Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model. Completely non-reversible transactions are not really possible, since financial institutions cannot avoid mediating disputes.
A bitcoin is a virtual currency first introduced in the year 2008 by an anonymous group called Satoshi Nakamoto. It’s an open source peer-to-peer cryptographical system (direct connections without an intermediary) where transactions happen through a public ledger called blockchain, handling users’ data anonymously. Eight years since its introduction, bitcoin is today the most widely used and accepted digital currency.
The most common place where people buy and trade cryptocurrency is on the exchanges. Exchanges are places where you may buy and sell your crypto, using fiat. There are multiple measures to judge the reliability and quality of an exchange, such as liquidity, spread, fees, purchase and withdrawal limits, trading volume, security, insurance, user-friendliness. Out of all these, I find Coinbase as the best exchange hands down. It has a beginner-friendly user interface, and an unbeatable 100% crypto insurance.
Ripple addresses all these shortcomings by providing cheaper, instant transactions. These transactions are initiated using a single currency, XRP. Ripple and XRP are two parts of the same project. However, given XRP’s integral role and future use cases as a currency used by the general public, the price of XRP has rocketed in the last few months reaching nearly $0.30 at the time of writing this article.
Bitcoin’s main benefits of decentralization and transaction anonymity have also made it a favored currency for a host of illegal activities including money laundering, drug peddling, smuggling and weapons procurement. This has attracted the attention of powerful regulatory and other government agencies such as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the SEC, and even the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In March 2013, FinCEN issued rules that defined virtual currency exchanges and administrators as money service businesses, bringing them within the ambit of government regulation. In May that year, the DHS froze an account of Mt. Gox – the largest Bitcoin exchange – that was held at Wells Fargo, alleging that it broke anti-money laundering laws. And in August, New York’s Department of Financial Services issued subpoenas to 22 emerging payment companies, many of which handled Bitcoin, asking about their measures to prevent money laundering and ensure consumer protection.
There's a long list of factors people may point to in an attempt to explain this. Regulators have taken a hands-off approach to bitcoin in certain markets. Dozens of new hedge funds have launched this year to trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. The Nasdaq and Chicago Mercantile Exchange plan to let investors trade bitcoin futures, which may attract more professional investors.
So, unlike an ETF, the amount of Bitcoin held does not increase or decrease from market activity like people buying in or selling out (with the exception of new entrants who must be accredited investors, and in that case they must wait a full year to trade their shares). This creates a situation where the amount of Bitcoin purchased with a single share of GBTC does not always equate to the fair market value of the underlying asset.
Speculations, on the other hand, are like the Wild West of opportunities. They’re extremely high risk, extremely volatile, and could on one hand multiply one’s principal manyfold, and on the other, dissipate it all into thin air. A seed ‘investment’ in Facebook, for instance, could be considered a speculation. In the vast majority of cases, such an investment is likely to fail outright and lose all of the money invested. In a few instances, however, that investment just might succeed, and return tens, hundreds, or even thousands of times the principal invested.
Had I actually done my research and believed that it was a fair bet to make that one day bitcoins would be worth far more than even the height of the local maximum bubble at the time, it absolutely could have been the right decision to buy in then, even if it crashed later temporarily to $200. What wasn’t right was buying in simply because the price was going up and I had a fear of missing out.
NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Grayscale Investments, LLC, the sponsor (the "Sponsor") of the Bitcoin Investment Trust (the "Trust") (OTCQX: GBTC), announced that it continues to work with the Trust's professional advisors and third-party service providers to understand the implications for the Trust of the fork in the Bitcoin blockchain that resulted in the creation of Bitcoin Cash.
Currently, when sending cross border fiat transactions money goes through multiple intermediaries. This can take weeks to complete. The process is not only limited to those banks ‘in the loop’ but is also riskier because when unaffiliated banks are working with each other, they have to issue IOU’s, which means a sending bank has less security should a receiving bank suddenly collapse.
This is a fundamentally flawed argument that can be lobbied against absolutely any new technology or invention, and fails to take into account the natural process of growth and gradual adoption over time. The exact same argument was used against the internet in its early days, and I find this article from Newsweek, published in 1995, particularly illuminating in this regard.
What’s important to consider as crypto evolves is to learn everything (or as much as possible) for yourself. Crypto coins all offer white papers to the public (though they’re not always easy to find). They’re for a scientific audience, but you’ve probably read worse if you have a university degree. Find them and read them. Don’t understand something, ask a question.
We think ‘Total Net Wealth’ is an exceptionally important consideration when making any investment. The reason is to reduce our risk by diversifying amongst different asset classes like property, bonds, stocks & shares, gold, cryptocurrency etc. This means that if one asset class like cryptocurrency goes down, you do not have all your eggs in one basket.
