submitted by Joe-M-4 to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]
EXPERIMENT - Tracking Top 10 Cryptos of 2020 - Month Nine - UP +56%
See the full blog post with all the tables here.
Month Nine – UP 56%2020 Top Ten Overview
After a rough start to the month, most of crypto had a Wake Me Up When September Ends moment. For the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio, it was bad, but could have been (as has been) much worse: it was the best performing of the Top Ten “Index Fund” Experiments in September and at least one of the cryptos (BNB up +25%) had a great month.
Question of the month:
In September, this decentralized exchange (DEX) overtook Coinbase in trading volume:A) UniswapB) AaveC) CompoundD) Both A and B
Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and September Winners and Losers2020 Top 10 Rank
Lots of movement this month: six out of the Top Ten changed positions in September. BCH climbed one from #6 to #5 and BNB made a big move from #10 to #6. Going the opposite direction were BSV, EOS, and Tezos, dropping one, two, and four places respectively.
The big story though, at least for anyone who’s been watching crypto for a while, was the ejection of Litecoin from the Top Ten. In just 30 days, LTC fell five places from #7 to #12. For some context, Litecoin’s absence from the Top Ten is a Top Ten Experiment first. It is also the first time since CoinMarketCap has tracked crypto rankings that Litecoin has not has not held a spot in the Top Ten.
Drop outs: after nine months of the experiment, 30% of the cryptos that started 2020 in the Top Ten have dropped out. LTC, EOS, and Tezos have been replaced by ADA, LINK, and most recently, DOT.
September Winners – Winner, singular: BNB was the only crypto to finish in the green, finished up +25% for the month, and gained four places in the rankings. A very good month for Binance Coin.
September Losers – Tezos was the worst performing crypto of the 2020 Top Ten portfolio, losing nearly a third of its value, down -31% for the month. LTC also had a bad month, losing -24% and dropping out of the Top Ten.
Since COVID-19 has hammered the sporting world, let’s be overly competitive and pit these cryptos against each other, shall we? Here’s a table showing which cryptos have the most monthly wins and losses nine months into the 2020 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment:
ETH is in the lead three monthly Ws, followed by Tether and Tezos with two wins each. Even though it is up +79% since January 1st, 2020, BSV has the most monthly losses: it has been the worst performing crypto of the group four out of the first nine months in 2020.
Overall update – ETH maintains strong lead, followed by BNB. 100% of Top Ten are in positive territory.Ethereum remains firmly in the lead, up +187% on the year. Thanks to a strong month for BNB and a weak month for Tezos, Binance Coin has overtaken XTZ for second place, and is now up +109% in 2020.
Discounting Tether (no offense Big-T), EOS (+4%) is the worst performing cryptocurrency of the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio. 100% of the cryptos in this group are in positive territory.
Total Market Cap for the cryptocurrency sector:The overall crypto market lost about $35B in September, ending the month up +85% since the beginning of this year’s experiment in January 2020. Despite a rough month, this is the second highest month-end level since the 2020 Top Ten Experiment started nine months ago.
Monthly BitDom - 2020
BitDom ticked up slightly this month, but is still lower than it has been for most of the year. As always, a low BitDom reflects a greater appetite for altcoins. For context, the BitDom range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2020 has been roughly between 57% and 68%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2020:After an initial $1000 investment on January 1st, the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio is now worth $1,536, up +56%. This is the best performing of the three Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Portfolios, but not by much: the 2019 Top Ten came in at +54% in September.
Here’s the month by month ROI of the 2020 Top Ten Experiment, hopefully helpful to maintain perspective and provide an overview as we go along:
Monthly ROI - 2020 Top Ten
Even during the zombie apocalypse blip in March, the 2020 Top Ten has managed to end every month so far in the green (for a mirror image, check out the all red table you’ll find in the 2018 experiment). The range of monthly ROI for the 2020 Top Ten has been between a low of +7% in March and high of +83% in August.
So, how does the 2020 Top Ten Experiment compare to the parallel projects?
After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, the combined portfolios are worth $3,340 ($238+ $1,538 +$1,564).
That’s up about +11% for the three combined portfolios, compared to +31% last month.
Here’s a table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios:
Combined ROI - UP +11%
That’s a +11% gain by buying $1k of the cryptos that happened to be in the Top Ten on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
But what if I’d gone all in on only one Top Ten crypto for the past three years? While many have come and gone over the life of the experiment, five cryptos have started in Top Ten for all three years: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, and LTC (Big L, no pressure, but if you don’t claw yourself back in the Top Ten by January 2021, you’re out of the club). Let’s take a look:
Three Year Club
At this point in the Experiments, Ethereum (+104%) would have easily returned the most, followed by BTC (+77%). On the other hand, following this approach with XRP, I would have been down nearly a third at -31%.
So that’s the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments snapshot. Let’s take a look at how traditional markets are doing.
Comparison to S&P 500I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point to traditional markets. The S&P slipped a bit from an all time high in August and is now up just +5% in 2020.
Over the same time period, the 2020 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio is returning about +56%. The initial $1k investment in crypto is now worth about $1,563. That same $1k I put into crypto in January 2020 would be worth $1050 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 instead. That’s a $513 difference on a $1k investment, one of the largest gaps in favor of crypto all year.
But that’s just 2020. What about in the longer term? What if I invested in the S&P 500 the same way I did during the first three years of the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments? What I like to call the world’s slowest dollar cost averaging method? Here are the figures:
After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,660.
That $3,660 is up +22% since January 2018, compared to a +11% gain of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios over the same period of time.
That’s an 11% swing in favor of the S&P 500 and breaks a two month mini-streak of wins from the Top Ten crypto portfolios.
For those keeping track or unable to see the table above: that’s seven monthly victories for the S&P vs. two monthly victories for crypto. The largest gap so far was a 22% difference in favor of the S&P back in June.
Conclusion:September saw losses for both traditional and crypto markets, but crypto got hit harder. What can we expect for the rest of 2020? The Neverending Year is entering the final quarter and is not finished with us yet: a lot can and will happen in the remaining months. More volatility is no doubt to come as we enter the final stretch of a truly unpredictable and exhausting year. Buckle up.
Stay healthy and take care of yourselves out there.
Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the 2019 Top Ten Experiment follow up experiment.
And the Answer is…A) Uniswap
As part of the DeFi/DEX wave, in late August/early September, Uniswap surpassed Coinbase in trading volume.
"Wise Origin Bitcoin Index Fund I, LP" has a $100,000 minimum buy-in and a high-ranking executive officer to boot: Peter Jubber, head of strategy and planning for the increasingly crypto-friendly investments giant Fidelity.
Disclosed in a Wednesday morning filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the fund is the latest example of Wall Street veterans warming up to bitcoin. Fidelity, one of the largest mutual fund firms in the U.S., is also leading the Street in bitcoin research and services.
Wise Origin links back to Fidelity Investments via Jubber and Fidelity's brokerage service and distribution subsidiaries, both of which are set to receive sales compensation from the new fund. It also shares a Boston office building with Fidelity.
EXPERIMENT - Tracking Top 10 Cryptos of 2019 - Month Eighteen - UP +26%submitted by Joe-M-4 to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]
See the full blog post with all the tables here.
tl;dr - Tether (as it's designed to do) holds its ground, all others finish the month in negative territory. Tron finishes June in second place, down -2%. BSV loses nearly 25% of value in June. Overall, since January 2019, BTC in lead, ETH takes over second place, XRP still worst performing. The 2019 Top 10 is up +26% almost equal to the the gains of the S&P 500 over the same time period (+24%).
Month Eighteen – UP 26%Not a great month for the 2019 Top Ten
After a strong April and a mixed May, June was bloody for the 2019 Top Ten Cryptos. Stablecoin Tether was the only crypto to hold its ground, as it was designed to do.
