On the regulatory front, the fog is beginning to lift globally as the market slowdown gave regulators a chance to catch up. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are conducting a market manipulation investigation based on the market action around the launch of the futures contracts.
The CFTC and the SEC appear to be pro-crypto currency and are not in favour of a heavy-handed ban. The SEC Chairman recently stated that Ethereum and Bitcoin were not securities, shedding light on the two biggest cryptocurrencies. This statement which still needs to become officially documented can open the space up for ETFs, enabling large institutions to get exposure to the crypto market through more easily accessible options.
Additionally, the SEC has made a new rule making the process of bringing simple ETFs to market. This development can help aid the progress of proposed crypto ETFs. In the east, China is warming up to cryptocurrencies after an all-out ban on domestic trading. The state television aired a special on blockchain technology, and president Xi praised blockchain as a revolutionary technology.
Furthermore, Russia is moving forward with crypto legislation; we may see proposals enacted in July of this year, if not, certainly before the end of the year. The Moscow stock exchange is building infrastructure to support data feeds on ICOs. Two of Russia’s biggest banks are testing cryptocurrency-based investment options for retail investors. Meanwhile the island nation of Malta is positioning itself as one of most favourable jurisdictions in regards to crypto, with the passage of several key pieces of legislation providing a clear framework for crypto assets.
Critics will say that Malta is still suffering from corruption and money-laundering scandals, behaviour that is still also a problem in Russia and China, and that Malta is just positioning itself inside the global flow of money laundering.
The infrastructure supporting the technology itself is growing despite the price decline. Additionally, infrastructure that is supporting investments in the crypto industry, such as regulated trading desks, security products like the XBTprovider, and custodial services are on the rise. Right now the market is unsure of its direction in the short term. Long-term there might be more production ready solutions instead of only speculative potential. Many firms in the industry and untraditional financial markets are betting on cryptocurrencies becoming a new class of assets.
Bitcoin vs Ethereum
Positive price catalysts for both:
1. It is speculated that Ethereum will upgrade before the end of the year. The upgrade would reduce the supply and its inflation rate to about 2% a year versus Bitcoin’s inflation rate which will remain at 4% until mid-2020. The upgrade will also require users to lock their coins into smart contracts if they wish to take part in securing the network which will lead to a decrease in speculative/liquid supply.
2. Ethereum seems to be next in line for a regulated futures product. The CME Group launched an Ethereum reference rate and index this year paving the way for a futures product. Additionally, the SEC’s comments on Ethereum not being security also help the case for Ethereum futures.
Positive price catalysts for Bitcoin:
1. A Bitcoin ETF announcement could boost BTC price to new heights due to speculation.
2. Ethereum futures could already be priced into the market.
3. Global recession and a continued bear market in crypto makes investor run for Bitcoin, the de facto “safe haven” asset in crypto markets.
Investing in cryptocurrencies is highly risky and could result in the loss of your entire investment.
This next half year we expect greater legislation to provide more certainty as regulators continue to educate themselves about this new technology. More research from well-known institutions will begin to colour their opinion on the topic. Both research and legislation will help to give entrepreneurs and investors a better framework to invest and innovate within the space. To help drive the next trend reversal, the new speculators need to convert to longer-term investors to limit liquidity of Bitcoins in the money supply. However, a major announcement by a large economy or a physically-backed ETF could trigger a reversal. Until then, the market seems locked into a downtrend even as more companies are getting involved in the sector.