Another day, another upstart cryptocurrency on the rise. After huge weeks for bitcoin alternatives like Ripple, Stellar, and Ethereum, the latest to see a big spike is Tron — and its connection to China’s most powerful tech entrepreneur could make it the most intriguing challenger to bitcoin’s throne we’ve yet seen.
Like Ripple, Tron and its tronix coin have experienced a meteoric rise since the middle of December. As recently as last month, the coin’s value was less than a penny, but it reached highs Friday of about 26 cents. That surge was enough to make it briefly the sixth biggest cryptocurrency in the world, and its current $14.1 billion market cap makes it the seventh biggest as of this writing.
But what exactly is Tron, where did it come from, and how is it possible for those interested in it to purchase some? Let’s break down all you need to know about the latest player in the ever-changing crypto world.
What Is Tron?
Like other bitcoin alternatives, Tron was originally envisioned as a solution to a specific problem before it attracted the attention of investors eager for the next big cryptocurrency boom. In this case, its creators designed Tron as a blockchain-based ecosystem for digital content.
What this basically means is that digital media creators who use Tron have total control and ownership of the data they create, including how it is distributed to their audiences. This cuts out intermediaries like Google Play and the Apple Store, eliminating the fees those companies charge creators to have their material available there.
TRX is the coin used for exchanges in this digital ecosystem. As with other cryptocurrencies, TRX eases international transactions. This can be particularly important for digital content creators who can find themselves shut out of a country entirely if they are not able to transact in the local currency.
How Did Tron Get Started?
The cryptocurrency is the brainchild of Justin Sun, a 26-year-old tech entrepreneur based in Beijing. His Twitter bio notes he was the only millennial to attend Hupan University, an elite entrepreneur leadership program in China founded by billionaire business magnate Jack Ma.
The founder and executive chairman of the tech conglomerate Alibaba Group, Ma is one of the most influential people in China and, by extension, the world. While Ma isn’t an explicit backer of Tron, Sun’s reputation as his protege makes the coin’s future intriguing.
China cracked down on cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings in September, though bitcoin entrepreneur Bobby Lee told CNBC this week he expects the ban to be lifted in the near future. While the country’s relationship with cryptocurrency remains murky, Tron’s connection to Ma — and, by extension, the government in Beijing — could put it in an intriguing position globally if China ultimately decides to back a particular coin.
How to Buy TRX Coins
Like other upstart coins such as Ripple and Stellar, Tron is not available on Coinbase, the most popular exchange. That doesn’t figure to change anytime soon given the site’s announcement Friday that it has no plans to add new altcoins to the exchange.
About 90 percent of all TRX trading happens on the Binance exchange, but the site announced Thursday it is temporarily suspending registrations because of the overwhelming influx of new users. So if a person isn’t already on Binance, they are out of luck.
Of what’s left, there aren’t a ton of good options. Bit-Z, Liqui, and Gatecoin are the next three biggest TRX exchanges, though “biggest” is relative when none handles more than five percent of trading. All three have mixed to negative reviews from users, citing delays in cash-outs and unusually high transaction fees.
The best bet may be to wait until Binance begins taking registrations again, or to see whether another major exchange adds TRX to its offerings.