Crypto was hot, until it was not. At the time of writing this article, Bitcoin and Ethereum were posting year-over-year losses of more than 50%. That may sound pretty terrifying, but large price swings are nothing new for those who’ve been in the game for a while. Anyone who watched since its birth in 2009 remembers Bitcoin’s blistering climb from zero to $1,237.55 in Dec. 2013. Just three days after that peak, its price had already plunged roughly 44% to $687. And those who hadn’t pulled out were again awarded a couple of short years later after its steady surge to more than $19,345 by the end of 2017.
Following the crypto industry’s most recent bout of volatility, Americans’ overall attitudes towards the digital currency has sharply declined. Since 2021, their overall comfort levels have fallen by as much as 12%, a Bankrate survey found.
The only thing surprising about that number, according to Bankrate analyst James Royal, is that it’s remained as high as it has. “Traders are betting on something that is not backed by the assets or cash flow of an underlying company, in most cases,” Royal says. “Many Americans have woken up to find that their crypto is worth no more than pet rocks. It’s not surprising at all that Americans are losing faith in a confidence game.”
Not everyone is as alarmed by the declines. Omid Malekan, adjunct professor at Columbia Business School and author of the upcoming book “Re-Architecting Trust: The Curse of History and the Crypto Cure for Money, Markets, and Platforms,” says for those originally attracted to crypto because of its core value proposition, that core value is still there. “If you believe in the technology, its decentralization … that is globally accessible, then none of that has changed,” Malekan says.
For those with a higher risk tolerance, there is still potential for big gains over the long haul, he says. Consider Bitcoin’s latest peak of more than $68,000-per-coin in 2021. Although it was a bumpy ride — and has since dropped significantly to below $20,000 — Malekan says a willingness to stick with your convictions can come with big rewards in the crypto game, reminding that “the internet took over a decade to be realized.” But he adds: “I do think that for ones new to the highly volatile asset class, if you’re going to get involved, you should be careful how you do so.”
How much is the right amount to invest?
Well, you don’t need to invest at all, and it’s important to understand that you can lose it all, and that there is “intense” volatility, as Royal puts it. But if you want to go into crypto, Halbert Hargrove senior wealth advisor and certified financial planner David Koch say anyone looking should avoid putting in more than they’re comfortable losing. “Don’t put next month’s rent check into the hot new digital token,” Koch said.
Since the crypto industry is also relatively young, Koch adds that it’s imperative to “do your research” and “use due diligence when working with an exchange or a custodian like Coinbase or Gemini,” pointing out that some exchanges in the past were previously hacked and forced into bankruptcy.
“If you’re selecting a trading platform, go with a well-established exchange that has a history of security,” Royal says. “There are too many crypto scams out there trying to prey upon novice traders.”
5 crypto exchanges to consider
If you are considering getting started investing in digital assets, here are five of the most frequently recommended crypto exchanges offering competitive commissions and wide access to tradeable coins that you may want to consider.
This exchange lets you buy, sell and trade more than 100 cryptocurrencies in all 50 states with low fees and easy access. It’s listed as a New York trust company and regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Check out the program’s Gemini Earn program for a unique way to earn interest on your crypto holdings and the Gemini Credit Card.
- Commission: Up to 1.49% depending on trading platform; 3.49% for debit card purchases
- Tradable Coins: 100+
- Other: The Gemini Credit Card offers up to 3% back on dining (up to $6,000 in annual spend, then 1%), 2% on groceries and 1% on other purchases
Coinbase serves more than 103 million customers with access to buy, sell, and store your digital assets as well as NFTs. You can also earn up to 4% cash back when you shop with the Coinbase Visa™ debit card. The platform also promises $200 in crypto for registering.
- Commission: 0.5% to 4.5% depending on payment method, cryptocurrency type, transaction size and platform
- Tradable Coins: 150+
- Other: $2 trade minimum.
One of the relatively newer players in the crypto space, Binance.US opened its digital gates in late 2019. The platform offers a tiered fee structure and offers free bitcoin trading in the U.S. There is also a 25% discount on all trading fees when you pay with Binance Coins, or BNB. When inviting friends to join, you can also earn a $10 credit on your account when they complete at least $100 in buys and/or trades within 30 days of account verification.
- Commission: 0.1% spot trading fee, 0.5% instant buy/sell fee and debit card transactions add 4.5%
- Tradable Coins: 130+
Fees here might be higher than its competitors, however Crypto.com comes with access to buying and selling more than 250 coins. The exchange was founded in 2016 and allows international access and meets regulatory standards across the globe. Users here can also earn coin-based rewards with the Crypto.com Visa Card.
- Commission: 0.4% maker fee, 0.4% taker fee, plus 2.99% for credit card purchases
- Tradable Coins: 250+
Launched in 2011, the San Francisco-based Kraken is of the longest running crypto exchanges on the market today. It boasts a client base of more than 9 million customers, provides access to more than 190 countries and has a quarterly trading volume of over $207 billion, according to the company website. In addition to its competitive trading fees, Kraken offers 24-hour customer service and a variety of digital and fiat currency funding with U.S. Dollars, Euros and Canadian Dollars. Consider the platform’s advanced option, Kraken Pro, for volume discounts and lower costs. Also, check out its education portal for a series of training videos and in-depth lessons on cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and more.
- Commission: Flat 0.9% fee for stablecoins, 1.5% for other cryptos (lower with Kraken Pro)
- Account minimum: $1
- Tradable Coins: 185+
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