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Coin Spotlight – Monero



An open-source value transfer digital asset which has been around since 2013. Monero is secure. Monero is private. Monero is untraceable.


What is Monero?

Monero (XMR) is a cryptocurrency project which is centered around privacy and value transfer. It uses an immutable blockchain as a ledger but utilizes several advanced technologies to keep transactions secret. XMR is essentially the closest thing to physical cash in the cryptocurrency realm.


Fundamentals Summary:

Purpose Monero (XMR) is aiming to be used as an electronic cash that is untraceable and censor resistant. Its focus is on privacy while still trying to maintain decentralization, security, and scalability.
Product Monero is:

  • Secure and all transactions are confirmed by distributed consensus.
  • Private, using ring signatures, ring confidential transactions, and stealth addresses to hide where transactions come from, their destinations, and their amounts, making it untraceable.
  • Fungible and therefore individual units of XMR cannot be discriminated against.
Team & Community Monero’s Research Lab, Core Develop Team, and community developers are all contributing to the project. Over 314 people have contributed, including 30 core developers.
Key Competition Zcash & Zcoin, although it is the community’s consensus that Monero is the king of privacy coins.
Outlook Monero is posed to gain more traction and adoption through 2018. One of the primary areas of uncertainty lies in the fact that XMR cannot be tracked by governments. It is expected that government organizations may speak negativity on it in the future or attempt to regulate its use.


monero wallet

The official Monero Wallet

Technology Overview:

Algorithm CryptoNight-based PoW hash algorithm, designed to be ASIC-resistant and fungible at its core.
Privacy Ring signatures allow the sender to hide while stealth addresses hide the receiving address of a transaction. Also, RingCT technology keeps the amount of a transaction hidden. This technology is already developed and functional.
Wallet Released by The Monero Project
Plans for 2018 Second-layer solutions for scalability and fees, improving RingCT to decrease transaction fees

Price Summary (3/7/3018):

Marketcap: 5,004,397,165 USD

Circulating Supply: 15,800,698 XMR

52 week range: 15.43 – 495.84 USD


Relevant Links



Wallets & Downloads

CoinMarketCap Page

Avery Thompson is a co-founder at the Hodlr and student at California State University, Northridge. He has a passion for all things crypto and currently holds ETH, LTC, REQ, ZRX, OMG, and IOTA.


Bitcoin is Beginning to Trade Like a Commodity



For much of the last year Bitcoin’s price appreciated at exponential levels. Clearly this was due to demand side pressure driving the price upwards, as the supply of Bitcoin, currently circulating at 17,000,587 coins, will only able to marginally increase over time, with a max capacity of 21,000,000 coins. A small, potentially immaterial amount of supply side pressure can be added, as people will inevitably lose private keys to their Bitcoin due to cold storage failure or hardware corruption.

However, in the recent time frame of the last three months, Bitcoin has seen a marked change in its price action. This particular cryptocurrency now has taken on attributes of the price action commonly seen in the commodities market. The two types of traders of cryptocurrency and commodities also share a similar profile. Commodities traders will seek to purchase futures to hedge crop prices needed to run a business or lock in profit on a sale so that they are guaranteed to meet all operational and living expenses. Many Bitcoin purchasers also seek to hedge against the inflation of their local government’s fiat currency or governmental political risk of losing ownership of physical assets in times of political instability.Additionally, speculators in both markets trade the price swings and, at times, can amplify price movements in either direction. While price volatility is seen as commonplace in the cryptocurrency space, the commodities market has its share of volatility also, however. An important caveat to note is the difference of the reference time frame.

We can see the apparent departure from extreme volatility as Bitcoin traded within a 43.60% band from its height in this three-month span.

data source:

Here we can see the chart for oil as it fluctuates 73.63% percent from its high over a 5 year span. It is important to note that even blue chip commodities can go on long losing streaks before rebounding.

data source:


It can be seen below that gold fluctuated 27.7% over this 5 year period of time. While it would have been a good choice to hedge against rampant inflation, buying gold on leverage or holding a large position in it would have seen a sizeable downswing for many years in a portfolio.


Bitcoin would have to maintain a track record of many years of trading within a relative band to match some of these long time commodity giants. Perhaps recent volatility can give us hints to a potential price floor and some illiquidity from amongst those owners who keep their coins off exchanges. Regardless of the degree, volatility has, and always will, behoove one to correctly construct a portfolio with asset allocation matching his or her appetite and ability to sustain risk (volatility).




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Coin Spotlight – NEO



, an open network for smart economy.

NEO Network

NEO is a network which brings together digital assets, digital identities, and smart contracts. Using blockchain technology, NEO aims to build the infrastructure of the “intelligent economy of the future.” It is similar to Ethereum in that it is a platform where individuals can pay for distributed computing and smart contract deployment onto the network. The three core components of NEO are as follows:

Digital Assets- NEO has two types: global and contract assets. Global assets exist throughout the entire NEO network while contract assets only exist in the realm that recognizes them.

