Cryptocurrency

More and more, cryptocurrencies are becoming a medium of exchange. But they’re not your average dollar.

Cryptocurrency—or digital currencies that are based on blockchain technology—is a thing of the present, and the future. With Bitcoin prices soaring and more cryptocurrencies coming online, this new, digital financial instrument is drumming up more interest than ever. 

Investors these days are wondering if it’s too late to invest in Bitcoin. And, if so, what are the other options available to investors who want to buy cryptocurrency?  

Big banks are also trying to figure out how to modernize and innovate for the purposes of meeting customer interest in cryptocurrency. This has some banks creating their own currency exchange networks. Silvergate Capital’s Silvergate Bank, for example, offers the Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN), a digital payments network that facilitates 24/7 transfers of cryptocurrency. 

Others, like J.P. Morgan Chase, are launching their own digital coins. Still others are providing services to manage the new currency. In early 2021, the Bank of New York Mellon, the nation’s oldest bank, announced that it would begin financing bitcoin and other digital currencies. It is the first traditional bank to offer services for digital assets. 

Since they were first introduced, cryptocurrencies have developed into an alternative high-risk asset for affluent investors. As a financial innovation, they appeal to customers because they allow for real-time value movement, improving transaction speed and removing limitations on business hours.

Here’s what investors should know about the Bitcoin Cash and how is it different from Bitcoin.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

In order to describe Bitcoin Cash, it’s important to understand its predecessor, Bitcoin. 

Unlike paper bills (fiat), cryptocurrency is strictly digital. Instead of a centralized bank monitoring currency purchases and exchanges, cryptocurrency “uses encryption techniques to control the creation of monetary units and to verify the transfer of funds.” Each transaction is recorded on a global public ledger recorded via blockchain technology. 

Bitcoin was first described by an anonymous person(s) who went by the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. Bitcoin was later released publicly in 2009. Although blockchain was first thought of as far back as 1991, it was really only first implemented as a currency model in 2009, the birth of Bitcoin. 

Bitcoin is fundamentally different from other commodities. These days, it is typically used as an investment and exchange platform. (While it can be used to complete certain types of online purchases, these tend to be more complicated than paying with dollars.)

Bitcoin also allows for anonymity, as no central entity verifies buyers and sellers. Rather, the blockchain allows the ledger to be peer-to-peer, with no one entity maintaining ownership or control over the ledger. 

A signature feature of Bitcoin transactions is that they have low fees and lots of flexibility. Think no more waiting two business days for a transaction to clear. 

And, in the case of Bitcoin, there is a fixed amount of 21 million available. That nulls the issue of inflation that other currencies are subject to. 

But, that fixed number, an increase in demand, and a flux in transaction fees is in part is what led to Bitcoin Cash…

In the years following Bitcoin’s launch, the cryptocurrency evolved from a fringe boutiquey interest to a more mainstream purchase and investment. As Bitcoin began to capture more and more interest from the general public, the blockchain technology that was pivotal to the use of the currency faced major challenges, resulting in increasing fees and less reliable transactions. 

Out of that problem, Bitcoin Cash was born. Created on August 1, 2017, Bitcoin Cash was designed to help solve these scalability issues. In the world of blockchain it is considered a “hard fork,” or basically a new coin. 

There are only 21 million units of Bitcoin Cash available in total, similar to Bitcoin. A major difference, however, is that Bitcoin Cash has larger blocks (between 8 MB and 32 MB), which allows space for more transactions per block. These larger blocks also make the system faster and more reliable. 

Why Invest in Cryptocurrency?

The cryptocurrency market has yet to mature, but when it does, you might be happy that you decided to stuff your digital wallet with Bitcoin Cash in the early days. 

Even now, to do so, you’ll have to dish out big bucks. As of March 16, 2021, 1 unit of Bitcoin Cash had the cash equivalency of about $523.

But, that’s much more affordable than the original Bitcoin. As of late February 2021, one Bitcoin was selling for $47,032.52. As of January 30, 2021, there were only 2,385,193 bitcoins remaining available for mining.

Bitcoin Cash, on the other hand, entered the market at $900 and has since reached an all-time high of $3,785.82. While the price of Bitcoin Cash in late February 2021 was about $515.93, predictions put Bitcoin Cash at higher than that, reaching $738.03 by December 2021. 

Bitcoin Cash is faster and cheaper, at about $0.20 per transaction. (Bitcoin transactions cost about $25 per transaction, but fees have reached as high as $60.)

While Bitcoin Cash isn’t valued nearly as high as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash is still one of the top ten cryptocurrencies in the world. 

The cryptocurrency world is still relatively new, but in many ways, Bitcoin has set the standard for these currencies. It is anticipated that in the long-term, Bitcoin Cash has the ability to take on some of Bitcoin’s market share, eventually becoming the most dominant cryptocurrency. 

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The information and data are as of the March 30, 2021 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. 

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.

bitcoin

Bitcoin

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Globalization is driving the economies of the world toward greater and more profound integration. People across the globe are now connected through vast, complex supply chains that span oceans and continents. 

