Goldman Sachs confirmed this week the firm will soon begin to trade Bitcoin linked investments and Bitcoin itself later this year, as they await regulatory approval for direct bitcoin trades.
This news doesn’t surprise many in the crypto community as the rumor has swirled for quite some time, despite Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein saying last year digital currency is a “vehicle to perpetrate fraud.” Justin Schmidt, new to Goldman Sachs as VP and head of digital asset markets, has been tasked with managing the desk.
Big institutional money moving into the digital currency markets will be a game changer. We believe the first investments will be the coins with the largest volume and best utilitarian potential. Having small stakes in at least a few of the top 9 coins could provide some pretty exciting returns as other large institutional investors move in such as Morgan Stanley.
Here are the top 9 coins by market cap as of today:
Bitcoin Cash, BCH
Stellar Lumens, XLM
Two of our favorites are Ripple and Litecoin. We wrote about Ripple and it’s innovative technology saving financial institutions millions annually earlier this year.
Litecoin was created in 2011, forking from Bitcoin, but is much faster. Currently, Litecoin is testing it’s Lightening Network with payments. Bringing faster transactions at a much cheaper cost to the marketplace gives this coin tremendous value potential. Currently LTC is down 47% from it’s December high of $350, and XRP is down 73% from it’s peak of $3.32. This is a fantastic time to get in the game.
As Amazon continues to grow exponentially and disrupt other industries it only makes sense it will one day accept cryptocurrencies. That day is not today, however. Coming off a record breaking earnings report of $1.6 Billion it did reveal it would be creating tools that will allow users of its Amazon Web Services to create blockchain networks –decentralized digital ledgers that log transactions securely.
Having Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) enter into the cryptocurrency payment space would be huge for both Bitcoin and Ethereum, but don’t hold your breath. Despite Amazon registering amazonethereum.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, amazoncryptocurrencies.com. and amazonbitcoin.com Amazon Pay Vice President Patrick Gauthier announced late last year that the company has no intention of accepting bitcoin anytime soon. With that said, their recent actions tell us they could be laying the groundwork for accepting digital currencies in the future. And why wouldn’t they? With almost half of all eecommerce sales in the US going to Amazon.com they could easily test digital payment systems and save millions in transaction fees to the credit card companies.
Payment technology is evolving and you can bet Amazon will embrace digital currency payments once the space has matured and the rewards outweigh the risks. We believe having a small amount of Ethereum in your digital wallet is a safe bet for when this day comes.
After being unable to donate Bitcoin to the University of Wyoming Foundation last year, Caitlin Long and two friends decided to take action. Together, they created the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition and brought five crypto related bills to the Wyoming government –all of which were signed into law recently by Governor Matt Mead.
The most notable was House Bill 70 aka “Utility Token Bill,” which makes Wyoming the first state in the world to define cryptocurrencies as an entirely new asset class. The second bill exempts utility tokens from the money transmitters and security laws (as long as they are exchangeable for goods and services and not marketed as investments); the third bill replicates the Delaware Blockchain Initiative, the fourth is the series LLC bill and the fifth bill exempts cryptocurrencies from property taxes.
“The state of Wyoming is the first elected body in the world to define a utility token as a new type of asset class different from a security or commodity,” said Long.
The passing of these bills has allowed money transmitters to return to Wyoming, and opened the door for blockchain-backed companies, including blockchain miners. Two coin exchanges, including Coinbase, had to pull out of Wyoming in 2015 due to the state’s money transmitter act.
It’s very exciting that Wyoming is the first state to define what a utility token is, setting an example of how this could become a standard under federal law. I do believe the Wyoming approach will work under federal securities law and am optimistic the SEC will agree, Long said.
Wyoming, known for cattle ranches, Yellowstone National Park, and coal and mineral mining is positioning itself for blockchain mining which demands a lot of CPU processing power and electricity.
