More Than 1,000 Cryptos Have Already Failed

Gaining currency?
Wit Olszewski

Gavin Brown, Senior Lecturer, Finance, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Richard Whittle, Research Fellow in Economics, Manchester Metropolitan University

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Many cryptocurrencies have been launched in the past few years, often to great fanfare and celebration, only to fade and fail as the public and investors shun them. According to Coinopsy, which tracks such failures, there are some 1,085 dead coins at the time of writing. That’s a substantial number, even next to the approximately 3,000 still in existence, and senior industry figures expect many of those to fail, too.

Why do so many of these projects unravel? You expect many initiatives to come and go in a fledgling market, of course – the 1990s dotcom bubble is the perfect example. But at the same time, cryptocurrency developers have traditionally spent too little time designing the business-use case for their coins and tokens, then only realising after the launch that their idea is yesterday’s news.

Time and again, we see launches that copy a previously successful coin – “coin x is the new Bitcoin”, for example. Yet the market already has Bitcoin, and it continues to be in demand – as evidenced by the 18 millionth Bitcoin being mined only last month. We tend to overlook this problem with developers, even while we rightly criticize regulators for not being able to keep up with the fast evolution of the crypto market – despite efforts such as Howey Coin by US regulator the SEC, which was a fake new coin offering designed to teach investors about the risks of putting money into crypto.

No doubt these kinds of developer errors will continue. Here are several other themes that we think will have a bearing on future crypto failures:

1. Big Finance has arrived

Eleven years ago, the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto quietly revolutionized money with the release of his or her now famous white paper that outlined Bitcoin….

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