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Crypto Long & Short: 51% Attacks and Open-Source Value



Human ingenuity finds a way around limitations. Sometimes these limitations are obstacles in the way of progress, and creative thinking comes up with new paths. Sometimes these limitations are a lack of knowledge, and experimentation pushes the boundaries of the possible. And sometimes the limitations are rules, which a few believe don’t apply to them, and which some take as a motivating challenge.

We see examples of the above every minute of our daily lives. It’s in the race to find a vaccine, the diplomatic posturing over privacy, the anguish of finding a way around unemployment, even your toddler’s determination to not eat the spinach. We also see it every day in crypto – it’s in the Twitter hack, the rush to develop better payments systems, the scramble to raise funds. The list goes on.

You’re reading Crypto Long & Short, a newsletter that looks closely at the forces driving cryptocurrency markets. Authored by CoinDesk’s head of research, Noelle Acheson, it goes out every Sunday and offers a recap of the week – with insights and analysis – from a professional investor’s point of view. You can subscribe here.

Last week threw up a couple of examples that not only exhibit increasingly frequent manipulations of protocol rules; they also highlight one of crypto’s core value propositions.

Ethereum Classic is the original Ethereum blockchain maintained by stakeholders that refused to jump over to the fork that corrected for The DAO hack in 2016. Over the past few days it has suffered not one, but two 51% attacks.

A 51% attack happens when enough mining computing power (also known as hash power) colludes to alter previously processed blocks and determine new ones, allowing attackers to block some transactions and reverse others. In a 51% attack, malicious miners could create a competing blockchain that allows the same coins to be spent twice.

This maneuver is relatively frequent in smaller blockchains such as Ethereum Classic (ETC), which has a market cap of approximately $830 million at time of writing. Ethereum’s (ETH) market cap, for comparison, is currently around $44 billion. The attacks are usually brief, and then business carries on as usual. But two in the space of one week has prompted some commentators to question the blockchain’s survival. 
The amounts lost are not inconsiderable. In the first attack, the malicious miner(s) managed to double-spend a little over 800,000 ETC (about $5.6 million) after paying about $204,000 to acquire the necessary hash power. In the second attack, the double-spend was at least $1.6 million.
This is more than a lesson for investors to be wary of smaller proof-of-work blockchains. It also puts to rest the notion that open-source software, such as the Bitcoin blockchain, is vulnerable to copies. And it is a clear example of why network security is a fundamental part of an asset’s value. 

Size matters

In a recent essay, Lex Sokolin hinted at the potential power of large open-source networks, and the capacity for innovative economies to build competitive moats. This can apply to multinational platforms, as well as to individual blockchains. “Finally,” he wrote, “we can see where copying a product without having an existing commercial community doesn’t have any positive effect. Take for example the forking of Bitcoin into Bitcoin Cash, or any other 50 or so clones of the coin. Or alternately, even the more contested forks like Ethereum Classic do not really compete for the dominant spot given the much smaller market presence.”

In other words, copies can be made, and Bitcoin/Ethereum forks can be spun up relatively easily. Some have even suggested that this could weaken Bitcoin’s hard cap value proposition – the limit isn’t really 21 million, the reasoning goes, if other networks based on the same blockchain can choose the limit they want. But this unfounded concern overlooks the value of the community behind a network. However convinced you may be that Bitcoin Cash (for example) has superior characteristics, people prefer to trade and transact with Bitcoin because that is where the volume is.

You can copy an open-source technology. But what gives a technology value is the community and network support from users.

Security in numbers

In the case of crypto assets, the community and network support are more than just transaction volume generators. They have a material influence on the network’s development and security, which further enhances the asset’s value.

The greater the transaction volume of a blockchain, the more interesting it is for miners, who earn a fee on transactions. And the greater the potential demand for an asset, the greater the value of the rewards miners earn from processing blocks. So, a network with strong prospects for growth in volume and value will attract a wider pool of miners.

