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Crypto Banking Wars: Will Coinbase or Binance Become The Bank of The Future?

Crypto Banking Wars: Will Coinbase or Binance Become The Bank of The Future?
Can the early success of major crypto exchanges propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market?
https://reddit.com/link/i48t4q/video/v4eo10gom7f51/player
This is the first part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this powerful technology to reach the masses. We believe a crypto-native company, like Genesis Block, will become the bank of the future.
In an earlier series, Crypto-Powered, we laid out arguments for why crypto-native companies have a huge edge in the market. When you consider both the broad spectrum of financial use-cases and the enormous value unlocked through these DeFi protocols, you can see just how big of an unfair advantage blockchain tech becomes for companies who truly understand and leverage it. Traditional banks and fintech unicorns simply won’t be able to keep up.
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

Binance

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 Weaknesses

Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Binance Wrap Up

I don’t believe Binance is likely to succeed with a homegrown product aimed at the consumer finance market. Their current product — which is focused heavily on professional traders and speculators — is unlikely to become the bank of the future. If they wanted to enter the broader consumer market, I believe it’s much more likely that they will acquire a company that is getting early traction. They are not afraid to make acquisitions (Trust, JEX, WazirX, DappReview, BxB, CoinMarketCap, Swipe).
However, never count CZ out. He is a hustler. Binance is executing so aggressively and relentlessly that they will always be on the shortlist of major contenders.
https://preview.redd.it/mxmlg1zqm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2d900dd5ff7f3b00df5fe5a48305d57ebeffaa9a

Coinbase

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.

Coinbase Strengths

Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. USDC Stablecoin Coinbase (along with Circle) launched USDC. We’ve shared some stats about its impressive growth when we discussed DeFi use-cases. USDC is quickly becoming integrated with most DeFi protocols. As a result, Coinbase is getting a front-row seat at some of the most exciting things happening in decentralized finance. As Coinbase builds its knowledge and networks around these protocols, it could put them in a favorable position to unlock incredible value for their users.
  4. 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.

Coinbase Weaknesses

Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
  1. 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.
  2. Lack of Innovation When you consider the previous point (slow cadence), it’s unclear if Coinbase is capable of building and launching new products that are built internally. Most of their new products have come through acquisitions. Their Earn.com acquisition is what led to their Earn educational product. Their acquisition of Xapo helped bolster their institutional custody offering. They acqui-hired a team to help launch their staking infrastructure. Their acquisition of Cipher Browser became an important part of Coinbase Wallet. And recently, they acquired Tagomi — a crypto prime brokerage. Perhaps most of Coinbase’s team is just focused on improving their golden goose, their exchange business. It’s unclear. But the jury is still out on if they can successfully innovate internally and launch any homegrown products.
  3. Talent Exodus There have been numerous reports of executive turmoil at Coinbase. It raises a lot of questions about company culture and vision. Some of the executives who departed include COO Asiff Hirji, CTO Balaji Srinivasan, VP & GM Adam White, VP Eng Tim Wagner, VP Product Jeremy Henrickson, Sr Dir of Eng Namrata Ganatra, VP of Intl Biz Dan Romero, Dir of Inst Sales Christine Sandler, Head of Trading Hunter Merghart, Dir Data Science Soups Ranjan, Policy Lead Mike Lempres, Sr Compliance Vaishali Mehta. Many of these folks didn’t stay with Coinbase very long. We don’t know exactly why it’s happening —but when you consider a few of my first points (slow cadence, lack of innovation), you have to wonder if it’s all related.
  4. 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.

Honorable Mentions

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.

Wrap Up

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.
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Crypto-Powered - The Most Promising Use-Cases of Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

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 at Genesis Block.
https://reddit.com/link/hrrt21/video/cvjh5rrh12b51/player
This is the third post of Crypto-Powered — a new series that examines what it means for Genesis Block to 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

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).
The most popular USD-pegged stablecoins include:
  1. Tether ($10B): It’s especially popular in Asia. It’s backed by USD in a bank account. But given their lack of transparency and past controversies, they generally aren’t trusted as much in the West.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
Other notable USD-backed stablecoins include PAX, TrueUSD, Binance USD, and Gemini Dollar.
tablecoins are playing an increasingly important role in the world of DeFi. In a way, they serve as common pipes & bridges between the various protocols.
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Lending & Borrowing

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.
I repeat, all loans are overcollateralized. If the value of the collateral depreciates significantly due to price volatility, there are sophisticated liquidation systems to ensure the loan always gets paid back.
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Investments

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.
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Insurance

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.
Two protocols that are leading the way on DeFi insurance are Nexus Mutual and Opyn. Though they are both still just getting started, many people are already using them. And we’re excited to start working with them at Genesis Block.
https://preview.redd.it/wf1xvq3z12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=70db1e9587f57d0c470a4f9f4523c216929e1876

Exchanges & Liquidity

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.
Users can earn passive income by supplying liquidity to these markets. It usually comes in the form of sharing transaction fee revenue (Uniswap) or token rewards (Balancer).
https://preview.redd.it/wrug6lg222b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9c47a3f2e01426ca87d84b92c1e914db39ff773f

Payments

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.
https://preview.redd.it/svft1ce422b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9a6afc9e9339a3fec29ee2ae743c07c3042ea4ce

Impact on Genesis Block

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.
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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 out DeFi Prime, DeFi Pulse, or Consensys.
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Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Follow our social channels:https://genesisblock.com/follow/
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US Tax Guide for ETH and other cryptocurrencies

Introduction:  
Greetings, fellow ethtraders! Happy New Year! In the next few months, taxpayers across the US will be filing their 2017 tax returns. As an Enrolled Agent and a ETH/cryptocurrency investor and enthusiast, I wanted to write up a brief guide on how your investments in ETH and other cryptocurrencies are taxed in the US.
 
