Cryptocurrency Asset Class and its Relationship with Other Markets

Jump to page contents

Cryptocurrency Asset Class and its Relationship with Other Markets

The Cryptocurrency Asset Class & its Relationship with Other Markets

Cryptocurrencies are still best classified as an emerging technology asset class. Bitcoin is barely ten years old and the role that cryptocurrencies will play in the global markets is still uncertain. It has yet to see a financial crisis and its primary use case is still being defined.

To date, there has been little evidence of a clear relationship with other asset classes. There are some theories to how this may develop going forward. In this guide, we analyse how cryptocurrencies have developed as an asset class, the functions it is serving, and the role it may grow into in the global markets.

The Growth of the Cryptocurrency Market

For much of its early development, Bitcoin and a small number of other cryptocurrencies were pioneered by a small group of innovative enthusiasts. It was not considered a genuine asset class until very recently.

Work from analysts such as Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar had a huge role to play in cryptocurrencies being considered an asset class of its own. Both Burniske and Tatar published work making strong arguments for the inclusion of cryptocurrencies as a key part of an investors portfolio and also presented models for how to analyse them.

There was a good reason why cryptocurrencies were not considered a genuine asset class in its early development. While the network was launched in January 2009, the first attempt at an exchange rate was established only in October of that year by New Liberty Standard which priced 1309.03 Bitcoin at 1 Dollar.

The first transaction with a real-world merchant did not take place until May 22nd of 2010 where two Papa John’s pizzas were purchased for 10,000 Bitcoin. This transaction has become famous and valued Bitcoin at around $0.0025 at the time.

Since these events, Bitcoin has significantly risen in value to prices above $10,000 and market values above $100 billion. The Bitcoin network now processes around 250,000 transactions per day regularly processing over $1 billion in value per day. Thousands of other cryptocurrencies have also been developed and are operating in different business areas.

The relationship between cryptocurrencies and other asset classes is still developing. Bitcoin represents the vast majority of the cryptocurrency market cap and for this reason, its behaviour with other asset classes is the best gauge for how the cryptocurrency market as a whole will behave in relation to other asset classes. Bitcoin is also highly correlated with other cryptocurrencies resulting in similar behaviour across cryptocurrencies as a whole.

Bitcoin & Cryptocurrencies as Store of Value Assets

What even is an asset class? A widely cited paper published in 1997 splits an asset class into three broad categories:

  • Capital asset class – This asset class generates cash flows and is typically valued based on the future value of cash flows.
  • Consumable/Transformable asset class– These assets are typically consumed or put towards industrial uses and can be valued based on demand and supply.
  • Store of value asset class – These assets don’t generate income and are not consumed, they are used to transfer value into the future.

Different assets typically do not fit solely into one asset class. There is often a crossover between the three different types with asset classes often serving two or three of the areas. For example, precious metals such as gold and silver are often used both as a store of value and as a consumable asset. Fixed income and equities best fit into the capital asset class given the generation of cash flows in the future. Real estate is considered as both a capital asset due to its ability to generate rental income and as a store of value asset.

Which asset class do cryptocurrencies best fit into? This is highly debatable and also changes as the community focuses and develops different roles for cryptocurrencies. It is least suited towards the capital asset class given that cash flows are mostly not generated from holding the asset.

It can be argued that airdrops and forks serve the purpose of cash flows but these are mostly negligible in value and can result in price crashes in the main asset. Cryptocurrencies definitely can fit into the consumable assets class. Many cryptocurrencies are used to play key functions in a blockchain ecosystem.

The most popular use case for Bitcoin is currently as a store of value. The supply and issuance model of Bitcoin is structured as a deflationary currency. In theory, the value of Bitcoin is expected to go up in relation to goods and services over time, making Bitcoin suitable to function as a store of value asset.

This would mean that cryptocurrencies as an asset class would be expected to display similar price behaviours to other store of value assets. Other store of value assets include certain fiat currencies such as the Japanese Yen and Swiss Franc, fine art, and precious metals such as gold.

Uncorrelated Financial Asset

Another strong use case which cryptocurrencies have developed is as an uncorrelated financial asset. Investors are believed to gain a diversification benefit by adding uncorrelated assets to their portfolio. Cryptocurrencies remain uncorrelated with any other major asset class making it an attractive asset for this use case.

Cryptocurrencies themselves are highly correlated with one another making it unsuitable to try and diversify a portfolio with cryptocurrencies alone. As the cryptocurrency asset class continues to develop, it is likely to become more correlated with other major asset classes and its relationship with other markets will become clearer.

Cryptocurrencies in a Crisis

If we take into account that one of the main use cases the cryptocurrency asset class is serving is as a store of value, it would make sense that the cryptocurrency asset class may behave similarly to other store of value assets in the event of a financial crisis.

This remains a theory as cryptocurrencies have yet to see their first crisis. Store of value assets such as gold tends to rise during crises. However, there is also the potential that cryptocurrencies could initially crash if equities undergo a crash as investors may sell holdings to access fiat currency which is used by most to conduct daily activities and pay taxes.

The Cryptocurrency Asset Class & its Relationship with Other Markets

Source –

The Role of Regulation

The role regulation has to play in the cryptocurrency asset class is being widely discussed. Governments and regulatory bodies have been considering how to regulate the asset class. Governments such as that of Malta have put in place regulatory frameworks which can serve an early model for governments in providing oversight to the cryptocurrency market.

