Last week, Coindesk hosted the annual Consensus Invest event, focusing on highlighting key trends and developments in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. Despite the current negativity with the bear market, Invest 2018 actually shed a comparatively positive light on the developing industry, especially on Bitcoin.
Let’s take a look at a few key highlights from discussions and panels at the event.
Bakkt is coming
In a discussion with panel moderator Michael J Casey, Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of ICE, and Kelly Loeffler, CEO of Bakkt, revealed that Bakkt’s launch delay was due to a high level of interest from institutional investors since the product’s original announcement back in August 2018.
Loeffler also added that Bakkt, which will enable a number of institutions to enter the cryptocurrency market, would ultimately help Bitcoin’s process of price discovery. Lastly, Loeffler expressed Bakkt’s intent on building infrastructure around Bitcoin and other digital assets without much focus on price.
NASDAQ still interested in Bitcoin
According to a Bloomberg report from early last week, NASDAQ is still on track to launch its Bitcoin futures product in Q1 2019, despite the recent price drop in the cryptocurrency market. With CME and CBOE futures already in operation, 2019 could shape up to be an interesting year for institutional investors as ICE’s Bakkt and NASDAQ enter the market.
SEC chairman talks Bitcoin, ICOs and ETFs.
Perhaps the most interesting event at Invest was an interview with United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Jay Clayton. During the interview, three topics stood out:
- Clayton once again clarified that Bitcoin is not a security due to its decentralized properties and its utility as a currency “designed to be akin to the Dollar, the Yen, [and] the Euro.”
- Clayton talked about the vagueness surrounding ICOs and their legal status as securities. While this particular interview was once again a little vague, Clayton’s statements about ICOs suggests that most initial coin offerings conducted over the past few years are in fact securities. Clayton shied away from naming specific projects, but based on his attitude towards ICOs, we may see more projects that were open to US-based investors suffer the same fate as Airfox and Paragon.
- Clayton stated there probably won’t be an ETF approval until the cryptocurrency market matures a bit more. Specifically, Clayton highlighted the degree of rampant manipulation on unregulated exchanges and the lack of reliable custody options as roadblocks for a US-based ETF offering. However, 2019 will bring a host of institutional-grade liquidity ramps and custodial options, so perhaps an ETF isn’t really that far off.
Overall, Invest 2018 confirmed that the fundamentals behind Bitcoin and other digital assets have never been stronger. If 2017 was the year of ICO mania, then 2018 has been a relatively quiet but significant year of infrastructure building. Let’s see what 2019 brings.
Steemit lays off 70% of its employees
In other news last week, Steemit CEO Ned Scott revealed that the company would be laying off 70% of its employees due to the current bear market. Scott wrote:
The remainder of the team is staying on to focus primarily on reducing the costs of the infrastructure running steemit.com and our public APIs, and ensuring that the community can remain informed of developments.
Did Steemit have a solid financial management plan in place or might this be a case of less-than-ideal treasury management? Either way, it’s hard to ignore the impact of this development on the blockchain space.
Since launch, Steemit has grown to become one of the most popular blockchain-based social media websites in the world, making it arguably the only blockchain application that has managed to get a decent level of mainstream day-to-day usage.