Crypto Markets Are Like the Internet 30 Years Ago, Still in Very Early Innings, Ric Edelman Says

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Wall Street may have embraced crypto markets in recent years – including the launch of bitcoin futures ETFs and institutional investors jumping on board – but one market expert said their ubiquity is only just beginning.

Ric Edelman, founder of Edelman Financial Engines, just launched the Digital Asset Council, which teaches financial advisors about digital securities such as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. He said the space reminds him of another revolutionary tech development a few decades back.

"This is really like the internet back 20 or 30 years ago. We have to recognize that this only comes along once in a generation. And the innovative technology is allowing businesses to operate faster, cheaper with greater transparency, greater security, and this is why businesses are falling over themselves with development of blockchain technology," Edelman told CNBC's "ETF Edge" on Monday.

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology could have far-reaching applications just like the internet, he added. Edelman highlights one interesting use case currently being floated – the potential for digital tokens to be used to help people find parking spots in urban areas.

"If the Transportation Department is recognizing the value of blockchain technology to solve a fascinating problem that has nothing to do with the movement of money, this just demonstrates how broad and significant this technology is," Edelman said.

The broad potential for bitcoin, other cryptos and blockchain technology presents massive opportunity for investors, he said.

"We now have the benefit of experience. We know how the internet just exploded in growth through the 1990s," Edelman added. "That's where we're at today – incredibly early for the investors who are recognizing the opportunities that aren't going to exist 10 or 15 years from now the way they exist today."

Matt Hougan, chief investment officer at Bitwise Asset Management, is equally as bullish on the space. He believes that at some point in the future every company will be involved in crypto and blockchain in some way. Until then, he said investors should consider what currently is available to back.

"One area of the market that is absolutely exploding right now is publicly traded crypto equities. ... There are a large number of crypto mining companies, there are crypto banks, there are crypto trading and asset management companies. And there's a huge pipeline of crypto companies that are planning to IPO in the next year or two," he said in the same segment.

Hougan calls these companies one of the "most overlooked corners of crypto." Coinbase, a crypto exchange platform and one of the most well-known equities in the space, listed on the Nasdaq last April. It currently trades at roughly $231, below its then-reference price of $250.


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