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Here is how to play the altcoin game - for newbies & champs
I have been here for many previous altcoin seasons (2013,2017 etc) and wanted to share knowedle. It's a LOOONG article. The evaluation of altcoins (i.e not Bitcoin) is one of the most difficult and profitable exercises. Here I will outline my methodology and thinking but we have to take some things as a given. The first is that the whole market is going up or down with forces that we can't predict or control. Bitcoin is correlated with economic environments, money supply increases, safe havens such as Gold, hype and country regulations. This is an impossible mix to analyze and almost everyone fails at it. That's why you see people valuing Bitcoin from $100 to $500k frequently. Although I am bullish on the prospects of Bitcoin and decentralization and smart contract platforms, this is not the game I will be describing. I am talking about a game where you try to maximize your BTC holdings by investing in altcoins. We win this game even if we are at a loss in fiat currency value. To put it another way:
If you are not bullish in general on cryptocurrencies you have no place in investing or trading cryptocurrencies since it's always a losing proposition to trade in bubbles, a scientifically proven fact. If on the other hand you are then your goal is to grow your portfolio more than you would if holding BTC/ETH for example.
Bitcoin is the big boy
How the market works is not easily identifiable if you haven't graduated from the 2017 crypto university. When there is a bull market everything seems amazingly profitable and things keep going up outgrowing Bitcoin by orders of magnitude and you are a genius. The problem with this is that it only works while Bitcoin is going up a little bit or trades sideways. When it decides to move big then altcoins lose value both on the way up and on the way down. The second part is obvious and proven since all altcoins from 2017 are at a fraction of their BTC value (usually in the range of 80% or more down). Also, when BTC is making a big move upwards everyone exits altcoins to ride the wave. It is possible that the altcoin market behaves as an inversed leveraged ETF with leakage where in a certain period while Bitcoin starts at 10k and ends at 10k for example, altcoins have lost a lot of value because of the above things happening.
We are doing it anyway champ!
OK so we understand the risks and just wanna gambol with our money right? I get it. Why do that? Because finding the ideal scenario and period can be extremely profitable. In 2017 several altcoins went up 40x more than BTC. But again, if you don't chose wisely many of them have gone back to zero (the author has first hand experience in this!), they have been delisted and nobody remembers them. The actual mentality to have is very important and resembles poker and other speculative games: A certain altcoin can go up in value indefinitely but can only lose it's starting investment. Think about it. You either lose 1 metric or gain many many more. Now that sounds amazing but firstly as we said we have the goal to outperform our benchmark (BTC) and secondly that going up in value a lot means that the probability is quite low. There is this notion of Expected Value (EV) that poker players apply in these kind of situations and it goes like that. If you think that a certain coin has a probability let's say 10% to go up 10X and 90% probability it goes to zero it's an even bet. If you think that probability is 11% then it's a good bet, a profitable bet and you should take it. You get the point right? It's not that it can only go 10X or 0X, there is a whole range of probability outcomes that are too mathematical to explain here and it doesn't help so much because nobody can do such analysis with altcoins. See below on how we can approximate it.
How to evaluate altcoins
A range of different things to take into account outlined below will form our decision making. Not a single one of them should dictate 100% of our strategy.
It's all about market cap. Repeat after me. The price of a coin doesn't mean anything. Say it 10 times until you believe it. I can't remember how many times I had conversations with people that were comparing coins using their coin price instead of their market cap. To make this easy to get.
If I decide because the sky is blue to make my coin supply 100 Trillion FoolCoins with a price of $0.001 and there is another WiseCoin with a supply of 100 Million and price of $1 then FoolCoins are more expensive. - Alex Fin's Cap Law
This is done usually in the stock world and it means that each company has some fundamental value that includes it's assets, customers, growth prospects, sector prospects and leadership competence but mostly centered in financial measures such as P/E ratios etc. Valuation is a proper economic discipline by itself taught in universities. OK, now throw everything out of the window!. This kind of analysis is impossible in vague concepts and innovations that are currently cryptocurrencies. Ethereum was frequently priced at the fictional price of gas when all financial systems on earth run on the platform after decades (a bit of exaggeration here). No project is currently profitable enough to justify a valuation multiple that is usually equal to P/E in the thousands or more. As such we need to take other things into account. What I do is included in the list below:
Check Github. You need to make sure there is active development for the platform and it's a very bad sign if the project is either keeping the code closed source or even worse there is simply no development. No projects are "complete".
Check Website. If the website is written in bad English the Chinese google translate type it means that they are not serious enough to produce an unbreakable decentralized project. If you can't write English you can't change the world, period. That's a deal breaker.
Check Team's Linkedin. Numerous projects have either fake Linkedin accounts or the team is comprised mainly by unexperienced employees that are even shown to be working in other companies currently.
Check backers. Projects that have Binance, Coinbase or Silicon Valley VC funds backing them are way more legit but way more overpriced too!
One of my favorite ways to value altcoins that is based on the same principle in the stock market is to look at peers and decide what is the maximum cap it can grow to. As an example you take a second layer Ethereum solution that has an ICO and you want to decide if you will enter or not. You can take a look at other coins that are in the same business and compare their market caps. Thinking that your coin will outperform by a lot the top coins currently is overly optimistic so I usually take a lower valuation as a target price. If the initial offering is directly implying a valuation that is more than that then there is no room to grow according to my analysis and I skip it. Many times this has proven me wrong because it's a game theory problem where if many people think irrationally in a market it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But since there is opportunity cost involved, in the long run, getting in initial offerings that have a lot of room to grow will pay off as a strategy.
In 2017 the sexiest sector was platforms and then coins including privacy ones. Platforms are obviously still a highly rated sector because everything is being built on them, but privacy is not as hot as it used to be. In 2018 DEXes were all they hype but still people are massively using centralized exchanges. In 2020 Defi is the hottest sector and it includes platforms, oracles and Defi projects. What I am saying is that a project gets extra points if it's a Defi one in 2020 and minus points if it's a payment system that will conquer the world as it was in 2017 because that's old news. This is closely related to the next section.
Needless to say that the crypto market is a worse FOMO type of inexperienced trigger happy yolo investors , much worse than the Robinhood crowd that drove a bankrupt company's stock 1200% after they declared bankruptcy. The result is that there are numerous projects that are basically either vaporware or just so overhyped that their valuation has no connection to reality. Should we avoid those kind of projects? No and I will explain why. There are many very good technically projects that had zero hype potential due to incompetent marketing departments that made them tank. An example (without shilling because I sold out a while back) is Quantum Resistant Ledger. This project has amazing quantum resistant blockchain, the only one running now, has a platform that people can build tokens and messaging systems and other magnificent stuff. Just check how they fared up to now and you will get the point. A project *needs* to have a hype factor because you cannot judge it as normal stocks that you can do value investing like Warren Buffet does where a company will inevitable post sales and profitability numbers and investors will get dividends. Actually the last sentence is the most important: No dividends. Even projects that give you tokens or coins as dividends are not real dividends because if the coin tanks the value of the dividend tanks. This is NOT the case with company stocks where you get dollars even if the company stock tanks. All that being said, I would advice against betting on projects that have a lot of hype but little substance (but that should be obvious!).
How to construct your portfolio
My strategy and philosophy in investing is that risk should be proportional to investment capital. That means that if you are investing 100K in the crypto market your portfolio should be very different than someone investing 1K because 10% annual gains are nothing in the latter while they are very significant in the former. Starting from this principle each individual needs to construct a portfolio according to how much risk he wants to take. I will emphasize two important concepts that play well with what I said. In the first instance of a big portfolio you should concentrate on this mantra: "Diversification is the only free meal in finance". In the case of a small portfolio then this mantra is more important: "Concentrate to create wealth, diversify to maintain wealth". Usually in a big portfolio you would want to hold some big coins such as BTC and ETH to weather the ups and downs explained in previous paragraphs while generating profits and keep progressively smaller parts of your portfolio for riskier investments. Maybe 50% of this portfolio could be big caps and 10% very risky initial offerings. Adapting risk progressively to smaller portfolios makes sense but I think it would be irrational to keep more than 30% of a portfolio no matter what tied to one coin due to the very high risk of bankruptcy.
The altseason is supposedly coming every 3 months. Truth is that nobody can predict it but altcoins can be profitable no matter what. Forget about maximalists who are stuck in their dogmas. Altcoins deliver different value propositions and it makes sense because we are very far from a situation where some project offers everything like Amazon and we wouldn't even want that in the first place since we are talking about decentralization and not a winner takes all and becomes a monster kind of scenario! Some last minute advice:
Stay out of paid telegram/discord pump groups. They are deadly for your wallet.
Avoid jumping on overhyped coins that have pumped massively during the last days without any very important news.
Don't keep coins in obscure exchanges for too long or you will get burned with certainty.
Stop thinking that your coin will 1000x and overtake Bitcoin!
P.S If you find value in reading this and want more weekly consider subscribing to my newsletterhere
It is no doubt Grayscale’s booming popularity as a mainstream investment has caused a lot of community hullabaloo lately. As such, I felt it was worth making a FAQ regarding the topic. I’m looking to update this as needed and of course am open to suggestions / adding any questions. The goal is simply to have a thread we can link to anyone with questions on Grayscaleand its products. Instead of explaining the same thing 3 times a day, shoot those posters over to this thread.My hope is that these questions are answered in a fairly simple and easy to understand manner. I think as the sub grows it will be a nice reference point for newcomers. Disclaimer: I do NOT work for Grayscale and as such am basing all these answers on information that can be found on their website / reports. (Grayscale’s official FAQ can be found here). I also do NOT have a finance degree, I do NOT have a Series 6 / 7 / 140-whatever, and I do NOT work with investment products for my day job. I have an accounting background and work within the finance world so I have the general ‘business’ knowledge to put it all together, but this is all info determined in my best faith effort as a layman. The point being is this --- it is possible I may explain something wrong or missed the technical terms, and if that occurs I am more than happy to update anything that can be proven incorrect Everything below will be in reference to ETHE but will apply to GBTC as well.If those two segregate in any way, I will note that accordingly.
