Despite India’s strict stand on cryptocurrencies, native entrepreneurs and blockchain enthusiasts are stopping at nothing to play their part in the burgeoning sector.
[Editor’s note (10:45 AM): The headline has been updated to remove an erroneous previous estimate of the fund. ]
India’s Loss is USA’s Gain
While some cryptocurrency businesses are shifting base or launching litigations against the government, a small group of influential investors from the country have launched B1T Capital – a U.S.-based incubator focused exclusively on cryptocurrencies.
As per SEC records, the fund was registered on June 26, 2018, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has raised “close to a million dollars” from undisclosed investors. The entity will exclusively invest in cryptocurrency startups registered in the U.S. via private presales.
B1T Capital partner Utsav Somani explains the move was a straightforward choice given the abysmal lack of regulations in India, with a highly-favorable regulatory and technological environment in the U.S. contributing to their decision. The entrepreneur confirmed all partners are Indian citizens, “except maybe a few.”
Somani spoke to local publication Inc42 about the development:
“There are going to be 500 new crypto funds in 2018 globally. Interestingly, none are from India. B1T Capital is a step towards changing that. India is the most emerging market geography that projects will need access to at some point in their maturity curve.”
He added the fund aims to open India’s “crypto ecosystem,” and hopes to find synergy in this regard.
Despite being a newly-formed fund, B1T Capital has invested in Orchid, a distributed marketplace that aims to create a framework for digital citizenship, and aims to close another investment in July 2018.
Ticket sizes range from $75K to $150K, with Somani revealing the fund invests in companies which already have an impressive lineup of investors. This circumvents the need for conducting thorough due diligence.
Their core philosophy is evident after viewing investors in Orchid.com, which includes Polychain, Metastable, and Andreessen Horowitz. The fund targets web 3.0 infrastructure layer projects which follow strict regulatory guidelines.
“No ICO Flipping”
Somani stated the ever-changing landscape of the cryptocurrency market makes it difficult to create a long-term strategy, which B1T Capital hopes to tackle by reassessing their portfolio “every few months.”
The infamous ICO market is out of B1T’s investment strategy for their unregulated, mostly non-KYC based, shady reputation.
Somani noted B1T Capital is not looking to “flip projects like retail investors,” but back projects that look promising, aim to redefine protocol layers for various problems, and lead innovation.
Meanwhile, India continues to grapple with the government lockdown on registered banks lending services to cryptocurrency businesses. While this can contribute to brain-drain as skilled talent leaves the country to pursue enterprising careers in the sector, Somani opinions the upcoming 2019 elections may lead politicians to leverage the industry – and votes – to their advantage.
Bitcoin (BTC/USD) forecast and analysis on September 25, 2018
Cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC/USD) is trading at 6706.08. Quotes of the cryptocurrency are traded above the moving average with a period of 55, which indicates the existence of a bullish trend for Bitcoin. At the moment, the quotes of the cryptocurrency are moving near the middle border of the Bollinger Bands indicator bars. A test of the level of 6590.00 is expected, from which one should expect an attempt to continue growth and further development of the upward trend with the target near the level of 7190.00.
Bitcoin (BTC/USD) forecast and analysis on September 25, 2018
The conservative buying area is near the lower border of the Bollinger Bands indicator strip at 6580.00. The abolition of the option of continuing Bitcoin growth will be the breakdown of the lower border area of the Bollinger Bands indicator strips, as well as the moving average with a period of 55 and the closing of the pair quotes below the area of 6200.00, indicating a change in the bearish trend for BTC/USD. In the event of breakdown of the upper boundary of the bands of the indicator Bollinger Bands, one should expect an acceleration of growth.
Bitcoin Mutual Fund CEO Explains Why Canada is More Blockchain-Friendly than the U.S.
Canada has set the pace as the first government to ever approve an exclusive bitcoin mutual fund. This builds upon its reputation as a friendly environment for emerging technologies.
