There isn't a way to invest in Bitcoin the way you would invest in the stock of a company. But depending on the long-term plan for your newfound cryptocurrency, buying Bitcoin and monitoring its value can technically make you an investor of sorts. By attempting to buy bitcoin at the lowest price and sell at a higher rate, you could make money off your purchase like an investment.
How assets are valued is a changing model, and the quoted market cap of a coin is an excellent tool for benchmarking but can be misleading. Chris Burniske wrote about this on Medium. As currency use increases and utility tokens bring products to market, the economic models will be tested and as such valuation models will change. This could go either way; assets could be either under or overvalued. I believe that currencies are undervalued, and utility tokens are overvalued, hence my preference for investing in coins over tokens.
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.
* Bitcoin Investment Trust does not currently operate a redemption program and may halt creations from time to time. There can be no assurance that the value of the shares will approximate the value of the Bitcoin held by the Trust and the shares may trade at a substantial premium over or discount to the value of the Trust's Bitcoin. The Trust may, but will not be required to, seek regulatory approval to operate a redemption program.
On the flip side, if the world suffers a global financial meltdown on the scale of the Great Depression or something similar again, and fiat currencies start to crater, it very well may be such that governments are forced to resort to accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, if enough people simply flat out refuse to put their stock in fiat. This was exactly what the US government was forced to do just 13 years into their original experiment with Continental currency, when they agreed to promise to back all the currency they issued with hard gold and silver.
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.
The Ides of June saw a regulatory breakthrough that might prove highly consequential for crypto futures in the US, as the SEC Corporation Finance Director William Hinman had shed some light on Ethereum’s status as perceived by the regulator, suggesting that ‘current offers and sales of ether are not securities transactions.’ This statement has energized the industry and prompted Chris Concannon, Cboe’s crypto-savvy president, to speak of futures on ETH as of a settled deal. If Cboe breaks the path with such a product, it’s not difficult to imagine CME catching up quickly, given the firm’s partnership with Crypto Facilities, whose Ethereum derivatives infrastructure is already in place.
These characteristics make Bitcoin fundamentally different from a fiat currency, which is backed by the full faith and credit of its government. Fiat currency issuance is a highly centralized activity supervised by a nation’s central bank. While the bank regulates the amount of currency issued in accordance with its monetary policy objectives, there is theoretically no upper limit to the amount of such currency issuance. In addition, local currency deposits are generally insured against bank failures by a government body. Bitcoin, on the other hand, has no such support mechanisms. The value of a Bitcoin is wholly dependent on what investors are willing to pay for it at a point in time. As well, if a Bitcoin exchange folds up, clients with Bitcoin balances have no recourse to get them back.
The latter is very important, as situations where investors lose their funds due to hacks and security breaches happen quite often. This is why traders try to pick exchanges which can offer insurance (like Coinbase does) or have some sort of reserve fund to cover expenses if something happens. For example, Bithumb exchange which was recently hacked, promised that it would fully compensate users out of its fund of $450 million.
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.
A cryptocurrency that aspires to become part of the mainstream financial system may have to satisfy widely divergent criteria. It would need to be mathematically complex (to avoid fraud and hacker attacks) but easy for consumers to understand; decentralized but with adequate consumer safeguards and protection; and preserve user anonymity without being a conduit for tax evasion, money laundering and other nefarious activities. Since these are formidable criteria to satisfy, is it possible that the most popular cryptocurrency in a few years’ time could have attributes that fall in between heavily-regulated fiat currencies and today’s cryptocurrencies? While that possibility looks remote, there is little doubt that as the leading cryptocurrency at present, Bitcoin’s success (or lack thereof) in dealing with the challenges it faces may determine the fortunes of other cryptocurrencies in the years ahead.
A Trezor also allows you to set multiple passwords that open secret vaults to different wallets on your device, such that even if in some crazy scenario someone just kidnaps you and threatens to beat you with a wrench until you give them your coins, you can just give them a second password to another wallet that holds say $500 in cryptocurrency instead of $10 million, and there’s no way for them to know that that’s not all the money you had on your Trezor.
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With this in mind, bitcoin can arguably be seen as the purest form of money, as its value is entirely predicated on trust in it, and nothing else. It can arguably also be seen as the most trustworthy of currencies, as it was bespoke made by intentional design to exhibit all the best elements of historically trustworthy currencies (e.g. gold), as well as to introduce for the first time a number of characteristics that make it even better than all previously extant currencies.
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.
While Goldman Sachs’ skeptical stance on crypto “remains intact,” the investment bank’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein has suggested that the adoption of crypto like Bitcoin could happen in a similar way as that of paper money, which replaced gold and silver coins. In an interview in June, Blankfein stated that it is “too arrogant” to argue that crypto cannot be adopted on a large scale only because it is “uncomfortable” or “unfamiliar.”