From the comfort of your home in the U.S., you can log on to Etsy and order a beautiful, handmade blanket from Turkey that will arrive at your door in a few weeks. You do not need to travel to Turkey to purchase the blanket, and the Turkish vendor is happy that their products are available to a global market. 

The growth of these kinds of international peer-to-peer transactions is hindered by the fact that most countries each have a distinct currency that is government-controlled and that generally cannot be spent elsewhere. The process of transferring money between people in different countries can be quite complex as the funds need to pass through intermediary banks along the way. This complexity takes time and adds a cost to the transfer in the form of fees. 

A little over a decade ago, an ingenious new digital currency known as Bitcoin was launched that sought to address these and other global currency problems.

An unknown individual (or group of individuals) going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto invented Bitcoin (and the underlying blockchain technology) and shared the idea in a groundbreaking 2008 paper entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. The introduction of this paper states that: “Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model.” 

Bitcoin relies on what Nakamoto refers to as “cryptographic proof” (hence, cryptocurrency) instead of trust. This proof comes in the form of Bitcoin’s blockchain ledger, which unlike the ledger of a traditional bank, is open to and shared amongst users in the Bitcoin network. 

As a complete reimagination of the traditional currency and banking system, the transformative potential of Bitcoin is enormous. A decentralized digital currency that is free from government control offers users an entirely new way to move and make money.

For those interested in the investment potential of this innovative new currency, there are a few important points to understand.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency. It is not backed a government or issued by a central bank, and its value relative to local currency moves with the forces of supply and demand.

As of early 2020, there are roughly 18 million Bitcoins in “circulation,” with another 3 million yet to be added. New Bitcoins enter circulation by a process known as “mining.” People using powerful computers (“miners”) compete with each other to solve complex mathematical problems in a race to verify a new set of Bitcoin transactions. The first miner to do this correctly is rewarded with a certain number of Bitcoins.

Mining is a costly, energy-intensive endeavor, but it is not the only way to acquire Bitcoins – most people simply buy them. The process is relatively straightforward. Start by downloading a digital wallet, which is a kind of program that stores your Bitcoins and payment information. Next, simply go to the Bitcoin website (or an exchange where Bitcoin are traded), link your digital wallet, and select how much Bitcoin you would like to purchase. Once your payment goes through and after the transaction is verified by miners, you will be the proud owner of some quantity of shiny new Bitcoin.

As a decentralized alternative to the traditional banking system, Bitcoin can be bought and sold anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection. 

This is an important point because traditional banking does not adequately function in many places across the world. Take Venezuela, for instance, where hyperinflation over the past few years has led to a rampant devaluation of the nation’s currency, causing food to become extremely expensive and widespread hunger to run rampant. Venezuela’s leaders staunchly refused humanitarian aid from outside countries and slapped heavy fines on incoming money transfers. 

Desperate citizens turned instead to Bitcoin for help. Bypassing the incompetent Venezuelan government entirely, people from around the world sent Bitcoins directly to Venezuelan families in need.

Why Invest in Bitcoin?

As an investment, Bitcoin is undeniably in the high-risk, high reward category. Bitcoin prices have fluctuated wildly over the past several years. A single Bitcoin cost about $1,000 at the beginning of 2017, and by December 17, 2017, Bitcoin hit a peak price of about $20,000. You may recall that there was something of a Bitcoin “frenzy” during this price runup. Alas, the party was not to last, and prices fell sharply throughout 2018 before rebounding moderately in 2019 to a respectable $7,200 by New Years Day 2020.

Volatility aside, it is hard to deny Bitcoin’s outstanding performance when looking at the entire price history. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, Bitcoin posted gains of more than 9,000,000% since July 2010. As a point of comparison, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones each roughly tripled during the same period. 

Past performance is, of course, no guarantee of future results, and radical changes are underway in the cryptocurrency market that will create heavier competition for Bitcoin.

Facebook is planning to launch a digital currency called Libra, and countries such as China, Russia, and Iran are looking to create their own forms of cryptocurrency to circumvent U.S. sanctions. 

Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency and has been around long enough to work through many of the kinks that have arisen. Interest in Bitcoin is likely to remain high for the foreseeable future, and it will continue to be a potentially highly-lucrative, if risky, investment option for adventurous investors. 

How to Invest in Bitcoin

There’s no arguing the investment potential of Bitcoin and its related technologies. But the fact remains, with that high upside comes the risk of big downsides as well, and Bitcoin prices have been on something of a roller coaster over the last two years. 

However, investing in a mutual fund or ETF that offers exposure to the Bitcoin market and its underlying technologies can be a way to temper some of this volatility. Although there is still no pure cryptocurrency ETF available, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of funds available today for those investors interested in investing in the technology without buying Bitcoin directly.

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The information and data are as of the January 17, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. 

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.

blockchain

Blockchain

It seems as though every time we turn on the news there are new stories about enormous data breaches. 

