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Saddle Up: Institutional Investors Are Coming to Crypto

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If institutional capital is what the cryptocurrency market needs to hoist it over the edge, the tide could be about to turn. Several signs are pointing toward the increased institutional adoption of cryptocurrencies, including the number of banks flocking to the blockchain as well as leading U.S. bitcoin exchange Coinbase’s next phase of growth, which according to reports involves targeting Wall Street.

Venture Capital

Spencer Bogart, a venture capitalist and partner at Blockchain Capital, told CNBC that for all its woes, bitcoin (BTC) remains a buying opportunity. The bitcoin price is trading at less than half of its value from its December 2017 high and has been struggling to regain momentum and reattain the $8,000 level.  Some market bears have forecast that it will get worse before it gets better. But others are calling a bottom.

Blockchain Capital’s Bogart is in the bullish camp, telling CNBC:

“Every major bank is trying to do something in the space. Either they’re going to be offering bitcoin to their clients, they’re working on a custody platform or they’re opening up a trading desk. A deeper institutionalization of bitcoin is overall positive,” Bogart said.

Bogart identified several leading cryptocurrencies that he likes at the current levels, but bitcoin was the only buy. He recommends holding Ethereum, XRP, Bitcoin Cash and as EOS, which he characterized as “neutral.” Others are overpriced, such as Cardano, TRON, IOTA and NEO, he told CNBC.

TRON and EOS on the MainNet

The TRON price is off its May highs but it has been holding its own and is trading approximately twice its April levels. TRON has had some standout moments alongside EOS, both of which are readying a migration away from the Ethereum blockchain and losing their ERC20 status.

In the coming days, TRON and EOS are launching on their own MainNet blockchains, separate and apart from Ethereum, and the cryptocurrency community has been abuzz about the launches.

EOS is a developers’ coin, as it is designed to provide scale to Dapps. Bogart must like EOS at these levels because it’s lost some ground of late and is trading at about $12.46 compared to its May high of approximately $19. While he is neutral on the coin, there could be more upside potential there with the migration to MainNet than he is giving it credit for.

Coinbase

Further signs of a “deeper institutionalization of bitcoin” can be found in Coinbase’s product suite, all of which reflect a targeting of hedge fund clients. One anecdotal sign is the San Francisco-based exchange setting up shop in New York, where it can gain access to potential hedge fund clients. Coinbase is also ramping up its institutional services by facilitating larger cryptocurrency trades that are inherent with sophisticated traders like hedge funds.

If Coinbase’s ability to attract individual investors into the cryptocurrency space is any indication, then saddle up because hedge funds are on their way in. Coinbase is largely responsible for growing the U.S. cryptocurrency investor base for its focus on the retail investor, which has come back to haunt the exchange in the bear market. But the bitcoin exchange is betting that institutional investors can fill the void left by declining trading volumes, as depicted in the below illustration –

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Coinbase’s odds based on past success are good, considering the number of accounts on its platforms at 20 million surpassed that of one of the most traditional brokerage houses on Wall Street, Charles Schwab. The stars may need to align for Coinbase to see the same growth in its institutional business, but with a clear roadmap of what needs to transpire across custody products and regulation, it may be just a matter of time before bitcoin fever strikes again.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 16 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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Crypto Real Estate: The Time Is Now

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If you’re a Russian oligarch, an Asian billionaire or just a simple kid from South Jersey with giant aspirations, it is time for action in the newly emerging world of crypto real estate.  Here is why.

For the average home buyer the price of a home has increased about 1.72% annually over the past 10 years.  That is just slightly more than the 1.49% rate for the U.S. economy. Things have changed somewhat in recent time and we read Case Shiller numbers placing the rate between 5%-7%.

For investors in bitcoin, the action is taking place elsewhere in the real estate world.  It is in the world of the super high-end real estate where BTC and other cryptos can play a role.

If your soul contains an ounce of cynicism, at this point,  you are probably saying what is new about the connection between crypto and real estate?  The answer is arbitrage. Never have high-end property prices been so high and crypto prices so low.  It would be a classic arbitrage to sell high-end real estate and buy bitcoin.

Natural Buyers For Bitcoin

There are plenty of statistics on housing and loads of public records revealing who owns a given piece of property.  The US government claims that 9.6 million Americans own second homes and perhaps 16% own investment property.

But when it comes to the true high-end market, global real estate is definitely in the billions. For example, take penthouse in 432 Park Ave in New York that, when new, sold for over $100 million in cash and you get the idea.  This is a market where anonymity is prized and protected. This has long represented the “no brainer” for bitcoin to gain acceptance. And best of all, it is perfectly legal medium of exchange.

