The world of crypto-currencies is getting crowded, with more than 100 different currencies traded on Cryptsy.com with more added nearly every month. The concept is no longer limited to Bitcoin or Litecoin, the most widely traded currencies. Bitcoin’s open source code has been tweaked by software programmers the world over to deliver a wide range of different functionality. In a short time, this great experiment in cryptography and money has captured the interest of major government players around the world, including the Chinese government, the US Federal Reserve, US Congress, and central bankers, among others who are watching the progress with wary interest.
With so much mainstream news attention being devoted to Bitcoin, is has been difficult for newer coins to get their day in the the limelight and to be understood for their unique qualities. Many are simply dismissed and waived off as “clones.” While some new crypto-currencies are attracting community support and backing, others are been revealed as scams that have have flared up, only to see support evaporate as problems technical or moral problems are discovered with the coins.
A coin that has been attracting attention and investors as it becomes more well known is Unobtanium, which trades on exchanges as UNO. Named for a conceptual element that is difficult or impossible to obtain, Unobtanium looks at first like any other Bitcoin clone software. On closer examination, there are some characteristics that make Unobtanium among the more interesting experiments on the crypto-currency landscape, and one worth watching closely.
Unobtanium’s developers launched the currency publicly, giving everyone who wanted to participate advance notice of the coin’s launch. This is called a “Fair Start” in the parlance, and is actually quite a rare occurrence for new coins. “Pre-mining” occurs when developers or a select group of people have an unfair opportunity to acquire coins through the software mining process before the general public has the same opportunity. Many popular and failed coins have been pre-mined. The arguments for pre-mining include the idea that a certain percentage of the total coins should be held back to compensate developers, reward developers who bring new services online with the coin, and to market the coin. Some argue that pre-mining is unethical, creating the potential for a small group to acquire vast numbers of coins, enabling them to artificially manipulate the price of the coin.
Another distinction of Unobtanium is it’s scarcity and limited issue. Only 196,875 Proof of Work Un will be minted before .0001 minimum block subsidies take effect at block 612,000. The maximum number of UNO coins that can be issued is just 250,000 UNO.
Only 196,875 Proof of Work Un will be minted before .0001 minimum block subsidies take effect
The block reward is the amount of UNO that miners are paid for mining UNO blocks. The reward halves every 102,000 blocks. As of this writing, UNO is closing in on block 204,000, after which the reward will fall to .25 UNO.
This idea of falling availability with rising difficulty and decreasing reward will be interesting to watch as it plays out. Investors on discussion boards believe that this could result in a rapid rise in the price of UNO. While there is still time to obtain some Unobtanium, the falling block reward will mean that supplies could indeed dry up fast as miners have less UNO to offer for sale on exchanges.
Today, UNO is trading at around $4 per KG (coin).
It remains to be seen if scarcity, a fair start, an an active community will be enough to set UNO apart from other coins. As DOGE coin has proven, making it easy to acquire vast numbers of coins has the psychological effect of making its owners feel wealthy! If UNO even captures a small part of the cryptocurrency mindshare, and becomes as rare as it’s community believes it will, acquiring a full UNO KG will become increasingly difficult as rising value fractionalizes the coins.
Where might UNO succeed?
In the near future, it may be possible to integrate alternative coins like UNO into traditional online shopping carts, much the way that some sites can display prices in different fiat currencies. Yet, the UNO community isn’t really focused on promoting as a b2c or b2b settlement tool.
Where UNO may succeed, and would appear to have a strong natural advantage, is as a crypto-bullion. Just as gold is in limited supply, and has been desired as a store of wealth, UNO is in short supply. Yet gold is difficult to store, protect and transfer, UNO is simple to transfer and can be easily hidden with encryption. While gold has a luster that gives it utility, a cryptocoin like UNO would need to be transferred to a physical form to be able to provide an experience anything to close to real gold; while possible, it’s not really altogether practical at this time. The fair start of UNO should not be underestimated as an attractant to investors, since fairness strikes at the heart of credibility. Fairness is a topic where UNO has a distinct advantage over gold and many other crypto-coins When you own 1 KG of UNO, you know what you have, and that it was mined fairly by the UNO community. If you purchase a KG gold, it’s not always completely clear if the coin you are holding has been debased.
As a store of wealth, UNO has the advantage of being extremely limited, with most coins being produced in the first year, dwindling availability through mining, and (importantly) a fair start when the coin was launched.
These traits set UNO apart as a rare coin in the world of crypto-currencies.
To see documentation of UNO’s fair start, you can examine this chart which analyze the UNO block chain. Pay attention to the “minted currency” chart which shows dwindling supply, and the “total supply” chart, which shows an upward slope toward the right. Compare that to the pre-mined Feathercoin, and you can understand the difference between a fair-mined coin and a pre-mined coin.
UNO is scarce for two basic reasons. First, the number of coins is scarce. And second, being a fair-mined coin is a scarce crypto-coin quality today.