By Chris Kline, COO of Bitcoin IRA
2018 has marked a new era for digital currency: what once could be described as ‘The Wild West Days of Crypto’ have come to an end, and real regulatory development in the space has begun. Even though many of these regulatory measures are still in the process of being implemented, and prices are currently much lower than they were at their all-time high 11 months ago, I believe that 2018 has been a net positive year for the space. Ultimately, I am hopeful that all of the strides made with regards to cryptocurrency regulation will pave the way for mainstream adoption in 2019 and beyond.
But it’s probably no surprise that I am a crypto advocate, and I felt it was important to gauge public sentiment on this topic as well. So Bitcoin IRA hired an independent research firm to survey 500 Americans regarding their attitudes towards digital currencies, and the results were enlightening, and largely optimistic. Let’s take a closer look.
The Majority of Millennials Have a Positive Sentiment Towards Cryptocurrency
More than 75% of millennial respondents surveyed expressed a positive attitude towards cryptocurrency, along with nearly 66% of Gen Xers, associating terms such as “investment,” “curiosity” and “wealth” most closely with digital currency.
I believe this positive sentiment was largely influenced by the recent influx of institutional interest in the crypto and blockchain space. JPMorgan has conducted successful tests of its blockchain-based payment system, Morgan Stanley is building a Bitcoin swap trading product, and Goldman Sachs has announced that it is considering how to use services that involve physical Bitcoin — and these are only a few of the major recent announcements.
However, if we take a step back even further and look at these trends in the bigger picture, I believe that these major financial institutions would not have expressed such an interest had the regulatory sector – particularly the SEC – not stepped in and established necessary parameters. Regulatory oversight was needed, and desperately overdue, and only when it arrived did we see this heightened level of institutional interest, and consumer enthusiasm, that bodes well for crypto’s longevity.
All Age Groups Believe in the Power of Alternative Assets
Across the board, all groups surveyed believe in the power of alternative investments, with over half of Gen X respondents and almost half of millennials and baby boomers saying they believe that alternative investments, including Bitcoin and real estate, have the greatest potential for aggressive growth.
I was very excited to see these statistics, and believe that some of the enthusiasm around Bitcoin as an alternative investment is likely a result of excitement surrounding the potential passage of a Bitcoin ETF.
We’ve seen in the past how an ETF can have a dramatic impact on an asset: in 2003, the price of gold significantly increased following the launch of a gold ETF, and many believe that the same price increase could happen for Bitcoin upon the passage of a Bitcoin ETF.
The CBOE VanEck SolidX Bitcoin ETF, though currently awaiting approval from the SEC, has distinguished itself in proposing a physically-backed model rather than a futures-based fund, and provides custodianship and a robust insurance policy missing from other applications.
“The company’s commitment in bringing to market a liquid, insured, and appropriately regulated physical Bitcoin [ETF] is resolute,” said VanEck’s Director of Digital Asset Strategy, Gabor Gurbacs.
I, along with a credible CBOE insider, am confident that this Bitcoin ETF will pass, and once it does, will only make Bitcoin an even more powerful alternative asset.
In addition, Bakkt, the crypto startup backed by the Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft, and Starbucks, is on track to begin trading physically-backed Bitcoin Futures early next year. By providing the first fully-integrated package combining a major federally-regulated exchange, the clearing and storage overseen by the exchange, as well an off-blockchain solution to process the majority of transactions, Bakkt could provide the security and stability needed to meet investors’ needs and finally make Bitcoin prevalent at the institutional — and mainstream — level.
Takeaway: The Industry is Evolving — and Improving — because of Regulation
With any industry in the midst of progress, there are always hiccups along the way. We saw this recently when the Canadian Crypto exchange MapleChange got hacked in October. The hack was very unfortunate, and it highlights, once again, the need for investors to perform due diligence on the crypto company and services they are using. Fortunately, thanks to the passage of countless regulatory initiatives over the course of 2018, the crypto sector seems to be taking asset security as seriously as the SEC.