Enter Propy (PRO)

Here is a company that appears to be positioned to take advantage of transactions in the global ultra high-end real estate market. Before getting started, one thing needs to be disclosed.  I neither own or am being compensated for writing about Propy. I stumbled across the name purely by accident.

Propy.com fancies itself as being dedicated to solving the complexities of purchasing property across borders.  They claim to be the world’s first international marketplace. The PRO token is built on the Ethereum ERC20 standard. Propy raised $15.4 million with their ICO last September which places a value on the company of roundly $100 million.

So PRO may not rank with the likes of Telegram but they are not exactly chopped liver either. With the spread between the price of ultra high-end real estate and bitcoin never having been greater and the perpetual need for anonymity, the team at PRO may find itself in a sweet spot no matter if the like it or not.

The First Crypto Test In Rome On June 28

CCN.com reports that PRO has managed to team up with the Hilton family-owned real estate broker Hilton & Hyland in an auction of a Roman villa named the Palazetto Mansion aiming to snatch $38 million in dollars or crypto from the buyer.  This is not first effort of its kind but it is by far the largest.

Arbitrage In The Air

Events in Rome on June 28 will be most interesting as much for bitcoin as for PRO.  This is not to say that bitcoin is the only crypto in the world, just the largest and best known. Nevertheless, the total value of bitcoin is now just a little over $114 billion so every billion of future real estate transactions will make a difference at these levels.

Perhaps this is all wishful thinking on the part of someone who owns neither PRO nor BTC but several things are obvious.  First, those folks that put their hidden billions in real estate using corporate identities are not casual investors but savvy players with lots of high priced advisors.  Arbitrage spreads between ultra high end real estate and crypto present a pretty irresistible attraction. Just something to consider when investor psychology toward crypto in general stinks.  

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 83 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Ford, BMW, GM, Renault – Connecting the Roads via Blockchain

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A collection of the world’s biggest car firms have launched an initiative looking into how blockchain will change the way we deal with transport.

The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) aims to:

“…explore blockchain for use in a new digital mobility ecosystem that could make transportation safer, more affordable, and more widely accessible.”

This consortium of industry giants accounts for 70% of global vehicle production between them; the fact that they’re all pouring time and resources into blockchain could be a strong portent for the technology.

Also joining the group are tech giants IBM and Bosch while the cryptocurrency industry is strongly represented with IOTA and VeChain offering their expertise to the venture.

The group’s many projects will include, but are not limited to: research related to autonomous payments between smart vehicles; secure vehicle and data tracking; car sharing using both human and driverless vehicles, and live data markets which track fuel prices, congestion levels and pollution output.

In short, the major car and tech firms are now getting in on something that crypto firms have been working on for years. It’s probably a wise business decision by the car industry, as fossil fuel reserves dwindle and electric vehicles slowly start to take over.

But this isn’t the first we’ve heard of such moves by the motor industry. Renault launched their own initiative into blockchain tech in the recent past, while Toyota instigated their own investigations into blockchain tech just last year.

Recently, Ford announced plans to use blockchain technology to allow drivers to communicate and transact on the roads, and the MOBI initiative follows strongly in that vein.

Buy Your Way Into the Fast Lane

A patent was filed by Ford on March 27th, 2018 which details their plans to implement vehicle-to-vehicle cooperation and automated adaptive cruise control. The patent was titled: ‘Vehicle-to-vehicle cooperation to marshal traffic’, and sets out Ford’s plans to connect the roads under one network.

All of this would be helped along by blockchain technology; specifically when it comes to vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

Under Ford’s plans, drivers connected on the network would be able to transact with each other instantly using their proposed CMMP tokens.

If driver A needs to get to work in five minutes, but driver B isn’t in any particular hurry, then driver A can pay driver B to allow him access onto a faster lane.

The patent states:

“The CMMP system operates with individual token-based transactions, where the merchant vehicles and the consumers’ vehicles agree to trade units of cryptocurrency (sometimes referred to as ‘CMMP tokens’). The CMMP tokens are used to validate and authorize a transaction in which, at consumer vehicles’ request, the merchant vehicles either occupy slower lanes of traffic themselves, or allow the consumer vehicle to merge into their own lane and pass as necessary.”

The process could be as broad or specific as required, with specified amounts of tokens being paid for specific amounts of time. The patent goes on to state:

In some examples, the time allotted to the request of the consumer vehicle is based on the number of CMMP tokens chosen by the consumer vehicle to be spent at that particular time. For example, a driver of a consumer vehicle who is running late for an appointment may request to pass any participating merchant vehicles for a duration of 10 minutes on a particular road or highway for 60 CMMP tokens, at a rate of 10 seconds preferential access per token.”

