Hackernoon logoMaking the Case for Bitcoin Investment as a Means to Protect Your Wealth by@haghadi

Making the Case for Bitcoin Investment as a Means to Protect Your Wealth

Haris Aghadi Hacker Noon profile picture

@haghadiHaris Aghadi

Product Guy | Founder @ meddy.com

A primer on Bitcoin and why it’s a great store of value.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about the state of the stock market and then a whole bunch of offline conversations drifted into building a solid portfolio of Bitcoin. I thought I’ll write a primer on why Bitcoin should be in everyone’s portfolio.

You must have heard all the fuzz around Bitcoin as it has hit an all-time high price of $31K. You must have also heard critics saying that it’s a scam, something only used by criminals, a gimmick, not backed by anything, is illegal has no inherent value, etc.

If you’re one of them I urge you to keep reading.

This post is focused on Bitcoin, not any other cryptocurrency, tokens, digital assets, etc. I’m not saying all others are bad. They have their own merits and are very different from Bitcoin.

What exactly is Bitcoin?

Is it a currency, a token, a digital asset, a piece of code, vaporware? What on earth is it?

Bitcoin is what you want it to be. There are so many definitions, use cases, views on it that it’s difficult to distill it down. I think the most apt definition is Bitcoin is digital money.

The Internet is one of the best inventions of our time and Bitcoin is internet money. It’s the first native currency built on the internet to be used on the internet.

Bitcoin Vs Fiat Money

Before we talk about Bitcoin further let’s clarify what money is, also known as “Fiat Money”.

Fiat money has 3 main characteristics:

  1. Medium of Exchange: People can use the money to trade for things instead of barter.
  2. Store of Value: Most currencies tend to retain most of their value over a long period of time. This gives peace of mind to save and have trust in the currency.
  3. Unit of Value: A standard way to define the basic measurement i.e 1 USD. You can price things in them and they are fungible.

Bitcoin is a medium of exchange. You can buy Bitcoin using Fiat money and vice versa. There are numerous online platforms which accept Bitcoin along with credit card.

However, we still don’t have that widespread adoption of Bitcoin yet. You don’t see Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, etc. accepting. So it’s not that great medium of exchange yet. It’s certainly a store of value. This is probably the best aspect of Bitcoin.

In hyperinflation countries or countries with currencies frequently being devalued have much higher Bitcoin adoption. People in those countries are putting their savings into Bitcoin instead of local banks to have a better store of value as they have lost complete faith in their local currency.

Not to mention as governments around the world continue to debase the currency by printing more.

It’s also a unit of value: Things can be priced in 1 BTC. Bitcoin is also divisible. 100 Million Satoshis = 1 Bitcoin.

Bitcoin's price is fairly high for most people to own a full Bitcoin, but one can easily buy a tiny fraction of a single Bitcoin.

My first BTC purchase was 0.0005 BTC. This makes Bitcoin very affordable to pretty much anyone.

Fiat Money also has the Following Traits:

  • Durability: Persists across time. Won’t degrade over time
  • Divisibility: It can be broken down and combined.
  • Portability: Can be moved.
  • Recognizability: Verified by someone.
  • Scarcity: Limited supply.
  • Fungibility: Interchangeable

As Pomp says; 'Money is a belief system.' You and I have faith in the US Dollar bill that we both can transact using it because we have faith in the government printing the bill.

In countries like Lebanon, Venezuela, Iran, etc. people would rather not hold on to their local currency because they have lost faith in their government as they can and probably will further debase the currency.

They would rather hold their savings in a more stable currency like the USD. But the US government has printed so much USD in the last several months that it’s only a matter of time that USD will also lose its stable status.

Similarly, Bitcoin holders have faith in the Bitcoin currency and the blockchain network.

What are Bitcoin’s Use Cases?

This is a popular claim from Bitcoin critics that Bitcoin doesn’t have any utility and hence it’s worthless. To this, I would say what is the utility of other assets?

Gold has some utility as it’s used in jewelry and a few other things.

But what’s the utility of stocks or bonds? They merely derive their value from the performance of the company and the terms set by the issuer respectively. But they have no utility other than financial instruments that will appreciate in value over time or act as an inflation hedge.

The primary reason so many institutions have gold in their portfolio is to use it as an instrument to hedge other parts of the portfolio. Not because it has any inherent utility.

Bitcoin should be considered no different. Except, it’s so much superior to gold.