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.
Investments, under this distinction, would be clarified as things that could generally be safely assured not to suffer from dramatic, catastrophic losses in the absence of dramatic, catastrophic situations. Coca-Cola and Walmart might be considered investments. They’ve been around for well over a century and a half century respectively, are massive, mature companies with a healthy track record of stable, non-volatile growth, and show no general signs of turmoil that might portend a sudden collapse in value.
That conversation would become the starting point of my ever-growing obsession with digital-assets. Shortly after I made my first investment, I became an active participant in a small and extremely passionate community of bitcoin enthusiasts. It became increasingly obvious to me how distributed ledger technology would become the primary catalyst for the disintermediation of trusted third parties while simultaneously birthing an entirely new asset class.
Cboe’s futures are cash-settled and based on the Gemini auction price for bitcoin in U.S. dollars. The exchange plans to impose trading limits to curb volatility, halting trading for two minutes if prices rise or fall 10 percent, and a five-minute halt kicks in at 20 percent. Margins for Cboe bitcoin futures, which will be cleared by Options Clearing Corp., will be at 40 percent or higher.
Steindorff: The most significant and noticeable disruption will stem from the disintermediation of trusted third parties. Decentralized smart contracts will have far reaching implications beyond the financial segment and will eliminate the need for third parties in most industries including insurance, energy, real estate, medical, travel, and governance. In theory, entire cities, states or countries could run autonomously via programmable, trustless smart contracts, but in reality that future is a ways off until we solve some of the scaling and security challenges.
Grayscale Investment Trust is the sponsor of the Bitcoin Investment Trust, and it charges shareholders an annual expense ratio in order to manage the fund. The current charge is 2% of assets, and because the trust's bitcoin holdings don't generate regular income for trust shareholders, Grayscale has the ability to liquidate bitcoin in order to pay itself its fee. That's the reason why over time, each share of the trust will be equivalent to a decreasing amount of bitcoin, as fees eat into the trust's principal assets.
Hey, Will, I like this! Thanx for the info. I’m somewhat new to cryptos but not to investing — my Dad invested in the stock market since I was a kid and as an adult I was a registered investment advisor representative for a large US institution. One conclusion I’ve come to is that the skills and approach for crypto investing are no different than those for the stock market. I use the same strategies and analyses I use for stocks and etf’s and feel completely at home in the crypto market. Yes, I deal with more brokerage accounts, etc., but the principles are the same.
“As we approach the anniversary of futures trading, we expect more institutional investors to make big moves with crypto dedicated funds. One recent example of this was the recent announcement of A16Z, a $300 million crypto fund launched by Andreessen Horowitz dedicated to investing in cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-related projects,” – notes Kulkarni.
“Custodial concerns are extremely important for CIOs, and if they are unfamiliar with the brand of the custodian of the asset, they won’t get comfortable getting involved in the market,” he said. “Volatility is always a key concern as well, in addition to skepticism about the driver of returns on crypto assets and a lack of regulation in the space.”
It is important to note that some altcoins innovate by experimenting with useful characteristics Bitcoin does not offer. For instance, Ripple serves as a protocol users can employ to make inter-currency payments with ease, BitShares describes itself as “a fair version of Wall Street,” and Darkcoin hopes to provide a platform for completely anonymous transactions. Some altcoin ecosystems, such as Mastercoin and CounterParty, even utilize the Bitcoin blockchain to secure their platform.
That’s the case as I see it for bitcoin. In the case of most altcoins, however, I don’t see remotely enough to even begin to justify the possibility of long term gain in the first place. Even with speculations, or perhaps especially with speculations, it’s incredibly important to thoroughly analyze a given investment opportunity for at least the potential for long term gain and success, and assess the magnitude of that possible gain, and then to weigh that potential versus the likelihood of outright failure of the speculation. With most altcoins, their value over bitcoin or ethereum is far from clear, and generally superficial or minor at best.
Cryptocurrency price movements can be massive. In a day you need to be comfortable with the idea of our investments going up and down 50%. Somehow making a loss feels 10 times worse than making the same gain feels good. This is why only investing what you can afford to lose is so important. If you are over invested in crypto, you will be more emotionally susceptible to buying at the highs and selling at the lows.
Connecting your bank account through an ACH transfer is a versatile option, allowing you to use a checking or savings account to buy Bitcoin or cash out when you want to sell. You’ll also be able to purchase a substantially larger amount of Bitcoin because of their higher buying limits. Just keep in mind that it can take up to 5 days for the transfer to be complete, and the value of Bitcoin can drastically change in that timeframe.