 
1. Are ETH/cryptocurrency realized gains taxable?
Yes. The IRS treats virtual currency (such as cryptocurrency) as property. That means if you sell ETH, BTC, or any other cryptocurrency that has appreciated in value, you have realized a capital gain and must pay taxes on this income. If you held the position for one year or less, it is a short-term capital gain which is taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. If you held the position for more than one year, it is a long-term capital gain which is taxed at your long-term capital gains tax rate. In most cases, this is 15%, but could also be 0% or 20% depending on your specific ordinary income tax bracket.
 
2. If I sell my ETH for USD on Coinbase but do not transfer the USD from Coinbase to my bank account, am I still taxed?
Yes. The only thing that matters is that you sold the ETH, which creates a taxable transaction. Whether you transfer the USD to your bank account or not does not matter.
 
3. If I use my ETH to buy OMG or another cryptocurrency, is this a taxable transaction?
Most likely yes. See #4 below for a more detailed explanation. If assuming crypto to crypto trades are not able to be like-kind exchanged, then continue on to the next paragraph here.
This is actually two different transactions. The first transaction is selling your ETH for USD. The second transaction is buying the OMG with your USD. You must manually calculate these amounts. For example, I buy 1 ETH for $600 on Coinbase. Later on, the price of 1 ETH rises to $700. I transfer that 1 ETH to Bittrex and use it to buy 37 OMG. I have to report a capital gain of $100 because of this transaction. My total cost basis for the 37 OMG I purchased is $700.
 
4. If I use my ETH to buy OMG or other cryptocurrency, could that be considered a tax-free like-kind exchange?
Probably not. The new tax law says that like-kind exchanges only pertain to real estate transactions. This was done with Section 13303, which replaced “property” with “real property” for all of Section 1031 (page 72 near the bottom). My personal interpretation:
In 2018 and going forward, cryptocurrencies can definitely not be like-kind exchanged.
In 2017 and before, it is a very gray area. I personally am not taking the position that they can be like-kind exchanged, because if the IRS went after a taxpayer who did this, the IRS would probably win and the taxpayer would owe taxes, interest, and probably penalties on every single little gain made from trading one cryptocurrency for another.
Here is a great interpretation of why trading cryptocurrency for cryptocurrency is probably not a like-kind transaction.
In my opinion, the biggest factor is that like-kind exchanges must be reported on Form 8824 and not just ignored. Therefore, if a taxpayer is claiming like-kind exchanges on crypto to crypto exchanges, he or she would have to fill out a Form 8824 for each individual transaction of crypto to crypto, which would be absolutely cumbersome if there are hundreds or thousands of such trades.
Here is another article about like-kind exchanges.
Here is the American Institute of CPAs' letter to the IRS, dated June 10, 2016, asking them to release guidance on whether crypto to crypto can be like-kind exchanged or not. The IRS has not responded to the letter.
 
5. How do I calculate the realized capital gain or loss on the sale of my cryptocurrency?
The realized gain or loss is your total proceeds from the sale minus what you purchased those positions for (your cost basis). For example, you bought 1 ETH for $300 in June of 2017. In December of 2017, you sold that 1 ETH for $800. Your realized gain would be $800 - $300 = $500. Since you held it for one year or less, the $500 would be a short-term capital gain taxed at your ordinary income tax rate.
 
6. Which ETH's cost basis do I use if I have multiple purchases?
The cost basis reporting method is up to you. For example, I buy my first ETH at $300, a second ETH at $530, and a third ETH at $400. Later on, I sell one ETH for $800. I can use:
FIFO (first in first out) - cost basis would the first ETH, $300, which would result in a gain of $500.
LIFO (last in first out) - cost basis would be the third ETH, $400, which would result in a gain of $400.
Average cost - cost basis would be the average of the three ETH, $410, which would result in a gain of $390.
Specific identification - I can just choose which coin's cost basis to use. For example, I can choose the second ETH's cost basis, $530, which would result in the lowest capital gains possible of $270.
 
7. If I end up with a net capital loss, can I claim this on my tax return?
Capital gains and capital losses are netted on your tax return. If the net result of this is a capital loss, you may offset it against ordinary income on your tax return, but only at a maximum of $3,000 per year. The remaining losses are carried forward until you use them up.
 
8. What is the tax rate on my capital gains?
If long-term, the tax rate is 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your ordinary income tax bracket. If short-term, the tax bracket you’ll be in will depend on your total income and deductions. The ordinary income tax brackets are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6% in 2017 and 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37% in 2018 and going forward.
Here are the 2017 and 2018 ordinary income tax brackets.
Here are the 2017 and 2018 long-term capital gains tax brackets.
Here is a detailed article on how the calculation of long-term capital gains tax work and how you can take advantage of the 0% long-term capital gains rate, if applicable.
 
9. If I mine ETH or any other cryptocurrency, is this taxable?
Yes. IRS Notice 2014-21 states that mining cryptocurrency is taxable. For example, if you mined $7,000 worth of ETH in 2017, you must report $7,000 of income on your 2017 tax return. For many taxpayers, this will be reported on your Schedule C, and you will most likely owe self-employment taxes on this income as well. The $7,000 becomes the cost basis in your ETH position.
 
10. How do I calculate income for the cryptocurrency I mined?
This is the approach I would take. Say I mined 1 ETH on December 31, 2017. I would look up the daily historical prices for ETH and average the high and low prices for ETH on December 31, 2017, which is ($760.35 + $710.12) / 2 = $735.24. I would report $735.24 of income on my tax return. This would also be the cost basis of the 1 ETH I mined.
 
11. Can I deduct mining expenses on my tax return?
If you are reporting the income from mining on Schedule C, then you can deduct expenses on Schedule C as well. You can deduct the portion of your electricity costs allocated to mining, and then you depreciate the cost of your mining rig over time (probably over five years). Section 179 also allows for the full deduction of the cost of certain equipment in year 1, so you could choose to do that if you wanted to instead.
 
12. If I receive ETH or other cryptocurrency as a payment for my business, is this taxable?
Yes. Similar to mining, your income would be what the value of the coins you received was. This would also be your cost basis in the coins.
 
