Cryptoassets: tax for individuals - GOV.UK

11-05 20:58 - 'Is Bitcoin Safe and Legal?' (self.Bitcoin) by /u/koinalio removed from /r/Bitcoin within 2-12min

'''
Buying, selling, or trading bitcoin is a private transaction in every part of the world. It is a lawful activity in most western and advanced countries, including the US, Canada, and the U.K. Some large economies have restrictions on Bitcoin, including China (ownership discouraged although not a criminal violation) and India ( banks banned from engaging in Bitcoin). Governments everywhere have concerns with the anonymous movement of funds; they wish to prevent the use of money for illegal purposes.
Koinal understands the importance of anti-corruption laws and maintains legal standards for all sales and purchases. The best advice is to consult the laws of the country where one lives and intends to do business with Bitcoin. Koinal operates within the bounds of all applicable laws and meets legal requirements for transactions in every state in which it does business.

Is Bitcoin Safe?

The safety of Bitcoin also has some variables. Like all cryptocurrencies, there is no physical note or document. Owners must safely keep their digital currency and access codes because if lost or misused, there may be no recourse. An elaborate security system surrounds Bitcoin. The digital currency exists in a blockchain that cannot be altered by any government or central authority. Every Bitcoin transaction is transparent and watched by a global network. Unlike some other types of transactions, once the Bitcoin moves, there is no reversal mechanism. When you sell or buy, the transfer cannot be undone or canceled.
Bitcoin is the oldest of the major currencies that include Ethereum, Lite, and Ripple. Bitcoin, by far, has the highest value, and many investors prefer Bitcoin for investment potential. Bitcoin is among the small group of cryptocurrencies that bring high levels of interest from mainstream financial companies and banks. Relative to other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin enjoys a high level of interest. It is the most well-known cryptocurrency.

Blockchain Technology

People can buy cryptocurrencies in many ways. The blockchain ledgers keep track of Bitcoin’s existence and ownership, and owners can transfer it on a peer-to-peer basis. Peer to peer transactions does not require any action by a government, bank, or any central authority.
A safer and more widely used method is to perform transactions on Bitcoin exchanges.
[Koinal works with Binance]1 and other leading currency exchanges. Koinal provides a simple and effective way to purchase Bitcoin using regular bank credit cards and debit cards.

Taxes and Virtual Currency

Bitcoin transactions can result in taxation when used to pay for goods, services, and wages. While it is not a recognized form of currency under U.S. tax law, it does have value. In some instances, the tax code assesses Bitcoin by its fair market value at the time of purchase.
The U.S. government’s Internal Revenue Service has noticed Bitcoin and digital currency. It issued an advisory in 2014 and a new item on the tax return for 2020. The IRS named Bitcoin as one of many virtual currencies. The IRS advises that Bitcoin may represent income under tax laws and maybe a taxable asset when held as property.
When treated as property under a national tax code, Bitcoin may get treated like other assets that grow in value, such as the U.S. capital gains tax. Investors, buyers, and sellers should consult legal and tax advisors for advice on their situations. At Koinal, we do not offer tax advice. We simply point out that each investor must examine the tax implications of Bitcoin or other virtual currency transactions.

Keeping Within the Law and Regulations

Koinal takes all required steps to keep its transactions within the bounds of national laws and regulations. Koinal requires identification and personal information needed to comply with anti-corruption and know-your-customer rules(KYC). Bitcoin transactions are not anonymous under current rules and regulations.
Koinal offers a seamless purchasing experiencing for Bitcoin that can use a bank credit card or debit card. Our system provides quick and reliable delivery to the coordinates of your choice. Bitcoin offers exciting potential for usage as a currency, medium of exchange, and as an investment. When you are ready to purchase, visit our Koinal.io website to buy bitcoin instantly with your credit card.
'''
Is Bitcoin Safe and Legal?
Go1dfish undelete link
unreddit undelete link
Author: koinalio
1: **w**o*nal.io/blog*bin*nce-to-j*in-e*fo*ts*with-koin***
Unknown links are censored to prevent spreading illicit content.
submitted by removalbot to removalbot [link] [comments]

US Tax Guide for ETH and other cryptocurrencies

Introduction:  
Greetings, fellow ethtraders! Happy New Year! In the next few months, taxpayers across the US will be filing their 2017 tax returns. As an Enrolled Agent and a ETH/cryptocurrency investor and enthusiast, I wanted to write up a brief guide on how your investments in ETH and other cryptocurrencies are taxed in the US.
 
 
1. Are ETH/cryptocurrency realized gains taxable?
Yes. The IRS treats virtual currency (such as cryptocurrency) as property. That means if you sell ETH, BTC, or any other cryptocurrency that has appreciated in value, you have realized a capital gain and must pay taxes on this income. If you held the position for one year or less, it is a short-term capital gain which is taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. If you held the position for more than one year, it is a long-term capital gain which is taxed at your long-term capital gains tax rate. In most cases, this is 15%, but could also be 0% or 20% depending on your specific ordinary income tax bracket.
 
2. If I sell my ETH for USD on Coinbase but do not transfer the USD from Coinbase to my bank account, am I still taxed?
Yes. The only thing that matters is that you sold the ETH, which creates a taxable transaction. Whether you transfer the USD to your bank account or not does not matter.
 
3. If I use my ETH to buy OMG or another cryptocurrency, is this a taxable transaction?
Most likely yes. See #4 below for a more detailed explanation. If assuming crypto to crypto trades are not able to be like-kind exchanged, then continue on to the next paragraph here.
This is actually two different transactions. The first transaction is selling your ETH for USD. The second transaction is buying the OMG with your USD. You must manually calculate these amounts. For example, I buy 1 ETH for $600 on Coinbase. Later on, the price of 1 ETH rises to $700. I transfer that 1 ETH to Bittrex and use it to buy 37 OMG. I have to report a capital gain of $100 because of this transaction. My total cost basis for the 37 OMG I purchased is $700.
 
4. If I use my ETH to buy OMG or other cryptocurrency, could that be considered a tax-free like-kind exchange?
Probably not. The new tax law says that like-kind exchanges only pertain to real estate transactions. This was done with Section 13303, which replaced “property” with “real property” for all of Section 1031 (page 72 near the bottom). My personal interpretation:
In 2018 and going forward, cryptocurrencies can definitely not be like-kind exchanged.
In 2017 and before, it is a very gray area. I personally am not taking the position that they can be like-kind exchanged, because if the IRS went after a taxpayer who did this, the IRS would probably win and the taxpayer would owe taxes, interest, and probably penalties on every single little gain made from trading one cryptocurrency for another.
Here is a great interpretation of why trading cryptocurrency for cryptocurrency is probably not a like-kind transaction.
In my opinion, the biggest factor is that like-kind exchanges must be reported on Form 8824 and not just ignored. Therefore, if a taxpayer is claiming like-kind exchanges on crypto to crypto exchanges, he or she would have to fill out a Form 8824 for each individual transaction of crypto to crypto, which would be absolutely cumbersome if there are hundreds or thousands of such trades.
Here is another article about like-kind exchanges.
Here is the American Institute of CPAs' letter to the IRS, dated June 10, 2016, asking them to release guidance on whether crypto to crypto can be like-kind exchanged or not. The IRS has not responded to the letter.
 
5. How do I calculate the realized capital gain or loss on the sale of my cryptocurrency?
The realized gain or loss is your total proceeds from the sale minus what you purchased those positions for (your cost basis). For example, you bought 1 ETH for $300 in June of 2017. In December of 2017, you sold that 1 ETH for $800. Your realized gain would be $800 - $300 = $500. Since you held it for one year or less, the $500 would be a short-term capital gain taxed at your ordinary income tax rate.
 
6. Which ETH's cost basis do I use if I have multiple purchases?
The cost basis reporting method is up to you. For example, I buy my first ETH at $300, a second ETH at $530, and a third ETH at $400. Later on, I sell one ETH for $800. I can use:
FIFO (first in first out) - cost basis would the first ETH, $300, which would result in a gain of $500.
LIFO (last in first out) - cost basis would be the third ETH, $400, which would result in a gain of $400.
Average cost - cost basis would be the average of the three ETH, $410, which would result in a gain of $390.
Specific identification - I can just choose which coin's cost basis to use. For example, I can choose the second ETH's cost basis, $530, which would result in the lowest capital gains possible of $270.
 
7. If I end up with a net capital loss, can I claim this on my tax return?
Capital gains and capital losses are netted on your tax return. If the net result of this is a capital loss, you may offset it against ordinary income on your tax return, but only at a maximum of $3,000 per year. The remaining losses are carried forward until you use them up.
 
8. What is the tax rate on my capital gains?
If long-term, the tax rate is 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your ordinary income tax bracket. If short-term, the tax bracket you’ll be in will depend on your total income and deductions. The ordinary income tax brackets are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6% in 2017 and 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37% in 2018 and going forward.
Here are the 2017 and 2018 ordinary income tax brackets.
Here are the 2017 and 2018 long-term capital gains tax brackets.
Here is a detailed article on how the calculation of long-term capital gains tax work and how you can take advantage of the 0% long-term capital gains rate, if applicable.
 
9. If I mine ETH or any other cryptocurrency, is this taxable?
Yes. IRS Notice 2014-21 states that mining cryptocurrency is taxable. For example, if you mined $7,000 worth of ETH in 2017, you must report $7,000 of income on your 2017 tax return. For many taxpayers, this will be reported on your Schedule C, and you will most likely owe self-employment taxes on this income as well. The $7,000 becomes the cost basis in your ETH position.
 
10. How do I calculate income for the cryptocurrency I mined?
This is the approach I would take. Say I mined 1 ETH on December 31, 2017. I would look up the daily historical prices for ETH and average the high and low prices for ETH on December 31, 2017, which is ($760.35 + $710.12) / 2 = $735.24. I would report $735.24 of income on my tax return. This would also be the cost basis of the 1 ETH I mined.
 
11. Can I deduct mining expenses on my tax return?
If you are reporting the income from mining on Schedule C, then you can deduct expenses on Schedule C as well. You can deduct the portion of your electricity costs allocated to mining, and then you depreciate the cost of your mining rig over time (probably over five years). Section 179 also allows for the full deduction of the cost of certain equipment in year 1, so you could choose to do that if you wanted to instead.
 
12. If I receive ETH or other cryptocurrency as a payment for my business, is this taxable?
Yes. Similar to mining, your income would be what the value of the coins you received was. This would also be your cost basis in the coins.
 
13. If I received Bitcoin Cash as a result of the hard fork on August 1, 2017, is this taxable?
Most likely yes. For example, if you owned 1 Bitcoin and received 1 Bitcoin Cash on August 1, 2017 as a result of the hard fork, your income would be the value of 1 Bitcoin Cash on that date. Bitcoin.tax uses a value of $277. This value would also be your cost basis in the position. Any other hard forks would probably be treated similarly. Airdrops may be treated similarly as well, in the IRS' view.
Here are a couple more good articles about reporting the Bitcoin Cash fork as taxable ordinary income. The second one goes into depth and cites a US Supreme Court decision as precedent: one, two
 
14. If I use ETH, BTC, or other cryptocurrency to purchase goods or services, is this a taxable transaction?
Yes. It would be treated as selling your cryptocurrency for USD, and then using that USD to purchase those goods or services. This is because the IRS treats cryptocurrency as property and not currency.
 
15. Are cryptocurrencies subject to the wash sale rule?
Probably not. Section 1091 only applies to stock or securities. Cryptocurrencies are not classified as stocks or securities. Therefore, you could sell your ETH at a loss, repurchase it immediately, and still realize this loss on your tax return, whereas you cannot do the same with a stock. Please see this link for more information.
 
16. What if I hold cryptocurrency on an exchange based outside of the US?
There are two separate foreign account reporting requirements: FBAR and FATCA.
A FBAR must be filed if you held more than $10,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year.
A Form 8938 (FATCA) must be filed if you held more than $75,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year, or more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year.
The penalties are severe for not filing these two forms if you are required to. Please see the second half of this post for more information on foreign account reporting.
 
17. What are the tax implications of gifting cryptocurrency?
Small gifts of cryptocurrency do not have a tax implication for the gift giver or for the recipient. The recipient would retain the gift giver's old cost basis, so it could be a good idea for the gift giver to provide records of the original cost basis to the recipient as well (or else the recipient would have to assume a cost basis of $0 if the recipient ever sells the cryptocurrency).
Large gifts of cryptocurrency could start having gift and estate tax implications on the giver if the value exceeds more than $14,000 (in 2017) or $15,000 (in 2018) per year per recipient.
Here's a good article on Investopedia on this issue.
An important exception applies if the gift giver gives cryptocurrency that has a cost basis that is higher than the market value at the time of the gift. Please see the middle of this post for more information on that.
 
18. Where can I learn even more about cryptocurrency taxation?
Unchained Podcast: The Tax Rules That Have Crypto Users Aghast
IRS Notice 2014-21
Great reddit post from tax attorney Tyson Cross from 2014
 
19. Are there any websites that you recommend in helping me with all of this?
Yes - I have used bitcoin.tax and highly recommend it. You can import directly from an exchange to the website using API, and/or export a .csv/excel file from the exchange and import it into the website. The exchanges I successfully imported from were Coinbase, GDAX, Bittrex, and Binance. The result is a .csv or other file that you can import into your tax software.
I have also heard good things about cointracking.info but have not personally used it myself.
 
20. Taxation is theft!
I can't help you there.
 
 
That is the summary I have for now. There have been a lot of excellent cryptocurrency tax guides on reddit, such as this one, this one, and this one, but I wanted to post my short summary guide on ethtrader which hopefully answers some of the questions you all may have about US taxation of ETH and other cryptocurrencies. Please let me know if you have any more questions, and I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. Thank you!
Regarding edits: I have made many edits to my post since I originally posted it. Please refresh to see the latest edits to my guide. Thank you.
 
Disclaimer:
The information contained within this post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining tax, accounting, or financial advice from a professional.
Any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this post is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law.
Presentation of the information via the Internet is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an advisor-client relationship. Internet users are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a tax professional.
submitted by Nubboi to ethtrader [link] [comments]

I finally figured out how to file my taxes with crypto gains. Using multiple exchanges, Cointracking.info, and Turbotax.

