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The cryptocurrency market surpassed the barrier of $100 billion market capitalization in June 2017, after months of steady growth. Despite its increasing relevance in the financial world, a comprehensive analysis of the whole system is still lacking, as most studies have focused exclusively on the behaviour of one (Bitcoin) or few cryptocurrencies. Here, we consider the history of the entire market and analyse the behaviour of 1469 cryptocurrencies introduced between April 2013 and May 2017. We reveal that, while new cryptocurrencies appear and disappear continuously and their market capitalization is increasing (super-)exponentially, several statistical properties of the market have been stable for years. These include the number of active cryptocurrencies, market share distribution and the turnover of cryptocurrencies. Adopting an ecological perspective, we show that the so-called neutral model of evolution is able to reproduce a number of key empirical observations, despite its simplicity and the assumption of no selective advantage of one cryptocurrency over another. Our results shed light on the properties of the cryptocurrency market and establish a first formal link between ecological modelling and the study of this growing system. We anticipate they will spark further research in this direction.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Royal Society open science
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The process of reciprocal evolutionary change occurring between pairs of species or among groups of species as they interact.
Places where animals are slaughtered and dressed for market.
The study of systems which respond disproportionately (nonlinearly) to initial conditions or perturbing stimuli. Nonlinear systems may exhibit "chaos" which is classically characterized as sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Chaotic systems, while distinguished from more ordered periodic systems, are not random. When their behavior over time is appropriately displayed (in "phase space"), constraints are evident which are described by "strange attractors". Phase space representations of chaotic systems, or strange attractors, usually reveal fractal (FRACTALS) self-similarity across time scales. Natural, including biological, systems often display nonlinear dynamics and chaos.
The rate dynamics in chemical or physical systems.
The comparative study of social organization in animals including humans, especially with regard to its genetic basis and evolutionary history. (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed)