By Arjun Thakkar and Alan Green
Crypto volatility is back…and then some! Some investors called it downtrend others call it a cryptocurrency reset. The recent cryptocurrency crash wiped out nearly $1 trillion of wealth; Bitcoin fell by 30% while Ethereum dropped by 45% between Dec 2021 – Jan 2022. Although data shows 70% of crypto investors joined the market in 2021, the question everyone is asking is whether crypto market dilution and the uninitiated selling out is the reason for the downtrend, or rathermore is it due to new and better Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) offering better value? It could of course be nothing more than a normal market correction? Let’s discover!
Theoretically, there is an inverse relationship between interest rates and the prices of opportunity costs such as stock prices, commodity prices and crypto valuation. Moves by central banks such as the Federal Reserve and Bank of England over the past few weeks have had a major influence on the financial markets. We now know that Russia is considering a ban on cryptocurrency and China has announced fresh regulations that include the banning of mining, a massive clamp down on ICOs, all of which has contributed to the huge sell-off.
Despite the fact that monetary policies and interest rates will affect prices in the short-term, the manner in which blockchain or cryptocurrency will be utilized in the future will largely determine its longevity and relevance. Financial institutions such as JP Morgan have started using blockchain technology for the security, speed and privacy of end-to-end transactions. It is already widely accepted that blockchain can be used to verify documents and speed up process with the help of smart contracts in industries like real estate or insurance.
Put simply blockchain and crypto currencies are here to stay. Governments and sovereignties including El Salvador have already adopted Bitcoin as legal tender, so the gradual recognition and acceptance of blockchain and cryptocurrency as legal tender seems almost inevitable despite the recent moves by the Chinese government and the Russian central bank to enforce regulations. But even the latest developments in Russia suggest that President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Finance ministry have changed tack and backed blockchain and crypto mining, albeit with measures to tax and regulate the crypto mining industry.
Despite the recent price correction and downturn affecting all cryptocurrencies, our view is that this is little more than a systemic risk and ‘healthy’ market correction. It is worth considering the individual performances (pre correction) of many altcoins such as Solana and Cardano, which have blasted onto the scene giving higher returns than well-known cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum. This despite both Solana and Cardano being built on Ethereum and relying on the Ethereum Blockchain to function.
The rising popularity of these altcoins is due to their improved functionality and their ability to facilitate smart contracts and host decentralized applications at a lower cost than giant rivals like Ethereum. Not only do they offer lower transaction costs but altcoins like Solana are faster and can handle around 50,000 more transactions per second.
Although Solana, Cardano and Ethereum can be used to deliver smart contracts, there are still questions over Bitcoin’s use and functionality going forward? Currently the primary purpose of Bitcoin is to facilitate the transfer of funds via a secure network, although it is worth noting that companies like Coinsilium (AQSE: COIN) (OTCQB: CINGF), are engaged in partnerships to build a Bitcoin marketplace for NFTs and to enable transition of RSK blockchain standard NFTs to other blockchain standard NFTs including Ethereum.
Another burgeoning sector in the crypto and blockchain space is of course Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). These were hugely popular a few months back, and some were created by celebrities including William Shatner, Leonardo Messi and Justin Bieber. It does seem at the moment that some of the initial hype has waned so the question remains; are NFTs still a relevant asset class or were they just a flash in the pan?
Our belief is that although interest has waned in the short term, this has largely come about as a result of other major global events and developments taking centre stage as already outlined. Omicron, followed by a stock market and crypto market crash in January 2022 due to Russia and China moves against crypto currency have seen many less experienced investors sell up and get out. These events may have combined to move focus away from the NFT hype in the short term, but we believe longer term the hype and demand for NFTs will return. The size of the NFT market passed $40 billion in 2021 and is expected to double by 2025.
And NFTs are still catching the headlines too. Celebrities Kevin Hart and Paris Hilton recently bought a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT for over $300,000.
Apart from the traditional use of NFTs as a form of art, they also offer the potential to buy digital lands in virtual worlds like the metaverse, and the potential to license and publish music ownership. Interest and hype may ebb and flow, but NFTs are definitely here to stay.
Stick or Twist
In summary, we believe that while the sharp price movements in cryptocurrency will continue, altcoins like Solana and Cardano with their higher transaction speeds and lower gas fees offer great potential from here on. Alternative uses for Bitcoin – the king of crypto, such as a Bitcoin marketplace for NFTs adds a new dimension and functionality to the original cryptocurrency and a potential target price of $100k in a couple of years.
All in all, for investors able to cope with the sharp price movements, investing into Bitcoin, Altcoins and NFTs looks likely to deliver an increase in portfolio value over the longer term, and always the potential to deliver spectacular quick gains for short term traders. In pontoon parlance – Twist!