Bitcoin enthusiasts will be scratching their heads this year (as they have been at various points the years before) for a myriad of reasons, but for the common user, it’ll usually be along the lines of “why did I not get in sooner?”.
The markets for alternative cryptocurrencies and tokens, or altcoins/alts, as they’re generically referred to, have hit unprecedented highs in 2017, catching even the most fervent altcoin speculator by complete surprise.
Even if you’re judging them from a purely profiteering perspective (let’s not pretend we’re looking from other perspectives, eh?), alts have been skyrocketing in value since the start of the year, reaching proportions similar to or greater than what Bitcoin did.
Take the top 3 altcoins ranked just behind Bitcoin in market cap. Ethereum (ETH), from $7.50 to $370. Ripple (XRP), from $0.006 to $0.30 and Litecoin (LTC) from $3.60 to $47. We’re talking about 1,000% to 5,000% spikes in little over five months. Even the much-maligned Dogecoin (DOGE) managed to climb more than 10 times its Christmas value.
It’s not easy to test the waters now. You really will find yourself wading into a mire of altcoins and tokens that – on the surface, anyway – look and feel no different from each other. Make no mistake, diving in right now would be a pure gamble but for the most informed of speculators.
However, if you’re one of the many for whom Bitcoin is your sole cryptocurrency, you’re actually in luck, because there are still ways for you to diversify your crypto basket without risking any new outlay. Do note that this is very different from “absolutely no risk”, as will be explained later.
How do I start?
How, you wonder? There is an established alt that is currently distributed to users simply (or partially) based on the number of Bitcoins you already own. This is the crucial bit here, as you must be in full control of the Bitcoins you own and able to prove that. Simply put: your Bitcoins must be stored in wallets to which you have the private keys.
This means that any Bitcoins you have at exchanges, gambling sites and most web wallets most likely won’t work to obtain these alts.
Once you’re sure you’ve got this critical part covered, then you’re set.
A bit about Stellar’s Lumens
The Stellar Development Foundation started off in 2014 as a non-profit with lofty goals of promoting financial literacy. They also launched their own currency native to the Stellar network (named Stellars/STR) but when they abandoned their Ripple-based code, the currency was renamed to Lumens (XLM).
There’s quite a bit to learn about Stellar if you’re interested in how you can send money to any user in any currency (yes, they work a lot with the finance industry), with their physical non-profit activities centered around West Africa-based NGOs.
Here’s the important bit for you Bitcoin holders: 95% of XLM will be given away for free, of which 19% is reserved for Bitcoin owners. Why? Because Stellar believes Bitcoin users are the ones most ready to “build applications”. The first massive giveaway happened in mid-2016 – some 3 Billion Lumens were distributed to Bitcoin owners.
Here’s the next important bit: there’s about 16 Billion XLM left and the next giveaway is happening from 26 June 2017.
- On 26 June, a snapshot of the Bitcoin blockchain will be taken after the first mined block, recording Bitcoin balances on all accounts.
- On 27 June, a claims page will be published, and you can claim your share of XLM based on how much Bitcoin you owned on 26 June.
How much will I get?
Not very much, if you aren’t a Bitcoin whale. But you’ll be distributed a proportion of Lumens equal to the percentage of total Bitcoin circulation that you own.
Let’s put it this way. Let’s say that 16 Billion XLM will be distributed. There will be about 16.5 million BTC in existence on 26 June 2017.
If you own 10 Bitcoins, that means you receive 10/16.5 million*16 billion XLM = 9,697 XLM. They’re about $ 0.04 each right now… so 10 BTC will net you roughly $400 worth of XLM… completely free.
I will try to link around 36 Bitcoins from my wallet (the rest is locked up in other sites). So I expect to get about $1,440 worth of XLM.
Wait, why isn’t this totally risk free?
Because you’re exposing your Bitcoin address via the claims. Of course, your Bitcoin address isn’t hidden from anyone and your identity may still be intact, but some people would be put off by the mere idea of linking a Bitcoin address with XLM.
Honestly, I don’t see an issue as you can always move out your coins to a new address post distribution but we still have to make sure you know this!
Thanks! I have a new alt I didn’t have to buy!
You’re welcome 😀