Bitcoin is the only digital, decentralized, payment settlement layer in the world. I think it would be foolish to think this won't be worth something enormously big in the future.

Bitcoin is permissionless, trustless, stateless, unregulated, uncensorable, decentralized. Bitcoin is the answer to everything that’s wrong with the futile Fiat currency.

Just imagine me and you can transact directly with each other without having to trust any 3rd party.

In spite of Bitcoin being superior to Fiat money, I have a slight contrarian opinion on Bitcoin that it should not be perceived as currency at the moment as we are still early in its adoption cycle.

Instead, investing in Bitcoin should be viewed as investing in an asset just like one would consider investing in any other assets like real estate, stocks, bonds, gold, art, baseball cards, etc.

If looked from an investment lens then the question changes to why Bitcoin asset is a good asset class? To answer that let’s look at what has happened in the last 9 – 10 months.

The US Government has Systematically Weakened the Dollar

Most governments usually have 2 tools at their disposal to manipulate the economy — change interest rates and print money to buy assets (Quantitative Easing).

You might be thinking I don’t live in the US. Why do I care what they do? It’s because the US Dollar is the world’s reserve currency. Several countries have pegged their currencies to the USD Dollar.

The US government has printed $9 Trillion Dollars this year to stimulate the economy — that’s two-thirds as much money in the last 6 months as it did over the prior 11 years.

Once the money is printed it has to be injected back into the economy through asset purchases, corporate bailouts, and stimulus checks, therefore, increasing liquidity in the market.

Increased liquidity usually causes an increase in asset prices, an increase in inflation and a significant drop in purchasing power as the growth of money is outpacing the growth of the economy.

This will have generational consequences like hyperinflation, wealth inequality, currency devaluation, etc. to not just the US but every country on earth because 80% of the world trade is done in USD.

The sad thing is there is no end to it. They can’t stop printing money because the entire system is so addicted to government intervention and stimulus.

Here are 5 Reasons Why I Invest in Bitcoin.

1. Inflation Hedge / Wealth Protector

All my assets are denominated in fiat currency/USD and at the same time, the fed is flooding the market with cash. This inherently reduces the purchasing power of the currency. Also, every year inflation erodes 2% of my assets. As Paul Tudor Jones says cash is a wasting asset.

Whether inflation is happening or not depends on what indicators you’re looking at and where you live. But Pomp paints a very interesting perspective:

You merely need investors to BELIEVE that inflation is coming and you will see these assets increase. Investors are constantly moving capital based on what they believe will happen in the future. They buy a stock because they believe it will go up in the future. They buy a home because they believe it will create future cash flow or price appreciation. In the case of gold and Bitcoin, they are buying it today because they BELIEVE inflation is coming and these inflation hedge assets will provide them protection.

2. Scarce Asset

Bitcoin is truly the only scarce asset in the world. Only 21 million bitcoin will ever be mined. No one can print more and flood the market with it to debase it. Econ 101 — Low supply of Bitcoin will lead to higher demand and price in the future.

18.5 million Bitcoin have already been mined. Also, Bitcoin is on a deflationary supply schedule — it will get more and more difficult to mine Bitcoin.

One other key aspect to keep in mind is that even though 18.5 Million bitcoin have been put into circulation, but more than 60% of that has not moved in the last 12 months. This means that less than 8 million Bitcoin are actually available for purchase from the total Bitcoin supply.

When so many people are flocking to buy Bitcoin. Supply and demand economics dictates that Bitcoin is bound to rise in price due to its increased demand and capped supply.

3. Demand from Institutional Investors

For all these years Bitcoin was mainly an asset that was speculated by retail investors.

But due to COVID and the great monetary inflation, every fund manager has to educate themselves about Bitcoin. And make an appropriate allocation for it as they have a fiduciary responsibility to invest in assets to protect and grow wealth.

Especially, in the current environment where interest rates are zero if not negative in some countries and bond yields are near 0. They are running out of assets that are good stores of value. As Pomp says:

We are entering a period of time where it is becoming more risky to NOT own Bitcoin, rather than having it considered risky to own the asset.

When institutions invest in Bitcoin they are not putting small ticket sizes. Due to their fund sizes and return profiles, they have to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions into an asset to make any meaningful impact on their portfolio.

These fund managers won’t put hundreds of millions of dollars in something without doing their due diligence. It’s a great validation for Bitcoin to get these institutional buy-ins.

