Credit Suisse has been posting cryptocurrency advisories over the last few weeks. They are quite one-sided, although couched in the appearance of objectivity. To explain why it's couched in the appearance of objectivity, and not actually objective, let me give you some background.
Our HSBC research report released August of 2016 has proven to be 110% correct as the company reports an 82% drop in year over year earnings.
I've been warning about Italy's troubled banks since 2010, and last year I pushed two very detailed reports about what was essentially Italy's Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. Italy is a mess and the IMF and EC have been too optimistic regarding its prospects for 7 years (not just lately), see Lies, Damn Lies, and Sovereign Truths: Why the Euro is Destined to Collapse! Fast foward to today and Bloomberg reports: Italy Approves $21 Billion Fund to Shore Up Its Troubled Banks
T-Mobile reported their Q4 2016 results yesterday, and guess what?
Apple has been a money printing press for the last decade. At the behest of the late Steve Jobs, they have had one key, core ability that no other company has been able to match. No, it definitely wasn't innovation or engineering. It was... the RDF. The Reality Distortion Field! For some reason, when normal people look at Apple hardware or financials, they don't see reality, they see Reality Distooooorrrrtion! But before we get to that, let’s see what all of the smart people in the financial world had to say...
My last post on the topic of disintermediation during a paradigm shift was Wall Street Should Be First To Invest In Reggie Middleton's UltraCoin, Much Of It Won't Be Here In 10 Years! I clearly illustrated the potential for growth of Bitcoin related companies and cited statistics for the transformation of the financial industry as we know it today.
This post introduces long form research from the analysts at Veritaseum, the same team that brought you the hard hitting BoomBustBlog research. The first page of the report says it all - "Stress Test on Banks’ Earnings Facing the Veritaseum UltraCoin Value Transaction Platform".
Excerpts from deeper into the report...
And of course the inevitable... What happens when a less expensive product is introduced into the market with similar or superior attributes? Margin Compression! We analyzed three big Wall Street banks, starting with the "Riskiest Bank on the Street" (time permitting, reference our hard hitting, prescient research from early 2008).
I invite all to download the free Veritasuem Research Report for July 2014. I also invite all to meet me for the soft beta launch of Veritaseum's UltraCoin Value Trading Platform in my suite at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, the evening of Saturday July 19th (this is also the weekend of The North American Bitcoin Conference in Chicago, where I will be speaking on the topic of money center bank disintermediation.
You will get to touch, play with and trade value via UltraCoin. Below is a screenshot of UltraCoin running on a Mac. I will also be taking applications for large scale beta testers and entities who wish to have customized value trading solutions created for them.
Yesterday, I did a radio interview with Benzinga. In it I busted myths about Apple, Bitcoin and Coins in general (ABCs). Listen to the interview below and the info sheets afterwards and let me know if you knew this stuff was possible with today's tech - and Apple!
As for Apple...
And more on http://Ultra-Coin.com...
Why am I so bullish on Bitcoin? Note: this is not an offer to buy or solicitation for securities and is presented for illustrative purposes only.
As we roll out Veritaseum's UltraCoin ZeroTrust Smart Contracts, I'll be posting much more on "the new way of doing business".
- Reggie Middleton Intro
- How Reggie Middleton's Start-up Patented The Future of Global Finance!
- Reggie Middleton on Wikipedia
- Who is Reggie Middleton?
- Bitcoin is not just digital currency. It's Napster for finance.
- Reggie Middleton's UltraCoin @ NYC CryptoCurrency Convention
- Reggie Middleton Wins CNBC Stock Draft for the 2nd time in a row - with the same stock
After an interesting discussion with those in my laboratory, I've decided to apply the forensic analysis team from BoomBustBlog to the privately funded companies in the Bitcoin space. See my post from yesterday for much of the reason why.
As clearly predicted yesterday, the better funded of the payment processors will initiate a pricing blood bath they'd likely kill for...
From PayPal's subsite on Mass Payments:
As you can see, PayPal has already imbued its service with much of the attributes that are being offered by the Bitcoin payment processors. They also have a material advantage as of right now, a massive installed base.
