One month ago I walked through the macro influences behind Bitcoin's price pop and drop in "The Macro Truth About The Big Bitcoin Pop and Drop: The Mainstream Media Doesn't Have A Clue". Well, we're close to the peak again at $1,157.77 per coin, and the macro scene still holds a lot of explanation....
Last week I queried "Is Bitcoin the Undisputed Best Performing Asset Class In the World?". The purpose of that piece and the piece before it was to debunk long standing misconceptions as to the actual investment performance of BTC (bitcoin) as portrayed by respected institutions such as the London Business School and the Financial Times, not to mention Money Magazine.
Now, it's time to get into exactly what value propositions are there to support bitcoin's price.
In the educational piece titled "Is Bitcoin Too Risky? Whenever the Bitcoin is Mentioned in Financial Pop Media, Ignorance Ensues," I reviewed the many misconceptions that "so-called" professional investment types had about bitcoin, its relative risks and rewards. I called out the Financial Times, the London Business School and Money Magazine as basically not knowing what they hell they were talking about. Now, we will take the analysis a step further for those investors who want to get their feet a little more than just wet.
I hate to be the one to break bad news to you, but most of the pop media/mainstream media financial pundits that I hear and see opine on bitcoin have absolutely no idea what the hell they are talking about. This article will be the piece that strips the pretense of knowledge away from all of those other "smart guy" media types.
Bitcoin has dropped precipitously, and as is usual, we have the cacophony of instant digital currency pundits cackling about as if they had a clue. This is the inaugural post for the re-opening of BoomBustBlog's proprietary research (fresh paid content will be added over the next 24 hrs) and as such I want to kick it off with an indepth analysis of my Twitter stream on Bitcoin from this week.
Yesterday, I did a radio interview with Benzinga. In it I busted myths about Apple, Bitcoin and Coins in general (ABCs). Listen to the interview below and the info sheets afterwards and let me know if you knew this stuff was possible with today's tech - and Apple!
As for Apple...
And more on http://Ultra-Coin.com...
Why am I so bullish on Bitcoin? Note: this is not an offer to buy or solicitation for securities and is presented for illustrative purposes only.
As we roll out Veritaseum's UltraCoin ZeroTrust Smart Contracts, I'll be posting much more on "the new way of doing business".
- Reggie Middleton Intro
- How Reggie Middleton's Start-up Patented The Future of Global Finance!
- Reggie Middleton on Wikipedia
- Who is Reggie Middleton?
- Bitcoin is not just digital currency. It's Napster for finance.
- Reggie Middleton's UltraCoin @ NYC CryptoCurrency Convention
- Reggie Middleton Wins CNBC Stock Draft for the 2nd time in a row - with the same stock
After an interesting discussion with those in my laboratory, I've decided to apply the forensic analysis team from BoomBustBlog to the privately funded companies in the Bitcoin space. See my post from yesterday for much of the reason why.
As clearly predicted yesterday, the better funded of the payment processors will initiate a pricing blood bath they'd likely kill for...
From PayPal's subsite on Mass Payments:
As you can see, PayPal has already imbued its service with much of the attributes that are being offered by the Bitcoin payment processors. They also have a material advantage as of right now, a massive installed base.
I also cannot emphasize enough how damaging the all too necessary customer service option is to margins. You see, the problem is most service companies don't put enough into customer service and handholding of the customer. From an optimal perspective, this should actually be part of the marketing and sales process, but it's often either non-existent or implemented as an after thought after enough customers start bitching and complaining, or worse yet (and likely most often the case) leaving!
As a company with mature management, it appears as if PayPal is trying to head this off at the pass as it attempts to change consumer behavior and prod them into adopting its new electronic currency payment system...
Now, let's compare PayPal to the newly funded Bitcoin payment processors...
Funding Rounds (3) - $32.50M
An interesting departure from the per transaction/fee model, Bitpay implemented a subscription system which benefits those customers who perform a large quantity of relatively small transactions moreso than those who process large orders.
I calculate Bitpay's most recent $30 million series A round to have been at around 9.2x sales, valuing the company at $160 million. This is a guestimate, of course, since I do not have access to internal numbers.
Next we have Coinbase...
Funding Rounds (3) - $31.70M
Funding Rounds (2) - $26M
Circle has not publicly launched yet but promises to bring a new level of simplicity and user-friendliness to the bitcoin payment ecosystem, concentrating more on a banking paradigm then the technical bent that bitcoin is known to represent. This is all you need ot know about the Circle business model as it relates to this discussion of impending margin compression...