I spent a lot of time gaining information on Reddit so I figured I'd give back by summarizing how I filed my (U.S.) taxes in what I believe was the correct manner. Real quick, I used Cointracking.info (can also use Bitcoin.tax) to calculate my gains/losses using FIFO and generate my tax reports. I filed using the Deluxe desktop version of Turbotax so I can upload my reports. NO I DID NOT HAVE TO MANUALLY ENTER EACH TRANSACTION! But you have to get the CD/Downloaded version of Turbotax. There is no web version that allows you to upload your reports...and don't worry, after calling to confirm this with Turbotax I let them have it. Also, I am not being paid or providing referrals to any of these sites/programs....they worked for me so I figured I'd share for free.
I am not a tax or accountant professional so take the following with a grain of salt....
First things first, you have to figure out your "realized" crypto gains. I'm not going to go into detail here as many will ignore the truth that converting from one crypto to another is considered a taxable event. You're an adult, you make your own decisions but honestly I was surprised at how little of my crypto was considered realized once I ran all my numbers.
Since I've started crypto, I've used a couple different exchanges and Shapeshift (will never use again after this whole ordeal). Cointracking.info gives instructions on how to import your trades from all the major exchanges. (WARNING: pay attention to the timezones; Coinbase for example shows you the time of transaction in your timezone when you're viewing the site but once you download the data it will switch to Pacific Time, Binance will be in UTC time...etc.) If you don't have the time correct then your FIFO calculations and Short/Long term gains can be off. Shapeshift or any other non-exchange activity can be uploaded using excel or you can manually add individual transactions. Don't forget to review the transactions once you think you have every thing into your coin tracking site as the super nerds who created the algorithms aren't always correct. Ask your self questions like "did I really make a trade at 3:00 am on a work-night" or "does my final balance match what I actually have in my wallets".
Once you have all your transactions completed you can download the Form 8949, (keep this for your records in case you're ever audited or more information is requested) and a Turbotax specific file called Capital Gains Report. File your taxes on the DESKTOP version of Turbotax as you normally would. When it asks about income there is a place you can go to upload documents. Upload the Capital Gains Report provided. Turbotax is smart enough to recognize and auto populate all ~75 trades that I had onto a 1099-B. Again, NOT A PROFESSIONAL, I heard something about mailing in your Schedule D/8949 but everything seems to be reported correctly on the 1099-B so this does not appear to be necessary. And that was it! I live in North Carolina and I did not see anywhere where I needed to report any of this information for the state form.
If you don't want to believe a stranger on Reddit then you can get the desktop version of the Premier Turbotax which comes with the ability to get free CPA help over the phone. Or you go to your tax professional and have him/her do your taxes but they'll need the Form 8949 provided to you by your coin tracking site.
Feel free to let me know if I'm an idiot in the comments as again, I am not a tax professional nor an accountant, just a guy who likes to DIY and learn how/why taxes work to save some money.
submitted by Lusitanius to litecoin [link] [comments]

Looking for confirmation (US Tax laws)

Yes, I get that this isn't binding legal/financial advice, just roll with it for a sanity check.
From what I understand, mining income is taxed like income tax, based on fiat value at the time you got it. Using Excel, I could add the day’s closing price to the exported transactions from my crypto wallets. Fine.
If you happen to sell any crypto for fiat, or trade one crypto for another, that's handled likes stocks, with a cost basis and a capital gain/loss. Still fine.
Here’s the part that’s way more ridiculous than I anticipated: So say you start mining ETH in 2018, and then a bit later you buy another altcoin with, say 5 ETH. How the %^$# do you figure out the cost basis for that trade? My guess is that using FIFO method you would go back up to the aforementioned Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of .000000124 ETH incoming mining transactions, grab the required chunk of transactions that add up to 5 ETH, and take the cost basis from that.
Ok, that’s all well and good. But now what about the next trade? And all future trades for the rest of your life? You’d have to remember that you already sold those first transactions that add up to 5 ETH, and then the next chunk, essentially keeping a running tally of thousands of microtransactions for all future years, since your crypto holdings obviously carry over year to year, and in the year 2030 you may sell off ETH from 2024.
Before anyone starts shilling BitcoinTax, CoinTracker or any of the many “.csv import” tax companies that sprung up this year, I want to point out that the very first .csv file I’ve messed with so far was from CoinBase, and was wrong. I’m not even talking about “Coinbase can’t tell what you do with your crypto once it’s off Coinbase” I’m talking about data that was flat-out wrong compared to good old-fashioned logs of my activity that I kept in realtime in Excel (thank God…). Even physically logging into Coinbase and manually scrolling all the way to the date in question showed transactions that matched my records but did not match the .csv file. As much as I would LOVE to throw $50 to make this someone else’s problem, “garbage in = garbage out” says that if I can’t trust the .csv then I can’t trust the return to be correct. If you were mining random garbage on MiningPoolHub, autoexchanging, moving to Binance, swapping for altcoins, converting some to Fiat, whatever floats your boat, how exactly are you going to audit these tax programs to at least ensure that your taxes are even remotely correct?
I get that you’re all in the same GD boat, and that you’re just as salty when you realize that all the worthless shitcoins you mined were worth more when you mined them, meaning you probably owe income tax that you don’t even have anymore if you HODLed into the ground. Or that you are either spending half your life trying to figure out how much money to hand to a government that doesn’t even like crypto, or spending half your money for someone else to do the same for you.
I need a drink… maybe after I finish taxes.
submitted by Subfolded to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

I finally figured out how to file my taxes with crypto gains. Using multiple exchanges, Cointracking.info, and Turbotax.

I spent a lot of time gaining information on Reddit so I figured I'd give back by summarizing how I filed my (U.S.) taxes in what I believe was the correct manner. Real quick, I used Cointracking.info (can also use Bitcoin.tax) to calculate my gains/losses using FIFO and generate my tax reports. I filed using the Deluxe desktop version of Turbotax so I can upload my reports. NO I DID NOT HAVE TO MANUALLY ENTER EACH TRANSACTION! But you have to get the CD/Downloaded version of Turbotax. There is no web version that allows you to upload your reports...and don't worry, after calling to confirm this with Turbotax I let them have it. Also, I am not being paid or providing referrals to any of these sites/programs....they worked for me so I figured I'd share for free.
I am not a tax or accountant professional so take the following with a grain of salt....
First things first, you have to figure out your "realized" crypto gains. I'm not going to go into detail here as many will ignore the truth that converting from one crypto to another is considered a taxable event. You're an adult, you make your own decisions but honestly I was surprised at how little of my crypto was considered realized once I ran all my numbers.
Since I've started crypto, I've used a couple different exchanges and Shapeshift (will never use again after this whole ordeal). Cointracking.info gives instructions on how to import your trades from all the major exchanges. (WARNING: pay attention to the timezones; Coinbase for example shows you the time of transaction in your timezone when you're viewing the site but once you download the data it will switch to Pacific Time, Binance will be in UTC time...etc.) If you don't have the time correct then your FIFO calculations and Short/Long term gains can be off. Shapeshift or any other non-exchange activity can be uploaded using excel or you can manually add individual transactions. Don't forget to review the transactions once you think you have every thing into your coin tracking site as the super nerds who created the algorithms aren't always correct. Ask your self questions like "did I really make a trade at 3:00 am on a work-night" or "does my final balance match what I actually have in my wallets".
Once you have all your transactions completed you can download the Form 8949, (keep this for your records in case you're ever audited or more information is requested) and a Turbotax specific file called Capital Gains Report. File your taxes on the DESKTOP version of Turbotax as you normally would. When it asks about income there is a place you can go to upload documents. Upload the Capital Gains Report provided. Turbotax is smart enough to recognize and auto populate all ~75 trades that I had onto a 1099-B. Again, NOT A PROFESSIONAL, I heard something about mailing in your Schedule D/8949 but everything seems to be reported correctly on the 1099-B so this does not appear to be necessary. And that was it! I live in North Carolina and I did not see anywhere where I needed to report any of this information for the state form.
If you don't want to believe a stranger on Reddit then you can get the desktop version of the Premier Turbotax which comes with the ability to get free CPA help over the phone. Or you go to your tax professional and have him/her do your taxes but they'll need the Form 8949 provided to you by your coin tracking site.
I tried posting this to cryptocurrency but apparently I'm not cool enough to post there and help people out. Vertcoin was the first community I followed when I first got into alt coins so you get my love first.
Feel free to let me know if I'm an idiot in the comments as again, I am not a tax professional nor an accountant, just a guy who likes to DIY and learn how/why taxes work to save some money.
submitted by Lusitanius to vertcoin [link] [comments]

US Tax Guide for Cryptocurrencies

Introduction:  
Greetings, cryptax! Tax season is upon us, and in the next couple of months, taxpayers across the US will be filing their 2017 tax returns. As a tax professional, an Enrolled Agent, and a cryptocurrency investor and enthusiast, I wanted to write up a brief guide on how your investments in cryptocurrencies are taxed in the US.
 
 
1. Are cryptocurrency realized gains taxable?
Yes. The IRS treats virtual currency (such as cryptocurrency) as property. That means if you sell BTC, ETH, or any other cryptocurrency that has appreciated in value, you have realized a capital gain and must pay taxes on this income. If you held the position for one year or less, it is a short-term capital gain which is taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. If you held the position for more than one year, it is a long-term capital gain which is taxed at your long-term capital gains tax rate. In most cases, this is 15%, but could also be 0% or 20% depending on your specific ordinary income tax bracket.
 
2. If I sell my BTC for USD on Coinbase but do not transfer the USD from Coinbase to my bank account, am I still taxed?
Yes. The only thing that matters is that you sold the BTC, which creates a taxable transaction. Whether you transfer the USD to your bank account or not does not matter.
 
3. If I use my BTC to buy another cryptocurrency (XMR for example), is this a taxable transaction?
Most likely yes. See #4 below for a more detailed explanation. If assuming crypto to crypto trades are not able to be like-kind exchanged, then continue on to the next paragraph here.
This is actually two different transactions. The first transaction is selling your BTC for USD. The second transaction is buying the XMR with your USD. You must manually calculate these amounts (or use a website such as bitcoin.tax or software to calculate it for you). For example, I buy 1 BTC for $8,000 on Coinbase. Later on, the price of 1 BTC rises to $9,000. I transfer that 1 BTC to Bittrex and use it to buy 38 XMR. I have to report a capital gain of $1,000 because of this transaction. My total cost basis for the 38 XMR I purchased is $9,000.
 
4. If I use my BTC to buy another cryptocurrency, could that be considered a tax-free like-kind exchange?
Probably not. The new tax law says that like-kind exchanges only pertain to real estate transactions. This was done with Section 13303, which replaced “property” with “real property” for all of Section 1031 (page 72 near the bottom). My personal interpretation:
In 2018 and going forward, cryptocurrencies can definitely not be like-kind exchanged.
In 2017 and before, it is a very gray area. I personally am not taking the position that they can be like-kind exchanged, because if the IRS went after a taxpayer who did this, the IRS would probably win and the taxpayer would owe taxes, interest, and probably penalties on every single little gain made from trading one cryptocurrency for another.
Here is a great interpretation of why trading cryptocurrency for cryptocurrency is probably not a like-kind transaction.
In my opinion, the biggest factor is that like-kind exchanges must be reported on Form 8824 and not just ignored. Therefore, if a taxpayer is claiming like-kind exchanges on crypto to crypto exchanges, he or she would have to fill out a Form 8824 for each individual transaction of crypto to crypto, which would be absolutely cumbersome if there are hundreds or thousands of such trades.
Another is that there has to be a Qualified Intermediary that facilitates a like-kind exchange. So, it's a more involved process, and that's why I think cryptocurrency cannot be like-kind exchanged.
Here is another article about like-kind exchanges.
Here is the American Institute of CPAs' letter to the IRS, dated June 10, 2016, asking them to release guidance on whether crypto to crypto can be like-kind exchanged or not. The IRS has not responded to the letter.
 
5. How do I calculate the realized capital gain or loss on the sale of my cryptocurrency?
The realized gain or loss is your total proceeds from the sale minus what you purchased those positions for (your cost basis). For example, you bought 1 BTC for $3,000 in June of 2017. In December of 2017, you sold that 1 BTC for $18,000. Your realized gain would be $18,000 - $3,000 = $15,000. Since you held it for one year or less, the $15,000 would be a short-term capital gain taxed at your ordinary income tax rate.
 
6. Which BTC's cost basis do I use if I have multiple purchases?
The cost basis reporting method is up to you. For example, I buy my first BTC at $3,000, a second BTC at $5,300, and a third BTC at $4,000. Later on, I sell one BTC for $8,000. I can use:
FIFO (first in first out) - cost basis would the first BTC, $3,000, which would result in a gain of $5,000.
LIFO (last in first out) - cost basis would be the third BTC, $4,000, which would result in a gain of $4,000.
Average cost - cost basis would be the average of the three BTC, $4,100, which would result in a gain of $3,900.
Specific identification - I can choose which coin's cost basis to use. For example, I can choose the second BTC's cost basis, $5,300, which would result in the lowest capital gains possible of $2,700.
The IRS has not given any guidance on cost basis accounting methods for cryptocurrency, but I am taking the position that any method can be used, and that you can change your method at any time as you please (e.g. FIFO for one year, LIFO for another. Or, FIFO for the sale of a specific lot, then LIFO for the sale of another lot on the same day).
 
7. If I end up with a net capital loss, can I claim this on my tax return?
Capital gains and capital losses are netted on your tax return. If the net result of this is a capital loss, you may offset it against ordinary income on your tax return, but only at a maximum of $3,000 per year. The remaining losses are carried forward until you use them up.
 
8. What is the tax rate on my capital gains?
If long-term, the tax rate is 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your ordinary income tax bracket. If short-term, the tax bracket you’ll be in will depend on your total income and deductions. The ordinary income tax brackets are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6% in 2017 and 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37% in 2018 and going forward.
Here are the 2017 and 2018 ordinary income tax brackets.
Here are the 2017 and 2018 long-term capital gains tax brackets.
Here is a detailed article on how the calculation of long-term capital gains tax work and how you can take advantage of the 0% long-term capital gains rate, if applicable.
 
9. If I mine BTC or any other cryptocurrency, is this taxable?
Yes. IRS Notice 2014-21 states that mining cryptocurrency is taxable. For example, if you mined $8,000 worth of BTC in 2017, you must report $8,000 of ordinary income on your 2017 tax return. For many taxpayers, this will be reported on your Schedule C, and you will most likely owe self-employment taxes on this income as well. The $8,000 becomes the cost basis in your BTC position.
 
10. How do I calculate income for the cryptocurrency I mined?
This is the approach I would take. Say I mined 0.01 BTC on December 31, 2017. I would look up the daily historical prices for BTC and average the high and low prices for BTC on December 31, 2017, which is ($14,377.40 + $12,755.60) / 2 = $13,566.50. I would report $13,566.50 * 0.01 = $135.67 of income on my tax return. This would also be the cost basis of the 0.01 BTC I mined.
 
11. Can I deduct mining expenses on my tax return?
If you are reporting the income from mining on Schedule C, then you can deduct expenses on Schedule C as well. You can deduct the portion of your electricity costs allocated to mining, and then you depreciate the cost of your mining rig over time (probably over five years). Section 179 also allows for the full deduction of the cost of certain equipment in year 1, so you could choose to do that if you wanted to instead.
 
12. If I receive BTC or other cryptocurrency as a payment for my business, is this taxable?
Yes. Similar to mining, your income would be what the value of the coins you received was. This would also be your cost basis in the coins.
 
13. If I received Bitcoin Cash as a result of the hard fork on August 1, 2017, is this taxable?
Most likely yes. For example, if you owned 1 Bitcoin and received 1 Bitcoin Cash on August 1, 2017 as a result of the hard fork, your income would be the value of 1 Bitcoin Cash on that date. Bitcoin.tax uses a value of $277. This value would also be your cost basis in the position. Any other hard forks would probably be treated similarly. Airdrops may be treated similarly as well, in the IRS' view.
Here are a couple more good articles about reporting the Bitcoin Cash fork as taxable ordinary income. The second one goes into depth and cites a US Supreme Court decision as precedent: one, two
 
14. If I use BTC or other cryptocurrency to purchase goods or services, is this a taxable transaction?
Yes. It would be treated as selling your cryptocurrency for USD, and then using that USD to purchase those goods or services. This is because the IRS treats cryptocurrency as property and not currency.
 
15. Are cryptocurrencies subject to the wash sale rule?
Probably not. Section 1091 only applies to stock or securities. Cryptocurrencies are not classified as stocks or securities. Therefore, you could sell your BTC at a loss, repurchase it immediately, and still realize this loss on your tax return, whereas you cannot do the same with a stock. Please see this link for more information.
 