ETHE is essentially a stock that intends to loosely track the price of ETH. It does so by having each ETHE be backed by a specific amount of ETH that is held on chain. Initially, the newly minted ETHE can only be purchased by institutions and accredited investors directly from Grayscale. Once a year has passed (6 months for GBTC) it can then be listed on the OTCQX Best Market exchange for secondary trading. Once listed on OTCQX, anyone investor can purchase at this point. Additional information on ETHE can be found here.
So ETHE is an ETF?
No. For technical reasons beyond my personal understandings it is not labeled an ETF. I know it all flows back to the “Securities Act Rule 144”, but due to my limited knowledge on SEC regulations I don’t want to misspeak past that. If anyone is more knowledgeable on the subject I am happy to input their answer here.
How long has ETHE existed?
ETHE was formed 12/14/2017. GBTC was formed 9/25/2013.
How is ETHE created?
The trust will issue shares to “Authorized Participants” in groups of 100 shares (called baskets). Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create these baskets and they do it on behalf of the investor. Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 39 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here Note – The way their reports word this makes it sound like there is an army of authorizers doing the dirty work, but in reality there is only one Authorized Participant. At this moment the “Genesis” company is the sole Authorized Participant. Genesis is owned by the “Digital Currency Group, Inc.” which is the parent company of Grayscale as well. (And to really go down the rabbit hole it looks like DCG is the parent company of CoinDesk and is “backing 150+ companies across 30 countries, including Coinbase, Ripple, and Chainalysis.”) Source: Digital Currency Group, Inc. informational section on page 77 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here Source: Barry E. Silbert informational section on page 75 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here
How does Grayscale acquire the ETH to collateralize the ETHE product?
An Investor may acquire ETHE by paying in cash or exchanging ETH already owned.
Cash: The investor pays the subscription amount in cash and the Authorized Participant will use that cash to purchase ETH.
ETH: The investor transfers the ETH to the Authorized Participant, which will contribute the ETH in-kind to the Trust.
Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 40 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Where does Grayscale store their ETH? Does it have a specific wallet address we can follow?
ETH is stored with Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC. I am unaware of any specific address or set of addresses that can be used to verify the ETH is actually there. As an aside - I would actually love to see if anyone knows more about this as it’s something that’s sort of peaked my interest after being asked about it… I find it doubtful we can find that however. Source: Part C. Business Information, Item 8, subsection A. on page 16 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Can ETHE be redeemed for ETH?
No, currently there is no way to give your shares of ETHE back to Grayscale to receive ETH back. The only method of getting back into ETH would be to sell your ETHE to someone else and then use those proceeds to buy ETH yourself. Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Why are they not redeeming shares?
I think the report summarizes it best:
Redemptions of Shares are currently not permitted and the Trust is unable to redeem Shares. Subject to receipt of regulatory approval from the SEC and approval by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, the Trust may in the future operate a redemption program. Because the Trust does not believe that the SEC would, at this time, entertain an application for the waiver of rules needed in order to operate an ongoing redemption program, the Trust currently has no intention of seeking regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program.
Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the fee structure?
ETHE has an annual fee of 2.5%. GBTC has an annual fee of 2.0%. Fees are paid by selling the underlying ETH / BTC collateralizing the asset. Source: ETHE’s informational page on Grayscale’s website - Located Here Source: Description of Trust on page 31 & 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the ratio of ETH to ETHE?
At the time of posting (6/19/2020) each ETHE share is backed by .09391605 ETH. Each share of GBTC is backed by .00096038 BTC. ETHE & GBTC’s specific information page on Grayscale’s website updates the ratio daily – Located Here For a full historical look at this ratio, it can be found on the Grayscale home page on the upper right side if you go to Tax Documents > 2019 Tax Documents > Grayscale Ethereum Trust 2019 Tax Letter.
Why is the ratio not 1:1? Why is it always decreasing?
While I cannot say for certain why the initial distribution was not a 1:1 backing, it is more than likely to keep the price down and allow more investors a chance to purchase ETHE / GBTC. As noted above, fees are paid by selling off the ETH collateralizing ETHE. So this number will always be trending downward as time goes on. Source: Description of Trust on page 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
I keep hearing about how this is locked supply… explain?
As noted above, there is currently no redemption program for converting your ETHE back into ETH. This means that once an ETHE is issued, it will remain in circulation until a redemption program is formed --- something that doesn’t seem to be too urgent for the SEC or Grayscale at the moment. Tiny amounts will naturally be removed due to fees, but the bulk of the asset is in there for good. Knowing that ETHE cannot be taken back and destroyed at this time, the ETH collateralizing it will not be removed from the wallet for the foreseeable future. While it is not fully locked in the sense of say a totally lost key, it is not coming out any time soon. Per their annual statement:
The Trust’s ETH will be transferred out of the ETH Account only in the following circumstances: (i) transferred to pay the Sponsor’s Fee or any Additional Trust Expenses, (ii) distributed in connection with the redemption of Baskets (subject to the Trust’s obtaining regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program and the consent of the Sponsor), (iii) sold on an as-needed basis to pay Additional Trust Expenses or (iv) sold on behalf of the Trust in the event the Trust terminates and liquidates its assets or as otherwise required by law or regulation.
Source: Description of Trust on page 31 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Grayscale now owns a huge chunk of both ETH and BTC’s supply… should we be worried about manipulation, a sell off to crash the market crash, a staking cartel?
First, it’s important to remember Grayscale is a lot more akin to an exchange then say an investment firm. Grayscale is working on behalf of its investors to create this product for investor control. Grayscale doesn’t ‘control’ the ETH it holds any more then Coinbase ‘controls’ the ETH in its hot wallet. (Note: There are likely some varying levels of control, but specific to this topic Grayscale cannot simply sell [legally, at least] the ETH by their own decision in the same manner Coinbase wouldn't be able to either.) That said, there shouldn’t be any worry in the short to medium time-frame. As noted above, Grayscale can’t really remove ETH other than for fees or termination of the product. At 2.5% a year, fees are noise in terms of volume. Grayscale seems to be the fastest growing product in the crypto space at the moment and termination of the product seems unlikely. IF redemptions were to happen tomorrow, it’s extremely unlikely we would see a mass exodus out of the product to redeem for ETH. And even if there was incentive to get back to ETH, the premium makes it so that it would be much more cost effective to just sell your ETHE on the secondary market and buy ETH yourself. Remember, any redemption is up to the investors and NOT something Grayscale has direct control over.
Yes, but what about [insert criminal act here]…
Alright, yes. Technically nothing is stopping Grayscale from selling all the ETH / BTC and running off to the Bahamas (Hawaii?). BUT there is no real reason for them to do so. Barry is an extremely public figure and it won’t be easy for him to get away with that. Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust creates SEC reports weekly / bi-weekly and I’m sure given the sentiment towards crypto is being watched carefully. Plus, Grayscale is making tons of consistent revenue and thus has little to no incentive to give that up for a quick buck.
That’s a lot of ‘happy little feels’ Bob, is there even an independent audit or is this Tether 2.0?
Actually yes, an independent auditor report can be found in their annual reports. It is clearly aimed more towards the financial side and I doubt the auditors are crypto savants, but it is at least one extra set of eyes. Auditors are Friedman LLP – Auditor since 2015. Source: Independent Auditor Report starting on page 116 (of the PDF itself) of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here As mentioned by user TheCrpytosAndBloods (In Comments Below), a fun fact:
The company’s auditors Friedman LLP were also coincidentally TetheBitfinex’s auditors until They controversially parted ways in 2018 when the Tether controversy was at its height. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything shady about DCG - I just find it interesting it’s the same auditor.
“Grayscale sounds kind of lame” / “Not your keys not your crypto!” / “Why is anyone buying this, it sounds like a scam?”
Welp, for starters this honestly is not really a product aimed at the people likely to be reading this post. To each their own, but do remember just because something provides no value to you doesn’t mean it can’t provide value to someone else. That said some of the advertised benefits are as follows:
Access to trading within a tax advantaged retirement account
Institutions can easily and safely get exposure to crypto in a more legal-friendly manner
Ease of use for those who are not very technologically savvy
Ease of access for someone who doesn’t want to set up a Coinbase account
Perceived trust in institutional platforms over something like Coinbase or Kraken
Degen traders who just want access to the volatility ETHE provides that have no interest in crypto beyond that
So for example, I can set up an IRA at a brokerage account that has $0 trading fees. Then I can trade GBTC and ETHE all day without having to worry about tracking my taxes. All with the relative safety something like E-Trade provides over Binance. As for how it benefits the everyday ETH holder? I think the supply lock is a positive. I also think this product exposes the Ethereum ecosystem to people who otherwise wouldn’t know about it.
Why is there a premium? Why is ETHE’s premium so insanely high compared to GBTC’s premium?
There are a handful of theories of why a premium exists at all, some even mentioned in the annual report. The short list is as follows:
ETHE is NOT redeeming shares and as such doesn’t have an effective arbitrage mechanism
ETHE has a 1 year wait to be sold on the secondary market, again negating the ability to effectively arbitrage the premium
People may simply be willing to pay a premium for the benefits stated above.
Why is ETHE’s so much higher the GBTC’s? Again, a few thoughts:
ETHE hasn’t been around as long, so there is less secondary market supply to go around
ETHE was listed at an insanely high premium to begin with
ETHE might simply be more popular at the moment
Could just be sheer stupidity (investors think ETHE is a 1:1 ratio not 1:11)
Are there any other differences between ETHE and GBTC?
