Gold holds its value well because we trust that we will all collectively continue to trust it as a store of value forever, predominantly due to its scarcity and lack of centralized control. Fiat currencies hold their value well when they do because people trust that everyone else trusts the currency as well, and that it is deserving of trust. The moment that collective trust collapses, so too does the currency, no matter what its intrinsic ‘tangible’ value.
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The first part will speak to a broad explanation of what bitcoin and cryptocurrency at large are. The second will discuss my personal investment philosophy as it pertains to crypto. The third will show you step by step how to actually begin investing in crypto, if you so choose. Each section will be clearly delineated, so feel free to skip parts if they’re already familiar to you.
Previously, Cointelegraph reported that institutional investors replaced high net-worth individuals as the biggest buyers of cryptocurrency transactions worth over $100,000. Traditional investors and hedge funds have reportedly become more involved in the $220 billion crypto market through private transactions. At the same time, miners have begun scheduling regular coin sales instead of holding or offloading them during market rallies.
For those who are more comfortable with a predictable form of reward, mining is the way. Mining involves setting up of a rig, consisting of GPUs or CPUs and an investment in the electricity. Mining is only possible on cryptocurrencies that follow the Proof of Work protocol. It takes some effort to setup and gets things running, but it is attractive as a long-term passive income as long as you frontload the work.
When a market is as volatile and unpredictable as this one, diversification is what ensures gains while limiting risk. Additionally, unlike most other markets, the cryptocurrency market tends to act as one cohesive unit, meaning that diversification does not threaten profits as it would in other markets. Rather, it ensures that one singular cryptocurrency’s drop in value will not have a large effect on your portfolio.
In the case of a watermelon, what we intuitively grasp is that there is some fundamental, intrinsic value to the watermelon, and a ‘fair’ price for it. We have a general understanding of what this price should be, and are more than happy to buy watermelons when they are on discount relative to their fair price, and are reticent to do so when they are being sold at a premium to their fair price.
I’ve also seen plenty of people who intend to hold long term, but lose faith when they see their investment crater 30%, 50%, or even 70%. At this point, they lose faith, and decide to sell their investment to at least recoup some of their initial capital, and not lose everything outright. Thus, they end up buying high and selling low, and then having double regret when bitcoin eventually ended up rebounding even higher than the ‘high’ they bought at.
If you want to trade in cryptocurrencies, you’re going to need a platform on which to trade them, and an intermediary to communicate within the network of traders. Most of us lack the technological inclination or means to mine Bitcoin directly, or communicate and trade with miners directly, or store our digital currencies and assets. That’s where Coinbase comes in.
A ledger is a database technology used to record transaction histories and ownership; it is a definitive account of who has given what to who, and who owns what. Most ledger technologies are physical and they’re centralized -- they’re controlled by a central bank. This means that they are subject to the discretion and power of individuals, and are alterable and impermanent. This gives those ledger recording entities a tremendous amount of power over an individual’s financial transactions; it also means the ledger is vulnerable to manipulation.
There are so many hoops to jump through to set up for mining and each coin has its quirks. The power of your machine and graphix card and your power consumption are all important. My friend mined for 8month Eth and only made couple of hundred bucks by time you subtract power useage etc. He already had a powerful machine used in film industry for video graphix just sitting around so he thought he’d put it to use over that time for a laugh and see what happened. It took many hours messing around to set up and occassionally nursing it over that period. Of course he had to use his machine also occassionally which compromised the performance.
Are my investments safe with the dev team? The first rule of investing should always be the preservation of capital. Can you trust the dev team with your money? Are you about to leave your money with founders who have been involved in previous scams? If you see these telling signs, back off immediately. The coin’s price might grow for all you care, but it is just not worth it to put your capital at such risk.
You can see the present difficulty of mining bitcoin here. It should be evident from a half-second glance that the amount of computing power working to mine bitcoin right now is immense, and the difficulty is proportionally similarly immense. As of the time of this writing right now, there are close to 5 billion billion hashes per second being run to try to find the next block of bitcoin.
This ‘intangible’ worth that we ascribe to currency, which accounts for the vast majority of the value of all currencies, not just bitcoin, is ultimately what makes money work. Yuval Noah Harari captures this fact very well in Sapiens, where he lays out the case that the value of a given form of money is essentially an indication of trust in that form of money. It is our shared collective trust and belief in a currency that gives it value, not its intrinsic tangible utility or anything else.
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I ended up wiring several thousand dollars to an incredibly sketchy Russian exchange, BTC-E.com, to purchase my first few bitcoins at around $1000 apiece. Before I knew it, I was addicted to constantly checking the price, and spent a full 48 hours doing nothing at the height of the November 2013 bubble doing nothing but refreshing BTC-E.com and seeing how my investments were doing.
This is the most popular method of investing in Bitcoins. The best time to buy is when the currency value is low or it is expected to increase. Then we resell the coins when we believe that the time has come. Our investment does not have to be short-term, we can resell our Bitcoins after a few or several years. The advantage of this type of investment is that we are the owners of the purchased Bitcoins and we can use them as a payment method. The disadvantage is that in the case of a loss of the value of coins, we have to simply wait for their value to increase again.
This occurs because any block that the rogue miner who changed their software mines won’t be accepted by all the other miners who are still running the original software. Consequently, all the other miners will begin mining different blocks, and adding those to their blockchain. This leads to a fork in the road, essentially, where two completely different blockchains are formed — one by the rogue miner, and one by all the other miners.
The difficulty is knowing when the trend has changed, as such, I hedge altcoins and BTC against each other and make changes in my portfolio when a change in the trend becomes more obvious. When BTC dominance is falling, altcoins tend to perform better and vice versa, but this is not always the case, when they rise together, my gut instinct tells me that significant volumes of new capital are entering the market.
A select few cryptocurrencies out of the thousands will survive and be adopted mainstream just as there are a select few currencies that are used by the majority of the world. However, the main crypto currencies won’t be determined by economic power but by the unique value and benefits that they provide. e.g. Ethereum is a cryptocurrency however, it is built on a platform that allows developers to create smart contracts and decentralised apps on the blockchain. This unique and useful feature of Ethereum gives it a strong chance of surviving in the long run.
I use to like Tether, it was a way to move money into fiat currency without actually buying the fiat itself. However, today it seems to be yet another form of manipulation. Tether makes up roughly 1% of the cryptocurrency market, yet somehow it is responsible for over half of the bitcoin trading volume each day. Something does not seem right with that.
Most altcoins will reach a specific peak during a trading cycle, and the goal is to exit as close to the top as possible, the difficulty is identifying the top. I monitor these positions regularly and try and determine momentum. Depending on the coin and speed of growth, I will look to remove my original BTC investment as quickly as possible, for example, with 3–4x I will take out the initial investment, maintaining my original BTC position but, essentially freerolling the rest. From this point, each 100% move will lead to a 25% reduction in position until I feel that a coin has reached a peak, at which point I will exit the entire trade.
Okay — so that’s about it for investing in the dominant cryptocurrencies available today. If you want to invest in other more speculative altcoins, you’ll have to create your own wallets for them, and investigate the best and most secure solution for doing so yourself. This should generally be a good exercise in any case to determine if you meet the bare minimum requirements for responsible investment in a given altcoin.
In mid 2017, investors were all hot and bothered by Bitcoin. Many were looking for ways to get exposure through more traditional routes, like their brokerage account or retirement plan. One of the few ways to achieve this, was through the Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust. The trust was actually established in 2013, but there wasn't much talk about it until just last year.
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