Steindorff: In 2014 my business partner, Tucker Waterman and I drove to San Francisco to attend Coin Congress. The conference was primarily dominated by Bitcoin maximalists, a colloquial term for those who believed bitcoin would be the only successful blockchain based digital-asset. Simultaneously, there was a small minority group of about a dozen of us with a brewing excitement about the prospect of BTC 2.0. All 12 of us grabbed lunch during the conference and discussed the prospect of alternative digital-asset backed protocols leveraging blockchain technology to establish use cases beyond a medium of exchange, unit of account or store of value. Among these fringe thinkers was Ethereum founder, Vitalik Buterin.
Zcash is a crypto that aims to solve the same issues Monero does. Zcash leverages zero-knowledge proof constructions called zk-SNARKs. These constructions allow two users to exchange information without revealing their identities. The bitcoin blockchain contains records of the participants in a transaction, as well as the amount involved. On the other hand, Zcash’s blockchain shows only that a transaction took place, not who was involved or what the amount was.
At the time, the bulls were firmly behind the wheel. Under rosy skies Reddit’s co-founder predicted $20,000 bitcoin sometime this year; there were promising signs that Ethereum’s developers were successfully addressing some of the scalability issues associated with the Eth network; IOTA gave the world a sneak-preview into Qubic; and the market looked good, having recouped nearly $200bn in value since the start of April.
Civic is a “secure identity platform” that provides on-demand, secure, and low-cost identity verification on the blockchain. Civic is trying to eliminate the need for usernames and passwords, so it provides multi-factor authentication without a password, username, physical hardware token, or third party authenticator. All the data is fully encrypted in the app. This means that the creators/owners do not have any access to your personal data, and you only share what YOU want to share about yourself.
If you're looking for the perfect time to invest in bitcoin, you're just not going to find it. There are professional analysts who haven't been able to pin down where bitcoin will go. That unpredictability can certainly make it tempting, though. Mark Cuban's thoughts on bitcoin have gone back and forth, but his approach to investing in it is sound: only if you can spare some cash, and don't go overboard. The bitcoin market is the ultimate in high risk, high reward.
The financial crisis of 2008 highlighted yet another risk of the modern banking system. When a bank goes out and spends the 90% of net deposits it holds in investments, it can often make very bad bets, and lose all that money. In the case of the 2008 crisis, banks in particular bet on high risk subprime mortgages. These were mortgages taken out by borrowers very likely to become delinquent, to purchase houses that were sharply inflated in value by the rampant ease of acquiring a mortgage.
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.
It didn’t take a genius to see a clear arbitrage opportunity here, and I wrote up a quick blog post detailing this opportunity and fired out a single Facebook post telling my friends about it. From that post and just a few hours of work, I ended up earning almost 17 bitcoins entirely for free — worth over $45,000 today. I had plans to scale this strategy en masse, but singlehandedly ended up killing the program almost as soon as it started, when Coinbase finally came to its senses and realized just how much money it was hemorrhaging here with no hope for eventual recoupment (at the time, the lifetime value of the average customer was only something like $25 to Coinbase — a far cry from the $75 they were offering).
Transaction volume: in order to determine whether a cryptocurrency is actually being used, you can take a look at its transaction volume. In the case of Ethereum, its transaction volume per day is about 500,000 ETH. Historically, this is a number that is increasing and as long as this upward trend continues this reaffirms the long-term viability of holding Ethereum in our portfolio.
It was at this time, incidentally, that Coinbase, became worried about stagnant growth of their user base, and decided to offer a truly astounding proposition. They offered to pay anyone who referred a new customer to Coinbase $75 if the new customer purchased just $100 in bitcoin. Coinbase took a 1% transaction fee at the time, meaning that for every $100 in bitcoin a person purchased, Coinbase charged $1. In short, Coinbase would pay out $75 for every $1 a new customer paid them.
This is critically important precisely for incredibly volatile speculative investments such as cryptocurrency, and plays into the fourth mistake I mentioned above, day trading, as well. More than possibly any other market I’ve seen, short term price movements for cryptocurrencies are oftentimes absolutely mystifying and nothing short of mind boggling. Highly anticipated events, such as halvings in bitcoin’s reward per block mined, come and go without any real perturbation in price. Other times, things rise when reason seems to suggest they should fall, and fall when they seem to have every reason to rise. For instance, bitcoin’s price collapsed to $200 after the bubble popped in 2013, and stayed stagnant at those levels, despite massive development in bitcoin infrastructure and significant growth in the adoption and usage of bitcoin over that same period of time.