I touched on a few of the smaller differences, but one of the more interesting changes is GBTC is now a “SEC reporting company” as of January 2020. Which again goes beyond my scope of knowledge so I won’t comment on it too much… but the net result is GBTC is now putting out weekly / bi-weekly 8-K’s and annual 10-K’s. This means you can track GBTC that much easier at the moment as well as there is an extra layer of validity to the product IMO.
I’m looking for some statistics on ETHE… such as who is buying, how much is bought, etc?
There is a great Q1 2020 report I recommend you give a read that has a lot of cool graphs and data on the product. It’s a little GBTC centric, but there is some ETHE data as well. It can be found here hidden within the 8-K filings.Q1 2020 is the 4/16/2020 8-K filing. For those more into a GAAP style report see the 2019 annual 10-K of the same location.
Is Grayscale only just for BTC and ETH?
No, there are other products as well. In terms of a secondary market product, ETCG is the Ethereum Classic version of ETHE. Fun Fact – ETCG was actually put out to the secondary market first. It also has a 3% fee tied to it where 1% of it goes to some type of ETC development fund. In terms of institutional and accredited investors, there are a few ‘fan favorites’ such as Bitcoin Cash, Litcoin, Stellar, XRP, and Zcash. Something called Horizion (Backed by ZEN I guess? Idk to be honest what that is…). And a diversified Mutual Fund type fund that has a little bit of all of those. None of these products are available on the secondary market.
Are there alternatives to Grayscale?
I know they exist, but I don’t follow them. I’ll leave this as a “to be edited” section and will add as others comment on what they know. Per user Over-analyser (in comments below):
As asked by pegcity - Okay so I was under the impression you can just give them your own ETH and get ETHE, but do you get 11 ETHE per ETH or do you get the market value of ETH in USD worth of ETHE?
I have always understood that the ETHE issued directly through Grayscale is issued without the premium. As in, if I were to trade 1 ETH for ETHE I would get 11, not say only 2 or 3 because the secondary market premium is so high. And if I were paying cash only I would be paying the price to buy 1 ETH to get my 11 ETHE. Per page 39 of their annual statement, it reads as follows:
The Trust will issue Shares to Authorized Participants from time to time, but only in one or more Baskets (with a Basket being a block of 100 Shares). The Trust will not issue fractions of a Basket. The creation (and, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redemption) of Baskets will be made only in exchange for the delivery to the Trust, or the distribution by the Trust, of the number of whole and fractional ETH represented by each Basket being created (or, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redeemed), which is determined by dividing (x) the number of ETH owned by the Trust at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the trade date of a creation or redemption order, after deducting the number of ETH representing the U.S. dollar value of accrued but unpaid fees and expenses of the Trust (converted using the ETH Index Price at such time, and carried to the eighth decimal place), by (y) the number of Shares outstanding at such time (with the quotient so obtained calculated to one one-hundred-millionth of one ETH (i.e., carried to the eighth decimal place)), and multiplying such quotient by 100 (the “Basket ETH Amount”). All questions as to the calculation of the Basket ETH Amount will be conclusively determined by the Sponsor and will be final and binding on all persons interested in the Trust. The Basket ETH Amount multiplied by the number of Baskets being created or redeemed is the “Total Basket ETH Amount.” The number of ETH represented by a Share will gradually decrease over time as the Trust’s ETH are used to pay the Trust’s expenses. Each Share represented approximately 0.0950 ETH and 0.0974 ETH as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
tl;dr - This is the 17th monthly update on the 2019 Top Ten Experiment. Ethereum up the most in May, plus got a shout out from J.K. Rowling, so it obviously won the month. Overall, BTC in first place since January 2019, BSV in second place. Half of the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio is up at least +50%. XRP is worst performing. Total $3k (3 x $1k) investments the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten are up +3.5%, but similar approach with US stocks market would have yielded +10%.
Instead of hypothetically tracking cryptos, I made an actual $1000 investment, $100 in each of the Top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap on the 1st of January 2018. The result? The 2018 Top Ten portfolio ended 2018 down 85%, my $1000 worth only $150. I thenrepeated the experimenton the 1st of January 2019 with the new 2019 Top Ten cryptos, then again in2020. Think of the Top Ten Experiments as a lazy man’s Index Fund (no weighting or rebalancing), less technical, but hopefully still a proxy for the market as a whole – or at the very least an interesting snapshot of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 crypto space. I am trying to keep this project simple and accessible for beginners and those looking to get into crypto but maybe not quite ready to jump in yet. I try not to take sides or analyze, but rather attempt to report in a detached manner letting the numbers speak for themselves. This is not investing advice – as a matter of fact, the vast majority of the reports will show that the Top Ten approach under performs other strategies. This experiment is designed to be documentary in nature, describing a specific period in cryptocurrency history.
Buy $100 of each the Top 10 cryptocurrencies on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Hold only. No selling. No trading. Report monthly.
Month Seventeen – UP 43%
Unlike April’s all green month, May was more mixed. That said, the gains outweighed the losses this month in the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio.
Question of the month:
In May, Reddit launched two Ethereum-based tokens on the Cryptocurrency and FortNiteBR subreddits. What are the Cryptocurrency token called? A) Moons B) Bricks C) Satoshis D) Cryptos Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and March Winners and Losers
Besides Stellar (down two spots to #13) and Tron (down one from #16 to #17) every other crypto was locked in place. Speaking of Stellar and Tron, they are still the only two cryptos to have dropped out of the 2019 Top Ten since January 1st, 2019. They have been replaced by Binance Coin and Tezos. May Winners – Ethereum ended the month up +16% and got a shout out from J.K. Rowling, so it obviously won May. BTC came in a close second this month, up +14%. May Losers – A tight battle for the basement this month with BSV (down -3.9%) edging out XRP (down -3.7%) for the bottom spot. For nerds those keeping score, here is tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and loses during the first seventeen months of the 2019 Top Ten Experiment: Tether is still in the lead with five monthly victories followed by BSV in second place with three. BSV also holds the most monthly losses, finishing last in six out of seventeen months.
Overall update – BTC increases lead over second place BSV, XRP still worst performing
Ahead until just last month, BSV lost a lot of ground to BTC in May. Bitcoin is now up +168% since January 2019 compared to BSV‘s +116% gain. That initial $100 investment in BTC? Now worth $273. As was the case last month, 50% of the 2019 Top Ten cryptos are up at least +50% since the beginning of the experiment. At the other end, XRP continues to struggle, now down -41% since January 2019.
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:
The overall crypto market added about $35B in May, and is now near August 2019 levels. It is up +123% since January 2019.
BitDom was steady again in May. This marks the third straight month it’s been stuck at around 65% For context, the range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2019 has been between 50%-70%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2019:
The 2019 Top Ten Portfolio gained about $65 in May. After the initial $1000 investment, the 2019 group of cryptos is worth $1,431, up about +43%. Here’s a look at the ROI over the life of the first seventeen months of the experiment, month by month: Almost completely green for the 2019 Top Ten, a welcome change from the all red table you’ll see in the 2018 experiment. As you can see, every month except the first month ends in positive territory. At the lowest point, the 2019 Top Ten portfolio was down -9%, at the highest point, up +114% (May 2019). How does the 2019 Top Ten Experiment compare to the parallel projects?
Taking the three portfolios together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my portfolios are worth $3,104. That’s up about +3.5% for the combined portfolios. Better than a few months ago (aka the zombie apocalypse) where it was down -24%, but not yet back at January (+13%) or February (+6%) levels. How does this compare to traditional markets?
How does the 2019 Top Ten portfolio compare US stock market?
Excellent question, I’m glad you asked. And you’re in luck, I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point with other popular investments options. Despite the fact that the world seemed to be on fire, May 2020 saw the continued rebound of the stock market. It’s now up +22% since the start of the 2019 Experiment. As a reminder (or just scroll up) the 2019 Top Ten portfolio is returning +43% over the same time period, which is about double the S&P 500. The initial $1k investment I put into crypto would be worth $1,220 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 in January 2019. But what if I took the same world’s-slowest-dollar-cost-averaging/$1,000-per-year-in-January approach with the S&P 500? It would yield the following:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018: +$140
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019: +$220
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020: -$50
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,310. That $3,310 is up over+10%since January 2018, compared to the $3,104 value (+3.5%) of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. That’s about a 7% difference in favor of the stock market. Last month, there was only a 3% difference, the month before, the gap was 13% (all in favor of the stock market).
The difference between the 2019 Top Ten crypto group and the overall crypto market is stark. Since January 2019, the overall market has gained +123% compared to the 2019 Top Ten crypto group which has gained +43%. This is an absolutely massive 80% gap. A +43% return is solid compared to the stock market, but it also implies that an investor would have done much better picking different cryptos or investing in the entire market instead of focusing only on the Top Ten. There are a few examples of this approach outperforming the overall market in this 2019 Top Ten Crypto Experiment, but the cases are few and far between. The 2018 Top Ten portfolio, on the other hand, has never outperformed the overall market, at least not in the first twenty-nine months of that Experiment. For the most recent 2020 Top Ten group, the opposite had been true: the 2020 Top Ten had easily outperformed the overall market 100% of the time…until this month.
The BTC halving event came and went in May and crypto markets shrugged. As the world continues to change because of COVID-19, what will be crypto’s place when we finally emerge on the other side? Final word: Please take care of yourselves, your families, and your communities. Stay safe out there. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the recently launched 2020 Top Ten Experiment.
And the Answer is…
A) Moons According CryptoCurrency, Moons represent ownership in the subreddit, “tokens on the Ethereum blockchain controlled entirely by you, and they can be freely transferred, tipped, and spent inCryptoCurrency*.*” Check out this post for more details.