The atmosphere in Canada seems to be freer and more conducive to innovation in this field, based on the numerous developments that the industry has experienced even prior to this time. This is in comparison to its prominent neighbour, the United States, whose Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) upholds strict measures while trying to figure out appropriate regulatory systems for the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem.
In an exclusive interview with CCN, Sean Clark, CEO of First Block Capital Inc. — the operator of FBC Bitcoin Trust, the first bitcoin mutual fund to trade in Canada — discussed the underlying factors that make Canada a country that is friendly to new technologies such as cryptocurrency. According to Clark, unrelenting education, political will, and open-mindedness, among other factors make the North American nation an ideal hub for technological innovation.
He told CCN:
“I think in general, the Canadian regulatory bodies understand the potential benefits of blockchain and cryptocurrency, and traditionally Canadian regulators have been open to technological innovation. That is different from what you get in places like the US.”
Canadian Regulators are More Open to Dialogue
Clark noted that his company, in collaboration with other experts, worked directly with the Canadian securities regulators and educated them for a period of six months while also using the discussions as an opportunity to build relationships. Comparing this to what is obtained in the United States, especially with the SEC, he believes that the Canadian regulators appear to be more open to dialogue with regards to technological innovations.
The elected leadership of Canada is also identified by Clark as a key factor that is enabling the openness of government to cryptocurrency and other emerging technologies. He noted that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embracing blockchain technology. Also, the Canadian leadership sees the United States’ increased isolation of these technologies as an opportunity to get skilled labour migrated into Canada to help contribute to the economy.
“This is what we’re seeing trickling down to the regulatory environment, he said, “as they are not stone-walling but rather embracing and wanting to understand the implications of blockchain technology and working with local companies to be able to understand and have the asset class flourish.”
Another important factor that Clark noted is that the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is one of very few capital markets globally where you can see blockchain and cryptocurrency companies publicly listed.
[Editor’s Note: Several blockchain ETFs have been publicly listed in the U.S., but regulators asked them not to include the word “blockchain” in their names.]
Investors’ Safety is Paramount
While the the government of Canada offers a relatively conducive environment to blockchain technology and digital currency, Clark noted that they are also ensuring that both institutions and investors are protected against the risks involved. While funds such as First Block Capital are given access into the markets, more critical attention is paid towards them, especially in terms of auditing. So the government and regulatory bodies keep a very close eye on these funds, which facilitates a more cooperative relationship between the companies and the regulators.
Elaborating on the product offered by First Block, Clark described it as a true bitcoin trust, claiming that there is nothing like it currently existing in the industry, even on a global level. The only comparable product as at the time of the interview, he said, was the Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTC: GBTC) from Grayscale in the states. However, while GBTC offers its clients fractional ownership of bitcoin pools, First Block’s services are entirely different in the sense that subscribers’ actual fiat values are exclusively used to purchase the equivalent worth of bitcoin for the period of investment and kept in cold storage to be redeemable in the future. It is like an ETF for qualified investors.
Looking Into the Future
Looking into the future, Clark said that he believes that the digital asset market class will grow into a multi-trillion dollar asset class over the next 5 to 10 years. However, he identified the prevailing bear market cycle in the near-term, so he expects bitcoin and altcoin prices to trade sideways or even down for at least the next four months, ahead of another significant bull run in the next one-and-a-half to two years. This would be powered by the entrance of institutions into the space and the likely approval of ETFs.
Clark concluded by elaborating on his company’s commitment towards creating financial products and providing legitimacy and transparency to the cryptocurrency asset class through traditional equities. This he expects to improve the confidence of investors, who will no longer need to go through unregulated exchanges to participate in the cryptocurrency marketplace. According to him, this will eliminate a lot of risks and at the same time give institutional investors access into the crypto space just like they have access to equities.
Green Energy Bitcoin Mining Will Have ‘Insignificant Environmental Impact’
As the Bitcoin network grows, so too does the concern around its environmental impact, and with good reason. Bitcoin consumes more electricity than the entire island of Ireland, and that power consumption is set to steadily rise in the coming years. Beyond the electricity required to run the network, there are the materials required to make ASIC miners and GPUs as well as air conditioning, etc.
