A survey shows that the pandemic has made cryptocurrencies more attractive to investors, but the biggest barrier to entry is a lack of knowledge

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A cryptocurrency is seen with logos of bitcoin, ethereum, binance, dogecoin, ripple, litecoin in the background.

  • The pandemic has made cryptocurrencies more attractive to investors, a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit found.
  • Despite openness to crypto, the study found that a lack of knowledge among potential investors is the main barrier to greater adoption.
  • Institutional investors surveyed view the primary role of crypto as capital appreciation and asset diversification.
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The pandemic has made cryptocurrencies more attractive, according to a recent survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit . As more people stayed indoors to curb the spread of the virus, they found themselves with more time on their hands, while flush with multiple rounds of stimulus money from the government.

Data from the Economist Intelligence Unit showed 46% of people surveyed found the case for owing cryptocurrencies more compelling due to covid-19.

“It’s a function of continued demand across both retail and institutions,” Mathew McDermott, managing director and global head of digital assets at Goldman Sachs, was quoted saying in the study.

He added: “Given the huge amount of stimulus we’re seeing across countries because of covid-19 and low-interest rates, it’s the right place at the right time for companies to offer the ability for people to buy, hold, and use digital currencies and have digital wallets.”

The first part of the study surveyed 3,053 people in February and March from developed economies – US, UK, France, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore – as well as developing countries including Brazil, Turkey, Vietnam, South Africa, and the Philippines.

All respondents had bought a product or service within the past 12 months using some kind of digital payment.

However, despite an openness to digital currencies, the study found that 51% cited the lack of knowledge as the main barrier towards greater adoption. Following this obstacle are security concerns at 34% and difficulties knowing where to buy cryptocurrencies at 29%.

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Consumer perception of barriers to their country becoming cashless (% of respondents)

While cryptocurrencies have seen increasing institutional adoption this year, with support from Tesla, MicroStrategy, BNY Mellon, PayPal, and major banks, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, investors surveyed viewed the primary role of cryptocurrencies as capital appreciation and alternative asset diversification.

The second part of the study surveyed 200 institutional investors and corporate treasury officials from February to April. About a third were US-based while the rest were spread across Australia, China, France, Germany, Singapore, and the UK.

All respondents were familiar with their organization’s investment decision-making processes.

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Respondents view of primary role for a cryptocurrency in a portfolio or treasury account

“A lot of experts will tell you that bitcoin has a role to play as part of a diversified portfolio,” Henri Arslanian, the crypto leader at PwC, said in the study.

He continued: “Despite the volatility, bitcoin can be a hedge potentially against inflation, against currency devaluation, and that’s something that a lot of people are looking at.”

Cryptocurrencies have struggled since bitcoin peaked at the time of Coinbase’s listing on April 14. Extreme volatility in the past two weeks has slashed bitcoin’s market cap nearly in half.

Still, many remain bullish on the space.

“Our clients want to get exposure to bitcoin and increasingly more different cryptocurrencies, like ether,” McDermott of Goldman Sachs was quoted saying in the study. “It’s still a very nascent market but we are looking at different ways to facilitate client appetite to get exposure in a way that’s compliant from a regulatory perspective.”

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Cryptocurrencies are overtaking meme stocks in discussions on Reddit as retail traders seek quick returns

The photo shows physical imitations of cryptocurrency
The photo shows physical imitations of cryptocurrency. INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

Cryptocurrency is taking over Reddit threads, and meme stocks are going to the back burner, according to figures from market data firm Quiver Quantitative.

The data, shared with Insider, found comment volumes on the r/CryptoCurrency subreddit jumped 82% this month, while the number of comments on r/WallStreetBets sunk 25%.

In further contrast, on Friday the cryptocurrency forum had about 36,000 daily comments, while Wall Street Bets had just 13,000.

Cryptocurrencies went on a wild ride last week as a multi-day selloff caused the price of ether and bitcoin to plummet, along with altcoins such as Dogecoin. The selloff stretched into the weekend, but on Monday and Tuesday, the price of bitcoin began to recover.

The number of comments in r/CryptoCurrency hit the highest point in the month last week with 59,000 in just one day.

