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Bitcoin And Crypto Price Volatility Opens The Door For Further Stablecoin Adoption

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Continuing price volatility around bitcoin and other cryptoassets illustrates the need for, and importance of, stablecoins and other less volatile cryptoassets.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies had been on a bull run, but with some of the steam being let out of this potential price bubble recently, the need for lower volatility cryptoassets once again has come to the forefront of the blockchain conversation. Stablecoins and other asset-backed-coins are not a brand-new idea or iteration of cryptoassets, with many of them having been traded and used since 2018. With a combined market capitalization in the tens of billions of dollars, this subset of cryptoassets is a major driving force behind wider adoption and utilization.

Taking this one step further, however, and moving beyond simply using stablecoins or other asset-backed-coins or tokens as a medium of exchange, the conversation around tokenized and other asset-supported crypto is just beginning.

Based on both individual and institutional interest, and setting aside the price volatility for the time being, the case for wider blockchain and cryptoasset adoption and investment is clear. As an ever-expanding pool of potential investors and users seek to gain exposure to this area, however, there is a simultaneous push for less volatile, and more sophisticated, crypto investment options.

Building on this demand is the importance of more stable cryptoassets for new and emerging blockchain applications such as decentralized finance (DeFi), which might seem paradoxical at first glance. Peeling back the layers reveals that these two concepts – decentralized finance applications and more centralized cryptoassets – actually operate more closely together than might otherwise appear. To move DeFi, which promises to deliver many of the financial inclusion and accessibility goals that originally led to the development of bitcoin in the first place, stablecoins and other asset backed cryptoassets will play an important role.

DeFi, high profile as it may have become recently, is just one path forward and topic that more stabilized cryptoassets can address and need to factor into further development decisions.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the criteria that are going to be necessary to accelerate and further develop the cryptoasset sector via advanced stablecoin development and implementation.

Price volatility must be reduced. Bitcoin and other cryptoassets certainly make headlines due to the price action that continues to dominate the space, but every large gyration can also discourage entrepreneurs and institutions from using these instruments as a medium of exchange. How this ultimately plays out will, of course, vary from instrument to instrument, but a large part of making blockchain and cryptocurrency more palatable to a larger percentage of the population will necessitate that these instruments have lower associated volatility.

Put simply, if individuals and organizations are going to use cryptocurrency as a legitimate fiat alternative, consumers of all sizes and forms must have confidence that the value of this alternative will be consistent from day-to-day. Stablecoins, in and of themselves, do provide a potential partial solution, but also open the door for more sophisticated blockchain applications.

Cash flows must come first. A common attribute (some would say drawback) of many cryptocurrencies is the lack of any associated cash flows, income, or dividends. In other words, and notwithstanding developments such as yield farming and the like, the only returns that investors generally receive are those directly linked to price appreciation. Connecting some cryptoassets to enterprises or other forms of income generation, be it via a stablecoin or some other iteration of cryptocurrency, is a logical step forward.

In addition to opening the door to more institutional investors seeking cash flows and income generation, this will also help reduce price volatility. Must like how some mature organizations issue dividends and have relatively stable stock prices, having the income associated with the stablecoin might generate a similar effect on the cryptoasset in question. Clearly it is too early to state this definitively, but the potential for tokenized assets to expand the blockchain and cryptoasset sector should not be undersold.

Collateralization. One of the more interesting applications and facets connected to DeFi is the importance of collateralizing loans and other aspects of DeFi operations. How this normally plays out will be different depending on the coin or token in question, but there is almost always a requirement that any transactions be over-collateralized, with collateral requirements sometimes running as as high as 150%. Further complicating this process is, once again, the price volatility that is so commonly associated with the cryptocurrency sector. Without diving into too much specificity connected to any one particular coin or token, price volatility and swings can – potentially – result in the liquidation of smart contracts and other blockchain-based applications.

A more stable underlying cryptoasset will help reduce this risk, and again, make the entire sector more accessible and understandable for the much larger non-expert or non-enthusiast population.

There is no magic solution or tool that will revolutionize or solve all of the issues that are accompanying the rapid evolution and development of the blockchain and cryptoasset sector. That said, stablecoins and other asset backed coins and tokens provide a viable path forward toward broader and non-expert utilization. The topics and ideas raised above represent just a handful of the considerations and factors that should be a part of this conversation.

