Blockchain’s version of retail investment accounts can improve yields, remove the middleman, and enable public services.
The coming to market of “challenger banks” like N26 and Revolut, modern savings products like Goldman’s Marcus, and finance apps like M1Finance, suggests that personal finance is repositioning as generationally minded mobile applications and web apps. But blockchain’s decentralized finance version of banking and investments is not merely the next iteration of tech challengers, it is a paradigm shift.
In the near future, many interactions with blockchains will simply look like an investment account to the end user.
In the near future, many interactions with blockchains will simply look like an investment account to the end user. Activities like providing security to a public blockchain or liquidity to a financial protocol will be available in “investment account format” — just deposit any amount of dough, take some risk, and earn a return. The innovative part of this scheme is that depositing capital into the supply side of decentralized protocols is crucial for their successful operation. Just imagine if every American deposited $100 into an account for Ethereum 2.0 staking — Ethereum would have the power of an extra $32.7 billion (~1.5x current market cap) in network security, and the user can earn up to 10.3% in Ether-denominated return.
Though currently more risky, could protocols begin to stand in for traditional investment accounts over time? This past year, the market’s highest yielding savings account by Wealthfront clocked in at 2.53% APR, accepted investments as lows a $1, and lowered costs through technological automation. Similar products from Goldman Sachs, Ally, and others are popular in the market, with customers focused on higher rates of return and Millennials under increased pressure to save 40% of their paycheck. At the same time, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and other brokerages have found themselves cutting trading fees to 0 as customers in a digital world now value transaction facilitation less than advice and other services.
Imagine if every American deposited $100 into an account for Ethereum 2.0 staking — Ethereum would have the power of an extra $32.7 billion in network security, and the user can earn up to 10.3% in Ether-denominated return.
Given how quickly tech products are penetrating personal finance, traditional savings accounts seem woefully out of date. In traditional savings, the customer makes a deposit into the fractional-reserve banking system. A bank takes the capital and uses it to make proprietary investments — notably, lending — which produce a rate of return. A small fraction of the return is shared with the customer. Drawbacks of this system include that customers can neither practically opt out of fractional-reserve banking, nor mitigate the counterparty risk of the bank without invoking expensive federal regulation and insurance. Returns for customers are dictated by providers, diluted by the need for shareholder profits, and don’t go far enough to counteract the consumer’s exposure to inflation. All in all, the scope, function, and performance of the traditional savings account leaves much to be desired in our modern context.
In the protocol-backed investment account model, the customer makes a deposit into a set of public protocols whose economies provide a rate of return. In doing so, the customer can trades off the counterparty risk of an intermediary for the technical risks of interacting with protocols. Over time, these latter risks are mitigated by engineering as is routinely done with software. In some cases, like lending stablecoins, its possible to guarantee a nonnegative fiat return in exchange for the risks of that asset’s stability mechanism.
By going to protocols, customers remove the profit-seeking intermediary, and gross returns incur only the network transaction fees of interacting with blockchains. Because these deposits amount to a supply-side activity for a public network, protocol-backed accounts become both a form of ownership and governance in public goods and services. In the future, shifting the protocol allocation of an investment account may be a form of registering preferences, or voting, on public services.
In the future, shifting the protocol allocation of an investment account may be a form of registering preferences, or voting, on public services.
Participating in decentralized protocols through an investment account foreshadows how the simple, traditional concept of an account at an institution will eventually be completely rehabilitated. It will increase an individual’s financial self-sovereignty, improve consumer choice, and remove the middleman — all while helping to serve up useful public services like blockchains, domain registration, cloud storage, and even universal basic income systems down the line.
DeFi wallet products, empowered with breakthrough interoperability technologies like WalletConnect, are available for download today. You invest your digital assets in a decentralized lending protocol right now. In 2020, we should expect to see a lot more options and tools for interacting with protocol-backed investment accounts, while traditional products are likely to continue puttering along.
Protocol-backed investment accounts are a paradigm shift was originally published in The CoinFund Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Bullish? On-Exchange Bitcoin Declines While Whales Accumulate (Report)
A recent report suggests that the amount of Bitcoin stored on exchanges is declining while BTC whales increase their holdings and that’s bullish for Bitcoin’s price.
The paper also highlighted that investors have a much larger time horizon for their holdings now compared to previous years.
Bitcoin Stored On Exchanges Drop
In its latest report shared with CryptoPotato on Bitcoin investors’ behavior, the popular research company Digital Delphi explored the number of bitcoins stored on cryptocurrency exchanges. The document indicated that if the BTC stock on platforms increases, it could put sell pressure.
However, this isn’t necessarily the case during bull runs, as retail investors often “leave BTC on exchanges and traders use BTC as margin collateral.” Alternatively, in case the asset price rises while the stock on exchange decreases, this typically implies an accumulation trend.
The report indicated that Bitcoin stored on exchanges marked an all-time high of 2.96 million in mid-February. Since then, the trend has reversed, and the number has dropped to below 2.6 million.
Digital Delphi argued that the reason behind this decrease of BTC on exchanges is because investors are most likely preparing for a longer-term holding period. More importantly, though, the paper highlighted a substantial decline in speculative trading interest in Bitcoin, while the HODLing mentality has increased.
“Unlike the 2019 price uptrend, which coincided with BTC stock increasing, this current trend has seen a divergence between BTC stock and price. This suggests a more sustainable move upwards for BTC, in comparison to that of 2019, as data indicates a holder base with longer time horizons.”