Digital Identities- NEO has a verification model that includes facial features, fingerprints, voice, SMS, and multi-factor auth. NEO also implements a X.509 compatible system.

Smart Contracts- NEO has its own system, NEOContract which tries to make it as easy as possible to deploy smart contracts. Developers can use mainstream programming languages unlike Ethereum which requires Solidity.

The combination of digital assets, digital identities, and smart contracts allows NEO to be a powerful player in revolutionizing how money moves.

NEO is the use of blockchain technology and digital identity to digitize assets, the use of smart contracts for digital assets to be self-managed, to achieve “smart economy” with a distributed network

Like many projects in this space, NEO is open source. It was founded in 2014 and is still built by the community. The development team provides tools, documentation, training, and financial support to groups who help expand the project. This includes things such as designing hardware wallets, for example. NEO outlined several applications as well that they would like to see built on their network. Some of these include:

  • Smart fund
  • AI-assisted legal smart contract
  • Social networking
  • Automated tokens liquidity providers
  • Decentralized exchange
  • Secure communication protocol
  • Data exchange market
  • Intellectual property trading market
  • Prediction market
  • Advertising market
  • Hashpower market
  • NeoGas market

The whole point of NEO, like Ethereum, is to be a space in which developers can launch applications and make use of blockchain technology. Combining smart contracts in applications with digital assets on NEO, we can make use of all of the benefits of blockchain. These include: decentralization, trustlessness, trace-ability, transparency, and direct interaction (no middle man, all automated). When someone transacts through an application on the NEO network, they are utilizing all of the aforementioned benefits.

How does it work?

So, it makes sense that NEO is this place where people can have their applications connected to a network to make use of smart contracts and other benefits of blockchain. But, what did the team actually build to make this happen?

dBFT- consensus mechanism

Just like Bitcoin uses a proof of work algorithm to ensure consensus of what’s on the blockchain, NEO has it’s own consensus protocol. Instead of using mining though, NEO uses, dBFT, which stands for Delegated Byzantine Fault-Tolerant. NEO has a number of “bookkeepers” who keep track of the blockchain and generate new blocks. People who hold the NEO token can then vote on which bookkeeper has the correct version of the blockchain, generating consensus. New blocks are generated about every 15-20 seconds and 10,000 transactions per second is possible.

NeoContract- smart contracts for the smart economy

NeoContract is the smart contract suite supported on the network. It is built from three main components. The first is NeoVM which is NEO’s virtual machine. The second is InteropService which is similar to the virtual machine and is used to load the ledger, digital assets, digital identities, and storage area. The third component is DevPack which is a compiler and IDE. NeoVM was designed very similar to Java Virtual Machine which is what allows the compiler to compile mainstream languages into NeoVM.

NeoX – cross-chain support

NeoX has two functions. The first aspect of NeoX is to allow for cross-chain asset exchange. This means that digital assets can be traded between NEO and other networks and documented properly. Either the transaction is identical on both chains after taking place or it fails on both chains. The second aspect of NeoX is cross-chain smart contract deployment where parts of the smart contract can be executed on different chains entirely.

NeoFS- storage solutions

NeoFS is a storage protocol which allows large files to be stored on the blockchain and defines how to access stored files. It uses distributed hash technology and can be combined with digital identities to manage permissions.

NeoQS- anti-quantum cryptography

Quantum computing can potentially make today’s security systems obsolete. NeoQS introduces problems that quantum computers cannot solve easily. These include the Shortest Vector Problem and the Closest Vector Problem. Both of these are known to be reliable in terms of quantum resistance.

The above five technologies are the foundation of NEO’s network. They built the base that other developers will launch applications on.

smart economy

Coin Mechanics


As mentioned previously, NEO is used for voting on bookkeeping in order to form censuses in the NEO network. There are 100 million NEO out there. 50 million were distributed to raise funds at the start of the project and 50 million are held by the NEO council for development activities (see whitepaper for breakdown).


NeoGas (GAS) is the token which is used to power the network. Fees are charged for things such as deploying smart contracts; these fees are paid in GAS. GAS is also paid to NEO holders as economic incentive to act “good” when voting on bookkeeping.


NEO token holders govern the chain by using their voting power in the network. The NEO Council oversees development and marketing for the project, governing off-chain functions.

Looking Forward

As you can see, there is a reason why NEO is currently a top 10 coin ranked by market cap. There is a ton of development and potential, all centered around the “smart economy”. While Ethereum brought ICO’s to center stage in 2017, it is expected that an increasing number of ICO’s will launch on NEO’s platform in 2018 as it continues to gain more traction.