Initial capital in Bitcoin trading: experts have named the minimum amount
Initial capital in Bitcoin trading: experts have named the minimum amount To begin with, one dollar may be enough on the cryptocurrency market, but in the future, experts recommend investing in digital money at least a thousand, and even tens of thousands of dollars. The popularity of digital money is growing in 2020. More and more people are seeking to enter the blockchain industry through investing, mining or trading. However, first you need to decide how much money can be allocated for a risky attempt to make money on cryptocurrency. Experts told why $1 sometimes may be enough, and in which case it is not worth coming to the market without $50,000 in stock.
$ 1 trading
Vladislav Antonov, analyst at IAC “Alpari” If a person comes to the market to trade, then he must first learn this craft and only then decide with what amount to start. You can buy a Porsche and tie it in a knot in a few minutes. To get behind the wheel of a car, you need to learn the rules of the road and learn how to manage them, avoiding accidents. After training, pass the exam and get a license. Here the market takes the exam. If you break the rules, he takes money from the deposit through traders who are on the other side of you. On the Binance market, you can start trading with as little as $1. There is such a cryptocurrency — Stellar (XLM). 10 tokens cost 0.03 USDT, 100 tokens — 0.39 USDT, 1000–3.91 USDT. You can make 100 trades at 1 XLM, and you won’t even get losses by $1. Perfect conditions to hone your skills. The market can also be compared to ultimate fighting. Here it is important not to start with what amount, but to learn how to correctly calculate the trading volume from the protective stop. That is, a trader must first determine how much he is risking in one deal and calculate the risk. It is believed that the risk in one transaction should not exceed 5% of the deposit, and better not more than 2%. First you train, then you enter the ring. If you take, for example, a $100 deposit, then 5% will be $5. You clearly know that if the market goes against you, you will lose $5. 90% do not do this and, using large shoulders, lose everything. Then, after analyzing the market, you find the entry point and the level where the protective stop will be placed (the level at which the loss will be closed). This is where the main problem of traders’ failures lies. Everyone wants to make a million from $100, only they take big risks. The trader must find a comfortable amount of losses. Loss is the right to earn like a business expense. When a trader gives up driving on the market with a small amount of the deposit, then he can increase it. It doesn’t matter from what amount you count 2%. If the deposit is $1000, then this is a risk of $20, if the deposit is $10,000 — $200, etc. It is necessary to answer the question: at what amount of loss is it comfortable for me to trade? And if it is possible to reduce the risk per trade by less than 2%, then it is worth doing.
$1000 and diversification
Andrey Podolyan, CEO Cryptorg.Exchange The average static deposit on crypto exchanges can be considered a deposit of about $1000. In general, for many traders this is already the amount that it is a pity to lose and with which it is interesting to work. However, it is worth focusing on the income that OTC activities bring to the trader / investor. If a person earns $10,000 and more monthly, then, naturally, he will not be interested in a $1,000 deposit. And if a person earns $500–1000, then a $1000 deposit for him will be even too large an amount. In my opinion, a trader is successful if he earns a little higher than the average national salary. Example: Average salary is $1000. On average, a trader earns 10% per month on his deposit. Therefore, the working deposit must be at least $10,000. Valery Petrov, RACIB Vice President for Market Development and Regulation When determining investments in cryptocurrency, first of all, you need to understand that cryptocurrency cannot be the only asset in an investment portfolio. It must be diversified according to the risk-return criterion. The point of this approach is as follows: the entire portfolio is structured according to the level of risk that you are willing to take on. Since cryptocurrency belongs to high-risk assets and, in fact, is a speculative asset, the risks of losses for which are very high, it makes no sense to allocate more than 25–30% of the portfolio to such an asset class. Especially in today’s market, when the classical theory of portfolio investment does not work very well. “Black swans” and other market fluctuations are constantly encountered, which do not fit into the classical theory of investor behavior in the market. For a person whose main income is wages, the formation of such an investment volume should occur gradually. My recommendation is to transfer to such an investment portfolio about 10% of monthly income, despite the fact that it is at least $1500–2000. Then any loss will not greatly affect the lifestyle. It makes no sense to start investing in cryptocurrencies from the very first deduction. A third of the conditional $200 is an insignificant amount to go to the digital money market with it. On the crypto market, it is advisable to start operations from an amount of approximately $1000. Then the commissions and market fluctuations that exist there will not lead to quick and negative changes in the portfolio. From this amount, you can increase investments in the crypto market. At the same time, it is necessary to observe the proportions according to which the volume of investments in cryptocurrencies should not exceed 25–30% of the portfolio, given that other assets are less risky, but they will be able to ensure stability.
Investments from $ 50,000
Victor Pershikov, Lead Analyst at 8848 Invest When determining the minimum investment amount, you need to take into account the specifics of the cryptocurrency market, which distinguishes this site from classical financial markets. Firstly, the cryptocurrency market is incomparably more volatile than classic financial instruments, which is reflected in both higher incomes and higher risks of losing funds. In this regard, the initial capital must be sufficient in order to receive a decent return on investment, while remaining tolerant of risk. Secondly, price corrections in the cryptocurrency market are more significant than corrections in other markets, and can reach 70–90% of the developing trend movement. This also leaves an imprint on the initial capital requirements, because the investor must understand that he is just facing a deep correction and not sell his assets ahead of time, fearing a trend reversal. The cryptocurrency market is still very young and there are high risks of various manipulations. In this regard, the investor should distribute his assets into the most diversified portfolio possible so that a collapse or bursting of a bubble in one sector does not lead to significant capital losses. Therefore, an investor must have a higher, by the standards of classical markets, initial capital in order to comfortably invest in digital assets. I recommend starting investing in digital assets with an amount of at least $50,000, since this amount of funds, on the one hand, allows you to receive income that exceeds income from classical financial markets, and on the other hand, you can be calm and wait out the drawdown or decrease in the crypto market capitalization, which happens quite regularly. I would also advise focusing not on margin trading, but on investing in digital assets, since on the one hand, intraday trading is statistically successful with a fairly small number of participants, and on the other hand, the bullish nature of digital assets, coupled with a very real opportunity selecting truly worthwhile assets into your portfolio allows even a not too experienced trader to succeed in the CFA market. Subscribe to our Telegram channel
I bought $1000 worth of the Top Ten Cryptos on January 1st, 2020 (April Update) - UP 42%
EXPERIMENT - Tracking 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies – Month Four - UP 42% See the full blog post with all the nerdy tableshere. tl;dr - Tezos wins April, all coins in the green for the month. Tezos overtakes BSV for the overall lead, BTC mid-field. When taken together, all three experiments (2018 + 2019 + 2020 Top Ten Cryptos) are basically even with S&P 500 since Jan 2018. More details that you probably care about below and stay safe out there.
Instead of hypothetically tracking cryptos, I made an actual $1000 investment, $100 in each of the Top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap on the 1st of January 2018. The result? The 2018 Top Ten portfolio ended the year down 85%, my $1000 worth only $150. Irepeated the experimenton the 1st of January 2019with the new 2019 Top Ten cryptos, then again in2020. Think of the Top Ten Experiments as a lazy man’s Index Fund (no weighting or rebalancing), less technical, but hopefully still a proxy for the market as a whole – or at the very least an interesting snapshot of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 crypto space. I am trying to keep this project simple/accessible for beginners and those looking to get into crypto but maybe not quite ready to jump in yet. I try not to take sides or analyze, but rather attempt to report in a detached manner letting the numbers speak for themselves. This experiment is designed to be documentary in nature, describing a specific period in cryptocurrency history.
Buy $100 of each the Top 10 cryptocurrencies in January 2018, 2019, and 2020. Hold only. No selling. No trading. Report monthly.
Month Four – UP 42%
After a very bloody March, the 2020 Top Ten have bounced back bigly (or is it big league?). March was all red, April all green. Out of the three portfolios, the 2020 Top Ten (+42%) is the best performing for the third month in a row.
Ranking and March Winners and Losers
EOS and Binance Coin switched places, but that’s it – the rest of the 2020 Top Ten were locked in place. April Winners – Tezos, up +76%, easily bested its peers. Second place goes to ETH, up +57% this month. April Losers – The same two losers as the 2019 Top Ten group: Tether was outperformed by the rest of the cryptos. The second worst performance in April was turned in by Bitcoin Cash, up +15%. For those keeping score, I also keep a tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and losses. After four months, Tether has two losses and Tezos has two wins.
Overall update – Tezos overtakes BSV for the lead and 100% are in positive territory.
Tezos (+121%) took the lead over from BSV (+115%) this month, a lead which BSV had held since the beginning of the year. Not counting Tether, the worst performing crypto, Bitcoin Cash, is still up +15% since January 2020.
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:
The overall crypto market added about $63B in April 2020 and is now close to where it was in late February. It is up +31% since the beginning of the experiment in January 2020.
Bitcoin dominance (or BitDom as I like to call it) was steady in April. As of early May, there hasn’t been significant movement either way this year.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2020:
The 2020 Top Ten Portfolio regained $350 in April, not quite what it lost in March. After an initial $1000 investment, the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio is now worth $1,419, up about +42%. It is the best performing Top Ten Crypto Portfolio out of the three. Here’s the month by month ROI of the 2020 Top Ten Experiment, hopefully helpful to maintain perspective and provide an overview as we go along: Hopefully that zombie apocalypse drop in March will just be a blip this year. So, how does the 2020 Top Ten Experiment compare to the parallel projects?
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my portfolios are worth $2,969. That’s down about -1% for the combined portfolios. Much better than last month (aka the zombie apocalypse) where it was down -24%. For context, the combined return in January 2020 was +13% and in February 2020 it was +6%. So that’s the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments snapshot. Let’s take a look at how traditional markets are doing.
