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Technical: A Brief History of Payment Channels: from Satoshi to Lightning Network
Who cares about political tweets from some random country's president when payment channels are a much more interesting and are actually capable of carrying value? So let's have a short history of various payment channel techs!
Generation 0: Satoshi's Broken nSequence Channels
Because Satoshi's Vision included payment channels, except his implementation sucked so hard we had to go fix it and added RBF as a by-product. Originally, the plan for nSequence was that mempools would replace any transaction spending certain inputs with another transaction spending the same inputs, but only if the nSequence field of the replacement was larger. Since 0xFFFFFFFF was the highest value that nSequence could get, this would mark a transaction as "final" and not replaceable on the mempool anymore. In fact, this "nSequence channel" I will describe is the reason why we have this weird rule about nLockTime and nSequence. nLockTime actually only works if nSequence is not 0xFFFFFFFF i.e. final. If nSequence is 0xFFFFFFFF then nLockTime is ignored, because this if the "final" version of the transaction. So what you'd do would be something like this:
You go to a bar and promise the bartender to pay by the time the bar closes. Because this is the Bitcoin universe, time is measured in blockheight, so the closing time of the bar is indicated as some future blockheight.
For your first drink, you'd make a transaction paying to the bartender for that drink, paying from some coins you have. The transaction has an nLockTime equal to the closing time of the bar, and a starting nSequence of 0. You hand over the transaction and the bartender hands you your drink.
For your succeeding drink, you'd remake the same transaction, adding the payment for that drink to the transaction output that goes to the bartender (so that output keeps getting larger, by the amount of payment), and having an nSequence that is one higher than the previous one.
Eventually you have to stop drinking. It comes down to one of two possibilities:
You drink until the bar closes. Since it is now the nLockTime indicated in the transaction, the bartender is able to broadcast the latest transaction and tells the bouncers to kick you out of the bar.
You wisely consider the state of your liver. So you re-sign the last transaction with a "final" nSequence of 0xFFFFFFFF i.e. the maximum possible value it can have. This allows the bartender to get his or her funds immediately (nLockTime is ignored if nSequence is 0xFFFFFFFF), so he or she tells the bouncers to let you out of the bar.
Now that of course is a payment channel. Individual payments (purchases of alcohol, so I guess buying coffee is not in scope for payment channels). Closing is done by creating a "final" transaction that is the sum of the individual payments. Sure there's no routing and channels are unidirectional and channels have a maximum lifetime but give Satoshi a break, he was also busy inventing Bitcoin at the time. Now if you noticed I called this kind of payment channel "broken". This is because the mempool rules are not consensus rules, and cannot be validated (nothing about the mempool can be validated onchain: I sigh every time somebody proposes "let's make block size dependent on mempool size", mempool state cannot be validated by onchain data). Fullnodes can't see all of the transactions you signed, and then validate that the final one with the maximum nSequence is the one that actually is used onchain. So you can do the below:
Become friends with Jihan Wu, because he owns >51% of the mining hashrate (he totally reorged Bitcoin to reverse the Binance hack right?).
Slip Jihan Wu some of the more interesting drinks you're ordering as an incentive to cooperate with you. So say you end up ordering 100 drinks, you split it with Jihan Wu and give him 50 of the drinks.
When the bar closes, Jihan Wu quickly calls his mining rig and tells them to mine the version of your transaction with nSequence 0. You know, that first one where you pay for only one drink.
Because fullnodes cannot validate nSequence, they'll accept even the nSequence=0 version and confirm it, immutably adding you paying for a single alcoholic drink to the blockchain.
The bartender, pissed at being cheated, takes out a shotgun from under the bar and shoots at you and Jihan Wu.
Jihan Wu uses his mystical chi powers (actually the combined exhaust from all of his mining rigs) to slow down the shotgun pellets, making them hit you as softly as petals drifting in the wind.
The bartender mutters some words, clothes ripping apart as he or she (hard to believe it could be a she but hey) turns into a bear, ready to maul you for cheating him or her of the payment for all the 100 drinks you ordered from him or her.
