Alexander Stachchenko (KPMG): “This big scrubbing of the cryptocurrency market was needed”

Alexandre Stachchenko (KPMG) is one of the best analysts in the cryptocurrency market. For the Echo he decrypts the current crash, which highlights the flaws in the sector.

Cryptocurrency specialist Alexandre Stachchenko was in Belgium to attend the first Brussels Blockchain Week. A good opportunity to discover a nascent ecosystem around cryptocurrencies and to create contacts with local players (Keyrock, Bit4You, Noia …).

After co-founding the independent Blockchain Partner office in 2017, Alexandre Stachchenko joined audit and consulting giant KPMG in 2021 as director of the Blockchain and cryptocurrency department in France. For L’Echo, think back to the monumental plunge of the market: in a few months, the value of bitcoin was divided by three – and its repercussions.

21,000

dollars

Bitcoin was worth around $ 21,000 at the weekend. It’s a steep drop since last November, when it set a record $ 68,000.

How to explain this crypto-crash?

There is a cycle effect. Every four years, the market goes down. But the real triggers are situational. The increase in interest rates encourages investors to sell what they consider risky assets. On the other hand, the cryptocurrency market has become much more professional. During the 2018 bear market, individuals were still dominant. Today, institutional investors set the tone. On a platform like Coinbase, around 75% of flows are driven by investment funds, large companies like MicroStrategy or traditional financial operators.

Are individuals just following the trend?

It’s a chain reaction. Institutions sell their positions. Individuals follow, which accelerates the downward trend. According to a study we conducted, half of the people who hold cryptocurrencies have had them for less than two years. The search for yield is cited as the main reason for investing by 60% of investors. Many are there to make short-term gains. But when the market falls, they panic and sell their assets. This behavior is not new: we see exactly the same on other types of investments such as the stock market, Forex or diamonds. We can’t stress this enough: easy money doesn’t exist. And we don’t invest in something we don’t understand.

It all appears to have started with the fall of a relatively unknown cryptocurrency, Terra. What happened?

Any serious analyst knew thisyou shouldn’t have put a dime into this project. But in recent months, much of the exuberant market has transformed in the circus. Many projects have appeared with promises of returns of 20%, 30%, 50%! On the investor side, the euphoria has taken over, even among institutional investors (editor’s note, the crypto-exchange Binance, among others, has invested in Terra). The fall of Terra has revealed something important: in cryptocurrency companies, risk management often falls short.

Last week, the Celsius platform suspended its withdrawals. Another risky project?

This case proves it centralized platforms like Celsius are black boxes. It is not acceptable for a company to suspend withdrawals. And it brings back to life the fundamental value proposition of cryptocurrencies: owning your money. On the other hand, the investor has to do an inner research. When the attraction for profit is too strong, the consumer forgets to check if the project holds up. Celsius offers a cryptocurrency deposit service. It’s the same model as a bank, except that a savings account’s rate is close to zero and Celsius’ promises a yield sometimes greater than 10%. Can not run.

Should we be worried about the collapse of all these projects?

This large laundry was needed. I won’t rejoice either: a lot of people are losing money, including me. But the cycles of euphoria create deleterious situations. We see the emergence of complete scams, using the lure of profit as the driving force. We also see multiplication pseudo-influencers, who attract hundreds of thousands of followers to dangerous projects. In times of a bear market, this all tends to fade away. This is a good thing. And healthier adoption can continue. Moreover, Despite falling prices, Bitcoin’s fundamentals have never been stronger: number of users, network security, etc.

Can the cryptocurrency market reach a certain maturity?

He is on his way to maturity. Cryptocurrencies are starting to take on the codes of traditional finance. However, the reverse is not yet true. Banks are still very cautious about cryptocurrencies. Therefore, customers turn to other suppliers. When a platform like Coinbase offers, in addition to cryptocurrencies, savings accounts of 3% (as already tried to do last year), the customer will no longer need his bank. Banks have no choice, one day they will have to offer cryptocurrencies.

The summary

  • “The cryptocurrency market has become much more professional. Institutional investors are setting the tone.”
  • “When the attraction for profit is too strong, the consumer forgets to check if the project holds up.”
  • “Despite falling prices, Bitcoin’s fundamentals have never been stronger.”
  • “Banks have no choice, one day they will have to offer cryptocurrencies.”

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