Comparison to S&P 500
I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point with other popular investments options. Stocks rebounded a bit in April, but are still down -12% since the beginning of the year. Over the same time period, the 2020 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio is returning about +42%, now worth about $1,419. The money I put into crypto in January 2020 would now be worth $880 had it been redirected to the S&P 500. That’s an almost $540 swing on an initial $1,000 investment. And what if I took the same approach with the S&P 500 as I took during the first three years of the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments? Here are the figures:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018: +$60
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019: +$130
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020: -$120
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,070. $3,070 is up about +2% since January 2018, compared to the $2,969 value (-1%) of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. That’s a only a 3% difference. Last month the gap was 13%.
The crypto market as a whole is up +31% since the beginning of the year compared to the 2020 Top Ten cryptos which have gained +42%. Focusing on the Top Ten 2020 coins has now beaten the overall market four months in a row. This is noteworthy because this hasn’t been the case very often since I started these Top Ten Experiments back in January 2018. Although there are a few examples of the Top Ten strategy outperforming the overall market in the 2019 Top Ten Experiment, it’s interesting to note at no point in the first twenty-eight months of the Top Ten 2018 Experiment has the approach of focusing on the Top Ten cryptos outperformed the overall market. Not even once.
May should be interesting. The BTC Halving is only a few days away and the world continues to wage war on COVID-19. Stay tuned for how the crypto markets overall and the Top Ten Portfolios react to these events. Final word: second waves of COVID-19 are definitely possible. Please take care of yourselves, your families, and your communities. Keep up the social distancing, wear a mask, and wash your hands. Be careful out there. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the 2019 Top Ten Experiment follow up experiment.
https://preview.redd.it/1v6z6af9jcf51.png?width=963&format=png&auto=webp&s=5b29763a9609c95dc0941c1a9edc443b2e3c1127 A cryptocurrency exchange is the meeting point where traders exchange their cryptocurrencies for fiat money or other cryptos. These online exchanges, where the market price is generated, mark the value of cryptocurrencies based on supply and demand. It is a virtual space that allows the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies. Since the appearance of Bitcoin in January 2009, cryptocurrencies have quickly demanded the use of this type of platform to access decentralized assets. The first cryptocurrency exchange was developed in March 2010 under the name of Bitcoinmarket. Since then, many proposals have emerged in the crypto space to provide quality options to cryptocurrency traders worldwide. Listing One of the important achievements of a Blockchain platform is getting your currency listed on a major cryptocurrency exchange in the digital finance arena. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, in the stock market, the term ‘listing’ refers to a place in a list of companies whose shares are bought and sold on a particular stock market, or the act of putting a company on a list. In the case of cryptocurrencies, the native tokens or coins of a blockchain platform represent those ‘shares’ of the platform. However, being listed on exchanges, especially on major ones, is neither easy nor straightforward. Many cryptocurrency exchanges have well-defined listing criteria to list the cryptocurrencies of credible projects, and not all projects meet the criteria the exchanges present. How exchanges operate Cryptocurrency exchanges can be classified into different types, but they all share something in common. They are all platforms designed to facilitate the participation of their users in the alternative cryptocurrency market. For this, they have fundamental and technical analysis tools and a large number of indicators so that traders can make the best decisions at all times within the market. Depending on the type of exchange used, transactions work on the platform or user side, all based on the benefits offered by blockchain technology. Most of the exchanges charge a commission on the buy-sell operation established by the trader. Also, those transactions are confirmed in the native blockchain of currency on which it is operated. Thus, for example, if you deposit or withdraw a certain amount of BTC in Binance, you will have to wait for the confirmation of the bitcoin blockchain network. You can see the corresponding balance successfully reflected after your transaction is confirmed. What is the difference between a CEX and DEX As we mentioned earlier, there are many categories of cryptocurrency exchanges, but fundamentally two large groups dominate the scene: centralized «CEX» and decentralized «DEX» exchanges. The first group corresponds to traditional exchanges, where access to buy or sell their tokens according to the market price. Compared to DEX, they are highly regulated platforms that must meet KYC(Know Your Customer) and AML(Anti money laundering) standards. It means that there is no privacy on their platforms since users are forced to reveal their identity to trade. Coinbase, Binance, Kraken, Bithumb, and Bitfinex are examples of this type of exchange. Moreover, CEX charges for its services, and some of them offer funding alternatives through traditional bank accounts or conventional credit cards. By charging commissions, CEX keeps the platform functioning and generating income. In the case of decentralized exchanges or DEX, they are a direct evolution of the traditional ones. Although they work in a similar way to the CEX, they are able to operate in a decentralized way thanks to smart contracts. It indicates that there are no intermediaries, and the platform is self-supporting due to its programming. In addition to this, DEX usually has high levels of privacy and even anonymity since it does not require KYC or AML. Some of the examples of DEX are AirSwap, Bancor, UniSwap, and Bisq. However, despite its mentioned qualities, there are defects that traders are reluctant to use DEX exchange. In many cases, its interface is difficult to use for the average trader to operate, and it has limited order types. Also, its low liquidity that generates high spreads drives away the users. Where FLETA is listed In the case of the FLETA token, we can find it available in a large number of exchanges globally. Since our first listing on the GDAC Exchange with the FLETA / KRW pair, the token is now available on five more exchanges for a total of enlistment in 08 pairs within six global exchanges. Below you can find the complete list of token availability in cryptocurrency exchanges in the market: ● Bithumb «FLETA / KRW» ● Coinone «FLETA / KRW» ● Bithumb Global «FLETA / USDT» ● Bittrex «FLETA / BTC» ● DigiFinex «FLETA / ETH» ● DigiFinex «FLETA / BTC» ● GDAC «FLETA / KRW» ● Bitsonic «FLETA / KRW» **
The power players of consumer finance in the 21st century will be crypto-native companies who build with blockchain technology at their core.
The crypto landscape is still nascent. We’re still very much in the fragmented, unbundled phase of the industry lifecycle. Beyond what Genesis Block is doing, there are signs of other companies slowly starting to bundle financial services into what could be an all-in-one bank replacement. So the key question that this series hopes to answer:
Which crypto-native company will successfully become the bank of the future?
We obviously think Genesis Block is well-positioned to win. But we certainly aren’t the only game in town. In this series, we’ll be doing an analysis of who is most capable of thwarting our efforts. We’ll look at categories like crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, centralized lending & borrowing services, and crypto debit card companies. Each category will have its own dedicated post. Today we’re analyzing big crypto exchanges. The two companies we’ll focus on today are Coinbase (biggest American exchange) and Binance (biggest global exchange). They are the top two exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume. They are in pole position to winning this market — they have a huge existing userbase and strong financial resources. Will Coinbase or Binance become the bank of the future? Can their early success propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market? Is their growth too far ahead for anyone else to catch up? Let’s dive in. https://preview.redd.it/lau4hevpm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c5de1ba497199f36aa194e5809bd86e5ab533d8
The most formidable exchange on the global stage is Binance (Crunchbase). All signs suggest they have significantly more users and a stronger balance sheet than Coinbase. No other exchange is executing as aggressively and relentlessly as Binance is. The cadence at which they are shipping and launching new products is nothing short of impressive. As Tushar Jain from Multicoin argues, Binance is Blitzscaling. Here are some of the products that they’ve launched in the last 18 months. Only a few are announced but still pre-launch.
Binance is well-positioned to become the crypto-powered, all-in-one, bundled solution for financial services. They already have so many of the pieces. But the key question is:
Can they create a cohesive & united product experience?
Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
Traders & Speculators Binance is currently very geared for speculators, traders, and financial professionals. Their bread-and-butter is trading (spot, margin, options, futures). Their UI is littered with depth charts, order books, candlesticks, and other financial concepts that are beyond the reach of most normal consumers. Their product today is not at all tailored for the broader consumer market. Given Binance’s popularity and strength among the pro audience, it’s unlikely that they will dumb down or simplify their product any time soon. That would jeopardize their core business. Binance will likely need an entirely new product/brand to go beyond the pro user crowd. That will take time (or an acquisition). So the question remains, is Binance even interested in the broader consumer market? Or will they continue to focus on their core product, the one-stop-shop for pro crypto traders?
Controversies & Hot Water Binance has had a number of controversies. No one seems to know where they are based — so what regulatory agencies can hold them accountable? Last year, some sensitive, private user data got leaked. When they announced their debit card program, they had to remove mentions of Visa quickly after. And though the “police raid” story proved to be untrue, there are still a lot of questions about what happened with their Shanghai office shut down (where there is smoke, there is fire). If any company has had a “move fast and break things” attitude, it is Binance. That attitude has served them well so far but as they try to do business in more regulated countries like America, this will make their road much more difficult — especially in the consumer market where trust takes a long time to earn, but can be destroyed in an instant. This is perhaps why the Binance US product is an empty shell when compared to their main global product.
Disjointed Product Experience Because Binance has so many different teams launching so many different services, their core product is increasingly feeling disjointed and disconnected. Many of the new features are sloppily integrated with each other. There’s no cohesive product experience. This is one of the downsides of executing and shipping at their relentless pace. For example, users don’t have a single wallet that shows their balances. Depending on if the user wants to do spot trading, margin, futures, or savings… the user needs to constantly be transferring their assets from one wallet to another. It’s not a unified, frictionless, simple user experience. This is one major downside of the “move fast and break things” approach.
BNB token Binance raised $15M in a 2017 ICO by selling their $BNB token. The current market cap of $BNB is worth more than $2.6B. Financially this token has served them well. However, given how BNB works (for example, their token burn), there are a lot of open questions as to how BNB will be treated with US security laws. Their Binance US product so far is treading very lightly with its use of BNB. Their token could become a liability for Binance as it enters more regulated markets. Whether the crypto community likes it or not, until regulators get caught up and understand the power of decentralized technology, tokens will still be a regulatory burden — especially for anything that touches consumers.