16. What if I hold cryptocurrency on an exchange based outside of the US?
There are two separate foreign account reporting requirements: FBAR and FATCA.
A FBAR must be filed if you held more than $10,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year.
A Form 8938 (FATCA) must be filed if you held more than $75,000 on an exchange based outside of the US at any point during the tax year, or more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year.
The penalties are severe for not filing these two forms if you are required to. Please see the second half of this post for more information on foreign account reporting.
 
17. What are the tax implications of gifting cryptocurrency?
Small gifts of cryptocurrency do not have a tax implication for the gift giver or for the recipient. The recipient would retain the gift giver's old cost basis, so it could be a good idea for the gift giver to provide records of the original cost basis to the recipient as well (or else the recipient would have to assume a cost basis of $0 if the recipient ever sells the cryptocurrency).
Large gifts of cryptocurrency could start having gift and estate tax implications on the giver if the value exceeds more than $14,000 (in 2017) or $15,000 (in 2018) per year per recipient.
Here's a good article on Investopedia on this issue.
An important exception applies if the gift giver gives cryptocurrency that has a cost basis that is higher than the market value at the time of the gift. Please see the middle of this post for more information on that.
 
18. Where can I learn even more about cryptocurrency taxation?
Unchained Podcast: The Tax Rules That Have Crypto Users Aghast
IRS Notice 2014-21
Great reddit post from tax attorney Tyson Cross from 2014
 
19. Are there any websites that you recommend in helping me with all of this?
Yes - I have used bitcoin.tax and highly recommend it. You can import directly from an exchange to the website using API, and/or export a .csv/excel file from the exchange and import it into the website. The exchanges I successfully imported from were Coinbase, GDAX, Bittrex, and Binance. The result is a .csv or other file that you can import into your tax software.
I have also heard good things about cointracking.info but have not personally used it myself.
 
20. If I move my BTC from one exchange to another, or into a hard wallet, is this a taxable event?
No - you are not selling anything, so no gains are realized.
 
21. Where do I report cryptocurrency sales on my tax return?
The summary of your sales would reported on Schedule D on line 3 and/or line 10 depending on short-term or long-term. Supplemental Form 8949 must also be included with Box C or Box F checked depending on short-term or long-term. Form 8949 is where you must list each individual sale.
 
22. If coins become lost or inaccessible (e.g. lost or forgotten passphrase or thrown away hard drive), can I claim that as a loss? What about coins that have gotten stolen? What about losing money in investment or ICO scams (e.g. Bitconnect or Confido)?
These are really tricky questions. Unfortunately, the potential to claim such a loss against ordinary income is very low, especially with the new tax law. At the very least, capital losses can be claimed, but the deduction is capped at $3,000 per year against ordinary income with the rest carrying forward indefinitely.
The new tax law changed the casualty and theft loss to only apply to presidential disaster areas, so at least in the case of a loss passphrase, I think the answer is no for 2018 and going forward. For 2017, the answer is possibly yes. Here is an article on the subject if you are interested in reading more.
 
23. Taxation is theft!
Sorry, I can't help you there.
 
 
That is the summary I have for now. There have been a lot of excellent cryptocurrency tax guides on reddit, such as this one and this one, but I wanted to post my guide on cryptax which hopefully answers some of the questions you all may have about US taxation of cryptocurrencies. Please let me know if you have any more questions, and I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. Thank you!
Regarding edits: I may make many edits to my post after I originally post it. Please refresh to see the latest edits to my guide. Thank you.
 
Disclaimer:
The information contained within this post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining tax, accounting, or financial advice from a professional.
Any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this post is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law.
Presentation of the information via the Internet is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an advisor-client relationship. Internet users are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a tax professional.
submitted by Nubboi to cryptax [link] [comments]

My attempt at an ELI5 for cryptocurrency to help my friends.

This is a long one so fair warning and no there is no tl;dr. I've only been at this for about 6 months and worked up this paper the other day for my friends who are interested but know very little about this. Hopefully whoever reads this can make in corrections as I am far from an expert.
Blockchain
Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Ether are all blockchains. Blockchains are basically a spreadsheet (LEDGER) that is duplicated multiple times across a network and updated regularly simultaneously. There is no centralized version of this ledger. It is hosted simultaneously by thousands/millions of computers. These ledgers will update on their own, Bitcoin as an example automatically checks itself every 10 minutes. Each of these 10-minute increment of transactions (in bitcoins case transactions would be sending or receiving bitcoins from one person to another for goods or services) are called BLOCKS. For these blocks to be confirmed, accepted, and updated to the ledger nodes are required.
Nodes (Mining/Forging)
A node is a computer running the blockchain software on the network. The blockchain software will automatically download the entire ledger of all transactions since its inception. At regular intervals, the software will take the transactions of a block (data on the ledger) and convert them into a mathematical puzzle to be solved by randomly chosen nodes (MINING). Mining requires powerful processors (typically GPUs) and substantial quantities of energy to receive mined tokens profitably. When a specific number of nodes solve the puzzle with the same answer they are basically confirming that the data on the block is accurate as multiple independent nodes found the same answer. When confirmed, the block gets added to the previous blocks making a chain of blocks aka a blockchain. As an incentive to run your computer as a node you are rewarded with TOKENS. If a single person or group of people wanted to manipulate the ledger, the amount of machinery and electricity used to achieve the majority of miners thus allowing you to manipulate the ledger is so exponentially expensive that it serves no reasonable purpose. This is an example of a Proof of Work Blockchain System (computer solves puzzle and rewarded with tokens)
Tokens
Tokens are part of the core of the blockchain. They are an incentive to validate transactions and create blocks. They gain intrinsic value based on the blockchain they are associated with. Some blockchains grant token holder’s different abilities. With Bitcoin, tokens are needed to pay for transaction fees. Others allow voting rights on how certain blockchain functions are managed. There is a limited amount of Bitcoin that will ever be released to nodes (21 million expected to be all be released by 2033) which also keep inflation from being a problem. Blockchains can create their platform with whatever number of tokens they would like and release them or create means to mine them as they see fit. Essentially, as with any other fiat money (currency that a government has declared to be legal tender NOT backed by a physical commodity), as adoption and trust increases the value of the token will increase. If most people accept Bitcoin for services and stores accept Bitcoin for goods than it is as good as the next currency.
Wallets
Whether you mine for tokens, are paid in tokens for goods or services or purchase tokens from a person or currency exchange you need a place to store them securely and a way to send and receive them. Cryptocurrency Wallets don’t store currency, they hold your public and private keys that interface with the blockchain so you can access your balance, send money and manage your funds. The public key allows others to send money to the public key only. A wallet that is "offline" (see Hardware or Paper below) cannot access funds or send money unless it is accessed with another form of wallet, either desktop, online, or mobile.
1) Desktop Wallet - Installed on your computer and are only accessible from that SINGLE computer. Very secure but if someone hacks your computer you are exposed. 2) Online Wallet - Run remotely (cloud based) and are far more convenient to access but make them more vulnerable as they are controlled by a third party and are also vulnerable to hacking attacks. Exchange wallets are online wallets but you are not in control of the private key. View it as a wallet that is lended to you so you can trade. The wallet is technically not yours. 3) Mobile - Ran on an app and are useful as they can be used anywhere including retail stores 4) Hardware - Private keys are stored on a tangible device like a USB drive. They can make transactions online but they are stored offline. Compatible with web interfaces and support many but not all currencies. To use, plug into a computer, enter a pin, send currency and confirm. Safest form of storage. 5) Paper - Basically a physical printout of your private and public keys. It is not stored online anywhere and the only way transactions can happen is if you transfer money with the help of an Online wallet.
Example of a Public Key = 1A684DbsHQKPVCWgaUsYdF4uQGwTiA9BFT Example of a Private Key = E9873D79C6D87DC0FB6A5778633389F4453213303DA61F20BD67FC233AA33262
Most wallets provide a Recovery Mnemonic Passcode that is a series of words (typically 12 to 24 words) in a specific order. If you lose your login information for your wallet you can supply the mnemonic passcode and retrieve your lost login information. If you lose your login information and your mnemonic passcode your wallet will be inaccessible and your tokens are lost to you. The above basically describes a first generation Blockchain Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. It is used basically as currency with no centralized entity regulating the release of additional currency and keeping the ledger of where the money is going secure and extremely safe from manipulation.
Second Generation Blockchain
The second generation blockchains sprung out of this environment with something more valuable. Utilizing the blockchain system to allow applications to be ran on top of a decentralized secure system. Instead of just recording transactions, contracts could be transmitted the same way. More complex transactions (SMART CONTRACTS) allow for things such as: - Funds to be spent only when a required percentage of people agree - Manage agreements between users (such as insurance) - Provide utility to other contracts - Store information about an application such as domain registration information or membership records This basically can allow applications to be ran on top of the blockchain system. This can cut out the middleman for many real-world applications (mortgages, banking, communications, security confirmations etc.)
Proof of Work/Proof of Stake
As I mentioned earlier, Proof of Work (PoW) requires nodes to solve a mathematical puzzle which is rewarded with tokens. Proof of Stake (PoS) is different, the tokens with proof of stake systems are pre-mined meaning they are all created when the blockchain system is created. Blocks are not verified by the typical method. The block validator uses the blockchain software to stake their tokens and are chosen based on specific factors depending on how many tokens the person holds and for how long. Depending on how many tokens they hold will restrict the quantity of blocks they can validate. If they own more they can validate more often but all validators will be chosen randomly keeping the rewards fairly distributed (unlike PoW which typically reward the first completed.) The blockchain still requires a mathematical puzzle to be solved but it is much easier than PoW requiring far less time and energy. If the blockchain has premined all of their tokens then new tokens cannot be mined for rewards in PoS. The reward for staking your tokens to be a validator is a portion of the transaction fee that is charged as part of normal transactions on the blockchain. That is why PoS miners are called forgers. If manipulation is attempted than their stake can be taken from their wallet adding more motivation to prevent data manipulation.
Fork
Some cryptocurrencies may need to update or upgrade the coding of their blockchain software. When this happens usually a fork occurs. This basically means the cryptocurrency splits into two separate cryptocurrencies. Because the nature of blockchain technology, they are decentralized and autonomous so the older version cannot be deleted or removed. If people choose to continue using the old version they can. For mining/forging purposes the nodes will need to choose which they will mine/forge and download the blockchain software on their computer to proceed. When the fork occurs, anyone holding tokens in the original currency will be given the same number of tokens in the forked currency. (When Bitcoin forked to Bitcoin Cash, anyone holding x amount of Bitcoin would receive a new wallet for Bitcoin Cash also containing x amount of Bitcoin Cash.) This is called a Hard Fork and all previous transactions are made invalid. There are also Soft Forks, in this case it is backwards compatible and all previous transactions are valid. This can result in two currencies but in most cases, it doesn’t as it is usually accepted by most miners/forgers because it is backwards compatible.
Exchanges
Online currency exchanges allow you to buy, sell or exchange fiat money (USD, EUR, etc) with digital currencies or in most cases digital currencies for other digital currencies. There are a large variety of different exchanges that are operated in multiple countries but there are around a dozen that the majority of cryptocurrency trading volume are present on. Not all cryptocurrencies will be listed on all exchanges, some have specific prerequisites to be listed on their exchange and there may be fees associated as well. Once your account is set up you will have a list of all available cryptocurrencies to trade. Each currency will have an associated online wallet with the public key address allowing you to send that specific currency to that wallet. (Many exchanges are having delayed or canceled identity verification, currency transfers and lack sufficient customer support due to the influx of new traders) Examples of top exchanges: 1) Coinbase (trades fiat) 2) GDAX (trades fiat) 3) Gemini (trades fiat) 4) Changelly (trades fiat) 5) Bittrex 6) Binance 7) HitBTC 8) EtherDelta 9) Bitfinex 10) Kraken 11) Bithumb 12) Bitstamp 13) Poloniex 14) OKEx
Sending/Receiving Tokens
All wallets have the ability to send digital currency to other wallets. The function is relatively easy, make sure the currency you are sending is going to the appropriate wallet for that currency. Ethereum tokens cannot be sent to a Bitcoin wallet for example. (The tokens aren’t actually moving location; the list of transactions/ownership is what is stored in the wallet). Triple check the wallet private key you are sending the tokens to. If you type the wrong address the tokens will be lost in nearly all incidents. Some mobile wallets allow you to scan a QR code that will automatically enter the public key rather than copying/pasting or typing out the public key.
Taxes
As of January 1, 2018 it appears that taxing on digital currency has changed. Every trade between any digital currencies (Bitcoin to Ether, Ether to Litecoin etc) will be a taxable transaction. If you hold the currency for longer than one year than you will pay capital gain tax when it is traded or sold (15%-20%) and if you sell or trade in less than a year you will have to add the profit to your taxable income to adjust your tax bracket.
Altcoins
Altcoins are basically any coin that is not Bitcoin. Most cryptocurrencies do not have a native blockchain (their own independent dedicated blockchain). Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple, Waves, NXT, Cardano all have their own native blockchain. Many other cryptocurrencies run on other cryptocurrency’s blockchains. Litecoin runs on Bitcoins blockchain, hundreds run on the Ethereum blockchain. These currencies act as smart contracts running on the adopted blockchain.
DApps (Decentralized Applications)
For a blockchain application to be considered a DApp it must be 1) Open source, code available to all 2) Decentralized, uses blockchain cryptographic tech 3) Incentive, must have tokens to fuel itself 4) Algorithm/Protocol, generates tokens and has a built-in consensus mechanism (mining/forging.)
There are 3 types of DApps, each basically piggybacks off the platform of the previous Type 1 – Have their own blockchain (like bitcoin) Type 2 – Use the blockchain of Type 1 DApps Type 3 – Use the protocol of Type 2 DApps
ICO (Initial Coin Offering)
Much like an IPO (Initial Public Offering) that offers stock in a private company to the public, an ICO raises money for new Cryptocurrency ventures. Typically, a minimum investment is required in the form of a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Ether and the investor is given tokens of the cryptocurrency at a reduced cost. Due to the fact that ICO’s are so new, government agencies have not begun regulating these ventures making them extremely risky as anyone with a competent coder can create and market a cryptocurrency that can be used to swindle investors who aren’t cautious. The US government no longer allows its citizens to participate in ICO’s and if you are using a computer with an IP address located in the United States, ICO’s websites will not allow you to invest.
Research
1) Whitepapers – Each cryptocurrency will have their own dedicated websites and most will have a whitepaper that has a description of what their cryptocurrency is designed to do. 2) Roadmaps – Also on each cryptocurrency’s website, they tend to have a roadmap or timeline as to when they are planning to complete certain milestones be it added features to the blockchain or wallet or any other important events. 3) Coinmarketcap.com – List of every available cryptocurrency, the exchanges they trade on, market cap, trade volume, available tokens, newly created tokens etc. 4) Reddit.com (cryptocurrency subreddit) – Subreddits focused on cryptocurrency as well as specific subreddits focused on individual cryptocurrencies. Be cautious as many people on these sites are uninformed and/or are trying to manipulate the market by fooling others to buy or sell based on fraudulent information. 5) Bitcointalk.org – Forums specific to individual cryptocurrencies. There is a lot of self-marketing (bounties) on this site. Take what they say with a grain of salt 6) TwitteFacebook (Social Media) – Many times news from team members or the cryptocurrency’s social media page will break news before it is listed on any of the above-mentioned outlets. Find out who is working for the cryptocurrency you are interested in and start following the team’s social media. Don’t forget to look at their linkedin accounts if available, previous employment and behavioral history to confirm they are competent. 7) Github - Code from projects can be uploaded here and reviewed for issues and revisions.
Common Terms/Slang
Shilling – covert advertising, personally endorsing a token so as to manipulate the price to either recoup a loss or increase gains on a token the individual owns. FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt; another method to manipulate the price of a token the person owns by making others second guess their investment decision on a specific token. FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out; buying a token (usually after the price has already increased) hoping they haven’t missed the majority of a price increase. Shitcoin – A cryptocurrency that has become worthless overtime or a scam operation. To the Moon – Massive increase in a token’s price.
I'm sure there are probably revisions to be done on this as I am still getting my head around all of the concepts. Any help to this would be appreciated.
submitted by Truantlife to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

