'Crypto Confidence' - Zafar Kanani writes for Finance Monthly
The cryptowave is only going to build more momentum in the next 12 to 18 months. Just two weeks ago Barclays announced a partnership with a leading crypto company to facilitate payments to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, the most established crypto assets. This may reflect a trend of major financial institutions moving away from outright denunciation of cryptocurrencies to a cautious participation, marking a significant shift in their approach and making these assets much more accessible to new investors.
Cryptocurrencies are seeing a remarkable increase in transparency, further improving trust. There are now a number of companies specialising in interrogating the blockchain of Bitcoin, establishing whether the currency has been used in any potentially illegal transactions on the dark web. This could make a huge difference to the willingness of those new to the market to invest in the currency. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies still labour under a perception of being used for dodgy dealings in dark corners of the internet, but with the increase in transparency, investors will feel much more comfortable putting their money into this market.
Of course, there are many ICOs that do not go through the proper regulatory procedures before launching, and it is these less-than-scrupulous organisations that are prompting Facebook and Google banning ICO advertising. However, there are many players in the market, backed by some of the biggest venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, that are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees to ensure that they align completely with whichever regulatory environment that they operate in. We are increasingly seeing leading regulators, such as FINMA and the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission, embracing this innovation, issuing guidance and frameworks to companies looking to issue an ICO to ensure they do so responsibly and effectively. Smaller investors, who could be priced out of investing in exciting tech stocks like Amazon and Facebook, can access fantastic opportunities with ICOs, either getting in on the ground floor in the initial offering, or when the coin is listed on an exchange.
The ICO industry is currently something of a Wild West scenario. However, we are also at the early stages of what will be a transformative asset class. There is no doubt that we will see a number of new investors in cryptocurrencies and assets increase as the market matures, as regulators get up to speed with the technology, as the big banks begin to adopt more open-minded positions and as the transparency of cryptocurrency transaction history continues to improve.