I also cannot emphasize enough how damaging the all too necessary customer service option is to margins. You see, the problem is most service companies don't put enough into customer service and handholding of the customer. From an optimal perspective, this should actually be part of the marketing and sales process, but it's often either non-existent or implemented as an after thought after enough customers start bitching and complaining, or worse yet (and likely most often the case) leaving!
As a company with mature management, it appears as if PayPal is trying to head this off at the pass as it attempts to change consumer behavior and prod them into adopting its new electronic currency payment system...
Now, let's compare PayPal to the newly funded Bitcoin payment processors...
Funding Rounds (3) - $32.50M
An interesting departure from the per transaction/fee model, Bitpay implemented a subscription system which benefits those customers who perform a large quantity of relatively small transactions moreso than those who process large orders.
I calculate Bitpay's most recent $30 million series A round to have been at around 9.2x sales, valuing the company at $160 million. This is a guestimate, of course, since I do not have access to internal numbers.
Next we have Coinbase...
Funding Rounds (3) - $31.70M
Funding Rounds (2) - $26M
Circle has not publicly launched yet but promises to bring a new level of simplicity and user-friendliness to the bitcoin payment ecosystem, concentrating more on a banking paradigm then the technical bent that bitcoin is known to represent. This is all you need ot know about the Circle business model as it relates to this discussion of impending margin compression...
Let's see how this plays out for customers. The most lucrative segments for this industry is the SME (small and medium business enterprises) who process anywhere between 10 and 1,000 transactions per month. Why? Because there are simply more SMEs than they are big companies in the world. Let's see what the two biggest bitcoin processors look like when stacked up against PayPal's Mass Pay product for the SME market...
Of course, the Bitcoin transactions are likely a loss leader for additional, value added services for many companies in the not too distant future. As a matter of fact, I feel that the payment space will quickly become commoditized by Bitcoin technology - forcing these companies and many more (I'm talking about you Mastercard, Visa and Western Union) to innovate and offer significantly and materially better value for the buck.
Imagine what this competitive landscape will look like when Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover and Western Union jump into the fray. Of course, before that a much greater portion of the VC and private equity community will wake up and realize the opportunity in Bitcoin to pour more cash into it than sugar into a Bubble gum machine (emphasis on "Bubble"). The key is to get in early, and get in right. But how does one do that and where will this tale of uber margin compression end?
Well, the research report from which this info is being prepared will be offered to accredited and instituional investors starting next week, at least those who have an interest in UltraCoin.
My next article on this topic will explicitly illustrate how UltraCoin can assist ALL players (that's right, including PayPal, Bitpay, Circle, Coinbase, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover and Western Union) as well as their direct customers, in climbing up both the food chain and the value proposition ladder - thus rapidly repairing the margin compression damage they are about to bring upon thier business models.
Reggie Middleton discussion UltraCoin at the 2014 FinTech conference at Dechert LLP.
Coindesk asks "Do Patent Filings from eBay and Western Union Pose a Threat to Bitcoin?" I feel the question is in and of itself missing the point. To explain this fully, I have to share a little bit about myself, particularly my weaknesses. I'm the type of person who is very knowledgeable about his strengths and his weaknesses, but sometimes I don't see my strength for what it is, and that is tantamount to a weakness in a highly competitive environment.
Case in point, in discussing whether or not competing patents have been filed for smart contract transacion processes by those who seek to be in my space with my contract engineer (a very skilled software architect and IP attorney), I displayed what I considered a healthy level of paranoid concern. I found it hard to believe that no one bothered to patent the most innovative, disruptive and groundbreaking aspect of this new crop of digital currencies - the ability to program them. As those who follow me know, I've spent a lot of resources developing, designing, refining and patenting advanced smart contracts (see How Reggie Middleton's Start-up Patented The Future of Global Finance!). I actually found it highly unlikely that no one had come up with this idea before me. Matt (my contracts engineer) said, "You know, it actually takes an uncanny amount of vision to have seen the scope of this stuff and act upon it, not to mention to have done so 6 months ago. Not many people are like you." Right then and there, it hit me. People really do not see things the way I do!
Most know me from my prescient calls in banking, finance, real estate and tech (see Who is Reggie Middleton?). I've demonstrated a knack for seeing future trends and determining when things (such as valuations and opportunities) are out of whack. With that being said, the big media interest in Bitcoin combined with the increasing VC interest in Bitcoin companies (reference BitPay Gets $30 Million in Venture Capital Funding) is a very good thing for the industry, but also illustrates shortsigtedness in both the investment community and many practitioners.
