Bitcoin: Asset class in offing?

Dubai - On Friday, BTC quoted at $38,121.58 registering 15 per cent increase over a week.


Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Sat 6 Feb 2021, 12:04 AM

Last updated: Sat 6 Feb 2021, 12:05 AM

Bitcoin is surging again with investors seeking new options to park their funds. With volatility attached to these digital assets, fears of treating it as an asset class seem blurring.

Arshad Khan, co-founder and CEO of Arabian Bourse. — Supplied photo
Arshad Khan, co-founder and CEO of Arabian Bourse. — Supplied photo

Analysts at Morgan Stanley recently said that with the large decline in the dollar, deeply negative real yields and continued policy uncertainty, investors have been looking for alternatives to traditional cash holdings. Innovation in digital assets continues rapidly and will likely drive increased institutional participation over time.

So does it mean bitcoin is poised for a systematic asset-class investment with both US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde calling for reulatory framework or limit the usage of this most sought after asset?

Shantnoo Saxsena, founder, Encryptus Advisory. — Supplied photo
Shantnoo Saxsena, founder, Encryptus Advisory. — Supplied photo

When we look at asset classes, we are essentially identifying investment assets that include both tangible and intangible instruments for investors to buy and sell for the purpose of generating additional income. With bitcoin, its price movement and ability to store value will appeal to investors as an investment that can maximise their wealth, informs Bobby Ong, co-founder & coo, CoinGecko.

“When institutional investors such as Microstrategy made bitcoin their primary treasury reserve asset and invested over $1 billion last year, there will be many who consider this a sign that bitcoin is being recognised as an asset class. Whether more traditional investors will start realising its potential, yes, I believe that over time they will.”

Similar to Microstrategy, there other large public listed companies deploying substantial capital such as Square. The mobile payment company invested $50 million in bitcoin last year. Other than that banks starting to dabble in bitcoin. For context, Singapore’s DBS bank is planning to launch a digital currency exchange that will support Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, and Bitcoin Cash. With so many prominent investors and large institutions focusing on cryptocurrencies, it does seem that bitcoin is gaining prominence to eventually become an asset class for investors.

Arshad Khan, co-founder and CEO of Arabian Bourse, said: “Bitcoin has already established itself as an asset class. Number of investors and traders have been continuously expanding with large institutions and corporates getting actively involved. Other then the rise in the trading interest these institutions have started offering services like ETFs on Bitcoin, custody and advisory services. Exchanges have started offering derivatives contracts. This has led to a surge in the interest in bitcoin. The volatility in the bitcoin prices is high which is giving opportunities today to traders and arbitragers.”

After crossing $40k mark the prices have cooled down as profit taking kicked in giving bulls some rest. Rise in the number of investors is pushing the number of addresses holding 1,000 BTC or more to increase from 2,407 to a record of 2,438. The number of bitcoins held in accumulation addresses has increased by 30,000 to 2,739,166 BTC. With high liquidity its easy for investors to enter and exit large positions in bitcoin on 24*7*365 basis with least impact cost. This is a unique advantage that Bitcoin offers along with ease of transferability between wallets.

“Investors in the UAE need to choose the trading platforms very carefully. Its very important to deal with regulated exchanges and brokers who offer transparent and secure platform. Trading in cryptocurrencies is risky due to several incidences of exchanges getting hacked or investors getting duped by fictitious platforms claiming to be an exchange. Investors in UAE should only deal with reputed exchanges which are regulated and have a robust technology platform ensuring security of the coins,” added Khan.

On Friday, BTC was quoted at $38,121.58 registering 15 per cent increase over a week and Ethereum was at $1,756.41 up by almost 30 per cent, according to CoinGecko.

Shantnoo Saxsena, founder, Encryptus Advisory, said: “Bitcoin is increasingly becoming popular among investors and while regulation is required to underpin its growth. This cryptocurrency is gradually becoming an asset class of its own with a market capitalisation touching $650 billion. Compared with gold; the traditional asset class that comes closest to Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency has outperformed by about 275 percentage points over the past year. In recent months, Bitcoin has hand down beaten other asset classes such as equities, fixed income, and real estate.”

The recent doubling of bitcoin prices was mainly underpinned by growing interest from institutional investors and gigantic corporations such as PayPal and Square. MicroStrategy, which is among the 17 publicly traded companies to hold the digital currency (Bitcoin Treasury), is the single largest holder with 70,000 BTCs.

“While regulatory scrutiny on all digital currencies is bound to increase in the future amid heightened volatility, the interest from large multinationals is a signal that a gradual adoption of bitcoin into the mainstream is well underway. Look at the savings product and asset management facilities that companies are offering globally to their investors using BTC. All such factors are playing a crucial role in making Bitcoin as one of the best asset classes,” added Saxsena.

Dubai-based Deepak Machado, bitcoin enthusiast, said: "Having exposure to bitcoin in your portfolio greatly serves to hedge against volatility. Many of the hedge funds, family offices, pension funds have realized this and are accumulating bitcoin. Bitcoin is referred to as 'digital gold' and is considered a store of value. A good strategy for retail investors is to buy regularly in small quantities and store them safely and HODL; not financial advice in any way." —

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