A report into altcoins has found as many as 90% rely on plagiarized code, with at least 80% of code directly copied from other projects.
The startling figures were unveiled in a report published by academics at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China, in partnership with Netta Lab. The report, published on state-backed media outlet Securities Daily, studied 488 cryptocurrencies, with a total of 405 showing between a 90%-100% code match.
Worryingly, 324 of the currencies surveyed matched at 95% or above, effectively using identical code to other existing altcoins.
Of those currencies examined, only 38 showed a match of less than 80%, with a further 45 falling between 80-90%, reflecting the true extent to which code plagiarism is rife in the altcoin space.
One of the report’s authors, Netta Labs founder Xie Shaoyun, said the findings show that altcoins are focusing their resources more on marketing to investors than the technology.
Xie wrote, “So many blockchain projects shift their focus from technology development to marketing… leading to the increasing number of copying and plagiarisms in this field.”
The Chinese researcher also noted, “At present, the industry still lacks the real breakthrough in innovation and solves the problem, and puts the implementation of the application in the first place. The people are holding the mentality of experimenting and luck.”
Xie said that those involved in plagiarizing code should instead focus on solving practical problems with their altcoins, or in otherwise providing utility to their end users.
“We should return to the essence, truly solve practical problems, do tools that can be used by users and bring convenience, build real value and usability, come up with actual products, and promote the development of the industry from the actual recognized value,” according to the researcher.
The proliferation of altcoins since the end of 2017 has led to calls for greater regulation, with a number of token launches since found to have been fraudulent or otherwise ill-fated. This has also led to outright bans, most notably in China, around ICOs and cryptocurrency startups.
With the revelation that so many altcoins could in fact be nothing more than wholesale copies of other projects, it seems investors can’t yet feel confident of the value of their investments.
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