Steely-eyed, you stand in front of the bartender-turned-bear, daring him to touch you. You've watched Revenant, you know Leonardo di Caprio could survive a bear mauling, and if some posh actor can survive that, you know you can too. You make a pose. "Drunken troll logic attack!"
I think I got sidetracked here.
Bears are bad news.
You can't reasonably invoke "Satoshi's Vision" and simultaneously reject the Lightning Network because it's not onchain. Satoshi's Vision included a half-assed implementation of payment channels with nSequence, where the onchain transaction represented multiple logical payments, exactly what modern offchain techniques do (except modern offchain techniques actually work). nSequence (the field, but not its modern meaning) has been in Bitcoin since BitCoin For Windows Alpha 0.1.0. And its original intent was payment channels. You can't get nearer to Satoshi's Vision than being a field that Satoshi personally added to transactions on the very first public release of the BitCoin software, like srsly.
Miners can totally bypass mempool rules. In fact, the reason why nSequence has been repurposed to indicate "optional" replace-by-fee is because miners are already incentivized by the nSequence system to always follow replace-by-fee anyway. I mean, what do you think those drinks you passed to Jihan Wu are, other than the fee you pay him to mine a specific version of your transaction?
Satoshi made mistakes. The original design for nSequence is one of them. Today, we no longer use nSequence in this way. So diverging from Satoshi's original design is part and parcel of Bitcoin development, because over time, we learn new lessons that Satoshi never knew about. Satoshi was an important landmark in this technology. He will not be the last, or most important, that we will remember in the future: he will only be the first.
Incentive-compatible time-limited unidirectional channel; or, Satoshi's Vision, Fixed (if transaction malleability hadn't been a problem, that is). Now, we know the bartender will turn into a bear and maul you if you try to cheat the payment channel, and now that we've revealed you're good friends with Jihan Wu, the bartender will no longer accept a payment channel scheme that lets one you cooperate with a miner to cheat the bartender. Fortunately, Jeremy Spilman proposed a better way that would not let you cheat the bartender. First, you and the bartender perform this ritual:
You get some funds and create a transaction that pays to a 2-of-2 multisig between you and the bartender. You don't broadcast this yet: you just sign it and get its txid.
You create another transaction that spends the above transaction. This transaction (the "backoff") has an nLockTime equal to the closing time of the bar, plus one block. You sign it and give this backoff transaction (but not the above transaction) to the bartender.
The bartender signs the backoff and gives it back to you. It is now valid since it's spending a 2-of-2 of you and the bartender, and both of you have signed the backoff transaction.
Now you broadcast the first transaction onchain. You and the bartender wait for it to be deeply confirmed, then you can start ordering.
The above is probably vaguely familiar to LN users. It's the funding process of payment channels! The first transaction, the one that pays to a 2-of-2 multisig, is the funding transaction that backs the payment channel funds. So now you start ordering in this way:
For your first drink, you create a transaction spending the funding transaction output and sending the price of the drink to the bartender, with the rest returning to you.
You sign the transaction and pass it to the bartender, who serves your first drink.
For your succeeding drinks, you recreate the same transaction, adding the price of the new drink to the sum that goes to the bartender and reducing the money returned to you. You sign the transaction and give it to the bartender, who serves you your next drink.
At the end:
If the bar closing time is reached, the bartender signs the latest transaction, completing the needed 2-of-2 signatures and broadcasting this to the Bitcoin network. Since the backoff transaction is the closing time + 1, it can't get used at closing time.
If you decide you want to leave early because your liver is crying, you just tell the bartender to go ahead and close the channel (which the bartender can do at any time by just signing and broadcasting the latest transaction: the bartender won't do that because he or she is hoping you'll stay and drink more).
If you ended up just hanging around the bar and never ordering, then at closing time + 1 you broadcast the backoff transaction and get your funds back in full.
