January 2020 was marked by massive growth in the crypto market. Even less-known altcoins raced forward, adding more than 50 per cent to their value. While the bull stampede seems to be over, the market is still in a much better place than it was a month ago. As the dust slowly settles, it's time to check who gained – and lost – most. Note: the list includes only the most volatile cryptocurrencies with a market cap above $5m at press time.
Gain: 217 per cent ($0.006004 to 0.019026)
Credits (here and elsewhere): Coinmarketcap.com
Gulden appeared in 2014 as a fork of Litecoin. It uses so-called PoW2 consensus protocol that supposedly reduces energy consumption by miners to just 0.01 per cent of that of Bitcoin. The original idea was that Gulden would become the national cryptocurrency of the Netherlands – but, judging from the current $10m market cap, it still has a long way to go. Nevertheless, in the first three weeks of January GLD grew 3.34 times. This is 26 times lower than its all-time high valuation of $0.499114.
Bitcoin SV (BSV)
Gain: 178 per cent ($96.7 to $268.67)
The pump of Bitcoin Satoshi's Vision became one of the most discussed crypto events of January 2020. It looked even more impressive at its peak, when the price rose to $422, making it the single most volatile crypto of January. It definitely looks like a pump, though on a very large scale – but who orchestrated it? Some point to Canadian gambling billionaire Calvin Ayre. According to an insightful Twitter user, he combined BCH mining with BSV washtrading – a genius scheme that catapulted BSV into the top five coins by market cap in just a few days.
Gain: 151 per cent ($41.02 to $102.91)
Among the top 20 coins, DASH was the biggest winner in the rally – when all was said and done, it outdid even the dubious BSV. On Jan 15, DASH gained 40 per cent in one day, all the way to $148.2 – though it has lost most of those gains since. One of the factors driving up the price of DASH could be the ongoing economic and political crisis in Venezuela, where people are using crypto to hedge against hyperinflation. In Venezuela, DASH is the most popular crypto after Bitcoin.
Gain: 83 per cent ($4.49 to $8.21)
ETC partly owes its recent success to the general bull run, but there are two other reasons. First, Binance listed ETC futures, prompting a rally to $11.57. The price fell by almost 30 per cent since then, and ETC is now back in the second dozen of coins by market cap. Second, the project recently activated its Agartha hard fork, which is supposed to improve the interoperability between Ethereum Classic and Ethereum.
Gain: 75 per cent ($2.98 to $5.21)
Zcoin is a privacy-focused currency founded in 2016. In December, Zcoin launched a crowdfunding system that is almost identical to the one used by Monero. In early February, the project will become the first privacy coin to introduce so-called RAP addresses into its wallet – an implementation of the well-known Reusable Payment Codes (BIP47) idea. This gives XZS good grounds for growth, though 2020 can also bring a new crackdown on privacy cryptocurrencies.
Karatgold Coin (KBC)
Loss: 61.5 per cent ($0.018577 to $0.007152)
Karatgold was one of several projects in 2019 offering “tokenized physical gold”. The company behind it – German Karatbars – claimed to have a “crypto bank” in Miami, though it didn't provide any proof. Problems began in October 2019, when Florida began an investigation into Karatbars due to its lack of licensing. In November, Karatbar was ordered to cease its activity by the German regulator BaFin. All negative events KBC at the head of our negative top-five of the most volatile cryptocurrencies of January.
Loss: 29.5 per cent ($0.001536 to $0.001082)
Newton peaked a week earlier than other alts (January 7) at $0.002304 and then began its gradual descent. NEW's all-time high ($0.016538) was reached in April 2019 – just three days after its IEO on Huobi. Since then, this highly volatile cryptocurrency lost 94 per cent of its value. This can serve as a cautionary tale to projects that pay for costly IEOs on leading exchanges. Selling out tokens in a few minutes at an IEO isn't the same as long-term success.
Loss: 27 per cent ($0.006649 to $0.004837)
Troy is an international crypto broker based in Hong Kong, offering trading and asset management services. It focuses on professional traders and money managers. On December 3, 2019, Troy Trade held an IEO on Binance Launchpad. TROY reached its all-time high of $0.010834 on the first trading day (Dec 6) and slowly started to go down. At this point, it has lost 65 per cent of its value.
Loss: 24 per cent ($0.216414 to $0.164848)
Insolar is an infrastructure project proposing to combine public and private ledgers and bring “unlimited scalability”. The team apparently comprises 70 people, which is quite high for a blockchain start-up with a market cap of just $5.3m. In October, Insolar announced partnerships with Microsoft and Oracle ahead of the mainnet launch. However, the launch was rescheduled for January – and so far hasn't materialised.
Loss: 13 per cent ($0.137079 to $0.119622)
Seele advertises a processing capacity of 2000 tps thanks to its Matrix Proof-of-Work algorithm (MPoW). It also claims to be fully compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Though the project seems to have a strong team and the Github page is regularly updated, it hasn't published any news in the media lately. For an investor looking to buy into a serious infrastructure project, this lack of fresh information about this volatile crypto project can be a deterrent.
As we've seen, even during a general bull run there are some standout winners – and some unexpected losers. In particular, projects that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on IEOs can see their tokens’ value decline dramatically soon after.
Now that the first rally of the year is over, it will be very interesting to see which coins manage to hold their own in the coming weeks. Which will become the most volatile crypto in February 2020? Follow our articles for the latest news on crypto volatility!
Contributor: Alisa Orlova