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NXT is Bitcoin of the Future: In both good and bad ways.

I've been intently following the development of NXT by reading as much as I can about it and following along with the developers discussions over at bitcointalk.org's mega-thread.
Nxt stands out above most other "alternative" digital currencies, mainly because it's not a clone, or "fork" of bitcoin. There are only a few "coins" out there right now that can make this claim. I put the word 'coin' in quotes because another thing that most of the Bitcoin 2.0 currencies have in common is that they tend to shy away from being called coins and put a lot of focus on adding totally new features to what Bitcoin does. They usually like to be referred to as ecosystems, and will often correct you if you refer to their platform as merely a "coin".
The ecosystems who are emerging most prominently include Etherium, Master Coin, Colored Coins, Emunie, Ripple, Nxt and Counterparty.
Out of all the emerging ecosystems, I've decided that Nxt is the one I feel has the most potential. Part of this was getting a bit "suckered in" by all of the existing marketing that made claims that Nxt has "instant transactions" (you only need to look to the right hand side of this page to see an example of this), only to find out that this particular feature has not yet been implemented and the common claims of 1000 transactions per second is possibly unattainable.
Although I felt like I got hit with a classic "Bait and Switch", being that crypto is the new wild west and caveat emptor is very much in effect, I didn't take it too personally. A lot of the marketing is disjointed and uncentralized ( the developers are actually proud to say Nxt has decentralized development) so it's hard to blame any one person for making these claims a bit prematurely.
What's kept me from dumping all my Nxt in disgust over being "lied" to, was the fact the "switch" that I took the "bait" for was actually pretty compelling in itself. This being the upcoming "decentralized asset exchange" which I think has a lot of potential, at least to make my investment grow even if I personally am not interested in creating my very own coin or starting an IPO any time soon (I'm just a shameless and unabashed speculator who would like to make a profit on my holdings-which makes me a bit of a pariah over at bitcointalk.org). The AE goes live sometime in April so I'm holding or HODLING as the wacky crew over at bitcointalk likes to say until I see what happens with the price.
What a lot of people say about Nxt is that it's like "looking at Bitcoin in the future" which it kind of is. Currently you do have to install java and use batch files to get it running, but one click installers are around the corner. Once you do get it up and running though, even the basic client is very much easier to understand and use than Bitcoin is. You only have to manage one address, the interface is right in your web browser (but run locally so no SSL needed) and sending and receiving Nxt is about as close to sending an email as I've seen yet.
Nxt's transaction speeds have been faster than Bitcoins, though I can't say how much of this is due to having a much smaller network or not. You also have to wait for ten confirmations vs. Bitcoin's six to be absolutely sure there are no double-spends so it's really hard to say if Nxt is a lot faster than Bitcoin....yet.
One of the lead developers claims to be working on implementing "transparent Forging" as we speak, which he says will get Nxt to about 10 TPS at first, then 100 and finally 1000 TPS which is about as fast as a Visa Transaction. All in all I agree with the assessment that using Nxt is like using the Bitcoin of the Future.
Another great thing about Nxt is that it's 100% Proof-Of-Stake, meaning Nxt is not "mined" like bitcoin is. The coins have all already been created from the genesis block and this is another way using Nxt is a lot like using Future Bitcoin, because one day all the BTC will have been mined and the "miners" will have to exist on transaction fees alone. Using Nxt, we get a little peek into the future of what that day might be like because the "forgers", who protect the network and verify transactions are rewarded in the same way.
Since nxt has a lot smaller network, it's still hard to say what kinds of rewards 'forgers" might receive for their efforts if and when Nxt becomes more popular. As of right now, Forging is pretty much an act of altruism for all but the largest stakeholders. Also,the transaction fee is currently a ridiculous sum of 1 Nxt, which will either be changed to .01 nxt or .1 nxt in the near future depending which developer or community member at bitcointalk.org you ask. All I know is that it's getting changed to either .1 or .01
The common response is that Forgers will receive about 1% annual return on their holdings and that this is reasonable since there's no expensive, electricity hungry mining equipment involved. You can forge using a cell phone.
