Could Stablecoins Be The Answer to Cryptocurrency Woes? 4 518

You might be curious about investing in crypto. You maybe even made a few bucks (or lost some, depending on your timing). But the infamous volatility in cryptocurrency value makes it almost unviable as an actual method of paying for goods and services. After all, you may dabble in digital money in an exchange, but would you be willing to accept your wages in Bitcoin? That’s where stablecoins are a game changer.

When FUD washes through the sensitive markets, digital coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum are highly unreliable. You could make a significant increase one day, but you could also take home half pay the next. Maybe that’s not a problem when it comes to purchasing a coffee or a FMCG, but when you’re buying high ticket items or receiving a regular salary, volatile cryptos are not the answer.

Enter Stablecoins

In an attempt to establish a commonly agreed upon worth, stablecoins are growing in popularity. Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that are pegged to another stable asset. This includes the US dollar, gold, and even silver. That makes for low volatility, without tying it to any central bank and allows for more practical, everyday usage.

Stablecoins are causing a lot of excitement in the crypto world as they could be the catalyst for widespread adoption of digital money. The fact that they are still decentralized means that transaction fees are low or non-existent, and they offer a certain degree of privacy as well. But obviously the main advantage to stablecoins, as the name suggests, is their stability.

Stablecoins provide a viable altcoin that can be used in everyday transactions and for long term payment schemes as well.

So, the question now may be not whether stablecoins will take off, but who will be the first to do it successfully? There are already a few on the market, but they each have their advantages and drawbacks.


Tether is pegged to the US dollar and claims to be 100 percent backed by fiat currency. For every digital tether coin, there is a tangible dollar behind it. 1 tether USTD equals $1 USD. Simple. But not without its issues.

While its stable value is widely recognized, tether could be a ticking bomb, as its trading volume regularly exceeds its market cap. And more than one authority is beginning to question its claims. Its centralization goes against the cryptocurrency philosophy, as well.


Unlike Tether, Maker is decentralized. Like Tether, it is also pegged to the US dollar, but it’s backed by ETH as well. Their stable coins are called Dai and each one is worth $1 USD. The price stability is achieved through an autonomous system of smart contracts.

Being backed by ETH means that Dai is on the blockchain and therefore transparent. But the process of purchasing Dai is a little complex. Its entire system is hard to get to grips with and probably not user friendly enough to become mainstream.


Don’t let the name put you off. NuBits has been successfully trading for a few years already, as one of the first stablecoins to emerge. When it first came out, cryptocurrency was not as volatile, and many people questioned the point of a digital currency that could not be used for investment purposes. But NuBits has proven its worth. The only market their USNBT coin lost value to was Bitcoin, which is hardly surprising considering the latter’s meteoric rise.

NuBits offers a good option for those looking for almost zero volatility. It’s also cheap to spend, as there are no vendor fees, which means it’s more attractive than using a credit card. And there are also no chargebacks for vendors, as all transactions are irreversible.

If cryptocurrencies will ever go mainstream or even replace fiat currency completely, they will need to be price stable. While Bitcoin and Ether continue to rise and fall, stablecoins could be on the up and up.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.


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Kenya Looks to Blockchain for Affordable Housing Project 9 10461

The “Silicon Savannah” is moving deeper in direction of tech. The Kenyan government has announced a plan to manage the property allocation and funding of 500,000 affordable housing units with blockchain technology.

The units, which the government aims to build by 2022, will be set aside for households with an annual income below 100,000 Kenyan Shillings, about $990 USD. The World Bank estimates Kenya’s gross national income per capita at $1,290, according to Business Daily.

Blockchain will help ensure that the affordable housing is in fact going to those who fall below the average income bracket. Land title fraud has caused problems for Kenyans, as land grabbers target homes and even schools for illegal sales and development. Blockchain’s ability to store verifiable proof of title could help safeguard against fraudsters.

“Kenya will use blockchain technology to ensure the rightful owners live in government funded housing projects,” said Principal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Charles Hinga, speaking with the World Bank on Monday.

Hinga said the plan will be financed by the National Housing Fund, which will raise over $59.5 million per month to get the project underway. But Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development James Macharia said it will take $31.7 billion to build a million homes, each of which will cost between $3,000 and $30,000. Macharia called for support from private sector financing.