Question of the month:
According to a June article citing unnamed sources, which two FinTech companies are planning to allow their users to buy and sell crypto directly?A) Paypal and Venmo B) Square and Cashapp C) Robinhood and Revolut D) Sofi and Coinbase
Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and June Winners and LosersXRP and Stellar slipped one place each in the rankings in June, now at #4 and #14 respectively. EOS fell two spots to #11 and joins Stellar and Tron as the only three cryptos to have dropped out of the 2019 Top Ten since January 1st, 2019. They have been replaced by Binance Coin, Cardano, and newcomer CRO.
Tether was the only crypto to move up in rank in June.
Not a good sign when Tether is the only crypto to move up.
Not a good sign when Tether enters the Top 3.
June Winners – Tether. Second comes Tron, which basically held its ground at -2%.
June Losers – BSV lost -23% of its value in June making it the worst performing of the 2019 Top Ten portfolio. EOS had a rough month as well, down -17%, dropping two spots in the rankings, and falling out of the Top Ten.
If you’re keeping score, here is tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and loses during the first 18 months of the 2019 Top Ten Experiment: Tether is still in the lead with six monthly victories followed by BSV in second place with three. BSV also holds the most monthly losses, finishing last in seven out of eighteen months. The only crypto not to win a month so far? XRP. (In fairness, XRP has also not lost any month yet).
Overall update – BTC in lead, ETH takes over second place, XRP still worst performingBTC is out front for the second straight month and ETH has taken over second place from BSV. Ahead until April, BSV has simply not keep up with the pack over the last two months. Bitcoin is up +144% since January 2019. The initial $100 investment in BTC is currently worth $249.
Eighteen months in, 50% of the 2019 Top Ten cryptos are in the green since the beginning of the experiment. The other five cryptos are either flat or in negative territory, including last place XRP (down -50% since January 2019).
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:The crypto market as a whole is down about $20B in June, but still up +106% since January 2019.
Bitcoin dominance:BitDom finally wobbled in June, but not by much – it’s been in a very familiar zone for months now, indicating a lack of excitement (or at least a low risk tolerance) for altcoins. Taking a wider view, the Bitcoin Dominance range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2019 has ranged between 50%-70%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2019:The 2019 Top Ten Portfolio lost almost $175 in June. After the initial $1000 investment, the 2019 group of Top Ten cryptos is worth $1,259. That’s up about +26%.
Here’s a look at the ROI over the life of the first 18 months of the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund experiment, month by month:
18 months of ROI, mostly green
Unlike the completely red table you’ll see in the 2018 Top Ten Experiment, the 2019 crypto table is almost all green. The first month was the lowest point (-9%), and the highest point (+114%) was May 2019.
How does the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund Portfolio compare to the parallel projects?
After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, the combined portfolios are worth $2,710.
That’s down about -10% for the three combined portfolios. Last month that figure was +4%. Better than a few months ago (aka the zombie apocalypse) where it was down -24%, but not yet back at January (+13%) or February (+6%) levels.
Here’s a new table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios:
ROI of all three combined portfolios - not exactly inspiring
How do crypto returns compare to traditional markets?
Comparison to S&P 500:Good thing I’m tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point with other popular investments options. Even with unemployment, protests, and COVID, the US market continued to rebound in June. It’s now up +24% in the last 18 months.
The initial $1k investment I put into crypto would be worth $1,240 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 in January 2019.
As a reminder (or just scroll up) the 2019 Top Ten portfolio is returning +26% over last 18 months, just about equal to the return of the S&P 500 over the same time period. Just last month the ROI of the 2019 Top Ten crypto portfolio was nearly double the S&P 500 since January 1st, 2019.
But what if I took the same world’s-slowest-dollar-cost-averaging/$1,000-per-year-in-January approach with the S&P 500? It would yield the following:
After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,370.
That $3,370 is up over+12% since January 2018, compared to the $2,710 value (-10%) of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. Here’s another new table that compares the ROI of the combined crypto portfolios to a hypothetical similar approach with the S&P 500:
We see in June the largest difference in favor of the S&P since the beginning of 2020: a 22% gap. Compare that February, when there was only a 1% difference in ROI.
Implications/Observations:Since January 2019, the crypto market as a whole has gained +106% compared to the 2019 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio which has gained +26%. That’s an 80% gap.
At this point in the 2019 Experiment, an investor would have done much better picking different cryptos or investing in the entire market instead of focusing only on the 2019 Top Ten. Over the course of the first 18 months of tracking the 2019 Top Ten, there have been instances this was a winning strategy, but the cases have been few and far between.
The 2018 Top Ten portfolio, on the other hand, has never outperformed the overall market, at least not in the first thirty months of that Experiment.
And for the most recent 2020 Top Ten group? The opposite had been true: the 2020 Top Ten had easily outperformed the overall market 100% of the time…up until the last two months.
Conclusion:As the world continues to battle COVID, traditional markets seem to be recovering. Will crypto make a significant move in the second half of 2020?
Final word: Stay safe and take care of each other.
Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the recently launched 2020 Top Ten Experiment.
And the Answer is…A) Paypal and Venmo
According to a Coindesk report in June, three sources familiar with the matter say that Paypal and Paypal-owned Venmo are planning to allow their users to buy and sell crypto. Paypal has declined to comment.
What is Grayscale?Grayscale is the company that created the ETHE product. Their website is https://grayscale.co/
What is ETHE?ETHE is essentially a stock that intends to loosely track the price of ETH. It does so by having each ETHE be backed by a specific amount of ETH that is held on chain. Initially, the newly minted ETHE can only be purchased by institutions and accredited investors directly from Grayscale. Once a year has passed (6 months for GBTC) it can then be listed on the OTCQX Best Market exchange for secondary trading. Once listed on OTCQX, anyone investor can purchase at this point. Additional information on ETHE can be found here.
So ETHE is an ETF?No. For technical reasons beyond my personal understandings it is not labeled an ETF. I know it all flows back to the “Securities Act Rule 144”, but due to my limited knowledge on SEC regulations I don’t want to misspeak past that. If anyone is more knowledgeable on the subject I am happy to input their answer here.
How long has ETHE existed?ETHE was formed 12/14/2017. GBTC was formed 9/25/2013.
How is ETHE created?The trust will issue shares to “Authorized Participants” in groups of 100 shares (called baskets). Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create these baskets and they do it on behalf of the investor.
How does Grayscale acquire the ETH to collateralize the ETHE product?An Investor may acquire ETHE by paying in cash or exchanging ETH already owned.
Where does Grayscale store their ETH? Does it have a specific wallet address we can follow?ETH is stored with Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC. I am unaware of any specific address or set of addresses that can be used to verify the ETH is actually there.
Can ETHE be redeemed for ETH?No, currently there is no way to give your shares of ETHE back to Grayscale to receive ETH back. The only method of getting back into ETH would be to sell your ETHE to someone else and then use those proceeds to buy ETH yourself.
Why are they not redeeming shares?I think the report summarizes it best:
Redemptions of Shares are currently not permitted and the Trust is unable to redeem Shares. Subject to receipt of regulatory approval from the SEC and approval by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, the Trust may in the future operate a redemption program. Because the Trust does not believe that the SEC would, at this time, entertain an application for the waiver of rules needed in order to operate an ongoing redemption program, the Trust currently has no intention of seeking regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program.Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the fee structure?ETHE has an annual fee of 2.5%. GBTC has an annual fee of 2.0%. Fees are paid by selling the underlying ETH / BTC collateralizing the asset.
What is the ratio of ETH to ETHE?At the time of posting (6/19/2020) each ETHE share is backed by .09391605 ETH. Each share of GBTC is backed by .00096038 BTC.
Why is the ratio not 1:1? Why is it always decreasing?While I cannot say for certain why the initial distribution was not a 1:1 backing, it is more than likely to keep the price down and allow more investors a chance to purchase ETHE / GBTC.
