Minimizing Your Risk When Investing In Bitcoin

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When the price of Bitcoin hits all time highs, as it has been for the past few months, people often ask me how they can buy. But then they worry that the price is about to drop once they do buy for the first time.

This happened to several people I know during the 2013 spike where the price peaked $1100 USD then proceeded to drop below $300 over the following three years.

2013

Now that the price is $4200 up from $1000 six months ago, how do you gauge the likelihood the price will drop? It is possible to do market research and make an assessment of what the price will do but ultimately there is no surety it will go up even if all signs point that way.

In order to protect yourself from price drops you can use a hedging buy strategy to accumulate Bitcoin over the long term in a way that reduces your losses when the price goes down.

Here is a buy strategy that will reduce the effect of declining prices after purchase. This will reduce the amount of time where you are holding a loss on your purchases and also reduce the amount of loss when the prices drop so that you have more equity in case you need it unexpectedly. 

On a regular interval, once per month, make a regular investment of a fixed amount of dollars into two parts, one use to buy Bitcoin on an exchange at the current market rate and the other half portion set aside a pool of cash. Each purchase make an entry in a spreadsheet to keep track of the date, purchase amount, cash pool contribution and then calculate your average purchase price from all of your purchases.

If the price rises continue adding equal portions to new BTC purchases and your cash pool. If however the price of Bitcoin falls below the average purchase price from your past buys then in addition to making your regular BTC purchase and cash pool contribution make an extra BTC purchase using your cash pool. The amount to purchase can be up to the same ratio of the total available cash pool as the drop in value of BTC relative to the amount you paid for it. For example if the price of Bitcoin drops to seventy five percent of what you paid for it use 25% of your cash pool to buy more BTC at the lower level.

This will have the effect of reducing your average purchase price because. When the market makes large drops for extended periods of time this gives you the opportunity to make use of the cash pool to purchase at a lower price. In the event that you need to pull out BTC or cash unexpectedly you will have both cash and BTC that you can sell at a price closer to the market.

It is important to make purchases on a regular schedule however and not make these cash pool purchases too frequently or you risk disrupting your allocation from small market corrections.

Also note that this strategy implies that you are speculating on future price actions. While this strategy does better than buying 100% Bitcoin of your monthly contribution if the price goes down, it will not return the same gains if the price continuously goes up. You are trading some upside potential for downside risk protection.

Feel free to adjust the recipe to your taste and let me know how you do with it. Other possibilities would be to invest the cash pool in another liquid asset that will return interest.

Why do this? It’s extra work but if you compare it to other investment options it may be a good fit if you want to claim a stake in the cryptocurrency market but are not comfortable with the psychological effects of a massive market downturn right after you buy in for the first time.

How does it perform? If you were to start investing at the market peak in December 2013 as an example and simply put $200 aside each month where $100 goes to purchasing Bitcoin and the other $100 into a cash reserve you would end up with the following month to month gains:

Bitcoin Market Value Bitcoin Gains Cash Reserve Amount Invested Invested Gains
$100.00 $0.00 $100.0 $200 $0.00
$163.55 $-46.89 $200.0 $400 $-36.44
$275.40 $-36.67 $300.0 $600 $-24.59
$300.97 $-124.79 $400.0 $800 $-99.02
$348.69 $-198.61 $500.0 $1000 $-151.30
$424.95 $-242.32 $600.0 $1200 $-175.05
$645.06 $-123.97 $700.0 $1400 $-54.93
$775.77 $-93.68 $800.0 $1600 $-24.22
$854.94 $-115.27 $900.0 $1800 $-45.05
$868.31 $-205.36 $1000.0 $2000 $-131.68
$776.22 $-414.75 $1100.0 $2200 $-323.77
$784.58 $-531.99 $1200.0 $2400 $-415.41
$963.04 $-467.16 $1300.0 $2600 $-336.95
$880.85 $-680.18 $1400.0 $2800 $-519.14
$761.81 $-966.09 $1500.0 $3000 $-738.18
$905.85 $-971.69 $1600.0 $3200 $-694.14
$971.69 $-1055.28 $1700.0 $3400 $-728.30
$995.69 $-1187.72 $1800.0 $3600 $-804.30
$1145.67 $-1180.93 $1900.0 $3800 $-754.32
$1301.41 $-1157.91 $2000.0 $4000 $-698.58
$1649.25 $-922.68 $2100.0 $4200 $-450.74
$1371.18 $-1339.30 $2200.0 $4400 $-828.81
$1518.44 $-1322.99 $2300.0 $4600 $-781.55
$1997.18 $-952.61 $2400.0 $4800 $-402.81
$2271.77 $-781.29 $2500.0 $5000 $-228.22
$3322.65 $168.12 $2600.0 $5200 $722.65
$2963.19 $-290.33 $2700.0 $5400 $263.19
$3424.88 $70.87 $2800.0 $5600 $624.88
$3541.65 $87.07 $2900.0 $5800 $641.65
$5569.32 $1983.19 $3000.0 $6000 $2569.32
$5521.94 $1809.35 $3100.0 $6200 $2421.94
$4940.52 $1115.27 $3200.0 $6400 $1740.52
$5307.50 $1366.10 $3300.0 $6600 $2007.50
$6095.08 $2026.52 $3400.0 $6800 $2695.08
$8553.84 $4310.38 $3500.0 $7000 $5053.84
$9344.36 $4914.58 $3600.0 $7200 $5744.36
$10111.96 $5485.55 $3700.0 $7400 $6411.96
$11112.97 $6274.96 $3800.0 $7600 $7312.97
$16094.53 $10938.43 $3900.0 $7800 $12194.53
$26040.85 $20343.25 $4000.0 $8000 $22040.85

After investing $8000.00 over four years your net assets would be worth $30,040.85. This is a 93% yearly return on total capital thanks in part to the uptrend at the end of the run in 2017.