One potential problem I've been concerned about with that approach is that .01 Nxt or .1 Nxt might be a reasonable fee right now, since it's trading at about .04 cents each, but what if the price rises unexpectedly by any considerable amount? Seems to me that nxt users will be simultaneously rewarded and punished for holding Nxt and using the system as the fee for using it rises right along with the price. Bitcoin and others also use static fees, but those fees are kept extremely low so the price would have to go up a ridiculous amount for a price rise to have a negative affect on actual trading. With Nxt, even a price rise to $50.00 USD per Nxt would mean a sudden fee of $5.00 USD or .50 cents depending on where they put the decimal.
Nxt's fees in my opinion will be far too close to the value of the main unit for sudden price spike not to potentially have a negative affect on the ecosystem itself. This appears to be one of the consequences of the need to reward miners/forgers with transaction fees alone. Will Bitcoin have a similar problem in the future? Any significant price rise in the asset itself might put a negative pressure on trading as people become unwilling or reluctant to pay the now more expensive fee.
I've been told by the developers that if the price rises that much they will just lower the fee by updating the software, but as we all know, crypto-currency can be very volatile. Do we really want to live in a word where we have to update our clients again and again as the price rises and falls, often rapidly and drastically? Are we to just trust that they will do this quickly enough to avoid the system grinding to a halt or at least slowing to a crawl? The developers already have enough trouble agreeing on what the current fee will be lowered to. How are we to expect them to react quickly and correctly in a crisis while value collapses? I don't even want to go into how one of the developers told me that a drastic price rise will never happen. It's just too depressing. To my mind, programming is the art of anticipating the unexpected and planning for it and not just "crossing bridges when you come to them".
As I've been able to log into the test version of the Asset Exchange I've noticed several things about the system that concern me and most of these things involve these same fees.
If you don't know what a decentralized exchange is, it's basically a trading platform where you can trade a lot of different things without having to sign up with a centralized exchange like Bitstamp or BTC-E. You'll be able to trade right there in NXt's 'ecosystem".
One thing I noticed is that while it's a cool system, there's a fee to do almost anything in it. There's a fee to send, there's a (very large 1000 Nxt) fee to create an asset and worst of all there's a fee to PLACE a buy or sell order on the asset exchange.
Most centralized exchanges like Bitstamp also charge a fee to EXECUTE an order, but NO exchange that I know of charges you a fee just for casting your line into the water.
I'm no expert day trader, but one thing I do know is that traders like to use the order book in an exchange strategically with orders that might not get executed. Some do it to take advantage of potential price spikes or sudden dips they might miss, while others use intimidatingly large sell and buy "walls" designed to inhibit or encourage trading to a desired effect, which they promptly cancel as soon as the action gets too close to actually executing their order.
I've never been able to afford a wall myself, but I have put in a ridiculously high or low limit order in Bitstamp just in case the BTC price spikes or drops rapidly and unexpectedly. Usually my gambit fails and the price moves away from my bid to an impossible range so I cancel the whole thing. In Nxt, I would be charged a fee for this. I'm not sure if this is a deal breaker for me, but I have a strong feeling it might be for many traders considering using Nxt's AE. I can also imagine a fluctuating fee being a pretty big headache for bot programmers trying to figure out how to obtain profit with the slimmest possible margins.
Of course someone who can put up a 2 Million dollar wall can afford paying these fees, but I would hazard a good guess that for many of these traders, who I imagine to have colorful & opinionated personalities, having to pay a fee to merely place an order that they never plan to execute will become a matter of principal and they will refuse to use the platform on this sort of thing alone.
I have tried to bring this up with the developers who congregate at bitcointalk.org as a potential problem for future traders, but I've been told that Nxt needs to charge these fees so that Forgers who protect the network can be compensated. My retort is that if participation is too low because the fees are too high that no one will be rewarded, but so far my concerns do not seem to be shared.
In short, the one drawback I am starting to realize with Proof-Of_Stake systems is that since no one is creating new coins with mining, that the actual stake-holders need to be incentivised to run open nodes (Forging) so the network is secured and transactions are verified quickly. If the incentives are too small, not enough people will Forge and the entire system is endangered and fees will have to be raised til motivation exists. This is something Bitcoin users will have to deal with in the future, when all the coins have been created and it is something Nxt users will have to deal with right now.
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