How to Invest in Cryptocurrency
Blockchain technology has been heating up in the past several months, thanks in large part to the surge in Bitcoin’s price since early May. The cryptocurrency skyrocketed from less than $1,000 in March to an all-time high of $4,440 on August 14.
Given this meteoric rise, it’s no surprise that investors are clamoring to figure out how to break into the Bitcoin marketplace. But there are many other cryptocurrencies (such as Ethereum) and blockchain companies on the stock exchange where investors can funnel their money.
However, investing in a cryptocurrency is different than investing in a regular stock. When you invest in a company, you’re buying shares of that company and essentially own an extremely small percentage of it. When you invest in Bitcoin or Ethereum, you receive digital tokens that serve different purposes. With Bitcoin, you get decentralized currency that also happens to be partially anonymous. With Ethereum, you get a piece of the power that runs decentralized apps and smart contracts.
Trading cryptocurrencies occurs on dedicated exchanges. Larger exchanges like GDAX, Kraken, Bitfinex, and Gemini typically offer solid volume to trade cryptocurrencies through bank transfers or credit cards. Coinbase is also an option that is growing in popularity thanks to its ease of use and a built-in wallet. But the trade off here is comparatively higher fees.
Poloniex is another exchange that offers more than 80 cryptocurrencies for trading, but the catch is you can only use Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies to fund these trades.
Top Cryptocurrencies to Invest In
There are several paths one can take when deciding in which cryptocurrencies to invest, but a handful of these have risen to the top as the most popular options for investment:
- Bitcoin: There’s a reason you’ve heard the name Bitcoin all over the financial news space. The price of the cryptocurrency has increased nearly 8x in the last year as of the time of this writing. Moreover, the original design of Bitcoin ensured that there would never be more than 21 million in existence (and math indicates we’ll never actually reach that number). This means Bitcoin is not subject to inflation.
- Ethereum: Arguably the second-most well-known cryptocurrency, the price of Ethereum has exploded more than 3000% in the last year. Even with that growth, the price remains at less than 1/10th of Bitcoin, so it could be a better value play for investors who don’t have the resources to
- Litecoin: Litecoin has risen more than 2000% in the last year. The peer-to-peer digital currency acts in a complementary way to Bitcoin, and its comparatively low price makes it a solid entry point for new crypto investors.
- Monero: Think of Monero as a second level of privacy and anonymity beyond what something like Bitcoin offers. The price exploded in 2016, and the market cap swelled from $5 million to $185 million thanks in large part to the cryptocurrency’s adoption by the major darknet market AlphaBay. Law enforcement shut down AlphaBay in July 2017.
- Bitcoin Cash: In August 2017, the Bitcoin blockchain spun off a more nimble iteration called Bitcoin Cash. It’s essentially identical to Bitcoin, but with the important distinction that it has more block size capacity. The price of the cryptocurrency has already doubled from $300 to more than $600 as of this writing. And if you owned Bitcoin before the split, then you received an equal amount of Bitcoin Cash. There are approximately 16.5 million units of each in existence, which makes Bitcoin Cash the third-most valuable cryptocurrency in the world with a market cap of more than $10 billion.
- Ripple: Ripple is a protocol that permits near instantaneous transaction settlements and reduces transaction fees to mere cents. Some VCs and even several major banks (such as Bank of America, UBS, and BBVA) have implemented Ripple into their systems. The key difference from Bitcoin, though, is that it is centralized and pre-mined.
- ZCash: ZCash operates in a manner similar to Monero. The price of the cryptocurrency surged in June 2017 to nearly $400, but has since leveled off to the sub-$300 range.
How to Invest in Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology powers Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but there are many ways to invest in blockchain tech without pouring your money into these digital currencies. The first is to look into blockchain startups (we’ll detail more in the next section).
The second option is crowdfunding platforms, as blockchain startups in their infancy will often look into crowdfunding to get off the ground. A platform called BnkToTheFuture allows investors to place their money into several Bitcoin and blockchain startups.
Another possibility is to invest in the initial coin offerings, or ICOs, of new blockchain projects. Blockchain companies issue cryptocurrencies or other tokens through ICOs in order to raise capital. There is a bit more risk in this route, as this new form of crowdfunding is still rather unregulated, but the returns reported thus far have been stellar.
Top Blockchain Stocks & Companies to Invest In
The following six blockchain stocks and companies have become popular investment choices:
- BTCS: With a market cap of more than $7 million and shares trading around 14 cents as of this writing, BTCS is a solid entry point for blockchain investors. It’s the first blockchain-centric public company in the U.S. and was one of the first entrants into the digital currency space.
- Global Arena Holding: Global Arena Holding acquires patents related to blockchain tech, but it’s also working on applying that tech to ATMs. If successful, this could have major implications for the everyday consumer.
- DigitalX: DigitalX developed a mobile product called AirPocket that assists with secure cross-border payments from more than 30,000 locations in 14 countries, primarily in North and South America.
- BTL Group: The Vancouver-based company offers blockchain solutions across several spaces, including banking and fantasy sports.
- Coinsilium Group: This London-based company invests in other blockchain startups and helps develop them. It was also the first recognized IPO for a blockchain tech company.
- First Bitcoin Capital: This company focuses on acquiring Bitcoin startups and funding them to develop both hardware and software for the cryptocurrency.
More to Learn
The financial potential of blockchain could be tremendous, and that’s just one component of the space. That’s why BI Intelligence has put together two detailed reports on the blockchain: The Blockchain in the IoT Report and The Block