I keep hearing about how this is locked supply… explain?As noted above, there is currently no redemption program for converting your ETHE back into ETH. This means that once an ETHE is issued, it will remain in circulation until a redemption program is formed --- something that doesn’t seem to be too urgent for the SEC or Grayscale at the moment. Tiny amounts will naturally be removed due to fees, but the bulk of the asset is in there for good.
The Trust’s ETH will be transferred out of the ETH Account only in the following circumstances: (i) transferred to pay the Sponsor’s Fee or any Additional Trust Expenses, (ii) distributed in connection with the redemption of Baskets (subject to the Trust’s obtaining regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program and the consent of the Sponsor), (iii) sold on an as-needed basis to pay Additional Trust Expenses or (iv) sold on behalf of the Trust in the event the Trust terminates and liquidates its assets or as otherwise required by law or regulation.Source: Description of Trust on page 31 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Grayscale now owns a huge chunk of both ETH and BTC’s supply… should we be worried about manipulation, a sell off to crash the market crash, a staking cartel?First, it’s important to remember Grayscale is a lot more akin to an exchange then say an investment firm. Grayscale is working on behalf of its investors to create this product for investor control. Grayscale doesn’t ‘control’ the ETH it holds any more then Coinbase ‘controls’ the ETH in its hot wallet. (Note: There are likely some varying levels of control, but specific to this topic Grayscale cannot simply sell [legally, at least] the ETH by their own decision in the same manner Coinbase wouldn't be able to either.)
Yes, but what about [insert criminal act here]…Alright, yes. Technically nothing is stopping Grayscale from selling all the ETH / BTC and running off to the Bahamas (Hawaii?). BUT there is no real reason for them to do so. Barry is an extremely public figure and it won’t be easy for him to get away with that. Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust creates SEC reports weekly / bi-weekly and I’m sure given the sentiment towards crypto is being watched carefully. Plus, Grayscale is making tons of consistent revenue and thus has little to no incentive to give that up for a quick buck.
That’s a lot of ‘happy little feels’ Bob, is there even an independent audit or is this Tether 2.0?Actually yes, an independent auditor report can be found in their annual reports. It is clearly aimed more towards the financial side and I doubt the auditors are crypto savants, but it is at least one extra set of eyes. Auditors are Friedman LLP – Auditor since 2015.
The company’s auditors Friedman LLP were also coincidentally TetheBitfinex’s auditors until They controversially parted ways in 2018 when the Tether controversy was at its height. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything shady about DCG - I just find it interesting it’s the same auditor.
“Grayscale sounds kind of lame” / “Not your keys not your crypto!” / “Why is anyone buying this, it sounds like a scam?”Welp, for starters this honestly is not really a product aimed at the people likely to be reading this post. To each their own, but do remember just because something provides no value to you doesn’t mean it can’t provide value to someone else. That said some of the advertised benefits are as follows:
Why is there a premium? Why is ETHE’s premium so insanely high compared to GBTC’s premium?There are a handful of theories of why a premium exists at all, some even mentioned in the annual report. The short list is as follows:
Are there any other differences between ETHE and GBTC?I touched on a few of the smaller differences, but one of the more interesting changes is GBTC is now a “SEC reporting company” as of January 2020. Which again goes beyond my scope of knowledge so I won’t comment on it too much… but the net result is GBTC is now putting out weekly / bi-weekly 8-K’s and annual 10-K’s. This means you can track GBTC that much easier at the moment as well as there is an extra layer of validity to the product IMO.
I’m looking for some statistics on ETHE… such as who is buying, how much is bought, etc?There is a great Q1 2020 report I recommend you give a read that has a lot of cool graphs and data on the product. It’s a little GBTC centric, but there is some ETHE data as well. It can be found here hidden within the 8-K filings.Q1 2020 is the 4/16/2020 8-K filing.
Is Grayscale only just for BTC and ETH?No, there are other products as well. In terms of a secondary market product, ETCG is the Ethereum Classic version of ETHE. Fun Fact – ETCG was actually put out to the secondary market first. It also has a 3% fee tied to it where 1% of it goes to some type of ETC development fund.
Are there alternatives to Grayscale?I know they exist, but I don’t follow them. I’ll leave this as a “to be edited” section and will add as others comment on what they know.
Coinshares (Formerly XBT provider) are the only similar product I know of. BTC, ETH, XRP and LTC as Exchange Traded Notes (ETN).
It looks like they are fully backed with the underlying crypto (no premium).
Denominated in SEK and EUR. Certainly available in some UK pensions (SIPP).
As asked by pegcity - Okay so I was under the impression you can just give them your own ETH and get ETHE, but do you get 11 ETHE per ETH or do you get the market value of ETH in USD worth of ETHE?I have always understood that the ETHE issued directly through Grayscale is issued without the premium. As in, if I were to trade 1 ETH for ETHE I would get 11, not say only 2 or 3 because the secondary market premium is so high. And if I were paying cash only I would be paying the price to buy 1 ETH to get my 11 ETHE. Per page 39 of their annual statement, it reads as follows:
The Trust will issue Shares to Authorized Participants from time to time, but only in one or more Baskets (with a Basket being a block of 100 Shares). The Trust will not issue fractions of a Basket. The creation (and, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redemption) of Baskets will be made only in exchange for the delivery to the Trust, or the distribution by the Trust, of the number of whole and fractional ETH represented by each Basket being created (or, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redeemed), which is determined by dividing (x) the number of ETH owned by the Trust at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the trade date of a creation or redemption order, after deducting the number of ETH representing the U.S. dollar value of accrued but unpaid fees and expenses of the Trust (converted using the ETH Index Price at such time, and carried to the eighth decimal place), by (y) the number of Shares outstanding at such time (with the quotient so obtained calculated to one one-hundred-millionth of one ETH (i.e., carried to the eighth decimal place)), and multiplying such quotient by 100 (the “Basket ETH Amount”). All questions as to the calculation of the Basket ETH Amount will be conclusively determined by the Sponsor and will be final and binding on all persons interested in the Trust. The Basket ETH Amount multiplied by the number of Baskets being created or redeemed is the “Total Basket ETH Amount.” The number of ETH represented by a Share will gradually decrease over time as the Trust’s ETH are used to pay the Trust’s expenses. Each Share represented approximately 0.0950 ETH and 0.0974 ETH as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Sourcesubmitted by pascalbernoulli to Yield_Farming [link] [comments]
It’s effectively July 2017 in the world of decentralized finance (DeFi), and as in the heady days of the initial coin offering (ICO) boom, the numbers are only trending up.
According to DeFi Pulse, there is $1.9 billion in crypto assets locked in DeFi right now. According to the CoinDesk ICO Tracker, the ICO market started chugging past $1 billion in July 2017, just a few months before token sales started getting talked about on TV.
Debate juxtaposing these numbers if you like, but what no one can question is this: Crypto users are putting more and more value to work in DeFi applications, driven largely by the introduction of a whole new yield-generating pasture, Compound’s COMP governance token.
Governance tokens enable users to vote on the future of decentralized protocols, sure, but they also present fresh ways for DeFi founders to entice assets onto their platforms.
That said, it’s the crypto liquidity providers who are the stars of the present moment. They even have a meme-worthy name: yield farmers.
Where it startedEthereum-based credit market Compound started distributing its governance token, COMP, to the protocol’s users this past June 15. Demand for the token (heightened by the way its automatic distribution was structured) kicked off the present craze and moved Compound into the leading position in DeFi.
The hot new term in crypto is “yield farming,” a shorthand for clever strategies where putting crypto temporarily at the disposal of some startup’s application earns its owner more cryptocurrency.
Another term floating about is “liquidity mining.”
The buzz around these concepts has evolved into a low rumble as more and more people get interested.
The casual crypto observer who only pops into the market when activity heats up might be starting to get faint vibes that something is happening right now. Take our word for it: Yield farming is the source of those vibes.