A wider pool of miners makes it much harder for any one bad actor to engineer a 51% attack. In the case of Bitcoin, the computing power needed to successfully manipulate a meaningful number of blocks would be prohibitively expensive. For smaller blockchains, it’s relatively cheap.
This is why it is important to keep an eye on the health of the Bitcoin mining industry. It is currently struggling, and not just because the recent halving reduced miners’ income in BTC terms by almost 50%. The activity is still concentrated in China, where miners are grappling with overcapacity and a much longer wait to recoup initial investment. Internal troubles at one of the industry’s largest hardware suppliers are not helping.
Miners dropping out would weaken Bitcoin’s security, which could negatively affect its value, which could cause more miners to drop out, and so on in an unfortunate spiral. But more miners joining the network could increase security and value, and encourage more participation, further boosting the value. 

A glitch in this pattern is the regularly scheduled halving event, which reduces the block subsidy by 50%. Unless the value of BTC and/or transaction fees rise to offset the difference, mining will be less profitable for some and unprofitable for many, which could negatively impact security. Some have argued that as miners’ rewards become more dependent on fees, the network will be more vulnerable to 51% attacks. 

So far, Bitcoin’s hashrate – a good proxy for the health of the mining industry – is stronger than ever, in spite of the reduced income, which should reassure investors that a 51% attack is not a significant risk for market’s largest network. 

Some volatile swings this year, but still holding high

Ethereum’s current hashrate is also robust, unlike that of Ethereum Classic.

One has increased a lot, the other, not so much…

One mystery is why ETC’s price has not plunged as a result of the hacks. Over the week, it has fallen 10%, a paltry amount given the attention these hacks are getting, not to mention the blow to investor confidence. A possible explanation could be that the likelihood of 51% attacks is already priced in. In other words, ETC already carries a significant discount for its lack of security. Its performance since the beginning of 2019 is less than one fifth that of its much larger sibling. And a decline of 10% in a week when the ETH price rose by almost 15% is telling.

They usually move together, but not recently…

Ethereum’s planned move away from a proof-of-work blockchain will change its security equation, removing the threat to mining but no doubt introducing other possible attack vectors. However, attacks can make a network stronger, if and only if there is a large and active community of stakeholders willing to invest resources into development, growth and preventing future attacks. 

In this together

An active community creates value, which grows the active community, in a virtuous cycle. In an essay for CoinDesk this week, Nic Carter points out that Bitcoin’s patronage system signals one of the network’s strongest advantages: investment in and by its stakeholders. Also this week, OKCoin awarded its largest individual grant so far to Bitcoin’s second-most prolific contributor to the core code. 

These “patronages” have at their root the recognition that a strong network benefits all participants. This is difficult to replicate in smaller networks, where issued coins tend to be held in concentrated pockets and the businesses that could profit are few. It is even more difficult to replicate in traditional open-source technologies, where network effects are harvested by private businesses and profits flow towards size.

In crypto, the network effects are enjoyed by the whole community, not just for-profit businesses. 

The difference between crypto and other technologies is that Bitcoin, Ethereum and others are more than technology networks, they are also value networks. And what gives these networks their value?

That’s what 51% attacks on smaller networks teaches us. That it’s not the technology, and it’s not even the alleged revolutionary potential of some of the functionalities. It’s the community that gives value. That comprises the body of work so far, the energy and time invested every day, the creativity and the intellect, the conviction and the sense that what everyone is working on is bigger than any one business or individual. 

Attacks will happen, and networks and people will come and go. But an immense body of people working together to build networks that are not controlled by anyone and that distribute value in unusual and sometimes intangible ways – that is here to stay. Because people have throughout history shown that resilience comes from collective effort supporting powerful ideas.

Anyone know what’s going on yet?

As explosions wreak heartbreaking damage to an area that can ill afford it, as geopolitical tensions muscle their way into the use of social media and communication platforms, and with no agreement in sight on a fifth coronavirus U.S. relief bill, markets seem to be getting increasingly nervous about the international balance of capital flows. 

Gold breezing past $2,000 for the first time ever is itself news, as well as a symptom of growing market unease. Tentatively encouraging employment figures are welcome, but have not soothed the nervous vibe, as concerns about inflation and the dollar’s role as a global reserve currency seem to be gathering steam. 

There goes that vexing convergence…

In bitcoin, could it be that volatility is back? After weeks of trading within a relatively narrow band, bitcoin broke out last weekend, climbing 5% to almost $12,000, only to sharply drop 8% in a matter of minutes. Sigh, it’s starting to feel almost normal again.

