A New Way to Value Bitcoin: Tuur Demeester Introduces "New Tools"

Tuur Demeester, the founding partner at Adamant Capital, a bitcoin (BTC)-related investment firm, recently shared “new tools” to help investors more accurately “value” bitcoin and other digital assets.

As explained in a detailed Medium blog post (published on February 20th), the tools assist investors in “approximating sentiment” by analyzing profit and loss and they also help in “estimating HODLer buying and selling.” Before explaining how more advanced tools can be used to determine the fair value of cryptoassets, Demeester noted that in 2010 - when bitcoin had first been introduced - users would try to estimate bitcoin’s value by factoring in the cost of electricity used to mine the cryptocurrency.

In 2011, there were some discussions among research analysts about whether it would be better to acquire BTC by mining it, instead of buying it off an exchange - Demeester revealed.

Trace Mayer, Willy Woo, Chris Burniske Develop Bitcoin Valuation Tools

Trace Mayer, an early bitcoin adopter, suggested in 2012 that the “daily moving average” (DMA) of bitcoin’s market cap be used as a “value indicator” - as it removes the “long-term secular uptrend” from the BTC price calculation. In September 2017, prominent crypto analysts Willy Woo and Chris Burniske developed the widely-used NVT ratio, which compares bitcoin’s market cap with its on-chain volume.

As mentioned in Demeester’s blog, Pierre Rochard, the founder of Bitcoin Advisory, Nic Carter, the co-founder of CoinMetrics.io, and Antoine Le Calvez, a data engineer at CoinMetrics, introduced Bitcoin’s “realized cap” (in October 2018) as a way to determine the cryptoasset’s value. The “realized cap” of BTC is the total value of all the UTXOs (unspent transaction output) “priced by their value when they last moved”, Demeester explained.

Advanced Bitcoin Valuation Tools: Realized Capitalization, Unrealized Profit/Loss

After studying and analyzing how previous bitcoin valuation tools were developed, Demeester’s firm, Adamant Capital, has created a “solution to collect data that places each circulating quantity of Bitcoin in its historical context, in the tradition of previous work such as HODL Waves, Realized Cap, and MVRV (Market-Value-to-Realized-Value).”

In order to “learn more about the behavior of Bitcoin savers”, Adamant Capital uses the “Output Quantities of a block” and combines it with the “Recorded Time of that block” Demeester wrote.

By valuing “every coin at the time it last moved” and aggregating all the transferred value by compiling a list of the transactions, we are able to calculate the “Realized Capitalization.”

"Creating Tools That Measure Changes In Saving Behavior"

“Subtracting the Realized Cap” from the present market capitalization of the crypto market, or the particular cryptocurrency being valued, we arrive at the “Unrealized Profit/Loss (P&L)”, Demeester explained. Other tools recently proposed by Adamant Capital include “Relative Unrealized P&L” - which may be “interpreted as an indicator of investor sentiment”, Demeester argued.

According to Demeester, the conclusion of the firm’s bitcoin valuation research study is as follows:

By creating tools that measure changes in saving behavior on the Bitcoin settlement layer, we believe to have meaningfully contributed to the valuation debate. Relative Unrealized Profit/Loss in Bitcoin tells us about Mr. Market’s emotional state, HODLer Net Position Change gives us information about how Bitcoin whales are moving their pieces on the chessboard, and Liveliness gives us a powerful tool to meaningfully compare long-term investor activity, as well as a platform for building new valuation measures in this space.

 

How Bakkt Can Bring the Crypto Space an Institutional Investor Influx

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have for years been waiting for institutional investors to enter the space. While the introduction of bitcoin futures contracts on regulated exchanges in late 2017 didn’t gain a lot of traction, but Bakkt may.

Bakkt is a long-awaited bitcoin futures exchange and on-boarding platform from the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) - the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange – and it’s set to launch this year. Bakkt itself has remained tight-lipped over the precise launch date after delaying its launch last year, with ICE CEO Jeff Sprecher in February simply saying “later this year.”

It’s possible that this quarter may see the launch or at least more news about when the exchange is finally coming. At the end of March, Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler explained:

While we’re not yet able to provide a launch date, we’re making solid progress in bringing the first physical delivery price discovery contracts for bitcoin to the U.S.

Bakkt’s launch could be a major milestone for the cryptoasset industry. A venture backed by Microsoft and Starbucks, its institutional pedigree alone will switch many cautious investors on. Specifically, the firm is set to help consumers pay for goods and services with cryptocurrencies, with Starbucks being the flagship retailer in its arsenal.

Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures contracts will be the first physically-settled derivatives on a regulated trading platform. This means investors will receive the contract’s underlying asset, bitcoin, when it expires.

Currently the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) offers cash-settled bitcoin futures contracts, meaning investors get the equivalent of BTC’s value in fiat when the contracts expire. This is seen by some as a major development in the cryptocurrency space, as it shows traditional finance is willing to interact with the nascent cryptoasset industry.

It’s worth noting that earlier this year the ICE’s CEO called Bakkt a “bit of a moonshot bet,”  as it was organized in a way “very different than the way ICE typically does business.” The firm has its own offices and management team, and could undergo more rounds of financing in the future.

Bakkt And a Potential Bitcoin ETF

What’s significant about Bakkt’s launch beyond this, is that it may bolster the chances of a Bitcoin Exchange-Traded fund (ETF) being approved. Such a product would make it easier for institutional investors to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies.

In August, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected nine other ETF applications, in particular highlighting how those applying hadn’t provided evidence that “bitcoin futures markets are of significant size’” for an ETF to be launched.

Once Bakkt is launched its trading volumes may very well help quell the SEC’s concerns over the bitcoin futures markets’ small size as institutions and other investors may feel comfortable entering it. Larger futures contracts trading volume, increased liquidity and a well-established company involved may prove enough to convince the SEC that the time is right for a Bitcoin ETF.

Bakkt therefore represents a very significant milestone for a maturing cryptoasset industry and may well herald the “institutional influx” that many have been anticipating since 2017. Despite the markets remaining relatively flat throughout 2019 these looming decisions in the U.S. have the power to move the entire industry forward, for better or worse.