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Inferno spotlight on Initiative Q

TL;DR: Not a scam, but it’s not much of anything else either.

If you have a Facebook account or are active in crypto, you’ve probably stumbled across Initiative Q recently. If so, you’re probably scratching your head trying to figure out what it actually is, and possibly whether to get in on the action. It’s not an ICO, but it claims it will one day be huge – like multi-trillion-dollar huge.

As ever, do your own research, but here are Inferno’s thoughts on Q.

Note: lots of people are giving out referral link to draw in other people and earn themselves more Qs. We do not give a referral link here, for reasons that will become clear.

Initiative Q is the creation of Saar Wilf, a payments expert and entrepreneur whose company was acquired by PayPal in 2008. In the words of the website itself, Q is ‘tomorrow’s payment network’: a solution to the inefficiencies of our current payment system. It’s the view of Q that new technologies have the potential to revolutionise payments. The issue is getting everything started. There’s a network effect at work here, and it doesn’t matter how good the new system is – businesses won’t use it until there are enough buyers and sellers using it already. It’s a chicken and egg problem.

And so Q is going about building that network effect, which it believes could lead to a $20 trillion payment system – yes, $20,000,000,000,000. As the site states, ‘It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. As millions join, advanced payment technologies are deployed, the payment system becomes even more popular, the Q currency becomes valuable, and rewards given to early users reach their potential value.’ It’s going about this by signing people up, creating a register of future users, who are granted a stake in the future currency according to how early they sign up and how many more people they bring in.

That sounds like a few ICO bounty campaigns, and maybe they’ve picked up a thing or two from the crypto space, but they are at pains to point out that Q is not a cryptocurrency – even if it sure sounds crypto-like in key aspects, and especially as they’re not actually very clear on what Q really is, yet. They’re also keen to point out that Q will avoid the volatility that is a signature of the crypto markets. (There are a lot of comparisons to bitcoin; what Q are most sure about is that they’re not crypto.)

So what’s the skinny here?

It’s not entirely clear how they will avoid volatility when revaluing a currency from zero – its current market cap – to $20 trillion. Q takes a ‘central bank’ approach to managing value and maintaining stable value. ‘Initiative Q’s monetary policy will eventually be overseen by a monetary committee that is directly accountable to all Q holders, and independent of the Initiative Q corporate entity.’ Let’s hope they’re better at that than central bankers and their committees, who are some of the most highly trained and experienced in economics and still haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory. In other words, that’s a big promise to make, and very little to back it up with. And that’s really the tagline for Q.

In a similar vein, Q also has no product. They don’t even have a clear roadmap. They simply note there are lots of promising technologies around, which could benefit payments enormously, but don’t elaborate on which ones they will be using – presumably because they don’t know or haven’t decided yet.

Q would presumably argue that building network effect is more important at this stage. Get people on the bus, then decide where you are going. But to do that, they engage in MLM-style marketing and hard sell tactics. Once again, they are at pains to state this is not a pyramid scheme – which it is not – or MLM. There’s no money involved at this stage, so that’s factually correct. There’s no financial scam here. However, it remains highly reminiscent of the chain letters of the 1990s. ‘Forward this to five people now and good things will happen to you! Tarquin McWinter of 45 Penthouse Avenue, Boston did and he received $23 million in Q!! Hugh Skudgeon of 14 Herpes Drive, Slough deleted it and the next day, his buttocks were both eaten off by an enraged goat!!!’

In short, there are holes in the idea you could drive a truck through. It’s mostly holes, in fact. Not dishonest. Not really anything else, though. It’s a vague good idea that is, at present, not underpinned by anything of substance. They might make something of it. They might not. But right now, Q is very long on promises and somewhat short in the tangible reality department.

So what do they have?

Your data. Lots of it. That marketing campaign has been pretty successful and a lot of people have signed up in the hope of getting rich quick.

That data is worth a lot. Not $20 trillion, but a lot. Naturally, Q say they won’t sell it, but a pool of likely millions of verified, unique and real accounts is one heck of a honeypot for hackers. Should it ever make the journey out of Q’s servers and onto the data marketplaces of the darkweb, we’ll see exactly how much Q is worth.

So, it’s our view that Q is not a scam. The team apparently have honest intentions. But they don’t have much more than that. It’s total vapour. There’s nothing there, just an idea to do things better and very little in the way of how to make that actually happen. Good luck for the future guys, and we wish you the best, but we’d need an awful lot more to go on before we get excited.

