Cryptocurrencies Are Sliding Again

Crypto bulls rejoiced on Saturday when a report in South Korea's Chosun Ilbo repudiated the Justice Ministry’s warning that it would seek to stifle digital-currency trading in South Korea, and instead, the country is planning to implement a real-name accounting system. The news effectively put an end to the confusion surrounding the future of cryptocurrency policy in one of bitcoin’s most active markets.

Alas, the relief rally was short-lived.

 

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Cryptocurrencies are sliding again on Sunday, with only 2 of the top 20 currencies trading in the green, according to CryptoCompare.

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Of course, South Korea isn’t the only country rushing to create a regulatory framework that would presumably help bring digital currencies into the mainstream: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said this week that US regulators are forming a cryptocurrency working group.

The selloff appears to have coincided with the Central Bank of Indonesia issuing a press release warning its citizens against the use of selling, buying or trading cryptocurrency and reiterating that virtual currencies are vulnerable to bubbles and manipulation, which is why they’re not legally recognized within Indonesia.

"Virtual currencies are vulnerable to bubble risks and susceptible to be used for money laundering and terrorism financing, therefore can potentially impact financial system stability and cause financial harm to society."

Ripple Labs shot higher earlier this week after payments service MoneyGram said it would use Ripple Labs’ technology in its product.

But it unwound some of those gains this weekend after MoneyGram clarified that it is only using Ripple’s tech in a pilot program.

To be sure, the market wasn’t totally lacking in good news. As CoinTelegraph  reports, the Russian Ministry of Finance has drafted a bill to legalize the trading of cryptocurrencies on approved exchanges, removing the threat of a crackdown that had once been raised by Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev.

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Meanwhile, some believe that bitcoin's comparatively lackluster start to 2018 is a sign that the pioneering currency is headed lower - potentially much lower - according to Academy Securities' Peter Tchir. Tchir elaborated in a piece for Forbes "Bitcoin Is Headed Lower - For Now."

Bitcoin, which hit a high of almost $19,000 on December 18, 2017 is headed lower - possibly much lower, for now. 

This isn't the end of Bitcoin, just a view that in the near term, the price of Bitcoin will continue lower (it may bounce, but the highs are in, for now).  It is not the end of cryptocurrencies either, in fact the rise of other cryptocurrencies is part of the reason Bitcoin is due to continue its recent pullback.

While not a 'perfect storm' for Bitcoin - many factors have aligned against it in recent weeks

The 'adoption' story is fading.  This was my view that futures and ETFs and ETNs would allow an increasing number of 'mainstream' buyers to enter the market.  There are three reasons that story is over, for now.

  • 'Owning' Bitcoin directly has been made easier as services like www.coinbase.com and have improved.  Friends and colleagues on forbes.com and @reformedbroker have helped explain it to more people (link).  The 'problem' with this is it has made the adoption trade less necessary as more people already own Bitcoin.
  • Futures have been a failure in terms of generating real interest and demand and may have created a way for 'pros' to short Bitcoin at the expense of some retail investors.
  • After futures were 'rushed' to the market, it seems as though ETFs and ETNs will have more difficulty arriving - delaying the single best source of new mainstream investor adoption (link).

The 'competition' story is heating up.

  • There is rapidly growing interest in other forms of cryptocurrency which are now competing for investor attention and resources.
  • Whether it is Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, or some other cryptocurrency you have barely announced, or some public company announced the launch of, there is growing competition for crypto investments.
  • Some of this money, I think is merely chasing 'lower priced' offerings so they can own more coins (bubble behavior) but some is also looking for rational reasons to pick a 'technology' that overcomes some of Bitcoin's shortcomings.
  • Sites like www.coindesk.com have shifted their attention from what struck me as overly bitcoin focused a year ago - to much more broadbased coverage of crytpocurrencies and the businesses around them.

The 'scalability' issue is finally attracting attention.  Real issues about potential growth rather than silly tulip analogies.

  • Growing concern about the electricity costs required to mine bitcoin are becoming a real concern for many.  The speed at which Bitcoin transactions can be processed is another.  Many people found the fact that a Miami Bitcoin Conference Stopped Accepting Bitcoin due to fees and congestion as amusing, if not symbolic of some real issues facing Bitcoin's ability to grow.

The 'government' or 'crackdown' risk is increasing.

  • Korea seems to be announcing some new form of crackdown on an almost daily basis.
  • Regulators seem to be commenting more and more about the risks posed by cryptocurrencies and the need to regulate them.
  • FedCoin is a topic discussed more and more in circles plugged into D.C. which would be competition in a different form (to some hardcore cryptocurrency users - government backed crypto is an abomination of what crypto is meant to be - but for a lot of mainstream users - it has a certain appeal).

Some of these issues impact all cryptocurrencies as they have all benefited from the adoption phase and all will be hurt by increased government intervention.  Other issues are Bitcoin specific.

For those of you about to enter the fifth stage of Not Owning Bitcoin Grief you may have time to take a deep breath and be patient.