But if all these terms (“DeFi,” “liquidity mining,” “yield farming”) are so much Greek to you, fear not. We’re here to catch you up. We’ll get into all of them.
We’re going to go from very basic to more advanced, so feel free to skip ahead.
What are tokens?Most CoinDesk readers probably know this, but just in case: Tokens are like the money video-game players earn while fighting monsters, money they can use to buy gear or weapons in the universe of their favorite game.
But with blockchains, tokens aren’t limited to only one massively multiplayer online money game. They can be earned in one and used in lots of others. They usually represent either ownership in something (like a piece of a Uniswap liquidity pool, which we will get into later) or access to some service. For example, in the Brave browser, ads can only be bought using basic attention token (BAT).
If tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance.
Tokens proved to be the big use case for Ethereum, the second-biggest blockchain in the world. The term of art here is “ERC-20 tokens,” which refers to a software standard that allows token creators to write rules for them. Tokens can be used a few ways. Often, they are used as a form of money within a set of applications. So the idea for Kin was to create a token that web users could spend with each other at such tiny amounts that it would almost feel like they weren’t spending anything; that is, money for the internet.
Governance tokens are different. They are not like a token at a video-game arcade, as so many tokens were described in the past. They work more like certificates to serve in an ever-changing legislature in that they give holders the right to vote on changes to a protocol.
So on the platform that proved DeFi could fly, MakerDAO, holders of its governance token, MKR, vote almost every week on small changes to parameters that govern how much it costs to borrow and how much savers earn, and so on.
Read more: Why DeFi’s Billion-Dollar Milestone Matters
One thing all crypto tokens have in common, though, is they are tradable and they have a price. So, if tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance.
What is DeFi?Fair question. For folks who tuned out for a bit in 2018, we used to call this “open finance.” That construction seems to have faded, though, and “DeFi” is the new lingo.
In case that doesn’t jog your memory, DeFi is all the things that let you play with money, and the only identification you need is a crypto wallet.
On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name.
I can explain this but nothing really brings it home like trying one of these applications. If you have an Ethereum wallet that has even $20 worth of crypto in it, go do something on one of these products. Pop over to Uniswap and buy yourself some FUN (a token for gambling apps) or WBTC (wrapped bitcoin). Go to MakerDAO and create $5 worth of DAI (a stablecoin that tends to be worth $1) out of the digital ether. Go to Compound and borrow $10 in USDC.
(Notice the very small amounts I’m suggesting. The old crypto saying “don’t put in more than you can afford to lose” goes double for DeFi. This stuff is uber-complex and a lot can go wrong. These may be “savings” products but they’re not for your retirement savings.)
Immature and experimental though it may be, the technology’s implications are staggering. On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name.
DeFi applications don’t worry about trusting you because they have the collateral you put up to back your debt (on Compound, for instance, a $10 debt will require around $20 in collateral).
Read more: There Are More DAI on Compound Now Than There Are DAI in the World
If you do take this advice and try something, note that you can swap all these things back as soon as you’ve taken them out. Open the loan and close it 10 minutes later. It’s fine. Fair warning: It might cost you a tiny bit in fees, and the cost of using Ethereum itself right now is much higher than usual, in part due to this fresh new activity. But it’s nothing that should ruin a crypto user.
So what’s the point of borrowing for people who already have the money? Most people do it for some kind of trade. The most obvious example, to short a token (the act of profiting if its price falls). It’s also good for someone who wants to hold onto a token but still play the market.
Doesn’t running a bank take a lot of money up front?It does, and in DeFi that money is largely provided by strangers on the internet. That’s why the startups behind these decentralized banking applications come up with clever ways to attract HODLers with idle assets.
Liquidity is the chief concern of all these different products. That is: How much money do they have locked in their smart contracts?
“In some types of products, the product experience gets much better if you have liquidity. Instead of borrowing from VCs or debt investors, you borrow from your users,” said Electric Capital managing partner Avichal Garg.
Let’s take Uniswap as an example. Uniswap is an “automated market maker,” or AMM (another DeFi term of art). This means Uniswap is a robot on the internet that is always willing to buy and it’s also always willing to sell any cryptocurrency for which it has a market.
On Uniswap, there is at least one market pair for almost any token on Ethereum. Behind the scenes, this means Uniswap can make it look like it is making a direct trade for any two tokens, which makes it easy for users, but it’s all built around pools of two tokens. And all these market pairs work better with bigger pools.
Why do I keep hearing about ‘pools’?To illustrate why more money helps, let’s break down how Uniswap works.
Let’s say there was a market for USDC and DAI. These are two tokens (both stablecoins but with different mechanisms for retaining their value) that are meant to be worth $1 each all the time, and that generally tends to be true for both.
The price Uniswap shows for each token in any pooled market pair is based on the balance of each in the pool. So, simplifying this a lot for illustration’s sake, if someone were to set up a USDC/DAI pool, they should deposit equal amounts of both. In a pool with only 2 USDC and 2 DAI it would offer a price of 1 USDC for 1 DAI. But then imagine that someone put in 1 DAI and took out 1 USDC. Then the pool would have 1 USDC and 3 DAI. The pool would be very out of whack. A savvy investor could make an easy $0.50 profit by putting in 1 USDC and receiving 1.5 DAI. That’s a 50% arbitrage profit, and that’s the problem with limited liquidity.
(Incidentally, this is why Uniswap’s prices tend to be accurate, because traders watch it for small discrepancies from the wider market and trade them away for arbitrage profits very quickly.)
Read more: Uniswap V2 Launches With More Token-Swap Pairs, Oracle Service, Flash Loans
However, if there were 500,000 USDC and 500,000 DAI in the pool, a trade of 1 DAI for 1 USDC would have a negligible impact on the relative price. That’s why liquidity is helpful.
You can stick your assets on Compound and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers.
Similar effects hold across DeFi, so markets want more liquidity. Uniswap solves this by charging a tiny fee on every trade. It does this by shaving off a little bit from each trade and leaving that in the pool (so one DAI would actually trade for 0.997 USDC, after the fee, growing the overall pool by 0.003 USDC). This benefits liquidity providers because when someone puts liquidity in the pool they own a share of the pool. If there has been lots of trading in that pool, it has earned a lot of fees, and the value of each share will grow.
And this brings us back to tokens.
Liquidity added to Uniswap is represented by a token, not an account. So there’s no ledger saying, “Bob owns 0.000000678% of the DAI/USDC pool.” Bob just has a token in his wallet. And Bob doesn’t have to keep that token. He could sell it. Or use it in another product. We’ll circle back to this, but it helps to explain why people like to talk about DeFi products as “money Legos.”
So how much money do people make by putting money into these products?It can be a lot more lucrative than putting money in a traditional bank, and that’s before startups started handing out governance tokens.
Compound is the current darling of this space, so let’s use it as an illustration. As of this writing, a person can put USDC into Compound and earn 2.72% on it. They can put tether (USDT) into it and earn 2.11%. Most U.S. bank accounts earn less than 0.1% these days, which is close enough to nothing.
However, there are some caveats. First, there’s a reason the interest rates are so much juicier: DeFi is a far riskier place to park your money. There’s no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protecting these funds. If there were a run on Compound, users could find themselves unable to withdraw their funds when they wanted.
Plus, the interest is quite variable. You don’t know what you’ll earn over the course of a year. USDC’s rate is high right now. It was low last week. Usually, it hovers somewhere in the 1% range.
Similarly, a user might get tempted by assets with more lucrative yields like USDT, which typically has a much higher interest rate than USDC. (Monday morning, the reverse was true, for unclear reasons; this is crypto, remember.) The trade-off here is USDT’s transparency about the real-world dollars it’s supposed to hold in a real-world bank is not nearly up to par with USDC’s. A difference in interest rates is often the market’s way of telling you the one instrument is viewed as dicier than another.
