The last 30 days have been rough for a lot of cryptocurrencies and the market in general. Bitcoin’s boom in price throughout 2017 came to a spectacular end by the start of 2018 as its price dropped over 30% in the last two weeks of the year. Fears of a bursting crypto bubble gripped the market in January, and the price of BTC continued to decline to near $6000 by early February – less than 1/3 of it’s all-time high of $19,930, set in December.
Although bitcoin has since rebounded, its price remains almost flat over the last 30 days, hovering around the $10,000 mark. Many second- and third-tier coins suffered substantial losses in February and are seemingly not capable of attracting the same level of investor enthusiasm as they did in 2017. As a result, the total market capitalization of all coins has lost over $100 billion over the past month.
A few coins, however, are bucking the trend and posting significant gains. In this article, we review some of the biggest gainers in the last 30-day period and offer some insight as to what makes them tick up in a time of investor uncertainty. Perhaps by studying the features and progress of these particular cryptocurrencies in a bear market, we may get a better idea of how to make wiser investments in seemingly hopeless conditions in the future.
Market cap: $750 million
30-day price change: +107%
What its all about: Released for trading in April 2016, DGD is an Ethereum-based token that did not enjoy the massive gains seen by many other cryptocurrencies in 2017. It was famous for being the first “crowdsale” (ICO) hosted on the Ethereum blockchain and raised $5.5 million within the first 12 hours after being put up for sale. As a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), the function of DGD is to provide governance and stability to the as-of-yet unreleased DigixGold (DGX) token. Each DGX token will be physically backed by 1 gram of gold and can be split a thousand ways.
Known as a “stablecoin” (ala Tether, or USDT), DGX aims to be a consistent store of value that traders can move in and out of to protect their cryptocurrency wealth, without having to move directly to fiat currency. Holders of DGD are not only entitled to receive a share of fees generated from DGX transactions but are also eligible to have a voting or governance role in the DigixDAO system. Holders of DGX tokens will be able to redeem them for physical grams of gold on demand.
Why its doing well: Though the gold-backed DGX token has not been officially released and nobody can say for sure how well it will perform as a stablecoin, DGD has been on a tear since late January, more than doubling its price. This is largely due to a partnership announced with MakerDAO (MKR), whose own dollar-backed stablecoin, the dai, will now be partially buffered by collateral generated from DGD holdings. Keeping a stablecoin stable isn’t easy: the dai will require a vast investment portfolio of cryptocurrencies which it can add to or liquidate in order to purchase or sell dai to keep its price pegged to that of 1 gram of gold. During periods of market uncertainty, association with stability becomes a highly attractive quality as investors seek means to retain their crypto wealth.
Market cap: $2 billion (approximate)
30-day price change: +86%
What its all about: Elastos is a novel, “third generation” cryptocurrency platform that aims to make improvements on both the bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains by hosting monetizable DApps, or decentralized applications. It also prevents DApp authors from directly interfacing with the platform software, instead using a system of intermediaries to reduce instances of exploitable bugs potentially found in the application code. These types of bugs – not necessarily the fault of the platform itself – have cost Ethereum users untold millions of dollars as hackers regularly drain third-party wallets of their funds due to software coding flaws.
Elastos hopes to create a decentralized, blockchain-based version of the World Wide Web, featuring the heavy use of DApps and with the goal of making digital assets “scarce, identifiable and tradable.” The ELA whitepaper notes the widespread problem with digital content ownership rights on the internet. It offers solutions to royalty and commission payment issues by securing digital identities and streamlining access to content. In short, Elastos wants to reward content creators more properly than existing web-based media services while simultaneously creating a secure, un-tamperable environment via the blockchain.
Why its doing well: Though the project was launched less than a month ago, Elastos has seen some serious cash being poured into it, even though it is still only available for trading on one exchange, Huobi. On February 15th, a tweet was released with some of the names of DApps already in development for the platform. A few days later, Elastos received some critical praise in an article posted on Medium, and it is currently being voted upon for listing on the world’s most popular cryptocurrency exchange, Binance. An Elastos conference is scheduled to take place in the middle of March in which further details will be released about the project. All-in-all, ELA has largely flown under the radar and is primed to make some major moves as the result of a combination of the aforementioned events.
Ethereum Classic (ETC)
Market cap: $3.79 billion
30-day price change: +35%
What its all about: Launched in 2016, Ethereum Classic is the original version of Ethereum (ETH), despite it having an addendum attached to its name. It maintains the original blockchain as launched by crypto wunderkind Vitalik Buterin and has an active community, even though Buterin is no longer involved with it. Several ICOs have been successfully launched from ETC even though the coin only enjoys a fraction of the success of its modern counterpart, ETH.
How did the ETC/ETH fork come to pass? After a few users of The Dao, the biggest crowdsourced project on the Ethereum blockchain at the time, managed to drain about $50 million in Ether from one of the project’s accounts by exploiting a vulnerability found in its code, members of the Ethereum community voted to roll back the blockchain to a pre-theft point, in essence erasing transactions deemed to be fraudulent. The result was two blockchains: one that maintained the DAO hack-related transactions and one that did not. The idea of a coin forking itself because a developer or group of individuals wills it remains highly contentious in the crypto community, with critics arguing that such a move defeats the purpose of decentralization and the immutability of the blockchain.
Why its doing well: A 35% gain in a month may seem like nothing to sneeze at if you are accustomed to the unprecedented volatility experienced in the crypto markets. But if you already have a multi-billion market cap and have been established for some period, a 35% climb is not easy in a bear market environment. Ethereum Classic has seen a massive organizational overhaul in 2018 with a flurry of new projects, wallet designs and updates. ICOs are increasingly choosing ETC to raise funds for their own blockchain-related projects as time has healed wounds to the reputation of the somewhat-forgotten coin. After all, Ethereum Classic is still Ethereum at heart: it has the same implementation of smart contracts, token creation and API features. Fears of hackers dumping huge stashes of coins seem to have subsided, thus paving the way for the return of trust to the platform.