Stablecoins increasingly look like the future of crypto, with good reason, and will continue to open the door to new and exciting applications moving forward.

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Column: Bubble-wary markets eye ETF crush in tech and crypto – Mike Dolan

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LONDON (Reuters) – Is the presumed proliferation of market bubbles just speculative froth among amateur traders or is concentrated institutional money blowing big soapy spheres that interconnect and may inevitably burst each other?

FILE PHOTO: Representations of virtual currency bitcoin are seen in this picture illustration taken taken March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The two factors are certainly at play as savings balloon amid massive government and central bank support for confined populations during the pandemic.

Over-caffeinated day traders with whizzy new stock market apps and punting from bedrooms during lockdown get most blame for some of blinding single stock surges of the past six months.

The parabolic price surges include seemingly unrelated booms in anything from carmaker Tesla to cryptocurrency Bitcoin, Big Tech ‘disrupters’ or barely profitable internet startups.

Few doubt the combination of pandemic confinement, job furloughs, windfall savings and low-cost trading platforms all speak loudly to the phenomenon.

But the buzz around some active themed funds in the mushrooming Exchange Traded Fund space is just as eye-catching and perhaps raises bigger questions about concentrated risk.

A ballooning of the ETF world since the last great crash is the first obvious point – as they were only bit players in the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. The number of ETFs captured by fund tracker Lipper has risen almost five-fold since 2009 to some 5,582 worldwide last year – with combined assets of almost $6 trillion compared with less than $900 billion 11 years ago.

Refinitiv data shows the combined ETF and wider Exchange Traded Products category topped $7 trillion last year – about 8% of total world equity market capitalisation.

And to the extent that ETFs have traditionally been passive index trackers, growth of the sector over those years has appeared pretty benign. Their attraction stems largely from their pitch as low-cost vehicles channelling savings and 401(k) pension money into broadly diversified portfolios and which only disrupt the pricier end of the active management business.

What’s more, long-standing fears of potential accidents with daily exchange sourcing and pricing of underlying assets and adequate cash balances during market stress have proven mostly unfounded to date during market wobbles of the past decade.

But as the years rolled on and virtually every index on the planet was shadowed by multiple ETFs, questions about new trading strategies and ideas were increasingly met with the response: “There’s an ETF for that”.

Far from simple and passive index trackers, a blizzard of themed and leveraged ETFs has emerged – charging higher fees for targeted outperformance or demanded by professional investors for hedging purposes.

A report by Citi this week shows thematic ETFs came into their own last year, with a $57 billion surge in flows bringing total assets to some $140 billion, and it reckoned this growth was “still in its early stages”.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, given the tech boom and ongoing lockdowns, it shows “disruptive innovators” and “clean energy” funds have driven the trend and that’s where the concentration of new inflows and assets lie.

For some analysts, the swelling of these types of funds goes a way to explaining recent outsize and sometimes correlated market moves hitting the headlines – and could cause serious headaches if just one part of them were to go into reverse.

For a graphic on Themed disrupter ETFs capture and drive zooming stocks:

For a graphic on Total Net Assets in ARK’s Innovation ETF:

TWO BY TWO

For example, four of the 10 best performing non-leveraged ETFs over the past year were themed funds managed by ARK Invest – with its flagship Ark Innovation and Ark Next Generation Internet generating year-on-year returns of between 750-850%. Assets under management have hit more than $24 billion and $6 billion respectively, compared with less that $2 billion and $500 million each just a year ago.

What’s in those funds is more interesting. Unlike many wider index trackers, they are concentrated in little over 50 stocks, with Tesla making up about 10% in each and the Next Generation Internet ETF also including crypto investor Grayscale Bitcoin Trust as its fifth largest holding alongside the likes of TV streaming firm Roku and online health firm Teladoc.

Citing a recent analysis in Barron’s magazine examining difficulties for open-ended ETFs like ARK’s hitting capacity limits in relatively illiquid stocks due to enormous inflows, Saxo Bank strategist Peter Garnry warned of spillovers in any sharp reversals in its holdings.

