Background

ABBC Coin is a relatively new name in the crypto space. Mostly unknown until this year, at the time of writing, it has broken into the top 50 of crypto assets on Coinmarketcap with the capitalization of $115 million. It appears to be a prime candidate for a potential scam analysis.  

What the project purports to be building

According to the project’s official website, it is building “the future of payment security.” Three key elements are listed: the Alladin wallet, the Buyalladin e-commerce platform and the Bitstorm exchange. All those applications are supposed to be built on top of the ABBC blockchain. 

Currently working tech

Of the three core consumer-facing elements discussed in the previous section, only the Alladin wallet appears to be available, although we note did not download or otherwise test it to be able to say whether it is a functioning application. 

The Buyalladin e-commerce application was supposedly launched at an event at the Rockefeller Center in New York. However, the only sources reporting on this are either anonymous authors or press releases, and the Youtube video of the supposed launch does not allow to conclude anything about the venue where the speech shown in it took place. And in any case, anyone who is prepared to pay the price can organize an event at the Center’s private spaces. We were unable to find the website of the platform. The Bitstorm exchange is not in the Coinmarketcap database.

That ABBC Coin may have a running blockchain behind it is suggested by its block explorer. It has references to “block producers” all of which appear to be based in the UAE. If one looks at transactions (such as this one), one is led to hypothesize that the supposed blockchain is an implementation of the EOSIO technology implemented by the EOS platform but without the latter’s massive ecosystem.

ABBC’s press release from September 18 appears to corroborate this to some extent as it makes reference to a private DPoS blockchain, although one is left wondering what private DPoS even means given that DPoS involves voting for block producers by the coinholders.

In any case, this is in stark contrast to ABBC’s claims about a “revolutionized blockchain technology”.

The project’s white paper confirms that the latest blockchain mainnet is an EOSIO implementation which works almost exactly like EOS. It is unclear from the white paper in what significant sense the ABBC blockchain is an improvement upon the latter. The use of the hybrid account model is mentioned in this regard but it does not appear to propose anything revolutionary.

Most worryingly, the white paper states the following on p. 22: “To send a transaction, the Wallet authenticates customer account credentials via Server Infrastructure then checks account balance with ABBC Blockchain Node. After that, it will then create and sign the new transaction.” This suggests that the DPoS aspect may be a sham as coinholders may be just prevented from voting by the central server.

ICO and the project’s resources

Compared to what the project is supposedly aiming to achieve, its (sort of) confirmed resources appear to be insufficient. According to an article in Cointelegraph from last March, the project’s ICO had raised $3.5 million. Anyone who is aware of the complexity of ambitious blockchain project development would agree that this amount is not remotely sufficient for achieving ABBC Coin’s goals.

One could object here that the project team may have raised a lot more money via just selling the coins on exchanges and benefiting from the coin’s remarkable ascent. However, as we discuss below, ABBC Coin is actually only currently traded on exchanges with very low liquidity which makes this possibility highly unlikely.

Project’s code on Github

ABBC’s code on Github appears to be maintained from two different accounts: abbc-foundation and ABBCTEAM. It is organized in only 3 repositories which is unusual for a project of such claimed ambition. Even more suspiciously, the last update took place on June 10.    

Guaranteed profits

One of the most worrying features of the ABBC Coin project are its past in present explicit and implicit promises of future gains. A printscreen of the project’s roadmap from several months ago available on Reddit here promised the price of ABBC Coin at $150 in the end of the second quarter of this year. The coin’s highest price so far at $0.492 was reached in March. 

Perhaps prompted by the aforementioned Reddit post, the project team has slightly modified this explicit future price prediction with the current promise of the coin entering the top 20 on Coinmarketcap. While the second promise is slightly less bad, it is still almost unimaginable from any decent project.   

ABBC Coin on exchanges

One of the biggest red flags about ABBC Coin is the fact that it is only officially listed and traded on cryptocurrency exchanges that are dubious, to say the least, such as BitMart, BitForex, Coinall, DragonEX, etc. The biggest problem with these exchanges is that they are likely massively exaggerating their reported trading volumes. The way to see this with regard to ABBC Coin is to look at its market pairs information on Coinmarketcap.

Coinmarketcap recently introduced a new metric for market pairs on crypto exchanges called Liquidity. We discuss it in more detail in [another article] but here it suffices to say that this metric is designed to reflect in the best way possible the genuine trading volumes for a given market pair on an exchange as opposed to the merely reported volumes that can contain wash trading or be completely fabricated being just numbers on the screen.

