Bitcoin Was This Year's 'Worst Investment', FinExpertiza Consulting Claims

Francisco Memoria

Researchers from the FinExpertiza Consulting group have recently concluded that bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency, was this year’s worst investment, and that palladium, a precious metal used in autocatalysts, was the best.

According to a report published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, FinExpertiza’s research saw it look into 14 different financial instruments and analyze what would’ve happened to a 300,000 ruble ($4,330) investment into each one of them this year.

If the money was invested in bitcoin, the researchers noted, it would have dropped by over 72.2%, as 213,000 rubles ($3,000) would’ve been lost. On the other hand, if the funds were invested into palladium, the 300,000 ruble investment would’ve increased by 30,000 rubles ($433), or little over 10%.

Nina Kozlova, the general director of FinExpertiza, was quoted as saying:

And if we look in retrospect, for example of two years, we will see that palladium, in general, has become the only metal with a positive return.

Bitcoin notably started the year at roughly $13,400 and has kept on dropping to a low of little under $3,200. This month the flagship cryptocurrency started recovering and, at press time, it’s trading at $3,670.

According to Mati Greenspan, a senior market analyst at eToro, it could still drop to under $3,000 although the $3,500 to $3,000 region is seen as a support zone. The cryptocurrency’s fall notably hasn’t seen development and adoption stop, as earlier this month its layer-two scaling solution, the Lightning Network (LN), surpassed the 500 BTC capacity.

Bitcoin's price drop this year

Last year, bitcoin went from $1,000 to a near $20,000 all-time high, which led some to believe its price was going to keep on growing. Tom Lee, a Wall Street analyst and the head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors, maintained a $25,000 by year-end price prediction throughout most of the bearish trend, but lowered it to $15,000 last month.

Other long-term price predictions still see the cryptocurrency’s price surge in a small amount of time. One of the most bullish predictions is that of cybersecurity pioneer John McAfee, who has predicted BTC’s price will hit $1 million by 2020.

Palladium outperformed every other asset in the study as its price has been heavily influenced by the threat of a potential US-China trade war, and by demand that far surpassed supply this year, according to analysts.

U.S. SEC Needs More Time to Consider VanEck Bitcoin ETF Proposal, Invites Comments

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Monday (May 20) that it needed more time to consider the VanEck–SolidX Bitcoin ETF proposal. This delay also gives interested parties more time to comment on the proposal and address the SEC's main concerns. 

On 30 January 2019, Cboe BZX Exchange ("BZX") filed with the SEC a proposed rule change to list/trade shares of "SolidX Bitcoin Shares", which would be issued by the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust. This proposed rule change was published in the Federal Register on 20 February 2019. It then had 45 days to approve, disapprove, or ask for a delay.

(Note, however, that BZX had filed its original proposal back in June 2018; the SEC delayed a decision on this proposal several times, and February 27 was the final deadline for the SEC to make a decision. However, due to the U.S. government shutdown that occurred in December 2018 and ended in January 2019, the SEC was partially out of action during this period. By the time that the SEC fully operational again, there was only a few weeks left till the final deadline. So, to give this Bitcoin ETF proposal the best chance of success, on 22 January 2019, BZX withdrew its original proposal, and re-applied (in order to reset the clock) on 30 January 2019.)

Anyway, on 29 March 2019, the SEC released a notice to say that it had selected 21 May 2019 as the date by which it should approve, disapprove, or ask for a further delay to consider the grounds for disapproving the Bitcoin ETF proposal. Why 21 May 2019? Because 90 days is the maximum amount of time it could ask for, and 21 May 2019 is 90 days from 20 February 2019, which was the date that the proposal got published in the Federal Register.  

Well, yesterday (i.e. just one day before the expiry of the 90-day deadline), the SEC decided to delay making a decision, and this time it had to provide "notice of the grounds for disapproval under consideration" (i.e. explain why it thinks that it might deny the proposal).

Here are a few of the SEC's concerns, and it is inviting the ETF's sponsor, i.e. BZX, and other interested parties to provide written comments (in either electronic or paper form):

  • Has BZX "entered into a surveillance-sharing agreement with a regulated market of significant size related to bitcoin?"
  • What is the relationship between the Bitcoin futures market and the Bitcoin spot market?
  • The proposed Bitcoin ETF uses "a non-public, proprietary index to value holdings based on OTC activity", but is this really "an appropriate means to calculate the NAV of an exchange-traded product"?
  • BZX has said in its proposal that it "has entered into a comprehensive surveillance sharing agreement with the Gemini Exchange and is working to establish similar agreements with other bitcoin venues." But is the Gemini digital asset exchange "a regulated market of significant size"?

Any arguments regarding whether the proposal should be approved or disapproved need to be submitted within 21 days of publication in the Federal Register of yesterday's order (Release No. 34-85896; File No. SR-CboeBZX-2019-004), and anyone who wants to "file a rebuttal to any other person’s submission" must do so no later than within 35 days of the date of publication in the Federal Register.

The following tweets were sent out on May 19, i.e. the day before the SEC made this latest announcement, by Crypto Twitter's favorite U.S. attorney, Jake Chervinsky:

According to Chervinsky, "VanEck's new deadline is August 19," and the "SEC can & likely will delay one more time for a final deadline of October 18."

This is how Gabor Gurbacs, Director of Digital Assets Strategy at VanEck/MVIS, expressed his personal thoughts on the SEC's ultra cautious attitude towards Bitcoin ETFs:

The SEC choosing to delay making a decision on the VanEck Bitcoin ETF proposal did not come as a surprise to the crypto markets, which reacted very calmly (Bitcoin's price only went down slightly), and in fact, at press time (11:00 UTC on May 21), according to data from CryptoCompare, Bitcoin is trading at $7,945, up 0.33% in the past 24-hour period:

BTC - 24 Hour CC Chart - 21 May 2019.png