“We are basically putting out the warning this interconnectedness of positions could drive each other and become the epicenter of the next correction in growth equities,” he wrote. “Our thinking is that a sell-off in Bitcoin can cause risk adverse behaviour among investors with Tesla-Bitcoin-Ark positions and suddenly a vicious sell-off has started”.

Whether themed ETFs are prone to bunching relatively small stocks that have seen sharp price rises and these then attract waves of inflows looking to ape past performance that merely blow bubbles in the process is a question.

Citi notes this problem. “We are cognizant of a ‘which comes first’ dilemma, the theme or the underlying stock price action?”

And on that, recent studies aren’t kind.

An academic paper by Itzhak Ben-David, Francesco Franzoni, Byungwook Kim and Rabih Moussawi published by the National Bureau of Economic Research this week studied ETFs over the 20 years before the pandemic and concluded that what they call ‘specialized’ ETFs performed poorly.

“These ETFs tend to hold attention-grabbing and overvalued stocks and therefore underperform significantly. They deliver a negative alpha of about −4% a year,” it said, adding that under-performance persists for at least five years following launch – usually the peak of excitement around the investment theme.

Perhaps it’s different since the pandemic.

(The author is editor-at-large for finance and markets at Reuters News. Any views expressed here are his own)

by Mike Dolan, Twitter: @reutersMikeD; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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The Crypto Daily – Movers and Shakers – January 27th, 2021

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Bitcoin, BTC to USD, rose by 0.83% on Tuesday. Reversing a 0.13% loss from Monday, Bitcoin ended the day at $32,519.0.

A mixed start to the day saw Bitcoin strike an early morning high $32,824.0 before hitting reverse.

Falling short of the 23.6% FIB of $33,008 and the major resistance levels, Bitcoin fell to an early afternoon intraday low $30,867.0.

The reversal saw Bitcoin fall through the first major support level at $31,195 before a late rebound.

Bitcoin broke back through the first major support level to strike a late intraday high $32,971.0.

Continuing to fall short of the 23.6% FIB and major resistance levels, Bitcoin eased back to end the day at $32,500 levels.

The near-term bullish trend remained intact, in spite of the latest sell-off. For the bears, Bitcoin would need to slide through the 62% FIB of $18,504 to form a near-term bearish trend.

The Rest of the Pack

Across the rest of the majors, it was a mixed day on Tuesday.

Ethereum rose by 3.79% to lead the way.

Binance Coin (+0.17%), Cardano’s ADA, (+0.09%) and Ripple’s XRP (+0.43%) also found support on the day.

It was a bearish day for the rest of the majors, however.

Crypto.com Coin slid by 8.81% to lead the way down.

Bitcoin Cash SV (-1.54%), Chainlink (-1.47%), Litecoin (-1.66%), and Polkadot (-1.33%) also saw red.

At the start of the week, the crypto total market cap rose to a Monday high $1,038.16bn before falling to a Tuesday low $893.97bn. At the time of writing, the total market cap stood at $941.06bn.

Bitcoin’s dominance rose from a Monday low 62.54% to a high 64.32%. At the time of writing, Bitcoin’s dominance stood at 63.58%.

This Morning

At the time of writing, Bitcoin was down by 1.21% to $32,126.0. A mixed start to the day saw Bitcoin rise to an early morning high $32,596.0 before falling to a low $31,951.3.

Bitcoin left the major support and resistance levels untested early on.

Elsewhere, it was a mixed start to the day.

Crypto.com Coin bucked the trend early on, rallying by 4.39%, with Bitcoin Cash SV flat.

It was a bearish start for the rest of the majors, however.

At the time of writing, Ethereum was down by 1.65% to lead the way.

http://finance.yahoo.com/

For the Bitcoin Day Ahead

Bitcoin would need to avoid a fall back through the pivot level at $32,119 to bring the 23.6% FIB of $33,008 and the first major resistance level at $33,371 into play.

Support from the broader market would be needed for Bitcoin to break back through the 23.6% FIB.

Barring an extended crypto rally, the first major resistance level and resistance at $33,500 would likely cap any upside.

In the event of an extended crypto rally, Bitcoin could test resistance at $35,000 before any pullback. The second major resistance level sits at $34,223.