Bitcoin Whales Haven’t Slowed Down Accumulating
Digital Delphi’s data reaffirmed previous reports that Bitcoin whales, meaning addresses containing between 1,000 and 10,000 BTC, continue to accumulate large portions. The company outlined that whales have been on a shopping spree since the start of 2020, as their holdings have increased by 9% YTD.
Moreover, the US Federal Reserve’s actions to print extensive amounts of dollars since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated whales’ accumulations.
“Since the USD M2 supply expansion in March, there has been a 7% increase in whale holdings.”
According to the document, this only emphasizes the narrative that Bitcoin serves as a hedge against dollar inflation, and “the smart money is clearly betting on this.” It’s worth noting that prominent US investor Paul Tudor Jones III purchased BTC earlier this year to protect himself against precisely the rising inflation.
US Crypto Tax Avoiders Beware: The IRS Updates 1040 Tax Form
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seems to have found a way to block crypto tax evasion, following an update of its tax form.
IRS: No Excuses for Crypto Traders
According to the Wall Street Journal on Friday (September 25, 2020), the IRS is planning to alter its 1040 tax form. The revised tax form will see cryptocurrency holders give a straight answer about their crypto activities.
The IRS has been relentlessly pursuing crypto investors to disclose transactions, as it suspects that many taxpayers were guilty of tax evasion. However, the tax administrator looks like it has found a way to make all Bitcoin holders accountable.
Presently, the tax form will mandate crypto traders to answer a” yes or no” to the following question:
“At any time during 2020, did you receive, sell, send, exchange or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?”
What makes the update interesting is the placement of the above question. Prior to the revised tax form, the question appeared in a section where taxpayers were not mandated to fill the answer. However, the question’s position in the altered tax form just below the taxpayer’s name and address leaves no room for excuses or oversight on the part of the crypto trader.
Reacting to the altered form of 1040 was Ed Zollars:
“This placement is unprecedented and will make it easier for the IRS to win cases against taxpayers who check ‘No’ when they should check ‘Yes”
There have been complaints in the past about the lack of a robust regulatory framework for crypto tax filings. In October 2019, the IRS published new tax guidelines that would supposedly make it easier for crypto investors to file taxes. The U.S. tax agency also sent reminder letters to crypto holders. Earlier in September, the IRS announced a payment of $625,000 to anyone who could crack Monero and Bitcoin’s lightning network.
Governments Keen on Crypto Taxation
While the IRS seems to have devised a means to trap crypto holders, more countries are introducing crypto tax laws and clamping down on offenders.
As reported by CryptoPotato in April, Spain’s tax administrator sent out notices to 66,000 crypto investors, as against the 14,000 notices sent in 2019. South Korea, on the other hand, has been unsteady about taxing cryptocurrency.
Earlier in 2020, South Korea’s Ministry of Finance and Strategy revealed that there were no intentions to tax crypto profits. However, reports emerged that the Ministry was considering imposing a 20% tax on profits from crypto trading. In June, the country’s Finance Minister called for the imposition of tax on cryptocurrency trading gains.
Australia’s tax agency, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), sent out reminders to 350,000 crypto traders in March about their tax obligations. According to the ATO, crypto investors were to keep a comprehensive record of their trading activities for ease of tax payment.
Chinese State Media Report: Cryptocurrencies Are The Best-Performing Assets Of 2020
Although China still categorizes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as illegal, several state-owned media outlets purportedly ran reports describing them as the best-performing assets since the start of the year.
Bitcoin And Crypto Run On Chinese Media
A popular state-owned media under the name Xinhua News Agency set the tone yesterday by citing a Bloomberg report titled “crypto is beating gold as 2020’s top asset so far.” Apart from summarizing Bloomberg’s narrative, Xinhua added that cryptocurrencies are “decentralized financial instruments” and concluded that they have become “the best performing asset class this year.”
Another digital asset coverage followed today on China Central Television (CCTV) – among the most popular broadcasting services in the nation. In a three-minute-long video clip, CCTV spoke about cryptocurrencies and emphasized on their year-to-date performance. More specifically, the clip focused on their 70% price increase this year.
According to a popular cryptocurrency commentator Dovey Wan, this “interesting propaganda” spread out among other outlets, being featured on all “avenues, newspapers, online media, and TV.” The advertised narrative was the same – that digital assets have been outperforming all other investment instruments.
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao commented that people might not understand the significance behind this coverage, but “it is big.”
However, Wan raised a compelling question – what’s the real intention behind this move? After all, cryptocurrencies remain banned for official usage within the world’s most populated nation. She speculated that this coverage might have something to do with the Chinese central bank digital currency that’s reportedly being tested.
China Behind The Price Pump?
As CryptoPotato reported earlier today, green dominated the cryptocurrency field with the total market cap increasing by about $20 billion since yesterday.
Historically, news and announcements from China have undoubtedly impacted prices. As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise that the two-day media coverage promoting cryptocurrencies as the best-performing assets in 2020 has affected the market to some extent.
In late 2019, President Xi Jinping urged the country to accelerate its blockchain adoption. In the next few hours, the cryptocurrency field experienced some of its most impressive price pumps in history. Bitcoin alone skyrocketed by 42% in hours.
Less than a month later, country officials clarified that being pro-blockchain didn’t mean a positive attitude on cryptocurrencies. After reaffirming that digital assets are still illegal, their value plummeted in response.
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