Under the financing plan, working Kenyans will contribute 1.5 percent of their salary, which will be matched by their employers. “On affordable housing one should not spend more than 30% of their disposable income for housing,” Hinga tweeted yesterday. “Anything above 30% is not affordable.”

A Trustless Relationship Between People and Government

The initiative represents a considerable push to solve housing and title problems for the nation’s lower income families. But how will the government decide to whom the housing units will go? With so much talk about financing underway, people are already calling on the government to outline a plan for how they’ll distribute the affordable housing units.

The government will need to deliver the housing projects in a time when, Hinga acknowledges, the public is skeptical. Earlier this year $78 million went missing in a corruption scandal involving the National Youth Services. Where there is little trust between the people and their government, Kenya hopes to establish transparency through the blockchain’s distributed ledger system.

Kenya’s Move Toward Tech

In March, Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology appointed a blockchain taskforce to explore the ways the nation could use blockchain technology in the public and private sectors. They called it the Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence taskforce, and by September its chairman, Bitange Ndemo, was calling on the government to tokenize the economy.

Ndemo also proposed government implementation of blockchain to certify the authenticity of retail goods, so consumers can be sure of where their food is coming from, for example.

Governor of Kenya’s central bank Patrick Njoroge has also voiced support for the use of blockchain technology to strengthen service delivery, although he’s opposed the use of tokens and digital currencies.

But the affordable housing initiative could be the Kenyan government’s first real world implementation of the blockchain.

There’s an Inflatable ‘Bitcoin Rat’ Staring Down the Fed 92 6191

Someone has put a giant inflatable rat outside the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

It’s covered in Bitcoin code, printed in rainbow colors, and is apparently a piece of installation art aimed at subverting the federal institution that controls the US dollar. Or is it pale, puffed-up pariah a commentary on Bitcoin bros themselves? Or does it have something to do with Warren Buffett, who earlier this year called Bitcoin “rat poison squared”? According to CoinDesk, who first reported on the inflatable rat, the meaning is intentionally ambiguous.

The artist behind the puzzling prank is Nelson Saiers. He describes his own work as “mystifying” and “singularly original”, notwithstanding the long history of rats being inflated as protests or used as economic and political icons in art and entertainment around the world.

“It’s art, so I hope they’re entertained by it,” he said, apparently implying that art is entertainment. “It’s informative, I hope people will learn [and] I’m hoping it’ll at least help people understand bitcoin better and be kind of faithful to what Satoshi would have wanted,” he added, citing the mysterious pseudonym of Bitcoin’s founder with a touch of reverence.

A $50 Million Artist

Saiers, a phD in theoretical mathematics, was a hedge fund manager who did that thing where you give up all the money to chase your dream of being an artist.

His financial experience includes a stint as managing director at Deutsche Bank’s prop trading desk, before becoming CIO of Saiers Capital, the hedge fund that bears his name. His creative career gives credence to the theory that working as an artist is more and more a privilege of the very wealthy.

CNBC estimated Saiers’s wealth to be around $50 million at the time of he departed from the financial industry to pick up his paintbrushes.

The Rat Joins a Tradition of Sculpture-as-Commentary in FiDi

The Bitcoin rat, which stands on Maiden Lane, isn’t the first pop up sculpture to grace Manhattan’s financial district. Last year, Kristen Visbal’s 50 inch bronze ‘Fearless Girl’ statue made waves by staring down the famous ‘Charging Bull’, to the outrage of ‘Charging Bull’ sculptor Arturo Di Modica. The 3.5 ton ‘Charging Bull’ itself was left on Wall Street in the middle of the night when Di Modica originally created it, obstructing traffic and drawing the curiosity of passers by.

When Saiers placed the Bitcoin rat, he initially set it up on private property and was promptly ushered off by security guards, who he says were good natured about the situation. He expects the sculpture to be more temporary than the aforementioned Wall Street bronzes, and will probably only be around for a few days.

A Critique of the 2008 Bailouts

The placement of the rat on Maiden Lane seems to be no accident, but rather a reference to the Maiden Lane Transactions, more commonly known as that time when the Fed bailed out the big banks after they all caused the 2008 market crash. The Bitcoin crowd’s antipathy towards the Fed and the big banks is palpable in Sairs’s rat sculpture, and while a more specific meaning eludes, perhaps the success of the piece depends upon its ability to start conversations about the state of finance.

We’ll leave it to the viewers to decide who’s the rat—the Federal Reserve, or Bitcoin itself—and what that means for the future of currencies.

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