In what the patent refers to as ‘herding’, cars would essentially be able to negotiate with each other and sort themselves out according to their immediate priorities.

The system would be helped by constant data tracking via blockchain, where cars are constantly fed with up to date real world data such as congestion levels, locations of closed roads and roadblocks, traffic light patterns, and even nearby fuel and amenity prices.

Interestingly, the MOBI initiative press-release mentions many of the same topics outlined in the Ford patent from just a few months ago.

Roads on a Blockchain

The entry of blockchain into disparate and unusual industries is becoming a weekly event; everybody can point to at least one industry and say: ‘They’re using blockchain for that too!?’

In that regard, the future is already before us, and now we’re just watching them iron out the kinks.

Rich Strader of the Ford Motor Company seems decided that blockchain is the way things are going to go. He said, as part of the MOBI press release:

We believe blockchain will transform the way people and businesses interact, creating new opportunities in mobility. We look forward to working together with our industry colleagues as part of MOBI to set the standards for the mobility ecosystem of tomorrow.”

The global director of Advanced Engineering at the Groupe Renault, Sophie Schmidtlin, was similarly convinced of the need to investigate blockchain’s possibilities on the road. She said:

Blockchain technology is by essence decentralized, and its full potential needs to be assessed by working in an open ecosystem. That is why it is natural for Groupe Renault to take part in the MOBI consortium. This consortium will be a great opportunity to share and learn about the possibilities that can be opened by the Distributed Ledger Technology, applied to the automotive ecosystem. Ultimately, we aim to work together to define future standards and use cases that will make an easier everyday life for our customers.”

The rapid acceleration of blockchain technology into our everyday lives is as novel as it is scary; as exciting as it is ominous. At this point, nobody knows for sure what the world will look like in years to come.

Patents come and go, and some highly promising patents get forgotten about completely – likewise for industry consortiums.

But while nothing has been set in stone just yet, all the signals are pointing towards blockchain technology being a big part of our future – on the roads and on the exchange.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 12 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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VanEck Reignites Debate Over Bitcoin ETFs With Recent SEC Filing

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New York-based investment firm VanEck has filed a formal request to list a bitcoin ETF, according to a June 5 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Bitcoin ETF Filing

VanEck has partnered with blockchain company SolidX to develop a new bitcoin-linked ETP that will provide investors with direct exposure to the volatile cryptocurrency. The new fund will be physically backed by bitcoin, which means it will hold actual units of the cryptocurrency instead of merely tracking its price through the derivatives market.

SolidX chief executive officer Daniel Gallancy told Bloomberg that “regulators are concerned right now about having an ETF that is available to retail investors,” but that the mood “will change over time.” In his view, now is the best time to push the conversation forward.

Jan van Eck referred to bitcoin as the new “digital gold” in a press release that circulated on Business Wire. The CEO of VanEck said the new bid goes above and beyond previous attempts to get bitcoin-based products approved by the SEC, which remains hesitant about exposing retail investors to the highly volatile asset class.

“A properly constructed physically-backed bitcoin ETF will be designed to provide exposure to the price of bitcoin, and an insurance component will help protect shareholders against the operational risks of sourcing and holding bitcoin,” he said.

Striking Out with the SEC

Since January, about a dozen applications to list bitcoin-based funds have been rejected by the SEC, with federal regulators appealing to investor protection and issues related to market manipulation, liquidity and the impact of forks on market prices. VanEck was among the several firms turned away by SEC regulators earlier this year.

The SEC maintains it is open to engaging sponsors in the development of these funds provided that the underlying issues are resolved. However, it’s not entirely clear what will convince regulators to grant the first bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

ETFs are viewed as the next frontier for digital currencies because of their low management fees, ease of access and broad diversification benefits.

While pure-play bitcoin ETFs may be off limits for now, the development of blockchain-based funds is growing at a rapid pace. Several blockchain funds have launched recently, including Amplify Transformational Data Sharing (BLOK), Reality Shares Nasdaq NexGen Economy (BLCN), First Trust Indxx Innovative Transaction & Process (LEGR) and Innovation Shares NextGen Protocol (KOIN).

There’s a growing belief on Wall Street and around the world that it is only a matter of time before we see the first bitcoin-backed ETF. The launch of bitcoin futures last December paved the way for mass innovation targeting institutional investors. The half-year slowdown in the cryptocurrency market has sparked a debate over whether institutional money will spark the next wave of adoption.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 465 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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