Now, even if you pass 50 drinks to Jihan Wu, you can't give him the first transaction (the one which pays for only one drink) and ask him to mine it: it's spending a 2-of-2 and the copy you have only contains your own signature. You need the bartender's signature to make it valid, but he or she sure as hell isn't going to cooperate in something that would lose him or her money, so a signature from the bartender validating old state where he or she gets paid less isn't going to happen. So, problem solved, right? Right? Okay, let's try it. So you get your funds, put them in a funding tx, get the backoff tx, confirm the funding tx... Once the funding transaction confirms deeply, the bartender laughs uproariously. He or she summons the bouncers, who surround you menacingly. "I'm refusing service to you," the bartender says. "Fine," you say. "I was leaving anyway;" You smirk. "I'll get back my money with the backoff transaction, and posting about your poor service on reddit so you get negative karma, so there!" "Not so fast," the bartender says. His or her voice chills your bones. It looks like your exploitation of the Satoshi nSequence payment channel is still fresh in his or her mind. "Look at the txid of the funding transaction that got confirmed." "What about it?" you ask nonchalantly, as you flip open your desktop computer and open a reputable blockchain explorer. What you see shocks you. "What the --- the txid is different! You--- you changed my signature?? But how? I put the only copy of my private key in a sealed envelope in a cast-iron box inside a safe buried in the Gobi desert protected by a clan of nomads who have dedicated their lives and their childrens' lives to keeping my private key safe in perpetuity!" "Didn't you know?" the bartender asks. "The components of the signature are just very large numbers. The sign of one of the signature components can be changed, from positive to negative, or negative to positive, and the signature will remain valid. Anyone can do that, even if they don't know the private key. But because Bitcoin includes the signatures in the transaction when it's generating the txid, this little change also changes the txid." He or she chuckles. "They say they'll fix it by separating the signatures from the transaction body. They're saying that these kinds of signature malleability won't affect transaction ids anymore after they do this, but I bet I can get my good friend Jihan Wu to delay this 'SepSig' plan for a good while yet. Friendly guy, this Jihan Wu, it turns out all I had to do was slip him 51 drinks and he was willing to mine a tx with the signature signs flipped." His or her grin widens. "I'm afraid your backoff transaction won't work anymore, since it spends a txid that is not existent and will never be confirmed. So here's the deal. You pay me 99% of the funds in the funding transaction, in exchange for me signing the transaction that spends with the txid that you see onchain. Refuse, and you lose 100% of the funds and every other HODLer, including me, benefits from the reduction in coin supply. Accept, and you get to keep 1%. I lose nothing if you refuse, so I won't care if you do, but consider the difference of getting zilch vs. getting 1% of your funds." His or her eyes glow. "GENUFLECT RIGHT NOW." Lesson learned?
Payback's a bitch.
Transaction malleability is a bitchier bitch. It's why we needed to fix the bug in SegWit. Sure, MtGox claimed they were attacked this way because someone kept messing with their transaction signatures and thus they lost track of where their funds went, but really, the bigger impetus for fixing transaction malleability was to support payment channels.
Yes, including the signatures in the hash that ultimately defines the txid was a mistake. Satoshi made a lot of those. So we're just reiterating the lesson "Satoshi was not an infinite being of infinite wisdom" here. Satoshi just gets a pass because of how awesome Bitcoin is.
CLTV-protected Spilman Channels
Using CLTV for the backoff branch. This variation is simply Spilman channels, but with the backoff transaction replaced with a backoff branch in the SCRIPT you pay to. It only became possible after OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY (CLTV) was enabled in 2015. Now as we saw in the Spilman Channels discussion, transaction malleability means that any pre-signed offchain transaction can easily be invalidated by flipping the sign of the signature of the funding transaction while the funding transaction is not yet confirmed. This can be avoided by simply putting any special requirements into an explicit branch of the Bitcoin SCRIPT. Now, the backoff branch is supposed to create a maximum lifetime for the payment channel, and prior to the introduction of OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY this could only be done by having a pre-signed nLockTime transaction. With CLTV, however, we can now make the branches explicit in the SCRIPT that the funding transaction pays to. Instead of paying to a 2-of-2 in order to set up the funding transaction, you pay to a SCRIPT which is basically "2-of-2, OR this singlesig after a specified lock time". With this, there is no backoff transaction that is pre-signed and which refers to a specific txid. Instead, you can create the backoff transaction later, using whatever txid the funding transaction ends up being confirmed under. Since the funding transaction is immutable once confirmed, it is no longer possible to change the txid afterwards.