Rep. Tyler Lindholm, a Republican member of the Wyoming House of Representatives says “We only use about 10% of the power we generate in the state of Wyoming,” and this makes Wyoming well suited to cryptocurrency mining. In addition to cheap power, there’s also strong fiber-optic bandwidth in Cheyenne, the state capital, which has already attracted major data centers to locate there.
Lindholm also said “I think we are going to see economic development and new tech sector jobs coming into the state of Wyoming. That alone is a fantastic aspect. And, we are laying down cryptocurrency laws based on the premise that this isn’t just a one time shot for Wyoming. We plan on staying hungry and working with industries to develop laws and regulations that will allow individuals and businesses to practice their trades to how they see fit.”
As the US government continues to fumble with creating legislation for the crypto industry, states like Wyoming are pushing forward. Other states that have bills pending or laws already on the books include Illinois, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Tennessee and New York
In the biggest crypto donation ever, Ripple has donated $29 Million to fund 35,000 teacher projects in the US. Naturally, the payment was made in XRP and converted to USD to fund the projects which will ultimately help over one million students across the country, with basic classroom supplies to school trips. The donation was done through donorschoose.org, a non-profit that makes it easy to bridge schools and classrooms in need with donors who can help.
Executives of Ripple, the creator of a blockchain system to more efficiently transfer currency globally, XRP, said the donation reflected the gratitude they had for the teachers in their own lives. “We care about giving back to our community and we collectively value the importance of quality education in developing the next generation of leaders,” said Monica Long, SVP of Marketing at Ripple. “Education is definitely an area we really care about, and you can expect from us further investment there,” she said.
This is the largest donation in the 18 year history of DonorsChooses according to the crowdfunder for teachers’ projects. “The donation fulfilled 35,647 requests from 28,210 public school teachers in every state. Teachers at 16,561 public schools — or 1 in 6 of all the public schools in America — will receive books, school supplies, technology, field trips, and other resources vital for learning,” they say.
Ripple who we have written about before here provides one frictionless experience to send money globally using the power of blockchain. By joining Ripple’s growing, global network, financial institutions can process their customers’ payments anywhere in the world instantly, reliably and cost-effectively. Banks and payment providers can use the digital asset XRP to further reduce their costs and access new markets.
Like stocks, the Crypto markets can be volatile as anyone who’s been paying attention or owns any knows. Unlike the stock market, however, the volatility in Cryptos is unbelievably massive and not for the faint of heart. Bitcoin for example swung over 30% in both directions several times last year, and fell 70% from it’s all time high. This is the wild west in this new asset class as we’ve said before, and heavy handed volatility, while unnerving, is normal.
This year we are already seeing more volatility in the stock market, but the crypto space could be on the verge of another run up unlike anything we’ve seen yet. Positive news and institutional big money flowing into the crypto space is a positive indicator for us. For example, on March 8th, it was announced that Eric Scro has joined Coinbase as Vice President of Finance. Coinbase, operating out of San Fransisco, is a digital currency wallet and platform where merchants and consumers can transact with new digital currencies. With over 10 million users, it’s where most of us go to convert our dollars into bitcoin which allows us to then purchase other Crypto currencies.
So who is Eric Scro and why is this significant? Eric was the Head of Finance for the New York Stock Exchange for the last 8 years and has held other leadership roles in investment banking, accounting, and volume based data businesses. In addition to leveraging his deep ties to wall street, Eric will “provide Coinbase with invaluable insight as it continues to expand into new markets”… and “help guide the New York office’s growth across multiple business functions and assist in the development of new product offerings like Coinbase Custody,” according to Asiff Hirji, President & COO. The forthcoming Coinbase Custody is a a digital currency custodian for institutions. This is just one example of why we believe more wall street money will flow into this space driving the Crypto space higher this year.
Don’t fear the volatility in the Crypto market, as we may be looking forward to a very positive year ahead. Keep your positions small, your decisions informed, and your seatbelt tight.