Crypto forever

Cryptocurrency is here to stay, and it is time to get serious about unpacking it.

Why it matters: It may not be ingrained in daily life, ubiquitous in the financial ecosystem, or an essential piece of the average American’s investment portfolio. But it is on track to eventually become all three with other countries picking it up faster.

Quick take: Crypto’s current stage is a lot like internet stocks were in the ’90s. At that time, the Web was new and many looked at it with skepticism as well.

The big picture: Bitcoin’s value, alongside that of the entire crypto market, just keeps going up, and market value in the cryptocurrency asset class is a gauge of interest, demand and adoption.

  • By at least one measure, cryptocurrencies as an asset class are collectively worth over $2 trillion.
  • That said, for investors, this is still early days. Institutional traders are just now slipping inthrough the back door.
  • Other asset classes are still vastly bigger and less erratic (the stock market in justFrance or just India, is bigger).

State of play: Here are the big themes we’ll be covering as the groundwork is laid for years to come:

  • For a long time, people feared crypto might get banned. Instead, places like India and the United States are moving to tax it heavily. Regulatory watchdogs are also considering treating basically all crypto assets as securities, which could shut a lot of people out and limit utility.
  • Institutional adoption. Far bigger, older money types have bought bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies than have acknowledged it. This drives up value for rank and file buyers, but it can also accentuate volatility when these big accounts suddenly decide to shed risk.
  • Crypto wants your mind. It wants people to look at a car and think, “That’s worth 5,000 cryptobucks” rather than “$20,000.” Stablecoins pegged to government currency are the beachhead for this mental invasion. Governments would prefer to retain their monopoly on how we value goods and services, though.
  • Robots on the internet.Much of what consumers do with a bank now can be done with autonomous software that runs online without people. Mostly, this software has a hard time interacting with the analog world, but — when that changes — at a minimum they could compete with banks in old-fashioned finance.
  • Video games. This booming industryrelies on network effects: that is, gamers having others to play with. Crypto is making headway with rewarding players with digital stuff that has monetary value, and it’s the beginning of an economy that doesn’t need the real world.

The bottom line: You may not understand how crypto works, but you also don’t understand how your email works, right? Don’t worry about the mechanics. Worry about what’s happening.

Biden found $11 billion

President Biden wants to go after crypto wealth as a way to help close the budget gap, figuring Uncle Sam could net $11 billion in new income through 2032 by modernizing accounting rules around the asset class, according to his budget proposal released March 28.

Why it matters: Giving crypto investors access to some of the same flexibility investors in older asset classes enjoy could signal the administration is inching toward welcoming blockchain firms into the mainstream financial system.

Details: The administration would raise revenue on crypto “primarily by adding these types of assets to the scope of existing reporting requirements,” according to Ernst & Young’s Tax News Update.

  • One key change is shifting taxation of crypto to a mark-to-marketsystem, which means that when the value of the underlying asset goes up, it is treated as actual income.
  • This option can work advantageously for traders, Shehan Chandrasekera, Cointracker’s head of tax strategy, tells Axios.
  • Not all digital assets will qualify for the treatment, only those determined to have adequate trading activity, as CoinDesk notes.
  • The proposed rules also target offshore tax evasion by imposing cross-reporting agreements with foreign financial jurisdictions on crypto holdings much like those already in place for traditional investment assets.

Context: Currently, crypto investors are limited to using capital gains taxes, which only allows them to claim $3,000 in losses, Chandrasekera explained.

Yes, but: It’s only a budget proposal, and these things get mangled in the legislative process.

  • It remains to be seen whether the administration sees crypto as a cash cow or a driver of domestic competitiveness.

What we’re watching: Elsewhere in Congress, lawmakers have come together to make crypto taxation less stressful by exempting small transactions, as the IRS already does with foreign currency.

Stepping back: Last year, the digital asset industry fought bitterly with Congress over similar issues, as it considered broad new language as part of the infrastructure bill, and lost.

Bottom line: No one said joining the mainstream financial system would be free.

-Indonesia and Brazil love crypto

Indonesia and Brazil love crypto

The U.S. is tied for 10th place, with India, in terms of how many of its people say they own crypto.

Why it matters: Crypto proponents have long argued that places with weak financial systems would benefit most from blockchain technology. While uptake outside the developed world has been slow, new data from the crypto exchange Gemini suggests that might be changing.

Driving the news: Gemini released its Global State of Crypto report for 2022 today, based on data collected on its behalf by Data Driven Consulting Group.

  • The report called 2021 crypto’s “breakout year.”
  • “Forty-one percent of crypto owners surveyed globally purchased crypto for the first time in 2021,” it says.

Bottom line: The bug is spreading.

-Culture hash: Buyer beware

Crypto evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos posted on his Patreon blog about a phishing email he received, purportedly coming from the maker of the hardware wallet Trezor. It was a good instinct.

  • Trezor makes devices that some of the most security-conscious crypto investors use to store their digital assets.
  • Yesterday, it announced thatits email list held by Mailchimp had been compromised. The attacker was attempting to take advantage of list members.

Bottom line: Attempts to trick crypto holders into giving away the keys to their wealth are just part of the background noise of the space, but new arrivals are well-advised to learn to recognize the red flags.


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