Digital Trends Live welcomed cryptocurrency investor, author, and entrepreneur Ian Balina on the December 12 episode. Balina originally thought that blockchain and cryptocurrency were code for buying drugs off of the dark web, and it wasn’t until his friend told him about its real use that he became interested.
“I was working for four years at IBM, then a buddy of mine was seeing all the amazing stuff IBM was doing with blockchain and he wanted me to put him in touch with the IBM Blockchain director, and I asked why,” Balina said. “He told me he was a Bitcoin developer and was heavily involved in the blockchain space. He told me he was launching a crypto fund, and that really got me curious and got me thinking because before I thought blockchain and crypto was dark web for buying drugs online … But when he told me this was something you could actually invest in, it got me really curious. It got me to go down this rabbit hole and the rest is history. Now I’m working full-time in this space and left my job last year to go all-in.”
What people remember most about Bitcoin in 2018 is that it lost a lot of its worth, A single Bitcoin was worth nearly $15,000 in early January 2018 and as of December 12, 2018, one Bitcoin is valued at just $3,432.47. Balina said that the drop in Bitcoin worth is due to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) implementing new rules and regulations this year.
“The SEC has been giving more guidelines to try to protect U.S. investors … they have also been going after exchangers like EtherDelta, which was one of the first decentralized exchanges, meaning that there wasn’t a central person or government really controlling it — it was something that was created for the community,” Balina said. “But even with that being created in a decentralized manner, the SEC was saying that there could still be somebody at fault. So the SEC fined the founder of EtherDelta almost $400,000 … 2018 has been the SEC coming in and cleaning the space, trying to bring more regulation, more compliance, so it’s not total anarchy.”
With what seemed like a trying year for cryptocurrency, we wondered what’s in store for 2019?
“At the end of February of 2019, the SEC is reviewing an ETF application for cryptocurrencies, meaning that people with 401Ks, larger retail investors, have the ability to purchase an ETF, an Exchange Traded Fund. [This means] as opposed to buying one particular cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, they can just buy an Index Fund that holds multiple cryptocurrencies and have that be the main exposure to crypto. The SEC has been pushing back this deadline — it was actually supposed to be this year … in my opinion, this could really be a catalyst for a new bull run in 2019.”
We also wanted to know what he looks for when he is making an investment.
“Before investing in anything, we go through the actual technology … I look for all-star teams, people who actually have experience or worked for publicly traded companies … The last thing I look at is the token metrics, how much money they are raising, how much tokens they are creating, meaning what’s the supplier of the token.,” he said.
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