The challenge with Bitcoin and Ethereum these days is two-fold: first of all, both networks are congested with very high utilisation. How does that impacts us? Congestion means that there are more transactions to be processed than the system can actually ingest, which leads into transaction queuing. This means that those transactions will go in a wait list to be mined, and that means that it can take at least 20 minutes to a few hours for your transaction to be confirmed – a confirmation meaning that the transaction has been validated in at least one block. Going with BTC or LTC may result in longer times to get your money effectively transferred from one place to the other (for example if you want to store it securely on your wallet, or if you need to send it to an exchange). For transaction speed I prefer to go with Litecoin at the moment, except in cases where Bitcoin is still more advantageous. Keep in mind that despite the huge transaction fees Bitcoin sees massive adoption and has the first comer advantage.
You may see a number of sales charges called loads when you buy mutual funds. Some are front-end loads, but you will also see no-load, and back-end load funds. Be sure you understand whether a fund you are considering carries a sales load prior to buying it. Check out your broker's list of no-load funds, and no-transaction-fee funds if you want to avoid these extra charges.
Security and Validity of Transactions: While more participants are important for efficient working of a market, the same market needs to ensure that all participants are verified and remain compliant with the necessary rules and regulations, leaving no room for default by any of the parties. Additionally, it should ensure that all associated entities operating in the market must also adhere to the rules, and work within the legal framework given by the regulator.
When thinking about the mindset of investors, The Great Crash 1929 by J.K.Galbraith (reviewed here) should also be required reading. Typically, any sustained fall in prices - known as a bear market - is very destructive to wealth. However, as Galbraith explains wonderfully, each bear market is unique and is a reflection of the bull market that came before it. The book explains a great deal about the feedback loops that can exist when prices rise and fall as more people are either sucked into or forced out of holdings. It is the reference work about a very important slice of Wall Street history.
Like with the real world market, investing in a highly volatile market is a risky approach that can make you extremely rich or bring you to your knees. Besides the common sense approach to invest moderately (to limit the exposure of your other savings and personal finance needs), it is also recommended to spread the risk of investing in a volatile market amongst multiple assets.
Stock brokers are people or firms licensed to buy and sell stocks and other securities via the stock market exchanges. Back in the day, the only way for individuals to invest directly in stocks was to hire stock brokers to place trades on their behalf. But what was once a clunky, costly transaction conducted via landline telephones now takes place online in seconds, for a fraction of what full-service brokers used to charge for the service. Today, most investors place their trades through an online brokerage account. (A little lost? Check out our explainers on brokerage accounts and buying stocks.)
The exchange may offer privileged services like high-frequency trading to larger clients like mutual funds and asset management companies (AMC), and earn money accordingly. There are provisions for regulatory fee and registration fee for different profiles of market participants, like the market maker and broker, which form other sources of income for the stock exchanges.
Market Depth – the Market Depth view shows the total cumulated offer and demand for a given cryptocurrency. This is the place where we can identify the « sell walls » I was talking about in a previous section. A market that is not manipulated (or at least not overtly) will have a stair-shaped graph on both sizes, with people willing to buy or sell at different values.
The number of companies offering brokerage accounts has increased, including banks such as Ally Bank. Some brokerage companies provide a simplified version such as Robinhood where investors can buy and sell stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrency from a mobile app for free. Although Robinhood doesn't offer trade options for mutual funds or foreign stocks.
Now, imagine that you decide to buy the stocks of those five companies with your $1,000. To do this, you will incur $50 in trading costs—assuming the fee is $10—which is equivalent to 5% of your $1,000. If you were to fully invest the $1,000, your account would be reduced to $950 after trading costs. This represents a 5% loss before your investments even have a chance to earn.
Fair Dealing in Securities Transactions: Depending on the standard rules of demand and supply, the stock exchange needs to ensure that all interested market participants have instant access to data for all buy and sell orders thereby helping in the fair and transparent pricing of securities. Additionally, it should also perform efficient matching of appropriate buy and sell orders.