Failure to avoid a fall back through the $32,119 pivot would bring the first major support level at $31,267 into play.

Barring an extended crypto sell-off, Bitcoin should steer clear of the second major support level at $30,015.

This article was originally posted on FX Empire

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The true key to unlocking crypto mass adoption

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When Bitcoin (BTC) launched in 2009, it was motivated by the distrust of financial institutions and their fees and the inflationary practices by central banks during the Great Recession. Bitcoin was supposed to usher in an era of decentralization, financial inclusion and democratization. 

Yet more than a decade later, with Bitcoin prices surging, we’re witnessing the digital asset being hoarded by large, centralized financial institutions, risking the principles behind its creation. Bitcoin is now in danger of being predominantly in the domain of the financially included — exactly the types of institutions that the creators sought to avoid in the first place.

Related: Why institutions suddenly give a damn about Bitcoin

Meanwhile, in the context of other potential applications of blockchain on which Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are built, Big Tech has matured in its midst, with many seeing the problems of anti-competition and the abuse of power that come with its size. Problems such as economic and financial control, data privacy, disinformation and the general usurping of users are the symptoms of structures that we have let become too powerful.

It is 2021, and we risk never fulfilling the promise of adoption that will be possible with these technologies. While the community has been preoccupied with profit-making from crypto, we have the opportunity to create even more massive value as an industry. The potential is not today’s crypto market capitalizations but the billions of users and trillions of dollars of market potential that are this technology’s true promise.

Skepticism of the mainstream

As an entrepreneur who was around for the last technological disruption of the internet, I played a role in one of the internet’s most dominant categories: social networks. As a co-founder of LinkedIn, I’m struck by a similar kind of idealism that pervaded the Internet 1.0 era, but I also see the chasm between those in this new art and those who have yet to experience its benefits and question its existence.

Crypto and blockchain remain in their infancy many years after their creation. There are some hundreds of millions of Bitcoin and Ether (ETH) wallets, while the internet boasts 4.7 billion users. Even under an optimistic assumption of 250 million wallets and one user per wallet, crypto’s user base represents only 5% of internet users. The recent ascendancy of crypto’s market cap to $1 trillion is only 1% of the worldwide public stock markets’ total market cap, which stands at $90 trillion. Most blockchain projects today still have woefully limited adoption, and their tokens are subject to volatile speculation.

With the exception of Bitcoin, which is finally being endorsed by the experts, and decentralized finance, which in its current speculative state has the potential to demonstrate real-world value, this community knows its fair share of skeptics. The mainstream still wonders whether crypto and blockchain are solutions in search of a problem when centralized solutions seem to be working just fine at scale. The industry still has not captured the imagination of the mainstream nor shown signs of mass adoption.

Putting the ideals aside, I believe decentralized technologies can fix the vexing problems of Big Tech and finance in the years to come. To do this, we need to adopt a more pragmatic, business-minded approach to our industry. This mentality might run counter to the sensibilities of our entrepreneurs in the community. I’ve seen too many efforts that don’t work on products that are relevant to the mainstream. Nor do we measure success in terms of traditional key performance indicators such as product-market fit, user bases or revenue. We still talk about utopian concepts and the size of our communities that speculate on tokens but don’t mostly use them.

Appeal to mainstream audiences, not just enthusiasts

As an industry, we need to work on solutions that appeal to the mainstream, with a focus on applications or decentralized applications. We should figure out the applications before investing too much more in infrastructure projects that abound in the ecosystem.

Today the world’s top companies provide applications for end-users and are not infrastructure providers. Take a look at the top 50 internet companies: Almost all of them offer solutions to a large addressable market of users that have big active user bases. What’s more, for the ones offering infrastructure solutions, they started by bringing applications to market first. Only after these applications achieved some form of scale did these companies offer infrastructure tools. The most notable examples include Amazon and Amazon Web Services (in 1994 and 2006, respectively), Facebook and Facebook Platform (in 2004 and 2007), Google and Google Cloud (in 1998 and 2008), and LinkedIn and Confluent (in 2003 and 2014).

