In 1971, Bruce R. Bent and Henry B. R. Brown established the first money market fund. It was named the Reserve Fund and was offered to investors who were interested in preserving their cash and earning a small rate of return. Several more funds were shortly set up and the market grew significantly over the next few years. Money market funds are credited with popularizing mutual funds in general, which until that time, were not widely utilized.
But while cryptocurrencies are more used for payment, its use as a means of speculation and a store of value dwarfs the payment aspects. Cryptocurrencies gave birth to an incredibly dynamic, fast-growing market for investors and speculators. Exchanges like Okcoin, Poloniex or shapeshift enables the trade of hundreds of cryptocurrencies. Their daily trade volume exceeds that of major European stock exchanges.
This is a bank run in the sense that there is a mismatch in maturities, and thus a money fund is a "virtual bank": the assets of money funds, while short term, nonetheless typically have maturities of several months, while investors can request redemption at any time, without waiting for obligations to come due. Thus if there is a sudden demand for redemptions, the assets may be liquidated in a fire sale, depressing their sale price.
Markets are dirty. But this doesn‘t change the fact that cryptocurrencies are here to stay – and here to change the world. This is already happening. People all over the world buy Bitcoin to protect themselves against the devaluation of their national currency. Mostly in Asia, a vivid market for Bitcoin remittance has emerged, and the Bitcoin using darknets of cybercrime are flourishing. More and more companies discover the power of Smart Contracts or token on Ethereum, the first real-world application of blockchain technologies emerge.
Darknet markets present challenges in regard to legality. Bitcoins and other forms of cryptocurrency used in dark markets are not clearly or legally classified in almost all parts of the world. In the U.S., bitcoins are labelled as "virtual assets". This type of ambiguous classification puts pressure on law enforcement agencies around the world to adapt to the shifting drug trade of dark markets.
The semi-anonymous nature of cryptocurrency transactions makes them well-suited for a host of nefarious activities, such as money laundering and tax evasion. However, cryptocurrency advocates often value the anonymity highly. Some cryptocurrencies are more private than others. Bitcoin, for instance, is a relatively poor choice for conducting illegal business online, and forensic analysis of bitcoin transactions has led authorities to arrest and prosecute criminals. More privacy-oriented coins do exist, such as Dash, ZCash, or Monero, which are far more difficult to trace.
The first decentralized cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was created in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. It used SHA-256, a cryptographic hash function, as its proof-of-work scheme. In April 2011, Namecoin was created as an attempt at forming a decentralized DNS, which would make internet censorship very difficult. Soon after, in October 2011, Litecoin was released. It was the first successful cryptocurrency to use scrypt as its hash function instead of SHA-256. Another notable cryptocurrency, Peercoin was the first to use a proof-of-work/proof-of-stake hybrid.
There are also purely technical elements to consider. For example, technological advancement in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin result in high up-front costs to miners in the form of specialized hardware and software. Cryptocurrency transactions are normally irreversible after a number of blocks confirm the transaction. Additionally, cryptocurrency private keys can be permanently lost from local storage due to malware, data loss or the destruction of the physical media. This prevents the cryptocurrency from being spent, resulting in its effective removal from the markets.
To realize digital cash you need a payment network with accounts, balances, and transaction. That‘s easy to understand. One major problem every payment network has to solve is to prevent the so-called double spending: to prevent that one entity spends the same amount twice. Usually, this is done by a central server who keeps record about the balances.
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A money market account is a worthwhile investment if you value, generally, quick access to your account, a predictable APY and a federally insured account. There are other investments that may have higher rates of return, but they may also have potential risk of principal. So, a money market account may be a worthwhile investment for funds you can’t afford to risk. A high-rate money market account may be the perfect place for money that you intend to grow but may be needed in the near future.
The validity of each cryptocurrency's coins is provided by a blockchain. A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way". For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.
In the 1970s, money market funds began disintermediating banks from their classic interposition between savers and borrowers. The funds provided a more direct link, with less overhead. Large banks are regulated by the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Notably, the Fed is itself owned by the large private banks, and controls the overall supply of money in the United States. The OCC is housed within the Treasury Department, which in turn manages the issuance and maintenance of the multi-trillion dollar debt of the U.S. government. The overall debt is of course connected to ongoing federal government spending vs. actual ongoing tax receipts. Unquestionably, the private banking industry, bank regulation, the national debt, and ongoing governmental spending politics are substantially interconnected. Interest rates incurred on the national debt is subject to rate setting by the Fed, and inflation (all else being equal) allows today's fixed debt obligation to be paid off in ever cheaper to obtain dollars. The third major bank regulator, designed to swiftly remove failing banks is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a bailout fund and resolution authority that can eliminate banks that are failing, with minimum disruption to the banking industry itself. They also help ensure depositors continue to do business with banks after such failures by insuring their deposits.
Cryptocurrencies have been compared to Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes and economic bubbles, such as housing market bubbles. Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management stated in 2017 that digital currencies were "nothing but an unfounded fad (or perhaps even a pyramid scheme), based on a willingness to ascribe value to something that has little or none beyond what people will pay for it", and compared them to the tulip mania (1637), South Sea Bubble (1720), and dot-com bubble (1999). The New Yorker has explained the debate based on interviews with blockchain founders in an article about the “argument over whether Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the blockchain are transforming the world”.
Assets are invested in any eligible U.S. dollar-denominated money market instruments as defined by applicable U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations (Rule 2a-7 of the Investment Company Act of 1940), including all types listed above as well as commercial paper, certificates of deposit, corporate notes, and other private instruments from domestic and foreign issuers, as well as repurchase and potentially reverse repurchase agreements.