The last year has seen the consensus of cryptocurrency shift from money of the future to investment opportunity — another asset to add to your portfolio and bet on like a stock.
The wave of public consensus around Bitcoin, Ethereum and other currencies has shifted back and forth over the years. In 2017, Goldman Sachs shut down its recently opened crypto desk after a crash sent Bitcoin spiraling. But the past six-to-twelve months seemingly cemented it as something that was here to stay, even despite worrying signs like Elon Musk’s singular ability to shift the market with a tweet. Goldman’s crypto desk rose from the dead this year and stories of crypto millionaires who made it big off tiny investments in dogecoin years ago hit the headlines every day. Still, the success of Bitcoin made its cost prohibitive, and the most many could do was sit from afar or buy and rally other coins like Doge.
Now, a crypto crash is happening again. Tesla’s decision to suspend vehicle purchasing with Bitcoin, citing environmental concerns, hit the currency like a piledriver, and the Chinese government’s threats to regular crypto earlier this week and today sent it even further down. In January, Bitcoin hitting $35,000 was seen as a major step towards legitimacy for the currency. Now, the coin’s value approaching that same number is seen as a death knell by some. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is resting at around $37,000 per coin — a nearly $16,000 loss in less than a month. Doge is also circling the drain. Earlier this month, it reached a peak value of 71 cents. Since then, it’s dropped back down to 35 cents.
But now that Bitcoin is being seen as an asset like any other, people are looking for ways to make it big off their decline. You don’t have to own Bitcoin to make — or lose — money on it, after all, and there are ways to go up while it goes down. Of course, the risks are many; crypto is incredibly volatile, and for as many stories as there are of crypto millionaires, there are twice as many about lives ruined by the currency. Just because it’s going back down doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. After all, a simple tweet could turn the tide.
But if you’re determined to persist anyway, these are a few ways you can bet against crypto and make money off the crash.
Options against Bitcoin
Just like a stock, you can make and trade puts and calls on Bitcoin. Getting access to those is a little more complicated than opening up Robinhood, though. There are only a handful of platforms that allow you trade options on cryptocurrencies. Derebit and OKEx are the two largest crypto options platforms and will allow you to make puts and calls on BTC, but the way they settle options is different. Derebit will allow you to settle options with cash, while OKEx mostly allows you to settle with cryptocurrency — not exactly the most appealing option when you’re betting on its demise. If you do decide to get involved in crypto options, pay special attention to see how your platform of choice will settle those contracts.
However, if you don’t already own Bitcoin or have enough money to settle an option in the case that one of Bitcoin’s massive swings doesn’t go in your favor, you could find yourself in a desperate position having lost enormous amounts of money. Buying and selling crypto has been a gamble at most points in its lifespan, and betting options on its success or failure is an even greater risk.
Public companies invested in crypto
There are plenty of publicly traded firms that either deal heavily with crypto as part of their business, or have a significant portion of their assets invested in it — and most of them are feeling the crash. Just like options exist for Bitcoin itself, they similarly exist for companies that deal with crypto. Since many blame Tesla for the current state of Bitcoin, let's use them as an example. Though Tesla said it would cease accepting Bitcoin for vehicle purchases, it clarified that it has not sold any of its position in BTC and will continue to hold until it becomes more environmentally friendly to sell it.
Earlier this year, Tesla made a $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin, and recent SEC filings show they’ve made a significant profit off that investment. Whatever their current stake is now, they’re signalling that they’re stuck with it. As a result, Tesla’s stock has dropped nearly $100 from the start of May as of market close Friday.
Other companies with large stakes in crypto include: MicroStrategy, which revealed in March that it had spent over $2 billion on Bitcoin, saw its stock lose $185 since the start of the month; Coinbase, the major crypto exchange that went public earlier this year, saw its stock drop $120 from where it began; Square, which spent $50 million on Bitcoin and has seen its stock drop by $43 since the start of the month; Silverbank Capital, which announced it had $5 billion invested across various currencies, plummeted earlier this week but recovered by Friday; and Galaxy Holdings, an investment company that announced a $176 million investment into Bitcoin last year, saw its stock drop from $29 to $15.
Buying the dip
There’s an old crypto adage you’re guaranteed to hear whether the price goes up or down: “This is good for Bitcoin.” While some wonder if crypto will recover from its latest spiral, others are out there saying now is the time to buy.
You don’t need us to tell you buying the dip is an option, but we’re telling you anyway. If you’re a true believer in crypto and its future, or regret not getting in on it years ago and think it’ll recover, this current crash has made the prohibitive cost of Bitcoin ever so slightly less prohibitive. There are, of course, other lower-stakes coins like Ethereum or Doge, but they have proven just as volatile and are not immune from the crash.
For those determined to profit in some manner off of Crypto's demise and rise, avenues to do so exist. But each one is not without its significant risks. After all, it only takes one tweet from Tesla to change the trajectory.