Bitcoin passed $8,000
as institutional money inches closer
to cryptocurrency markets
The future(s) is bright.
Bitcoin’s seemingly unstoppable bull run continued as it passed $8,000 for the first time around 6pm UTC yesterday (Nov. 19). The price has been flirting with $8,000 for days, probably because several signs point to the long promised arrival of institutional money in the cryptocurrency markets.
One indicator is the increasing popularity of bitcoin futures. Over the weekend, the first year-long contract for the price of bitcoin was agreed by traders on the LedgerX platform, an issuer of derivatives regulated in the US. The contract is an option to buy bitcoin at $10,000 by Dec. 28, 2018. According to LedgerX, this carries an implied probability that bitcoin will be above $10,000 on that date. LedgerX has conducted $16 million in bitcoin futures trades since it opened for business on Oct. 20, according to CoinDesk. Another major futures trading platform will also start testing bitcoin derivatives today. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) will begin letting customers test bitcoin futures today. The exchange plans to let customers trade bitcoin futures for real before the year is up.
Another sign that institutions are getting serious about trading bitcoin is a new service offered by the exchange and wallet provider Coinbase. It launched Coinbase Custody, a storage solution for institutions with at least $10 million in cryptocurrency holdings, last week (Nov. 16). Coinbase chief executive Brian Armstrong claimed in a blog post announcing the product that there’s over $10 billion in institutional money on the sidelines of the cryptocurrency market, awaiting custodial and other solutions, although he didn’t provide a source for this estimate. The eye-popping returns on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are difficult for any fund manager to ignore. Their entry to the still young cryptocurrency markets could drive the price of bitcoin and its ilk higher still.
A Chinese tech giant just joined Facebook and Amazon in the $500 billion valuation club
The latest company to cross the $500 billion valuation threshold
is virtually unheard of in the West. Shares of Shenzhen-based Tencent, a company that made its mark with its popular WeChat messaging service, rose 4.1% in trading Monday on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to close at HK$420, bringing the company’s valuation to HK$3.99 trillion (about $510 billion).
That places Tencent alongside major US-based technology giants who have passed the $500 billion mark in recent months. Amazon, which went public in 1997, hit a $500 billion valuation in July. Facebook, which went public in May 2012, reached a $500 billion valuation that same month. (Both companies remain over the $500 billion mark.) Tencent went public in 2004 (paywall), with shares priced at HK$3.70 (then $0.47), raising nearly $200 million. Interest in the stock remained tepid for about five years, before its price began to rise—slowly in 2009, then steadily by 2013, and then meteorically in 2017. Its stock price is up over 120% since its first of day trading this year, according to Factset.
Tencent’s mobile chat app, ubiquitous across the country, originated in 2011 as the Chinese answer to WhatsApp, and now counts some 980 million active monthly users. It has evolved into a news reader, an online payment provider, a taxi hailer, and a search engine all rolled into one. While it makes very little money for Tencent directly, it’s a funnel for the mobile and PC games that have long remained Tencent’s cash cow, and it might eventually turn into something lucrative in its own right.
The company has delivered stellar earnings over the past year, driven largely by the success of the hit mobile game Honour of Kings. Last week it reported quarterly revenues of 65.2 billion yuan ($9.8 billion), up 61% from the year prior, and net income of