The race to emerge big in the cryptocurrency world continues. Many new ICOs are hitting the market with each passing day, and existing cryptocurrency networks consistently continue to upgrade and release new features to stay ahead in the game. While Bitcoin and Ethereum have remained the top leaders, other networks promising better usability features and claims to overcome the pain-points of the popular ones are gaining traction.
QTUM, which originated as a smart contracts-powered, blockchain-based value transfer network, attempts to present itself as an improvement over Ethereum. This article discusses the opportunities and challenges for the QTUM network and its native cryptocurrency, and whether it makes for a suitable investment option.
QTUM – The Journey So Far
Operated by the QTUM Foundation, a Singapore-based non-profit, QTUM was established under the guidance of global financial services consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Unlike many other cryptocurrency networks that operate via anonymous participants, the QTUM team claims to operate transparently with a clear structure, and has well-drafted long-term vision and execution plans. Barring the high volatility observed between mid-December 2017 and mid-February-2018 when the entire crypto stack went berserk, the performance of QTUM crypto token has remained relatively steady.
Graph Courtesy: CoinMarketCap
High Stakes of Promoters, Developers and Founders
QTUM has a fair share of promoter and operators ownership. Around 51% of the tokens were sold to the public during the crowd-sale of March 2017, while 20% were retained by Foundation initiators, development team, and early-stage proponents. Another 20% were set aside for business development, while remaining 9% were earmarked for research and development, education and market expansion activities. QTUM has recently announced major updates to its platform, and announced many new projects and market initiatives that are aimed at enhancing the whole QTUM ecosystem. Apparently, the allocated funds are being put to appropriate use, and the efforts toward network enhancement activities continue. Like a stock holding pattern, continued holding of large stake by promoters and developers also indicate the confidence they have in their offering.
QTUM tokens are actively traded at many leading global exchanges. With a market cap value of $835 million, QTUM holds twentieth rank in the list of cryptocurrencies with top market cap. The tokens in circulation have reached around 89 million out of a total token supply of little over 100 million, indicating healthy liquidity and interest by the various community participants, traders and investors.
Widening Infrastructure, New Global Opportunities
All things being equal, success of a cryptocurrency network depends upon its scale of global operations and mass adoption across the globe. QTUM has had a successful run, and new market opportunities exist for big expansions.
The number of global nodes contributing to the QTUM network has increased to over 7,250 recently, making it the third biggest network behind Ethereum (20,000 nodes) and Bitcoin (13,000). The company’s partnership with Hong Kong-based online media content provider, Baofeng Bokocloud, is expected to bump up the number of nodes to over 50,000, as Baofeng is planning to serve its digital content using QTUM’s blockchain infrastructure.
Along with the native decentralized apps (dApps) developed on its own platform, QTUM also claims to offer vast potential due to its interoperability with Ethereum-based dApps. As its functioning is based on Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), all Ethereum dApps can be easily ported and supported on QTUM. It makes for a big plus for the developers, who can now easily create, port, or launch new dApps boosting the overall QTUM ecosystem.
Additionally, last month QTUM announced release of its own dedicated X86 virtual machine (VM). It essentially supersedes EVM and claims to work as a smart contract supporting operating system that offers easy development, efficient deployment, and smooth and secure execution of various artifacts and activities on the blockchain network. For instance, the issues of delayed payment processing and power-intensive mining methods of Bitcoin, and the problems of scalability, security and network congestion of Ethereum are claimed to be addressed to a good extent by QTUM’s new-age x86 VM. The recently announced releases claim to make the QTUM network more efficient, agile, and functional, addressing the commonly occurring problems of popularly used blockchain networks.
A Peek Into QTUM Potential
Among the bulk of native QTUM dApps, the ones that often get highlighted include MediBloc – a system to make medical records secure, Energo - an energy trading platform, CFun – a platform that allows conversion and monetization of content into digital assets, Halal Chain – a supply chain solution allowing traceability for food, medicine and cosmetics industry, BitClave - a new-age search engine allowing users to selectively sell their data to advertisers, and Qbao and BeeChat that offer social media platforms and instant messaging features.
Essentially, the smart contract-powered QTUM claims to offer the widespread potential that spans all across various industry sectors fulfilling the needs of diversified business processes and operations. The QTUM platform offers seamless possibilities - from running a simple user-centric mobile app to running an entire company using the smart contract powered dApps.
The Road Ahead, & Challenges
While QTUM team appears to be putting the right efforts, the platform has a few areas for development.
Despite its big infrastructure, QTUM has primarily remained an Asia-focused network with more than 83% of the global nodes operating in Asia. Most of its strategic partnerships, business ventures and users have remained confined to the South Asian region. However, that leaves great opportunities for the network to explore and expand into the larger American and European markets, and QTUM’s planned development and initiatives are claimed to be a step in that direction. Founder Patrick Dai said “We’ve been focusing on building the very best technology this year. But we realize we have not put enough effort into marketing and community management recently. We are working on this and will push QTUM once again to massive adoption.”
After a steady start and smooth run over the last one year, its growing stable infrastructure allows for the potential to go big across the globe. While QTUM attempts to portray itself as an efficient alternative to Ethereum and its ongoing developments give it room to make improved offerings, it will face stiff competition from the established Ethereum, as well as from the likes of other emerging smart contract networks like NEO, Lisk and EOS.
QTUM has tasted success in forging key partnerships in South Asia which helped its expansion. If it can continue the trend across the U.S. and Europe, it has the potential to emerge among the frontrunners of smart contract based networks.
With new releases, QTUM has offered easy features to developers encouraging them to write resource-light dApps. However, the real test will be the mass adoption by common users across the globe who will eventually pay for such utilities. Unless QTUM replicates its Asian success across other regions of the globe with large user engagement, success may be difficult to find.
The Bottom Line
Mass adoption remains one of the key parameters of success for cryptocurrency networks. While QTUM’s claims appear promising for the future, it has a whole stack of new global opportunities as well as competitive threats on its way. The world of cryptocurrency is highly agile and ever-developing. As QTUM tries to dethrone Ethereum, it may soon get challenged by the likes.