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What would really happen if the Nasdaq begins trading cryptocurrencies?

Written on Jul 31, 2020

Last week, the CEO of Nasdaq said he would consider opening up the platform for trading cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

This was likely not surprising for Julia Morrongiello, an investor at Global Founders capital specializing in blockchain and cryptocurrency, who predicted in January, in a guest post for Forbes, that “the cryptocurrency market will continue to grow as institutional capital gets involved” and that experienced investors would move into the market. Evelyn Cheng, writing for CNBC, shared a similar perspective and added to her predictions for 2018: “Stock investors may get a chance to invest in a digital currency-related IPO.”

So, what are the real consequences (positive or negative) of allowing cryptocurrencies into a publicly traded exchange, like the Nasdaq?

Right now, people investing in cryptocurrencies aren’t protected from risk in the same ways they might be when investing in stocks. Fraudulent schemes are a dime a dozen. Plus, insiders at crypto companies have distinct advantages in their knowledge of the “market,” whereas similar types of insider trading would be illegal in a public stock market exchange.

Cryptocurrency exchanges don’t (generally) provide cash or asset insurance, they’re not treated as legal securities in the U.S., and they’re not considered legal tender, which means regulating investments in these currencies through a stock exchange might help protect consumers from long-term, irreversible damage.

Nasdaq is already working to support existing cryptoexchanges, including Gemini, and seems optimistic about these types of partnerships in the future.

What could go wrong?

Well, for one thing, no one is sure whether these currencies are worth what they’ve been traded for in the past. They’re extremely hard to value. They’re not public companies with earnings and expenses and EPS, writes Fitz Tepper for TechCrunch.

Also, cryptocurrencies are not regulated by any one country’s government, nor would they be in the future – that’s part of their appeal – which complicates things like taxes. Right now, the IRS treats cryptocurrency as property. For a breakdown on cryptocurrency and taxes, head over to CNBC.

Those who are more familiar with cryptocurrencies might have other opinions. For a deeper dive into some pros and cons, read Tony Yates’ perspective over at Financial Times. Personally, I haven’t invested in them, not because I’m unsure whether they’ll have a significant impact on our global banking in the future (they almost certainly will), but more so because I’d like a few wrinkles to be ironed out before I hop in with both feet. (I owned a Zune, so what can I say? I’m not the earliest of adopters.)

What are your thoughts on Nasdaq’s announcement? Do you think cryptocurrencies will be the norm in five years? Ten years? Twenty? What other issues need to be addressed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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