In the United States, regulatory bodies such as The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have made huge efforts to understand the nature of this new asset class. The CFTC had a hearing with the US Senate earlier this year to discuss cryptocurrencies and recently requested information from the public regarding Ethereum and the markets built around Ethereum.

As the regulation of the cryptocurrency asset class develops, the properties of cryptocurrencies themselves are likely to change. Currently, cryptocurrency assets exhibit high amounts of volatility and lack liquidity. This can result in price crashes and spikes given the lack of liquidity.

The lack of regulation makes the cryptocurrency market unsuitable for institutional investors. It simply poses too much risk to institutional investors. They cannot risk clients’ money in unregulated markets.

Nevertheless, as the asset class becomes regulated, it will become more attractive for said investors. The huge amounts of capital behind institutional investors would add large amounts of liquidity to the market and would likely serve to make the trading environment far less volatile. It simply represents too much risk to institutional investors. They cannot risk clients money in unregulated markets.

As the asset class becomes regulated, it will become more attractive for institutional investors. The huge amounts of capital behind institutional investors would add large amounts of liquidity to the market and would likely serve to make the trading environment far less volatile.

Key Takeaways

The relationship between the cryptocurrency asset class and other major asset classes remains unclear. This is mainly due to the early stage of development the cryptocurrency market is in. The market is still finding where it best serves its role.

The most popular use case at the moment for cryptocurrencies is as a store of value which would indicate that it may behave in a way similar to other store of value assets such as gold. With cryptocurrencies being uncorrelated with other major asset classes, it also provides some significant diversification benefits to investors when constructing a portfolio.

As the market continues to develop, there is likely to be an increased correlation between cryptocurrencies and other major asset classes. Regulation has a huge role to play in the development of the asset class.

By regulating the market, it will provide a suitable environment for institutional investors with large amounts of capital to participate in the market. This will serve to add significant amounts of liquidity and will likely result in the price swings of the cryptocurrency market being less volatile.

Recently Similar Guides

casinoin-promotion etoro-promotion

Latest Guides

AvaTrade,CFD Trading Platform,Trading

AvaTrade Fees Explained In Detail

AvaTrade is a fast-growing trading platform which offers an extensive range of Contracts for Difference (CFDs) in numerous markets. Founded in 2006, it is licenced and regulated across the world through its numerous subsidiaries and partners. For its services, AvaTrade charges fees, and this guide will help you understand what they are and when they […]

2 June, 2020
CFD Trading Platform,IQ Option,Trading

IQ Option Fees Explained in Detail

IQ Option is a leading Contracts for Difference (CFD) trading platform which is specially designed for the small investor. This award-winning platform offers a customisable user interface and a range of convenient services. Moreover, it provides clear and transparent fees, which are competitively priced and valued. General overview of IQ Option Considered to be one […]

29 May, 2020
CFD Trading Platform,Plus500,Trading

Plus500 Fees Explained in Detail

Plus500 is one of the world’s best-known trading platforms for Contracts for Difference (CFDs). These are financial instruments which let you invest in a variety of assets without needing to purchase and store them. As a result, CFDs are more convenient and faster to trade, allowing investors to short sell assets and trade using leverage. […]

26 May, 2020
Cryptocurrency,Forex,Margin Trading,Trading

Sortino Ratio

In the world of mathematics and statistics, when one individual develops a theorem or formula, over time, it is usually revised and/or used to derive other formulae and theories in the industry. In the case of the Sortino Ratio, it is an offshoot of what Professor William F. Sharpe came up with when he introduced […]

21 May, 2020

What is MetaTrader 4?

If you’re going to cross a big river, you need a boat or a bridge. If you are going to trade Forex online, you need specialized trading software. Once installed on your computer, the software becomes a bridge connecting you to the Forex market. MetaTrader4 Defined MetaTrader4 or MT4 is a common trading platform that […]

18 May, 2020
Bitcoin,Blockchain,Crypto Wallets,Cryptocurrency

What is Bitcoin?

So, What Exactly is Bitcoin? Bitcoin breaks down into two distinct components, a blockchain protocol and a cryptocurrency, the first usable examples of both, designed to facilitate transactions in a peer-to-peer, decentralized manner. The cryptocurrency Bitcoin is a portion of code that represents an immutable digital token, similar to a digital gold coin that could be instantly broken down and […]

12 May, 2020
Cryptocurrency,Forex,Margin Trading,Trading

Sharpe Ratio

Over the years, several methods have been devised by statisticians, economists and mathematicians to measure the performance of tradable assets such as equities, commodities, stocks and currencies. One such measure is the Sharpe Ratio that was introduced in 1966 by William F. Sharpe: Professor Emeritus of Finance at Stanford. The ratio has since proven to […]

6 May, 2020
Crypto Wallets,Gambling,Litecoin

How to Get Started with Litecoin Gambling

What is Litecoin Gambling?  Without wanting to state the obvious, Litecoin gambling is pretty much what it says on the tin: gambling with Litecoin. Litecoin is a form of cryptocurrency developed in 2011 by Charlie Lee, a former Google employee (hey, that rhymes!); moreover, it’s a fork of Bitcoin, meaning that it branched out from […]

5 May, 2020