Reddit Co-Founder: Investing in Cryptocurrencies Should Be a Long-Term Commitment

Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, has said that digital asset investors should not be discouraged by the prolonged crypto bear market - as he thinks it has helped in significantly reducing the number of speculative traders and investors.

Ohanian, a history graduate from the University of Virginia and Coinbase investor, told Yahoo Finance:

This is the Crypto Winter, no doubt. But a friend of mine, Brian Armstrong — who’s the CEO of Coinbase — said, ‘This is the spring of crypto innovation.'

"Some Of The Smartest People" Now Working On Crypto Projects 

Ohanian explained that this means cryptocurrency prices are currently “depressed”, however most of the speculators may have finally exited the digital asset ecosystem. This, according to Ohanian is “great” because the people that are left are now are involved in “building” real-world solutions. He remarked:

They’re actually building the infrastructure that it’s going to take to really make this happen.

Ohanian also revealed:

Some of the smartest people I know in tech are still working on solving these problems. They’re building companies that are built on blockchain.

Expressing views similar to other prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs, Ohanian believes:

The hype [around cryptocurrencies and blockchain] is gone. The fervor is gone. But I think that’s a good thing for all of us who have been in this [from the technology’s early stages of development].

Investing In Coinbase Back In 2011

Ohanian also pointed out that he was a “seed investor in Coinbase back in 2011, back when it was a pipe dream of devoted engineers.” He mentioned that JPMorgan, the largest bank in the US, and other established established financial institutions are starting to enter the crypto space. According to Ohanian, the introduction of the JPMorgan coin suggests that “there is real innovation that is happening now that all the wild speculation is gone. And that’s a good thing.”

Acknowledging that the extended bear market may be tough to endure for many crypto industry participants, Ohanian recommended taking a long view when investing in digital assets. He said: .

The [prolonged bear market] is painful. But if you were investing ... in [crypto] in the first place, you really should have been thinking long-term. That’s just generally good advice for any kind of investing, but especially something so nascent as crypto.

Comparing Crypto Adoption To The Growth Of The Internet

In October 2018, Ohanian, a best-selling author, had compared the current state of crypto technology to that of the growth and adoption of the internet. The Reddit co-founder had noted at that time that the present state of blockchain-based platforms is similar to how the internet was during the early 1990s. However, Ohanian had also said last year that crypto technology was improving and that the initial coin offering (ICO) craze of 2017 had gone away. He remarked (in late 2018):

Now is a good time because it's scattered all the hucksters and scenesters.

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.