Users making big bets on these products turn to companies Opyn and Nexus Mutual to insure their positions because there’s no government protections in this nascent space – more on the ample risks later on.
So users can stick their assets in Compound or Uniswap and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers.
OK, I already knew all of that. What is yield farming?Broadly, yield farming is any effort to put crypto assets to work and generate the most returns possible on those assets.
At the simplest level, a yield farmer might move assets around within Compound, constantly chasing whichever pool is offering the best APY from week to week. This might mean moving into riskier pools from time to time, but a yield farmer can handle risk.
“Farming opens up new price arbs [arbitrage] that can spill over to other protocols whose tokens are in the pool,” said Maya Zehavi, a blockchain consultant.
Because these positions are tokenized, though, they can go further.
This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan. Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender?
In a simple example, a yield farmer might put 100,000 USDT into Compound. They will get a token back for that stake, called cUSDT. Let’s say they get 100,000 cUSDT back (the formula on Compound is crazy so it’s not 1:1 like that but it doesn’t matter for our purposes here).
They can then take that cUSDT and put it into a liquidity pool that takes cUSDT on Balancer, an AMM that allows users to set up self-rebalancing crypto index funds. In normal times, this could earn a small amount more in transaction fees. This is the basic idea of yield farming. The user looks for edge cases in the system to eke out as much yield as they can across as many products as it will work on.
Right now, however, things are not normal, and they probably won’t be for a while.
Why is yield farming so hot right now?Because of liquidity mining. Liquidity mining supercharges yield farming.
Liquidity mining is when a yield farmer gets a new token as well as the usual return (that’s the “mining” part) in exchange for the farmer’s liquidity.
“The idea is that stimulating usage of the platform increases the value of the token, thereby creating a positive usage loop to attract users,” said Richard Ma of smart-contract auditor Quantstamp.
The yield farming examples above are only farming yield off the normal operations of different platforms. Supply liquidity to Compound or Uniswap and get a little cut of the business that runs over the protocols – very vanilla.
But Compound announced earlier this year it wanted to truly decentralize the product and it wanted to give a good amount of ownership to the people who made it popular by using it. That ownership would take the form of the COMP token.
Lest this sound too altruistic, keep in mind that the people who created it (the team and the investors) owned more than half of the equity. By giving away a healthy proportion to users, that was very likely to make it a much more popular place for lending. In turn, that would make everyone’s stake worth much more.
So, Compound announced this four-year period where the protocol would give out COMP tokens to users, a fixed amount every day until it was gone. These COMP tokens control the protocol, just as shareholders ultimately control publicly traded companies.
Every day, the Compound protocol looks at everyone who had lent money to the application and who had borrowed from it and gives them COMP proportional to their share of the day’s total business.
The results were very surprising, even to Compound’s biggest promoters.
COMP’s value will likely go down, and that’s why some investors are rushing to earn as much of it as they can right now.
This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit into Compound. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan, as well, which is very weird: Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender?
COMP’s value has consistently been well over $200 since it started distributing on June 15. We did the math elsewhere but long story short: investors with fairly deep pockets can make a strong gain maximizing their daily returns in COMP. It is, in a way, free money.
It’s possible to lend to Compound, borrow from it, deposit what you borrowed and so on. This can be done multiple times and DeFi startup Instadapp even built a tool to make it as capital-efficient as possible.
“Yield farmers are extremely creative. They find ways to ‘stack’ yields and even earn multiple governance tokens at once,” said Spencer Noon of DTC Capital.
COMP’s value spike is a temporary situation. The COMP distribution will only last four years and then there won’t be any more. Further, most people agree that the high price now is driven by the low float (that is, how much COMP is actually free to trade on the market – it will never be this low again). So the value will probably gradually go down, and that’s why savvy investors are trying to earn as much as they can now.
Appealing to the speculative instincts of diehard crypto traders has proven to be a great way to increase liquidity on Compound. This fattens some pockets but also improves the user experience for all kinds of Compound users, including those who would use it whether they were going to earn COMP or not.
As usual in crypto, when entrepreneurs see something successful, they imitate it. Balancer was the next protocol to start distributing a governance token, BAL, to liquidity providers. Flash loan provider bZx has announced a plan. Ren, Curve and Synthetix also teamed up to promote a liquidity pool on Curve.
It is a fair bet many of the more well-known DeFi projects will announce some kind of coin that can be mined by providing liquidity.
The case to watch here is Uniswap versus Balancer. Balancer can do the same thing Uniswap does, but most users who want to do a quick token trade through their wallet use Uniswap. It will be interesting to see if Balancer’s BAL token convinces Uniswap’s liquidity providers to defect.
So far, though, more liquidity has gone into Uniswap since the BAL announcement, according to its data site. That said, even more has gone into Balancer.
Did liquidity mining start with COMP?No, but it was the most-used protocol with the most carefully designed liquidity mining scheme.
This point is debated but the origins of liquidity mining probably date back to Fcoin, a Chinese exchange that created a token in 2018 that rewarded people for making trades. You won’t believe what happened next! Just kidding, you will: People just started running bots to do pointless trades with themselves to earn the token.
Similarly, EOS is a blockchain where transactions are basically free, but since nothing is really free the absence of friction was an invitation for spam. Some malicious hacker who didn’t like EOS created a token called EIDOS on the network in late 2019. It rewarded people for tons of pointless transactions and somehow got an exchange listing.
These initiatives illustrated how quickly crypto users respond to incentives.
Read more: Compound Changes COMP Distribution Rules Following ‘Yield Farming’ Frenzy
Fcoin aside, liquidity mining as we now know it first showed up on Ethereum when the marketplace for synthetic tokens, Synthetix, announced in July 2019 an award in its SNX token for users who helped add liquidity to the sETH/ETH pool on Uniswap. By October, that was one of Uniswap’s biggest pools.
When Compound Labs, the company that launched the Compound protocol, decided to create COMP, the governance token, the firm took months designing just what kind of behavior it wanted and how to incentivize it. Even still, Compound Labs was surprised by the response. It led to unintended consequences such as crowding into a previously unpopular market (lending and borrowing BAT) in order to mine as much COMP as possible.
Just last week, 115 different COMP wallet addresses – senators in Compound’s ever-changing legislature – voted to change the distribution mechanism in hopes of spreading liquidity out across the markets again.
Is there DeFi for bitcoin?Yes, on Ethereum.
Nothing has beaten bitcoin over time for returns, but there’s one thing bitcoin can’t do on its own: create more bitcoin.
A smart trader can get in and out of bitcoin and dollars in a way that will earn them more bitcoin, but this is tedious and risky. It takes a certain kind of person.
DeFi, however, offers ways to grow one’s bitcoin holdings – though somewhat indirectly.
A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game.
For example, a user can create a simulated bitcoin on Ethereum using BitGo’s WBTC system. They put BTC in and get the same amount back out in freshly minted WBTC. WBTC can be traded back for BTC at any time, so it tends to be worth the same as BTC.
Then the user can take that WBTC, stake it on Compound and earn a few percent each year in yield on their BTC. Odds are, the people who borrow that WBTC are probably doing it to short BTC (that is, they will sell it immediately, buy it back when the price goes down, close the loan and keep the difference).
A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game.
How risky is it?Enough.
“DeFi, with the combination of an assortment of digital funds, automation of key processes, and more complex incentive structures that work across protocols – each with their own rapidly changing tech and governance practices – make for new types of security risks,” said Liz Steininger of Least Authority, a crypto security auditor. “Yet, despite these risks, the high yields are undeniably attractive to draw more users.”
We’ve seen big failures in DeFi products. MakerDAO had one so bad this year it’s called “Black Thursday.” There was also the exploit against flash loan provider bZx. These things do break and when they do money gets taken.
As this sector gets more robust, we could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches.