Though Wall Street Bets came into the spotlight earlier this year amid the GameStop frenzy and ballooned to more than 10 million followers, the forum forbids users from discussing cryptocurrency. The guidelines say, “No Pump & Dump, Crypto Discussions, Schemes or Scams.”

The cryptocurrency thread, however, says it’s the “leading community” for discussion, news, and analysis on the topic, with nearly 3 million members.

Retail traders, known to flock to Reddit to discuss markets, want to invest “in a narrative,” Quiver Quantitative founder James Kardatzke told the Financial Times, adding that, “crypto is having a lot of volatility and more interesting storylines,” than meme stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment, currently.

In a May 24 note, JPMorgan analysts said “more financially vulnerable demographic groups,” like millennials and younger, “have larger relative exposure” to the crypto market. The analysts cited a statistic from 2019 which showed the group owned about a third of the $1.6 trillion market at the time.

An April survey of 1,400 investors aged 18 to 40 from the Motley Fool found 47% of Gen Zers and 39% of millennials own cryptocurrency, making it the third most popular type of investment after stocks and mutual funds.

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Dogecoin slumps 20% after Tesla’s bitcoin shock – while other tokens like Ethereum’s ether and litecoin also slide

Dogecoin icon on phone

Dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies sank on Thursday after Elon Musk suspended bitcoin payments for Tesla cars.

The meme-inspired digital asset tumbled 20% to trade around 40 cents. Litecoin fell 14%, while Ripple’s XRP and Ethereum’s ether lost 11% – having each dropped more than 20% from their peaks.

Bitcoin dropped as much as 15% on Thursday, prompting a knock-on effect for other digital currencies, as the entire crypto market value wiped off as much as $365 billion at one point.

The sell-off is being driven by a number of factors, according to Simon Peters, a crypto-asset analyst at investment platform eToro.

“Valuations were at or near all-time highs earlier this month, so there will naturally be some profit-taking, while we are also seeing a general sell-off among risk assets – such as technology stocks – as economies start to unlock post the pandemic and investors fret over potential rate rises and higher inflation,” he said.

But he expects buyers to return to cryptocurrencies in the coming weeks to take advantage of lower prices.

An overall drop in the crypto market saw “#cryptocurrencies” trending on Twitter with many users reacting to the sudden surprise that Musk delivered.

Musk, who has regularly tweeted about dogecoin, said he was concerned about “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining and transactions.” Only earlier this week, he teased that Tesla could accept payments in dogecoin.

But dogecoin was already suffering a bad week after Musk’s “Saturday Night Live” appearance, at which he called it a “hustle.” The digital asset is down 32% this week so far.

“Bitcoin will not last as a financial instrument with the underlying climate damage it causes through carbon emissions,” Jeff Schumacher, CEO and founder of New Asset Exchange, said.

“In a post COVID-19 world, as the focus of companies shifts back to climate concerns, bitcoin’s poor environmental credentials – the CO2 production it is responsible for – will make companies and governments unwilling to use it as they attempt to green their image and push towards a net-zero world.”

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Coinbase will continue to trade on 2 European exchanges after a data error threatened the crypto exchange with delisting

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The Coinbase logo on display in Times Square in New York City.

  • Coinbase shares will remain listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Xetra trading system.
  • The shares had faced delisting because of a reference code error.
  • “Missing reference data” for Coinbase was available, said Deutsche Borse’s Xetra.
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Coinbase shares will continue to trade on two European trading venues run by Deutsche Boerse as a coding error with the cryptocurrency platform has been resolved.

The company’s shares had faced delisting from the Xetra trading system and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange by the end of Friday because of a mistakenly used individual 20-digit identification code, or LEI.

“The missing reference data (LEI) is now available for #Coinbase and thus, the shares will not be delisted … but rather be tradable on #Xetra und Börse Frankfurt further on,” Xetra said on its Twitter page Thursday.

Shares of Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US, became tradable on the floor of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange last Wednesday when the company’s direct listing debuted in the US on Nasdaq.

Coinbase’s public listing has been called a milestone for the industry surrounding digital coins, tokens and blockchain technology.

Shares of Coinbase traded on Nasdaq fell more than 2% during Thursday’s session, below $309 each. The shares started trading last week, ending their first session at $328.28.