Let's see how this plays out for customers. The most lucrative segments for this industry is the SME (small and medium business enterprises) who process anywhere between 10 and 1,000 transactions per month. Why? Because there are simply more SMEs than they are big companies in the world. Let's see what the two biggest bitcoin processors look like when stacked up against PayPal's Mass Pay product for the SME market...
Of course, the Bitcoin transactions are likely a loss leader for additional, value added services for many companies in the not too distant future. As a matter of fact, I feel that the payment space will quickly become commoditized by Bitcoin technology - forcing these companies and many more (I'm talking about you Mastercard, Visa and Western Union) to innovate and offer significantly and materially better value for the buck.
Imagine what this competitive landscape will look like when Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover and Western Union jump into the fray. Of course, before that a much greater portion of the VC and private equity community will wake up and realize the opportunity in Bitcoin to pour more cash into it than sugar into a Bubble gum machine (emphasis on "Bubble"). The key is to get in early, and get in right. But how does one do that and where will this tale of uber margin compression end?
Well, the research report from which this info is being prepared will be offered to accredited and instituional investors starting next week, at least those who have an interest in UltraCoin.
My next article on this topic will explicitly illustrate how UltraCoin can assist ALL players (that's right, including PayPal, Bitpay, Circle, Coinbase, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover and Western Union) as well as their direct customers, in climbing up both the food chain and the value proposition ladder - thus rapidly repairing the margin compression damage they are about to bring upon thier business models.
Reggie Middleton discussion UltraCoin at the 2014 FinTech conference at Dechert LLP.
Coindesk asks "Do Patent Filings from eBay and Western Union Pose a Threat to Bitcoin?" I feel the question is in and of itself missing the point. To explain this fully, I have to share a little bit about myself, particularly my weaknesses. I'm the type of person who is very knowledgeable about his strengths and his weaknesses, but sometimes I don't see my strength for what it is, and that is tantamount to a weakness in a highly competitive environment.
Case in point, in discussing whether or not competing patents have been filed for smart contract transacion processes by those who seek to be in my space with my contract engineer (a very skilled software architect and IP attorney), I displayed what I considered a healthy level of paranoid concern. I found it hard to believe that no one bothered to patent the most innovative, disruptive and groundbreaking aspect of this new crop of digital currencies - the ability to program them. As those who follow me know, I've spent a lot of resources developing, designing, refining and patenting advanced smart contracts (see How Reggie Middleton's Start-up Patented The Future of Global Finance!). I actually found it highly unlikely that no one had come up with this idea before me. Matt (my contracts engineer) said, "You know, it actually takes an uncanny amount of vision to have seen the scope of this stuff and act upon it, not to mention to have done so 6 months ago. Not many people are like you." Right then and there, it hit me. People really do not see things the way I do!
Most know me from my prescient calls in banking, finance, real estate and tech (see Who is Reggie Middleton?). I've demonstrated a knack for seeing future trends and determining when things (such as valuations and opportunities) are out of whack. With that being said, the big media interest in Bitcoin combined with the increasing VC interest in Bitcoin companies (reference BitPay Gets $30 Million in Venture Capital Funding) is a very good thing for the industry, but also illustrates shortsigtedness in both the investment community and many practitioners.
The problem with the processors...
When bitcoin is as easy as PayPal to use then it will be on the path to mass adoption, but to assume that’s the most lucrative path to take in bitcoin company private equity investment begs the wrong question. Here’s the strategic landscape as I see it.
Bitcoin is very inexpensive to use as a transfer agent. A transaction may be safely sent without fees if these conditions are met (this is excerpted directly from the Bitcoin Wiki, verbatum):
- It is smaller than 1,000 bytes.
- All outputs are 0.01 BTC or larger.
- Its priority is large enough
Otherwise, the reference implementation will round up the transaction size to the next thousand bytes and add a fee of 0.1 mBTC (0.0001 BTC) per thousand bytes. Note that a typical transaction is 500 bytes, so the typical transaction fee for low-priority transactions is 0.1 mBTC (0.0001 BTC), regardless of the number of bitcoins sent.
Bitcoin as of 5/18/2014 is $444.74m, thus the fee for this transaction is roughly 4 cents, if not outright free. If a processor is transferring $10,000 on behalf of a customer, whether at one time or 100 times throughout the course of a month, the processor’s fee cost would range from $0 to $4, while the processor would likely charge (as of the date of this writing, $0 to $100). The traditional processors such a Visa or Paypal would charge hundreds (as in up to 50x more!) for the same deal!