13. If I received Bitcoin Cash as a result of the hard fork on August 1, 2017, is this taxable?
Most likely yes. For example, if you owned 1 Bitcoin and received 1 Bitcoin Cash on August 1, 2017 as a result of the hard fork, your income would be the value of 1 Bitcoin Cash on that date. Bitcoin.tax uses a value of $277. This value would also be your cost basis in the position. Any other hard forks would probably be treated similarly. Airdrops may be treated similarly as well, in the IRS' view.
Here are a couple more good articles about reporting the Bitcoin Cash fork as taxable ordinary income. The second one goes into depth and cites a US Supreme Court decision as precedent: one, two
 
14. If I use ETH, BTC, or other cryptocurrency to purchase goods or services, is this a taxable transaction?
Yes. It would be treated as selling your cryptocurrency for USD, and then using that USD to purchase those goods or services. This is because the IRS treats cryptocurrency as property and not currency.
 
15. Are cryptocurrencies subject to the wash sale rule?
Probably not. Section 1091 only applies to stock or securities. Cryptocurrencies are not classified as stocks or securities. Therefore, you could sell your ETH at a loss, repurchase it immediately, and still realize this loss on your tax return, whereas you cannot do the same with a stock. Please see this link for more information.
 
16. What if I hold cryptocurrency on an exchange based outside of the US?
There are two separate foreign account reporting requirements: FBAR and FATCA.
A FBAR must be filed if you held more than $10,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year.
A Form 8938 (FATCA) must be filed if you held more than $75,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year, or more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year.
The penalties are severe for not filing these two forms if you are required to. Please see the second half of this post for more information on foreign account reporting.
 
17. What are the tax implications of gifting cryptocurrency?
Small gifts of cryptocurrency do not have a tax implication for the gift giver or for the recipient. The recipient would retain the gift giver's old cost basis, so it could be a good idea for the gift giver to provide records of the original cost basis to the recipient as well (or else the recipient would have to assume a cost basis of $0 if the recipient ever sells the cryptocurrency).
Large gifts of cryptocurrency could start having gift and estate tax implications on the giver if the value exceeds more than $14,000 (in 2017) or $15,000 (in 2018) per year per recipient.
Here's a good article on Investopedia on this issue.
An important exception applies if the gift giver gives cryptocurrency that has a cost basis that is higher than the market value at the time of the gift. Please see the middle of this post for more information on that.
 
18. Where can I learn even more about cryptocurrency taxation?
Unchained Podcast: The Tax Rules That Have Crypto Users Aghast
IRS Notice 2014-21
Great reddit post from tax attorney Tyson Cross from 2014
 
19. Are there any websites that you recommend in helping me with all of this?
Yes - I have used bitcoin.tax and highly recommend it. You can import directly from an exchange to the website using API, and/or export a .csv/excel file from the exchange and import it into the website. The exchanges I successfully imported from were Coinbase, GDAX, Bittrex, and Binance. The result is a .csv or other file that you can import into your tax software.
I have also heard good things about cointracking.info but have not personally used it myself.
 
20. Taxation is theft!
I can't help you there.
 
 
That is the summary I have for now. There have been a lot of excellent cryptocurrency tax guides on reddit, such as this one, this one, and this one, but I wanted to post my short summary guide on ethtrader which hopefully answers some of the questions you all may have about US taxation of ETH and other cryptocurrencies. Please let me know if you have any more questions, and I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. Thank you!
Regarding edits: I have made many edits to my post since I originally posted it. Please refresh to see the latest edits to my guide. Thank you.
 
Disclaimer:
The information contained within this post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining tax, accounting, or financial advice from a professional.
Any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this post is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law.
Presentation of the information via the Internet is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an advisor-client relationship. Internet users are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a tax professional.
submitted by Nubboi to ethtrader [link] [comments]

End of day summary - 03/07

The Dow fell 200.23, or 0.78%, to 25,473.23 , the Nasdaq lost 84.46, or 1.13%, to 7,421.46 , and the S&P 500 declined 22.52, or 0.81%, to 2,748.93.
The S&P 500 lost 0.8% on Thursday, as a negative economic outlook from the European Central Bank (ECB) helped fuel growth concerns and profit-taking interest. Thursday's risk-off mindset was made apparent by the underperformance of cyclical sectors and the flight-to-safety trade in the U.S. Treasury market where the 10-yr yield dropped six basis points to 2.64%.
There was little in the way of a catalyst, so stocks continued to endure their worst weekly performance of the year. The Dow and S&P finished lower for the seventh time in the past eight days. Investors may have been looking forward to tomorrow’s monthly jobs data, but they are also growing weary waiting for news on the trade talks with China despite the next scheduled meeting not occurring until the end of the month. A technical violation of the S&P 500's and Nasdaq Composite's 200-day moving averages also contributed to some selling interest; both closed below that key technical level.
10 of the 11 S&P 500 sectors finished lower with consumer discretionary (-1.4%), financials (-1.1%), and information technology (-0.9%) leading the retreat. Conversely, the utilities sector (+0.3%) was the lone group to finish higher.
In the U.S., initial jobless claims fell 3,000 to 223,000 in the week ended March 2. Q4 productivity grew at a 1.9% pace, which was a little firmer than expected.
In Trump news, CNBC reported that Michael Cohen, former lawyer and fixer for U.S. President Donald Trump, has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Organization, alleging his former company has filed to pay "fees and costs" owed to him.
TSLA was in focus following two separate reports, including one from CNBC saying that securities lawyers are claiming that CEO Elon Musk could face large fines and potential suspension as CEO for recent activity on Twitter that federal authorities said violated his September 29 agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, Bloomberg reported that the Pentagon is reviewing Musk's federal security clearance after he smoked marijuana on Joe Rogan's podcast in September. TSLA shares gained AH after a new filing showed a loan worth around $500M for use in China.
AGN said a new experimental treatment for major depression failed in three late-stage studies, and the drugmaker added that it was "deeply disappointed" in the results. David Tepper's Appaloosa hedge fund, which has been pressuring the board of Allergan for changes, said "this latest fiasco" should "make apparent to all that the company's 'Open Science' business model is broken." Shares of Allergan closed 4% higher.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the SEC is investigating whether the multi-tiered pricing system used by stock exchanges, including Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and Nasdaq (NDAQ), favors big brokers at the expense of smaller ones.
In Europe, the ECB held its key interest rates unchanged and said it now expects the key rates to remain at their present levels at least through the end of 2019, which is later than its prior guidance for no change until at least this summer. The ECB also said a new series of quarterly targeted longer-term refinancing operations, or "TLTRO-III," will be launched, starting in September 2019 and ending in March 2021, that "will help to preserve favorable bank lending conditions and the smooth transmission of monetary policy." The timing served as a reinforcement of the concern that the global economy is weakening and that the U.S. market has gotten ahead of itself pricing in a more upbeat growth outlook that isn't being corroborated with falling earnings estimates.
Among the noteworthy gainers was YEXT, which rose 10% after it reported quarterly results and said it plans to hire over 200 employees in Germany over the next five years. Also higher after reporting quarterly results was GWRE, which gained 4%.
Among the notable losers was WBA which fell 2.1% on concerns over potential increased regulatory pressures after the Food and Drug Administration called the company the top violator among pharmacies illegally selling tobacco products to minors. Among the notable losers after reporting quarterly results were TWI and BURL, which fell 22% and 12%, respectively. Also lower was KR, which fell 10% after the grocery store operator reported worse than expected sales and profits for the fourth quarter and gave lower than expected fiscal year guidance.
Shares in Asia were mixed on Thursday following a third consecutive day of losses on Wall Street as investors sought developments on the state of U.S.-China trade negotiations. Meanwhile, U.S. tensions with China reached new heights as Chinese tech giant Huawei filed a lawsuit against the U.S. on Thursday. European stocks retreated, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 0.4%.