Binance Chain & Smart Contract Platform Binance is launching its own smart contract platform soon. Based on compatibility choices, they have their sights aimed at the Ethereum developer community. It’s unclear how easy it’ll be to convince developers to move to Binance chain. Most of the current developer energy and momentum around smart contracts is with Ethereum. Because Binance now has their own horse in the race, it’s unlikely they will ever decide to leverage Ethereum’s DeFi protocols. This could likely be a major strategic mistake — and hubris that goes a step too far. Binance will be pushing and promoting protocols on their own platform. The major risk of being all-in on their own platform is that they miss having a seat on the Ethereum rocket ship — specifically the growth of DeFi use-cases and the enormous value that can be unlocked. Integrating with Ethereum’s protocols would be either admitting defeat of their own platform or competing directly against themselves.
The crypto-native company that I believe is more likely to become the bank of the future is Coinbase (crunchbase). Their dominance in America could serve as a springboard to winning the West (Binance has a stronger foothold in Asia). Coinbase has more than 30M users. Their exchange business is a money-printing machine. They have a solid reputation as it relates to compliance and working with regulators. Their CEO is a longtime member of the crypto community. They are rumored to be going public soon.
Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
Different Audience, Different Experience Coinbase has been smart to create a unique product experience for each audience — the pro speculator crowd and the common retail user. Their simple consumer version is at Coinbase.com. That’s the default. Their product for the more sophisticated traders and speculators is at Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). Unlike Binance, Coinbase can slowly build out the bank of the future for the broad consumer market while still having a home for their hardcore crypto traders. They aren’t afraid to have different experiences for different audiences.
Brand & Design Coinbase has a strong product design team. Their brand is capable of going beyond the male-dominated crypto audience. Their product is clean and simple — much more consumer-friendly than Binance. It’s clear they spend a lot of time thinking about their user experience. Interacting directly with crypto can sometimes be rough and raw (especially for n00bs). When I was at Mainframe we hosted a panel about Crypto UX challenges at the DevCon4 Dapp Awards. Connie Yang (Head of Design at Coinbase) was on the panel. She was impressive. Some of their design philosophies will bode well as they push to reach the broader consumer finance market.
Early Signs of Bundling Though Coinbase has nowhere near as many products & services as Binance, they are slowly starting to add more financial services that may appeal to the broader market. They are now letting depositors earn interest on USDC (also DAI & Tezos). In the UK they are piloting a debit card. Users can now invest in crypto with dollar-cost-averaging. It’s not much, but it’s a start. You can start to see hints of a more bundled solution around financial services.
Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
Slow Cadence In the fast-paced world of crypto, and especially when compared to Binance, Coinbase does not ship very many new products very often. This is perhaps their greatest weakness. Smaller, more nimble startups may run circles around them. They were smart to launch Coinbase Ventures where tey invest in early-stage startups. They can now keep an ear to the ground on innovation. Perhaps their cadence is normal for a company of their size — but the Binance pace creates quite the contrast.
Institutional Focus As a company, we are a Coinbase client. We love their institutional offering. It’s clear they’ve been investing a lot in this area. A recent Coinbase blog post made it clear that this has been a focus: “Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has been laser-focused on building out the types of features and services that our institutional customers need.” Their Tagomi acquisition only re-enforced this focus. Perhaps this is why their consumer product has felt so neglected. They’ve been heavily investing in their institutional services since May 2018. For a company that’s getting very close to an IPO, it makes sense that they’d focus on areas that present strong revenue opportunities — as they do with institutional clients. Even for big companies like Coinbase, it’s hard to have a split focus. If they are “laser-focused” on the institutional audience, it’s unlikely they’ll be launching any major consumer products anytime soon.
Coinbase Wrap Up
At Genesis Block, we‘re proud to be working with Coinbase. They are a fantastic company. However, I don’t believe that they’ll succeed in building their own product for the broader consumer finance market. While they have incredible design, there are no signs that they are focused on or capable of internally building this type of product. Similar to Binance, I think it’s far more likely that Coinbase acquires a promising young startup with strong growth.
Other US-based exchanges worth mentioning are Kraken, Gemini, and Bittrex. So far we’ve seen very few signs that any of them will aggressively attack broader consumer finance. Most are going in the way of Binance — listing more assets and adding more pro tools like margin and futures trading. And many, like Coinbase, are trying to attract more institutional customers. For example, Gemini with their custody product.
Coinbase and Binance have huge war chests and massive reach. For that alone, they should always be considered threats to Genesis Block. However, their products are very, very different than the product we’re building. And their approach is very different as well. They are trying to educate and onboard people into crypto. At Genesis Block, we believe the masses shouldn’t need to know or care about it. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto. Most everyone needs banking — whether it be to borrow, spend, invest, earn interest, etc. Not everyone needs a crypto exchange. For non-crypto consumers (the mass market), the differences between a bank and a crypto exchange are immense. Companies like Binance and Coinbase make a lot of money on their crypto exchange business. It would be really difficult, gutsy, and risky for any of them to completely change their narrative, messaging, and product to focus on the broader consumer market. I don’t believe they would ever risk biting the hand that feeds them. In summary, as it relates to a digital bank aimed at the mass market, I believe both Coinbase and Binance are much more likely to acquire a startup in this space than they are to build it themselves. And I think they would want to keep the brand/product distinct and separate from their core crypto exchange business. So back to the original question, is Coinbase and Binance a threat to Genesis Block? Not really. Not today. But they could be, and for that, we want to stay close to them. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
How do I Buy Bitcoin & Crypto? - Pros & Cons of 5 Exchanges
Are you looking to start investing in cryptocurrency and wondering the best place to buy it? Or if you are in the US, are you wondering which crypto exchanges are legal for you to use? Below is a list of 5 cryptocurrency exchanges that, as of this post, are all legal for US citizens. I have also included a quick break down on the pros and cons of each exchange. This is not a complete list of every exchange available to US citizens as there are others, but these are my own personal top 5 based on characteristics such as ease of use, security, fees, liquidity and selection of available coins to trade. If you are not located in the US there is a good chance most of these exchanges are available to you as well, you will just need to check with the exchange and look up your own country's policies regarding the purchase of cryptocurrencies. As you go through the list please keep in mind, while I do have them ranked 1 through 5, there is not a lot separating them and each of these exchanges offer something a little unique from the others. Everyone's investment goals and preferences are going to be a little different so my #5 exchange here could be your #1 based on your criteria. It is also pretty likely that if you end up wanting to invest in 5 or more coins at some point, no one exchange is going to have all of them available so you will likely need to open multiple accounts anyways. Okay, on to the list. 1) Binance US Binance US is an offshoot of one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges out there, Binance.com. They created Binance US in response to US citizens being banned from using their main exchange back in 2019. These two exchanges function much the same with the biggest difference being that Binance US has a slightly smaller pool of cryptos listed on their exchange, which currently is a little over 30 coins. Other than that, all of the great features of Binance.com that have helped it become one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world, apply to Binance US as well. PROS - Low Fees: Start at 0.10% spot trading fee and goes down from there depending on your trading frequency. You can also save an additional 25% off your trading fees by holding their native token BNB. - High Trading Volume: Allows you to get in and out of your positions more easily. - Coin Selection: Currently as of this writing there are over 30 different coins available to be traded. - Reliability / Reputation: As one of the larger players in the crypto space, Binance is able to offer a bit of security as they are able to throw a lot of money at any potential problems with things like hackers. Binance US puts away a set portion of their earnings every month in a fund that acts as insurance against any funds that may be lost due to hackers. Back in 2019 they had an incident where 40 million dollars of crypto was stolen by hackers and they reimbursed every penny to their customers. CONS - Interface: Trading can be a little confusing for those not used to trading cryptocurrencies. While it is not too difficult to learn, a couple of the upcoming exchanges on my list are a little more user friendly for those who are new to the space. All things considered, right now if I was getting started with Crypto trading in the US, Binance US would be the first account that I created. If you would like to open an account you can use the link below. If you are located outside of the United States I would suggest opening an account on the the original Binance.com exchange as they currently have a wider selection of cryptos to pick from. Below is a link for their sign up as well if you are interested. Binance US Sign Up Binance Sign Up (Non-US Citizens) 2) Crypto.com Crypto.com is on a mission to be the leader in cryptocurrency adoption to the masses and is trying to bridge the gap between the worlds of blockchain and traditional finance. Along with trading cryptocurrencies they have programs on their app like Earn, Invest, Pay & Credit which you would find with more traditional finance companies. For instance, through their Earn program there are many coins you can earn interest on by locking them up for a set time period. Depending on the coin, how many MCO (Crypto.com native coin) you have staked and how long you keep your tokens locked up for, you can earn anywhere from 2% to 18% interest which a lot better than any bank is going to do for you these days. One of the best features of Crypto.com, in my opinion, are their great eye-catching, metal crypto MCO reward credit cards. These cards pay you cashback, in the form of their MCO token, for all of your day to day purchases anywhere that VISA is accepted. Depending on which level of card you get, these credit cards reward 1% to 5% cashback on all spending along with other great benefits like free ATM & international withdrawals, 100% cashback on Spotify & Netflix subscriptions and airport lounge access. In order to get your hands on one of these cards you will need to open a Crypto.com account if you don’t already have one. There is good news if you don’t already have one, as new sign ups can get $50 worth of MCO tokens free by using the link and promo code I have posted below. Please note that the $50 of MCO tokens will remain locked until you deposit & stake at least 50 MCO tokens toward the sign up of the particular card you are interested in. If you want to know a little more about these cards you can check out method #3 in my earlier post 5 Easy Legitimate Ways to Earn Free Crypto where I go into a bit more detail on them. However, for the purpose of this post, let's get to some pros and cons of their exchange platform. PROS - Low Fees: Start at 0.20% and go lower from there depending on your trading volume. - Coin Selection: Currently as of this writing there are 53 different coins available to be traded. - Interface: Easy to use app that is very user friendly.