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2.ETHEREUM (Published: 14th Jun, 2017)

BASIC INFORMATION
Ethereum was proposed by a 19-year-old programmer Vitalik Buterin at Toronto in 2013 with the vision of building decentralized applications without third parties and becoming the “world computer”.
In traditional applications, data is processed by a third-party company and stored in their servers. Although this is convenient with their specialist teams managing and secure the data, it at the same time has the vulnerability of being hacked and governments accessing them undesirably. Meanwhile, Ethereum, using the blockchain technology, replaces the servers and clouds with thousands of “nodes” run by volunteers around the world so that applications are ran by these thousands of computers together and become decentralised (Dapps).
If a client wants to request to run an application, he can do so by paying the contributors Ether, which can be earned by exchanging dollars or contributing resources to the network. In this way, it becomes an ecosystem which incentivise developers to write better programmes (inefficient codes would now cost more) and at the same time compensating contributors.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT
In a recent interview on 4 June 2017 with Andrew Keys, co-founder of an Ethereum company ConsenSys (Consensus Systems), he explained that three major upgrades in the scalability of Ethereum are believed to be happened, including State Channels, Proof of stake system, and quadratic sharding.
State channels is a system that allows most transactions to be processed on off-chain channels and only writes the final result to the blockchain. It can improve privacy, prevent the payment conflicts, and lower the transaction costs. The first off-blockchain transaction has been successfully done by Ethereum developers in Gnosis on August 2016.
Proof of Stake is the replacement for the existing proof of work system which miners have to spend a lot of computer power to solve puzzles to generate a block. With the new system, they can now do the same task by proofing how much stake (Ether in this case) they own instead, effectively saving energies. This Proof of Stake system is scheduled for the summer of 2017.
Sharding is about breaking the blockchain into many shards so that each “node” is responsible for one shard instead of the entire blockchain. This can save memories on nodes and thus reduce the processing time. The sharding technology will be released with the Proof of Stake in the summer of 2017 as Ethereum 2.0.

TRADE SUGGESTIONS
The price of Ethereum has risen significantly this year, rising from around $10 in January 2017 to $400 in June. With the fact that it is a disruptive innovation of the current applications, increasing numbers of organisations support by participating in the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EAA), and the plans for scaling in the summer this year, its price is expected to rise to a higher point in these few months. Hence, I would suggest buying Ethereum.

INVESTMENT RISKS
As Ethereum is also a new cryptocurrency, it bears the same risks with Bitcoin: volatile and vulnerable to regulations and hacking. In addition, despite having proper development plans, the implementation of Ethereum 2.0 and future versions has many hard-forks which are irreversible. If some system failures occur, there will be a catastrophe effect towards to whole network.

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