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Coinbase’s $100 billion valuation should be about 80% lower, New Constructs CEO says

coinbase mobile phone app
Coinbase is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US.

  • New Constructs CEO David Trainer said his calculations point to a valuation of $18.9 billion for Coinbase, well below the estimated $100 billion.
  • Coinbase is set for a direct listing on the Nasdaq on April 14.
  • Coinbase faces the risk of competitors driving down their fees in the young cryptocurrency market.
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The potential $100 billion valuation of Coinbase Global ahead of the cryptocurrency exchange’s trading debut is “ridiculously high,” said New Constructs CEO David Trainer, with an outline from the veteran stock analyst including his view that the company’s profitability faces the risk of being slashed.

Coinbase is set for a direct listing on the Nasdaq exchange on April 14. This week, the San Francisco-based company estimated a more than 800% jump in first-quarter revenue to $1.8 billion from a year earlier but noted that it is “very difficult to accurately forecast” revenue going forward because of market volatility.

“Even though Coinbase’s revenue surged over the past 12 months, the company has little-to-no chance of meeting the future profit expectations that are baked into its ridiculously high expected valuation of $100 billion,” said Trainer in a research note from New Constructs released Friday.

Coinbase is currently the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US by revenue, and its platform offers access to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, among other digital currencies.

Coinbase is a standout among companies with recent IPOs because it makes a profit, said Trainer, with core earnings rising to $317 million from about $17 million in 2020 year-over-year.

But overall, Trainer said his “calculations suggest Coinbase’s valuation should be closer to $18.9 billion — an 81% decrease from the $100 billion expected valuation.”

Among Coinbase’s risks is competition as the cryptocurrency market matures, and that could lead to transaction margins at the company to fall “precipitously.”

He pointed to sharp competition in late 2019 between brokerages over stock-trading fees and said such a “race-to-the-bottom phenomenon” is likely to emerge among cryptocurrency exchanges.

“Competitors such as Gemini, Bitstamp, Kraken, Binance, and others will likely offer lower or zero trading fees as a strategy to take market share,” he said. Also, if traditional brokerages begin offering customers the ability to trade cryptocurrencies, that would “most certainly cut down on the unnaturally wide spreads in the immature cryptocurrency market.”

He said, for example, if Coinbase’s revenue share of trading volume fell to 0.01%, which is equal to traditional stock exchanges, its estimated transaction revenue in the first quarter of 2021 would have been just $35 million, instead of the estimated $1.5 billion.

“The crypto markets are very young and we expect many more companies to compete for the profits Coinbase enjoys today,” Trainer said.

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9.5 million Robinhood users traded cryptocurrencies in the first quarter, compared to 1.7 million in the last quarter of 2020

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Vladimir Tenev, co-founder of Robinhood.

  • Robinhood said the number of customers trading cryptocurrencies on its platform reached 9.5 million in the first quarter.
  • The quarterly figure is a surge from 1.7 million cryptocurrency customers in the final quarter of 2020.
  • Robinhood’s update highlights the fast-growing popularity of digital assets.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Trading app Robinhood said 9.5 million customers traded cryptocurrency during the first quarter of 2021, soaring from 1.7 million crypto traders on the platform in the last quarter of 2020.

Robinhood shared the figure in a blog post on Thursday in which it highlighted its Robinhood Crypto platform that it launched in 2018. “This year in particular has been a big one,” it said about activity in 2021.

There’s been a pickup this year in the number of financial institutions and other companies saying they will allow their customers to use or to gain access to cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that backs them. Investment bank Goldman Sachs is looking into ways to support their clients’ desire to own cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, CEO David Solomon said Tuesday in a CNBC “Squawk Box” interview. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk last month said the electric vehicle maker will accept bitcoin as payment.

Robinhood said its customers have access to seven tradable coins including bitcoin, dogecoin and ethereum.

“The prospect of an open and decentralized global financial system, one where everyone can have access to financial services, strongly aligned with Robinhood’s mission–so democratizing cryptocurrency trading felt like a natural next step,” said Robinhood.