Cryptopia CEO Alan Booth on the Cryptocurrency Exchange Realm (Full Article No Link)

Alan Booth is the CEO of one of Cryptopia, an exchange regarded as having one of the widest selection of tokens. Founded in 2014, Cryptopia is one of a handful of blockchain-focused companies in New Zealand.
The Cryptopia team is often tasked with researching hundreds of projects to determine their efficacy before any other major exchange has touched them. The exchange lists many projects in their early stages and post-ICO.
As an entrepreneur and business consultant for over 50 years, Alan Booth’s story is fairly atypical of that of many entrepreneurs in the cryptocurrency world. His perspective on the cryptocurrency is grounded in decades of business development experience, and he views the cryptocurrency exchange realm as one of the most exciting opportunities yet.
In the following interview, we dive into everything from cryptocurrency psychology, the coin listing process, and blockchain entrepreneurship.
How did you get introduced into the crypto world?
That’s interesting. I was consulting for Cryptopia or consulting to assist them in their development path for several months when it became obvious that they needed some senior leadership to move them from where they are, which was basically a reactive technical focus to a more business global focus on how we develop their business model. We are very conscious of the fact that you need a higher level of thinking. You need a global perspective, particularly from New Zealand because there’s not a lot of us down here.
That probably predicates why we’re a global business grown out of such a small population. We’d known each other for a while, certainly six months or so, and when the opportunity came up, why wouldn’t I move from a very safe, comfortable, fun job that I had previously, which was the chief executive of an international flying school. Nothing really scary goes on there.
I am at the latter end of my working life, somewhat semi-retired and all my colleagues went, “You’re going to do what? Are you kidding?” Of course, the blood pressure went up and I said, “yeah, I’m going to have a go at this.”
So, it’s really about the opportunity when you’ve learned so much over 40 or 50 years of developing business models and floating companies and taking them to the world, which is primarily what I’ve done. To find something that’s new and a full of excitement and fear and trepidation and where is all this going? Then it’s an opportunity you can’t afford to pass up. So, it’s just the daredevil saying let’s go.
The risk and the general fervor for the industry have gotten a lot of people very excited. What are the top concerns for exchanges moving forward from your perspective?
They are many fold and they are variable based on feedback from the community and somewhat driven by legislation, driven by corporate requirements. The FinTech world, we’ve got to look at that as well as the coin world. If we want to grow and deliver a product that the average consumer can consume, then we have to deliver all the things that they would typically expect. So, if you went into a retail store to buy a heater, you expect to have a warranty.
You expect to be safe, you expect to be treated well with clarity. And typically, the coin industry to date has not been very good at that because it’s been evolving and mostly evolving from a technical perspective with probably less weight put on the public consumption of the coin. It’s being technically driven as a technical product when you look at it. When you go to the exchange, some of them take a fair bit of thinking about before you can operate.
So, for us, the first thing is trust. If people can’t trust your brand, and that means every part of it, you’re not going to succeed. So, we are very proactive here in New Zealand, talking to legislators, government agencies in and out of New Zealand. KYC, AML, CML, all of that stuff. We are drafting our own internal rules and then most cases they exceed the requirements of our banking partners. So, they look at us and they go, wow, you’re way ahead of where we thought it would be. So, developing a trust relationship with our consumers and business partners is vital. The next thing is developing a stable and functional platform. I don’t just mean the coin exchange itself, but all of the underlying technology. Will we be up? Do we have latency? Are we speedy? Have we purchased the right partnership relationships for our equipment and how do we continue to be able to scale at will and not risk failing to deliver a result? That means helping people get an exchange done, their coins on and off. I suspect it’s the same as every other exchange.
Only thing is, down here, we have really focused on three things to move us very quickly forward. One is the public-facing components. That’s the help desk if you get stuck. We want to be able to respond very quickly. And like the other exchanges, we headed enormous influx in the early part of the year and that was debilitating. Nobody was ready for it. We employed teams of people to come in and train as support operators. We’ve since then spent a huge amount of money on a new ticketing system, which actually went live yesterday.
So, this morning when I come in, there’s smiley faces trying to get their head around it going, wow, this is amazing. So, we triage all the tickets on the inbound route now and puts it in a good space for our response team to reply as quickly as possible, I want. At the moment, we’re not there. Instead of being 40 or 50 hours and all these horrible delays, I want people to have a response from us immediately and I mean within seconds saying we’ve got your ticket. I can’t answer it right now, but we’re on you. Then, within hours, get back to those customers and fix their problem. They don’t deserve to wait 24 hours or 48 hours. People are anxious. Ticketing, we’ve done something about it. Highly trained staff, we’re employing all the time. We’ve developed foreign offices to beat the time zone thing. We now have a support office in the UK that we have had for some time, actually. The next thing is just the stabilizing of our software and hardware.
When you start these things, the enthusiasm and the inexperience of the development team may not know what’s here to them and now we’ve bought in bigger, stronger, international teams. So, that’s great what you’ve got, but let’s do this. So, that’s the phase we’re on now. We’re spending all of our money. In fact, every penny that we generate in this business goes straight back into furthering and developing the products. Nobody’s racing home in Lamborghinis or flying their jets around. They’re just piling into it.
So, that’s how I am in terms of producing a high-quality product. It’s not a decision we just made. It’s always been there, but we are now articulating it internally, that we want to be in the top five of crypto exchanges and digital asset exchanges of some form within the next two years. In the top five, bar none, in every respect.
Would you say the number one component of being thought of as one of the top five would be trading volume? Is that the primary metric?
I absolutely agree with you, but you can’t have trading volume unless you provide the other things first, like security, safety, a good trading platform. If you want trading volume, I have to have a reason for you to trust me, which has to be if I have a failure, will my ticket, be answered? If you do those things, you will get trading volume. I don’t believe you look at it the other way and say, hey, let’s create trading volume because if that comes at you hard and sharp, how are you going to cope with it when something breaks?
It’s technology, things will break. It’s how you address things that go wrong that made you successful, not what you put in place to drive that business in. That will happen if you’re good. The word gets out saying this is a great exchange. They fixed my tickets, they’re fast, they’re responsive, it’s safe. That will create trading volume.
Trading volume for us is income and of course, we want it. We have actually slowed down on coin listings. We’ve slowed down on taking new customers and we’ve slowed down on developing relationships with partners simply to get our platform in better shape so that we can become the most reliable, trusted partner you can have. That will create trading volume, no doubt about it.
Although trading volume does bring in a sizable amount of revenue, there comes a point where it just becomes a vanity metric where people are using an exchange simply because there just aren’t any better alternatives out there.. So, if there is an exchange that can offer all the features that you’re talking about and a premium level of service, then the trading volume will trickle down. There’s no real loyalty for exchanges other than preferences.
Absolutely. We wouldn’t ask for that. Why would you say to somebody, hey, you got to be loyal to us? That’s just silly. You will be loyal to us if I offer you a great experience. That means volume of coins, a huge range to trade through. Ease of trading. One click, two clicks. How about some trading tools just like you see in a modern foreign exchange opportunity? Some arbitrage tools, some tools for measurement, some nice desktop tools.
We want to introduce other things. It just means that you’ve got control over your own reporting and your own desktop environment. It can become a very powerful tool to use as long as we listen to the customers and say, hey guys, we can develop that. Give us a couple of months, let’s put it in front of you.
What is the coin listing process for you guys? What’s the process for someone who wants to get their coin listed on Cryptopia?
We’re just reviewing that and we’re being very focused on changing the way we list coins and who we list. We’re very conscious to gain trust. We are actually your first port of call for particularly those people who don’t know much about coin, so they have to trust their exchange partner. Therefore, we have to make sure that if we list a coin, it’s a viable trusted, honest coin that’s going to give value.
Not just to us as an exchange but it’s not a scam coin. It’s not something just to raise money, pump and dump thing. We have coin listing teams who are very tough. I have introduced people as the CEO to my coin listing team and I can’t get it through them. I’ve said, but these are great guys and I have a great story and I met them in Vancouver and boy, they’ve convinced me.
My coin listing technical team does all the due diligence. Everything from GitHub, Facebook pages, normal stuff like that. If it doesn’t look like a viable product to us on many levels, then it doesn’t get listed. That’s the end of it.
If [the coin] gets past that, we do further due diligence. We’ll actually interview the company. We’ll ask why do you want to list? Why do you want to list with Cryptopia? What’s your plan for the coin? What do you want us to tell customers because they’re going to be relying on us? So, we’d like to do more than just have a coin called 21 Million sitting on the exchange. How about if we had a link to that with some of the criteria we use to judge whether that was a good opportunity. Whether it was a good coin. We might have a 10-point plan and we might say, hey, this coin passed at 9.7. This coin is in, but it only got in at 2.4. Whereas the negative coins, the coins that have gotten negative plans, negative equity in our mindset, they just don’t get on the exchange.
We have a very large number of coins at the moment. We want to remain in that space, be the leader. That means that clearly, we’re not going to get it right all the time because we make mistakes and actually, so do the some of the honest and reliable coin generators. Their plans might not just happen, so they get the benefit of the doubt for a while.
As long as we see that they’re not doing something deliberately to disrupt the market or just to take money, then we’ll support them until they get their business model right. But we’re very focused on a coin listing to us is actually a business partnership. We’re not just going to throw coins up there.
I think 2018 is the year of reckoning, wherein 2017, pretty much anything got listed anywhere. It didn’t really matter how functional the coin was or whether it was legitimate or not. So, it’s really cool to see the trend in exchanges making a stance against that because if the ax falls, it doesn’t fall on the anonymous coin team that could be in Switzerland and Ethiopia. It’s falling on the CEOs and the exchange teams that are allowing access.
People come to us and they say, hey, I haven’t got my money. You’re the exchange. I go, well actually, the coin that we listed, I’m afraid the wallet’s faulty or they didn’t do this, or they ran away. People don’t care. They’re relying on us. That’s why Cryptopia has to be a business partner with each and every user, not just a provider of some coin listings. That would be unethical.
Absolutely, and it’s good to hear. Speaking of regulations, how do you think that’s going to evolve for exchanges, especially being out of New Zealand?
I welcome a regulatory intervention for many reasons. The primary one is that as soon as the regulators start imposing their will and taking notice, it means that it’s a genuine opportunity. They don’t waste their time on something that’s not going to affect global economies or our economy. For example, the New Zealand regulators, we’re working and we’re working with them because they recognize that somebody has got to work with them to tell them what’s going on.
The other side of the fence, that’s us. We have to work with them to say, you can’t do that because it won’t work in this environment. So, working with regulators is critical, in my opinion, and we’re doing that very well. Regulation has to come.
It was just announced in New Zealand a few days ago that we’re going to start, this is unrelated to coins, collecting GST, which is our equivalent of your local taxes, on online purchases. So, typically anything up to $400 that you buy online from Amazon, for example, in New Zealand, you wouldn’t pay tax on and they’re changing that. They’re taking the same view with coins. So, the government is saying, how do we tax revenue? When do we tax revenue? What should it look like? How do we make it fair for you, the exchange and how do we make it fair and manageable by the consumers who may have to declare a capital gain if they’re going, for instance, as an equity or a property as pure speculative fun like betting? And if that’s the case, when should we do this? Should we backdate all that stuff?
Every country is going through this and some have jumped in and made decisions that they’ve had to backpedal on. They were a little bit hasty. In New Zealand, in particular, we have a great relationship with the regulators and all the powers that be, right down to the banks, and are all looking at the space saying, you know what? We don’t quite know what to do, but let’s start doing something and I welcome it.
And the more understanding and control we have on these things at this early stage these next few years, the neater and cleaner will be over the next few years. Just as banking has become very stabilized through regulations, so will this crypto business, whatever it ends up looking like.
New Zealand has its advantages because a smaller population could make building direct relationships with regulating authorities easier. Tim Draper, for example, is investing in Papua New Guinea to try and make this whole digital citizenship country. The Binance guys just moved over to Malta. The global landscape just opened up, and governments will have to start offering distinct advantages to attract companies that could hypothetically set up virtually anywhere.
That’s great because that’s exactly what online trading is about. It’s online and it’s global. We have to join the global party, but we better start from a position of understanding and strength in our own environment. Make sure we have our own stuff together before we start yelling about what someone else should do.
Yeah, absolutely. Shifting gears a little bit, what do you think about decentralized exchanges and how they’re going to affect the whole exchange thing?
The quick and easy answer to that is it will definitely affect the global exchange market. It will definitely affect FinTech because if people who are regular investors and that’s people with mom and pops with a few dollars, right up to institutional investors, if they can see a way of generating revenue and it’s safe, they’re going to move there. They’re not going to discard their other investment opportunities and they’re not going to discard regular exchange-traded equities or working on the stock exchange. But there’s a space here that we haven’t quite worked out who that’s going to work for or how, but the more we regulate, the more we make the tools visible.
The stronger we look to the market and the more professional we look. That doesn’t necessarily mean just wearing a suit into a meeting, but the more gravitas we have behind those discussions demonstrating that we’ve done on the work and that we’ve got smart people here and the technology’s good. We’re ready to come and meet and talk equitably to investors and traditional investment houses. Then there will be a way that they join up. There’s no doubt about it. I mean, it can’t be helped.
