Bitcoin and Ethereum steal most of the headlines in the crypto world. But investors shouldn’t ignore the privacy coins, which have some compelling attributes going for them.
While Bitcoin is often touted as an anonymous method to transfer value, it actually isn’t. Bitcoin transactions are pseudonymous because the address Bitcoins are sent to act as a pseudonym. However, if the address is linked to the owner, the pseudonym becomes irrelevant.
Since one of the objectives of cryptocurrencies is anonymity, it’s no surprise that developers have been keen to create digital currencies that can completely mask the identity of the parties in any transaction.
There are now as many as 15 privacy coins. Monero is generally regarded as the leader of the group, though Dash is actually now worth more. Verge and ZCash are also popular privacy coins worth over $1 billion. In fact, Verge was one of the top performing crypto coins in 2017.
There are also smaller coins which have built a strong following but are still worth less than a $ 1 billion. The community is very keen on Spectre and ZenCash, though they will have some catching up to do.
Privacy coins have strong support from the community. That’s always a big advantage for a cryptocurrency. If developers don’t support a coin its unlikely to go very far. Vendors that accept cryptocurrencies have been quick to take on coins like Monero and Dash because they realize privacy coins. Several online gambling sites now accept the zcash alt coin for exactly that reason.
All cryptocurrencies are currently being driven by speculation. But ultimately, the price will converge on their utility value. In the case of privacy coins that utility comes from being able to store value and transact anonymously. The privacy coins already have utility and many people already hold them for these reasons.
For most new crypto investors, the first coins they will buy will be Bitcoin or Ethereum. The long-term investors who buy privacy coins are those that have done a bit more research and have a longer-term view.
All this means there is probably less speculative money in the privacy coins, which should make them less volatile over time.
There’s even a chance that one of the privacy coins could unseat Bitcoin as the de facto ‘reserve currency’ of the crypto economy. If a single privacy coin begins to stand out as the winner, capital from other coins could flow into that single currency. And, if that were to happen, wealth from the other large crypto coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin would also begin to flow into that coin too. Monero currently has a market cap of a $6.8 billion versus Bitcoin’s $242 billion. But that gap could close quickly if investors start flocking to a single currency.
Even if one of the privacy coins doesn’t unseat Bitcoin, these coins can offer investors a safer ride than Bitcoin. Most of the speculative money is in Bitcoin, and at some point, the entire market is bound to experience a correction. When that happens, investors will want to own the coins that long-term holders, rather than speculators, own. And that is when we may see the real value in these coins.