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Bitcoin has fallen below $35,000 to key technical levels that analysts say could be make or break for the next move higher

A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is on display in front of the Bitcoin course's graph
A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

  • The Bitcoin price hovered around $35,000 and technical analysts said this point was a pivotal one on the daily charts.
  • A break above this level could push Bitcoin back towards all-time highs around $41,000, while a marked drop below could trigger a fall towards key support at $30,000, they said.
  • Although the longer-term outlook for both cryptocurrencies remains skewed to the topside, further losses look likely in the coming days,” DailyFX strategist Daniel Moss said in a note.
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Bitcoin fell on Wednesday, heading for its largest weekly fall since late August, as a combination of a stronger dollar and a bout of profit-taking swept $172 billion in value from the cryptocurrency market since the start of the week, leaving the price at a pivotal point on the charts. 

Rival coins such as Ethereum and Ripple Labs’ XRP, along with smaller alt-coins Litecoin and Cardano, sagged after several days of heightened volatility. 

Trade in cryptocurrencies has been booming for the last five months in particular. Bitcoin has risen by 230% in that time, hitting a record above $41,000 on January 8, while Ethereum has gained 217%, prompting a number of prominent investors to warn about the dangers of speculative bubbles. 

Shark Tank star investor Mark Cuban on Tuesday compared the crypto trade to the dot-com bubble of the 1990s in a series of tweets, and like the crash that ensued in early 2000, said any bursting would see some coins survive, and others fail. 

“The cryptocurrency market has come under fire in recent days, with Bitcoin and Ethereum both sinking lower as a wave of risk aversion sweeps across global financial markets. Although the longer-term outlook for both cryptocurrencies remains skewed to the topside, further losses look likely in the coming days,” DailyFX strategist Daniel Moss said in a note.

Bitcoin was last trading around $34,580, up around 1.65% on the day on the Coinbase exchange.

With the retreat to $35,000, the Bitcoin price is hovering around key technical levels on the charts, and a break above, or below, those levels could pave the way for the next burst towards record highs, or a more protracted decline, analysts said.

“Failing to gain a firm foothold above last week’s close ($38,200) would probably open the door for sellers to drive prices back towards psychological support at $30,000. Clearing that may pave the way for a push back towards former resistance-turned-support at the 2017 high ($19,891), Moss said.

Read more: GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 50 under-owned stocks that will roar higher as growth and inflation lift off in 2021

Bitcoin is still a full 95% above where it was a month ago, but the technical charts show that this latest retracement in price this week has brought a number of support levels – a level at which the price should hold in the event of a more aggressive sell-off – into play. 

The Bitcoin price is nearing a key Fibonacci retracement level. Fibonacci retracements are a series of horizontal lines on a chart that show where support and resistance are likely to emerge based on an asset price’s recent highs and lows and a breach of a key line can often trigger a swift move higher, or lower. 

Chris Svorcik, a technical analyst who writes for FXEmpire, said Bitcoin needed to stay above $29,762, which is the half-way point between the low of December 11 and the high on January 12, or 50% retracement, to avoid a drop towards $26,000.

4-hour technical chart of BTC/USD
4-hour technical chart of BTC/USD

“As long as price stays above the 50-61.8% Fibonacci support zone, an uptrend has the best chance of continuing higher (blue arrow) for new high. Only a break below the deep Fibonacci levels would change and invalidate that view,” he said.

Ethereum, which on Wednesday was trading up 2.8% on the day around $1,079 on the Kraken exchange, also finds itself at a tipping point on the technical charts. The price rattled to a three-year high at $1,350 late on Sunday, but its decline since then means it has now surrendered over half of the gains made since the start of 2021, leaving it hovering at a key Fibonacci retracement level.

“Ethereum would need to move through the 23.6% FIB and the pivot level at $1,069 to support a run at the first major resistance level at $1,131,” Bob Mason, a technical analyst who writes for FXEmpire, said. 

“Support from the broader market would be needed, however, for Ethereum to break back through to $1,100 levels,” he said, adding: “In the event of an extended crypto rally, Ethereum could test resistance at $1,250 before any pullback. The second major resistance level sits at $1,212.”

4-hour ETH/USD technical chart
4-hour ETH/USD technical chart

Read more: An ETF provider whose specialty funds have smashed the market breaks down how to capitalize on the red-hot SPAC craze – and shares 4 to watch in 2021

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