How about the lightning network and atomic swaps where you could pretty much exchange peer to peer. You could trade Litecoin for Ethereum directly in one single transaction without an exchange. Centralized exchanges have their benefits, like for example, there’s someone you can knock on their door and say where’d my money go? I need customer support. So, there are advantages there, but then the advantages of a decentralized exchange are just the efficiency. I’m wondering how is that viewed for the centralized exchange world?
I don’t want people to take away my income opportunity. We’re building a business. We would argue, and I think it could be demonstrated to date until the blockchain comes up with some technical solutions. We’re building a trust environment and we are taking on, at considerable cost, the responsibility for providing the trust. First, it’s a coin that we like and here are the reasons. We’ve done the due diligence on your behalf. We allow the transactions to take place and here’s how we regulate, manage and deliver that transaction and manage the wallet relationships.
Cryptopia’s Coin Information display
That’s a role we take on. So, if you trade with a centralized exchange, you’ve got a whole lot of advantages that you don’t have by trading peer to peer. It’s fairly obvious what a peer to peer relationship looks like. If that’s on a personal level, that risk is much greater. If it’s on a more corporate structured level, I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I think we’ve got a long way to go before we could move from centralized exchanges to peer to peer simply because there’s going to have to be some regulation around it. How would the regulators engage in that space? Who are they engaging with? Every single person who wants to trade?
At the moment, they can deal with an exchange that has potentially 2,000,000 to 10,000,000 customers. That’s not easy for a regulator or a tax authority. So, there’s the regular regulatory component. That’s got to be there. Then there’s the trust management and then there are just a few more technical issues that I think have yet to evolve.
It all comes down to running a business. It takes money and capital to get all these users you want to get. If the technology works, that’s great, but onboarding users take resources. How do these projects plan on doing that? It’s just a missing component of every single white paper that tries to go after that who isn’t trying to build a centralized business to oversee it.
I think philanthropy is wonderful and when people are talking about decentralization. It’s a great idea and it’s philanthropic and it would be wonderful if the world could work like that. But there’s never been a business model that has worked without generating revenue. There isn’t one. Everyone’s tried, but you can’t name one that doesn’t have to generate revenue at some point or another.
Even if that revenue is simply generated to make the action happen, the hardware, the software, the bandwidth, someone’s got to pay. So, if you’re decentralizing, how do you get paid? How do you police it? How do you manage it? Why not stick to a model that works? And it’s not just about centralized coin exchanges. It’s not just about front-end institutions. This is a model that’s worked since the first inhabitants of Earth swapped a bean for a stick or can I give you my dinosaur to cook while I bring you a giraffe? I don’t know, but you can’t have a society without an exchange happening of some value in exchange.
Even if I go to a coffee bar with you, here’s the simplest thing. I would say, hey, I’ll meet you for coffee, on me I might pay for the coffee, but guess what? We’ve sat down and exchanged information. I’ve gotten something out of it. How do you do stuff without exchanging value?
It’s push and pull between advancing technology and proving the model works but then what’s the incentive to run it and popularize it because you’ve got that whole chicken and egg problem. We need a bunch of users for this to work efficiently, but we’re not going to make any money doing it. Hopefully, we’ll see how things play out in the next couple of months or years or decades.
I’m down for decades and a lot of failures. We’ll be there watching them saying we’ll help you if we can and hey, go and play guys, but come back here when it doesn’t work because we are going to be here.
What are your thoughts on Bitcoin dominance in general compared to all the other coins out in 2018? So, what does a cryptocurrency landscape look like if Bitcoin happens to fall down to, let’s say, 15\% or 10\% of the market?
Does Bitcoin really dominate or is it just big? If you look at the exchanges and watch the traffic, can you see as much traffic taking place and as much interest in the CoinCash or 21 Million or Kenya or any of these things? They’re all there and people are trading them for various reasons. Mom and pops are going to be doing this to buy a new car.
Someone else purely looking as a store of wealth and other people are looking to dominate a market. So, I’m not sure that you could say Bitcoin dominates. It might be the largest store of wealth at the moment. Does it dominate people’s thinking? I’m not sure about that. If you’re a coin developer, it’s your coin that’s dominant in your mind and you’ll go after a particular vertical, even a geographic market. So, you have the potential to develop your store or your story within that business scope.
Why does Bitcoin dominate? Simply because it was seen as an opportunity? Is it dominated because the people who trade in Bitcoin put so much faith in it being a store of wealth or an opportunity for capital gain? But a lot of those people have run away. That’s why it’s not $20,000 at the moment. It’s just trading between 8,000 and 10,000 in there. So, it stabilized. So, what if it fell over? Some people will lose money.
It’s not going to change the blockchain, it’s not going to change our thinking about cryptocurrencies. It’s not going to change Cryptopia’s approach to the market. It might dominate in volume. I’m not sure it’s the dominant force supporting cryptocurrencies.
I see what you’re saying. It might just be a dominance of user acquisition because there’s a larger chance they heard of Bitcoin instead of Ethereum if they have heard of cryptocurrency at all. So, it’s like the gateway crypto.
Take care that people aren’t saying Bitcoin just like a Hoover, the vacuum cleaner. Every vacuum cleaner for 20 years was called a Hoover. That was the dominant brand. Hey, I’m going to Hoover the floor. What they meant was I’m going to get my vacuum cleaner of which there are 80,000 different makes out there now and they’re going to vacuum the floor, but they just called it a Hoover. So, I trade in Bitcoin.
I’ll bet you someone who says, yeah, I trade Bitcoin, he’s only saying bitcoin because he knows or she knows that people understand that you’re referring to a cryptocurrency. If you say to someone I trade in Clearpoll or CoinMedic3, they have no clue what you’re talking about. They go what is that? Oh, it’s Bitcoin. Oh, I get it. If you went home to your mom and dad and they asked what are you doing? You’d say, oh yeah, I’m trading cryptocurrency. They’d go, oh? What’s what? You’d go, Bitcoin. They go, oh, that thing.
Bitcoin Cash is competing to be known as the Bitcoin for a reason. In the next four or five years, there are millions of people that haven’t even heard of crypto that would probably receive a lot of benefits from being onboarded into the cryptocurrency world. I’m not really sure how what they get onboarded to first matters immediately, but I know it plays a substantial role for a lot of people.
It’s an initiator. It’s a keyword that attracts them to the space that we’re in. It’s simply because it’s got brand dominance in the public persona. If you say a Bitcoin, most people know you’re talking about that strange online thing that no one understands and there are a few other coins, but we don’t know what their name is. As soon as they hit an exchange, if they really want to try it, they’re going to look at the next one down and say oh, I didn’t know that existed. They’ll make their way right to the bottom of the 2,000 list.
So, I really don’t think we should worry too much about dominance or anything that’s measured in that way in the space because the variables that change our value perception on any of these products is a mystery to everyone. A rumor can cause change overnight and things like that have happened. Guess what? They also happen in traditional exchanges.
Go to the London stock exchange and you’ll see a piece in the paper tomorrow that prices rocketed or have fallen over the next day because the public is there. The public is there late, remember. If you see it in the news, it has already happened. That’s the same thing for this.
So, what are your favorite projects out right now?
It has to be blockchain focused. I mean, coins seem to be a tool that are being used to raise capital, raise awareness, create hysteria over or some fun. Some of them, and I believe it’s very few of them, I wouldn’t like to statistically put a number on that, but I think it’s very, very few have actually got a basis of a typical good investment. Is company strong behind it? Do they have good ethics? Why are they doing this? What’s it for? Or is it just to raise money?
When they’ve got money they can go, oh, look how much money we’ve got. Let’s do something. That’s not the way to grow a business. Somebody has to have a good story that’s technically supported. It has to have social value these days. And that means is it good for mankind? Is it going to save the planet? Will it do something? Create manufacturing? Whatever it is.
Hey, I’m not a philanthropist. I’m not saying you’ve got to do something to save the planet. But the youth of today are much more conscious about anything we/they do is about social conscience and social values and responsibility. So, for me, any of those projects, whether they be blockchain based or coin based that do something more than just making money for a bunch of guys, so they can go buy a Lamborghini, gets more of a look and support from us than the others.
There are ways of going and creating wealth for yourself than preying on opportunities that exist simply because exchanges listed them. So, we’re very careful about that. So, I wouldn’t like to say at this stage, we have anyone in particular. We do have some businesses we’re looking at, but they all are very well rounded in terms of their sales pitch. It’s ethical, it’s got a good background.
They have strong management, a history. They’re well-funded already. They’re not just grabbing money to then decide what they’ll do with it.
Well said. The one point you made about how these projects need to be ethical and how that impacts those business models because again, you tap into to the same vein of projects that are looking to substantially change industries that had been stifled by inefficiencies or corruption.
It stretches a long way. If you find a solution that bugs business and usually if it bugs a business, it bugs and effects people, consumers, in some way. That might just be, where it’s blockchain related, securities and tracking things to make this whole trust environment that we live in. The point is we say we can trust but we can’t trust.
Everything we do is about trust. We get lawyers to look after our trust issues and we shake hands and we still wonder whether it’s a deal. So, solving trust issues globally is probably one of the biggest benefits to mankind because once we solve the trust issue, you can then be positive or confident that something that you want to happen and agreed to happen is actually going to happen. If it doesn’t happen, it’s not just about the broken trust. It’s then about the finances involved before you got there.
That’s all gone. The future has all gone around that business model. So, trust management in blockchain and around coins and around exchanges, decentralized exchanges, is probably the biggest thing we have to deal with. Which takes me back to my core development program right now, which is developing a trustworthy exchange.
Make it clear, unambiguous. Make it reliable, deliver what we said we were going to do.
What does a day in the life of Alan Booth look like? What do you do for fun when you’re not doing exchange type things? If there’s even time for fun.
If you’re running an exchange, it’s 26 hours a day to run an exchange. If you can squeeze another hour in, you might find some fun. This is probably my last employment opportunity. I’m in my 60’s. I’ve spent 50 years being an entrepreneur and an arm waver. Wave your arms and see who’s taking notice and make something happen.
So, fun for me is actually the exploitation of a business opportunity. I go to bed hoping that I wake up in the night with an idea to scribble on the pad. I come to work a very early. I’m up at 5 am. I get here at 7 am if I can with the work already done. I don’t want to arrive at work and look at emails. If you’re looking at email and other stuff, it’s other people’s requests on your time. I’m going to arrive here being creative.
I want to arrive every day going, I’ve got nothing to do except be creative and compel all of my employees and partners to support that creativity and bring their own creativity to it. So, you couldn’t have more fun than that, could you? What else is there? Just to make stuff and see people get excited and give them the opportunity.
But when I’m outside of this, hey, I liked to fly light aircrafts. I ride fast motorbikes. I do guy stuff, and when I’m not doing guy stuff, I’m at home helping my wife in the garden. Just an ordinary guy. Most of my daylight waking hours is about being that global entrepreneur with regard to this huge global opportunity which is let’s change the world.
It’s like moving from coal to steam, steam to mechanization, mechanization to electronics, and now we move into the digital age and we’re in it. What a fantastic place to be.
So, how exactly do you do that? Do you just wake up earlier and just get everything done at 5:00 AM?
There’s never enough time in the day. What it is, it’s being super critical about what’s actually important. If you open your email when you get to work, I will guarantee that you will sit there procrastinating and jump between emails. Most people don’t work from the top to the bottom or the bottom to the top. You’re a little bit selective, so already you failed to do what people expect you to. Email and inbound inquiry are other people’s expectations of how to use your time.
They’re imposing their requirements on you. So, you’ve already allowed yourself to be managed by outside rules. You’ve got to arrive at your office with nothing that interferes with the creative process of why am I at this office? Why did I come here? I came here to understand what we’ve got. So, that’s a constant job. To work with the clever people that you have employed. I have a major role in employment and myself. Only employ smarter people than yourself, only. Because if you’re employing people that aren’t smarter than you, you’re going to have to tell them what to do and you don’t have time for that.
Now, employing people smarter than yourself, for me, that sets the bar quite low, that’s easy, so I get really good pickings. But, generally speaking, you need to employ the best people and get them going and then you’ll be so busy running around trying to keep up with him, not them keeping up with you, that you actually have no time for all that outside noise. You’ve got to impose on the world what you want, not the world imposing on you what they want. Turn it around.
Every time I have a conversation with somebody, it’s about what I want, in the nicest possible way. We will listen to inbounds but we already have a path to follow. If you start following other people’s paths, you’re not going to get where you want to go.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been a business mentor for probably 20 years.
Mentoring basically new CEOs. New CEOs, it’s the loneliest job in the world because it might be your first CEO job, so you can’t talk down because those people below you expect you to be the boss, so you can’t ask them. You can’t talk up because you’re the CEO. It’s no good asking the board, they’re looking down at you. You can’t talk sideways because they’re your competitors. So, the first year or two as a new CEO is the loneliest place on the planet.
So, what you have to do is be entirely focused on what you need to get done and that is by changing what you used to do before you became a CEO or a boss. What you used to do is respond to every bit of noise that came at you and it filled your day up until you went nutty.
Thank you! Cryptopia CEO Alan Booth on the Cryptocurrency Exchange Realm
CoinCentral's owners, writers, and/or guest post authors may or may not have a vested interest in any of the above projects and businesses. None of the content on CoinCentral is investment advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified financial planner.

