Bitcoin Bloodbath – But a Reminder: Wall Street Is Coming

Todays Bitcoin and Ethereum bloodbath was more or less expected ahead of the (potential) coming Bitcoin “Segwit” event. While this is causing major moves in the short term I think its prescient to remind the cryptocurrency community that Wall Street is on its way.  In the past we posted about what some of the roadblocks are, but with todays Bitcoin and cryptocurrency bloodbath we thought maybe some positive predictions were due.

Yesterday we posted some concrete evidence, but there are some other speculative indicators.

First, trading in “traditional” (stocks, options, bonds, etc) Wall Street products is flat, at best. There is nothing indicating that those traditional volumes will pick up either. (See JPM trading revenues, weak). [Note, other areas of banking appear to be strong – I am referencing the trading sector specifically]

Take a look at US stock and options volume for example. Yes, there is some deviation month to month but its been flat for years.

US Daily Stock Volume
US Daily Stock Volume
US Exchange Options Volume
US Exchange Options Volume

Its no secret that Hedge Funds are having a hard time. They are a major source of banks trading revenue. Why, well multiple studies show that buying and holding over time crushes Hedge Fund performance. Vanguard is the poster child of this, and is growing at a ridiculous pace offering investors low cost ETFs. Whats my point? This is good for investors but terrible for Hedge Funds and Banks.

Trading desks on Wall Street need a new revenue source. Enter Bitcoin, Ethereum and cryptocurrencies.

All of this is could be brand new business in a market that is expanding rapidly.

Crypto Volume is Exploding

High volumes mean dollar signs for brokers. All evidence points to volumes that rival US Stock Exchange volume.

Below is Bitcoin 7 day average volume. I’d suspect most would argue that this volume will continue to grow over time – if not in Bitcoin than certainly in other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum or Dash.

Bitcoin Volume
Bitcoin Volume

Just a few days options trading in Bitcoin was approved by the CFTC (US Commodities Futures Trading Commission). This means that regulators are starting to turn positively on Bitcoin and crypto. This is great news for banks in particular as they can more easily move into cryptocurrencies when the regulators are approving.

This offers opportunities not just in trading – but in services for trading:

  • Cryptocurrency clearing and storage
  • Research and Analysis
  • “Smart Routing” and algorithmic trading

It would be easy to argue that as more large entities enter the space, more technology is built and more capital flows in. While today Bitcoin prices are getting hammered, we’re in the first inning of a game that most likely will not end in our lifetimes. Reminder: this isn’t investment advice, just an offering of perspective.

Why the Recent Bitcoin Price Explosion Was a Dry Run

The recent rise and fall of Bitcoin and Ethereum prices brought massive attention to the cryptocurrency space. While that fevered speculation created a short term price spike that proved to be unsustainable, the price move also put a spotlight on the viability of cryptocurrency from investment and technological perspectives.

The Recent Bitcoin Ethereum Price Spike was Fast Money

Fast money – money that floods in, speculating on price. Thats what pushed up prices not of just Bitcoin and Ethereum, but every other cryptocurrency over the last few months. Fast money leaves just as fast as it arrives. Fast money brings “weak hands”. These are speculators that don’t have conviction or a belief in what they are investing in. They freak out when price moves against them by more than a few percent.

Ethereum Price Chart June 2017
Ethereum Price Chart June 2017

Fast money tends to be smaller amounts. Why? Because if you are a large piece of the market you can’t liquidate that easily. For example, if you own 75% of all Bitcoin you’re going to have a much harder time selling that if you own 7 bitcoins.

While this recent price spike and subsequent drop probably burned a lot of people, it may have set the stage for much larger investment. Ethereum and Bitcoin were plastered all over the news, on CNBC, Wall Street Journal and the like. Coinbase, for example, had record account openings. These are people who figured out where to go to buy crypto (I’d argue thats not an easy task) and that paves the way for future investment. There are millions more people who now have not only heard of Bitcoin and Ethereum, but they will remember that they missed the boat last time. I’d wager they’re more ready to participate in future price ramps.

Big Money Is Coming to CryptoCurrency

Wall Street and major investment is moving to the cryptocurrency space. You see it happening all over, and that is money that is making real investment in cryptocurrency and that could help set a floor in Bitcoin and Ethereum price. This is money that takes longer to impact the price. Business plans, approvals, infrastructure all has to be built before actual money moves in.

Here are just a few examples:

I think this bodes very well for the future of cryptocurrency. Fast money “set the stage” for larger participation in the future. If Wall Street and other large corporations continue their push into the space that should “legitimize” crypto in the eyes of the public and could pave the way for more capital flowing in.

Ethereum Has an ICO Problem

Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s) are raising hundreds of millions of dollars on pretty much hopes and dreams, using an Ethereum platform which is in its infancy. (Some ICO sales even jammed up the Ethereum network). I say hopes and dreams because despite raising mounds of cash they aren’t near releasing product. Seriously, here are just a few:

  • Tezos currently raised >$200 million, and the funding isn’t over yet
  • Bancor raised $153 million
  • Block.one / EOS raised $185 million

The total amount raised in ICO’s in 2017?

>$798,251,174

That is staggering.

How Initial Coin Offerings Hurt the Ethereum Price

Raising “cash” isn’t really the right word. They’ve raised heaps of Ether, which they need to sell in order to get cash. What does this mean? You have hundreds of millions of dollars in Ether either being sold, or potentially being sold.  Its quite possible these companies only sell portions of their holdings, or even none at all. However, these companies need to use the funds to hire developers, buy computers, or just take exotic vacations. (Remember, there are no regulations in ICO land.) Its therefore a reasonable assumption that there is a good amount of Ethereum supply created from this.

The ICO’s need to start adding actual value to the ethereum network. They need to provide a service thats good enough to bring new people into Ethereum. This would raise demand for Ethereum and should raise the price. As of now this is all just a transfer of wealth from existing ETH holders to various “start ups”, with the hope that value is created at some point in the future.

Here is a beautiful graph that lays out how much has been generated by ICO’s in 2017:

ICO Sales by Month

For sake of argument, lets just say that all of the funds will be used for legitimate business purposes. Again, they need to sell Ether to get cash to buy stuff or hire people. This means you have many sellers that have a desire to get out, for which Ethereum needs aggressive buyers. If the sellers are more aggressive than the buyers, you get a price drop.

If you use google trends as a proxy for Ethereum demand, well, you can see why the price is currently ~$250 down from $400 a few weeks ago.

ETH is trending down on google.

Notice a trend? Both peaked in June 2017. What about the Ethereum price? Peaked in late May…just before the huge ICO month in June. I can’t say for certain that the two are related, but I’d speculate there is some correlation for good reason.

Ethereum Price July 2017

Short Term Ethereum Price Forecast

First, Ill state I have no clue where ethereum prices are going. I also own ethereum. Also, the short term picture is different from long term. Long term I have high hopes, but this is about the next few months.
To recap:

Where does this leave us? Hard to paint a pretty picture there. With more ICO’s coming daily there will be more ETH supply from companies needing cash. Eventually one of these will turn out to be a “killer app” or at least an app that maims. This would draw actual users to Ethereum, as opposed to speculators. Who knows when this will happen, but I suspect within the next year well see the technology start to move up towards the hype. This would in theory bring in new capital and get the Ethereum price moving in the right direction again.