Currency

The euro fell sharply against the dollar Thursday after the European Central Bank (ECB) unveiled a series of market-friendly policies amid a slew of rising risks.

Treasury

U.S. Treasuries saw a continuation of their recent strength on Thursday, registering solid gains across the curve. Treasuries started the cash session on a modestly higher note and accelerated their advance after the European Central Bank released a dovish statement, which served as an acknowledgement of slowing growth in the eurozone. It was not a surprise that the ECB made no changes to its interest rate corridor, but the central bank also said that it intends to keep rates at their current levels throughout 2019, which is about three months longer than what was stated in its previous guidance.

Commodity

Oil prices rose in choppy trade on Thursday, as the market continues to draw support from ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against exporters Venezuela and Iran.

Crypto

Cryptocurrency markets have recorded moderate gains and losses on the day, with Binance Coin (BNB) being the major gainer on the day. The leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) started the day around $3,901, subsequently reaching its intraday high of $3,938.

YTD

  • Russell +13.0% YTD
  • Nasdaq +11.9% YTD
  • Spoos +9.7% YTD
  • Dow +9.2% YTD

AH news

  • COST Q2 Rev $35.40Bln Est 35.68Bln, Q2 EPS $2.01 vs $1.69 exp. Up 4%
  • EB Q4 EPS $(0.17) Misses $(0.13) Estimate. Down 20%

What's tomorrow?

investors will receive the Employment Situation Report for February and the Housing Starts and Building Permits Report for January on Friday.
Summary scraped from the interweb. Took 0.18 seconds.
submitted by hibernating_brain to thewallstreet [link] [comments]

Consensus Network EP36: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

Catch the full episode: https://www.consensusnetwork.io/podcastepisodes/2019/10/5/ep36-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style-1
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome.
Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again
Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in?
Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi.
Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing?
Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with.
Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors?
Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem.
Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price?
Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation.
Buck: I believe May of 2020, right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it.
Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple…
Buck: No one else here is either.
Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price.
Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general?
Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend.
Buck: Which pension fund was it?
Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days.
Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think?
Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view.
Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is.
Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year.
Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum?
Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini.
Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held?
Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates.
Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate?
Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that.
Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right?
Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account.
Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things?
Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible.
Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works?
Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six.
Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year.
Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work?
Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens?
Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window.
Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients?
Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers.
Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies?
Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients.
Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards.
Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now.
Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things…
Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well.
Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today.
Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
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Wealth Formula Episode 179: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

Catch the full episode: https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/179-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style/
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome.
Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again
Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in?
Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi.
Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing?
Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with.
Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors?
Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem.
Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price?
Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation.
Buck: I believe May of 2020, right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it.
Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple…
Buck: No one else here is either.
Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price.
Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general?
Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend.
Buck: Which pension fund was it?
Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days.
Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think?
Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view.
Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is.
Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year.
Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum?
Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini.
Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held?
Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates.
Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate?
Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that.
Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right?
Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account.
Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things?
Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible.
Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works?
Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six.
Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year.
Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work?
Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens?
Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window.
Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients?
Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers.
Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies?
Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients.
Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards.
Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now.
Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things…
Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well.
Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today.
Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
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Wealth Formula Episode 175: Cryptocurrency and Asymmetric Risk with Teeka Tiwari