Right now, the deal is too good for certain funds to resist, so they are moving a lot of money into these protocols to liquidity mine all the new governance tokens they can. But the funds – entities that pool the resources of typically well-to-do crypto investors – are also hedging. Nexus Mutual, a DeFi insurance provider of sorts, told CoinDesk it has maxed out its available coverage on these liquidity applications. Opyn, the trustless derivatives maker, created a way to short COMP, just in case this game comes to naught.
And weird things have arisen. For example, there’s currently more DAI on Compound than have been minted in the world. This makes sense once unpacked but it still feels dicey to everyone.
That said, distributing governance tokens might make things a lot less risky for startups, at least with regard to the money cops.
“Protocols distributing their tokens to the public, meaning that there’s a new secondary listing for SAFT tokens, [gives] plausible deniability from any security accusation,” Zehavi wrote. (The Simple Agreement for Future Tokens was a legal structure favored by many token issuers during the ICO craze.)
Whether a cryptocurrency is adequately decentralized has been a key feature of ICO settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
What’s next for yield farming? (A prediction)COMP turned out to be a bit of a surprise to the DeFi world, in technical ways and others. It has inspired a wave of new thinking.
“Other projects are working on similar things,” said Nexus Mutual founder Hugh Karp. In fact, informed sources tell CoinDesk brand-new projects will launch with these models.
We might soon see more prosaic yield farming applications. For example, forms of profit-sharing that reward certain kinds of behavior.
Imagine if COMP holders decided, for example, that the protocol needed more people to put money in and leave it there longer. The community could create a proposal that shaved off a little of each token’s yield and paid that portion out only to the tokens that were older than six months. It probably wouldn’t be much, but an investor with the right time horizon and risk profile might take it into consideration before making a withdrawal.
(There are precedents for this in traditional finance: A 10-year Treasury bond normally yields more than a one-month T-bill even though they’re both backed by the full faith and credit of Uncle Sam, a 12-month certificate of deposit pays higher interest than a checking account at the same bank, and so on.)
As this sector gets more robust, its architects will come up with ever more robust ways to optimize liquidity incentives in increasingly refined ways. We could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches.
Questions abound for this nascent industry: What will MakerDAO do to restore its spot as the king of DeFi? Will Uniswap join the liquidity mining trend? Will anyone stick all these governance tokens into a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO)? Or would that be a yield farmers co-op?
Whatever happens, crypto’s yield farmers will keep moving fast. Some fresh fields may open and some may soon bear much less luscious fruit.
But that’s the nice thing about farming in DeFi: It is very easy to switch fields.
Can they overcome the product limitations of blockchain and deliver the world-class experience that consumers expect?submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the second 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 very powerful technology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe companies that build with blockchain at their core will have the best shot at winning the broader consumer finance market. We hope it will be us at Genesis Block, but we aren’t the only game in town.
So this series explores the entire crypto landscape and tries to answer the question, which crypto company is most likely to become the bank of the future?
In our last episode, we offered an in-depth analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. Today we’re analyzing non-custodial crypto wallets. These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access, control, or stop funds from being moved. These apps allow users to truly become their own bank.
We’ve talked a little about this before. This group of companies is nowhere near the same level of threat as the biggest crypto exchanges. However, this group really understands DeFi and the magic it can bring. This class of products is heavily engineer-driven and at the bleeding-edge of DeFi innovation. These products are certainly worth discussing. Okay, let’s dive in.
Users & AudienceThese non-custodial crypto wallets are especially popular among the most hardcore blockchain nerds and crypto cypherpunks.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets), then it’s not really your crypto. There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency. This type of user wants to be in absolute control of their money and become their own bank.
In addition to the experienced crypto geeks, for some people, these products will mean the difference between life and death. Imagine a refugee family that wants to safely protect their years of hard work — their life savings — as they travel across borders. Carrying cash could put their safety or money at risk. A few years ago I spent time in Greece at refugee camps — I know first-hand this is a real use-case.
Or imagine a family living under an authoritarian regime — afraid that their corrupt or oppressive government will seize their assets (or devalue their savings via hyperinflation). Citizens in these countries cannot risk putting their money in centralized banks or under their mattresses. They must become their own bank.
These are the common use-cases and users for non-custodial wallets.
Products in MarketLet’s do a quick round-up of some of the more popular products already in the market.
Web/Desktop The most popular web wallet is MetaMask. Though it doesn’t have any specific integration with DeFi protocols yet, it has more than a million users (which is a lot in crypto land!). Web wallets that are more deeply integrated with DeFi include InstaDapp, Zerion, DeFi Saver, Zapper, and MyCrypto (disclosure: I’m an investor and a big fan of Taylor). For the mass market, mobile will be a much more important form-factor. I don’t view these web products as much of a threat to Genesis Block.
Mobile The more serious threats to Genesis Block are the mobile products that (A) are leveraging some of the powerful DeFi protocols and (B) abstracting away a lot of the blockchain/DeFi UX complexity. While none get close to us on (B), the products attempting this are Argent and Dharma. To the extent they can, both are trying to make interacting with blockchain technology as simple as possible.
A few of the bigger exchanges have also entered this mobile non-custodial market. Coinbase has Wallet (via Cipher Browser acquisition). Binance has Trust Wallet (also via acquisition). And speaking of acquisitions, MyCrypto acquired Ambo, which is a solid product and has brought MyCrypto into the mobile space. Others worth mentioning include Rainbow — well-designed and built by a small indy-team with strong DeFi experience (former Balance team). And ZenGo which has a cool feature around keyless security (their CEO is a friend).
There are dozens of other mobile crypto wallets that do very little beyond showing your balances. They are not serious threats.
Hardware Wallets Holding crypto on your own hardware wallet is widely considered to be “best practice” from a security standpoint. The most popular hardware wallets are Ledger, Trezor, and KeepKey (by our friends at ShapeShift). Ledger Nano X is the only product that has Bluetooth — thus, the only one that can connect to a mobile app. While exciting and innovative, these hardware wallets are not yet integrated with any DeFi protocols.
StrengthsLet’s take a look at some of the strengths with non-custodial products.
WeaknessesNow let’s examine some of the weaknesses.
Wrap UpOne of the great powers of crypto is that we no longer depend on banks. Anyone can store their wealth and have absolute control of their money. That’s made possible with these non-custodial wallets. It’s a wonderful thing.
I believe that the most knowledgeable and experienced crypto people (including myself) will always be active users of these applications. And as mentioned in this post, there will certainly be circumstances where these apps will be essential & even life-saving.
However, I do not believe this category of product is a major threat to Genesis Block to becoming the bank of the future.They won’t win in the broader consumer finance market — mostly because I don’t believe that’s their target audience. These applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that the masses require, want, or expect. The Weaknesses I’ve outlined above are just too overwhelming. The friction for mass-market consumers is just too much.
The winning bank will be focused on solving real user problems and meeting user needs. Not slowed down by rigid idealism like censorship-resistance and absolute decentralization, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be a world-class product that’s smooth, performant, and accessible. Not sluggish and slow, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one where blockchain & crypto is mostly invisible to end-users. Not front-and-center as it is with non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one managed and run by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Not DIY (Do It Yourself), as it is with non-custodial wallets.
So are these non-custodial wallets a threat to Genesis Block in winning the broader consumer finance market, and becoming the bank of the future?
No. They are designed for a very different audience.
Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Download the app. We're a digital bank that's powered by crypto: https://genesisblock.com/download
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ArCoin from Arca: how the first tokenized US government bonds work
On July 6, digital asset manager Arca registered his private crypto fund Arca U.S. Treasury Fund at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund invests most of its funds in short-term US bonds, while the fund’s shares are represented in the form of ArCoin Ethereum tokens of the new ERC1404 format, which fully comply with securities legislation.
