The growth of cryptocurrencies last year was nothing short of phenomenal. Vast amounts of wealth were created in time frames the world had never seen before.
While some of the technology and innovation were legitimate, hundreds of digital currencies were created virtually overnight.
There is no doubt that 95% of these currencies are scams. Many still believe there is room in the world for hundreds of currencies. The world already has hundreds of currencies and it’s a pain in the ass.
Ever been in a foreign country and tried to pay for a purchase with a credit card? Depending on the vendor, they may give you the option to pay for the purchase in U.S. dollars or local currency. What they often don’t tell you is that they charge extra for the convenience of paying in USD.
And yet it’s a major industry. People are so comfortable with making payments in their home currency that they’ll do anything to avoid having to think about using a foreign currency.
In order to make a currency that has any value, you’d need to create a currency that people want to keep and people will only want to keep something if a lot of people are already accepting it, or the crypto has a compelling story — like a groundbreaking technology or a strong leadership team behind it.
It’s not enough for a few people to believe that a new crypto is groundbreaking. The currency only has value if other people will believe that it’s groundbreaking, as well. Belief is everything. I need to be convinced that others will see the underlying value behind a new crypto. That they’ll believe in its story so much they won’t try to get rid of it at the first opportunity.
Markets, at their core, are zero-sum games. For someone to win, someone else must lose. This is all well and good if markets are up.
However, as market enthusiasm fades, the normal game of musical chairs resumes and there are fewer and fewer chairs to go around. At the end of the game, there’s only one chair remaining.
If a currency I previously believed in appears to be losing the faith of others, it won’t be long before just about everyone is scrambling for the exits.
Since the beginning of the year, cryptocurrency markets have broadly sold off. I don’t expect this to abate anytime soon. There’s still plenty of room for the market to retract. And as panicked investors continue to sell, they’ll be increasingly willing to accept fewer and fewer bitcoin or ethereum for their once-valuable hoards.
However, I think that bitcoin and ethereum are in some ways more resilient than the vast majority of other digital currencies. Their longevity, name recognition and quality of teams help insulate them more than others. Their ability to deliver revolutionary technologies seems most credible. Ask any of the millions of people already invested in these currencies.