There’s some steep moves in there…

Bitcoin’s recent rally has given it a strong lead over other asset groups in terms of year-to-date performance, with even gold left far behind. And even reasonable commentators are starting to talk about a “bull market.”

Bitcoin’s recent performance widens that YTD gap…


Goldman Sachs has appointed a new head of digital assets, and is boosting the team. TAKEAWAY: Matthew McDermott has taken over from Justin Schmidt, and has brought on board Oli Harris, former head of digital assets for JPMorgan. That does not mean that we’ll see a Goldman Sachs crypto trading desk in the near future (although it isn’t ruled out) – the short-term focus seems to be on the impact that blockchain technologies can have on capital markets, with a Goldman Sachs stablecoin possibly on the cards. This in itself is exciting, as few other legacy institutions have the necessary clout to give capital markets a meaningful nudge along the road to greater efficiency. 

Coin Metrics points out that the number of addresses on the bitcoin blockchain that hold more than $10 worth of BTC is at its highest level ever, 14% higher than at the peak of the 2017 bubble. TAKEAWAY: Using the dollar-based price may be intuitively easier to visualize, but it can also distort the growth. If the BTC price rises, the number of addresses with a certain dollar balance will also rise, even if holders do not buy more bitcoin. The number is considerably higher than at the end of 2017, however, which is notable, since the BTC price was much higher then. In other words, there has been strong growth in the number of holders of small amounts of bitcoin over the past two-and-a-half years.

Active addresses on the rise

This chart using data from Glassnode shows that the number of unique addresses holding less than 1 BTC has easily outstripped larger holdings, confirming a dispersion of ownership – more small savers are accumulating positions. 

Addresses with small balances are leading the growth

The conversation is getting louder. I’m surprised by how fast bitcoin is making its way into “mainstream” financial discourse (whatever that means in these strange times, of course). First, we had Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) start to put bitcoin in front of his 1.7 million followers. Then we had “Rich Dad” himself (@theRealKiyosaki) recommend that his 1.4 million followers buy bitcoin “and get richer.” And we also saw publicly traded business intelligence company MicroStrategy casually say in a recent earnings call that it was thinking of investing $250 million of its excess cash into “alternative assets” such as, you guessed it, bitcoin.

While we continue to receive news of crypto funds closing down, such as Neural Capital, which lost half its money since launching in 2017, there are also some that are doing well.TAKEAWAY:Electric Capital closed its second venture fund at $110 million, more than three times the raise for its first fund just two years ago. Traders and investors watching the spot and derivative markets for signs of institutional-sized volume are missing indicators that institutional capital is already here. 90% of Electric’s raise was from institutions, including university endowments. 

Grayscale Investments* has publicly filed a Form 10 Registration Statement with the SEC in order to designate Grayscale Ethereum Trust as an SEC reporting company. TAKEAWAY: This would reduce the statutory holding period from 12 months to six (starting 90 days after designation, and contingent on other Securities Act requirements being satisfied), which could enhance the appeal to a broader range of investors. Many active investors are likely to prefer the shorter lock-up, and some institutions are unable to hold assets that are not registered with the SEC. Also, greater liquidity could reduce the premium that retail investors pay – this has been falling anyway, from over 900% in early June to just (?!) 180% at time of writing. (*Grayscale Investments is owned by DCG, also parent of CoinDesk.)

The Grayscale Ethereum Trust premium to NAV has declined sharply over the past few weeks

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Crypto Exchange KuCoin Gets Hacked

On Saturday (September 26), Singapore-based crypto exchange KuCoin suffered a security breach, as the result of which a part of the cryptoassets in the exchange’s hot wallets were stolen. According to KuCoin Global CEO Johnny Lyu, who hosted a live stream that started at 04:30 UTC on September 26, here are some important details about […]



On Saturday (September 26), Singapore-based crypto exchange KuCoin suffered a security breach, as the result of which a part of the cryptoassets in the exchange’s hot wallets were stolen.