Why SEC registration is important for Arca U.S. Treasury Fund.Arca U.S. Treasury Fund is a closed-end hedge fund owned by the American digital asset management company Arca. It aims to combine the regulatory, legal and operational standards of the traditional financial sector with the efficiency of the blockchain. The company believes that actively managed hedge funds are the best way to address the volatility, immaturity, and rapidly changing nature of cryptocurrencies as an investment asset.
Registration with the SEC was not easy for the fund — Arca agreed on the form of its digital shares within 20 months. But now the fund’s securities comply with the 1940 Investment Companies Act, which regulates the work of investment funds, including those issuing their own securities.
For investors, SEC approval is an opportunity to receive guarantees from the traditional financial market: broker control by the regulator, independent audit and regular reporting, as well as the right to return their money in the event of a broker’s bankruptcy.
For an investment fund, registration with the SEC imposes obligations to provide information on the company’s financial position, investment policy and current operations, meet liquidity requirements, conduct an independent audit and transfer control over assets to an independent board of trustees. But this is what allowed Arca to release an institutional-grade product.
How Arca U.S. Treasury Fund worksArca U.S. Treasury Fund invests 80% of its assets in short-term US Treasury bonds. The rest of the funds are invested in fixed income debt securities. As the fund plans to invest in low-risk assets, the ArCoin price is expected to be stable.
The fund operates just like any other fund holding US debt securities, but with the addition of blockchain to manage stocks. Investors do not invest their money directly in securities, but purchase shares of the fund — ArCoin tokens (ARCT). They were created by a special division of the company — Arca Labs. TokenSoft, a crypto startup that helps companies launch and sell tokens, has become a technical service provider.
ArCoin sets a new standard for Ethereum tokens — ERC1404. It is specifically designed to meet regulatory requirements. Unlike the universal ERC20 standard, ERC1404 is more strictly controlled: such a token can be frozen, and the addresses to which users can send it must also be predefined. This “whitelist” of permitted addresses allows the SEC to almost completely control and track their circulation and ensures that tokens are not transferred outside of regulatory oversight.
Each ArCoin grants the right to one share in the fund. The price of the coin is $1 with a minimum investment of $1000. A total of 100 million ArCoins will be available. Accrued interest is paid directly to ArCoin holders every quarter. You can buy shares directly through the website after passing the KYC / AML check. At the same time, investors can trade tokens with each other — the blockchain allows you to do without a broker.
The fund’s shares will not be available for trading on stock exchanges and for secondary trading on crypto exchanges. Notably, the prospectus filed with the SEC in April 2019 states that in the future, Arca coins “may be traded on a public decentralized or centralized electronic exchange platform that is registered with the SEC as an alternative trading system, although there is no guarantee that such systems or platforms will be available.” But, apparently, this situation did not suit the regulator, and in the latest version of the document it was changed.
The standard investor commission for fund management is 3.22%, but during the first year it will be reduced to 0.75%. Investors can keep ArCoin in their own wallets, but if the private keys from them are lost or compromised, the fund will replace the lost tokens with new ones. The digital assets are held in tokenized asset-oriented investment bank DTAC LLC, launched by TokenSoft last December.
ArCoin offers companies and investors several use cases and wide integration of the coin into the work of structures. Individuals can use ArCoin to hedge their cryptocurrency portfolio against volatility, and financial institutions and other companies can use ArCoin to clear, settle, pay and lend “more efficiently, less costly, faster and with the ability to directly track all transactions.”
The ability to pay for goods and services with tokens on US Treasury bonds is a revolutionary step that narrows the space between payment and investment funds.
Fight for a new trillion dollar marketUS Treasuries, to which ArCoin is tied, are issued by the US Treasury Department and serve as a government debt financing instrument.
Traditionally, they have a credit rating equal to or close to the maximum AAA, and are considered one of the safest and most reliable assets in the world. This makes US Treasuries highly sought after by central banks, financial companies, and private investors around the world, as they act as a safe haven from volatility in stock and corporate bond markets in times of geopolitical or economic turmoil. The SEC cleared ArCoin linkage to US Treasuries makes the asset the safest and most regulated token on the market. This is a great choice in turbulent financial times.
The launch of Arca U.S. Treasury Fund is targeting one of Wall Street’s oldest outposts — investing in the US Treasury bond market.According to Brookings, its value is about $18 trillion. ArCoin is a modern alternative to existing methods of investing in Treasury securities (buying bonds from a broker or purchasing shares from an investment fund). Arca is clearly looking forward to the emergence and growth of a new market for fully regulated and SEC-approved digital shares in traditional assets. Moreover, their competitors are not other crypto funds, but traditional exchange-traded funds and ETFs.
The Arca team is made up of Wall Street veterans and knows what a product needs to be that will be successful. Blockchain aims to show investors that it simplifies, cheaper and speeds up the process compared to the traditional market. On the site, the Arca team describes ArCoin as a “blockchain-traded fund”, or BTF.
In comments to CoinDesk in February this year, CEO Ryan Steinberg said that Arca hopes to see large institutional investors as early buyers. It was for them that the company fought so long and hard to get registered with the SEC — it had to increase confidence in the products. “The answer to the question of why there are so few institutions in the crypto industry is simple: there are no institutional-grade products on the market,” Steinberg said, noting that ArCoin is just right for the needs of large investors.
“This is a huge leap forward in legitimizing securities on the blockchain.
Huge round of applause for the Arca team, great talent and domain expertise paired with great execution.” — TokenSoft CEO Mason Borda praised the Arca team.
However, the Arca team understands that success is not guaranteed. Treasury digital assets are a new and untested market. In its filing with the SEC, Arca recognizes the potential risks for investors. For example, digital asset markets may not have the liquidity that US Treasury investors currently enjoy in traditional markets. “The use of blockchain is relatively new and untested. Therefore, investors should initially expect greater price volatility in the secondary market than would be the case if the shares had greater liquidity, ”the application says. Other risks include congestion on the Ethereum network and “the possibility of breakdowns and trading stops as a result of undiscovered technological deficiencies.”
To the conclusionSEC-registered crypto investment products are nothing new. Cryptocurrency investment fund Grayscale Investments, for example, is one of the largest bitcoin funds that is regularly audited by the SEC. But the point is, Arca offers its own cryptocurrency, not Bitcoin.
ArCoin is set to become just the first asset in the portfolio of SEC-approved financial products to be released by Arca. The increase in the number of such initiatives can convince the SEC that their launch does not carry enormous risks. For several years now, this regulator has refused to launch bitcoin ETFs, arguing this by the lack of a legal environment in the market, manipulation of asset prices, difficulties with liquidity, storage and arbitration, and non-compliance with the regulator’s rules. Now, amid the emergence of products such as ArCoin, the SEC may reconsider its opinion on Bitcoin ETFs.
The SEC approval for Arca has potentially opened the door to new and innovative blockchain-based financial products. Regulatory registration can be a challenge for many companies, but Arca has shown how to achieve it. The project has taken a pioneering and revolutionary step towards combining traditional finance with digital investments.
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Over the past 100 days, Grayscale has bought every third bitcoin
The Grayscale Investments cryptocurrency investment fund acquired every third bitcoin mined in the last 100 days. And in April, the fund bought 50% of all ETH mined. At the same time, despite the financial crisis and the fall of the cryptocurrency market in March, shares of Grayscale crypto funds in the first quarter of 2020 attracted record investments, which indicates a growing interest of institutional investors in the crypto industry. Why does the company need so many coins, what is its current position regarding the crypto market and what role does it play on it?
Grayscale Investors Believe in BitcoinGrayscale Investments, a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group (DCG), owner of the famous crypto media CoinDesk. The investment fund is the largest institutional holder of bitcoin. The company’s main product is the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), with which accredited investors can earn on bitcoin without actually owning it. Grayscale Bitcoin Trust tracks the price of bitcoin based on the TradeBlock XBX index.
