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Robinhood Adds 4 Cryptos
Even the most jaded crypto investors seemed caught off guard. Shiba Inu would jump 34% before leveling off at about 16% higher, while the remaining three would rise in the single digits.
By the end of the morning, the four coins had added $12 billion to their combined market cap, exceeding Robinhood’s $10 billion value. One wonders whether Robinhood has been the “Shiba Inu Whale” all along.
Now, there is some bad news:
Not every Robinhood crypto turns to gold.
Bitcoin SV (BSV-USD) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH-USD) are still seen as knock-off versions of Bitcoin (BTC-USD), despite their Robinhood listing. And Ethereum Classic (ETC-USD) is filled with investors seeking cheaper alternatives to its more famous counterpart. Picking these coins is much like choosing a wine because its name sounds familiar. (Hey, I know the word “Merlot!”)
But this time around, Robinhood has avoided the same mistake by choosing four high-quality cryptocurrencies to add.
And one of these picks stands above the rest.
In 2017, computer programmer Anatoly Yakovenko published a whitepaper that would eventually result in the creation of Solana, a highly-scalable cryptocurrency.
Rather than rely on existing protocols, the new whitepaper described a “Proof of History” technique that essentially timestamps each transaction. And because each stamp relies on data from a previous one, ordered data become virtually impossible to falsify.
The time-ordered data allows individual nodes to quickly validate data and for the entire network to handle more transactions.
It would take another eighteen months for Solana to launch. But when it did, it would take the crypto world by storm.
Ethereum’s Volatile Little Sibling
Today, Solana can handle over 700,000 transactions per second without “sharding,” Layer-2 protocols or running other potential security risks. And volumes of its NFT business are growing. In the past 30 days, the top ten Solana NFTs have generated $22 million in sales — not bad for an industry dominated by Ethereum (ETH-USD).
Former first lady Melania Trump even used Solana to release her NFT. (Reports would later surface that she bought her own NFT for $185,000).
But Solana has also been the target of speculation. Last May, I recommended a position in the cryptocurrency when prices were still under $40 and would reiterate the position when it rose to $110 four months later.
I would change course as hot-money investors pushed SOL prices over $200.
“With such massive gains under their belts, investors should also consider taking SOL profits off the table,” I warned.
Solana would eventually slide back to $90.
“Ethereum Killer” or “Ethereum Wannabe?”
Yet, the cryptocurrency’s price volatility masks a stability that few of its competitors have. SOL’s Total Value Locked (TVL), a measure of adoption, has mostly remained between 60 and 80 million SOL since November. Shiba Inu’s ShibaSwap (BONE-USD) TVL has dropped by half during the same period.
And because the currency has an independent blockchain, Solana doesn’t run the same risks as Polygon and other popular Layer 2 protocols. These Ethereum-based competitors could see demand for scaling solutions disappear overnight once ETH migrates to a proof-of-stake system.
Finally, Solana’s “swiss army knife” approach to blockchain technologies means that removing one function won’t cause the entire structure to collapse. Cryptocurrencies with specific uses like money lending Compound Finance face far more significant regulatory risks.
In other words, those seeking the “safest” of Robinhood’s new assets should consider Solana, and Solana alone.
What About Shiba Inu and Compound?
Robinhood’s other additions aren’t slouches either. In November, I changed my “sell” recommendation of Shiba Inu to a “buy” after prices had fallen by over 50%. Shiba’s development team has since put its treasury to surprisingly good use.
Meanwhile, Compound offers a fascinating take on peer-to-peer (P2P) lending. Investors can earn close to 3% interest on their Tether (USDT-USD) holdings, while borrowers can still enjoy relatively low rates thanks to Compound’s rock-bottom fees.
But momentum in these hot picks seems to have stalled recently. Compound’s marketplace now only offers $9 billion in supply and $3 billion in borrowing, down from nearly $15 billion and $6 billion this time last year.
Perhaps these coins will benefit from their Robinhood listings. The “Coinbase Effect” is a proven trading strategy for smaller coins.
But when it comes to the longer-run impact, the same effect tends to disappear. A study by CoinMetrics found that prices re-stabilize 100 days out. And given the “easy-come-easy-go” mindset that Robinhood has pioneered, it wouldn’t be surprising if SHIB and COMP go the same way.
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On the date of publication, Tom Yeung did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
Tom Yeung, CFA, is a registered investment advisor on a mission to bring simplicity to the world of investing.