Jun 10, 2022 - Economy

Crypto experts talk bear market, value of tech like ETFs

Animated gif of a bear pushing over a bar chart

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Leaders of the crypto industry, whether discussing roiling markets or the future of [name anything], encouraged enthusiasts and skeptics alike to see the value of crypto as tech.

Driving the news: Thousands flocked to Austin, Texas as Digital Currency Group subsidiary CoinDesk kicked off their crypto conference yesterday.

State of play: "I'm going to keep it real, the next 12 months from a macro economy perspective is going to be really tough," Christine Moy, head of digital assets at Apollo Global Management, said during a panel on market making, custody and other institutional demands. "It's not a crypto thing. It's a global markets thing."

  • "If we have a small or maybe not-so-small bear market on our hands, a lot of [institutions] will delay their decision," Evgeny Gaevoy, CEO of market maker Wintermute Trading, added.
  • "Back in 2018, a lot of potential institutions who were ready to go into the space decided it's canceled. It'll happen again now, probably," he said.

The intrigue: But what if crypto was not necessarily one giant homogenous asset class, but tech?

  • "Digital assets are a new technology like an ETF, " Jeff Dorman, CIO at digital assets investment firm Arca, said during a panel discussing market turmoil.
  • "A token is a conduit, representative of something else," Dorman explained. "Think about what we're talking about. We talk about crypto or digital assets like it's one thing."
  • But there's bitcoin, which has no intrinsic value, asset-backed stablecoins, Dorman said, rattling off others: DeFi, CeFi, NFTs, gaming.
  • "You could argue that most digital assets are recession-proof. There’s member loyalty," he added. "Target gift points don’t go down on recession."

Context: An ETF is a vehicle used to express an investment idea, one that can track an index of stocks, bonds or any asset class (just not spot bitcoin). It is also considered tech, an improved wrapper to the mutual fund that enables greater trading flexibility and efficiency.

Our thought bubble: If the token is merely a wrapper to express an idea, then "crypto" as a whole should not be blamed for any one singular disaster story. That blame falls on the makers of said wrapper whose idea did not work the way they planned.

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