The problem with the processors...
When bitcoin is as easy as PayPal to use then it will be on the path to mass adoption, but to assume that’s the most lucrative path to take in bitcoin company private equity investment begs the wrong question. Here’s the strategic landscape as I see it.
Bitcoin is very inexpensive to use as a transfer agent. A transaction may be safely sent without fees if these conditions are met (this is excerpted directly from the Bitcoin Wiki, verbatum):
- It is smaller than 1,000 bytes.
- All outputs are 0.01 BTC or larger.
- Its priority is large enough
Otherwise, the reference implementation will round up the transaction size to the next thousand bytes and add a fee of 0.1 mBTC (0.0001 BTC) per thousand bytes. Note that a typical transaction is 500 bytes, so the typical transaction fee for low-priority transactions is 0.1 mBTC (0.0001 BTC), regardless of the number of bitcoins sent.
Bitcoin as of 5/18/2014 is $444.74m, thus the fee for this transaction is roughly 4 cents, if not outright free. If a processor is transferring $10,000 on behalf of a customer, whether at one time or 100 times throughout the course of a month, the processor’s fee cost would range from $0 to $4, while the processor would likely charge (as of the date of this writing, $0 to $100). The traditional processors such a Visa or Paypal would charge hundreds (as in up to 50x more!) for the same deal!
That 25x markup on the high end is significant (even for the Bitcoin companies), and ripe for disintermediation itself (that's right, the disintermediaing agents are poised for disintermediaion). Particularly once the UX of Bitcoin evolves, as email and web browsing did, and users realize how easy and cheap it is to jump onto the blockchain and do this stuff themselves.
Even assuming users don’t follow the historical model of those that left proprietary walled gardens (think AOL) and jumped directly into the open World Wide Web themselves, there are no material barriers to entry to enter into the processing business other than potentially a money transmitter license. The only material barrier, hence the business opportunity, is that Bitcoin is cumbersome to use. As the UI/UX polish increases and the amount of competitors in the space increase, the lower the prices charged - hence the margins - will be.
With such low barriers to entry and potentially humongous markups to exploit, what do you think happens next? The wild, untamed hordes of competitors swoop down upon the masses, and we have a concerted race to zero, and likely negative margin as competitors attempt to make processing a loss leader to draw users into the folds of richer, higher margin services!!!
The race to marginal zero, then negative, does not make a strong business plan. So, what do these companies such as BitPay, Coinbase, etc. do once that point is reached (rather quickly)? They look to value added (high margin) services on top of their low margin, utility-like payment infrastructures.
Enter smart contracts and the true use of programmability in the crypto-currencies. The easiest and the likely first implementation of such will be multi-sig operations which allow multiple parties to share funds without having to worry about trusting and single party in a transaction. Our ZeroTrust Letters of Credit (patent pending) is just such a product. It allows for multiple parties to tranfer payment for simple and complex transactions contingent upon the mutual agreed upon successful execution of said transactions. This is done without the parties having to:
- Know each other
- Trust each other
- Have any form of proximity to each other;
and can be done using micropayments all the way up to multi-million dollar macro payments. The barriers to this business are much higher. For one, it takes more than just programming code. You have to be able to congeal the legal logic of the conventional law in equity contract into code. You have to be able to congeal the business logic into code, and you have to be able to implement it into the blockchain or whatever other underlying transmission mechanism you choose to utilize.
Once the race to negative zero is in full swing, a few of the wiser companies will wake-up and say "Hey, there has to be a better way, and we think we found it!". It is at that point Reggie Middleton's UltraCoin products and assets will shine. It is not hard to foresee that the entrenched companies (Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Western Union) may enter a bidding war with the new comers armed with material VC warchests (much more than we're seeing with $30 million investments of today - all over the guys who had the foresight to see the next evolutionary step in plain vanilla payments - smart transactions and self-executing digital contracts and transactions.
We're actively looking for financial and intellectual capital. If you, as an accredited investor, are looking for an opportunity in the higher end of the digital currency space, I think we should talk. In addition, if you are a higher level Java/C++ developer willing to take risk, we need to talk. I'm available at reggie at ultra-coin.com.