That 25x markup on the high end is significant (even for the Bitcoin companies), and ripe for disintermediation itself (that's right, the disintermediaing agents are poised for disintermediaion). Particularly once the UX of Bitcoin evolves, as email and web browsing did, and users realize how easy and cheap it is to jump onto the blockchain and do this stuff themselves.
Even assuming users don’t follow the historical model of those that left proprietary walled gardens (think AOL) and jumped directly into the open World Wide Web themselves, there are no material barriers to entry to enter into the processing business other than potentially a money transmitter license. The only material barrier, hence the business opportunity, is that Bitcoin is cumbersome to use. As the UI/UX polish increases and the amount of competitors in the space increase, the lower the prices charged - hence the margins - will be.
With such low barriers to entry and potentially humongous markups to exploit, what do you think happens next? The wild, untamed hordes of competitors swoop down upon the masses, and we have a concerted race to zero, and likely negative margin as competitors attempt to make processing a loss leader to draw users into the folds of richer, higher margin services!!!
The race to marginal zero, then negative, does not make a strong business plan. So, what do these companies such as BitPay, Coinbase, etc. do once that point is reached (rather quickly)? They look to value added (high margin) services on top of their low margin, utility-like payment infrastructures.
Enter smart contracts and the true use of programmability in the crypto-currencies. The easiest and the likely first implementation of such will be multi-sig operations which allow multiple parties to share funds without having to worry about trusting and single party in a transaction. Our ZeroTrust Letters of Credit (patent pending) is just such a product. It allows for multiple parties to tranfer payment for simple and complex transactions contingent upon the mutual agreed upon successful execution of said transactions. This is done without the parties having to:
- Know each other
- Trust each other
- Have any form of proximity to each other;
and can be done using micropayments all the way up to multi-million dollar macro payments. The barriers to this business are much higher. For one, it takes more than just programming code. You have to be able to congeal the legal logic of the conventional law in equity contract into code. You have to be able to congeal the business logic into code, and you have to be able to implement it into the blockchain or whatever other underlying transmission mechanism you choose to utilize.
Once the race to negative zero is in full swing, a few of the wiser companies will wake-up and say "Hey, there has to be a better way, and we think we found it!". It is at that point Reggie Middleton's UltraCoin products and assets will shine. It is not hard to foresee that the entrenched companies (Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Western Union) may enter a bidding war with the new comers armed with material VC warchests (much more than we're seeing with $30 million investments of today - all over the guys who had the foresight to see the next evolutionary step in plain vanilla payments - smart transactions and self-executing digital contracts and transactions.
We're actively looking for financial and intellectual capital. If you, as an accredited investor, are looking for an opportunity in the higher end of the digital currency space, I think we should talk. In addition, if you are a higher level Java/C++ developer willing to take risk, we need to talk. I'm available at reggie at ultra-coin.com.
Bloomberg ran a story earlier this week illustrating the human capital flight out of the Wall Street machine and into tech:
At elite universities, fewer MBA and finance candidates are willing to even consider a life of missed weddings, busted romances and deep-into-the-night deal negotiations. The percentage of Harvard Business School graduates entering investment banking, sales or trading dropped to 5 percent last year from 12 percent in 2006, while those entering technology almost tripled to 18 percent during that period.
At the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the percentage of MBAs entering investment banking dropped to 13.3 percent last year from 26 percent in 2006, while those entering tech more than doubled to 11.1 percent.
Those of you who have been following finance from the Wall Street/Bay Street/Canary Wharf perspective realize that this is a cyclical occurence. Basically, Wall Street falls out of favor with MBA whiz kids every ten years of so. But!!!! This time is different. This time around, Wall Street, et. al. is about to succumb to the destructive forces of technology that transformed, revolutionized, disintermediated, gutted and absolutely reinvigorated the media, news and retail industries.
That's right! The Internet Paradigm Shift has finally hit Global Finance... and it's going to hurt, and hurt a lot!
As many know, the I've poured my time and resources into a start-up by the name of UltraCoin. Many have been clamoring for white papers and details, and I have been purposely secretive about such. The reason? I needed to entrency protection from my competition - the money center banks. How did I do this? Well...
I patented the future of Global Finance!
This video illustrates my presentation to both the mainstream and alternative media as I start my capital raising rounds from venture capitalists and strategic investos alike. Check it out!
Must be willing to sign an NDA. You should be knowledgeable and competent, but we prefer grit to genius. Prima donnas need not apply.