There was the massive 2013 Yahoo breach in which all 3 billion user accounts were compromised, and then there was the 2017 Equifax breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people. 

Data breaches are becoming more widespread and impactful, with 2019 set to be the worst year on record. It is perhaps not surprising that, according to the Pew Research Center, 70% of Americans feel that their personal information is less secure than it was just five years ago. Businesses and governments are tasked with securely storing mountains of complex and highly-personal data, and they are beginning to turn to a novel technology known as “blockchain” to help.

Blockchain is a technology solution that solves some of the problems associated with data storage and security. When an organization is solely responsible for maintaining its database, valuable information may be lost in the event of a breach or disaster. A freak hurricane could damage vital data centers (as happened in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy), or an adept hacker could detect a vulnerability in a government’s website and hold critical data hostage (as happened in 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland). With blockchain, data is securely shared across a distributed network in which all parties have access. The nature of the technology is such that damage to one part of the network does not compromise the rest. For this reason, among many others, businesses and governments are turning their attention – and investments – to blockchain.

For those interested in the investment potential of this innovative technology, there are a few important points to understand.

What Is Blockchain?

According to the software company SAP, blockchain is most simply defined as a “reliable, difficult-to-hack record of transactions – and of who owns what. Blockchain is based on distributed ledger technology, which securely records information across a peer-to-peer network.” 

The “block” in blockchain describes the data that is entered into the network, while the “chain” in blockchain refers to the chronological sequence in which blocks are entered. Data is approved for entry via consensus of other network participants, and once entered it cannot be changed. In this way, there is a complete, sequential, and verifiable record-keeping of the network’s data that is available to all participants.

At first glance, this may not seem like a revolutionary concept, but it is important to note that the decentralized nature of blockchain is highly novel and has far-reaching applications. 

An unknown person (or persons) going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto invented the blockchain concept and shared it with the public in a groundbreaking 2008 paper about a proposed digital currency system. That currency system became known as Bitcoin, and the spread of blockchain technology gave rise to a vast ecosystem of other cryptocurrencies. 

While most people only associate blockchain with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, the technology has much broader applications across a variety of industries. For instance, logistics firms are turning to blockchain technology to modernize their supply chains. Danish shipping company Maersk recently launched a blockchain-powered logistics platform called TradeLens, which it says will provide improved visibility into the movement of shipments around the world. 

Healthcare is another sector that stands to benefit tremendously from the adoption of blockchain technology. As any adult in the U.S. can attest, healthcare records are notoriously scattered from provider to provider. Implementing blockchain technology has the potential to make critical health data more accessible and secure while eliminating barriers that currently stifle communication between doctors, patients, and insurers. 

Data is at the core of any modern organization, and it seems likely that blockchain will be an increasingly important tool in the modernization of data management practices.

Why Invest in Blockchain?

Blockchain is an extremely valuable technology with significant investment potential. 

As noted by James Wester, Research Director at International Data Corporation (IDC): “Blockchain is maturing rapidly, and we have reached an inflection point where implementations are moving quickly beyond the pilot and proof of concept phase.” 

IDC estimates that global spending on blockchain solutions will reach nearly $2.9 billion in 2019, an increase of nearly 88% from 2018. IDC expects annual spending to climb to $12.4 billion by 2022, with a 76% annual growth rate between 2018 and 2022.

Investment in private blockchain companies is also quite robust. In the U.S., for instance, investments reached about $1.1 billion in 2019 – a healthy figure considering recent corrections in cryptocurrency markets.

Big technology companies understand blockchain’s potential and are adjusting their services accordingly. Companies such as IBM, SAP, and Oracle offer blockchain-as-a-service to help businesses create their own blockchain networks. Companies that are prepared to offer innovative blockchain solutions are well-positioned for the coming changes to the data management landscape, and startups researching blockchain solutions are likely to garner significant interest from established companies. These market dynamics are likely to create a rich environment for outside investment.

Governments around the world are also taking notice of blockchain’s enormous potential. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is investing heavily in blockchain startups because of the technology’s cybersecurity advantages in making digital systems more resilient. The Republic of Georgia recently partnered with Bitfury, a Netherlands-based blockchain technology company, to digitize and migrate the country’s land registry onto a blockchain-based network. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced that China will make blockchain a top priority in the country’s new innovation push, a move that may galvanize more investment and research in the West.

In this space where both business and government recognize blockchain’s potential, savvy investors are well-positioned to capitalize on novel applications of this innovative technology.

How to Invest in Blockchain

But, despite all of this potential and recent growth, blockchain remains a very early-stage technology. It has only existed in its current form since 2008, and the industry that has sprung up around it is even younger than that. With that youth comes volatility, which investors are seeing in the prices of pure-play blockchain stocks. However, investing in a mutual fund or ETF that offers exposure to blockchain can be a way to temper some of this volatility. A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of funds available today for those investors interested in investing in blockchain technology without buying shares in the associated companies themselves.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the January 9, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. 

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.