The ease of usability, such as allowing mainstream programming languages, is one thing that makes NEO so special. Another is the dedication of the team to development as well as marketing. NEO was formerly known as Antshares until June 2017 when they re-branded. Shifts such as this prove that the team recognizes the technical and human aspects of the project.  At the same time, the team returns the power to the NEO holders where it matters, on-chain voting. NEO holders have all the power in terms of network operation and generate GAS as a result. Is NEO a good investment? I don’t know. But, I do know that NEO is a solid project which is poised for technical growth and increasing adoption within the cryptocurrency community.

Fundamental Summary


NEO is a smart contract platform which uses GAS as a payment for computation and deployment of contracts


NEO has the following: staking for consensus, smart contracts, cross-chain support, storage solutions, and quantum resistance.

Team & Community

NEO has a fairly large team which can be seen here. They typically updated the community at the blog here. The subreddit is located here.

Key Competition

Ethereum as of now. Potentially Cardano, EOS, Stellar

Price Summary (2/16/2018)

Market Cap

$8,254,545,000 USD

Circulating Supply


52 Week Range

$0.12 – $197.56

Relative Price Performance

Value of $1000 invested on 2/16/2017

NEO- $1,069,000

ETH- $72,500

BTC- $9,920









And most other major exchanges…

Relevant Information



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IOTA and the Big “Q”



Q1 2018 is finally here. Where is “Q”?

David Sønstebø, one of the founders of IOTA promised users that a mystery project codenamed “Q” would be rolling out sometime in the first quarter of 2018 and said it would be “one the biggest, if not the biggest thing to occur to the IOTA project.” Let’s dive into “Q” and explore the possibilities.

For the indolent, let’s start off by explaining what IOTA is and what problems it aims to solve.


What is IOTA?

IOTA is named after the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet and also means “an extremely small amount”. The latter of those two definitions is a better indicator of what IOTA brings to the table. IOTA is a cryptocurrency that uses “The Tangle”, a blockless distributed ledger which is scalable, lightweight, and allows the transfer of value with zero fees. With this structure, micro payments are now feasible.

To achieve a feeless currency, miners have been removed from the equation. Instead, anyone that wants to create a transaction must participate in the network by approving two previous transactions with PoW.

For a more in depth explanation of IOTA, please refer to the following sources:

What is IOTA? – ReadMe


What is “Q”?

Well to be blunt, no one knows. I would like to explore all of the possibilities and try to determine the most realistic answer. The below theories are listed in no particular order.

Theory 1: Qubic

At this time, not much is known about what Qubic is, other than its curious relationship to JINN processors. According to the user “Come-from-Beyond” from NXTForum, a “JINN processor is a bunch of independent cores. A piece of code (entity) running on a core does some computations and can interact via messages with other entities running on other cores… There were math co-processors speeding up floating-point operations in the past. Now we have GPUs that are used to render 3D scenes. JINN has its specific usage too, it’s designed to lower interaction latency of distributed computations.”

With this technology, “Q” may bring distributed computing models to IOTA protocols with JINN processors. A user would be able to access the global computational power of all JINN devices in order to lower latency to a minimal state.

More Information and Sources:


IOTA’s Q = Qubic – Medium


Theory 2: Qualcomm’s C-V2X Technology

C-V2X, which stands for “Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything”, is a new chip set announced by Qualcomm that was recently showcased at CES 2018. It aims to “empower the (auto) industry, including automakers and roadside infrastructure providers, with enhanced V2X capabilities for safety and autonomous driving.” C-V2X is optimized to take full advantage of future 5G markets while also improving autonomous driving, secure communication, and cost efficiency. IOTA has already been proposed as a solution for auto-related issues with partnerships such as Volkswagen and Bosch. A potential IOTA partnership could help bridge the IoT world with the future of the auto industry.

More Information Sources:


Qualcomm Blog


Theory 3: “Q” May be Related to Oracles

One attribute of distributed ledgers, such as the Tangle, is that they are cut off from the outside world. Implementing Oracles helps accomplish three main objectives: importing outside data into the Tangle (such as timestamps), providing solutions to computation-heavy tasks, and acting as a link between other blockchains. Dominik Schiener, Co-Founder of the IOTA token, states that “With our Oracle platform we not only aim at connecting the physical world with IOTA; but we also want to enable true interoperability with all other Blockchain platforms.”


A Primer on IOTA (with Presentation)


Theory 4: Quantum Computing

It is unclear where Quantum computing will be in a few years, but Google has already announced plans to create a 49 qubit computer and Microsoft has recently released Q#, a language used in Quantum computing. With IOTA’s Quantum resistance, it is not hard to imagine that “Q” relates to future IoT innovations and relationships with Quantum computing.


Microsoft Q#

APS Physics



If I was forced to put money on one of these four theories, I would bet on Qubic. With IOTA’s already close relationship to JINN processors, it seems to be the most plausible option. Coming from a non-developer stance, it is difficult to ascertain the truth and predict what will actually happen. Whatever happens though, IOTA fans hope they that they will be able to agree with Sønstebø’s hype. 2018 is gearing up to be a big year for IOTA.

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