Monero (XMR) lost 63% of its value from April to the end of June but has since begun to recover. The market cap currently stands at US$2.16 billion, with US$33.29 million in trading volume over the past 24 hours.
XMR is considered a privacy coin, meaning that the transaction and blockchain data is not public. Other privacy focused coins include Zcash (ZEC), Dash (DASH), PIVX (PIVX), as well as Ethereum (ETH) to some extent, which offer private or confidential transactions if needed or selected.
XMR has these features built in by default, using ring signatures, whereby any member of a group can produce a signature on behalf of the group, without revealing the individual signer’s identity.
Second layer scaling solutions are also being developed on XMR, such as Tari. The Tari protocol was announced in May by a team consisting of the previous XMR head-maintainer Ricardo ‘FluffyPony’ Spagni, entrepreneur Naveen Jain, and co-founder of Ticketfly Dan Teree.
Tari will introduce token creation, similar to Colored Coins on Bitcoin, ERC20 tokens on Ethereum, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in general. Tari’s maiden project is focused on ticketing, and be in the crowded company of NFT projects like Aventus and Blocktix, among many others.
Although Tari inherently adds the possibility of ICOs to be launched on top of XMR, Spagni has said, “We will be using different privacy enhancing mechanics than Monero, which should lead to enough privacy for fungibility, but ultimately there must be some pullback on the privacy in order to embrace the scalability digital asset issuers require.”
Of all the privacy-related coins, XMR has consistently had the lowest number of transactions per day. Privacy coins also hide some or all of their value transmitted on-chain so it’s impossible to determine their Network Value to Transactions (NVT) ratio accurately.
XMR has also consistently had the highest transaction fees among all privacy related coins. The per kB fee of an XMR transaction is fairly low, but the default size for an XMR transaction is fairly high.
The large transaction size is directly related to the ring signature mechanism and will be reduced by 80% after the implementation of a protocol change called Bulletproofs, which are currently available on the XMR testnet. Audits are currently being conducted and, barring any major flaws, the protocol upgrade will take place during the next hard fork.
Throughout 2018, the XMR community noticed a large increase in hash rate, which could only be attributed to application specific integrated circuits (ASICs). XMR uses CryptoNight, a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm, which had been ASIC resistant for many years. This meant that CPUs and GPUs were the best options for mining. The introduction of ASIC mining can mean that the network becomes much less decentralized due to squeezing out miners using less efficient hardware.
In response, the XMR team announced an emergency hard fork to slightly change the PoW algorithm any stop any ASICs that were currently mining XMR. The team also plans to continually change the algorithm slightly, every six months, to prevent ASIC use indefinitely.
The hard fork in April dropped both the hashrate and difficulty substantially, confirming the suspicions that ASICs had started to dominate the hashrate. Mining profitability spiked immediately, but has since dropped to pre-hard fork levels. Overall, many factors influence mining profitability, such as price, block times, difficulty, block reward, and transaction fees. Cheaper transactions with the use of Bulletproofs may bring more transactions to the chain and increase mining profitability.
A metric for the dev activity of any coin can be found by tracking the number of GitHub commits over time. Most coins use the developer community of GitHub, which was recently acquired by Microsoft for US$7.5 billion. Files are saved in folders called “repositories,” or “repos,” and changes to these files are recorded with “commits,” which save a record of what changes were made, when, and by who.
Although commits represent quantity and not necessarily quality, a higher number of commits can signify higher dev activity. Over the past year, XMR has had 1,138 commits (chart below). In comparison, ZEC had 532, DASH had 231, and PIVX had 676.
However, the limited ability to store XMR may dampen its use and adoption beyond speculation or specific transactions. Institutional investors require custodial solutions that XMR is not compatible with at this time. XMR can be stored on a Ledger hardware wallet using a dev toolkit. Trezor hardware wallet integration was started a few years ago, but never finished.
Regulatory concerns may also hamper adoption. XMR has been delisted from several Asian exchanges recently, and the U.S. Secret Service has expressed interest in “legislative or regulatory actions” to prevent privacy focused cryptocurrencies such as XMR and ZEC in illicit purposes.
Bittrex and Poloniex, both of which allow U.S. traders, maybe one day required to delist these coins to comply with regulations. Poloniex was also recently acquired by Circle and will likely announce several listings or delistings sooner rather than later.
Although ZEC was recently announced as a potential addition to Coinbase, the privacy functionality will likely be turned off by default. According to Coinbase’s blog post, some coins may be added “without the ability to send or receive using a local wallet.”
While minimal exchange exposure decreases speculation potential, threats of banning the trading of XMR suggests a strong use case for a specific privacy purpose, which may increase XMR’s value. Black markets, dark money, and shadow economies will continue to exist irrespective of legislation – all of which benefit from a private and confidential cryptocurrency. XMR also helps prevent unwarranted surveillance amongst the innocent in a world where that has become a growing concern.
Exchange traded volume has been led by the Bitcoin (BTC) pair, with Tether (USDT) and the U.S. Dollar (USD) pairs mostly rounding out the remainder of the volume. This is largely due to the lack of direct fiat gateways for XMR.
XMR has largely followed the path of every other cryptographic asset throughout 2018, and now shows signs of a potential end to bearish momentum. Exponential Moving Averages (EMAs), Ichimoku Cloud, and Pitchfork can help assess the trend transition or interim price action. Further background information on the technical analysis discussed below can be found here.
On the daily chart, price went into freefall after two failed bullish reversal chart patterns; an inverted head and shoulders and an Adam and Eve double bottom. Currently, the 50/200EMA is bearishly crossed with price far below the 200EMA. A breach of the 50EMA would suggest a reach for the 200EMA at US$183. Open interest on Bitfinex is currently 61% short and 39% long (not shown).
The Ichimoku Cloud uses four metrics to determine if a trend exists; the current price in relation to the Cloud, the color of the Cloud (red for bearish, green for bullish), the Tenkan (T) and Kijun (K) cross, and the Lagging Span. The best entry always occurs when most of the signals flip from bearish to bullish, or vice versa.
The status of the current Cloud metrics on the daily time frame with singled settings (10/30/60/30) for quicker signals are bearish; price is below Cloud, Cloud is bearish, the TK cross is bearish, and the Lagging Span is below Coud and above price. A traditional long entry will not trigger until price is above the Cloud.
The status of the current Cloud metrics on the daily time frame with doubled settings (20/60/120/30) for more accurate signals is also bearish; price is below Cloud, Cloud is bearish, the TK cross is bearish, and the Lagging Span is below Coud and above price. Again, a traditional long entry will not trigger until price is above the Cloud.
A bearish Pitchfork (PF) with anchor points in December, February, and April continues to hold price in a downward channel. The PF is considered invalidated with a candle close above the upper boundary of the diagonal resistance, which will likely occur this week.
On the weekly XMR/BTC pair, price continues to range within the longstanding bullish PF with anchor points in August 2014, and September and October 2016. Price will continually attempt to return to the median line (yellow) for the duration of the trend.
In terms of privacy technology for transactions, XMR strongly leads the pack, but continues to trail other privacy coins in terms of scalability solutions. With the addition of Bulletproofs, transactions will be smaller and cheaper, and block times will be lower, without sacrificing any of the privacy tech.
Based on volume, the XMR/BTC pair should be used over the XMR/USD pair for chart analysis. Technicals suggest a wide ranging, long-term bullish trend with a return to 0.027BTC. On the USD pair, a bullish reversal is likely in the short-term with targets between US$180-$200.