These companies fulfilled a need first for ordinary users, and only after their infrastructures were scaling did they launch their own tools. By then, these infrastructure technologies solved real-world needs, and they were also conveniently battle-tested. Sure, there were also plenty of infrastructure companies created during the first internet era, but can we name any of them today?

Our industry might have gotten it wrong when it focused on infrastructure from the beginning. Just because Ethereum won critical attention early on, it shouldn’t have resulted in so many other infrastructure projects.

We should be emphasizing the creation of more decentralized applications. Let’s identify and focus on use cases that have large addressable markets with pain points and opportunities to provide solutions. We should then strive to work on achieving product-market fit. Let’s also be bolder and look beyond financial use cases. There are plenty of mainstream opportunities, including better versions of Big Tech applications, and new use cases yet to be discovered. With working solutions for real users, we should work backward to technologies that will be truly useful to develop.

Our solutions have to be 10 times better than existing (centralized) solutions

Those decentralized solutions have to be noticeably better than existing centralized solutions. Decentralization promoted for its own sake is not enough, as the benefits for users have to be clear and tangible to convince them to switch and adopt the decentralized versions.

Digital assets such as Bitcoin are already on their way to demonstrating their superior characteristics as a hedge over traditional currencies, and DeFi has the opportunity to truly reach the underserved in financial services with its borderless capabilities. Many more types of services need to be developed.

While the industry will discover which solutions will be better than their centralized counterparts, the topic that we should be passionate about is digital identity and reputation. The category of social media platforms that have so dominated the first internet era and make billions of dollars of revenue (Facebook: $70 billion, Twitter: $3.5 billion, YouTube: $15.1 billion) and even more in market cap (Facebook: $805 billion, Twitter: $40 billion) depends on user data that consists of user identities.

These platforms make money knowing their users’ behaviors, interests and other aspects of their identity. Yet, monetary incentives between platforms and users are in conflict, with the platforms reaping all of the monetary benefits from user data while user identities are held hostage. The bargain in return is for users to continue to use the platforms for free. Since their rise, we’ve also been facing serious existential challenges from disinformation and data breaches.

Decentralized approaches hold the promise to address the vastly inequitable distribution of value from user identity and reputation. The overall value of user data can be more equitably distributed, with the worth of identities transferred to users. The better the reputation someone has, the more economic opportunities they can access. Think influencers but democratized to everyone, for everyone has a reputation. And there are additional benefits for users, such as control over the circumstances under which to share their identity data. There’s also the potential of a decentralized solution to disinformation.

Services have to be convenient and accessible

Finally, it’s necessary to make the benefits of this technology more accessible and convenient by making decentralized products much easier to use. When the overall friction of a product is reduced and it can be conveniently accessed, this is when it will gain more users.

We need to focus on ease-of-use. We should be spending as much time considering user experience as we do on smart contracts and blockchains. Truly secure wallets, one of the foundational elements of this technology, are still too complex for the average person. Let’s strive to live up to the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s saying that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Products should just work for people. A successful decentralized service means that users should not have to know that it is powered by a blockchain underneath, just like traditional applications don’t need users to know that there are underlying database systems.

As an industry, we have been terrible at explaining what we do to users and need to much better explain our solutions. Much of the technical jargon used in the space speaks to cypherpunks and finance wonks, whether it’s proof-of-anything or financial concepts such as yield farming. Granted, it’s natural for innovators and developers to create a common language for working together, but it’s a very limited group of people. It’s important to associate our work in everyday terms that a mainstream audience would value, speaking to benefits such as enablement, convenience, speed and/or lower costs. The efforts by mainstream companies like PayPal and Square should be celebrated, but the decentralized natives would be remiss not to offer their own hopefully superior versions.

Related: Will PayPal’s crypto integration bring crypto to the masses? Experts answer

In the arc of history, including the history of technology, the world oscillates between centralized and decentralized structures while always tending toward more decentralization. Let’s take full advantage of the approaching trend toward decentralization. As with the internet era, the winners of the decentralized economy may well be those efforts that play to massive addressable markets and connect meaningful value to the masses.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Eric Ly co-founded LinkedIn and is the founder of Hub Token. The Hub Human Trust Protocol is focused on decentralizing identity and reputation. The project has released a rewards-based DApp for global events and communities based on trust and referrals.