According to KuCoin Global CEO Johnny Lyu, who hosted a live stream that started at 04:30 UTC on September 26, here are some important details about this security incident:

  • Bitcoin, ERC-20 and some other cryptoassets in KuCoin’s hot wallets were “transferred out of the exchange”; these represented a small portion of the exchange’s total cryptoasset holdings (since the vast majority reside in cold wallets, which have not been harmed in any way).
  • KuCoin’s hot wallets have been “re-deployed”.
  • The exchange’s security team first finds out about the attack at 02:51 AM (UTC+8) on September 26 when they get alerted by the risk management system for the first time that an “abnormal” ETH transaction (with TXID 0x4b738df5d7f12e3fa1cbe83b8165c542da461ef0c9255fc1a3f275259a92623b) has occurred.
  • They then find out about a few more abnormal transactions from an ETH hot wallet with the address 0xeb31973e0febf3e3d7058234a5ebbae1ab4b8c23.
  • At 03:20 AM (UTC+8) on September 26, the KuCoin operations team “urgently closed the server of the wallet and found that after the shutdown, there were still cases of abnormal transactions.”
  • At 04:20 AM (UTC+8) on September 26, the KuCoin wallet team “started to transfer the remaining assets from the hot wallet to cold storage.”
  • At 04:50 AM (UTC+8) on September 26, the KuCoin wallet team “transferred most of the remaining assets from the hot wallet to cold storage.”
  • KuCoin has reached to various other exchanges (including Binance, Huobi, OKEx, Bybit, and Upbit) to “blocklist suspicious addresses and trace the funds affected.”
  • KuCoin has also been in contact with “international law enforcement,” and is offering “rewards of up to $100,000 to those who can provide valid information to us regarding this incident.”
  • This loss occurred due to “the leakage of the private key of KuCoin hot wallets.”
  • The deposit and withdrawal functionality is expected to be restored within one week.
  • KuCoin’s insurance fund is large enough to cover the losses.

Featured Image by “geralt” via

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Crypto Price Analysis & Overview September 25th: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Chainlink, and Tezos




Bitcoin dropped by a total of 3% over the past seven days of trading as it reached the $10,600 level today. The cryptocurrency briefly pushed above the $11,000 mark last Friday but could not sustain this level as it broke beneath it during the weekend. On Monday, BTC saw a precipitous 7.5% fall as it dropped from $10,910 to reach as low as $10,200.

Bitcoin continued to head lower on Wednesday as it reached $10,140 before the buyers regrouped to initiate a rebound, which happened yesterday. During the rebound, BTC managed to break back above the 100-days EMA and reach as high as $10,760 – where it ran into resistance at the bearish .382 Fib Retracement.

The coin has dropped slightly from there to trade at $10,600 today.

Looking ahead, if the bulls can continue above the $10,760 level, higher resistance lies at $10,900 $11,000, and $11,200. Added resistance is expected at $11,340 (bearish .618 Fib Retracement), $11,500, and $11,600.

On the other side, the first level of support lies at $10,430 (100-days EMA0. This is followed by support at $10,330, $10,140, and $10,000.

BTC/USD. Source: TradingView


Ethereum suffered a steeper 11.3% price decline over the past week as it reached the $346 level today. The coin was trading above $380 last Friday but started to drop lower during the weekend. On Monday, Ethereum fell from $365 to reach as low as $335 (100-days EMA).

The price decline continued on Wednesday, which saw ETH drop as low as $320. Luckily, the bulls regrouped for a rebound on Thursday in which ETH managed to reach the $252 resistance (bearish .236 Fib Retracement). It also produced a bullish engulfing candle, which is a strong bullish signal.

Moving forward, if the buyers can break the $352 level, resistance lies at $364 (2019 high), $382, $390, and $400.

On the other side, support is first expected at $336 (100-days EMA). Beneath this, support lies at $320, $306, and $300.

ETH/USD. Source: TradingView

Ethereum also struggled against Bitcoin this week as it fell from 0.035 BTC to reach as low as 0.0311 BTC yesterday. The coin had found support yesterday at the .618 Fib Retracement, which allowed it to bounce higher to the current 0.0326 BTC level.

Looking ahead, if the bulls push higher, the first level of resistance lies at 0.033 BTC. Above this, resistance is located at 0.0337 BTC (March 2019 Support), 0.0347 BTC, and 0.0352 BTC.

