As Bitcoin marches back upwards, are digital assets ready to realise their promise?
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Since hitting lows of $US3,200 back in December amid the infamous crypto crash, the price of Bitcoin has risen 131 per cent to a high of $US7,448 yesterday.
That has led to steady rises among the ASX’s blockchain stocks, and continued to be driven by increasing interest from very rich institutional investors and support from big names like Facebook and economic historians.
So what does it all mean? Will this be an unimpeded march upwards? Or is it a small peak in another bubble due to burst?
Neil Joseph, CEO of payments and loyalty tech company Mobecom (ASX:MBM), hopes it’s the former.
His company yesterday announced that it had taken a 51 per cent stake in AirCrypto, a blockchain and cryptocurrency exchange platform that would allow users of Mobecom’s airBux app to convert their cryptocurrencies into airBux.
airBux is designed to allows customers to earn airBux from multiple merchants and transfer them to a cloud-based digital currency that can be redeemed using an app at any participating business. A digital, cloud-living version of the loyalty card, if you will.
“Lakeba is very excited about the opportunities that exist working in partnership with Mobecom. We feel there is an unprecedented opportunity in emerging markets to deploy and expand the entire technology stack,” said Lakeba CEO Giuseppe Porcelli.
Joseph is hoping that the company’s plan to go all-in on cryptocurrency will pay off.
“What should give us good momentum is the market’s reaction to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin going up,” he told Stockhead.
“It is a bit like the dot-com crash, you know. We eventually saw a resurgence and after the crypto crash we are now seeing a resurgence in the interest and value of digital assets.
“So the response shows that we have hopefully turned a corner.”
MBM shares fell yesterday, however, down 13 per cent to 7c at close. The company’s shares have been on a downward trend in the past year.
Their strategy seems to be working, though — receipts from customers for the third quarter were $1.7 million, only just shy of total receipts for the 2018 financial year. Receipts for the 2019 financial year to date are sitting at $2.9 million.
A Lakeba spokesperson said airBux had a liquidity pool of an over 100,000 merchants.
“By introducing the ability to transfer Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital currencies into the network, this has the potential to enable consumers to shop at over 35,000 locations in Singapore alone with Bitcoin, in-turn creating arguably the largest liquidity pool globally for crypto currency,” the spokesperson said.
“If one looks at Mobecom revenue over last year to this year, it has almost doubled, which demonstrates the appetite for technology such as this.”
As for how the wider cryptocurrency market will react, Henrik Andersson, partner at Apollo Capital, says he hopes it will not repeat the “irrationality” of initial coin offerings, which were all the rage for a while, though one expert told Stockhead the vast majority of them would soon be worthless and court cases over ICO advisory have also begun.
“There was a big hype around that and I hope the market does not go back to that,” Andersson told Stockhead.
“Crypto is here to stay, so it makes sense to have some exposure to it in a portfolio, but it is a very high risk so only whatever you can afford to lose.”
He said the resurgence of the Bitcoin price had flown under the radar.
“It is up quite a bit this year and I have not seen it mentioned all that much in the media.”
A Lakeba spokesperson said cryptocurrency “has traversed the same path that many disruptive technologies follow”.
“As early adopters, this is not a short term project.
“Lakeba is of the view that blockchain and all of the benefits it brings with transparency, accounting, and payment processing is a more important point than the survival of cryptocurrency.
“However, for the benefits of blockchain to be realised, cryptocurrency is certainly part of the equation.”