There is feverish speculation going on at the moment in the latest, hottest coin on the street, namely the somewhat blandly named Internet Computer coin (aka ICP). At the time of writing, according to Coinbase, it had a market cap of $22bn and a circulation of about 120m ICP.
Internet Computer launched on Coinbase Pro on 10 May and immediately entered the top 10 cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap. It is a smart contract platform that uses blockchain to power online alternatives to popular apps, but its founder is sounding a lot more ambitious. The idea is that developers can use it to build tokenised mass market social media services, exclusively using smart contracts.
According to creator Dominic Williams, Internet Computer could underscore a new and open way to develop software. This is an old debate that many in the software industry continue to have about who should own and profit from the Internet, and that big tech companies have simply become too dominant in the software development field.
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Williams was able to raise over $100m for his launch, so his arguments are convincing many. Price action has been fairly volatile since the coin opened for trading but it is early days yet.
Internet Computer coin price is being driven by supply/demand
One of the reasons for the upside price pressure on Internet Computer is the lack of readily available coins in the market. The ‘free float’ – a term we would use to describe this if it was a stock – is relatively small versus the overall number of coins, so demand is currently outstripping supply, and driving the price up.
One of the prime risks here is that the code has not been externally tested. Its creators wanted to play their hand close to their chests, so to speak, and hence there has been little external testing of the code.
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Backing the launch is the Dfinity Foundation, which CEO Williams wants to use to replace the Internet, create a Web 3.0 that is not going to be dominated by Google and its ilk.
Why Internet Computer is not the next Bitcoin
We don’t think Internet Computer is the next Bitcoin – it is something very different, but it is on a noble quest to do something more revolutionary, namely reform the Internet, and make it much more democratic. Its popularity is partly being driven by concerns among many that the first generation social media and search companies have simply become too dominant.
Key to ICP’s success will be the next few months. It does seem to have the backing of a wide community of software engineers – this is not something a small team has cooked up in a garage. The fact that it has debuted at such a high market cap also supports this. It looks a lot more grown up than Dogecoin, for example.
It sounds to me like what you are really buying with ICP is a stake in a revolution, an effort to change the way software is built and deployed, and the way the Internet works, taking it out of the hands of some of the companies that have almost cornered it. If you are someone who is concerned about the way Facebook felt it was strong enough to take on the Australian government early this year, then ICP may be worth a look. It certainly sounds like a new and fresh direction.