogs and YouTube channels that feed an XRP-hungry audience, but Twitter is arguably the hub for the XRP community (especially its English-speaking contingent), and several people I spoke to created Twitter accounts for the first time just to participate in the XRP conversation. XRP Twitter is perpetually abuzz up with discussion about the merits of XRP and the challenges – none of them insuperable, of course – that it faces on the road to mass adoption in cross-border payments (its main use case) and beyond. Many of these discussions are deeply wonkish, assuming a detailed knowledge of the Ripple product suite, the incumbent cross-border payments infrastructure and the XRP Ledger’s consensus protocols. But this is crypto after all, and much of the banter is rah-rah. For many in the community, XRP’s eventual “mooning” (crypto jargon for astronomical price gains) is a bygone conclusion – the only question is when. Ripple Me This, a bull among XRP bulls, told CoinDesk: “I describe this as the opportunity of several lifetimes,” adding, “those who recognize the opportunity and position themselves…

Bakkt Completes First Round of Funding With $182.5 Million

Bakkt Completes First Round of Funding With $182.5 Million

Finance Intercontinental Exchange’s upcoming cryptocurrency trading platform, Bakkt, has raised $182.5 million from a dozen investors. The funds will help develop an institutional-grade regulated crypto exchange, clearing and warehousing services for physical delivery and storage. The company now expects to provide an updated timeline on launching bitcoin daily futures contracts in early 2019. Also Read: Israeli Exchange to Launch Crypto Payments API for Businesses Bakkt Raises $182.5 Million Bakkt, the digital assets subsidiary of the parent of the New York Stock Exchange ,  Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), has announced it’s completed a first round of funding. The investors include Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, Pantera Capital, Payu, the fintech arm of Naspers, and Protocol Ventures. “I am pleased to confirm that we have completed our first round of funding of $182.5 million from 12 partners and investors who, like us, believe in the future of digital assets,” stated Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffle. “Our work today is centered on driving institutional access for digital assets, along with merchant and consumer uses, and we’re already expanding on this vision, collaborating with great companies like Starbucks in these efforts.” Getting the Green Light in 2019 Back in October, Intercontinental Exchange announced that the Bakkt Bitcoin Daily Futures Contract would start trading on Dec. 12, 2018. This has not happened, and the date has been pushed back to Jan. 24, 2019. Today, ICE seems to have acknowledged this target date won’t be met again, as it announced it now “expects to provide an updated launch timeline in early 2019.” The Bakkt team has reportedly been working closely with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to get the needed approval. “At an industry level, regulatory approval for physically delivered and warehoused bitcoin will establish and amplify the voice of U.S. authorities as the digital asset market evolves globally. We have filed our applications and the timing for approval is now based on the regulatory review process,” explained Loeffler. “Clearing firms and customers have continued to join us as we work toward CFTC approval. We made great progress in December, and we’ll continue to onboard customers as we await the ‘green light.’” Does this news show…

Fidelity’s Man: Can Tom Jessop Bridge Crypto and Wall Street for Good?

Fidelity’s Man: Can Tom Jessop Bridge Crypto and Wall Street for Good?

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Everyone in cryptocurrency has a story about the time they went down the proverbial rabbit hole. Tom Jessop’s takes place in his kitchen. It was around 2013 or 2014 when Jessop, then a managing director at Goldman Sachs with two decades of Wall Street experience, became enthralled with bitcoin – at the time an obscure topic in finance circles. “This idea of this scarce asset, this fully digital money, cryptographic trust replacing institutional trust – all these things, I thought, were interesting,” Jessop recalls. As part of his self-education, he tried to explain the phenomenon to his wife and three sons. “We ended up watching a Khan Academy video there in the kitchen,” Jessop told CoinDesk. “My youngest son at the time was 10 or 11. No one understood it. My little guy said ‘I understand it.’ For an 11- year-old, he did a reasonably passable job explaining it to me.” Looking back on it all, he understands why people struggle with the concept, explaining: “In hindsight the reason my family didn’t understand it is: it sort of challenges how you think about money. A lot of people think money, fiat money in particular, has intrinsic value. It doesn’t. If you can’t understand that, there’s this mental thing, and you can’t get to the next level.” Jessop, however, did get to that next level of understanding. And now, nearly five years later, he and his team at Fidelity Digital Assets (FDAS) are poised to help take the cryptocurrency market to a new level of maturity – and, perhaps eventually, liquidity. Fidelity Investments will officially launch the new business, a trading platform built for institutional investors, in the first quarter of 2019. The product of years of behind-the-scenes research, experimentation and planning at the Boston-based asset management giant, FDAS represents one of the boldest moves to date in the space by an incumbent financial institution. The platform promises to address market structure problems that have kept crypto-curious big-money investors on the sidelines, specifically around issues like custody of assets and price discovery. By offering to safekeep bitcoin and ether on behalf of hedge funds, family offices and the like, and to match their buy and sell offers with a range of liquidity providers and exchanges, FDAS…