To conclude, Q is aptly titled because it raises more questions than answers. We suggest a follow-up, Initiative A, to address this considerable shortcoming.

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Tuesday Inferno market report

TL;DR volatility returns, with gradually increasing volume?

After last week’s promising breakout, bitcoin took a dive and is now back within its range. With the failure to make higher highs, we’re back to the previous rules: resistance at $6,400 and $6,200, with $6,000 being the established demand zone. Should the price drop to ~$5,700, we’d say it’s time to short – as ever, though, do your own research.

At the time of writing, BTC stands at $6,275. Volume is up a little; while it’s still pretty lacklustre, the direction of travel is right at least. Coinmarketcap is showing aggregate volumes into the $4 billion range (check the Historical Data tab for Bitcoin). While we’d like to see figures much higher, a large proportion of the last three months have seen lower volumes than that.

Meanwhile, BCash is retracing hard after its pre-fork pump, which looks like nothing more than your traditional crypto P&D. It seems that this event may have brought some interest to the overall crypto space, as traders purchased BTC to buy BCH – which are now being sold again. Craig Wright has stated his aim to kill BCH entirely. He claims he has over 50% of network hashrate at his disposal, meaning he could destroy BCHABC (Ver and Wu’s chain) and ensure his own BCHSV survives. Needless to say, the futures market has been volatile, and given that Wu has a lot of Bitmain hashrate to draw on, it could all get very ugly. Wright has threatened legal action of Wu moves Antpool hashrate to counter-attack.

Just another day in crypto. Most likely we’ll need to wait until after the fork happens and all of that mess plays out before the situation for BTC itself becomes clearer. You can read our rundown of the BCH fork debacle here.

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BCash: We hate to say ‘I told you so…’

TL;DR it kind of does seem there is some justice in the crypto world.

Bitcoin Cash, better known by its derogatory title BCash, has had a particularly turbulent ride the last couple of weeks. Born out of strife – the coin was a blatant land-grab on the Bitcoin brand by a motley group of former bitcoin evangelists, mining moguls and Satoshi-wannabes – it’s fitting that relationships within the BCash group itself should have deteriorated to the point where the coin splits.

The whole episode illustrates everything that is disgusting about crypto – in fact, one of the wonderful things about it is that this partitions off some unpleasant players and pits them against each other, leaving the rest of the crypto world to get on with their own thing and eat popcorn. BCash was enormously controversial when it first launched, accompanied by a massive FUD campaign and a fork that at one point threatened to severely undermine the entire crypto world. The new fork is the result of a disagreement between different members of the BCash camp – notably Craig ‘Faketoshi’ Wright on the one hand, and Roger ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ Ver and Jihan Wu, co-founder of Bitmain, the largest producer of ASIC chips in the world, on the other.

Last week BCash saw a massive pump, taking it from 0.066 satoshis to 0.098 in a matter of days – a 50% appreciation. The narrative is that this was traders buying BCH ahead of the fork to get both coins. Naturally, the bubble burst well before the event itself, as there was little doubt it would (and as Inferno itself warned on Saturday). It would now surprise us greatly if BCH did not ultimately return to its previous pre-pump level. It was nothing more than a P&D, and likely many BTC belonging to Bitmain were spent in the effort.

At the time of writing, Wright’s BCHSV (‘Bitcoin Cash Satoshi Vision’) futures are trading at 0.018 sats on Poloniex, while Wu’s BCHABC is trading at 0.064, indicating the market is almost 4 times more confident in Wu than Wright.

That means that Wright, who claimed to be Satoshi and the creator of a $100 billion blockchain, will end up as the architect of a $2 billion market cap effort – and that’s before it dumps any further. Meanwhile, the in-fighting between Ver and Wright paints the whole BCash effort in a very poor light. BCash is consuming itself from within as the lies and deceit that have been a feature since Day #1 come back to bite it.

The whole episode can be summed up with the maxim: If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

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What happens when Bakkt launches on 12 December?

TL;DR What everyone thinks will happen, won’t happen.

 

There’s a narrative doing the rounds right now in the crypto world. After 11 months of bear market, the new uptrend will begin when Bakkt launches, opening the floodgates to institutional money. 12 December will see an uptick in the price of bitcoin, and then the good times will roll once again.

 

Right?

 

It makes perfect sense, but it just doesn’t work like this. While Bakkt and other regulated products do open the way for institutional money and significantly higher prices, the short-term impact on price is far from certain. The reason is that all the information about Bakkt is already out there: we know when it’s going to launch. So the impact is already priced in.