Notice that when using the 50/50 cash/Bitcoin buys the Invested Gains is higher than the Bitcoin Gains when the market is negative. This is what you are gaining with the cash reserve.

The purpose of hedging each monthly investment in cash is to reduce the amount of losses each month where you are holding less in market value than you invested. However by doing this you are reducing some of the upside gains if the market goes up. If you had invested all of the $200 each month in Bitcoin your net assets would be worth: $52,081.70 a 162% yearly gain on total capital.

When using the cash reserve to buy during times when your market value is lower than your purchase price puts you somewhere in the middle of these options returning $43,510.60 using a small purchase amount. Although this reduces your ongoing cash reserve as you as using it to buy Bitcoin when the price is lower.

These different buying strategies illustrate to me how asymmetric the Bitcoin market has been. While you can reduce your monthly losses with a cash reserve by about 50% (up to $600 in some months) the overall cost in this particular time frame is $22,040.85 as this is how much more you would earn buy putting $200 per month into Bitcoin rather than $100. That is how much you are paying to hold more liquid assets thought the four years.

Disclaimer: This is not investment advice and is only my personal thoughts on possible options for purchasing Bitcoin. One of the challenges on choosing an investment strategy in Bitcoin is that because the market is so volatile even small changes in the timeframe of past data will give you a very different result. This makes it very easy to choose a strategy that works on past data but doesn’t necessarily take into account future trend possibilities. In other words, make sure you do your research and be certain you are comfortable with the results if the market goes down, up or flat.

 

 

Cryptocurrencies

bitcoin
This is a brief summary of my thoughts on cryptocurrencies specifically Bitcoin as an investment. Going forward I will add more about different aspects of the currency and surrounding products/markets as well as alternatives.
I am buying Bitcoin now at regular intervals because I believe that the price two years from now will be higher than it is now.  If the price four weeks from now is down ninety percent I will not be bothered. It dropped ninety percent between June and December 2011 and seventy five percent between November 2013 and August 2015. Aside from those notable drops it also saw fifty, forty and thirty percent declines many times. If you are going to buy Bitcoin be prepared for drops like these.
So why buy when the price plummets like Humpty Dumpty? Well in my opinion only because Bitcoin has always put himself back together again and in the process accumulated more users, new use cases and higher demand. Over the few years that Bitcoin has been available and trading the rate of returns is significantly higher than most if not all other options.
Why I think Bitcoin is going up:
1) It provides strong utility that will likely be useful in a wide variety of areas including: international settlement, peer to peer payments, trust-less money transfer contracts between remote parties, store of wealth, etc. Before Bitcoin there was no method of distributed transactions that did not require a third party that I am aware of. Given the current trend, more people will use and adopt Bitcoin in the future and with a fixed supply the value of units should be bid higher. I will expand on use cases and potential opportunities in the future.
2) User adoption numbers are going up. Google trends results for people searching for ‘Bitcoin’ is increasing 400% per year, ‘what is bitcoin’ 150% and ‘buy bitcoin’ also at 150%. Each year more exchanges open with better infrastructure funding options and trading services. Stores and payment processors are also opening slowly allowing people to buy and earn Bitcoin from their work.
The experience of most new users is good, while some leave and some stay,  the ones that stay are usually hooked. Some or a lot of people obviously bought at the peak times and then watch the price plummet and want to get out. Based on number of users active and signing up for exchanges, wallets web and forums, the user base is growing year over year.
3) Legality. In the early years of Bitcoin there was a lot of uncertainty that it was legal. The closest thing to Bitcoin, E gold and others were shutdown for violating money transmission laws in the US. Because Bitcoin doesn’t fit any traditional definition of money creation and transmission it was uncertain that it would be legal to use, own, trade, earn or buy using Bitcoin. Since then many countries have issued statements and guidance as to how they will allow and regulate the markets adding some level of certainty to investors and users.
Bitcoin is illegal in some countries however so you should check with your local authorities to ensure you are compliant with the law.
Criticisms of Bitcoin:

1) Deflation is Bad.

The issuance of Bitcoin is set at a fixed rate that is cut in half every four years until 2140 when it will stop and the only source of the currency will be that of existing owners. In the next ten years the rate of inflation will drop from 4.2% to 0.8%.

The concern is that during increased demand for currency, its availability will shrink because of a perceived higher future value. People will hold off purchases because they expect to get more bang for their buck by waiting. This will cause economic velocity to go down and prevent new lending and future growth.