Wealth Formula Episode 175: Cryptocurrency and Asymmetric Risk with Teeka Tiwari

Catch the full episode: https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/175-cryptocurrency-and-asymmetric-risk-with-teeka-tiwari/
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is no stranger to the show. He’s a guy who grew up in foster care and came over the US at the age of 16 with just 150 bucks in his pocket and the clothes on his back. And then by the age of 18 becomes the youngest employee at Lehman Brothers. By 20 he becomes the youngest vice president in Lehman history. Later in his career he goes on to launch successful hedge fund and lived the Wall Street dream. I mean he’s known on Wall Street as the guy who’s made a fortune on what is known as asymmetric risk which is what we’re going to talk about in quite a bit and for the rest of us, for many of us that is, he is best known for being the editor of the Palm Beach confidential newsletter which focuses on digital currencies and I am a subscriber to this by the way. Teeka, welcome back to Wealth Formula Podcast, Teeka Tiwari.
Teeka: Thanks Buck. It’s a pleasure to be here and thank you for having me.
Buck: Yeah so you know you were on not too long ago and some people are listening to the stuff about cannabis and they’re probably thinking to themselves, why is this guy talking about cannabis and digital currencies like what is his specialty? In fact the way I’m thinking about this there’s one main thing that they have in common, they’re both in this area that you call and we call asymmetric risk which is really your thing. Discuss what that means and if you would how have you applied it to your own growth and ultimately to your own wealth.
Teeka: So before I get into asymmetric risk I want to talk about how I discovered asymmetric risk and how I changed the way that I yeah. So when I was in my 20s I developed a lot of wealth by taking massive risk in the stock options and commodities market. And I would bet huge positions. And then that all came to an end in the late 90s when I was on the wrong side of a series of trades that were triggered by the Asian financial crisis which ultimately compelled me to file for bankruptcy. And so I had lost about ten years of wealth creation which was considerable at the time. And what I learned was that I had to change my approach that I couldn’t get it all every single time otherwise I would never get off this boom-and-bust merry-go-round. So what I realized was is that I would I would build the portfolio of somewhat safer more income oriented investments and then I would focus on these ideas that are called asymmetric risk trade. So what’s an asymmetric risk trade? An asymmetric risk trade is where you can take a relatively trivial sum of money and if the idea doesn’t work out it doesn’t impact your net your net worth or your day-to-day lifestyle in any way shape or form. But the asymmetric part of it is is that if it does work out it can absolutely move the needle on your net worth. So an example of that would be something like neo which I recommended at around 12 cents that ended up going up to about a hundred and sixty one dollars so that’s something that you could have put a thousand dollars in and turn it into over a million dollars. That’s a classic asymmetric trade. So what I what I tell my readers is you can’t build your whole portfolio around high-risk asymmetric trades. But if you take let’s say five to ten percent of your liquid net worth and allocate it to these types of situations in a and one of the things I talk about is using uniform position sizing, what you put yourself in the position to do is absolutely grow your network sometimes three four five six X without putting your current lifestyle at risk and it is a sweet spot of wealth creation that I’ve created and popularized now for several years that has not only transformed my financial life but the financial life of many of my readers.
Buck: So as you know Teeka my group the Wealth Formula Group in general I mean there’s a lot of people who are well-to-do they’re you know accredited investors they have you know typically probably more money to invest than others they’re you know and I say this because there is a little bit of a difference there when it comes to somebody who’s barely getting by living check to check, that there is an opportunity in your portfolio to say okay what percentage of this portfolio could I put in that I mean listen if I lose it no big deal I mean I won’t be happy about it but it won’t hurt me that much on the other hand this could explode. Now when you look at it from the perspective of somebody who’s got a fair amount of money and link who’s investing you know several hundred thousand dollars a year or maybe a million dollars or something like that like what do you think is a reasonable amount of a portfolio? Like I know for example that even universities are getting into this and they’re looking at hey maybe you know 1/2 of 1% or something like that I mean I know you’re not in the business of giving financial advice but I’m just curious kind of what your approach would be in terms of allocation.
Teeka: So again generally speaking I would say 5 to 10% of your liquid net worth. So let’s say you’ve got a business that kicks out a million a year that you have to allocate for your investment 50 to $100,000. Definitely nobody likes to lose 50 or a hundred thousand dollars but it’s not going to have a material impact on your lifestyle but if you invest 50 to $100,000 and these asymmetric bets pay off you’re talking about five six seven eight ten twelve million dollars in returns on what is a relatively tiny investment relative to your net worth and that is the beauty of this approach.
Buck: Yeah and and I’m glad you said that because that’s exactly kind of where I’m at sort of lingering between five and ten percent you know and for me you know I I kind of put this in there about you know I kind of put this in that area with startups right I’m not gonna I’m not gonna have a separate category just for digital currencies but anything that is super high risk and high reward and I’m sitting about five or ten percent.
Teeka: That all goes into the same bucket so that’s right that for everybody it’s not just oh this is crypto currencies five to ten percent and startups is five to ten percent. No all go into the same bucket is asymmetric risk.
Buck: Yeah now okay so we kind of got ahead of ourselves and you know you haven’t been on the show talking about crypto currency in a fair amount of time we have a lot more new listeners now so for those who know very little about cryptocurrency but they’re smart they’re sophisticated say they’re a group of you know I know worth investors you’re talking to you they’ve not heard about this how do you explain this in the most efficient way possible and what the significance of it is?
Teeka: Okay so that’s a really big question.
Buck: Yeah no I don’t but I bet you’ve answered it a few times.
Teeka: I’m gonna take a shot at it. So listen as a wealthy investor myself why would I want to bother with cryptocurrency? I’m already rich why do I want to mess around with this? So I’m gonna answer it from that perspective. One it’s always nice to make more money. But two the bigger reason is, is what I want people to understand especially wealthy investors is that it’s very rare to invest at the beginning of a brand-new asset class very very rare right it’s brand-new asset classes though just don’t come about. Digital currency is a brand-new asset class that has legs. So why does it have legs? It has legs because we have never had an asset class that is completely non correlated with the business cycle. It’s never existed before. Every asset class in the world is somehow tied to the business cycle gold, industrial, metals, currencies, stocks, bonds, they’re all tied to the business cycle in one way shape or form things like Bitcoin are not so why why does that make it valuable it makes it valuable because if you are pension fund you’re allocating capital across traditional and non-traditional assets you still have this problem of deep correlation right the business cycle falls apart and you’re taking hits across the board. So there have been studies that have shown just with a small allocation of Bitcoin anywhere from one