Bet on bitcoin as an insurance policy against 'irresponsible' government, crypto bull says

By Matt EganCNN Business

Updated 4:35 PM ET, Thu February 7, 2019

Grand Cayman (CNN Business) - Bitcoin might be down 80% from its peak, but true believers in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology still gush about its enormous potential.

Some still see bitcoin as the ultimate hedge against disaster.

"There is a really good chance we have something better than gold," Travis Kling, founder and chief investment officer of crypto hedge fund Ikigai Asset Management, said on Thursday at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit in Grand Cayman.

"It's like a CDS against fiscal and monetary policy irresponsibility," Kling said.

Credit default swaps, or CDS, are akin to insurance policies. These financial instruments pay out when a borrower defaults on debt. CDS grew infamous during the 2008 crisis when AIG, one of the biggest issuers of CDS, nearly collapsed itself.

Like other crypto bulls, Kling is alarmed by the build-up of debt on government balance sheets and extreme steps taken by global central banks to encourage growth. Some fear that high budget deficits and low interest rates will eventually lead to hyper-inflation and erode the value of the US dollar and other major currencies.

"That is how you would write the script" for the "mass adoption" of a new kind of currency that isn't controlled by government authorities, he said.

Despite the collapse of bitcoin prices, Morgan Creek Capital Management is launching a crypto fund that will complete its fundraising on Friday. The fund will focus in part on crypto infrastructure, the "picks and shovels" of the space, Morgan Creek founder and CEO Mark Yusko said.

"We believe bitcoin will be one of, if not the, largest network on the planet," Yusko said. "We are in the middle of the greatest wealth opportunity ... It's beyond any of our imaginations."

Morgan Creek is investing in a company that seeks to use blockchain to disrupt title insurers, which verify property transfers, Yusko said. Blockchain, the technology bitcoin is built on, is a tamper-proof digital ledger that records transactions without the need of a middleman.

"Title insurance — it's just a stupid business. Why do we need to pay $1,000?" Yusko asked.

Day-trading crypto is dangerous

Despite their enthusiasm, Crypto investors do acknowledge that the price of bitcoin and other digital currencies can be too extreme for the average person to trade. Countless retail investors lost money when they bought bitcoin near its high of nearly $20,000 in late 2017. Today, it trades at barely $3,000.

"Don't go make traditional investments," said Tom Serres, co-founder at Animal Ventures, a firm that invests in tech startups and the crypto infrastructure. "We're not day-traders. I have zero interest of picking up pennies in front of bulldozers."

Scott Kupor, managing partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, said his firm is searching for investments in the infrastructure of cryptocurrencies. In 2012, Andreessen Horowitz backed CoinBase, the popular US crypto exchange. The company is now reportedly valued at about $8 billion.

Kupor stressed that cryptocurrencies are still in their infancy and will evolve tremendously over the coming years, creating opportunities along the way.

"We are in the seed investment stage," Kupor said. "The first iterations look silly. They never work ... The investment opportunities are the ones that solve the problems."