Forbes Unveils Billion-Dollar Cryptos as Zombies Amid Volatile Trade Surge

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Amid a surge of speculative investment, Forbes has unveiled a controversial report identifying a collection of crypto assets as “billion-dollar zombies”. These so-called zombies, colloquially known as Layer 1 (L1) tokens, stand as tangible instances of the cryptocurrecy market’s inherent volatility. Their salient trait? Industry leaders have accorded these assets lofty valuations, yet their utility extends little beyond the sphere of risky trading.

The assembly of crypto assets finding themselves spotlighted in Forbes’ list includes notable names such as Ripple, XRP, Ethereum Classic (ETC), Tezos (XTZ), Algorand (ALGO), and Cardano (ADA), among others.

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Ripple Labs, the progenitor of the XRP token, proved to be a conspicuous figure in this gathering of ‘crypto zombies’. While XRP has built a robust trading presence, fostering an active daily volume nearing $2 billion, Forbes carries doubts about its overarching purpose. The publication argues that XRP’s core function remains ensnared within speculation, noticeably devoid of any noteworthy utility.

However, Ripple Labs and XRP aren’t the sole parties contained within this dubious category. Forbes, extending its research, noted that a total of 50 blockchains – setting aside Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) – currently trade at values exceeding $1 billion. A significant portion of them, numbering around 20, have been tagged as “functional zombies”. These dubious distinctions amass a staggering market value of $116 billion despite comprising limited user bases.

Forbes leads its readers through the disquieting realm of “functional zombies”. One notable denizen includes Ethereum Classic, revered for its status as the original Ethereum chain. With a market value of $4.6 billion, a startling contrast emerges when one considers its fee earnings in 2023 amounted to less than $41,000. This mismatch kindled Forbes’ doubts about the blockchain’s operational viability.

Tezos popped up in the discourse as another instance of a ‘crypto zombie’. The project raised an impressive $230 million via its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in 2017. Yet, despite its XTZ token boasting a market capitalization of $1.2 billion, earnings from transaction fees were startlingly scant, reaching only $5,640 in February 2024 and sum total of $177,653 for the entire year of 2023.

Similarly, Algorand, once proclaimed an “Ethereum killer” for its capacity of processing 7,500 transactions per second, has grappled with its fair share of hurdles. It carries a market cap of $2 billion and a treasury holding swelling at $500 million, yet it only managed to accrue $63,000 in blockchain transaction fees in 2023. With such figures, Forbes find reasons to question Algorand’s real-world adoption and utility.

Forbes doesn’t simply highlight individual ‘crypto zombies’; rather, it compartmentalises these assets into two classifications: spin-offs and direct competitors. The former category houses Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Monero (XMR), Bitcoin SV (BSV), and Ethereum Classic.

These spin-off zombies, carrying a collective value of $23 billion, emerged from administrative disagreements amongst project developers concerning the governance and development directions of their parent chains. Forbes points out that such conflicts birth hard forks; new networks sharing the same historical transaction data as their antecedents. More often than not, these forks attain market values outweighing their real-world usage, thus earning the ominous ‘zombie’ tag.

Overall, Forbes underscores a rising disjunction between the valuations of numerous crypto projects and their real-world implications. This widening gap lends these ambitious yet barely-utilized projects the unwelcome title of “zombies.” As the total crypto market cap teeters at $2.2 trillion, the discussion surrounding these ‘zombie’ blockchains is expected to fuel ongoing debates regarding crypto utility and market volatility.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.