At the same time, I also see a million and one ways where bitcoin fails to reach the promised land. Bitcoin has already experienced numerous growing pains, and at the present moment, is suffering most acutely from a huge backlog of transactions that can’t be fit on the blockchain. This is because blocks are presently limited to 1 MB in size, and can consequently fit only a small fraction of all the transactions that are trying to be propagated over the network. This forces those who want to have their transactions go through to pay inordinately high transaction fees in order to prioritize their transaction over other transactions.
At the same time, it’s entirely unclear how governments will respond to bitcoin as it continues to grow, and if they’ll attempt to crack down in a very strong way and prohibit the use of bitcoin, or the creation of bitcoin related service companies, such as exchanges. If exchanges were banned from operating, for instance, it could very well make it very difficult for most people to transact between fiat currencies and bitcoin, and render the latter far less useful than it otherwise might be.
Even now, as ethereum flirts with a $500 price point and a ~$46B market cap, we believe that if Ethereum becomes the dominant smart contract protocol its market cap will be in excess of a trillion dollars. There are a lot of things that need to take place in the meantime to make this a reality, specifically around scalability but the potential is certainly real given the breadth and scope of its disruptive technology.
Gold, on the other hand, doesn’t inflate like fiat currencies do. That’s because there’s an intrinsically limited supply, and consequently, things tend to cost the same in gold over long periods of time. In fact, 2,000 years ago, Roman centurions were paid about 38.58 ounces of gold. In US dollars today, this comes out to about $48,350. The base salary of a captain in the US army today comes out to just about the same at $48,500.
Personally, for myself, a quick back of the napkin calculation that I can do to estimate the possible future value of bitcoin is to see what the market has valued all of the gold in the world at, and use this as a rough guiding principle for seeing how much appetite the world currently has for something that can hedge against other currencies and holds similar characteristics to gold as a store of value. I can see that the total value of all the gold in the world is over 8 trillion dollars, and consequently, if bitcoin were to reach that same total valuation, each bitcoin, assuming 21 million eventual bitcoins, would be worth approximately $400,000. Dividing this by bitcoin’s current value, I can see that there’s still room for approximately 150X gains. This means that if I truly believe this is a possible outcome for bitcoin, then as long as I believe this outcome has more than a 0.66 percent chance of happening, or 1/150 chances of success, it would be an +EV bet to make.
Cryptocurrencies have attracted the attention of several investors all over the world. But in general, institutions did not participate in the market. Back in August, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), which operates an important number of regulated exchanges all over the world, announced its intention to launch a new institutional-grade crypto platform known as Bakkt.
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.
A fork is sort of like a stock split and happens when a complex set of conditions are met. On August 1, 2017, for example, bitcoin speculators received one unit of bitcoin cash for every bitcoin already owned. The fork occurred after a number of big players called "developers" agreed to modify the algorithm to speed transactions as trading volume grew. Today, bitcoin cash trades at around $1,100, compared to under $7,000 for bitcoin itself.
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.
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…
The shares of each Vehicle are intended to reflect the price of the digital asset(s) held by that Vehicle, less fees and expenses. However, none of the Vehicles currently operates a redemption program and any Vehicle may halt creations from time to time. As a result, there can be no assurance that the value of a Vehicle’s shares will approximate the value of the applicable digital asset(s) held by that Vehicle, and indeed, in cases where shares are transferable, they may trade at a substantial premium over or discount to the value of such assets. Moreover, the prices of the underlying digital assets are derived from third-party indices and reference rates, and no assurance can be given as to the accuracy of these prices.
Moreover, in the event of a hard fork, whereby two blockchains are created, and consequently, two sets of coins that you technically should own, only some exchanges will actually give you access to both sets of coins. Most notably, Coinbase has explicitly stated that they will only give you access to the dominant blockchain that emerges from a hard fork, no matter how much value the market assigns the non-dominant chain. They may or may not give you access to the other coins in the future, but there is no guarantee either way. In any event, with any exchange you are fundamentally agreeing to trust them to give you access to both sets of your coins, even if they say they will. If you own your coins yourself in your own wallet, however, you need to trust no one. You will automatically own both sets of coins by default in the event of any fork.
Market Capitalization and Daily Trading Volume – A cryptocurrency’s market capitalization is the total worth of all coins currently in circulation, and at the time of writing, the total cryptocurrency market capitalization is nearly $139 billion. High market capitalization can indicate a high value per coin. It is important to note that the daily trading volume of currencies is more important than market capitalization.
This can be an interesting way to gauge the bitcoin market without all the work of getting bitcoins, but it comes at a price. Literally, you'll be paying very high premiums. The stock recently split to make things more affordable, but the premium remains steep. As of this writing, one share from GBTC is worth 0.00100396 BTC, or $6.77. Yet shares are going for $10.70. You'll also need to factor in management fees as well. As a result, some think it's more worth it to just own the bitcoins yourself.
Many Bitcoin enthusiasts argue that altcoins are totally unnecessary. Also, some say that, because they cannot rival the infrastructure Bitcoin boasts, altcoins will not succeed. However, altcoins have a significant role. Altcoins allow developers to experiment with unique features, and while it is true that, if the developers or community desires, Bitcoin can copy these features, fully-functioning altcoins are much better “cryptocurrency laboratories” than Bitcoin’s testnet. Moreover, one of Bitcoin’s most prominent goals is decentralization, and altcoins further decentralize the cryptocurrency community. Finally, altcoins give Bitcoin healthy competition and they give cryptocurrency users alternative options and forces Bitcoin’s developers to remain active and continue innovating. Users can adopt an altcoin if they do not feel that Bitcoin satisfies their digital desires. Also, the Bitcoin developers would have to adopt the features the community desired or risk losing its place as the preeminent cryptocurrency if enough users left Bitcoin for a particular altcoin.
If you’re interested in learning more about value investing at large, I’d highly recommend The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham, who again was Warren Buffett’s personal mentor and a professor of economics at Columbia University. He pioneered a lot of the foundational concepts around value investing, and can give you much better and more nuanced advice than I ever could.
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