Todd Micropayment Networks
The old hub-spoke model (that isn't how LN today actually works). One of the more direct predecessors of the Lightning Network was the hub-spoke model discussed by Peter Todd. In this model, instead of payers directly having channels to payees, payers and payees connect to a central hub server. This allows any payer to pay any payee, using the same channel for every payee on the hub. Similarly, this allows any payee to receive from any payer, using the same channel. Remember from the above Spilman example? When you open a channel to the bartender, you have to wait around for the funding tx to confirm. This will take an hour at best. Now consider that you have to make channels for everyone you want to pay to. That's not very scalable. So the Todd hub-spoke model has a central "clearing house" that transport money from payers to payees. The "Moonbeam" project takes this model. Of course, this reveals to the hub who the payer and payee are, and thus the hub can potentially censor transactions. Generally, though, it was considered that a hub would more efficiently censor by just not maintaining a channel with the payer or payee that it wants to censor (since the money it owned in the channel would just be locked uselessly if the hub won't process payments to/from the censored user). In any case, the ability of the central hub to monitor payments means that it can surveill the payer and payee, and then sell this private transactional data to third parties. This loss of privacy would be intolerable today. Peter Todd also proposed that there might be multiple hubs that could transport funds to each other on behalf of their users, providing somewhat better privacy. Another point of note is that at the time such networks were proposed, only unidirectional (Spilman) channels were available. Thus, while one could be a payer, or payee, you would have to use separate channels for your income versus for your spending. Worse, if you wanted to transfer money from your income channel to your spending channel, you had to close both and reshuffle the money between them, both onchain activities.
Poon-Dryja Lightning Network
Bidirectional two-participant channels. The Poon-Dryja channel mechanism has two important properties:
No time limit.
Both the original Satoshi and the two Spilman variants are unidirectional: there is a payer and a payee, and if the payee wants to do a refund, or wants to pay for a different service or product the payer is providing, then they can't use the same unidirectional channel. The Poon-Dryjam mechanism allows channels, however, to be bidirectional instead: you are not a payer or a payee on the channel, you can receive or send at any time as long as both you and the channel counterparty are online. Further, unlike either of the Spilman variants, there is no time limit for the lifetime of a channel. Instead, you can keep the channel open for as long as you want. Both properties, together, form a very powerful scaling property that I believe most people have not appreciated. With unidirectional channels, as mentioned before, if you both earn and spend over the same network of payment channels, you would have separate channels for earning and spending. You would then need to perform onchain operations to "reverse" the directions of your channels periodically. Secondly, since Spilman channels have a fixed lifetime, even if you never used either channel, you would have to periodically "refresh" it by closing it and reopening. With bidirectional, indefinite-lifetime channels, you may instead open some channels when you first begin managing your own money, then close them only after your lawyers have executed your last will and testament on how the money in your channels get divided up to your heirs: that's just two onchain transactions in your entire lifetime. That is the potentially very powerful scaling property that bidirectional, indefinite-lifetime channels allow. I won't discuss the transaction structure needed for Poon-Dryja bidirectional channels --- it's complicated and you can easily get explanations with cute graphics elsewhere. There is a weakness of Poon-Dryja that people tend to gloss over (because it was fixed very well by RustyReddit):
You have to store all the revocation keys of a channel. This implies you are storing 1 revocation key for every channel update, so if you perform millions of updates over your entire lifetime, you'd be storing several megabytes of keys, for only a single channel. RustyReddit fixed this by requiring that the revocation keys be generated from a "Seed" revocation key, and every key is just the application of SHA256 on that key, repeatedly. For example, suppose I tell you that my first revocation key is SHA256(SHA256(seed)). You can store that in O(1) space. Then for the next revocation, I tell you SHA256(seed). From SHA256(key), you yourself can compute SHA256(SHA256(seed)) (i.e. the previous revocation key). So you can remember just the most recent revocation key, and from there you'd be able to compute every previous revocation key. When you start a channel, you perform SHA256 on your seed for several million times, then use the result as the first revocation key, removing one layer of SHA256 for every revocation key you need to generate. RustyReddit not only came up with this, but also suggested an efficient O(log n) storage structure, the shachain, so that you can quickly look up any revocation key in the past in case of a breach. People no longer really talk about this O(n) revocation storage problem anymore because it was solved very very well by this mechanism.
