By Rob Daly

The Rise of Crypto Assets

If institutional investors have had problems wrapping their arms around cryptocurrency’s value proposition, the discussions are about to get far more complicated as crypto assets begin to emerge.

Crypto assets are the first new asset class since the 1600s, when equities appeared on the scene, according to Catherine Wood, founder and CEO of ARK Investment Management, during her keynote at the Rosenblatt Financial Technologies Summitt in Midtown Manhattan.

Catherine Wood,
ARK Investment

“We haven’t had a new asset class since then,” she added. “This is a huge deal, especially for someone in our business.”

Although cryptocurrencies have captured the attention of the wholesale and retail investors over the past few years as mediums of exchange and stores of value, it is their enabling technology-blockchain/distributed ledgers- that is fueling the development of crypto commodities and crypto tokens.

Crypto commodities will be exchange-traded instruments that represent an amount of bandwidth, storage, computing, or super-computing use.

Wood’s “aha” moment came when thinking about the Tesla Model 3 she has on order.

“When I receive it, I’ll have a supercomputer in my garage that I am not using while it charges overnight,” she explained. “I won’t be using its GPUs, but someone in India might.”

Just like corn, oil, and copper are traded on exchanges now; digital commodities like are going to be traded there as well, according to Wood.

Crypto tokens, on the other hand, will commoditize data and eventually disintermediate current data aggregators, such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

“If bonds are a claim on fixed assets and equities are claims on excess cash flow, crypto assets or tokens will be claims on the utilization of those fixed assets,” Wood explained.

She estimated that currently there are approximately 1,600 digital assets with an aggregated market capitalization around $400 billion, or roughly $800 billion when bitcoin’s price peaked.

“Most of them should go dark,” said Wood. “They should not exist. There is too much capital chasing too few opportunities, but we are not in the frenzy stage yet.”

She expects that bitcoin’s last bought of volatility will ultimately fade when compared to where the cryptocurrency eventually will reach.

“The value of Internet stocks reached 6% of global GDP at the peak of their bubble,” she said. “During bitcoin’s high, it did not get up to 1% of global GDP, which means we are in the very early stages of this.”

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