At its simplest then, this strategy involves buying when the price is lower than the last high. At its most complex, it involves studying charts, paying attention to short term and long term moving averages on different time scales, identifying historical support levels, and laddering buys. Whatever your level of skill is however, the concept is generally the same.
Bitcoin is also dramatically cheaper to use than almost any other form of international money transfer today. Already, for this use case alone, it proves its worth over current dominant international money transfer solutions, such as Western Union. I can transfer money to anyone in the world, in any amount, and have them receive it without moving a finger in just a few minutes. For this privilege, I have to pay just a few cents, no matter how much I’m sending, instead of a huge proportional percentage, with hefty minimum fees and surcharges.
I truly believe that blockchain and digital currencies will overtake the traditional currency systems we have today as they’re better in almost every conceivable way. The volatility is what makes many people hesitant but there is no such thing as a perfect investment. Crypto’s are still in their very early stages and the fact that every exchange acts independently with no central body determining the price can cause a lot of fluctuation in the prices.
Since their triumphant advent in the wake of the December 2017 bull run, Bitcoin futures seem to have occupied an oddly fixed position in the minds of many cryptocurrency buffs. A popular view among those who follow the dynamics of the crypto world rests on a set of established points about BTC futures: they exist since late 2017; they are offered by Cboe and CME, two respectable regulated exchanges; they help manage investment risks and as such are supposed to draw institutional money into the crypto space, mitigating price volatility and lending credence to the underlying asset.
With things like brain wallets possible, this means that even in the worst case scenario, you can literally store your bitcoins in your brain and nowhere else, and thereby easily prevent their confiscation. Just yet another fundamental innovation in the evolution of currency that bitcoin has made possible — its fully intangible nature is actually an asset.
In the case of bitcoin, my personal belief is that there is enough to justify the possibility of long term gain based on fundamentals and first mover advantage. If everything goes right, I do see a future in which it’s possible that bitcoin achieves a market cap similar to that of gold’s, given that so far as I can see, it provides all the benefits gold does, and a host of incredibly valuable advantages on top of those existing benefits. I even see a future where it just might be possible that bitcoin goes even further, and becomes a dominant leading global currency. It’s also possible that bitcoin’s blockchain is used to power many future technological innovations, such as smart contracts and even DAOs, and thereby creates and imbues itself with even more value.
This part will be wildly subjective. Crypto has the potential to realize many ‘rags to riches’ stories, but its volatility makes it unpredictable. As a precaution, the money you put in crypto should be money that you are fine with losing. I cannot emphasize the importance of this as we often underestimate how the volatility affects our emotional capacities. The upside is huge, but it comes with lots of risks and, if I may put it, emotional torment.
UK-based cryptocurrency trading startup, Crypto Facilities, has become the first crypto platform to launch regulated Ethereum futures contracts, making a new derivatives contract available from 4 pm UK time on the 11th of May. The new Ethereum futures contracts represent another step toward the maturation of the cryptocurrency market as complex financial products such as index funds and crypto ETFs loom on the horizon.
Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on Fool.com. With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world. Follow @DanCaplinger
This is when I first saw the light, and realized that investing in altcoins that I didn’t really believe in, and that didn’t really have any truly compelling reasons they would ever overtake bitcoin or deserve any level of market share, was an incredibly foolish move. It was certainly true that these altcoins did often gain on bitcoin and appreciated far more rapidly in many cases while the bubble held strong, but the moment it began to collapse, the altcoins were the first to go, and often fell all the way to zero.
I hope that this elucidation provides some insight into why I personally see it as suspect to invest in something based on price alone, and why I urge extreme caution particularly if one is exploring whether or not to invest in an altcoin, especially if one is at least partially motivated to do so because of the feeling that the ship has already sailed for bitcoin, and that there might be better potential for outsized gains with a smaller altcoin. Again, this certainly may be true, and often is true even for altcoins destined for eventual failure in the short term while a bubble/bull market continues, but risks are amplified just as much as the opportunity itself when it comes to altcoins, and oftentimes moreso in a bubble than otherwise.
Pointing to Grayscale Investments, the largest asset manager in the crypto sphere and part of DCG, Silbert showcased that mainstream funds are starting to put some money to work in the crypto space. Earlier on Wednesday, Grayscale announced it had raised $250 million to date, and 56% of that came from institutional investors. A year or two ago, that was almost non-existent.
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