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Digital currencies have added another $10 billion since last week for the fourth week running, now reaching a combined market cap of more than $60 billion for the first time ever, a valuation higher than many companies.

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The total market cap of all digital currencies in the past three months – image from coinmarketcap

Few digital currencies holders will wake up unhappy today because everything is up. Bitcoin, Ethereum, NEM, Litecoin, Dash, you name it. Up, Up, Up, except for Ripple – that one is down to the naughty delight of true real Scotsmen coin holders.

Yes, yes, maybe it’s unfair, but they don’t even have a blockchain! Plus, the founders have 20 billion when the total current circulation is 37 billion. Anyway, I’ve made my views clear on ripple, so, let’s look at a newcomer, NEM.

This is a pre-ethereum currency, so their emphasis was to improve upon bitcoin. They do so, slightly, because according to their website NEM allows you to “make/buy/sell/trade assets and goods worldwide.”

The rest appears to be bitcoin with the, you know, usual slight tweaks, but NEM doesn’t have smart contracts or, if we are charitable, they are sort of primitive compared to ethereum’s smart contracts, because as stated earlier eth’s smart contracts did not exist when it was launched.


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So, why is NEM suddenly rising? The reason appears to be because they are to hardfork upgrade to implement Catapult which appears to be very similar to a far better-known technology, sidechains.

They say that “a blockchain solution with multiple ledgers for multiple assets provides a transformation approach to addressing this issue.” Which is interesting if they have managed to figure out a decentralized two-way peg, a pretty difficult task.

We’ll leave the details of its implementation to experts for review and critique, with all that’s left to be said being that eth would probably want some of that Catapult if it’s found to be sound. In which case, since its tech is more advanced and its ecosystem, as well as network effects, are far bigger, it may leave NEM with nothing.

Which brings to mind an interesting fact. We have not seen the rise of any digital currency that tries to improve on eth yet. There may be many reasons why, but the main one might perhaps be that they’d just contribute to eth instead.

The eth dev community appears to be very open and welcoming to ideas, with some of them leaving bitcoin’s community some years ago because they found it unwelcoming. So, presumably they’d rather not repeat the same mistakes.

Which may be interesting because it may well be the case that a successor to eth is not foreseeable for now and sometime, if it is indeed true that everyone with an idea just brings it/implements it on eth rather than starting from scratch on a new chain as bitcoin devs may have forced others to do in the pre-eth era.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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