Monero (XMR) is currently 79% down from the all time high established on December 20th, 2017. The market cap currently stands at US$1,7 billion, with US$23.95 million in trading volume over the past 24 hours.
XMR is classified as a privacy coin with untraceable, unlinkable, private, and analysis resistant transactions. XMR achieves these privacy features through the use of Multilayered Linkable Spontaneous Anonymous Group (MLSAG) signatures, ring confidential transactions (RCT), and stealth addresses.
MLSAG signatures are used by Shen Noether’s Ring Confidential Transactions, and are based upon Gregory Maxwell’s Confidential Transactions and Nicolas van Saberhagen’s Ring Signatures. Ring signatures allow any member of a group to produce a signature on behalf of the group, without revealing the individual signer’s identity.
RCT improves upon ring signatures by allowing hidden transaction amounts, origins, and destinations with reasonable efficiency and verifiable, trustless coin generation. RCT was implemented on XMR in January 2017 and made mandatory in September 2017.
Stealth addresses add one-time use addresses that are created for each transaction. When using stealth addresses, only the sender and receiver can determine where a payment was sent. After a hard fork in April, XMR also implemented the possibility of multi-sig wallets for joint ownership.
A feature currently in the pre-alpha phase, Kovri, is based on the Invisible Internet Project (I2P). Kovri takes privacy a step further by anonymizing a users geographical location and internet IP address. Kovri uses garlic encryption and garlic routing, which are similar to features used by Tor. These tools create a private, protected overlay-network. Initially, Kovri will initially be implemented in the official XMR wallet.
An increase in the public’s awareness of warrantless surveillance and use of customer data suggests privacy will be an increasing concern in the future. Other coins with the option of private transactions include Zcash (ZEC) and Ethereum (ETH), which both offer private or confidential transactions if needed through the use of Zero-Knowledge proofs. DASH (DASH) uses a PrivateSend feature which anonymizes transactions through CoinJoin, which is a process similar to batching. PIVX (PIVX), a DASH fork, implemented the ZeroCoin protocol late last year and also uses Zero-Knowledge proofs to achieve private transactions.
Turning to the network, the number of daily active addresses (DAA) has been just above 20,000 during the past year. A large uptick in DAA should be seen as a bullish indicator of price, as it suggests an increase in demand.
Transactions per day, which are closely related to DAA, have increased to ~4,500 over the past month, while fees have dropped substantially since January. An XMR transaction currently costs ~US$0.78 per kb, although XMR has consistently had the highest transaction fees among all privacy focused coins. While the per kB fee of an XMR transaction is fairly low, the default size of an XMR transaction is fairly high.
The large transaction size is directly related to the ring signature mechanism and will be reduced by 80% after the implementation of a protocol change called Bulletproofs, which are currently available on the XMR testnet. A security audit found no significant flaws in the upgrade, so it will likely be included in the next hard fork.
Beginning in late 2017, XMR hash rate began to increase substantially, suggestive of ASIC mining. XMR uses CryptoNight, a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm, which had been application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) resistant for many years. This meant that CPUs and GPUs were advantageous for mining. The use of ASICs can mean increased network centralization because less efficient hardware becomes unprofitable to use.
In response, the XMR team announced an emergency hard fork to change the PoW algorithm and stop any ASICs that were currently mining XMR. The team plans to hard fork every six months, changing the PoW algorithm each time, and preventing ASIC use indefinitely. Ideally, it’s quicker and easier to change the PoW algorithm than redesigning, build, and ship ASICs.
The hard fork in April dropped both the hashrate and difficulty substantially, confirming the suspicions that ASICs had started to dominate the hashrate. Mining profitability spiked immediately, but has since dropped to pre-hard fork levels. Many factors influence mining profitability, such as price, block times, difficulty, block reward, and transaction fees. Cheaper transactions with the use of Bulletproofs may bring more transactions to the chain and increase mining profitability.
Turning to the markets, exchange traded volume has been led by the Bitcoin (BTC) pair, with Tether (USDT) and the U.S. Dollar (USD) pairs mostly rounding out the remainder of the volume. The dominance of the BTC trading pair is largely due to the lack of direct fiat gateways.
The majority of trading is currently conducted on HitBTC, Bithumb, Binance, and Bitfinex. XMR volume in decentralized exchanges will likely continue to increase as exchange services like Shapeshift and Changelly require customers to register for KYC/AML requirements. Additionally, the U.S. Secret Service has expressed interest in “legislative or regulatory actions” to prevent the use of privacy focused cryptocurrencies, such as XMR and ZEC, for illicit purposes.
After a multi-month bearish unwinding from the record high in December, XMR nearly made the first higher high of the entire year recently. This signifies the potential for a trend shift, which can be seen with Ichimoku Cloud, Pitchforks (PFs) chart patterns.
The Ichimoku Cloud uses four metrics to determine if a trend exists; the current price in relation to the Cloud, the color of the Cloud (red for bearish, green for bullish), the Tenkan (T) and Kijun (K) cross, and the Lagging Span. The best entry always occurs when most of the signals flip from bearish to bullish, or vice versa.
The status of the current Cloud metrics on the daily time frame with singled settings (10/30/60/30) for quicker signals is bearish to neutral; price is below Cloud, Cloud is bullish for the first time since June, the TK cross is bullish, and the Lagging Span is below Coud and above price. A traditional long entry will not trigger until price is above the Cloud. This is known as a Kumo breakout.
The status of the current Cloud metrics on the daily time frame with doubled settings (20/60/120/30) for more accurate signals is also bearish; price is below Cloud, Cloud is bearish, the TK cross is bullish, and the Lagging Span is below Coud and above price. Again, a traditional long entry will not trigger until price is above the Cloud. A short entry or sell signal will trigger if the TK recrosses bearish.
There is also a possibility for an Edge to Edge trade. These trades are considered trend reversal trades and trigger when price closes within the Cloud. The target for these trades is always the opposite edge of the Cloud (yellow). The stop loss for these trades triggers when price falls below the Kijun and/or Cloud.
On the daily chart, price is bound within a bearish pitchfork with anchor points in December, February, and April. Price recently reverted to the median line (yellow) and has fallen back through it once again. There was also a bullish falling wedge reversal pattern which reversed on support around US$84. This pattern carries its own mean reversion target of US$280, which also represents the yearly pivot resistance (not shown).
XMR has also begun to form an inverted head and shoulders, a bullish reversal pattern, with neckline resistance at US$138. The pattern carries a 1.618 and measured move target of US$172 and US$202 respectively. This target zone also represents the upper resistance of the bearish pitchfork.
For the XMR/BTC weekly chart, price has fallen below the longstanding bullish pitchfork with anchor points in August 2014, and September and October 2016. This suggests the pitchfork is invalidated and potential for reversion towards the median line (yellow) has ended.
On the daily XMR/BTC chart, price is bound within a bearish pitchfork which has a median line, or mean reversion point, at 0.0073 sats. The 50/200EMAs are also recently crossed bearishly. A break above the pitchfork bounds, and/or a bullish 50/200EMA cross, would be considered a long entry signal.
XMR continues to innovate with a strong privacy and fungibility focus. Transaction fees will get cheaper with Bulletproofs, and enabling multi-sig wallets brings XMR up to speed with the rest of its competition. Although combating ASICs with hard forks every six months does introduce a degree of centralization, XMR is the first coin to take an aggressive anti-ASIC stance.
After a nine month downtrend, technicals suggest the potential for a bullish trend transition to a minimum of US$130-150 in the near term. A clean breach of the US$150 zone with significant volume would likely lead to the longer term mean reversion target of US$280.