Grayscale accumulates Bitcoin on an impressive scale. Reddit user under the nickname u/parakite noted that the fund added 60,762 BTC ($548.3 million on the day of publication) from February 7 to May 17. This is a third of the total number of bitcoins mined over the past three months.
The user made a table showing how the number of bitcoins in GBTC changed:
As you can see, the procurement rate of the MTC fund has been increasing since the end of 2019. GBTC has become more aggressive in its acquisitions since early April before the upcoming halving of the Bitcoin network. About 34% of the 60,762 MTC were purchased 17 days before the reduction in remuneration to the miners.
As of May 17, GBTC under management had a total of 343 954 BTC. This is 21% more than the 283,192 BTC held by the fund 100 days earlier. In value terms, the portfolio grew from $2.77 billion to $3.37 billion.
“Grayscale is just one of many, albeit the largest, ETFs that people use to buy bitcoin, not wanting to mess around with private keys and other problems,” commented u/parakite. — There is a demand for it. The supply is declining. Let’s see where we will be in 100 days.”
88% of Grayscale customers are institutional investors. Most likely, the sharp increase in the pace of the purchase of military-technical cooperation in addition to the last halving is due to the desire of investors to hedge risks during the developing crisis.
GBTC stock price over the past year, according to Yahoo.Finance. The price of shares (shares) of GBTC does not coincide with the price of the MTC, it depends on the mood of investors and can be traded with a premium or a significant discount. Usually it follows bitcoin, but sometimes the trends diverge. So, the difference between the July and current MTC rates is 20–30%, and between the same GBTC shares it is about 70%.
Grayscale also bought half of ETH mined in AprilAggressive Grayscale crypto purchases have recently been spotted with respect to ether. So, by April 24, the company had bought about 756 539 ETNs (accurate data are not publicly available) for its Ethereum Trust fund. This is about 48.4% of all 1.5 million coins mined since the beginning of this year. As a result, the company already owns 1% of all coins in circulation and only increases the pace of purchases. The first user to notice this was Reddit under the nickname u/nootropicat.
According to the latest quarterly report by Grayscale, the flow of investments in ETN reached a record level for the first three months of 2020 — $110 million. This is a very sharp increase, given that total investments in ETN for the previous two years amounted to $95.8 million. The total demand for the Ethereum fund grew over the quarter is almost 2.5 times compared with the fourth quarter of 2019.
From the beginning of the year until the end of April, the company issued 5.23 million shares of the fund at 0.09427052 ETN apiece.
At the same time, shares are traded with a premium of 420% relative to the current price of the coin — $92 against $17.70. That is, investors are willing to pay extra pretty much not to deal with cryptocurrency on their own.
Most likely, the increase in the rate of purchase of the coin is associated with the upcoming upgrade of the network to the state of Ethereum 2.0. It can take place at the end of July, but, most likely, it will happen not earlier than the end of the year. After the upgrade, the network will become more scalable and there will be the possibility of staking — validators will be able to receive passive income for providing their funds to confirm the blocks.
The crypto market, by the way, is also preparing for the transition of the ecosystem to a new stage. ETH has grown 55% since the crash in March, from $110 to $202 on the day of publication. At the end of April, CoinDesk drew attention to the increase in the number of long positions in ETH futures — this indicates expectations for further growth of the coin.
Last quarter — the most successful in the history of the companyIn May, Grayscale released a report on the results of the first quarter of this year. “Despite the decline in risky assets this quarter, Grayscale’s assets continue to approach record highs, as does our share of the digital asset market,” the document says. And this despite the coronavirus pandemic, the global recession and the traditional cryptocurrency market volatility.
A record $503.7 million investment was raised in the first quarter. This is almost twice the previous quarterly maximum of $254 million in the third quarter of last year and accounts for 83% of the total capital of $1.07 billion raised for the entire 2019. New investors accounted for $160 million of raised funds. The main products of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust and Grayscale Ethereum Trust raised $388.9 million and $110 million, respectively. It is noteworthy that the company reduced the premium on stocks of funds relative to the price of assets.
88% of investments came from institutional investors, among which hedge funds prevail; 5% — from accredited individuals, 4% — from pension accounts (yes, pension funds are extremely conservative in nature, but also invest in bitcoin against the background of a decrease in the profitability of other assets); 3% came from family offices, and 38% of customers invested in several products at once.
It is noteworthy that two years ago the share of institutional investors was about 50% — it is obvious that they no longer consider bitcoin as something criminal. “Many of our investors see digital assets as medium and long-term investment opportunities and the main component of their investment portfolios. Quarterly inflows doubled to $ 503.7 million, demonstrating that demand is reaching new peak levels even in conditions of “risk reduction”, the document says.
Today, more than 46.5% of the inflow of funds was attracted from multi-strategic investors. Crypto investors accounted for only 11.2% of the inflow, according to the report.
Grayscale currently operates ten cryptocurrency investment products targeted at institutional investors. They cover PTS, ETN, ETS, BCH, ZEC, XRP, LTC, ZEN, XLM. The value of the assets under his management is more than $3.8 billion. GBTC is the most demanded product, most investors invest in it and it takes about 1.7% of the total volume of circulating bitcoins.
Aggregate quarterly flow of funds to different Grayscale products. Pay attention to the growing share of investors diversifying portfolios with products tied to altcoins.
Since January of this year, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust has been registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to it, the company provides quarterly and annual reports in the form of 10-K. The status makes it possible to sell shares of a trust in the secondary market after 6 months, rather than 12, as before, and also increases the confidence of conservative investors. Other products comply with OTCQX reporting standards in the OTC market and are approved by the US Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for public offering.
Amount of assets managed by Grayscale as of May 20, 2020.
It is noteworthy that the news about the success of Grayscale comes amid news of how panicky investors in traditional assets are fleeing from market turmoil. So, the largest fund managers — BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street Global Advisors — lost several trillion in capitalization of their assets, and BlackRock in the first quarter for the first time in five years saw a net outflow of funds from its long-term investment products.
Bitcoin is the best asset for hedging portfolios in crisisAt the end of April, Grayscale also released a separate report on the analysis of the impact of regulators during a pandemic and the crisis caused by it and how it affected the bitcoin and cryptocurrency market as a whole.
The document said fiat currencies are at risk of devaluation as central banks print more and more money. Even the US dollar, which is the world’s reserve currency, risks being devalued if the US Federal Reserve continues to print the currency in trillions. A decrease in interest rates to zero and negative values deprives government bonds of the status of “safe haven” during the crisis.
Therefore, investors are trying to diversify their portfolios with alternative instruments. Cryptocurrencies are the best choice for this, according to the authors of the report. The text emphasizes the historical significance of gold as a global standard, but it is noted that in the modern digital world it is becoming increasingly burdensome for investors — it has complex logistics. Bitcoin seems resistant to the problems that other assets face. Therefore, in times of economic uncertainty, the first cryptocurrency is one of the best assets that investors can use to hedge their portfolios. The coin performs better than any other asset, including fiat currencies, government bonds, and traditional commodities like gold. The authors of the report emphasize that Bitcoin has already begun to show signs of becoming a protective asset.
At the same time, the company believes that bitcoin is an excellent asset not only in times of crisis. So, in December 2019, Managing Director of Grayscale Investments Michael Sonnenshine said that the company expects an influx of investments in bitcoin after the transfer of $68 trillion of savings between generations in the next 25 years. Today, this capital is invested in traditional assets, but a significant part of these wealth millennials will invest in cryptocurrencies. Already, according to him, investments in GBTC are among the five most popular among young people, ahead of, for example, investments in Microsoft and Netflix.
FinallyThe unprecedented financial measures taken by the US Federal Reserve, as well as the worsening recession, are forcing even the most conservative investors to rethink their current strategies and portfolio composition. Many of them are increasingly beginning to appreciate the fixed emission and non-correlation of Bitcoin — it is becoming a tool for risk diversification. Growing institutional interest is driving the acceleration of coin prices.
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