It is a ridiculous reflexive loop - when you've got the best performing asset class on earth whose market cap is now investable by institutions, it drags in institutions, which brings the market up, which drags the institutions, that cycle is to play out and hasn't even started. - Raoul Paul

These institutional investors plan to hold on to Bitcoin for a long period of time, essentially reducing the available supply of Bitcoin for others to buy.

It just seems impossible for Bitcoin's price to not significantly rise when so many deep pocket investors are buying so much of it and will keep buying it and at the same time the available supply of Bitcoin will keep shrinking over time.

4. Asymmetric Bet

My goal is to become financially independent as quickly as possible. For that, I want to make asymmetric bets — very high risk and high reward bets.

Bitcoin is currently trading around a little below $27K as of writing. It’s the only liquid and accessible asset that has the potential to increase by > 50X in the next 10 years.

It has been the best performing asset in the last 10 years and I think it will continue to be so for the next 10 years.

Bitcoin is the fastest horse. - Paul Tudor Jones

5. Strong Fundamentals

Bitcoin was invented only 11 years ago and it’s no longer a niche product used by tech geeks.

Over 18.5 Million bitcoin have been mined and more than 700K people have more than 1 BTC.

Bitcoin’s programmatic supply schedule is beating the fed’s systematic money printing.

Bitcoin network is the most secure computing network in the world. There has been an 18x increase over the last three years, which includes the 2018–2019 bear market.

These fundamentals continue to paint an optimistic case for Bitcoin.

Risks and Limitations

Like any other asset, there are myriads of risks. Here are the ones I’m concerned about:

  • Bitcoin still has this image of a speculative tool. Several institutions have adopted it this year and a ton more will do it in 2021 when the real FOMO kicks it. However, it still doesn’t have that mainstream adoption to take it to next level yet.It’s decentralized so it will face a lot of resistance from banks, governments, custodians before it gets mainstream adoption it needs to become a more stable store of value.
  • It’s been 11 years since it’s launched and we still don’t have a major utility. For me, the ideal utility for it would be remittance as that’s a ginormous market that Bitcoin can disrupt. This is already happening at a small scale in developing countries but due to Bitcoin’s volatility and the cumbersome process of BTC to USD settlement, it’s not prevalent yet. But I’m optimistic that Facebook’s initiative with Libra and Whatsapp would solve this.
  • It will prove to be a great store of value in the long term. But in the short term, it won’t be due to its high volatility.
  • Bitcoin’s network has scaled dramatically to process more and more transactions. However, in terms of scalability, it’s far behind what Mastercard and Visa networks can handle.

Here is a list of common critiques and responses.

Recommendation

I recommend having at least 1% of your portfolio in Bitcoin to start with and dollar cost average it to keep buying more in the future. You should hold on to it for as long as possible and ignore the daily price fluctuations.

FAQs

Why is it so volatile?

Bitcoin’s volatility is a feature, not a bug.

It seems too speculative?

What isn’t? Anything can be used as a speculative tool.

How to buy it?

This requires a post on its own.

Is it safe? Do I have to worry about its security and safeguarding it?

Nothing is fully safe or hack proof. It depends on what your long-term strategy is and an appropriate plan can be created.

Isn’t it too late and expensive to get in as it’s already at $27K?

You don’t have to buy an entire Bitcoin. It’s divisible to 8 decimal places. You can buy less than $50 worth of Bitcoin to get started. And it’s just getting started.

More than 50% of my liquid net worth is in Bitcoin and I continue to dollar cost average to buy more.

Predicting the actual price of Bitcoin is a fool’s errand but due to the great monetary inflation, increased buying from institutions, educated investors, and Bitcoin’s scarcity it’s bound to increase in price in orders of magnitude.

Readings

If you’re new to Bitcoin and want to read more. Here is a really good piece:

The Bullish Case for Bitcoin

If you’re looking for one long video. I love this!

These are unprecedented times. It’s your responsibility to get yourself educated and set yourself up to protect and grow your wealth.

It’s becoming riskier to not invest in Bitcoin than to invest in it.

"Inflation is coming. Money stored in a bank will get run over. Money invested in assets like real estate or the stock market will keep pace. Money stored in gold or Bitcoin will outrun the scourge. And money stored in Bitcoin will run the fastest, overtaking gold." - Winklewoss Twins

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