People trade all kinds of things – stocks, futures, even sandwiches in the lunchroom. As currency trading becomes an increasingly hot investment strategy, people are taking a closer look at cryptocurrencies and their potential earning power. Can Bitcoin, the largest and most widely-adopted cryptocurrency in the world, be traded like other currencies?
In a word, no…
As skeptics may be quick to tell you, digital currencies are ‘speculative assets’, but not real currencies. This is for several reasons, including the market cap, volatility, and people’s general distrust in technology. Cryptocurrency funds have a value of about $24b as an asset class – a relatively small number compared to the trillions of dollars of other Forex currencies.
In July of 2013, the Winklevoss twins filed an application for a Bitcoin ETF, which was finally rejected in March of this year. Had it been approved, Bitcoin would likely have been positioned for explosive growth. However, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) denied their request, because the lack of regulation in current virtual exchanges could leave Bitcoin vulnerable to fraud or manipulation.
The Winklevoss brothers weren’t the only ones to propose a bitcoin ETF; a second proposal came from SolidX Management and was also rejected in March. However, a third application submitted by Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) has yet to be reviewed, and we anticipate a decision by September of this year.
What is an ETF?
ETF stands for Exchange-Traded Fund, and describes the ‘thing’ that tracks the performance of an asset. Basically, it’s a piece of paper that represents the asset you’re investing in (gold, a stock, some currency). Acceptance of an asset’s ETF means it can be easily and conveniently traded on an exchange like Forex.
But also, yes!
So far, the Bitcoin ETF has yet to be accepted. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t being traded. Does this look familiar?
If you’re interested in trading currencies of any kind, then it should! These are the candlestick charts of the value of a currency moving up and down, but the currency you see is…Bitcoin.
There are a variety of public digital asset exchanges popping up, that allow cryptocurrency holders trade against other cryptocurrencies AND traditional currencies like USD and EUR. This particular dashboard comes from Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX), created by Coinbase. You can engage in margin trading, set limit orders, and all the other things that make currency trading thrilling.
There are several other options for trading cryptocurrencies, like Kraken, Bitstamp, or Gemini. Check out some reviews on dozens of other crypto-exchanges to find the best fit for you.
A Note on Volatility
Bitcoin is considered extremely volatile – that is, it unpredictably gains and loses value very quickly. This makes Bitcoin and other emerging digital currencies a great thing to invest in, because with the right timing you can buy very low, and sell very high! However, they are also considered the riskiest kind of investment and are not a sure road to profit. So remember to diversify, trade wisely, and keep your 401K around (just in case)!