Getting back to ABC Coin the picture its market pairs paint is not pretty. We highlighted the most egregious ones where millions of dollars in reported volume correspond to almost zero actual liquidity but even where some liquidity is present, it is lower than the reported volumes by two orders of magnitude.  

Of course, the mere fact that ABBC Coin is listed only on suspicious exchanges does not in itself suffice to conclude that it is suspicious. After all, some clearly legitimate projects like RChain or Swarm City are only listed on such exchanges, too.

However, with many other worrying signs about the project, the situation with exchanges certainly does not make it look less suspicious, only more.

Project organization team 

One reassuring sign about the project that suggest it may not be an outright scam like Onecoin is the fact that the legal entity behind it called ABBC Foundation (then Alibaba Foundation) actually participated in court proceedings in a U. S. Court against Alibaba Group. However, the individuals behind the foundation may have had grounds to not fear the U. S. law enforcement if they had not sold ABBC Coin to U. S. investors. 

ABBC Coin does have a project team page on its website which, at first sight, appears unremarkable. We did not conduct an in-depth analysis whether the profiles listed there are genuine but one immediately notes that for a project aiming at building an innovative blockchain platform, the team is clearly lacking in the relevant experience and credentials.

Consider the CTO which is ordinarily the most important technical role in such projects. The purported CTO of ABBC Coin is Stanley Park. Prior to becoming the CTO at ABBC Coin he had been (still is?) the CEO at the Korean gaming company Ubifun. The Korean company with this name indeed exists at least in the form of a website from which one can even presumably download a few PC games. However, we note that googling “Stanley Park + Ubifun” returns only materials traceable to the ABBC Coin project. In the aforementioned Youtube video of the supposed launch of the Buyalladin platform, the presenter facially resembles the photo of Stanley Park and identifies himself likewise.

The last thing that deserves to be mentioned about the project’s organization is its claimed transition from a foundation to a DAO structure (p. 23 of the white paper). However, the description of how the DAO is supposed to function is so sketchy that it gives little clarity. More detailed information is supposedly available upon request, but we note that the white paper oscillates between saying that the DAO has already been created, and that it is under creation.   

The name

ABBC actually refers to “Alibaba Coin”, and in itself this funny, playful naming style (maintained also in the Alladin wallet) is nothing new in crypto. Just consider the Grin platform, the Mimblewimble protocol or the Fellowship of Ethereum Magicians. The problem, rather, comes from the existence of a huge elephant in the room, the Chinese corporate giant called Alibaba that, to the best of our knowledge, has no connection to ABBC Coin. The project was at some point prohibited from using the name Alibaba Coin at least in the United States.

It would be really weird for creators of a global-scale legitimate business to choose a name which is so clearly in trouble with the intellectual property laws. That the project team nonetheless did this suggests either incompetence or a deliberate desire to create confusion as to the Chinese Alibaba’s involvement in the project. The fact that the core use of the ABBC Coin appears to be in connection with an e-commerce platform (which is, incidentally, the core business of the Alibaba Group), it seems that the second interpretation is more likely.

Crypto media and experts on ABBC Coin

If one searches for the mentions of ABBC Coin in the respectable crypto media like Coindesk or in the commentary of blockchain experts, one will struggle to find anything, except for price movement talk, scam warnings on Reddit and bitcointalk and ABBC Foundation’s paid press releases that can be confused by some people for genuine articles on Cointelegraph or even Reuters.

Our scam detection tool analysis results

We ran the information about ABBC Coin through our TestaCoin Questionnaire and it returned a probability of 0.72 that the project may be a scam. 

Conclusions

Based on all of the above, our core conclusion is that the ABBC Coin project exhibits worrying characteristics of a potential scam, although there is no Onecoin-style certainty that it is. The most plausible interpretation of the project, in our view, is that in the beginning it was an exit-scam ICO that wanted to use the Alibaba Group’s reputation to convince people that it was behind the project. When this did not work to raise as much money as the project team wanted, they pivoted towards creating an illusion of actually building a blockchain, a DAO, a functioning e-commerce platform, etc. running on it with a view to be able to sell as many coins as they can on exchanges or OTC.

We welcome constructive feedback from ABBC Foundation and other individuals or entities involved in the ABBC project, and we are ready to publish an update with different conclusions should the feedback convince us.

In the meantime, we strongly advise against investing into ABBC Coin and we call on the cryptocurrency exchanges that have listed it to freeze trading in it and launch inquiries. We will be glad to collaborate with the crypto media on spreading awareness about our findings. 

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