Cryptocurrency Tracker Apps: An Overview and the Commercialization Problem
Several years into the cryptocurrency era, many users and enthusiasts have faced a peculiar issue: managing their various crypto assets required a degree of automation. It’s hard to keep track of everything that blooms in your crypto garden: on the one hand, many of us have accounts on more than one crypto exchange and wallets scattered across many blockchains; on the other, a large number of ICO investors and HODLers need ready access to their numbers. In order to satisfy the demand and make life easier for users, developer teams started churning out crypto portfolio tracking apps, the best-known of which is probably Blockfolio.
A lot has happened since then, but the evolution of crypto trackers is far from over. Monetization has taken centre stage, and many suspect that large market players now sell user data to third parties in order to profit from their userbase. For instance, Blockfolio itself openly writes about it in its user agreement; and various smaller trackers have followed its less-than-savory example.
How those databases of crypto holders are eventually used is a separate matter, surrounded with suspicions and dark theories. Reddit is full of them: in this thread, for instance, an “expert” advises users to remove final zeros from all coin balances to make the portfolio appear smaller and thus minimize risks (of course, the holder should remember to mentally add the zeros back once the app is finished with its calculations).
Indeed, the close link between a user’s account in such apps and their social media accounts makes it easy to uncover a crypto holder’s identity. Thus, potential criminals who purchase such data will know both who you are and how much of each coin you hold. Forums are full of such warnings – and this is not the only perceived wrongdoing committed by the leaders of the tracker market.
Some complain that several leading trackers have become veritable monsters, losing sight of their original purpose under a load of unnecessary features. Blockfolio, for one, is infamous for its tendency to freeze. In spite of its marketing success, the app also lacks a data sync and recovery mechanism (if you change a device or an update goes wrong, you have to enter all the info from scratch) or a web interface (you cannot work with your portfolio on desktop).
Other users complain that balance calculations are often incorrect. We will not cite specific apps here, but let us note that it can be amusing to see a well-known and supposedly advanced app (with a hundred colorful graphs and diagrams) fail to perform its central and most basic task – calculate a user’s coin balances precisely and without errors.
The popular tracking app Delta, which aims to be an improved version of Blockfolio, does not always identify coins correctly. It also does not allow to sync more than 5 devices, even in the paid version. However (and this is a personal opinion of the authors of this article), Delta remains the best among the older generation of tracker apps. It retains a connection with its users, welcomes feedback, and is actively updated as a result, so there is hope for Delta yet.
A new generation of crypto trackers
Luckily, the grim landscape of existing portfolio trackers produced a wave of new and more efficient apps that take into account the mistakes made by their predecessors. In search of a new and worthier appearance of the old ideal, we looked at several young startups that try to solve the chronic issues of the market.
Squirrel is a strong contestant here: it does correct most of the flaws found in Blockfolio and its imitators (you can read more about it here). Unfortunately, there is little objective information available online about most other alternative trackers. Now that we have cited Squirrel and Delta, let us examine another interesting (and still little-known) app – xFolio.
This free and convenient portfolio tracker sticks to the principles of healthy minimalism: it focuses only on the most essential and often-used features. Here are three of those features (found in their blog here) that we find particularly interesting.
- Complete automation
The app automatically reads and updates your crypto balance values from all the blockchain addresses and exchange accounts that you add to it. You don’t have to enter your transactions manually every time.
- Precise and reliable algorithms
Let’s face it – the realm of crypto is ruled by chaos and confusion. Different exchanges have different rates – and often even different tickers for the same coin. For instance, Stellar is identified as STR on Poloniex and as XLM on Bitfinex. Event Delta – an app that we really like – is prone to such errors. What’s more, the Ethereum platform does not require that all tickers be unique, so there is no guarantee that a token you keep in your wallet under a certain name and a token with the same symbol on coinmarketcap.com are one and the same.
Xfolio aims to create some order in this crypto zoo – and takes care of many other annoying little issues along the way. As a result, you will see only exact, up-to-date values in your portfolio. This is the main function of any portfolio, boring as it may seem – and xFolio fulfils it to perfection.
- Anonymity and security
Once again, xFolio offers maximum flexibility when it comes to staying anonymous. Those who prefer to log in using social networks can easily do so: no passwords, no unnecessary effort – one click, and you are logged in.
As an alternative, you can register using your email – this will both help you remain unidentifiable and retain the possibility to restore your account using the email address provided. There is also a third option – registering without providing any contact information, thus staying completely incognito.
This overview tries to analyze the many challenges faced by portfolio trackers – a large category of apps that can be logically divided into two groups:
1) The dinosaurs – popular apps with a huge audience and large controlling investors who pursue an aggressive monetization policy (which erodes the ideals of privacy and usability);
2) The counter-revolutionaries: a new wave of portfolio trackers that are still little-known among the general public but stand at the forefront of the market and stay true to the altruistic ideals of the crypto community.
In this article, we have listed many flaws of specific apps in order to paint an objective picture, but it wasn’t the main point. Our key goal was to show that alternatives to the huge, mass-market apps do exist – and this means that you still have an opportunity to choose… so use it!
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