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Cryptocurrency advocate, Niskayuna native, launches another Bitcoin alternative

Cryptocurrency advocate, Niskayuna native, launches another Bitcoin alternative

While GEM avoids pitfalls of other coins, it also lacks their market share, value
Cryptocurrency advocate, Niskayuna native, launches another Bitcoin alternative
Justin Capoccia, who is developing a cryptocurrency called Global Exchange Medium, is shown Friday.
Photographer: John Cropley/Gazette Business Editor

NISKAYUNA — A longtime advocate of cryptocurrency has launched one of his own.

Justin Capoccia said he and his partners on Wednesday got their GEM — Global Exchange Medium — accepted onto an alt-currency exchange on Wednesday.

No merchants accept GEM yet, and only a few hundred people hold coins, mostly through promotional giveaways. But being listed on an exchange, even a small one like LetsDoCoinz, is a key hurdle that gives it credibility as a cryptocurrency, he said.

“It’s a small exchange, but just to get accepted shows legitimacy on all ends,” said Capoccia, who first got interested in cryptocurrency in 2009. “If everything matches up and they think you’re safe and secure, they’ll put you on the exchange.”

He formerly mined Bitcoin, the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, and still accepts it at his family’s vineyard in Niskayuna and wine bar in Schenectady.

But he gets very little call for it, he said, because Bitcoin is not ideal for retail transactions. Bitcoin verification is slow and the huge value of each coin — currently about $8,000 U.S. dollars — makes it awkward for smaller purchases. A larger concern is its price fluctuation: Just on Friday, the value rose and fell across a nearly $500 range. Very few consumers and merchants use it in their everyday lives.

“We’re trying to solve the issue of the market volatility,” Capoccia said, explaining that the goal is not to reinvent the wheel but make a better wheel. “That’s a big issue, and I think it scares a lot of people trying to get into cryptocurrency.”

GEM is designed to address other problems, Capoccia said:

Transactions will be nearly instantaneous and the coin itself won’t be so valuable as to be intimidating.

“Since we’re new, it’s going to take time to even out to what the actual value is going be,” Capoccia said. “Our target is probably anywhere between 50 cents to a dollar.

“It’s going to be pretty hard to get to that, because you have to really prove yourself in the market, that you’re legitimate. But that is the projected target that we’d love to get to.”

With no established net worth, GEM has no definable value as a currency, which is why no merchants accept it yet. 

GEM has a crowded marketplace in which to gain traction: On Friday, CoinMarketCap listed 1,691 cryptocurrencies with a combined market capitalization of nearly $300 billion. Many of them are small or even tiny; for nearly 300, the market capitalization is listed as a question mark. More than 400 others have a market capitalization of less than $1 million.

GEM is not among the 1,691, but at least three others with “gem” in their name are.

Capoccia, 24, studied business at Schenectady County Community College. He was able to do a lot of the technical work of setting up GEM himself on his home computer, but more-complicated tasks such as setting up a mobile wallet are beyond his skillset. He hopes to reach the point where he can hire technical experts.

Capoccia’s larger goal with Global Exchange Medium is to create an alt-currency without borders and barriers that everyone can use.

“We want to be exactly what the word is: global,” he said.

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