 

Crypto trader Alessio Rastani gives a great overview about the two different types of information at play in a market: information for the Masses (i.e. almost everyone), and information for the Classes (i.e. the 1% of professional traders). This is why the relationship between news and price is tentative, at best: by the time the ‘news’ is public knowledge, it’s already old and professional traders have already made their moves. Moreover, pro traders – including institutions – are often the ones putting out the news in the first place. The narrative the public sees is the one they determine. In short, price is a far better indicator of what’s going on than the news cycle. The chart contains all the information you need.

 

Rastani gives some good illustrations of this for the bitcoin market. A good example from today is the news that China has just ‘unbanned’ bitcoin once again. Last time a China ban came into force, the market apparently dumped – but quickly recovered and went on to make dramatic new highs. This was expected by the pro traders, who took it as an opportunity to pick up some discounted BTC. This time? China unbans bitcoin and the market drops. We’ll see where it goes longer-term, but make no mistake – the top traders will have profited from the expectation that the Chinese news would be interpreted as bullish by ‘dumb money’.

 

And this is why we need to be careful trying to forecast what Bakkt will bring. When everyone is dealing with the same information, no one has an edge. So all the regular traders thinking they will profit from the launch may be in for a shock. While Bakkt’s launch is bullish overall for the sector, that week itself may see some unexpected volatility and a shakeout as the 1% take profits at the expense of Average Joe – and then pick up discounted BTC to enjoy the new rally.

 

TL;DR Bakkt is positive news, but don’t get rekt by the Classes.

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Friday Inferno market report

TL;DR Positive for now, but it’s all about $6,800

 

After a long period of uncharacteristic stability, bitcoin is finally picking up. There are several reasons for encouragement, but a trend-change – a renewed bull market – is not certain yet.

 

On Wednesday bitcoin closed above the 50 daily MA for the first time in weeks. That area ($6,450) broadly lines up with a key support/resistance level, so remaining and consolidating above that will be important. For now we’ve dipped below that to $6,400, coming off the 50 and 200 MAs (which have just crossed bullish) on the 4h chart.

 

We have broken through the descending resistance line that has been in play since February. Bitcoin has tested this multiple times, as it has tested the $6,000 zone.

 

Volume is coming back in. It’s nothing like it was at the height of the rally or earlier this year, of course – but it’s picking up.

 

Bitcoin dominance is down. This is something that die-hard maximalists will view as a bad sign. For us, it’s a signal of strength for the overall crypto market. In a bear market, traders seek safe haven in BTC, assuming they don’t exit to USD altogether. This is why alts have typically fallen ~90% while bitcoin is down ~65%. When confidence returns, traders buy alts – pushing those thinner markets higher and reducing dominance, but indicating in the process that crypto is overall attractive.

 

For all that, bitcoin is still in a range and we know that $6,800 represents critical resistance. BTC has traded around that area enough in the past that it will necessarily be a key level in deciding trend. It may take a couple of goes to break that, if indeed the market decides that’s where it wants to go.

 

Additionally, bitcoin shorts have dropped to a three-month low against longs. This is not conclusive evidence of anything, but we take it into consideration. Longs have not picked up appreciably in cash terms. Remember that the herd is generally wrong. When shorts are high we often see a move to the upside, clearing them out. We’ll be watching this to nuance any technical analysis. Finally – and this will feel like Groundhog Day to anyone who’s been around since 2014 – China has just unbanned bitcoin. Again.

 

To summarise, passing $6,800 will be interpreted as a sign of strength, and many traders will be waiting for this point or $7,000 before buying.

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Three market scenarios

Right now it feels like a critical time in the markets. Bitcoin has dropped 65% over the course of the year, and we appear to be at a watershed; analysts are divided between the idea of a renewed uptrend, vs the danger of the market taking another leg lower. Meanwhile there are an increasing number of warnings about the stock markets and the global economy. The Dow has recently ‘corrected’ sharply, though we’re not yet into true bear market territory. Analysts here too are split between whether the pain is over for now and stocks will continue to rise, or whether there is more to come.

 

Which way the mainstream markets go will likely have significant bearing on crypto. As we’ve argued, crypto may no longer be uncorrelated to the stock markets, but neither is it treated exactly the same, as another risk-on asset.

 

And so it appears that at some point soon – within 12-18 months at most – we will see a stock market rout. In the same time period, bitcoin is widely forecast to pick up, powered by the shiny new infrastructure coming online at the end of this year and beginning of 2019, facilitating waves of institutional cash. The timing of the first will have a high degree of impact on the second. We broadly see three different scenarios.