This is what happens to dollar based economies. The comparison doesn’t hold though because a dollar economy is based on fractional reserve lending that has a different dynamic applied to the supply that is not applicable to Bitcoin. All dollars are created by banks as debt with interest attached but the interest that needs to be paid was never created. There is an ever expanding amount of debt attached to all actors in the dollar system. In the event of deflationary changes in the dollar economy all available liquid cash would not be enough to even pay the interest on debts let alone living expenses like food, rent, clothing. This causes all available supply of currency to quickly go to zero. Banks cant lend because they don’t have enough reserves and individuals can’t lend because they have to pay everything they have to cover existing interest payments.
This wouldn’t happen in a Bitcoin based economy to nearly the same degree. Granted during an uptrend most people would presume a higher future value of the currency but the supply would likely only contract in a linear fashion. People will still buy things, just at an adjusted value, probably.
2) It’s Too Volatile.
Bitcoin is volatile so be careful. If you are not comfortable losing your investment in Bitcoin do not buy any. If you can set aside some funds to buy without any exception on timeline for withdrawal, Bitcoins historical high rate of return and potential future expansion could outweigh the risks provided you can commit to a plan. The plan should help you avoid the case where you feel tempted to panic sell after a price drop.
Volatility in the several markets are a really good aspect to Bitcoin in my opinion. It means that users have the ability to buy and sell at prices they choose any time they decide.
There are strategies for mitigating market volatility like dollar cost average purchases and sales over time so that highs balance out lows.
3) Criminals and Drugs.
A lot of people only associate Bitcoin with drug dealers on the dark web committing crimes. They don’t want any part of something associated with criminals.
The bottom line is that a currency for everyone has to work for everyone or it wouldn’t be valuable. Regardless of how you feel about it, you can’t control what others do. I believe Bitcoin is helping people and will continue to do so in new ways. Obviously using it is a form of support and you are entitled to choose not to use it if you feel that is the right choice for you.
4) Not a Real Currency and People are just Speculating.
Some say buying Bitcoin is not an investment it is gambling because you are betting that the price will go up just because it has gone up in the past. You shouldn’t assume that past performance is an indicator of future returns. Sure but the distinction between investment and gambling is a grey area of one slippery sliding slope. Based on someones opinion all investments have some level of risk of collapse and assumption of growth based on past performance. Most people just don’t think about the risks because they may happen infrequently. Most people recommend buying stocks and government bonds because stocks are often evaluated based on past performance and bonds are still subject to default or devaluation risks.
The fact is people are using Bitcoin as a currency. People are right now earning income in Bitcoin, buying everyday things with it and trading it with others.
Some people say that Bitcoin has no intrinsic value. My thought is that nothing has intrinsic value. Everything is relative and depends on relationships with everything else. The network that connects Bitcoin users really is the essence of its value.
Detrimental factors affecting the price:
1) Inflation Rate
New currency is issued with each new block on ten minute intervals. This new currency is issued to miners and results in an increase to the total supply of Bitcoin. When the new currency is sold on exchanges it creates additional downward pressure on the price. Every four years the number of Bitcoin issued for each block creation is cut in half, reducing this downward pressure.
Back in 2013 at the peak around $1000 there were 25 BTC issued every ten minutes. The price dropped after that peak but for comparison the value of currency created each day was $3,600,000. When I started this article in July  the daily created value was $4,860,000 and by the time I finished it the price had risen resulting in a daily value of $6,120,000.
While this value is high the currency is traded world wide so dividing this dollar amount by the increased number of participating traders makes this a more optimistic metric.
The most interesting observation about the amount of this newly created currency will be to compare it to the inflow of currency which I am sourcing now.
2) Technical Risks.
Bitcoin could fail catastrophically for unforeseen technical reasons. Or something new could come out tomorrow that makes it irrelevant. My estimation of this actually happening is very low because the mechanics of the currency are used in a lot of diverse and time tested systems.
3) Crime and Safety
Holding cryptocurrency involves a certain level of risk as criminals could steal your holdings using malware. It is important to understand the risks and proper use of cryptocurrency to ensure you keep it safe.
4) Regulatory Legal Risk.
While this is a much lower concern now than it was years ago, in the future government agencies may place restrictions on your ability to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies. As adoption grows and government agencies from around the world make their position known it is becoming clear that road blocks of this type are minimal.
My Strategy
My strategy in the past has been to buy when the price is historically low and going up then sell when the price is historically high and going down. This allows me to accumulate during periods of undervaluation and take some profit during periods of overvaluation.
Currently I am buying small amounts every pay cheque to accumulate an amount over a fixed period because I believe there with be growth over the next year.
I have built and use a web service that tracks top cryptocurrencies and reports on different metrics. I also have a trading bot that I can test against historical data. Despite my best efforts so far the best strategy is still to buy and hold when you have capital and to buy regular amounts over time if you have income.
As a final thought. Personally I find crypto currencies very interesting but if you want to invest there is a lot you need to know to use it properly and even with precautions it is very risky. This is not financial advice and I do not recommend that you invest with money you are not willing to lose.