On the other side, the first level of support lies at 0.032 BTC. This is followed by support at 0.0315 BTC (100-days EMA), 0.0311 BTC (.618 Fib Retracement), and 0.030 BTC.

ETH/BTC. Source: TradingView


XRP witnessed a 5.5% price fall this week as the coin dropped from $0.25 to reach as low as $0.22 yesterday. The cryptocurrency managed to rebound from there to get as high as $0.24 today. However, the market is facing resistance at the 100-days EMA and must pass this to continue higher.

If the bulls break $0.24, the first level of resistance lies at $0.251 (bearish .382 Fib Retracement). Following this, resistance lies at $0.261 (bearish .5 Fib Retracement), and $0.271 (bearish .618 Fib Retracement).

On the other side, the first level of support lies at $0.235 (200-days EMA). This is followed by support at $0.23, $0.22, and $0.217.

XRP/USD. Source: TradingView

XRP is also struggling against BTC as it posted a fresh 2-month low at 2165 SAT (downside 1.414 Fib Extension) yesterday. The coin had slipped from 2300 SAT last Friday and continued lower until it hit the 2165 SAT support.

XRP has since bounced higher to reach the 2250 SAT level today.

If the bulls can break 2250 SAT, resistance is first located at 2300 SAT (bearish .382 Fib Retracement). Above this, resistance lies at 2350 SAT (bearish .5 Fib Retracement), 2400 SAT, and 2460 SAT.

Alternatively, support lies at 2200 SAT, 2165 SAT, and 2111 SAT.

XRP/BTC. Source: TradingView


LINK saw a substantial 10% price fall over the past seven days, which saw the coin breaking beneath the $10 level and hitting as low as $7.31. There, it found support at a downside 1.272 Fib Extension level, which allowed it to rebound yesterday to reach the $9.90 resistance level today.

If the bulls can break $10, the first level of resistance lies at $10.40. Above this, resistance is found at $11.37 (bearish .382 Fib Retracement), $12, and $12.63 (bearish .5 Fib Retracement).

On the other side, support first lies at $9.00. Beneath this, support is found at $8.67, $8.00, and $7.31.

LINK/USD. Source: TradingView

Against BTC, LINK dropped as low as 0.00072 BTC during the week. It was trading above a 3-month-old rising trend last Friday, but it went on to collapse beneath this support over the weekend. After reaching 0.00072 BTC, LINK bounced higher to get to the current 0.000935 BTC level today. Notice that it has returned to the previous rising trend line, which is now acting as resistance.

Looking ahead, the first level of resistance lies at 0.00095 BTC. This is followed by resistance at 0.001 BTC, 0.00103 BTC (bearish .382 Fib Retracement), and 0.00112 BTC (bearish .5 Fib Retracement).

On the other side, support is first found at 0.00091 BTC. This is followed by support at 0.0082 BTC, 0.00072 BTC, and 0.0007 BTC.

LINK/BTC. Source: TradingView


XTZ saw the steepest price fall on this list as it dropped by 13% over the past 7 days. The coin fell beneath the $2.32 (.618 Fib Retracement) support on Friday and continued lower to crate a new 5-month price low as it reached $1.91. This support held over the past few days, and Tezos rebounded from here yesterday to reach $2.15 today.

Looking ahead, if the bulls break $2.20, resistance is found at $2.32, $2.53 (bearish .382 Fib Retracement), and $2.72 (bearish .5 Fib Retracement).

On the other side, the first two levels of support lie at $2.00 and $1.91. Beneath this, support is expected at $1.74 (.786 Fib Retracement), $1.68, and $1.56.

XTZ/USD. Source: TradingView

Tezos is suffering further against BTC as it produced a 7-month price low this week after reaching 18,600 SAT. The coin has since bounced from here to break back above 20,000 SAT today.

Looking ahead, the first level of resistance lies at 21,000 SAT. This is followed by resistance at 22,000 SAT, 21,750 SAT, and 24,300 SAT.

On the other side, beneath 20,000 SAT, support lies at 19,380 SAT, 18,600 SATm ad 17,600 SAT (.886 Fib Retracement). Added support lies at 16,600 SAT and 15,600 SAT.