 

1) The Dow tanks, crypto tanks

Should confidence in the US stock markets fail soon (i.e. this year or early 2019), then traders will be taking heavy losses. Bitcoin is more correlated with stocks than it used to be, and traders won’t be feeling wealthy enough to take a punt on BTC – they’ll adopt a risk-on approach and hedge in cash or gold. This could kill or delay a nascent rally in bitcoin, as institutions wait for more favourable conditions.

 

2) The Dow (temporarily) rallies, crypto rallies

With the Midterms out of the way, markets have greater certainty – and, indeed, the split in Congress is broadly favourable to Wall Street, curtailing the riskiest excesses of the Trump presidency while maintaining a light touch for businesses. If the stock markets continue to rise, then it’s reasonable to expect traders to start funneling some of their gains into bitcoin – which will not only start to appear underpriced, but will have those all-important on-ramps. That could push BTC significantly higher over the course of next year – though, of course, at some point the stock market will top out and then the party would most likely end for crypto too.

 

3) The stars align

Should the two market cycles occur out of phase, we could be in for something more dramatic. A rally in the Dow might not coincide with a bitcoin bull market; it may still be too early for that. If there was a period of further consolidation, it’s possible that bitcoin might start its next rise when the Dow is already much higher. If, however, bitcoin was gaining momentum as the Dow topped out, we might see a huge round of profit-taking and the money being pushed into crypto in the biggest FOMO bull market yet.

 

We know that markets move in cycles, and that both the global stock markets and crypto are due for a change in trend. Precisely when and how that happens could have some far-reaching consequences.

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Wednesday Inferno market overview

With the new month, bitcoin has still been trading within that very tight range. Just this morning, however, we may – may – have seen the first signs of green shoots as the price breaks out of its holding pattern. We will know more later.

 

November has historically been a bullish month for BTC and there’s some expectation that will happen again – but remember, we’re contrarians here at Inferno and when the herd thinks something is going to happen, the opposite is likely. Now we don’t know whether ‘the majority’ think things are bullish at this point – the evidence suggests not – but take what ‘everyone’ says with a grain of salt. In a market, nothing is definite.

 

Volumes are still low, but appear to be rising slightly, which will be a critical factor in determining the strength of any given move and how likely it is to follow through into the next stage of the cycle. Analysts are split on whether we are consolidating here ahead of a recovery in the final two months of the year – as we’ve said, bitcoin’s traditional Christmas rally – or whether we will break support at $5,700 and head into a long crypto winter. Remember, with low volumes, it’s easier for large players to push the market around, so a pick-up in volume is critical for the health of the ecosystem.

 

Right now, it’s still unclear which way things will go. Sunday saw a $100 leg up but BTC still sits within the established $200 range. We’ve just pulled above $6,500 at the time of writing, but there’s no telling whether that will be sustainable or whether it’s a fakeout. There’s support at the $6,200 zone, resistance around $6,500. If we close above that the scenario becomes more bullish.

 

As we suggested on Monday, the outcome of the midterms could have some bearing on what happens next, since this will impact the US financial markets – and those wider market conditions will likely play into whether bitcoin breaks up or down out of its nine month descending triangle pattern. If traders feel wealthy (due to a rally in the Dow, for example), they will be more prepared to put money into BTC. So it will be worth watching the stock markets and taking some cues from them. However, this is just one factor of many.

 

In the alts, there are signs of life. BCash has posted significant gains ahead of its fork mid-month. In previous such forks and similar events these rallies end before the fork itself as traders look to front-run each other ultimately selling the news. The same will almost certainly happen here – expect blood for BCash soon.

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Tech entrepreneur: Sasha Ivanov

Get in for the tech, stay for the money, stick around for the lulz? As the market evolves from bear to bull and back, it can be hard to remember why you’re here in the first place. When all is crashing around you, it’s only natural to lose sight of what’s really important – the tech, the adoption and the long-term odds of success for crypto.

 

‘The community’ will not provide you with good information under these circumstances. The herd is always wrong – in a market, almost by definition. If you want to cut through the emotion of the current cycle and get back in touch with the fundamentals, then it’s well worth following a few key influencers: professionals who have been in crypto for years, who know what’s really going on behind the scenes, and who have an eye on the big picture and ultimate goals.

