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.
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The SEC would normally be the regulator to address the risks to investors taken by money market funds, however to date the SEC has been internally politically gridlocked. The SEC is controlled by five commissioners, no more than three of which may be the same political party. They are also strongly enmeshed with the current mutual fund industry, and are largely divorced from traditional banking industry regulation. As such, the SEC is not concerned over overall credit extension, money supply, or bringing shadow banking under the regulatory umbrella of effective credit regulation.
The market of cryptocurrencies is fast and wild. Nearly every day new cryptocurrencies emerge, old die, early adopters get wealthy and investors lose money. Every cryptocurrency comes with a promise, mostly a big story to turn the world around. Few survive the first months, and most are pumped and dumped by speculators and live on as zombie coins until the last bagholder loses hope ever to see a return on his investment.
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An active investor who has time and knowledge to hunt around for the best possible short-term debt instruments offering the best possible interest rates at their preferred levels of risk may prefer investing on their own in the various available instruments. On the other hand, a less-savvy investor may prefer taking the money market fund route by delegating the money management task to the fund operators.
Cryptocurrencies are digital gold. Sound money that is secure from political influence. Money that promises to preserve and increase its value over time. Cryptocurrencies are also a fast and comfortable means of payment with a worldwide scope, and they are private and anonymous enough to serve as a means of payment for black markets and any other outlawed economic activity.
As of November 2017, Bitcoin and other digital currencies are outlawed only in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam, with China and Russia being on the verge of banning them as well. Other jurisdictions, however, do not make the usage of cryptocurrencies illegal as of yet, but the laws and regulations can vary drastically depending on the country.
The first cryptocurrency to capture the public imagination was Bitcoin, which was launched in 2009 by an individual or group known under the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. As of February 2019, there were over 17.53 million bitcoins in circulation with a total market value of around $63 billion (although the market price of bitcoin can fluctuate quite a bit). Bitcoin's success has spawned a number of competing cryptocurrencies, known as "altcoins" such as Litecoin, Namecoin and Peercoin, as well as Ethereum, EOS, and Cardano. Today, there are literally thousands of cryptocurrencies in existence, with an aggregate market value of over $120 billion (Bitcoin currently represents more than 50% of the total value).
Over time, money market fund "depositors" felt more and more secure, and not really at risk. Likewise, on the other end, corporations saw the attractive interest rates and incredibly easy ability to constantly roll over short term commercial paper. Using rollovers they then funded longer and longer term obligations via the money markets. This expands credit. It’s also over time clearly long-term borrowing on one end, funded by an on-demand depositor on the other, with some substantial obfuscation as to what is ultimately going on in between.