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Institutional investors are betting on the bitcoin long game

"Myles" (2018-02-06)

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REUTERS/Mike Segar


Bitcoin fell below $7,000 on Monday for the first time since November.

While small investors shared tales of woe on Reddit and Twitter, institutional players took more on a long-term view.

One VC said he still expects bitcoin to hit $50,000 in 2018.

With bitcoin trading below $7,000 on Monday, 64% below its all time high, many investors have been left wondering whether this is true cryptocurrency carnage, or if bitcoin has the ability to bounce back. 

Some have taken to Twitter and Reddit to exchange stories of lost potential, and what it means to see thousands of dollars in investments evaporate in a matter of days. 

But bitcoin, which increased 1,800% in value over the course of 2017, is known for its volatility. 

Despite consumer fears, professionals in the cryptocurrency market have much more long-term views when it comes to bitcoin's ability to rebound. Holding, or "HODLING" as its known by aficionados, requires patience and resolve. And despite bitcoin's relatively short history, many of these believers are taking comfort in the fact that bitcoin has never failed to bounce back from a hard dip, so far.

A $50,000 prediction — if only for a few seconds 
Anthony Pompliano, a former product manager at Facebook, is managing partner at Full Tilt Capital, a North Carolina-based early stage investment firm that is putting all of its next $25 million fund into cryptocurrency startups. 

Pompliano said that while his firm focuses on investments such as cryptocurrency infrastructure and technology instead of the more volatile digital coins, he sees bitcoin's crash as a natural part of the market cycle. He stands by his prediction that bitcoin will reach $50,000 in 2018.

"I don't know if it's for four hours, or a day, or forever. I don't know if anyone can call that," Pompliano said. 

"If you ask most institutional investors, one of the most valuable aspects of bitcoin is that every time something has occurred that should kill it, it doesn't die and it comes back stronger," Pompliano added. "I think that element of bitcoin is incredibly powerful and highly underrated."

Pompliano said that part of the volatility stems from the same cyclical market forces that sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling 1,700 points in two days. But, he said, bitcoin is traded globally and can swing dramatically upon news that another company or country has decided to support it, or ban it. This means that cycles, both good and bad, happen a lot faster in the world of crypto. 

"I would say historically, it has proven to be very difficult for individual retail investors to time markets. So what I have told people close to me is, if you want to buy an asset, buy it, hold it and don't look at it," Pompliano said. "Don't try to day trade highly volatile assets like crypto."

Invest in the technology, not the cryptocurrencies 
Robin O'Connell, the chief revenue officer at the currency exchange Uphold, was less bullish in his assessment of bitcoin's price, but he said that he doesn't see cryptocurrencies going away any time soon. 

"Anyone you talk to who says they know whether this is the bottom is giving you their best guess. Who knows," O'Connell said. "If you as an individual believe that crypto is here to stay — and obviously at Uphold we believe that — then [you believe] at some point this is going to correct itself."

While critics of bitcoin often complain that there is nothing to back up its value, O'Connell disagreed. He said that the problems it solves, such as international money transfers and blockchain-based smart contracts, justify the use of cryptocurrencies and prove their value. 

"Those things are to me the underlying fundamentals of whether this thing is successful or not — not how many people are betting that the price is going to go up," O'Connell said.

As the broader market took a beating on Monday, bitcoin believers took to Twitter to speak out in defense of their cryptocurrency:

After watching bitcoin for months I'm completely liga primer inggris desensitized to 5% intraday swings.

For the Dow? Biggest points drop ever.
For bitcoin? Eh average Monday.

— Austen Allred (@AustenAllred) February 6, 2018

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