- Customer Service: One of the best customer service programs in the industry if you need any help. CONS - App Only: No desktop version, all functions on the exchange must be done via their app. - History: Founded in 2016 so they are still relatively new to the industry. Crypto.com is a great option if you are looking to trade cryptocurrencies and also want to take advantage of things like their cash back VISA cards and Earn program that pay you great interest rates as you hold your coins. Below is a link you can use to sign up for a new account. If you are also interested in getting one of their MCO Visa cards, use the link below along with the promo code to get $50 of their MCO token free. Crypto.com Sign Up PROMO CODE:gapena3dq4 3) Coinbase Headquartered in San Francisco, Coinbase is the largest US-based crypto exchange with about 20 million current users. Like Crypto.com, they are trying to bring cryptocurrency trading to the masses through an easy to use interface and education. One way they try to educate their users is through their Coinbase Earn program where they offer free crypto for watching short educational videos teaching you about the various coins they offer on their exchange. I will not go into the details of that program here, but if you are interested in checking it out I go into a bit more detail on it in my post 5 Easy Legitimate Ways to Earn Free Crypto. Now on to some of the pros and cons. PROS - High Trading Volume: Allows you to get in and out of your positions easily. - Interface: Easy to use desktop interface and trading mechanisms for those new to crypto trading. - Insurance: Coinbase carries an insurance policy that covers 2% of all assets on the exchange and they keep the other 98% in cold storage. CONS - Fees: While their fee structure is not horrible, it is a bit higher than Crypto.com and Binance US. Crypto to crypto trading fees are at 0.50% / bank purchases at 1.49% / credit & debit card purchases at 3.99%. - Coin Selection: Currently they only have about 20 coins to choose from, however they are looking to add a bunch more soon. Coinbase is a solid choice for anyone looking to get started in crypto trading. If you would like to open an account you can use the link below which will get you $10 of free Bitcoin as a sign up bonus. Please note that to get the free $10 you must buy or sell $100 worth of crypto within 180 days of signing up. Coinbase Sign Up 4) Robinhood Robinhood is the pioneer of no fee trading for securities which is the main benefit of this exchange. It also is, to my knowledge, one of the few exchanges that allow you to trade both traditional stocks and cryptocurrencies. Technically their stock and crypto exchanges are separate entities, however you can seamlessly trade them both from the same account on their app. This is great for those who would like to get started trading in both crypto and traditional stocks but don't want to open multiple accounts. Or for those who might want to trade back and forth between stocks and crypto but don't want to have to transfer money between accounts to do so. Now to explore some other features of the Robinhood exchange let's get into the pros and cons. PROS - Fees: None (FREE!) - Flexibility: Can trade multiple asset classes (Stocks, Crypto, ETFs, Options) - Interface: Easy to use app that is very user friendly. Desktop version available as well. CONS - Coin Selection: Currently only offer 7 coins that can be traded (BTC, BCH, BSV, DOGE, ETH, ETC, LTC) - Coin Mobility: Your coins must remain on the Robinhood exchange. You cannot transfer your coins to another exchange or withdraw them to put in your own digital wallets. With their user friendly interface and no fees, Robinhood is very appealing for those just getting into crypto trading. If you are just looking to buy some of the higher cap coins like Bitcoin and Etherium, this exchange can be a good fit for you. However if you know there are some projects you would like to invest in that are not listed above, you may want to choose some of the other exchanges on this list, or both. If you are unsure at this point if you want to invest beyond coins like Bitcoin and Etherium in the future, it doesn't hurt to start here, get your feet wet and open another account down the road if you have other projects you get interested in. If you would like to open an account you can use the link below to get one free stock with sign up! This free stock will be valued somewhere between $2.50 and $200. Robinhood Sign Up 5) Kraken Kraken exchange is based out of the United States and was founded back in 2011. While there is no specific trait that blows away the competition with this exchange, it does most everything pretty well. Like most crypto exchanges at this point, your funds on there are not FDIC insured, however Kraken does keep a separate fund that serves as an insurance policy and is currently over 100 million dollars. They also show great transparency and compliance with programs like their Proof of Reserves which offers proof that they hold all of the funds that they say they do. Here is quick break down of their pros and cons. PROS - Low Fees: Range from 0.10% to 0.26% depending on your trading frequency. - High Security: One of the best reputations in the industry for security. - Coin Selection: Good but not great. Currently they have about 20 coins available for trading. CONS - Interface: Making trades can be a little confusing for beginners who are not familiar with their format. However with a couple quick tutorials most of you should be able to get familiar with it pretty quickly. To open an account and begin trading with Kraken use the link below. Kraken Sign Up
Interested in some ways you can passively earn free crypto?
The choice of the optimalways to buy Bitcoindepends on three factors: how much information you want to disclose, what is the amount of the transaction and what level of security you require. However, it is almost impossible to comply with all 3 factors. So,what is the best way to buy Bitcoin?
1. Stock exchange
The best way to buycrypto is to use an exchange (Binance, Coinbase Pro, Huobi Global), where one can sell and buy digital currency from other investors. The price is set manually. In this case, the commission charged by the intermediary will not exceed 1%. The exchange provides anonymity since you don’t need to provide your ID in most exchanges. There are several options for transactions:
Quick deal – immediate purchase or sale of currency from another exchange user;
Offer – the seller determines the conditions under which the transaction should be arranged, and the buyer can either agree with the conditions or refuse to buy from this seller;
Automatic order – the system completes the transaction when conditions are fulfilled (provided that you have the funds necessary to fulfill).
If you want to know how to begin investing in Bitcoin, start studying stock exchanges.
Fair rates. You buy Bitcoin, not at the rate that the exchanger came up with, but at the real market rate, which is constantly changing;
Safety. Trusted, reliable exchanges do not cheat. The trust of users is important to them since they earn a commission from trading;
Multicurrency. You can exchange fiat for Bitcoin, buy any other coins available, and withdraw them to your wallet.
Registration needed. Almost all exchanges require registration and request minimal personal data;
Safety. New exchanges without valuable reputation are sometimes hacked. History knows cases when the administration of exchanges defrauded users and walked off into the sunset. For example, the case of BTC-E (WEX.NZ). This is extremely rare and, as a rule, does not apply to large reliable sites. It is best not to store cryptocurrency on exchanges for the long term and to check all the information about exchanges carefully.
A crypto exchanger (Localbitcoins, Lykke, F-change) allows exchanging fiat or other tokens for BTC according to a fixed rate. It is probably the easiest way to buy crypto. The service adds a commission higher than that on the stock exchange.
Simple interface. Even a beginner will understand it;
The ability to buy Bitcoin for almost any existing currency in the world;
Anonymity. Although it depends on the exchanger and payment method, many exchangers are not interested in your personal data.
Slow speed. Sometimes the exchange may freeze for several hours;
Exchange rate. As a rule, in exchangers, the rate is not the most profitable one. It differs from the mid-market not in your favor;
Anonymity. Sometimes there were cases when exchangers leaked information about customers not to authorities, but other interested parties;
Chance of fraud. Especially, if you use an unknown site.
3. ATMs for BTC
ATMs for Bitcoins only enter the market. It is enough to have the necessary amount of cash to be able to exchange it for the equivalent in BTC. Such a transaction is instant and does not require registration or other formalities. There are now over 8500 BTC ATMs around the world.
4. For cash with individuals
A hand-to-hand sale is the most private and most insecure way to buy cryptocurrency. It is lucky if you know reliable miners or crypto businessmen. Rent, salary, taxes – all this requires ordinary money, so they constantly have a need to sell mined or earned cryptocurrency. Pros – maximum anonymity of transactions. Cons – risks from dishonest partners.
5. Telegram bots
Telegram bot is an automatic script based on the search for offers and counteroffers. If someone wants to sell BTC, they send a request to the bot and it looks for a counter offer. As soon as someone sends a request for the purchase of Bitcoin, the bot will complete a transaction between these two users.
Speed. Exchange occurs instantly. This is probably the fastest way to trade Bitcoin.
Low security. A bot can stop working unexpectedly, money can be “lost", etc. It is very difficult to bring the service to justice if something goes wrong, and you rely entirely on the decency of the bot owners;
Inconvenient BTC rate. No bidding. You are forced to work at the rate that the service states.
While talking about the ways to buy Bitcoin, it is important to mention that this article doesn’t provide any advice and directions regarding the investments in particular cryptocurrencies and pursues only informative purposes.
Crypto-Powered - The Most Promising Use-Cases of Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
A whirlwind tour of Defi, paying close attention to protocols that we’re leveraging atGenesis Block. https://reddit.com/link/hrrt21/video/cvjh5rrh12b51/player This is the third post ofCrypto-Powered— a new series that examines what it means forGenesis Blockto be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols. Last week we explored how building on legacy finance is a fool’s errand. The future of money belongs to those who build with crypto and blockchain at their core. We also started down the crypto rabbit hole, introducing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance). That post is required reading if you hope to glean any value from the rest of this series. 97% of all activity on Ethereum in the last quarter has been DeFi-related. The total value sitting inside DeFi protocols is roughly $2B — double what it was a month ago. The explosive growth cannot be ignored. All signs suggest that Ethereum & DeFi are a Match Made in Heaven, and both on their way to finding strong product/market fit. So in this post, we’re doing a whirlwind tour of DeFi. We look at specific examples and use-cases already in the wild and seeing strong growth. And we pay close attention to protocols that Genesis Block is integrating with. Alright, let’s dive in.
