The volatile cryptocurrency market is seeing red — dipping to $198 billion in market capitalization late Monday. Notably, Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH) plummeted to under $200 USD for the first time since July 2017 after peaking near $1,400 in mid-January.
"The blockchain space is getting to the point where there's a ceiling in sight," said Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum in Sept. 8 Bloomberg interview. "If you talk to the average educated person at this point, they probably have heard of blockchain at least once. There isn’t an opportunity for yet another 1,000-times growth in anything in the space anymore."
That's not good news for investors who bought cryptos at high price levels in 2018, hoping to stem losses from the year-long downturn. And it's becoming important to have realistic expectations for potential gains after last December's miraculous explosion in crypto prices that billionaire Mike Novogratz described as a "retail bubble." Others in Wall Street called it a modern version of "Tulip Mania."
The overall crypto market is down almost $640 billion from its January peak.
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Vitalik: It's About Blockchain's Applications
Still many investors are looking for so-called "unicorns" that can multiply capital by thousands of percent, creating instant millionaires in the process. Ethereum's co-founder says that caution is warranted. "That strategy is getting close to hitting a dead end," said Buterin. He says the time has arrived when people are going to focus more on the applications of blockchain technology. "Go from just people being interested to real applications of real economic activity."
A Sept. 2018 survey by YouGov Omnibus found that four in five Americans (79%) are aware of at least one type of cryptocurrency. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they recognize Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) by name while 13% said so for Ethereum. The research firm's survey listed 16 cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Zcash, Dash, Ripple, Monero, Cardano, Stellar, NEO, EOS, NEM, Dogecoin, Midseason/SafeCoin, Lisk and Storjcoin X.
Vitalik Buterin said it's not all about making money through price gains — suggesting that the underlying technology and its applications should have utility in order to be valuable to society.
"There’s honestly a part of me that would be happier if institutional trading of cryptocurrencies did not happen at all for another five years," he told Bloomberg. "Ultimately, if that's all cryptocurrency is, is this thing that millionaires keep buying and selling to each other, then what have we really accomplished?"
Analysts: Privacy Coins Are Unicorns
In Aug. 30 report: "CryptoAsset Market Coverage Initiation: Valuation" analysts from advisory firm Satis Group said they believe Ethereum is an underpriced cryptocurrency
. They forecasted ETH's price to peak at $882 next year, a near 350% increase from today's price. But Satis' analysts expect ETH's price to drop from $882 levels over the next 10 years. They predict that privacy coins will see massive gains by 2028 — cryptos such as Bitcoin, Monero, ZCash, Dash and PIVX.
In the same YouGov Omnibus survey, 36% of respondents said they believe cryptocurrencies will become widely accepted for legal purchases in the next 10 years — led by millennials (44%) more than any age group. Compared to 34% of GenXers and 29% of Baby Boomers.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article belong solely to the author. Information contained herein should not be construed as investment advice.