There are two types of stock research: fundamental and technical. Fundamental research explores company metrics such as earnings growth, earnings per share (EPS), debt, sales growth, and market capitalization. Meanwhile, technical analysis is all about learning how to read a stock chart and use historical price performance to help you predict future price direction. The best online brokerages offer tools to cover both types thoroughly, and we checked for 54 individual features during our 2020 Review. To compare research features, use the online brokerage comparison tool.
Warning 2: this is serious. If you don’t believe me, just go on Reddit (r/Cryptocurrency) and look for posts of people who ask for help. There are some devastating stories out there which are all based on greed, credulity, inexperience and/or outright stupidity. You may become rich, but you may also lose everything. People are taking loans with high repayment rates to buy at peak price and will end up ruined. Young inexperienced people have burned their relatives’ lifetime savings, others have no money to pay their university tuition. Don’t be those guys.
Many online brokerages do not limit their customers to just online stock trading. Full-service brokerages offer banking services including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and more with deposits of up to $250,000 backed by the FDIC. Bank of America (Merrill Edge) and Chase (Chase You Invest Trade) are two examples of banks that also offer online trading.
Arbitraging can be very lucrative especially with Asian markets (South Korea for example) where cryptocurrencies are exchanged at premium rates, but due to the high volatility of the markets and the congestion on major cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin and Ethereum) it is becoming increasingly difficult to do arbitraging because of potential incurred losses. Add to this the fact that exchanges need a certain amount of confirmations before balances are made available for trading and it makes it quite risky at least for Bitcoin and Ethereum.
For example, there may be three buyers who have placed orders for buying Microsoft shares at $100, $105 and $110, and there may be four sellers who are willing to sell Microsoft shares at $110, $112, $115 and $120. The exchange (through their computer operated automated trading systems) needs to ensure that the best buy and best sell are matched, which in this case is at $110 for the given quantity of trade.
Once you are familiar with the concepts above, and know that you can (and eventually will) be influenced, you need to do some research on what projects you want to invest into. There are to date 1400+ cryptocurrency projects listed on coinmarketcap, a website that tracks projects, market value etc. This is a good start to understand market capitalisation, price of the cryptocurrency unit in what we understand when we begin (fiat currency i.e. dollars or anything else), total amount of assets in circulation etc.
Comparing the cash flow statements of companies is going to help you narrow your list down even further. So you’ve found a few sectors that are really going to benefit from these broad themes, that’s step one. Then you find the companies within those sectors that are able to generate cash for investors at a faster pace and that are using cash responsibly.
Finally, one point to mention is that a given cryptocurrency can be listed in more exchanges, with different listing prices (see below – Arbitraging). The best place to look for a cryptocurrency listing in term of total market capitalisation is Coinmarketcap. Cryptocurrencies are listed per descending order of market capitalisation; the site also allows to deep-dive on each cryptocurrency to see their value over time and where they are listed. Some cryptocurrencies may be listed on several exchanges but only 1 or 2 exchanges may see the critical mass of transactions taking place.
There are two types of brokers: full-service and discount. Full-service brokers tailor recommendations and charge higher fees, service charges, and commissions. Most investors are willing to pay these higher fees because of the research and resources these companies provide. With a discount broker, the majority of research falls on the investor; they just provide a platform to perform trades and customer support when needed. Newer investors can benefit from the resources provided by full-service brokers, while frequent traders and experienced investors who perform their own research may lean towards platforms with no commission fee.
If there are any lessons to be learned from the American sub-prime mortgage crisis, the 2008 stock market crash (information here) and Wall Street bailout that followed - and there are lots of lessons - it is that borrowed money can be very dangerous in investments, even when it is being handled professionally. The failure of LTCM, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Northern Rock and many others shows just how precarious a business model can be with too much gearing.