Bitcoin was up slightly at about $11,776 early Monday, rising along with European equities, stock futures, gold, copper and oil amid optimism over a coronavirus vaccine and treatments. The dollar weakened.
The largest cryptocurrency is coming off a 2.2% decline in the seven days through Aug. 23, breaking a four-week string of gains.
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On the positive side, prices have now spent 27 straight days above $10,000, the third-longest period in the five-digit zone in bitcoin’s 11-year history. According to Cryptoslate, the streak suggests “$10,000 as strong support, which typically is a positive medium-term sign.”
A week after First Mover wrote that cryptocurrency markets are now looking more capitalist than Wall Street, a new report suggests they also might be more democratic.
Mason Nystrom, an analyst at the digital-asset data firm Messari, wrote last week that digital tokens are giving “anyone with access to a smartphone or computer” the opportunity to bet on early-stage tech startups previously restricted to investors who were already rich.
“The open nature of crypto networks has largely removed barriers that restricted early-stage investing to hedge funds or venture capitalists,” Nystrom wrote. “Hopefully, this will result in better capital allocation over time and democratize an industry that has for too long been limited to the wealthy few.”
The business of betting on the next Facebook, Google or Amazon can be risky but lucrative: According to VC News Daily, there’s at least 14 venture capitalists with fortunes of at least $1 billion.
Because of investor-protection rules imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, clubby venture-capital funds have mostly been restricted to “accredited” individuals – those with a net worth of at least $1 million or annual income of $200,000.
Now, quick-to-market digital tokens like Compound’s COMP and Spaghetti’s PASTA are allowing anyone to bet on the fast-growing realm of decentralized finance, or DeFi. According to Token Daily, some of the projects come with “frothy DeFi token valuations.”
But check out the demand from investors: No fewer than seven DeFi projects have market valuations of $500 million or more. That’s 10 times the size of the Series C funding round that the centralized crypto lender BlockFi announced last week.
It’s unclear why the SEC has allowed this culture of unfettered tokenholder democracy to proliferate, with its potential for fast riches alongside the risk of steep losses due to poor execution, scams or fraud.
This month witnessed the meme-worthy spectacle of YAM, whose market value plunged to $0 from $60 million within a span of 35 minute because of a programming bug in the unaudited protocol.
Perhaps the SEC is taking a wait-and-see approach. Perhaps the market is too small, young and irrelevant in the midst of a global pandemic to allocate precious agency resources. Perhaps “governance tokens” in “decentralized autonomous organizations” are just too complicated. Maybe they’re even structured in such a way that they don’t run afoul of the rules.
“Accredited investor regulations are designed in theory to protect average investors from losing a bunch of their money, but they also prevent people from investing in startups, or in certain crypto assets where some people might actually have a decent amount of knowledge,” Messari’s Nystrom said in a Zoom interview.
There’s a lot of similarities between crypto markets and Wall Street, such as fear and greed, leverage and luck. But at least for now, the playing field in crypto might be more level.
– Bradley Keoun, Editor, First Mover
Bearish bets in bitcoin futures from leveraged funds recently rose to record highs on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) – though that doesn’t necessarily imply a fresh sell-off is coming.
– Omkar Godbole, Markets Reporter
0x (ZRX): Efforts to reduce congestion on the Ethereum blockchain are reviving speculation in 0x and other decentralized-exchange tokens.
Polkadot (DOT): Leaders of the decentralized-Web project complained about cryptocurrency exchanges’ rush to list the new redenominated token early, but as of Sunday the “new DOT” token was up about 30% in the first few days of trading.