‘Vaporware’ is a term that’s tossed about loosely, often against cryptocurrency projects that have no clear use case. It’s an easy accusation to make given that many crypto projects are still at the development stage, and haven’t had a chance to prove themselves. This year’s vaporware could be next year’s ethereum – or at least so the investors hope. While a vast number of cryptocurrencies are derided as vaporware, the following four attract this jibe more than most.
Catching the Vapors
Vaporware has been defined as “software or hardware that has been advertised but is not yet available to buy, either because it is only a concept or because it is still being written or designed”. That definition applies to 90% of all ICOs right now, which are either still tallying up their ether or hunting down devs capable of bringing their six-page white paper to life. It will be months or even years before we discover which projects proved their worth, and which were wearing the emperor’s new clothes: ”blockchain” dressed up as innovation.
The vaporware meme gained traction in November after Nate Murray published a graphic describing the top 100 cryptocurrencies in four words or less. In it, Veritaseum was labeled as vaporware, though there are coins much higher on the list that arguably warrant that epithet like Kin, a billion dollar token with zero uses at present. The following projects have every chance of success. To their detractors, though, they’re little more than software in search of a solution – and unbuilt software at that.
Tron founder Justin Sun is a rising star, listed in Forbes Asia’s 30 Under 30 and CEO of a company that’s risen from nothing to attain a $13 billion valuation in under six months. Tron has been one of 2018’s biggest success stories, despite the year being barely a week old. The token soared into the cryptocurrency top 10 after its market cap quadrupled in a day and a half. On January 5, Tron commanded a $16 billion market cap: not bad for a company that has no product whatsoever. Not everyone is a fan though, including Monero’s Riccardo Spagni.
The outspoken developer of the darknet’s favorite privacy coin conceded, however, that he bought Tron in December, explaining “just because I can identify scams doesn’t mean I’m averse to making money.” Critics have called Tron “the $14 billion whitepaper with no product” and the project seems to borrow heavily from LBRY, which launched last May.
The Tron roadmap looks like this:
Provided those TRX tokens keeping pumping for the next nine years though, everything should be just fine.
Verge appeared on Nate Murray’s cryptocurrency list as “privacy dogecoin”. Given that the coin started life as a doge fork known as dogecoin dark, that figures. Verge has come a long way since then in fairness, but has that journey taken it forwards or sideways? XVG is meant to be a privacy coin. The trouble is, it doesn’t appear to be very good at that. News.Bitcoin.com recently reported on a website which claims to expose IP addresses used in verge transactions.
The verge community bitterly dispute the accuracy of the site in question, although with no word from Verge themselves, the matter remains unresolved. The operator of the site is adamant that the data is accurate, and also reports that only 2% of verge addresses use Tor, despite anonymous deep web transactions being XVG’s USP. One writer scathingly opined that “Verge fails to offer real privacy and is indistinguishable from a scam”.
The Verge team are currently working on something called the Wraith Protocol, which supporters are prone to referencing in hushed tones. It’s “a technology that allows the user to seamlessly switch between public and private ledgers on the Verge Blockchain”, which sounds like the sort of functionality that’s been built into coins like Zencash for some time. Whether the Wraith Protocol proves to be the savior of privacy coins remains to be seen. Either way, it’s immaterial, since the majority of the verge community are only interested in using verge to speculate on the price of verge.
With a $25 billion market cap, Cardano is cryptocurrency top five royalty. The projectwill form “a decentralised platform that will allow complex programmable transfers of value in a secure and scalable fashion” which could describe most crypto platforms. What’s so different about Cardano? Apparently it “differentiates itself by being designed from the ‘ground up’ to deliver a secure and sustainable blockchain that can protect user privacy whilst allowing for regulation,” which doesn’t help a lot. Also “Cardano aims to be a mature blockchain”, which is something that surely only time can apply.
Vaporware or not, decentralized cryptocurrency purists aren’t convinced by Cardano’s assertions that “full anonymity can be counterproductive, as can complete lack of regulatory oversight. The project’s founders aim to find “the right mix of individual privacy protection and provision for regulatory control”. One person who’s certainly not a fan is Dan Larimer. The Bitshares, EOS, and Steem founder is rustled by the fact that the Cardano white paper doesn’t cite his own dPOS work. He seethes:
Cardano’s Ouroboros algorithm is not mathematically secure due to bad assumptions regarding the relationship between stake and individual-judgment being distributed by the pareto principle. Furthemore, their algorithm is not “new” but a less secure slower variation of the DPOS algorithm I originally introduced in April 2014.
Larimer has his own platforms to protect, of course, so was never going to smile kindly on a competitor. Still, $24 billion for a decentralized anything seems like a lot of money for a product that exists only as a whole lot of documentation, one section of which is named Haddock.
Ripple is a fully functioning company and one of the longest established players in the cryptocurrency space. It’s still working on building up those all-important banking partnerships, but at least it has a service to offer. But what about XRP, its centralized cryptocurrency without a purpose? Ripple claims to have signed up over 100 banks, but the trouble is none of them seem to be using XRP tokens for money transfer.
The NYT quotes Blocktower Capital’s Ari Paul as saying: ““I’m not aware of banks using or planning to use the XRP token at the scale of tens of billions of dollars necessary to support XRP’s valuation.” One Mexican financial company has committed to using XRP so far. And that’s it. Still, like all of the cryptocurrencies on this list, ripple has enriched its early adopters, and for investors who are sitting comfortably in profit, that’s reason enough for its existence.
To be fair to the likes of Tron and Cardano, any new cryptocurrency that shoots into the top 10 is liable to be labeled vaporware until proven otherwise. And it’s not as if these are the only coins rocketing in value: altcoins across the board, from the tiniest microcaps to the largest unicorns, are currently in the green. Even Kekcoin, a meme coin for frog worshippers, is up 68% on Cryptopia this week. Then again, with a total supply of just 11 million, Kekcoin can boast one attribute that none of the tokens on this list have – digital scarcity.