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from regulators concerned about the fraud and sharp practice that is rife in the industry may dampen excitement in future). But they are no panacea against the usual dangers of large technology projects: cost, complexity and overcooked expectations. Nothing to lose but your blockchains. University of Texas finance professor John Griffin, who has a 10-year track record of spotting financial fraud, and graduate student Amin Shams examined millions of transactions on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex. Print-edition icon Print edition Leaders, aug 30th 2018, aN OLD saying holds that markets are ruled by either greed or fear. Yet firms that deploy blockchains often end up throwing out many of the features that make them distinctive. Proponents believe these features can help solve all sorts of problems, from streamlining bank payments and guaranteeing the provenance of medicines to securing property rights and providing unforgeable identity documents for refugees. Others have lost money. Bitcoins price has fallen back to around 7,000; the prices of other cryptocurrencies, which followed it on the way up, have collapsed, too.
Both Bitfinex and Tether, the company that issues the virtual currency, have been a cause of concern for some in the industry. Griffin has spent the past decade publishing research on fraud by credit agencies, mortgage fraud by banks, to most recently manipulation of a volatility index known as the VIX. This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline "Show me the money".
Few vendors accept. Some people have made fortunes as cryptocurrency prices have zoomed and dived; many early punters have cashed out. Technology Quarterly this week points out, there is no sensible way to reach any particular valuation. Chesnot Getty Images, bitcoin's epic rise last year may have been more than investor fervor. Recently, paras bitcoin miner fear has been in charge. A few organisations, such as swift, a bank-payment network, and Stripe, an online-payments firm, have abandoned blockchain projects, concluding that the costs outweigh the benefits. Many are made by cryptocurrency speculators, who hope that stoking excitement around blockchains will boost the value of their related cryptocurrency holdings. Many people are researching Bitcoin only for the sake of profits and not to use it as a fast peer-to-peer payment method. Their ability to bind their users into an agreed way of working may prove helpful in arenas where there is no central authority, such as international trade. Just because blockchains have been overhyped does not mean they are useless. "The lack of transparency surrounding Tether raises red flags for me said Dan Ciotoli, software engineer and blockchain analyst at Bespoke Investment Group.
In a 66-page paper, the authors found that tether was used to buy bitcoin at key moments when it was declining, which helped "stabilize and manipulate" the cryptocurrency's price. Most other projects are still experimental, though that does not stop wild claims. Bitcoin, the first and still the most popular cryptocurrency, began life as a techno-anarchist project to create an online version of cash, a way for people to transact without the possibility of interference from malicious governments or banks.