These new digital currencies, entirely dematerialized, have established themselves in about ten years as a great innovation in the world of finance. Indexed or not on the dollar, they are issued by companies or groups of private users, unlike traditional currencies, the domain reserved for states. Cryptocurrencies have appeared in thousands of new applications: in video games, on merchant sites or services. Thanks to them it is now possible to buy and sell assets (real or digital) or even borrow capital without going through the banks. These new types of financial assets are linked to the new Internet revolution underway: Web3.
A new El Dorado …
“For the first time we give physical existence to digital objects, making them unique thanks to technologies such as” blockchain “, the computer protocol that allows the creation of these cryptocurrencies, explains Raphaël Bloch, founding journalist of TheBigWhale, an independent media specialized in this sector. We’re just starting to talk about metaverses or NFTs, but in two or three years everyone will be using them, sometimes even without knowing it. We are still only in the prehistory of a panoply of new uses. “ An opportunity for a good (financial) bet on the future?
The explosion during the health crisis in the price of the most famous of them, Bitcoin and Ethereum, has in fact been able to offer a double (or even three) figure return. A market that in November 2021 represented almost 3,000 billion dollars in capitalization. The equivalent of the entire CAC 40 or the Apple giant at its peak. Enough to attract more than 8% of the French, who claim to have “cryptos” in their portfolios when 30% plan to acquire them according to a study by the audit firm KPMG published in February. A new Eldorado for savers looking for yield?
Or a financial bubble?
Sadly, many of these currencies (there are 19,000 of them!) Have been crunching hard since May. Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, accounting for 50% of the market, after hitting a high of $ 69,000 in November 2021, has since fallen by more than 66%. “We are in a period of market stabilization, Analysis by Raffaello Bloch. With the return of inflation and the rise in key rates, large investors are moving away from tech stocks and cryptocurrencies to refocus on funding government debt, which is becoming profitable and safer again. A huge influx of cash over the past two years has seen the number of cryptocurrencies and projects using them multiply. Of course, all of these projects aren’t strong enough, it’s kind of like the dotcom bubble of the 2000s. The natural attitude would therefore be to postpone any future projects.
” Not necessarily, anticipates Clément Wardzala, from the Cryptoast financial site. In terms of investments, it is in difficult times like this that opportunities are created. However, today, the decline could very well last for months or even years. “ Therefore caution is required. “As with any investment, being aware of the risks, training and being informed remains the most important element. But positioning yourself in this market today, if only by knowing how it works, means making sure you don’t lose your understanding of an entire section of the world of tomorrow. “
The argument, for some, and even with the guarantees, does not seem sufficient. Because the current use of cryptocurrencies is largely highly speculative, even if, in some countries with galloping inflation like Argentina, indexing these currencies against the dollar makes them a safe haven, albeit very risky. . “Better go to the casino, at least we have fun!” affected economist Michel Santi, a member of the Finance Watch association. Cryptocurrencies are a bit like trading for the poor, people who want to play without having the ability to go public or invest in real estate. A cryptocurrency is not based on any underlying: with a stock, at least, there is a company behind it. “
Cryptocurrencies, not green
Another major obstacle to investment is the ecological argument. To be “issued” (or “punched”), these assets use the computing power of computers running at full power. An operation called proof of work (proof of work), extremely energy-intensive and partly responsible for the global shortage of current semiconductors. A sign of awareness among the players in this new economy, Ethereum, the second crypto in the sector, has just announced that next August it will adopt a much less energy-intensive way of creating: proof of stake (proof of participation). enough evidence?
” No, slices Michel Santi. We have to wait until all of this is much better regulated, with some players still accepting very dubious cash flows. On the other hand, blockchain is a revolutionary technology. It allows us to track and secure transactions and it will change our lives, especially with the emergence of the digital euro, a cashless currency that will replace our euros tomorrow and allow central banks to react much more effectively in the event of a crisis crisis . . “ With or without taking risks, keeping an eye on these cryptocurrencies appears to be a consensus attitude. “Don’t make mistakes, Raphaël Bloch warns, in all these projects that use cryptocurrencies, there are the Google of tomorrow. And Bitcoin, which is now 13, is a mature technology. She is here to last. “