Another thing I want to emphasize is that while the Lightning Network paper and many of the earlier presentations developed from the old Peter Todd hub-and-spoke model, the modern Lightning Network takes the logical conclusion of removing a strict separation between "hubs" and "spokes". Any node on the Lightning Network can very well work as a hub for any other node. Thus, while you might operate as "mostly a payer", "mostly a forwarding node", "mostly a payee", you still end up being at least partially a forwarding node ("hub") on the network, at least part of the time. This greatly reduces the problems of privacy inherent in having only a few hub nodes: forwarding nodes cannot get significantly useful data from the payments passing through them, because the distance between the payer and the payee can be so large that it would be likely that the ultimate payer and the ultimate payee could be anyone on the Lightning Network. Lessons learned?
We can decentralize if we try hard enough!
"Hubs bad" can be made "hubs good" if everybody is a hub.
Smart people can solve problems. It's kinda why they're smart.
After LN, there's also the Decker-Wattenhofer Duplex Micropayment Channels (DMC). This post is long enough as-is, LOL. But for now, it uses a novel "decrementing nSequence channel", using the new relative-timelock semantics of nSequence (not the broken one originally by Satoshi). It actually uses multiple such "decrementing nSequence" constructs, terminating in a pair of Spilman channels, one in both directions (thus "duplex"). Maybe I'll discuss it some other time. The realization that channel constructions could actually hold more channel constructions inside them (the way the Decker-Wattenhofer puts a pair of Spilman channels inside a series of "decrementing nSequence channels") lead to the further thought behind Burchert-Decker-Wattenhofer channel factories. Basically, you could host multiple two-participant channel constructs inside a larger multiparticipant "channel" construct (i.e. host multiple channels inside a factory). Further, we have the Decker-Russell-Osuntokun or "eltoo" construction. I'd argue that this is "nSequence done right". I'll write more about this later, because this post is long enough. Lessons learned?
Bitcoin offchain scaling is more powerful than you ever thought.
Diversifying your 2018 investment portfolio with high risk and low risk coins
After months of thorough research I put together the best portfolio in crypto in my opinion. The portfolio is divided into high risk, high return (100x) bets, medium risk medium return (10x) and low risk, low return (3x-10x). If you want to put $30k into crypto, here is what I recommend to get the best outcome.
1. $10k into high risk high return coins XSPEC, SUMO, ECC, ODN, BNTY, SNOV.
XSPEC and SUMO are 2 are privacy coins that are currently at a tiny market cap of $9M and $4M. 3 months ago, when Bitcoin was at its All-time-high, their market caps were at $113M and $32M respectively. In case, Bitcoin goes up to its ATH of $20,000 again, those 2 coins will go back to their ATH again, too. The thing is, altcoins behave the same as Bitcoin, only that they move at a much higher percentage than the big one, Bitcoin. For example, if Bitcoin goes up 30%, all small altcoins with a market cap under $10M, such as XSPEC, will go up by around 90%. Privacy coins such as Monero are one of the most sought after cryptocurrencies currently and experts expect a big rise of privacy coins 2018. XSPEC and SUMO are very similar in technology to Monero, maybe even superior though their market cap is 100 times less, since they are less than 1 year old. ODN, BNTY and SNOV are the small market cap coins with the biggest expected commercial use of the blockchain as a messenger (ODN), Bug-Bounty platform (BNTY), lead-generation (SNOV) and decentralized file storage (ECC). There already exists a file storage coin Siacoin at 20x the market cap of ECC without much reason for the big gap due to ECC's solid technology. There are a also a few more very small cap coins that I considered, such as DNA in the medical field, and ELIX, though I found their potential less convincing than that of the above mentioned cryptocurrencies.
2. $15k into medium risk medium return (10x) coins, COSS, POE, PRL, DBC, ENJ.