Alex Moskov

Alex is the Editor-in-Chief of CoinCentral. Alex also advises blockchain startups, enterprise organizations, and ICOs on content strategy, marketing, and business development. He also regrets not buying more Bitcoin back in 2012, just like you.
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Wealth Formula Episode 175: Cryptocurrency and Asymmetric Risk with Teeka Tiwari

Wealth Formula Episode 175: Cryptocurrency and Asymmetric Risk with Teeka Tiwari

Catch the full episode: https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/175-cryptocurrency-and-asymmetric-risk-with-teeka-tiwari/
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is no stranger to the show. He’s a guy who grew up in foster care and came over the US at the age of 16 with just 150 bucks in his pocket and the clothes on his back. And then by the age of 18 becomes the youngest employee at Lehman Brothers. By 20 he becomes the youngest vice president in Lehman history. Later in his career he goes on to launch successful hedge fund and lived the Wall Street dream. I mean he’s known on Wall Street as the guy who’s made a fortune on what is known as asymmetric risk which is what we’re going to talk about in quite a bit and for the rest of us, for many of us that is, he is best known for being the editor of the Palm Beach confidential newsletter which focuses on digital currencies and I am a subscriber to this by the way. Teeka, welcome back to Wealth Formula Podcast, Teeka Tiwari.
Teeka: Thanks Buck. It’s a pleasure to be here and thank you for having me.
Buck: Yeah so you know you were on not too long ago and some people are listening to the stuff about cannabis and they’re probably thinking to themselves, why is this guy talking about cannabis and digital currencies like what is his specialty? In fact the way I’m thinking about this there’s one main thing that they have in common, they’re both in this area that you call and we call asymmetric risk which is really your thing. Discuss what that means and if you would how have you applied it to your own growth and ultimately to your own wealth.
Teeka: So before I get into asymmetric risk I want to talk about how I discovered asymmetric risk and how I changed the way that I yeah. So when I was in my 20s I developed a lot of wealth by taking massive risk in the stock options and commodities market. And I would bet huge positions. And then that all came to an end in the late 90s when I was on the wrong side of a series of trades that were triggered by the Asian financial crisis which ultimately compelled me to file for bankruptcy. And so I had lost about ten years of wealth creation which was considerable at the time. And what I learned was that I had to change my approach that I couldn’t get it all every single time otherwise I would never get off this boom-and-bust merry-go-round. So what I realized was is that I would I would build the portfolio of somewhat safer more income oriented investments and then I would focus on these ideas that are called asymmetric risk trade. So what’s an asymmetric risk trade? An asymmetric risk trade is where you can take a relatively trivial sum of money and if the idea doesn’t work out it doesn’t impact your net your net worth or your day-to-day lifestyle in any way shape or form. But the asymmetric part of it is is that if it does work out it can absolutely move the needle on your net worth. So an example of that would be something like neo which I recommended at around 12 cents that ended up going up to about a hundred and sixty one dollars so that’s something that you could have put a thousand dollars in and turn it into over a million dollars. That’s a classic asymmetric trade. So what I what I tell my readers is you can’t build your whole portfolio around high-risk asymmetric trades. But if you take let’s say five to ten percent of your liquid net worth and allocate it to these types of situations in a and one of the things I talk about is using uniform position sizing, what you put yourself in the position to do is absolutely grow your network sometimes three four five six X without putting your current lifestyle at risk and it is a sweet spot of wealth creation that I’ve created and popularized now for several years that has not only transformed my financial life but the financial life of many of my readers.
Buck: So as you know Teeka my group the Wealth Formula Group in general I mean there’s a lot of people who are well-to-do they’re you know accredited investors they have you know typically probably more money to invest than others they’re you know and I say this because there is a little bit of a difference there when it comes to somebody who’s barely getting by living check to check, that there is an opportunity in your portfolio to say okay what percentage of this portfolio could I put in that I mean listen if I lose it no big deal I mean I won’t be happy about it but it won’t hurt me that much on the other hand this could explode. Now when you look at it from the perspective of somebody who’s got a fair amount of money and link who’s investing you know several hundred thousand dollars a year or maybe a million dollars or something like that like what do you think is a reasonable amount of a portfolio? Like I know for example that even universities are getting into this and they’re looking at hey maybe you know 1/2 of 1% or something like that I mean I know you’re not in the business of giving financial advice but I’m just curious kind of what your approach would be in terms of allocation.
Teeka: So again generally speaking I would say 5 to 10% of your liquid net worth. So let’s say you’ve got a business that kicks out a million a year that you have to allocate for your investment 50 to $100,000. Definitely nobody likes to lose 50 or a hundred thousand dollars but it’s not going to have a material impact on your lifestyle but if you invest 50 to $100,000 and these asymmetric bets pay off you’re talking about five six seven eight ten twelve million dollars in returns on what is a relatively tiny investment relative to your net worth and that is the beauty of this approach.
Buck: Yeah and and I’m glad you said that because that’s exactly kind of where I’m at sort of lingering between five and ten percent you know and for me you know I I kind of put this in there about you know I kind of put this in that area with startups right I’m not gonna I’m not gonna have a separate category just for digital currencies but anything that is super high risk and high reward and I’m sitting about five or ten percent.
Teeka: That all goes into the same bucket so that’s right that for everybody it’s not just oh this is crypto currencies five to ten percent and startups is five to ten percent. No all go into the same bucket is asymmetric risk.
Buck: Yeah now okay so we kind of got ahead of ourselves and you know you haven’t been on the show talking about crypto currency in a fair amount of time we have a lot more new listeners now so for those who know very little about cryptocurrency but they’re smart they’re sophisticated say they’re a group of you know I know worth investors you’re talking to you they’ve not heard about this how do you explain this in the most efficient way possible and what the significance of it is?
Teeka: Okay so that’s a really big question.
Buck: Yeah no I don’t but I bet you’ve answered it a few times.
Teeka: I’m gonna take a shot at it. So listen as a wealthy investor myself why would I want to bother with cryptocurrency? I’m already rich why do I want to mess around with this? So I’m gonna answer it from that perspective. One it’s always nice to make more money. But two the bigger reason is, is what I want people to understand especially wealthy investors is that it’s very rare to invest at the beginning of a brand-new asset class very very rare right it’s brand-new asset classes though just don’t come about. Digital currency is a brand-new asset class that has legs. So why does it have legs? It has legs because we have never had an asset class that is completely non correlated with the business cycle. It’s never existed before. Every asset class in the world is somehow tied to the business cycle gold, industrial, metals, currencies, stocks, bonds, they’re all tied to the business cycle in one way shape or form things like Bitcoin are not so why why does that make it valuable it makes it valuable because if you are pension fund you’re allocating capital across traditional and non-traditional assets you still have this problem of deep correlation right the business cycle falls apart and you’re taking hits across the board. So there have been studies that have shown just with a small allocation of Bitcoin anywhere from one to five percent across the portfolio even though Bitcoin is wildly volatile because it is not correlated and not tied to the business cycle it actually reduces your overall volatility and your overall risk in your portfolio and that is incredibly valuable. So just from a high level portfolio construction standpoint you will see the world’s hedge funds, pension funds, massive allocators of capital start to move tiny slivers of their money into things like Bitcoin and we’re talking tiny slivers of an 80 trillion dollar pie right it’s in real terms its enormous money in relative terms relative to what they have under management it’s a small amount but when you’re coming off a base where the whole markets only worth 300 billion it doesn’t take much to move the market. So that’s from the high level that’s why you must have some cryptocurrency. And then the next level beyond that is that mankind has never had an asset there’s never been an asset we’re a stronger man couldn’t take it from a weaker man. So whether it was the caveman knocking one guy over the head for his shells or the government coming in in Venezuela and confiscating money or the Argentinian government saying oh we’re having a holiday and taking all your assets from the bank something Brazil has done on multiple occasions. You know the everyday person has not had this ability to hold an asset that has been beyond the confiscationability of a government so something like Bitcoin and digital currency if you are smart and how you buy it if you don’t talk about it you buy quietly and you store it appropriately it is absolutely impossible short of somebody putting a literally putting a gun next to your head for them to take that asset from you and that is remarkable because even if you’ve got a million dollars in gold and you somehow manage to hide it how are you gonna travel the world with a million dollars in gold how are you gonna spend a million dollars in gold you just gonna go to the store and break a piece off with a piece of pliers you just can’t do that the beauty of digital currency is you can walk around with a thumb drive that big with a billion dollars in it and nobody knows and let’s say hey oh I don’t want to keep a billion in Bitcoin I want to do it in a stable coin fine put it in a stable coin. But this idea this portability of money and this complete ownership of an asset that nobody else has any ability to take from you that is valuable that is incredibly valuable.
Buck: So let me ask you a what may seem like a very basic simple question but I think it’s worth asking. So why is it so volatile why is Bitcoin Ethereum for example why these are the major the two biggest by market cap why are they so volatile and you know to the extent that they are uncorrelated do you see that as a function of the size of the market cap or is it something else inherent about digital currencies that makes it this volatile?
Teeka: I think it’s both. One they’re relatively small so if for instance if you look at Microsoft in its early days it was a crazy volatile stock up 40% down 40% down 30% going through bear markets that lasted two years wrecking billions of dollars in value you look at the early days of Microsoft from the 80s into the mid 90s the stock was all over the place and then as the stock got bigger and more mature of course volatility tamp down so you will see that. So what I say with volatility is that welcomed that volatility without it the opportunity to make enormous amounts of money off a small amount of money won’t exist. At some point Bitcoin and the theorem will move to this more blue chip status where maybe you make eight percent a year or six percent a year or something or something like that thank goodness we’re not there yet. The other side of it is is that there you know the markets that are built around trading these are completely unregulated. They’re wild. And there’s all types of crazy manipulation that goes on in the market you have some Bitcoin whale let’s sell a thousand coins and scare the market down and then let’s go buy back 2000 coins it’s the Wild West and somebody a skeptic might say well why do I want to buy now why don’t I buy when the market calms down because when you buy when the market calms down and it’s moved to this very highly regulated very low volatility asset it could have ten x between now and then. So yes there is volatility but I believe if you position size rationally you will be well rewarded for that moment for that volatility and that uncertainty.
Buck: So admittedly I was skeptical of cryptocurrency early on and you know I finally did get in and my timing was actually really good it was a fall early fall 2017 right before a massive bull run. And that of course was followed by what has been called crypto winter. So the question is, is winter over because it sure seems like it’s an awful long thawing period I mean no we seem like to have gotten there but there’s a stall is it over or do you still see some you know rocky shores ahead before there’s a you know big move potentially to all-time highs?
Teeka: Well no crypto winter was over in April. I put out a report talking about that and I pinpointed when that happened it happened when Bitcoin broke its downtrend line. So if you go back and if you look at each of the so-called crypto winters or horrible bear markets that have been in the space Bitcoin will always lead the market first always and then the altcoins play catch up right so it feels worse than it is right now because the alt coins got crushed and many of them have stayed crushed they haven’t come back that’s probably the most popular question I get take okay bitcoins up and it’s you know been up as much as 400 percent this year but why aren’t the old coins moving and my answer is because it’s not yet time. If you look back at the data generally there is at least a six-month time lag between the time Bitcoin breaks its downtrend line and the time that the alt coins move higher. So that that next stage we’ll be entering to in about October and you’ll see a percolation in the alt coins and they’ll start playing catch-up.
Buck: Does that also correlate Teeka with Bitcoin like an all-time high for Bitcoin though? I mean I mean obviously Bitcoin has recovered substantially we’re like you know three four hundred percent up from you know where we were when Bitcoin was at you know three thousand. The question I have is and I have not looked at this history closely even though there’s this recovery, do you have to start approaching all-time highs for those alts to really make their move is that what you’ve seen historically?
Teeka: No you look back when they all started playing catch up in 2016 Bitcoin was starting to move higher and then going into 2017 and then the alts really didn’t start kicking in until around May and that’s when they started moving and eventually the alts outpaced the type of action that was going on with bitcoins. So if we look back at how the altcoins move generally what happens is you have a new series of buyers that come into the market and they’re all centered around Bitcoin. And that’s happening right now. Kelly Lafleur just announced from backed that they’re gonna have physically backed futures have been approved September 23rd I believe is the date that they’re actually gonna start trading. So this brings in a whole new group of traders a whole new group of investors and then so they start getting their feet with Bitcoin and all of a sudden they’re there they might not even know anything about alt coins Buck that that’s the thing right for a lot of people out there to them when they think digital currency the only thing they really think of is Bitcoin.
Buck: So as the alt coins are just anything that’s not Bitcoin for anybody what we keep talking about so anything Ethereum, any other and any other token that’s not Bitcoin generally it’s called an altcoin.
Teeka: Right so as they come in they start getting exposed to these other coins and then they start playing with them and they start investing and then they start trading with them and all of a sudden people look at look at Bitcoin and they look at something else it’s a little bit smaller and they say okay let’s let’s play around here and then you start seeing this broadening of the rally.