So what does this mean for planet Earth? Is Bitcoin a godsend or an environmental disaster?
The person with all the answers is Hass McCook, a civil engineer as well as a Bitcoin researcher and advocate who has done the deepest investigation into Bitcoin’s energy requirements that’s ever been carried out. His recent 39-page report which was continued from his 2014 research which revealed the following findings:
McCook’s new 39-page report is a thorough exploration of the subject matter with updated info. He also has a ten-part Youtube series explaining his findings.
McCook spoke to CCN about the environmental impact of Bitcoin and the future of money.
What led you to become interested in the environmental impact of Bitcoin? Would you describe yourself as an environmentalist?
What got me interested in my original career in Civil Engineering, was that I naively believed that physical infrastructure was the key to delivering economic justice and empowerment to the “bottom of the pyramid”.
From basic water and sanitary needs, all the way to highways, airports, and railroads – the Civil Engineer contributes towards keeping us civilized and surviving. But infrastructure comes at an environmental cost. Of which I know quite well through professional experience and study. Now for the part about Bitcoin! I believe that it is the only form of infrastructure, physical or digital, that matters in the fight for global economic freedom and fairness.
You’re one of the few Bitcoin maximalists who openly acknowledges that while fiat is very harmful to the environment, Bitcoin is problematic as well, and your investigation into Bitcoin’s energy use is the most comprehensive one there is. In your opinion, is there room for both fiat and Bitcoin in the future, or does something have to give?
In my opinion regarding room for two, in the short term, i.e., the next 10 to 15 years, yes. In the long term, 25 to 50 years, no. The market will decide either way – but I’d say that there would only be room for Bitcoin around the end of this century.
How would you describe the results of your findings briefly to our readers?
To dangerously explain by analogy – I’ll express things in infrastructure asset analogy. It was the lens I first took when trying to understand Bitcoin as a beginner. To analyse the impact of a highway for example, we first must understand the design, construction and operation of the highway. In Bitcoin’s case, you need to understand Bitcoin mining economics, and the construction and operation of all of the ASIC units that power The Blockchain. From there, it’s simple to get the numbers on costs and impacts.
The summary is that Bitcoin mining uses a LOT of energy (power). That said, its environmental impact is 100% attached to the “green performance” (or lack thereof) of the global energy grid. If the global grid isn’t almost emission-free by 2050, the renewable energy industry should be ashamed at the lack of their market success. But if the grid is emissions-free, Bitcoin will have insignificant environmental impact.
I also compared Bitcoin and Gold Mining’s environmental impacts – and the results were ugly for Gold. After seeing the data, no true environmentalist should be happy to support the jewellery industry any longer. Over 40% of the overall damage done by gold is done for gold jewellery alone. This is also all before we get into the impact of mining other precious metals.
What measures can and should be put in place to lower the negative impact of Bitcoin in terms of energy consumption?
Placing measures on Bitcoin is like trying to herd cats. Things will flow naturally based on market incentives and the rules of the game. The energy consumption issue will never be solved, nor do we want it to be, as Proof of Work and the monetization of Energy is fundamental to Bitcoin. The problem is emissions and environmental impacts of the power plants that power the manufacture and operation of the mining hardware.
What are your thoughts on proof of stake alternatives?
For me, “If it’s not Proof of Work, it isn’t money.” I do envisage many good uses for proof of stake in the form of 2nd layer solutions or utility tokens though.
What does Bitcoin and Bitcoin maximalism mean to you?
Everything. Enough meaning to do dozens and dozens of stories. I believe that physical civil (roads, rail, sanitation, fibre and communications networks, etc.) and digital (Internet, Bitcoin) infrastructure are the only things that will stop the rot of inequality – which is predominantly a side-effect of the root-cause problem; the “printing” of money.