COSS is the platform coin of the COSS crypto exchange. It is an exchange like Binance, but it is seen as one of the best small and innovative exchanges that currently exist. They will also release their mainnet in a few weeks, which will give them another boost. DBC is one of the few cryptos that make use of artificial intelligence. They have a very strong team and are one of the few cryptos in the AI space. ENJ, this is probably the coin with the most real-world usage of all cryptos. There are already a few gaming coins out there, such as FUN and MobileGo, however, ENJ is one of the few that real numbers behind them. With more than 18 million users and 250,000 gaming-based communities, **Enjin* is among the world’s largest social gaming platforms. Recently, Enjin launched its cryptocurrency—Enjin coin—an Ethereum-based token to be used on a platform that allows for the development, distribution, organization, and trading of virtual goods. As of 2 weeks ago, they closed a partnerships with one of the biggest games, Minecraft and will be used as a currency within Minecraft. POE is a decentralized platform that allows publishers to license, identify, and monetize digital content such as blog posts, news articles, YouTube videos, audio/music, e-books and more. Here is a very good article about them. https://www.reddit.com/CryptoCurrency/comments/7oubqm/my_thoughts_on_poe_and_why_2018_could_be_big_fo PRL is a very interesting one. It gives website owners the ability to generate revenue from their visitors without having to feature pushy advertising by storing encrypted data, but by mining PRL. https://www.reddit.com/CryptoCurrency/comments/7t4o95/oyster_prl_is_going_to_change_the_internet_heres/
Ok let's get to the juggernauts. If you are rather conservative, Bitcoin and Ethereum will make you a good profit in the coming years, maybe even 10x if you're lucky. However, if Bitcoin goes 10x, all smaller altcoins go 100x, so it is worth diversifying a little. The thing is, Bitcoin's technology is very outdated. It cannot handle more than 20 transactions per second, it uses as much energy as a small country and with increased usage their fees will skyrocket again. This is the problem of 1st generation blockchains. Bitcoin cash has the same problem and while they can handle double as many transactions as Bitcoin due to their block size being twice as big, it's only a drop in the ocean, since they need to be able to handle 1000x as many transactions as now if they want to be used as a payment processor. A good comparison to get an idea for transaction volume is VISA, which handles a couple of thousand transactions per second and is able to handle 60,000 transactions /second at peak times. A crypto payment processor needs to be as good as that. However, 60,000 transactions (tx)/second isn’t even a good benchmark. It’s the same as comparing the number of faxes sent with the number of emails sent. If you want to surpass old technology, you should go for 100x the amount of usage. More on that in the paragraph about IOTA. I personally won't put anything in Bitcoin and Ether, because they are rather outdated cryptocurrencies now and they can only grow another 10x maximum within the next year or 2, while there are many other coins that can grow 100x or more within the same time frame. Now we have VeChain, a supply chain cryptotechnology. VeChain is already very mature and it is the most popular and loved altcoin next to Nano. It is a safe bet. Let’s get to IOTA. They have built a very exciting new technology. They are not using a blockchain, but a Tangle. It is a 3rd generation blockchain that has zero fees and instant transaction times. IOTA’s real world application is in IoT, Internet of Things. They are using their tangle to connect to and make transactions between millions of small devices, be it temperature regulator, heating, car, lights. Now you can see why a high transaction volume is so important, because these devices communicate multiple times every second with one another through these transactions. It is estimated that in 10 years time, 80 billion IoT devices will exist worldwide, which probably create 80 billion tx/second or more. IOTA is designed to do exactly that. Bitcoin can only do 10 tx/second. Currently, 8 billion IoT devices are connected to the internet. However, IOTA has not been stress tested at this volume. It is not yet clear that transactions will remain instant at this volume, nor is it clear if the Internet of Things will ever take off. Maybe there will only be 500 million Internet of Things devices ever, this is not sure. However, IOTA has the biggest potential for me. Let’s get to BNB. BNB has the same purpose as COSS. It is used on the Binance exchange to reduce your trading fees. That means, the value of BNB rises and falls with the success of Binance and Binance is now the second