Buck: So you think that this time around though specifically I know you you you’re part of your thesis is that this time around may be different because you know bigger money institutional money, but one of the things that we’ve really looked at or you’ve looked at and talked about is you know one of the limitations to big money coming into this stuff is custodianship but the altcoins a lot of the old coins most of them are not gonna have that kind of infrastructure so does that I mean just playing devil’s advocate does that then say well they may just stick to whatever they can buy on Coinbase and Bakkt.
Teeka: Well they have well these coins most of the all coins are ERC 20 coins so in terms of having the infrastructure as long as you can support ERC 20 you can support hundreds of coins that currently trade and so if you look at what Bakkt is doing they’re gonna be supporting Bitcoin first and then they’re going to be supporting Ethereum. So if they support a theory they will naturally support every other ERC20 that’s out there and remember companies like Bakkt they’re in the business of incentivizing trading because they get paid for everything that that goes through their network. So it would be odd to imagine that they’re only going to limit their entire business models with just the trading of Bitcoin it doesn’t make any sense. If you look at what they’ve done in the securities market they haven’t just limited themselves to the trading of the S&P 500 they trade everything so I do think that liquidity will trickle down into the whole market and of course the ERC 20 coins I think will be the first to get the most amount of liquidity because it will be the easiest to support from from a back end technology standpoint. The other thing I want to mention is that another driver of the alt coins would be what I believe will be a proliferation of securitization products. So ETF’s different types of futures I see a world I’ve gotta believe within the next 12 months we will see an ETF that will give us the ability to own 20 30 40 maybe 50 coins in one ETF that trades or one type of security that trades maybe it’s a coin put out by back and says okay you buy this coin and you’ve got the top hundred altcoins exposure to the top hundred alt coins.
Buck: Right and then you know I know a lot of people bring do you talk about the ETF for Bitcoin and this has been sort of bounce back but yeah you know we’re delayed with the SEC several times do you really think of that as a big deal compared to some of the other movements that you you mentioned Bakkt and I think there’s LedgerX things like that where that are allowing for institutional buyers to dissipate is an etf really make much of a difference in your view?
Teeka: I think an ETF is important but I think the SEC is becoming less important in that process and I’ll tell you why. Several very large brokerage firms from the Fidelity to eTrade to TD Ameritrade have announced that they want to offer Bitcoin trading to their users. So I’m talking about a system where you can log in click on a button on your Fidelity account and you can start trading Bitcoin the way you with the sp500. Once that comes out let’s assume it comes out this year which they’ve talked about but they want to do it this year but we’ll see everything seems to run a little slower than people think. But if that that comes out this year and something like 15 to 20 million people can now trade Bitcoin directly from their brokerage accounts to me it makes an ETF a foregone conclusion because the SEC has no reason now to stand in the way of it. And that’s what I’m think that they’re waiting for Buck the SEC is not known for blazing a trail the SEC is not known for moving ahead of the market. So if they can look and say well Fidelity is offering it TD Ameritrade is offering it Schwab is offering it we are asses covered if we approve an ETF I think it’s really a CYA problem with the SEC they don’t want to be the first to make this move and let’s say there’s a problem with it and everybody blames the SEC.
Buck: You know there is this product data that I know of maybe you could talk about this because then you know in the context of an ETF and being able to buy Bitcoin easily you know.
Teeka: I look at the there’s a grayscale Bitcoin trust gbtc which is publicly traded I mean what’s the difference what am I missing there I mean that’s a closed-end fund that has limited liquidity and sometimes trade at a hundred percent premium.
Buck: Yeah okay so lots of things happening in the spaces you mentioned and one of the things that I think that that you said that is very seems very clearly true whether or not what you know whether or not you believe there’s gonna be another bull market is there’s a ton of of Technology improvements and infrastructure and all these things that are going on and price mean a lot more by the way then back in 2017 when prices were off the charts so within that context what are you know say they the one or two things that are you most excited about in the space that gives you the greatest confidence that this is you know this is the the new you know the new dot-com era I guess after the rebels fell as you mentioned before offline and you know the rise of the Amazons and the apples in the crypto world.
Teeka: I’ll tell you why it’s because I’m finally seeing major corporations real corporations doing partnerships with crypto companies not memorandums of understanding MOU’s are meaningless but real partnerships where they’re actually using the technology this is stuff i talked about a year ago. Eighteen and a half months ago I said like real companies are going to start coming into this space they’re gonna start partnering with some of these companies and start using the technology and it’s happening. I’m seeing real businesses like Barclays put up their own money to back certain platforms I was like for instance with trade finance. BMW putting up their own money for back in logistics. So this is a huge shift in in in the type of person that is getting involved in the marketplace. I’m seeing massive credit card processors get involved with tiny startups because they want to piggy back what’s going on and the markets that they’re opening up with with their with their applications. So this to me Buck is is such a difference maker right like if we came into 2019 and none of these deals were happening I would say I would be on here and I would say buck you know what the cake just isn’t baked yet man we just probably gotta wait another year. But when I start seeing very large very smart corporate players making strategic moves to align themselves to certain projects, you can’t ignore that. This is something you can’t ignore. And so this is what has me incredibly excited for this next phase that I see taking place in crypto.
Buck: You know one of the one things that you mentioned earlier and you’ve mentioned in the past which I agree with generally speaking is that you know some level of regulation is a good thing so that it becomes less of a manipulated market. So it becomes something that you know larger big money investors and institutional investors take an interest in because they don’t want to be in something that’s you know that’s that’s not legit. There is a negative a little bit to that and that some opportunities out there are you know start or you’re starting to get restricted in terms of American investors. You know one of the examples I can think of to me is one of what I’m probably one of the biggest things is Binance which is you know the number one trading platform in the world is now effectively you know saying US investors we’ll see you later we’re gonna build something you know sometime and we’re gonna call it you know Binance US and we’re gonna have a lot fewer tokens there what concerns me is an investor in some of the various digital currencies at that point is well how does that affect my liquidity as a US investor and I’m wondering how it is affecting your your portfolio?
Teeka: Okay so there’s a couple of things around that and I can’t advise people to do this I can only report on what some people are doing to get around this geofencing. They’re using Virtual Private Networks. With the use of a virtual private network can get access to any exchange in the world so long as they’re using a VPN that mimics a country that this exchange is allowed to operate in. So as far as I know Binance is not doing anything to prevent anybody from using a VPN so just want to get that out there.
Buck: Jut to interrupt there I mean that that in itself is a little tricky though right I mean isn’t it because then you’ve got to deal with you know US taxes and all that if you’re dealing…
Teeka: Well you always have to deal with US taxes no matter what whether you’re using a VPN or not.
Buck: So it wouldn’t be illegal technically to use Virtual Private Network to use Binance?
Teeka: For me as an individual would I be breaking any laws, I don’t think so but I’m not an attorney. Binance might be breaking some laws or but I don’t think that I would be but again this is something everybody has to make their own decision with. But the other side of this is that by Nance is putting together their own decks which is a decentralized exchange which will allow for peer-to-peer trading and I think you’ll see more of these types of decentralized exchanges which I’m a big fan of I hate the idea of centralized exchanges anyway. So there are some speed problems with decentralized exchanges but they’re getting ironed out and I think within in the future a lot of trading is going to move to peer-to-peer but you’re right it’s certainly a concern for now I would say the biggest solution that I have read about and again I can’t formally tell people to do this is to use a virtual private network.
Buck: The other question though I think as just as a follow-up on that Teeka is that okay so say you use a VPN but not everybody’s gonna do that you know probably most people aren’t gonna do that didn’t then there’s an issues just in terms of liquidity right or don’t you think that’s a problem anymore?
Teeka: I do think it’s a problem but I also rely on the greed factor of the participants in this market that they will figure out a solution because there’s too much money to be made for liquidity that wants to come into the market somebody will find a way to bring that liquidity into that okay so anyway so like you you know I believe that Bitcoin bull run is inevitable what do you think of anything what are you looking for that might trigger and I know you you’re saying already that we’re kind of in a bull market already but what triggers that sort of next level all-time high thing is there anything or do you think this is something that’s gonna be more of a gradual rise or organic than it was in 2017?
Teeka: Well there are several things which I’m gonna be talking about specifically I don’t really want to spill the beans on that here but I have an event coming up which I talk in more detail about a very specific event that I think will act as a massive catalyst. Outside of that I think this whole idea of I call it this kind of new narrative right among institutions where before two years ago three years ago they looked at Bitcoin and they said oh my gosh Bitcoin that’s for Gun Runners and pornographers where we we have no interest in Bitcoin. And now they’re starting to see Bitcoin as a way to eliminate this correlation risk in their portfolio. So I think that narrative will gain more ground in fact I’ve been invited to a conference in San Moritz with 500 top-tier investors and I will be putting forward that research that I’ve drawn together to that audience and really helping propagate that narrative because it is transformational if you manage a large pool of capital what you can do with your overall volatility and how you can adjust it lower through just a tiny amount of Bitcoin is absolutely remarkable. So I think that’s more of a slow burn Buck, but as that gains speed I mean can you just imagine just the amount of buying if pension funds say okay going forward half of 1% of all our assets are going to be in digital currency.
Buck: I mean in part of part of understanding that for people is to understand one of the the great things about Bitcoin in particular is that this is an asset with that is fixed to a certain number of Bitcoin that’ll ever be created so you know we’ve never really had a that kind of monetary thing before I mean to a certain extent gold is that way of course but even you know gold there’s always more gold every year a little bit more gold. This is a truly deflationary asset that really where you know you put more money in the pot you know each one of those bitcoins gonna be worth a lot more and that I can’t think of anything else that’s out there like that.
Teeka: I agree.
Buck: I know you’ve got you know the the Palm Beach Confidential Newsletter Teeka I just have to compliment you because I you know I have been a reader for a couple years it is one of the most comprehensive and thoughtful investment newsletters I’ve ever subscribed to. I mean it is totally the real deal and I appreciate that and one of the things that people can’t join any time and it opens and closes and I know that it is going to be opening up and you’re going to do a webinar coming up on that but can you talk a little bit about the newsletter and the event that’s coming up?
Teeka: Yeah sure so in the newsletter what I do is I will typically find one idea each month and give you a complete breakdown on the idea. And what I try to do I understand not everybody is a cryptocurrency enthusiastic of their currency investor and so what I try to do is write in a way that is easy to digest, easy to understand, not simplistic but very easy for the layperson to get their head around and to really understand the concept that we’re talking about. And I have not opened up Palm Beach confidential for any new members for this whole year, this is the first time that I’ve done that and the reason is, is I only open up Palm Beach confidential to new members when there’s an event that I think can have a massive impact on the broad market. So on September 18th at 8 p.m. I’m going to talk about one of these events and the last time this event took place you could literally take 500 dollars and turn it into five million dollars. There’s only a few times in the history of crypto where you have those types of windows of opportunity and so one of those windows of opportunity is about to open and so at this event I’m gonna explain what it is why it works and why it will absolutely happen this particular event will absolutely happen there’s nothing that can stop the event from taking place. And so I’m gonna share my five top coins, one of which I’ll give away for free during the webinar that I think have that ability to go from five hundred dollars literally into five million. So it’s an exciting time and I’m really kind of chomping at the bit to kind of get in front of everybody and talk about this research that I’ve discovered.
Buck: One last thing I want to point out is I get you know when we talk like this sometimes people get really skeptical they’re like yeah that sounds a little salesy Buck that’s not really kind of the usual thing that you’re talking about and I get it right. The reality is this is a situation this isn’t you know there are real people out there there are kids out there who’ve become multimillionaires by doing exactly this. And so it’s real, that’s why I’m interested.
Teeka: In my own investing I’ve seen a thousand dollar investment go to as much as 1.6 million dollars, ok so it’s real. The other thing I want to convey to everybody I don’t have to write newsletters anymore I don’t have to come on podcast I can sit on a beach all I want ok. So why do I do this I do this because moving the needle on somebody’s net worth maybe not this audience maybe maybe my broader audience it’s incredibly gratifying right helping people change their lives without putting their current lifestyle at risk that’s I mean if that’s my one legacy in this life could you ask for anything more Buck? Really it’s incredibly gratifying to be able to do that and we have this opportunity now and but this opportunity won’t last forever at some point this will be a multi trillion dollar asset class and the ability to make gains like that just won’t exist.
Buck: Teeka, as always it’s been a pleasure talking to you and thanks again for being on Wealth Formula Podcast.
Teeka: Thank you Buck.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
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Consensus Network EP35: Cryptocurrency and Asymmetric Risk with Teeka Tiwari