to five percent across the portfolio even though Bitcoin is wildly volatile because it is not correlated and not tied to the business cycle it actually reduces your overall volatility and your overall risk in your portfolio and that is incredibly valuable. So just from a high level portfolio construction standpoint you will see the world’s hedge funds, pension funds, massive allocators of capital start to move tiny slivers of their money into things like Bitcoin and we’re talking tiny slivers of an 80 trillion dollar pie right it’s in real terms its enormous money in relative terms relative to what they have under management it’s a small amount but when you’re coming off a base where the whole markets only worth 300 billion it doesn’t take much to move the market. So that’s from the high level that’s why you must have some cryptocurrency. And then the next level beyond that is that mankind has never had an asset there’s never been an asset we’re a stronger man couldn’t take it from a weaker man. So whether it was the caveman knocking one guy over the head for his shells or the government coming in in Venezuela and confiscating money or the Argentinian government saying oh we’re having a holiday and taking all your assets from the bank something Brazil has done on multiple occasions. You know the everyday person has not had this ability to hold an asset that has been beyond the confiscationability of a government so something like Bitcoin and digital currency if you are smart and how you buy it if you don’t talk about it you buy quietly and you store it appropriately it is absolutely impossible short of somebody putting a literally putting a gun next to your head for them to take that asset from you and that is remarkable because even if you’ve got a million dollars in gold and you somehow manage to hide it how are you gonna travel the world with a million dollars in gold how are you gonna spend a million dollars in gold you just gonna go to the store and break a piece off with a piece of pliers you just can’t do that the beauty of digital currency is you can walk around with a thumb drive that big with a billion dollars in it and nobody knows and let’s say hey oh I don’t want to keep a billion in Bitcoin I want to do it in a stable coin fine put it in a stable coin. But this idea this portability of money and this complete ownership of an asset that nobody else has any ability to take from you that is valuable that is incredibly valuable.
Buck: So let me ask you a what may seem like a very basic simple question but I think it’s worth asking. So why is it so volatile why is Bitcoin Ethereum for example why these are the major the two biggest by market cap why are they so volatile and you know to the extent that they are uncorrelated do you see that as a function of the size of the market cap or is it something else inherent about digital currencies that makes it this volatile?
Teeka: I think it’s both. One they’re relatively small so if for instance if you look at Microsoft in its early days it was a crazy volatile stock up 40% down 40% down 30% going through bear markets that lasted two years wrecking billions of dollars in value you look at the early days of Microsoft from the 80s into the mid 90s the stock was all over the place and then as the stock got bigger and more mature of course volatility tamp down so you will see that. So what I say with volatility is that welcomed that volatility without it the opportunity to make enormous amounts of money off a small amount of money won’t exist. At some point Bitcoin and the theorem will move to this more blue chip status where maybe you make eight percent a year or six percent a year or something or something like that thank goodness we’re not there yet. The other side of it is is that there you know the markets that are built around trading these are completely unregulated. They’re wild. And there’s all types of crazy manipulation that goes on in the market you have some Bitcoin whale let’s sell a thousand coins and scare the market down and then let’s go buy back 2000 coins it’s the Wild West and somebody a skeptic might say well why do I want to buy now why don’t I buy when the market calms down because when you buy when the market calms down and it’s moved to this very highly regulated very low volatility asset it could have ten x between now and then. So yes there is volatility but I believe if you position size rationally you will be well rewarded for that moment for that volatility and that uncertainty.
Buck: So admittedly I was skeptical of cryptocurrency early on and you know I finally did get in and my timing was actually really good it was a fall early fall 2017 right before a massive bull run. And that of course was followed by what has been called crypto winter. So the question is, is winter over because it sure seems like it’s an awful long thawing period I mean no we seem like to have gotten there but there’s a stall is it over or do you still see some you know rocky shores ahead before there’s a you know big move potentially to all-time highs?
Teeka: Well no crypto winter was over in April. I put out a report talking about that and I pinpointed when that happened it happened when Bitcoin broke its downtrend line. So if you go back and if you look at each of the so-called crypto winters or horrible bear markets that have been in the space Bitcoin will always lead the market first always and then the altcoins play catch up right so it feels worse than it is right now because the alt coins got crushed and many of them have stayed crushed they haven’t come back that’s probably the most popular question I get take okay bitcoins up and it’s you know been up as much as 400 percent this year but why aren’t the old coins moving and my answer is because it’s not yet time. If you look back at the data generally there is at least a six-month time lag between the time Bitcoin breaks its downtrend line and the time that the alt coins move higher. So that that next stage we’ll be entering to in about October and you’ll see a percolation in the alt coins and they’ll start playing catch-up.
Buck: Does that also correlate Teeka with Bitcoin like an all-time high for Bitcoin though? I mean I mean obviously Bitcoin has recovered substantially we’re like you know three four hundred percent up from you know where we were when Bitcoin was at you know three thousand. The question I have is and I have not looked at this history closely even though there’s this recovery, do you have to start approaching all-time highs for those alts to really make their move is that what you’ve seen historically?
Teeka: No you look back when they all started playing catch up in 2016 Bitcoin was starting to move higher and then going into 2017 and then the alts really didn’t start kicking in until around May and that’s when they started moving and eventually the alts outpaced the type of action that was going on with bitcoins. So if we look back at how the altcoins move generally what happens is you have a new series of buyers that come into the market and they’re all centered around Bitcoin. And that’s happening right now. Kelly Lafleur just announced from backed that they’re gonna have physically backed futures have been approved September 23rd I believe is the date that they’re actually gonna start trading. So this brings in a whole new group of traders a whole new group of investors and then so they start getting their feet with Bitcoin and all of a sudden they’re there they might not even know anything about alt coins Buck that that’s the thing right for a lot of people out there to them when they think digital currency the only thing they really think of is Bitcoin.
Buck: So as the alt coins are just anything that’s not Bitcoin for anybody what we keep talking about so anything Ethereum, any other and any other token that’s not Bitcoin generally it’s called an altcoin.
Teeka: Right so as they come in they start getting exposed to these other coins and then they start playing with them and they start investing and then they start trading with them and all of a sudden people look at look at Bitcoin and they look at something else it’s a little bit smaller and they say okay let’s let’s play around here and then you start seeing this broadening of the rally.