For the most part, things generally work fine on a day to day basis. This belies, however, the true fragility of the system. It’s hard to anticipate these things before they happen, because it’s so easy to fall into the trap of assuming that things will always be as they mostly always have been. If things have been fine yesterday, and the day before, and the few years before that, or even the few decades before that, we just naturally assume that they will continue to be fine for the indefinite future.
Here’s a story about a completely random Norwegian student who bought 5000 bitcoins for $27 back in 2009. Today, with a single bitcoin pushing past $2700, those 5000 bitcoins are worth over $13.5 million. That’s a gain of over 500,000X. No other investment in recorded history that I’ve been able to discover has ever come close to touching these sorts of gains.
The futures contracts for bitcoin were launched by both the CME Group and Cboe last December as interest in the cryptocurrency rose and as institutional investors sought a method to hedge against their risk. The first bitcoin futures contract was launched by the Cboe and trading began on Dec. 10 as XBT, which is a U.S. dollar-denominated, cash-settled futures contract based on the auction price of bitcoin on the Gemini digital currency exchange.
There have been a lot of new digital asset fund launches in 2017, but still only a couple of funds with more than $10m under management and even fewer with more than $100m under management. Flows into actively managed digital asset funds were strongest in the UHNW, family office and VC channel in 2017. We believe 2018 will mark the beginning of Wall Street and institutional capital entering the digital asset market. You’ll see endowments and global macro managers enter the market in a big way. You’ll see some sovereign wealth funds look to get exposure. That said, it is important to level-set. This is a still a tiny market. It’s a $300 billion market today, so it still has a ways to go before hitting mainstream.
There were many reasons for the crypto community to eagerly anticipate Bitcoin futures’ introduction to regulated derivatives markets. Futures have long been seen as the first stepping stone on the path to reconciling the world of crypto finance with the system of traditional financial institutions. Existing within a well-defined legal and operational framework, futures contracts offer legitimacy and security that judicious Wall Street firms were waiting for in order to finally jump onto the crypto bandwagon.
It is important to note that the use of Zcash is not just for cybercriminals who engage in illegal transactions in the dark web. There are a number of legitimate reasons why a user would opt for anonymous cryptocurrencies such as Zcash, including a couple who are into eye-brow raising bedroom toys; an entity who would like legal services for a private matter like bankruptcy; a company who would like to protect its trade secrets or supply chain information from competitors; an individual with a chronic medical condition who would like to buy his pills online anonymously; etc. These are all examples of individuals seeking anonymity for privacy reasons.
Finally, my personal preference is to avoid keeping all my eggs in one basket. Despite the fact that a hardware wallet like Trezor is technically one of the most secure options for keeping your coins safe with a fair amount of redundancy in recovery options, the fact remains that one day I might somehow lose access to my coins held within Trezor. I might suffer a concussion, for instance, that causes me to forget the password or the PIN required to access the Trezor, or perhaps I lose my Trezor and am unable to locate or decipher my recovery seed.
Bitcoin fundamentally changes this equation. Unlike even gold, bitcoin is nigh impossible, when stored correctly, for anyone to confiscate without consent. The addresses at which bitcoin values are stored are protected by ‘private keys’, which can be thought of as a password or a key to a lockbox. Without this private key, it is generally impossible to steal the bitcoins held at the public address to which the private key corresponds. So long as you keep this private key secure, your bitcoins are secure.
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This portfolio gives us diversified exposure to more exotic cryptocurrency projects with higher risk / reward profiles, whilst holding the majority of our funds in a core large cap position. In a down market, we would expect this portfolio to perform worse than our conservative one. However, we expect a superior performance if the cryptocurrency market goes on a bull run.
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TIP: In cases where the price of a coin (or another asset) is plunging slowly towards its doom, buying the bottom of a dip can be hard if not impossible to pull off. In cases like this, you more-so end up dollar cost averaging down the side of the mountain. Watching any asset lose value is stressful, but there is a lot of precedent for this paying off in cryptocurrency when we are talking about buying the dips on top coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. No plan is foolproof, but the logic here is this: It is better to mistime buys at the bottom than to mistime buys at the top. Thus, buy the dips…
Hey RV, could we maybe do a bit more of a technical/tradable look at crypto next? This along with John Burbank's section was very general discussion with rehashed netscape/internet analogies, removing middle men which offer nothing new. Focus is always on the transaction coins (admittedly there was more on smart contracts here) but what about other industries for blockchain: decentralized data, personal data, computing power, energy, supply chain etc?
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