largest, most loved exchange. They currently process 10% of all crypto trades. Among the sea of scammy and unprofessional exchanges, Binance stands out as very professional, intelligent, fair, with excellent customer service. They will also soon release the first decentralized CryptoCurrency exchange in a month. I believe BNB will be among the top 10 cryptocurrencies within 1 year. Let’s get to the final one Nano. It is my personal overall favourite. It is what Bitcoin always wanted to be, only a lot better. While Bitcoin is still struggling with high energy use, extremely low transaction volume and high fees upon increased usage, Nano has all that figured out already. Similar to IOTA, they are also a 3rd generation blockchain technology. They have zero fees, instant transactions and one millionth the energy usage of Bitcoin. Furthermore, they have been proven to work flawlessly while maintaining a 1000 tx/second volume. They are a payment processor. Furthermore, it looks like Nano could replace BCH as a trading pair soon, since BCH trading pairs get little traffic, KuCoin has removed BCH trading pairs yesterday and there is already an exchange with that trades all of his currencies with Nano, called Nanex. All in all, NANO and IOTA are on par for me while IOTA has more potential but also more risk, since it still has some security issues that haven’t been ironed out yet and they are somewhat reliant on the success of the Internet of Things. However, if the internet of things, really permeates our lives as described above, IOTA will replace Bitcoin and become the one most used cryptocurrency. Here is an excellent article about IOTA vs. Nano https://hackernoon.com/iota-vs-raiblocks-413679bb4c3e
Having said all this, if you believe that Bitcoin has now reached its full potential already and will never ever be worth more than now, don't invest in crypto anymore. If you think that Bitcoin can potentially go to $20k again or to $40k or that cryptocurrencies will replace FIAT in 5 years, then you can look at 10x returns. Many people fall victim to the cognitive bias of thinking Bitcoin is too risky, while the maximum risk is losing everything they invested, which can be $2,000. Sure, it is annoying to lose $2,000, but I put the possibility of Bitcoin never going to more than $7,500 at maybe 1%, while I put the likelhood of it going up to $20,000 or $30,000 at 60%. So, the odds are in your favor. All in all, it's a large upside to a small downside. If you are very sceptical of Bitcoin, but you are looking to diversify your portfolio, $2,000 is a sane investment amount that yes, is annoying to lose, but won't change your life. If Bitcoin goes up again significantly, you will simply make a large amount of money. Small downside, large upside. If you already have a significant amount of money in crypto, it's better to shift away from Bitcoin. Yes, you will probably make a 2x to 3x on Bitcoin as well, but you can make 50x from the best altcoins in the same time. EDIT: I didn't include
NEM, because their market cap is too high for average uniqueness and potential
XRP, because they are centralised. It's too risky to say they will grow with BTC, since they are going against the philosophy of crypto.
LTC, because they are just as bad as BTC and BCH
EOS, because they have too many red flags
Cardano, because they don't have a product yet, too much hype
Stellar, because one of the founders was a MtGox founder and a large portion of Lumens are owned by the foundation/founders. Not worth the risk.
NEO, I almost included them, but they didn't make the cut. Good coin though.
Tron, because they can't write a proper white paper
Monero, because there are good alternatives at a fraction of the price.
DASH, because they are an ok coin, but nothing outstanding that convinced me
ETC, because they are the same as ETH
QTUM, ICON, OMG because their market cap is too high for average uniqueness and potential
Lisk, I almost included them, but they didn't make the cut. Good coin though.
Bitcoin gold, cheap copycat
Zcash, I almost included them, but they didn't make the cut. Good coin though.
Verge, shill factory, hype, bad vibe
DGD, because their market cap is too high for average uniqueness and potential
There are several good coins in the top 100 still, Waves, Ziliqa, WTC, PIVX, Bat, REQ, ENG, SKY, LINK, though all of the high risk coins I mentioned do the same or have a bigger or equal potential as them 20x smaller market cap. These top 100 coins aren't 20x better than the high risk coins, even if they were 5x times better, it would be better to invest in the high risk coins, because you would still make 4x more profit. That's why the medium risk coins are only starting at number 133, 140 and 202. This makes them are undervalued for being the best utility coins currently.
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