Buck: So you think that this time around though specifically I know you you you’re part of your thesis is that this time around may be different because you know bigger money institutional money, but one of the things that we’ve really looked at or you’ve looked at and talked about is you know one of the limitations to big money coming into this stuff is custodianship but the altcoins a lot of the old coins most of them are not gonna have that kind of infrastructure so does that I mean just playing devil’s advocate does that then say well they may just stick to whatever they can buy on Coinbase and Bakkt.
Teeka: Well they have well these coins most of the all coins are ERC 20 coins so in terms of having the infrastructure as long as you can support ERC 20 you can support hundreds of coins that currently trade and so if you look at what Bakkt is doing they’re gonna be supporting Bitcoin first and then they’re going to be supporting Ethereum. So if they support a theory they will naturally support every other ERC20 that’s out there and remember companies like Bakkt they’re in the business of incentivizing trading because they get paid for everything that that goes through their network. So it would be odd to imagine that they’re only going to limit their entire business models with just the trading of Bitcoin it doesn’t make any sense. If you look at what they’ve done in the securities market they haven’t just limited themselves to the trading of the S&P 500 they trade everything so I do think that liquidity will trickle down into the whole market and of course the ERC 20 coins I think will be the first to get the most amount of liquidity because it will be the easiest to support from from a back end technology standpoint. The other thing I want to mention is that another driver of the alt coins would be what I believe will be a proliferation of securitization products. So ETF’s different types of futures I see a world I’ve gotta believe within the next 12 months we will see an ETF that will give us the ability to own 20 30 40 maybe 50 coins in one ETF that trades or one type of security that trades maybe it’s a coin put out by back and says okay you buy this coin and you’ve got the top hundred altcoins exposure to the top hundred alt coins.
Buck: Right and then you know I know a lot of people bring do you talk about the ETF for Bitcoin and this has been sort of bounce back but yeah you know we’re delayed with the SEC several times do you really think of that as a big deal compared to some of the other movements that you you mentioned Bakkt and I think there’s LedgerX things like that where that are allowing for institutional buyers to dissipate is an etf really make much of a difference in your view?
Teeka: I think an ETF is important but I think the SEC is becoming less important in that process and I’ll tell you why. Several very large brokerage firms from the Fidelity to eTrade to TD Ameritrade have announced that they want to offer Bitcoin trading to their users. So I’m talking about a system where you can log in click on a button on your Fidelity account and you can start trading Bitcoin the way you with the sp500. Once that comes out let’s assume it comes out this year which they’ve talked about but they want to do it this year but we’ll see everything seems to run a little slower than people think. But if that that comes out this year and something like 15 to 20 million people can now trade Bitcoin directly from their brokerage accounts to me it makes an ETF a foregone conclusion because the SEC has no reason now to stand in the way of it. And that’s what I’m think that they’re waiting for Buck the SEC is not known for blazing a trail the SEC is not known for moving ahead of the market. So if they can look and say well Fidelity is offering it TD Ameritrade is offering it Schwab is offering it we are asses covered if we approve an ETF I think it’s really a CYA problem with the SEC they don’t want to be the first to make this move and let’s say there’s a problem with it and everybody blames the SEC.
Buck: You know there is this product data that I know of maybe you could talk about this because then you know in the context of an ETF and being able to buy Bitcoin easily you know.
Teeka: I look at the there’s a grayscale Bitcoin trust gbtc which is publicly traded I mean what’s the difference what am I missing there I mean that’s a closed-end fund that has limited liquidity and sometimes trade at a hundred percent premium.
Buck: Yeah okay so lots of things happening in the spaces you mentioned and one of the things that I think that that you said that is very seems very clearly true whether or not what you know whether or not you believe there’s gonna be another bull market is there’s a ton of of Technology improvements and infrastructure and all these things that are going on and price mean a lot more by the way then back in 2017 when prices were off the charts so within that context what are you know say they the one or two things that are you most excited about in the space that gives you the greatest confidence that this is you know this is the the new you know the new dot-com era I guess after the rebels fell as you mentioned before offline and you know the rise of the Amazons and the apples in the crypto world.
Teeka: I’ll tell you why it’s because I’m finally seeing major corporations real corporations doing partnerships with crypto companies not memorandums of understanding MOU’s are meaningless but real partnerships where they’re actually using the technology this is stuff i talked about a year ago. Eighteen and a half months ago I said like real companies are going to start coming into this space they’re gonna start partnering with some of these companies and start using the technology and it’s happening. I’m seeing real businesses like Barclays put up their own money to back certain platforms I was like for instance with trade finance. BMW putting up their own money for back in logistics. So this is a huge shift in in in the type of person that is getting involved in the marketplace. I’m seeing massive credit card processors get involved with tiny startups because they want to piggy back what’s going on and the markets that they’re opening up with with their with their applications. So this to me Buck is is such a difference maker right like if we came into 2019 and none of these deals were happening I would say I would be on here and I would say buck you know what the cake just isn’t baked yet man we just probably gotta wait another year. But when I start seeing very large very smart corporate players making strategic moves to align themselves to certain projects, you can’t ignore that. This is something you can’t ignore. And so this is what has me incredibly excited for this next phase that I see taking place in crypto.
Buck: You know one of the one things that you mentioned earlier and you’ve mentioned in the past which I agree with generally speaking is that you know some level of regulation is a good thing so that it becomes less of a manipulated market. So it becomes something that you know larger big money investors and institutional investors take an interest in because they don’t want to be in something that’s you know that’s that’s not legit. There is a negative a little bit to that and that some opportunities out there are you know start or you’re starting to get restricted in terms of American investors. You know one of the examples I can think of to me is one of what I’m probably one of the biggest things is Binance which is you know the number one trading platform in the world is now effectively you know saying US investors we’ll see you later we’re gonna build something you know sometime and we’re gonna call it you know Binance US and we’re gonna have a lot fewer tokens there what concerns me is an investor in some of the various digital currencies at that point is well how does that affect my liquidity as a US investor and I’m wondering how it is affecting your your portfolio?
Teeka: Okay so there’s a couple of things around that and I can’t advise people to do this I can only report on what some people are doing to get around this geofencing. They’re using Virtual Private Networks. With the use of a virtual private network can get access to any exchange in the world so long as they’re using a VPN that mimics a country that this exchange is allowed to operate in. So as far as I know Binance is not doing anything to prevent anybody from using a VPN so just want to get that out there.
