Cryptoasset Market Structure and Concentration in the Presence of Network Effects
13 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 15, 2021
When network products and services become more valuable as their userbase grows (network effects), this tendency can become a major determinant of how they compete with each other in the market and how the market is structured. Network effects are traditionally linked to high market concentration, early-mover advantages, and entry barriers, and in the cryptoasset market they have been used as a valuation tool too. The recent resurgence of Bitcoin has been partly attributed to network effects too. We study the existence of network effects in six cryptoassets from their inception to obtain a high-level overview of the application of network effects in the cryptoasset market. We show that contrary to the usual implications of network effects, they do not serve to concentrate the cryptoasset market, nor do they accord any one cryptoasset a definitive competitive advantage, nor are they consistent enough to be reliable valuation tools. Therefore, while network effects do occur in cryptoasset networks, they are not a defining feature of the cryptoasset market as a whole.
Keywords: network effects, cryptoasset, cryptocurrency, bitcoin, metcalfe, metcalfe's law, concentration, monopolization
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