There are now just over 830 “alt-coins,” which the alternatives to bitcoin are now called, out there, with new ones being added rapidly. The “market cap” of all these cryptocurrencies combined, according to the Financial Times, has just surpassed the $50 billion mark. So were talking about some real money now.
There may be a few new problems that need to be addressed according to the FT:
“An increase in initial coin offerings (ICOs) – unregulated issuances of crypto coins where investors can raise money in bitcoin or other crypto currencies – is fuelling the market and drawing attention from lawyers and financial professionals.
Many fear ICOs, which are trying to market themselves as an alternative to venture capitalists as a way of raising cash for businesses, breach existing securities law.
“An ICO issues crypto tokens rather than stocks and bonds, but that’s irrelevant to the substance of the activity, which is raising capital from the general public,” said Ajit Tripathi, a director in fintech at PwC. “Capital raising activities need to be regulated to protect investors . . . The question is how sophisticated are these investors?”
The big trading houses – including hedge funds and others – are in this trade now, not because it might make some real economic sense, but because, they know things can be pushed up quickly with enough money involved. And if enough warm bodies can be sucked in due to the ballooning hype, then the big dogs can get out, once they figure out how to deal with the banks’ growing concerns about money laundering.
For now, regulatory agencies have turned mostly a blind eye, and if that changes, one comment alone could reverse some of those charts above.