Buck: Jut to interrupt there I mean that that in itself is a little tricky though right I mean isn’t it because then you’ve got to deal with you know US taxes and all that if you’re dealing…
Teeka: Well you always have to deal with US taxes no matter what whether you’re using a VPN or not.
Buck: So it wouldn’t be illegal technically to use Virtual Private Network to use Binance?
Teeka: For me as an individual would I be breaking any laws, I don’t think so but I’m not an attorney. Binance might be breaking some laws or but I don’t think that I would be but again this is something everybody has to make their own decision with. But the other side of this is that by Nance is putting together their own decks which is a decentralized exchange which will allow for peer-to-peer trading and I think you’ll see more of these types of decentralized exchanges which I’m a big fan of I hate the idea of centralized exchanges anyway. So there are some speed problems with decentralized exchanges but they’re getting ironed out and I think within in the future a lot of trading is going to move to peer-to-peer but you’re right it’s certainly a concern for now I would say the biggest solution that I have read about and again I can’t formally tell people to do this is to use a virtual private network.
Buck: The other question though I think as just as a follow-up on that Teeka is that okay so say you use a VPN but not everybody’s gonna do that you know probably most people aren’t gonna do that didn’t then there’s an issues just in terms of liquidity right or don’t you think that’s a problem anymore?
Teeka: I do think it’s a problem but I also rely on the greed factor of the participants in this market that they will figure out a solution because there’s too much money to be made for liquidity that wants to come into the market somebody will find a way to bring that liquidity into that okay so anyway so like you you know I believe that Bitcoin bull run is inevitable what do you think of anything what are you looking for that might trigger and I know you you’re saying already that we’re kind of in a bull market already but what triggers that sort of next level all-time high thing is there anything or do you think this is something that’s gonna be more of a gradual rise or organic than it was in 2017?
Teeka: Well there are several things which I’m gonna be talking about specifically I don’t really want to spill the beans on that here but I have an event coming up which I talk in more detail about a very specific event that I think will act as a massive catalyst. Outside of that I think this whole idea of I call it this kind of new narrative right among institutions where before two years ago three years ago they looked at Bitcoin and they said oh my gosh Bitcoin that’s for Gun Runners and pornographers where we we have no interest in Bitcoin. And now they’re starting to see Bitcoin as a way to eliminate this correlation risk in their portfolio. So I think that narrative will gain more ground in fact I’ve been invited to a conference in San Moritz with 500 top-tier investors and I will be putting forward that research that I’ve drawn together to that audience and really helping propagate that narrative because it is transformational if you manage a large pool of capital what you can do with your overall volatility and how you can adjust it lower through just a tiny amount of Bitcoin is absolutely remarkable. So I think that’s more of a slow burn Buck, but as that gains speed I mean can you just imagine just the amount of buying if pension funds say okay going forward half of 1% of all our assets are going to be in digital currency.
Buck: I mean in part of part of understanding that for people is to understand one of the the great things about Bitcoin in particular is that this is an asset with that is fixed to a certain number of Bitcoin that’ll ever be created so you know we’ve never really had a that kind of monetary thing before I mean to a certain extent gold is that way of course but even you know gold there’s always more gold every year a little bit more gold. This is a truly deflationary asset that really where you know you put more money in the pot you know each one of those bitcoins gonna be worth a lot more and that I can’t think of anything else that’s out there like that.
Teeka: I agree.
Buck: I know you’ve got you know the the Palm Beach Confidential Newsletter Teeka I just have to compliment you because I you know I have been a reader for a couple years it is one of the most comprehensive and thoughtful investment newsletters I’ve ever subscribed to. I mean it is totally the real deal and I appreciate that and one of the things that people can’t join any time and it opens and closes and I know that it is going to be opening up and you’re going to do a webinar coming up on that but can you talk a little bit about the newsletter and the event that’s coming up?
Teeka: Yeah sure so in the newsletter what I do is I will typically find one idea each month and give you a complete breakdown on the idea. And what I try to do I understand not everybody is a cryptocurrency enthusiastic of their currency investor and so what I try to do is write in a way that is easy to digest, easy to understand, not simplistic but very easy for the layperson to get their head around and to really understand the concept that we’re talking about. And I have not opened up Palm Beach confidential for any new members for this whole year, this is the first time that I’ve done that and the reason is, is I only open up Palm Beach confidential to new members when there’s an event that I think can have a massive impact on the broad market. So on September 18th at 8 p.m. I’m going to talk about one of these events and the last time this event took place you could literally take 500 dollars and turn it into five million dollars. There’s only a few times in the history of crypto where you have those types of windows of opportunity and so one of those windows of opportunity is about to open and so at this event I’m gonna explain what it is why it works and why it will absolutely happen this particular event will absolutely happen there’s nothing that can stop the event from taking place. And so I’m gonna share my five top coins, one of which I’ll give away for free during the webinar that I think have that ability to go from five hundred dollars literally into five million. So it’s an exciting time and I’m really kind of chomping at the bit to kind of get in front of everybody and talk about this research that I’ve discovered.
Buck: One last thing I want to point out is I get you know when we talk like this sometimes people get really skeptical they’re like yeah that sounds a little salesy Buck that’s not really kind of the usual thing that you’re talking about and I get it right. The reality is this is a situation this isn’t you know there are real people out there there are kids out there who’ve become multimillionaires by doing exactly this. And so it’s real, that’s why I’m interested.
Teeka: In my own investing I’ve seen a thousand dollar investment go to as much as 1.6 million dollars, ok so it’s real. The other thing I want to convey to everybody I don’t have to write newsletters anymore I don’t have to come on podcast I can sit on a beach all I want ok. So why do I do this I do this because moving the needle on somebody’s net worth maybe not this audience maybe maybe my broader audience it’s incredibly gratifying right helping people change their lives without putting their current lifestyle at risk that’s I mean if that’s my one legacy in this life could you ask for anything more Buck? Really it’s incredibly gratifying to be able to do that and we have this opportunity now and but this opportunity won’t last forever at some point this will be a multi trillion dollar asset class and the ability to make gains like that just won’t exist.
Buck: Teeka, as always it’s been a pleasure talking to you and thanks again for being on Wealth Formula Podcast.
Teeka: Thank you Buck.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
submitted by Buck_Joffrey to u/Buck_Joffrey [link] [comments]

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