Catch the full episode: https://www.consensusnetwork.io/podcastepisodes/2019/9/8/ep35-cryptocurrency-and-asymmetric-risk-with-teeka-tiwari
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is no stranger to the show. He's a guy who grew up in foster care and came over the US at the age of 16 with just 150 bucks in his pocket and the clothes on his back. And then by the age of 18 becomes the youngest employee at Lehman Brothers. By 20 he becomes the youngest vice president in Lehman history. Later in his career he goes on to launch successful hedge fund and lived the Wall Street dream. I mean he's known on Wall Street as the guy who's made a fortune on what is known as asymmetric risk which is what we’re going to talk about in quite a bit and for the rest of us, for many of us that is, he is best known for being the editor of the Palm Beach confidential newsletter which focuses on digital currencies and I am a subscriber to this by the way. Teeka, welcome back to Wealth Formula Podcast, Teeka Tiwari.
Teeka: Thanks Buck. It’s a pleasure to be here and thank you for having me.
Buck: Yeah so you know you were on not too long ago and some people are listening to the stuff about cannabis and they're probably thinking to themselves, why is this guy talking about cannabis and digital currencies like what is his specialty? In fact the way I'm thinking about this there's one main thing that they have in common, they're both in this area that you call and we call asymmetric risk which is really your thing. Discuss what that means and if you would how have you applied it to your own growth and ultimately to your own wealth.
Teeka: So before I get into asymmetric risk I want to talk about how I discovered asymmetric risk and how I changed the way that I yeah. So when I was in my 20s I developed a lot of wealth by taking massive risk in the stock options and commodities market. And I would bet huge positions. And then that all came to an end in the late 90s when I was on the wrong side of a series of trades that were triggered by the Asian financial crisis which ultimately compelled me to file for bankruptcy. And so I had lost about ten years of wealth creation which was considerable at the time. And what I learned was that I had to change my approach that I couldn't get it all every single time otherwise I would never get off this boom-and-bust merry-go-round. So what I realized was is that I would I would build the portfolio of somewhat safer more income oriented investments and then I would focus on these ideas that are called asymmetric risk trade. So what's an asymmetric risk trade? An asymmetric risk trade is where you can take a relatively trivial sum of money and if the idea doesn't work out it doesn't impact your net your net worth or your day-to-day lifestyle in any way shape or form. But the asymmetric part of it is is that if it does work out it can absolutely move the needle on your net worth. So an example of that would be something like neo which I recommended at around 12 cents that ended up going up to about a hundred and sixty one dollars so that's something that you could have put a thousand dollars in and turn it into over a million dollars. That's a classic asymmetric trade. So what I what I tell my readers is you can't build your whole portfolio around high-risk asymmetric trades. But if you take let's say five to ten percent of your liquid net worth and allocate it to these types of situations in a and one of the things I talk about is using uniform position sizing, what you put yourself in the position to do is absolutely grow your network sometimes three four five six X without putting your current lifestyle at risk and it is a sweet spot of wealth creation that I've created and popularized now for several years that has not only transformed my financial life but the financial life of many of my readers.
Buck: So as you know Teeka my group the Wealth Formula Group in general I mean there's a lot of people who are well-to-do they're you know accredited investors they have you know typically probably more money to invest than others they're you know and I say this because there is a little bit of a difference there when it comes to somebody who's barely getting by living check to check, that there is an opportunity in your portfolio to say okay what percentage of this portfolio could I put in that I mean listen if I lose it no big deal I mean I won't be happy about it but it won't hurt me that much on the other hand this could explode. Now when you look at it from the perspective of somebody who's got a fair amount of money and link who's investing you know several hundred thousand dollars a year or maybe a million dollars or something like that like what do you think is a reasonable amount of a portfolio? Like I know for example that even universities are getting into this and they're looking at hey maybe you know 1/2 of 1% or something like that I mean I know you're not in the business of giving financial advice but I'm just curious kind of what your approach would be in terms of allocation.
Teeka: So again generally speaking I would say 5 to 10% of your liquid net worth. So let's say you've got a business that kicks out a million a year that you have to allocate for your investment 50 to $100,000. Definitely nobody likes to lose 50 or a hundred thousand dollars but it's not going to have a material impact on your lifestyle but if you invest 50 to $100,000 and these asymmetric bets pay off you're talking about five six seven eight ten twelve million dollars in returns on what is a relatively tiny investment relative to your net worth and that is the beauty of this approach.
Buck: Yeah and and I'm glad you said that because that's exactly kind of where I'm at sort of lingering between five and ten percent you know and for me you know I I kind of put this in there about you know I kind of put this in that area with startups right I'm not gonna I'm not gonna have a separate category just for digital currencies but anything that is super high risk and high reward and I'm sitting about five or ten percent.
Teeka: That all goes into the same bucket so that's right that for everybody it's not just oh this is crypto currencies five to ten percent and startups is five to ten percent. No all go into the same bucket is asymmetric risk.
Buck: Yeah now okay so we kind of got ahead of ourselves and you know you haven't been on the show talking about crypto currency in a fair amount of time we have a lot more new listeners now so for those who know very little about cryptocurrency but they're smart they're sophisticated say they're a group of you know I know worth investors you're talking to you they've not heard about this how do you explain this in the most efficient way possible and what the significance of it is?
Teeka: Okay so that's a really big question.
Buck: Yeah no I don't but I bet you've answered it a few times.
Teeka: I'm gonna take a shot at it. So listen as a wealthy investor myself why would I want to bother with cryptocurrency? I'm already rich why do I want to mess around with this? So I'm gonna answer it from that perspective. One it's always nice to make more money. But two the bigger reason is, is what I want people to understand especially wealthy investors is that it's very rare to invest at the beginning of a brand-new asset class very very rare right it's brand-new asset classes though just don't come about. Digital currency is a brand-new asset class that has legs. So why does it have legs? It has legs because we have never had an asset class that is completely non correlated with the business cycle. It's never existed before. Every asset class in the world is somehow tied to the business cycle gold, industrial, metals, currencies, stocks, bonds, they're all tied to the business cycle in one way shape or form things like Bitcoin are not so why why does that make it valuable it makes it valuable because if you are pension fund you're allocating capital across traditional and non-traditional assets you still have this problem of deep correlation right the business cycle falls apart and you're taking hits across the board. So there have been studies that have shown just with a small allocation of Bitcoin anywhere from one to five percent across the portfolio even though Bitcoin is wildly volatile because it is not correlated and not tied to the business cycle it actually reduces your overall volatility and your overall risk in your portfolio and that is incredibly valuable. So just from a high level portfolio construction standpoint you will see the world's hedge funds, pension funds, massive allocators of capital start to move tiny slivers of their money into things like Bitcoin and we're talking tiny slivers of an 80 trillion dollar pie right it's in real terms its enormous money in relative terms relative to what they have under management it's a small amount but when you're coming off a base where the whole markets only worth 300 billion it doesn't take much to move the market. So that's from the high level that's why you must have some cryptocurrency. And then the next level beyond that is that mankind has never had an asset there's never been an asset we're a stronger man couldn't take it from a weaker man. So whether it was the caveman knocking one guy over the head for his shells or the government coming in in Venezuela and confiscating money or the Argentinian government saying oh we're having a holiday and taking all your assets from the bank something Brazil has done on multiple occasions. You know the everyday person has not had this ability to hold an asset that has been beyond the confiscationability of a government so something like Bitcoin and digital currency if you are smart and how you buy it if you don't talk about it you buy quietly and you store it appropriately it is absolutely impossible short of somebody putting a literally putting a gun next to your head for them to take that asset from you and that is remarkable because even if you've got a million dollars in gold and you somehow manage to hide it how are you gonna travel the world with a million dollars in gold how are you gonna spend a million dollars in gold you just gonna go to the store and break a piece off with a piece of pliers you just can't do that the beauty of digital currency is you can walk around with a thumb drive that big with a billion dollars in it and nobody knows and let's say hey oh I don't want to keep a billion in Bitcoin I want to do it in a stable coin fine put it in a stable coin. But this idea this portability of money and this complete ownership of an asset that nobody else has any ability to take from you that is valuable that is incredibly valuable.
Buck: So let me ask you a what may seem like a very basic simple question but I think it's worth asking. So why is it so volatile why is Bitcoin Ethereum for example why these are the major the two biggest by market cap why are they so volatile and you know to the extent that they are uncorrelated do you see that as a function of the size of the market cap or is it something else inherent about digital currencies that makes it this volatile?
Teeka: I think it's both. One they're relatively small so if for instance if you look at Microsoft in its early days it was a crazy volatile stock up 40% down 40% down 30% going through bear markets that lasted two years wrecking billions of dollars in value you look at the early days of Microsoft from the 80s into the mid 90s the stock was all over the place and then as the stock got bigger and more mature of course volatility tamp down so you will see that. So what I say with volatility is that welcomed that volatility without it the opportunity to make enormous amounts of money off a small amount of money won't exist. At some point Bitcoin and the theorem will move to this more blue chip status where maybe you make eight percent a year or six percent a year or something or something like that thank goodness we're not there yet. The other side of it is is that there you know the markets that are built around trading these are completely unregulated. They're wild. And there's all types of crazy manipulation that goes on in the market you have some Bitcoin whale let's sell a thousand coins and scare the market down and then let's go buy back 2000 coins it's the Wild West and somebody a skeptic might say well why do I want to buy now why don't I buy when the market calms down because when you buy when the market calms down and it's moved to this very highly regulated very low volatility asset it could have ten x between now and then. So yes there is volatility but I believe if you position size rationally you will be well rewarded for that moment for that volatility and that uncertainty.
Buck: So admittedly I was skeptical of cryptocurrency early on and you know I finally did get in and my timing was actually really good it was a fall early fall 2017 right before a massive bull run. And that of course was followed by what has been called crypto winter. So the question is, is winter over because it sure seems like it's an awful long thawing period I mean no we seem like to have gotten there but there's a stall is it over or do you still see some you know rocky shores ahead before there's a you know big move potentially to all-time highs?
Teeka: Well no crypto winter was over in April. I put out a report talking about that and I pinpointed when that happened it happened when Bitcoin broke its downtrend line. So if you go back and if you look at each of the so-called crypto winters or horrible bear markets that have been in the space Bitcoin will always lead the market first always and then the altcoins play catch up right so it feels worse than it is right now because the alt coins got crushed and many of them have stayed crushed they haven't come back that’s probably the most popular question I get take okay bitcoins up and it's you know been up as much as 400 percent this year but why aren't the old coins moving and my answer is because it's not yet time. If you look back at the data generally there is at least a six-month time lag between the time Bitcoin breaks its downtrend line and the time that the alt coins move higher. So that that next stage we'll be entering to in about October and you'll see a percolation in the alt coins and they'll start playing catch-up.
Buck: Does that also correlate Teeka with Bitcoin like an all-time high for Bitcoin though? I mean I mean obviously Bitcoin has recovered substantially we're like you know three four hundred percent up from you know where we were when Bitcoin was at you know three thousand. The question I have is and I have not looked at this history closely even though there's this recovery, do you have to start approaching all-time highs for those alts to really make their move is that what you've seen historically?
Teeka: No you look back when they all started playing catch up in 2016 Bitcoin was starting to move higher and then going into 2017 and then the alts really didn't start kicking in until around May and that's when they started moving and eventually the alts outpaced the type of action that was going on with bitcoins. So if we look back at how the altcoins move generally what happens is you have a new series of buyers that come into the market and they're all centered around Bitcoin. And that's happening right now. Kelly Lafleur just announced from backed that they're gonna have physically backed futures have been approved September 23rd I believe is the date that they're actually gonna start trading. So this brings in a whole new group of traders a whole new group of investors and then so they start getting their feet with Bitcoin and all of a sudden they're there they might not even know anything about alt coins Buck that that's the thing right for a lot of people out there to them when they think digital currency the only thing they really think of is Bitcoin.
Buck: So as the alt coins are just anything that's not Bitcoin for anybody what we keep talking about so anything Ethereum, any other and any other token that's not Bitcoin generally it's called an altcoin.
Teeka: Right so as they come in they start getting exposed to these other coins and then they start playing with them and they start investing and then they start trading with them and all of a sudden people look at look at Bitcoin and they look at something else it's a little bit smaller and they say okay let's let's play around here and then you start seeing this broadening of the rally.
Buck: So you think that this time around though specifically I know you you you're part of your thesis is that this time around may be different because you know bigger money institutional money, but one of the things that we've really looked at or you've looked at and talked about is you know one of the limitations to big money coming into this stuff is custodianship but the altcoins a lot of the old coins most of them are not gonna have that kind of infrastructure so does that I mean just playing devil's advocate does that then say well they may just stick to whatever they can buy on Coinbase and Bakkt.
Teeka: Well they have well these coins most of the all coins are ERC 20 coins so in terms of having the infrastructure as long as you can support ERC 20 you can support hundreds of coins that currently trade and so if you look at what Bakkt is doing they're gonna be supporting Bitcoin first and then they're going to be supporting Ethereum. So if they support a theory they will naturally support every other ERC20 that's out there and remember companies like Bakkt they're in the business of incentivizing trading because they get paid for everything that that goes through their network. So it would be odd to imagine that they're only going to limit their entire business models with just the trading of Bitcoin it doesn't make any sense. If you look at what they've done in the securities market they haven't just limited themselves to the trading of the S&P 500 they trade everything so I do think that liquidity will trickle down into the whole market and of course the ERC 20 coins I think will be the first to get the most amount of liquidity because it will be the easiest to support from from a back end technology standpoint. The other thing I want to mention is that another driver of the alt coins would be what I believe will be a proliferation of securitization products. So ETF's different types of futures I see a world I've gotta believe within the next 12 months we will see an ETF that will give us the ability to own 20 30 40 maybe 50 coins in one ETF that trades or one type of security that trades maybe it's a coin put out by back and says okay you buy this coin and you've got the top hundred altcoins exposure to the top hundred alt coins.
Buck: Right and then you know I know a lot of people bring do you talk about the ETF for Bitcoin and this has been sort of bounce back but yeah you know we're delayed with the SEC several times do you really think of that as a big deal compared to some of the other movements that you you mentioned Bakkt and I think there's LedgerX things like that where that are allowing for institutional buyers to dissipate is an etf really make much of a difference in your view?
Teeka: I think an ETF is important but I think the SEC is becoming less important in that process and I'll tell you why. Several very large brokerage firms from the Fidelity to eTrade to TD Ameritrade have announced that they want to offer Bitcoin trading to their users. So I'm talking about a system where you can log in click on a button on your Fidelity account and you can start trading Bitcoin the way you with the sp500. Once that comes out let's assume it comes out this year which they've talked about but they want to do it this year but we'll see everything seems to run a little slower than people think. But if that that comes out this year and something like 15 to 20 million people can now trade Bitcoin directly from their brokerage accounts to me it makes an ETF a foregone conclusion because the SEC has no reason now to stand in the way of it. And that's what I'm think that they're waiting for Buck the SEC is not known for blazing a trail the SEC is not known for moving ahead of the market. So if they can look and say well Fidelity is offering it TD Ameritrade is offering it Schwab is offering it we are asses covered if we approve an ETF I think it's really a CYA problem with the SEC they don't want to be the first to make this move and let's say there's a problem with it and everybody blames the SEC.
Buck: You know there is this product data that I know of maybe you could talk about this because then you know in the context of an ETF and being able to buy Bitcoin easily you know.
Teeka: I look at the there's a grayscale Bitcoin trust gbtc which is publicly traded I mean what's the difference what am I missing there I mean that's a closed-end fund that has limited liquidity and sometimes trade at a hundred percent premium.
Buck: Yeah okay so lots of things happening in the spaces you mentioned and one of the things that I think that that you said that is very seems very clearly true whether or not what you know whether or not you believe there's gonna be another bull market is there's a ton of of Technology improvements and infrastructure and all these things that are going on and price mean a lot more by the way then back in 2017 when prices were off the charts so within that context what are you know say they the one or two things that are you most excited about in the space that gives you the greatest confidence that this is you know this is the the new you know the new dot-com era I guess after the rebels fell as you mentioned before offline and you know the rise of the Amazons and the apples in the crypto world.
Teeka: I'll tell you why it's because I'm finally seeing major corporations real corporations doing partnerships with crypto companies not memorandums of understanding MOU’s are meaningless but real partnerships where they're actually using the technology this is stuff i talked about a year ago. Eighteen and a half months ago I said like real companies are going to start coming into this space they're gonna start partnering with some of these companies and start using the technology and it's happening. I'm seeing real businesses like Barclays put up their own money to back certain platforms I was like for instance with trade finance. BMW putting up their own money for back in logistics. So this is a huge shift in in in the type of person that is getting involved in the marketplace. I'm seeing massive credit card processors get involved with tiny startups because they want to piggy back what's going on and the markets that they're opening up with with their with their applications. So this to me Buck is is such a difference maker right like if we came into 2019 and none of these deals were happening I would say I would be on here and I would say buck you know what the cake just isn't baked yet man we just probably gotta wait another year. But when I start seeing very large very smart corporate players making strategic moves to align themselves to certain projects, you can't ignore that. This is something you can't ignore. And so this is what has me incredibly excited for this next phase that I see taking place in crypto.
Buck: You know one of the one things that you mentioned earlier and you've mentioned in the past which I agree with generally speaking is that you know some level of regulation is a good thing so that it becomes less of a manipulated market. So it becomes something that you know larger big money investors and institutional investors take an interest in because they don't want to be in something that's you know that's that's not legit. There is a negative a little bit to that and that some opportunities out there are you know start or you're starting to get restricted in terms of American investors. You know one of the examples I can think of to me is one of what I'm probably one of the biggest things is Binance which is you know the number one trading platform in the world is now effectively you know saying US investors we'll see you later we're gonna build something you know sometime and we're gonna call it you know Binance US and we're gonna have a lot fewer tokens there what concerns me is an investor in some of the various digital currencies at that point is well how does that affect my liquidity as a US investor and I'm wondering how it is affecting your your portfolio?
Teeka: Okay so there's a couple of things around that and I can't advise people to do this I can only report on what some people are doing to get around this geofencing. They're using Virtual Private Networks. With the use of a virtual private network can get access to any exchange in the world so long as they're using a VPN that mimics a country that this exchange is allowed to operate in. So as far as I know Binance is not doing anything to prevent anybody from using a VPN so just want to get that out there.
Buck: Jut to interrupt there I mean that that in itself is a little tricky though right I mean isn't it because then you've got to deal with you know US taxes and all that if you're dealing…
Teeka: Well you always have to deal with US taxes no matter what whether you're using a VPN or not.
Buck: So it wouldn't be illegal technically to use Virtual Private Network to use Binance?
Teeka: For me as an individual would I be breaking any laws, I don't think so but I'm not an attorney. Binance might be breaking some laws or but I don't think that I would be but again this is something everybody has to make their own decision with. But the other side of this is that by Nance is putting together their own decks which is a decentralized exchange which will allow for peer-to-peer trading and I think you'll see more of these types of decentralized exchanges which I'm a big fan of I hate the idea of centralized exchanges anyway. So there are some speed problems with decentralized exchanges but they're getting ironed out and I think within in the future a lot of trading is going to move to peer-to-peer but you're right it's certainly a concern for now I would say the biggest solution that I have read about and again I can't formally tell people to do this is to use a virtual private network.
Buck: The other question though I think as just as a follow-up on that Teeka is that okay so say you use a VPN but not everybody's gonna do that you know probably most people aren't gonna do that didn't then there's an issues just in terms of liquidity right or don't you think that's a problem anymore?
Teeka: I do think it's a problem but I also rely on the greed factor of the participants in this market that they will figure out a solution because there's too much money to be made for liquidity that wants to come into the market somebody will find a way to bring that liquidity into that okay so anyway so like you you know I believe that Bitcoin bull run is inevitable what do you think of anything what are you looking for that might trigger and I know you you're saying already that we're kind of in a bull market already but what triggers that sort of next level all-time high thing is there anything or do you think this is something that's gonna be more of a gradual rise or organic than it was in 2017?
Teeka: Well there are several things which I'm gonna be talking about specifically I don't really want to spill the beans on that here but I have an event coming up which I talk in more detail about a very specific event that I think will act as a massive catalyst. Outside of that I think this whole idea of I call it this kind of new narrative right among institutions where before two years ago three years ago they looked at Bitcoin and they said oh my gosh Bitcoin that's for Gun Runners and pornographers where we we have no interest in Bitcoin. And now they're starting to see Bitcoin as a way to eliminate this correlation risk in their portfolio. So I think that narrative will gain more ground in fact I've been invited to a conference in San Moritz with 500 top-tier investors and I will be putting forward that research that I've drawn together to that audience and really helping propagate that narrative because it is transformational if you manage a large pool of capital what you can do with your overall volatility and how you can adjust it lower through just a tiny amount of Bitcoin is absolutely remarkable. So I think that's more of a slow burn Buck, but as that gains speed I mean can you just imagine just the amount of buying if pension funds say okay going forward half of 1% of all our assets are going to be in digital currency.
Buck: I mean in part of part of understanding that for people is to understand one of the the great things about Bitcoin in particular is that this is an asset with that is fixed to a certain number of Bitcoin that'll ever be created so you know we've never really had a that kind of monetary thing before I mean to a certain extent gold is that way of course but even you know gold there's always more gold every year a little bit more gold. This is a truly deflationary asset that really where you know you put more money in the pot you know each one of those bitcoins gonna be worth a lot more and that I can't think of anything else that's out there like that.
Teeka: I agree.
Buck: I know you've got you know the the Palm Beach Confidential Newsletter Teeka I just have to compliment you because I you know I have been a reader for a couple years it is one of the most comprehensive and thoughtful investment newsletters I've ever subscribed to. I mean it is totally the real deal and I appreciate that and one of the things that people can't join any time and it opens and closes and I know that it is going to be opening up and you're going to do a webinar coming up on that but can you talk a little bit about the newsletter and the event that's coming up?
Teeka: Yeah sure so in the newsletter what I do is I will typically find one idea each month and give you a complete breakdown on the idea. And what I try to do I understand not everybody is a cryptocurrency enthusiastic of their currency investor and so what I try to do is write in a way that is easy to digest, easy to understand, not simplistic but very easy for the layperson to get their head around and to really understand the concept that we're talking about. And I have not opened up Palm Beach confidential for any new members for this whole year, this is the first time that I've done that and the reason is, is I only open up Palm Beach confidential to new members when there's an event that I think can have a massive impact on the broad market. So on September 18th at 8 p.m. I'm going to talk about one of these events and the last time this event took place you could literally take 500 dollars and turn it into five million dollars. There's only a few times in the history of crypto where you have those types of windows of opportunity and so one of those windows of opportunity is about to open and so at this event I'm gonna explain what it is why it works and why it will absolutely happen this particular event will absolutely happen there's nothing that can stop the event from taking place. And so I'm gonna share my five top coins, one of which I'll give away for free during the webinar that I think have that ability to go from five hundred dollars literally into five million. So it's an exciting time and I'm really kind of chomping at the bit to kind of get in front of everybody and talk about this research that I've discovered.
Buck: One last thing I want to point out is I get you know when we talk like this sometimes people get really skeptical they're like yeah that sounds a little salesy Buck that's not really kind of the usual thing that you're talking about and I get it right. The reality is this is a situation this isn't you know there are real people out there there are kids out there who've become multimillionaires by doing exactly this. And so it's real, that's why I'm interested.
Teeka: In my own investing I've seen a thousand dollar investment go to as much as 1.6 million dollars, ok so it's real. The other thing I want to convey to everybody I don't have to write newsletters anymore I don't have to come on podcast I can sit on a beach all I want ok. So why do I do this I do this because moving the needle on somebody's net worth maybe not this audience maybe my broader audience it's incredibly gratifying right helping people change their lives without putting their current lifestyle at risk that's I mean if that's my one legacy in this life could you ask for anything more Buck? Really it's incredibly gratifying to be able to do that and we have this opportunity now and but this opportunity won't last forever at some point this will be a multi trillion dollar asset class and the ability to make gains like that just won't exist.
Buck: Teeka, as always it's been a pleasure talking to you and thanks again for being on Wealth Formula Podcast.
Teeka: Thank you Buck.
Buck: We'll be right back.
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