The first multibillion-dollar token sale may be just around the corner — if reports about the Telegram ICO are to be
believed, that is. Having just concluded a record-setting $850 million ICO presale, Telegram — the encrypted messaging
application created by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov — has sent prospective investors an email informing them that the
firm will hold a second private presale, according to a report in tech outlet The Verge. Citing anonymous sources, the
publication said that the second round of the Telegram ICO presale is expected to raise nearly as much as the first one,
netting the firm a total raise of more than $1.6 billion — all before the ICO even opens to the public. But although Telegram
does not appear to have any trouble attracting capital to its token sale, many traditional cryptoasset investors are
remaining on the sidelines. Pantera Capital, which was founded in 2013 and describes itself as the first US Bitcoin
investment firm, declined to participate in the Telegram ICO, citing reservations about the project’s lack of transparency.
Nano is the only coin in the top 30 by market cap to have gained significantly on a day when most cryptocurrencies have
fallen by high single-digits. At the time of writing, Nano (XRB) is up almost 20 percent to the US dollar and almost 25
percent against Bitcoin. At the time of writing, Nano is priced at $8.82. According to coinmarketcap, all top thirty coins
have fallen except Nano, Populous, and Tether, the latter two only marginally in the green. The coin is currently the 24th
largest, with a market cap of $1,166,932,553. Nano was rebranded from RaiBlocks on the 31st of January. It boasts transaction
speeds averaging just over one-and-a-half seconds, making it one of the fastest cryptocurrencies to send and receive. The
sender and the receiver conduct Proof-of-Work using a “block lattice” structure. This unique structure means that each
account, as determined by its public key, is itself a blockchain. XRB is fast, free, and minerless. Each user effectively
mines the coins as they use them. Nano boasts unlimited scalability, theoretically, and operates on a lightweight protocol.
The currency has endured a tumultuous start to the year. Given its unique structure, the ability for large-scale exchanges to
support it was limited. While now listed on kucoin and binance, some 30 percent of Nano volume was exchanged on Italian-based
BitGrail. The coin represented roughly 85 percent of BitGrail’s trading volume.
When it comes to architecture, team and potential, very few cryptocurrencies compare to Stellar Lumens. The open platform for
financial products has quickly emerged as one of the most dominant cryptocurrencies on the market. It is currently ranked
eighth in total market cap with a price-per-coin of around 42 cents. Stellar’s XLM token is on my short-list of top
cryptocurrencies. Those of you who are new to the digital asset market should pay extra attention to XLM for reasons that go
far beyond its current price point or market cap. With the exception of Ripple and Ethereum, very few crypto projects have
announced high-stakes partnerships that match Stellar’s in terms of excitement or potential. Last year, Stellar announced it
was partnering with Dow blue-chip IBM, which will provide the network with eight new validators. The Stellar company has also
confirmed that 30 financial institutions have signed up for the blockchain banking project. By partnering with IBM, Stellar
intends to bring digital currency adoption mainstream by making it easier for consumers and businesses to transact in the new
technology. The initiative will also allow financial institutions to move money across borders.
Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro has recently announced that within one week, the county is going to launch a new
cryptocurrency, the Petro Gold. The cryptocurrency, according to local news source Telesur, will be backed by precious
metals. Notably, Maduro’s announcement was made Wednesday (Feb. 21), one day after Venezuela launched its oil-backed
cryptocurrency, the Petro. As covered by CCN, the Petro (PTR) was announced back in December, as a way for the country to
bypass sanctions and fight an “economic war” with the United States. The Petro’s pre-sale is currently ongoing, and according
to Maduro it’s already netted $735 million, although he didn’t back this claim with any evidence. Shortly after the Petro was
announced, Venezuela’s opposition-run congress criticized the cryptocurrency’s sale, as an “illegal and unconstitutional”
instrument to mortgage the country’s oil reserves. The US warned that citizens who bought the cryptocurrency could be
violating the sanctions, while investors voiced concerns over Venezuela’s solvency and transparency.
Matt Hougan has made a career shift from ETFs to cryptocurrencies. He jumped from the traditional fund market to a
cryptocurrency index-fund manager, a market he described to Bloomberg as a “generationally significant opportunity with
interesting challenges.” He joins San Francisco-based Bitwise Asset Management as vice president of R&D. He made a splash
with his call that cryptocurrencies are on their way to being a multi-trillion dollar market, though he admits to Bloomberg
cryptos remain an “early-stage technology” that could be a bumpy road at times. For instance, Hougan suggests the
cryptocurrency markets could suffer a 50% drop before attaining a $1 trillion combined market cap. And as the leading digital
coins have proven so far in 2018, volatility is the name of the game.