Cryptocurrencies: Is it time for government recognition?

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Cryptocurrencies: Is it time for government recognition?
  • By Ankita Pal
  • 27th January, 2024
  • Finance

Navigating the Cryptocurrency Landscape

Regulatory Ripples: SEC’s Nod to Bitcoin ETFs

The recent green light from the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) for a plethora of spot bitcoin exchange traded funds (ETFs) has triggered a spectrum of reactions. Traditionalists view the regulator’s seemingly nonchalant approval with dismay, while crypto enthusiasts are ecstatic. But does this signal trouble?

Governmental Dilemma: Balancing Control and Innovation

Governments perceive bitcoin as a direct challenge to their financial control and the efficacy of monetary policies. The creation of crypto assets was deliberately aimed at sidestepping governmental influence, inevitably raising concerns among authorities. Despite their potential, crypto assets are still in their infancy and face hurdles as a widely accepted currency due to their volatile nature. This restricts their adoption by businesses for transactions. Most governments prefer to confine them to niche applications, which historically received minimal attention from institutional investors. However, the emergence of spot bitcoin ETFs could usher in institutional capital, solidifying crypto’s position as an alternative investment avenue.

Embracing Crypto: The Retail Investor Frenzy

Retail investors are drawn to crypto assets primarily for their potential high returns. These assets are designed to be scarce, mitigating the risk of devaluation—a prevalent issue with fiat currencies due to unrestricted printing.

The majority of crypto investors fall within the 18-35 age bracket. They perceive digital assets as legitimate investment opportunities with promising returns. Moreover, they harbor skepticism toward the existing financial system, which they perceive as biased against their interests, thus driving their inclination towards crypto investments.

The Tide of Change: Factors Driving Crypto Adoption

The acceptance of crypto assets is expected to surge with the devaluation of fiat currencies. Governments’ burgeoning debts and subsequent devaluation are imminent. Factors such as de-dollarization, rising interest rates impacting businesses and resulting in loan defaults, escalating public debt, and unsustainable government liabilities all contribute to the dollar’s vulnerability. Consequently, investors may divert their funds from the dollar to alternative assets like cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrencies: A Growing Asset Class

The combined value of all crypto assets now exceeds $1 trillion in less than two decades—a remarkable trajectory. In contrast, the total value of gold worldwide, accumulated over millennia, stands at approximately $14 trillion.

Challenges on the Horizon: Navigating Crypto’s Dark Side

Despite their burgeoning value, crypto assets pose significant challenges. Their anonymity complicates transaction tracking, making them the preferred choice for funding illicit activities by criminal groups. Governments are rightfully alarmed by these developments, which also undermine the efficacy of monetary policies.

Moreover, crypto assets lack intrinsic value and derive their worth solely from demand and supply dynamics. The mechanisms governing their creation and control remain largely opaque.

Investor Beware: Risks and Pitfalls

Investing in crypto assets carries inherent risks. Investors must register with crypto exchanges to participate in these markets. Digital storage presents a unique challenge; the loss of a password or device failure can result in irreversible asset loss. Moreover, victims of fraud have limited recourse due to the unregulated nature of these assets. Consequently, an ETF investing in cryptocurrencies addresses many investor concerns.

Recognition and Regulation: The Patchwork Landscape

Recognition and regulation of crypto assets vary across jurisdictions. Despite millions of investors in crypto assets in India, the government does not formally recognize them but seeks to tax profits from digital assets.

Conclusion: Cryptocurrencies’ Unstoppable Rise

While I’ve harbored reservations about cryptocurrencies due to their opaque nature and lack of underlying assets, their enduring relevance is evident. Crypto ETFs serve as a stark reminder of their seismic impact on the financial landscape.

Suresh Sadagopan serves as the MD & principal officer at Ladder7 Wealth Planners and is the author of If God was your Financial Planner.

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