XTZ/BTC. Source: TradingView

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Disclaimer: Information found on CryptoPotato is those of writers quoted. It does not represent the opinions of CryptoPotato on whether to buy, sell, or hold any investments. You are advised to conduct your own research before making any investment decisions. Use provided information at your own risk. See Disclaimer for more information.

Cryptocurrency charts by TradingView.


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Bitcoin Maintains $10K As Crypto Market Lost $16 Billion in 7 Days: The Weekly Crypto Market Update



Another action-packed week took place in the crypto field. Unfortunately, the market is currently in decline as the entire capitalization lost around $16 billion over the past seven days.

The good news for Bitcoin bulls is that BTC managed to maintain itself above the critical psychological and technical support of $10,000. Things were looking rather promising until Monday when the price shot up to about $11,000.

Unfortunately, it was then when Bitcoin’s price took a sharp turn in the wrong direction and tanked to about $10,400. From there, it was a couple of days of sideways action until Wednesday when it dipped even further, calling questions whether or not $10,000 will hold. In the late hours of Thursday, however, Bitcoin bulls woke up and pushed its price to where it currently rests around $10,650.

Elsewhere, on Sunday, Buzz Feed reported that major banking giants such as JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Standard Chartered, HSBC, and more, were knowingly facilitating the transfer of up to $2 trillion related to suspicious and even criminal activity. This further supports the narrative that cash is used for illicit activities way more than Bitcoin. After all, $2 trillion is roughly 10x Bitcoin’s total market capitalization.

In another interesting development, the world will finally have its first official Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, though it may not be quite where people expected. It’s a collaboration between Nasdaq and a regulated Brazilian fund manager and will be launched on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX).

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DeFi markets continue to boom as the total value locked in lending protocols surpassed $10 billion this week.

In any case, it’s interesting to see whether or not the hype will continue or if we will soon witness the burst of what many consider to be a DeFi-fueled bubble.

Market Data

Market Cap: $337B | 24H Vol: 105B | BTC Dominance: 58.3%

BTC: $10,613 (+2.46%) | ETH: $344.46 (+2.61%) | XRP: $0.237(+5.3%)


World’s First Bitcoin ETF Approved with Expected Launch in Bermuda by End of Year. Nasdaq has collaborated with a regulated Brazilian fund manager to launch the world’s first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). It should go live by the end of the year on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX).

CoinGecko: 23% Participate In Yield Farming, But 40% Can’t Read Smart Contracts. According to a recent report by CoinGecko, 23% of people involved in the cryptocurrency field invest in yield farming. However, 40% of them can’t read smart contracts, leaving them seriously exposed to inherent risks associated with failures in the code.

FEW Brings Out DeFi Risks: Ethereum Proponents Caught Planning to Dump on Investors. Leaked screenshots of a Telegram group chat that includes some of the most popular Ethereum proponents have sparked a tweetstorm in Crypto Twitter. It appeared as if the participants were planning to create a token, airdrop it to themselves, hype it up, and dump it on the community.

Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya: Bitcoin Is My Best Investment Bet. The popular venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya has said that his best investment bet so far has been on Bitcoin. This is despite him having invested in countless successful companies and startups.

Gemini Has Now Opened Doors to Crypto Investors in the UK. The popular US-based Bitcoin trading platform Gemini has officially launched operations for its entire range of services in the United Kingdom. This comes weeks after it received a license from the country’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Document Leak Suggests Major Banks Facilitated Transfer of $2 Trillion in Dirty Money – 10x Current Bitcoin’s Market Cap. Buzz Feed reported on a major document leak that suggests that major banks have been facilitating the transfer of up to $2 trillion associated with illicit and criminal activities. To put things in perspective, this is roughly 10x Bitcoin’s total market cap.


This week we have a chart analysis of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Chainlink, and Tezos – click here for the full price analysis.

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Disclaimer: Information found on CryptoPotato is those of writers quoted. It does not represent the opinions of CryptoPotato on whether to buy, sell, or hold any investments. You are advised to conduct your own research before making any investment decisions. Use provided information at your own risk. See Disclaimer for more information.

Cryptocurrency charts by TradingView.


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