Stablecoins are exactly what they sound like: cryptocurrencies that are stable. They are not meant to be volatile (like Bitcoin). These assets attempt to peg their price to some external reference (eg. USD or Gold). A non-volatile crypto asset can be incredibly useful for things like merchant payments, cross-border transfers, or storing wealth — becoming your own bank but without the stress of constant price volatility. There are major governments and central banks that are experimenting with or soon launching their own stablecoins like China with their digital yuan and the US Federal Reserve with their digital dollar. There are also major corporations working in this area like JP Morgan with their JPM Coin, and of course Facebook with their Libra Project.
Stablecoin activity has grown 800% in the last year, with $290B of transaction volume (funds moving on-chain).
USDC($1B): This is the most reputable USD-backed stablecoin, at least in the West. It was created by Coinbase & Circle, both well-regarded crypto companies. They’ve been very open and transparent with their audits and bank records.
DAI ($189M): This is backed by other crypto assets — not USD in a bank account. This was arguably the first true DeFi protocol. The big benefit is that it’s more decentralized — it’s not controlled by any single organization. The downside is that the assets backing it can be volatile crypto assets (though it has mechanisms in place to mitigate that risk).
Three of the top five DeFi protocols relate to lending & borrowing. These popular lending protocols look very similar to traditional money markets. Users who want to earn interest/yield can deposit (lend) their funds into a pool of liquidity. Because it behaves similarly to traditional money markets, their funds are not locked, they can withdraw at any time. It’s highly liquid. Borrowers can tap into this pool of liquidity and take out loans. Interest rates depend on the utilization rate of the pool — how much of the deposits in the pool have already been borrowed. Supply & demand. Thus, interest rates are variable and borrowers can pay their loans back at any time.
So, who decides how much a borrower can take? What’s the process like? Are there credit checks? How is credit-worthiness determined?
These protocols are decentralized, borderless, permissionless. The people participating in these markets are from all over the world. There is no simple way to verify identity or check credit history. So none of that happens. Credit-worthiness is determined simply by how much crypto collateral the borrower puts into the protocol. For example, if a user wants to borrow $5k of USDC, then they’ll need to deposit $10k of BTC or ETH. The exact amount of collateral depends on the rules of the protocol — usually the more liquid the collateral asset, the more borrowing power the user can receive. The most prominent lending protocols include Compound, Aave, Maker, and Atomic Loans. Recently, Compound has seen meteoric growth with the introduction of their COMP token — a token used to incentivize and reward participants of the protocol. There’s almost $1B in outstanding debt in the Compound protocol. Mainframe is also working on an exciting protocol in this area and the latest iteration of their white paper should be coming out soon.
There is very little economic risk to these protocols because all loans are overcollateralized.
Buying, selling, and trading crypto assets is certainly one form of investing (though not for the faint of heart). But there are now DeFi protocols to facilitate making and managing traditional-style investments. Through DeFi, you can invest in Gold. You can invest in stocks like Amazon and Apple. You can short Tesla. You can access the S&P 500. This is done through crypto-based synthetics — which gives users exposure to assets without needing to hold or own the underlying asset. This is all possible with protocols like UMA, Synthetix, or Market protocol. Maybe your style of investing is more passive. With PoolTogether , you can participate in a no-loss lottery. Maybe you’re an advanced trader and want to trade options or futures. You can do that with DeFi protocols like Convexity, Futureswap, and dYdX. Maybe you live on the wild side and trade on margin or leverage, you can do that with protocols like Fulcrum, Nuo, and DDEX. Or maybe you’re a degenerate gambler and want to bet against Trump in the upcoming election, you can do that on Augur. And there are plenty of DeFi protocols to help with crypto investing. You could use Set Protocol if you need automated trading strategies. You could use Melonport if you’re an asset manager. You could use Balancer to automatically rebalance your portfolio. With as little as $1, people all over the world can have access to the same investment opportunities and tools that used to be reserved for only the wealthy, or those lucky enough to be born in the right country.
You can start to imagine how services like Etrade, TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and even Robinhood could be massively disrupted by a crypto-native company that builds with these types of protocols at their foundation.
As mentioned in our previous post, there are near-infinite applications one can build on Ethereum. As a result, sometimes the code doesn’t work as expected. Bugs get through, it breaks. We’re still early in our industry. The tools, frameworks, and best practices are all still being established. Things can go wrong. Sometimes the application just gets in a weird or bad state where funds can’t be recovered — like with what happened with Parity where $280M got frozen (yes, I lost some money in that). Sometimes, there are hackers who discover a vulnerability in the code and maliciously steal funds — like how dForce lost $25M a few months ago, or how The DAO lost $50M a few years ago. And sometimes the system works as designed, but the economic model behind it is flawed, so a clever user takes advantage of the system— like what recently happened with Balancer where they lost $500k. There are a lot of risks when interacting with smart contracts and decentralized applications — especially for ones that haven’t stood the test of time. This is why insurance is such an important development in DeFi.
Insurance will be an essential component in helping this technology reach the masses.
Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) were one of the first and most developed categories in DeFi. A DEX allows a user to easily exchange one crypto asset for another crypto asset — but without needing to sign up for an account, verify identity, etc. It’s all via decentralized protocols. Within the first 5 months of 2020, the top 7 DEX already achieved the 2019 trading volume. That was $2.5B. DeFi is fueling a lot of this growth. https://preview.redd.it/1dwvq4e022b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=97a3d756f60239cd147031eb95fc2a981db55943 There are many different flavors of DEX. Some of the early ones included 0x, IDEX, and EtherDelta — all of which had a traditional order book model where buyers are matched with sellers. Another flavor is the pooled liquidity approach where the price is determined algorithmically based on how much liquidity there is and how much the user wants to buy. This is known as an AMM (Automated Market Maker) — Uniswap and Bancor were early leaders here. Though lately, Balancer has seen incredible growth due mostly to their strong incentives for participation — similar to Compound. There are some DEXs that are more specialized — for example, Curve and mStable focus mostly only stablecoins. Because of the proliferation of these decentralized exchanges, there are now aggregators that combine and connect the liquidity of many sources. Those include Kyber, Totle, 1Inch, and Dex.ag.
These decentralized exchanges are becoming more and more connected to DeFi because they provide an opportunity for yield and earning interest.
As it relates to making payments, much of the world is still stuck on plastic cards. We’re grateful to partner with Visa and launch the Genesis Block debit card… but we still don’t believe that's the future of payments. We see that as an important bridge between the past (legacy finance) and the future (crypto). Our first post in this series shared more on why legacy finance is broken. We talked about the countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). We talked about the slow settlement times. The future of payments will be much better. Yes, it’ll be from a mobile phone and the user experience will be similar to ApplePay (NFC) or WePay (QR Code).
But more importantly, the underlying assets being moved/exchanged will all be crypto — digital, permissionless, and open source.
Someone making a payment at the grocery store check-out line will be able to open up Genesis Block, use contactless tech or scan a QR code, and instantly pay for their goods. All using crypto. Likely a stablecoin. Settlement will be instant. All the middlemen getting their pound of flesh will be disintermediated. The merchant can make more and the user can spend less. Blockchain FTW! Now let’s talk about a few projects working in this area. The xDai Burner Wallet experience was incredible at the ETHDenver event a few years ago, but that speed came at the expense of full decentralization (can it be censored or shut down?). Of course, Facebook’s Libra wants to become the new standard for global payments, but many are afraid to give Facebook that much control (newsflash: it isn’t very decentralized). Bitcoin is decentralized… but it’s slow and volatile. There are strong projects like Lightning Network (Zap example) that are still trying to make it happen. Projects like Connext and OmiseGo are trying to help bring payments to Ethereum. The Flexa project is leveraging the gift card rails, which is a nice hack to leverage existing pipes. And if ETH 2.0 is as fast as they say it will be, then the future of payments could just be a stablecoin like DAI (a token on Ethereum). In a way, being able to spend crypto on daily expenses is the holy grail of use-cases. It’s still early. It hasn’t yet been solved. But once we achieve this, then we can ultimately and finally say goodbye to the legacy banking & finance world. Employees can be paid in crypto. Employees can spend in crypto. It changes everything.
Legacy finance is hanging on by a thread, and it’s this use-case that they are still clinging to. Once solved, DeFi domination will be complete.
At Genesis Block, we’re excited to leverage these protocols and take this incredible technology to the world. Many of these protocols are already deeply integrated with our product. In fact, many are essential. The masses won’t know (or care about) what Tether, USDC, or DAI is. They think in dollars, euros, pounds and pesos. So while the user sees their local currency in the app, the underlying technology is all leveraging stablecoins. It’s all on “crypto rails.” https://preview.redd.it/jajzttr622b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=fcf55cea1216a1d2fcc3bf327858b009965f9bf8 When users deposit assets into their Genesis Block account, they expect to earn interest. They expect that money to grow. We leverage many of these low-risk lending/exchange DeFi protocols. We lend into decentralized money markets like Compound — where all loans are overcollateralized. Or we supply liquidity to AMM exchanges like Balancer. This allows us to earn interest and generate yield for our depositors. We’re the experts so our users don’t need to be. We haven’t yet integrated with any of the insurance or investment protocols — but we certainly plan on it. Our infrastructure is built with blockchain technology at the heart and our system is extensible — we’re ready to add assets and protocols when we feel they are ready, safe, secure, and stable. Many of these protocols are still in the experimental phase. It’s still early.
At Genesis Block we’re excited to continue to be at the frontlines of this incredible, innovative, technological revolution called DeFi.
--- None of these powerful DeFi protocols will be replacing Robinhood, SoFi, or Venmo anytime soon. They never will. They aren’t meant to! We’ve discussed this before, these are low-level protocols that need killer applications, like Genesis Block. So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why?
Why does any of it matter?
Most of these financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain? Why does it need to be decentralized? What new value is unlocked? Next post, we answer these important questions. To look at more projects in DeFi, check outDeFi Prime,DeFi Pulse, orConsensys. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
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