 

The Influencer we’ve chosen today is Sasha Ivanov, the Russian physicist who launched the Waves blockchain platform back in 2016. Ivanov has been active in crypto since 2013, building several businesses and projects before he crowdfunded Waves. Here, we’ve compiled ten of our favourite tweets:

 

 

#1. On the goals of blockchain research:

#2. On how blockchain isn’t suited to computation:

#3. On the economic realities of decentralisation…

#4. …which won’t be adopted until it makes good business sense:

#5. On cryptocurrency as a distraction from blockchain:

#6. On the new blockchain-enabled internet:

#7. On surviving the ICO bubble:

#8. On market manipulation:

#9. On open blockchains and security:

#10. On the interplay between public and private blockchains:

 

And one for luck:

On how old money always finds new opportunities:

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Bitcoin and the midterms

Tomorrow is the midterm elections in the US. What will the impact be for bitcoin?

 

Tuesday 6 November sees the midterms: the polls for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 out of 100 in the Senate. The elections are widely seen as a referendum on the Trump presidency. The electoral math tilts in favour of the Republicans for the Senate, and towards the Dems for the House.

 

Of course, politics is an uncertain business, and especially American politics at the moment. We might see a #MeToo-inspired backlash against the Republicans; equally, the ‘silent majority’ might quietly vote Red.

 

The results will help determine economic and foreign policy for the remainder of the presidency and potentially beyond, which in turn has profound implications for crypto.

 

Should the Dems gain strength, this will significantly hamper Trump’s legislative agenda. He may struggle to push through controversial changes relating to China and trade tariffs, sanctions on Iran, policy towards North Korea, and more. This could have a re-stabilising effect, or at least push things back towards the status quo that existed before 2017.

 

Conversely, a reinvigorated Trump presidency might see further tariffs and a full-blown trade war, impacting the US and global stock markets and pushing the world into a recession that already seems highly likely. Potentially a stronger dollar, in the short term, as more economic activity happens at home, but this would be limited by a host of other factors in the medium term as the global economy faltered.

 

Traders tend to react in the short term, so a surprise tomorrow will likely see an immediate move one way or another. For example, if the wider markets react to the results by selling dollars (perceiving a weakened US economy), dollar-denominated bitcoin holdings will be worth less (i.e. a $6,400 BTC is worth less in real terms than it was a day earlier). We might reasonably expect a sell-off as traders seek to cover other positions and increase their cash holdings. Meanwhile a result that points to a stronger economy might convince more traders to seek returns in a risk-on asset – though, as we’ve pointed out, bitcoin’s status is far from clear cut.

 

Longer-term, as we come into the next market cycle, bitcoin demand will likely be a function of institutional interest but also international instability – particularly from failing states, as we’ve already seen, but also should capital controls be implemented.

 

Just as we can’t call the elections, we can’t call the direction of movement for bitcoin. However, it seems likely that there will be a market reaction of some kind. Markets hate uncertainty, and at the very least bitcoin will probably react to the temporary resolution of that uncertainty for the dollar.

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Deltec Bank provides utterly convincing and professional letter to prove Tether reserves exist

Ok, so we know we talk a lot about Tether and Bitfinex. We don’t much like them. For the record, we don’t think they’re quite as shady as some have made out, but there’s plenty wrong with them.

 

And that’s why we felt the need to laugh at the letter that Tether’s new bank has provided to ‘prove’ the company has the US dollar reserves to back their USDT tokens. You can find a copy of the document here: https://tether.to/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Tether-Letter.pdf

 

A cursory look at this letter will raise a number of questions for anyone who has ever received a letter from their own bank. Now, we don’t know how it works in the world of High Finance, but there are a couple of red flags here.

 

  • Banks use your actual name. A generic ‘Sirs’, as we see here, is unusual, to say the least. They would perhaps use the company name, or more likely the name of the CEO or CFO. ‘Sirs’ reads like a crypto scammer has written it (they’re always polite to begin with). Tether presumably want to protect the identities of their people, but their CEO’s name isn’t exactly a secret. (And just to confirm, the CEO’s name isn’t ‘Sirs’.)
  • That signature. It’s kind of, well, squiggly, isn’t it? Like, illegible. Of course, a lot of people’s signatures are. That’s why you also write your name underneath, so the recipient knows who the letter is from. A list of the people you might expect to have signed the letter can be found in this doc.

 

So here we have a letter, written from one unknown person to another unknown person, stating that Deltec hold a lot of money on behalf of Tether.

 

We’re not suggesting it’s fake. Only that both Tether (and Deltec) could do a lot better in their efforts to improve transparency and confidence in their business. And that we understand anyone who casts doubt on its provenance. They just make it so easy.

 

Ok, we’ll stop laughing at Tether now. Honest.

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