SEC chairman Jay Clayton recently said, “I have yet to see an ICO that doesn’t have a sufficient number of hallmarks of a security.”
If token issuance looks like a claim on the future value of an enterprise, that is true. The problem is, among the scams that have emerged from what can be called the “token-layer” of the crypto hierarchy, investing in unproven applications (“ideas”) is the most prevalent.
If it’s agreed that Bitcoin is more like a gold reserve existing in/on the blockchain, and that Ethereum forms a platform floating above it, enabling applications and currencies to be more easily used as cash, then ICOs give investors nothing more than the opportunity to “speculate on the progress of a startup”. That’s all it is. When most of them fail, investor dismay might lead to money exiting the overall crypto market cap. Or, as Jimmy Song fears, the scammers will flock back to the Bitcoin homeland, where they were hanging out before the ICO opportunity presented itself. He says that ICOs pumped up Ethereum as a platform and now the same is going to happen with Bitcoin, as people anticipate free hard-fork coins, as with Bitcoin Cash.
At present the rise in the value of Bitcoin is not the bubble: it’s the ICOs. There is also emerging evidence that Bitcoin goes up when economies are in trouble. Buying a crypto-currency can arguably be seen as shorting the main money-markets. It’s rather like an option that will be in the money when the stockmarket crashes.
But with “Bitcoin As An Option” soaring, not only is there no effective expiry date, but the option is paying out already – it’s already in the money. With conventional money-market options so very overpriced, Bitcoin looks like a bargain at any level, especially since, when the next debt disaster comes along, Bitcoin’s notional out-of-the-money position will reap additional rewards.