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The tale of ‘stable’ bitcoin and ‘unstable’ pound

By Daniela Ešnerová

16:51, 27 October 2022

And British Pound and Bitcoin
Forex mayhem “presented some strong arbitrage opportunities for traders profiting off of differences in the price of BTC versus various fiat currencies,” Kaiko’s Clara Medalie . – Photo: ShutterStock

Has the Bank of England (BoE) got bitcoin (BTC) wrong? Last year, the British pound issuer, warned that bitcoin could become ‘worthless’ and BoE's boss cautioned BTC is ’too volatile to be a country's currency.

Fast-forward 10 months, and in sterling's darkest hour, traders rushed to part with the pound and hoard bitcoin in record numbers. Meanwhile, the pound's volatility nears that of bitcoin (BTC).

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Bitcoin (BTC) to British Pound

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GBP sell-off, BTC hiding place

When the British pound sunk to its all-time low against the dollar after the then-finance secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, unveiled a set of fiscal measures, including huge unfunded tax cuts, that frightened the markets, investors rushed in record numbers to sell off sterling to buy BTC.

GBP volatility at multiple-year high, BTC’s at multi-year low

Since then, the pound has danced up and down on BoE intervention, one government's exit, and another government's entrance.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, has been trading in a relatively tight range and was surpassed by both S&P 500 (US500) and Nasdaq (NDAQ) when it comes to volatility. 

“BTC's 20-day volatility is edging closer to that of the British Pound,” says Clara Medalie, head of research at the cryptocurrency market data provider Kaiko.

“In sharp contrast, fiat currency volatility, which is typically quite low for large economies, has experienced a strong surge over the past month.”

“The British Pound's volatility is at multi-year highs while Bitcoin's volatility is at multi-year lows.”

BTC's volatility vs. other assets

Forex mayhem

The pound is not the only major currency that has been experiencing jitters. The euro has been similarly embattled in the period. And not only GBP-denominated cryptocurrency volume surged to all-time highs earlier this month, so did EUR-denominated volumes.

“High fiat currency volatility has generated some strong trading opportunities for BTC-fiat pairs, enabling traders to profit off of differences in fiat exchange rates across various BTC markets,” Kaiko's Medalie adds.

Bitcoin (BTC) to EUR

BTC is proving itself a hedge against poor monetary and fiscal policies

While the recent GDP moves against BTC were previously unseen, we have observed trading volumes of bitcoin soar against other embattled domestic currencies before.

James Butterfill, head of research at CoinShares, lists examples of pairs, such as the ruble and the Ukrainian hryvnia during the early days of the war as refugees were looking for safe havens and an easily transportable asset. “Going by other instances when this has happened, it’s typically down to concerns for political and monetary stability. There is a high correlation to bitcoin volume growth and political/monetary instability.”

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AUD/USD_zero

0.66 Price
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Long position overnight fee -0.0074%
Short position overnight fee -0.0008%
Overnight fee time 21:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.00030

“Potentially, it may be the transparent and sound monetary [nature] of bitcoin that appeals when your domestic currency is in freefall. Likewise, the big depreciation in some emerging market currencies such as Venezuela and Turkey have led to rises in BTC volumes too.”

On the back of these examples, Butterfill challenges BTC's narrative as a risky asset: “It all implies that despite Bitcoin's reputation as a volatile asset, when your native FIAT is looking vulnerable, some are opting for Bitcoin as an anchor for their assets. It is ultimately proving itself to be a good hedge against poor monetary & fiscal policies.”

Bitcoin (BTC) to Canadian Dollar

Where do we go from here? 

The euphoria with which the crypto Twitterati cheered after BTC jumped some 8% day-on-day showed how unexciting and uneventful the past months have been in cryptoland.

After the newly-elected British government moved to recognize cryptocurrencies as a financial regulated instrument, the cryptocurrency market saw an uptick but the rally was short-lived and bitcoin ultimately did not leave its range where it had been trading in the last four months. 

The lack of interest in Bitcoin has been somewhat of a puzzle in recent months. The cryptocurrency which is typically seen as a high beta to the broader stock market has seen its correlation to indices decline in recent months and thus Bitcoin has maintained a rather tight range,” says Capital.com market analyst Justin Mcqueen.

That said while I would expect volatility to pick up from the current lows, with a lack of key catalysts in the crypto space, this period of low vol could be here to stay for at least another month,” he adds.

Similarly Dmitry Ivanov, chief marketing officer, at the crypto payments ecosystem CoinsPaid, is expecting BTC traders to keep on the sidelines: “Everyone is waiting for the monetary policy of the top economies to clear up, to see how this will affect the ongoing situation.

“How much further are they willing to tighten the screws and raise rates. This will determine the further movement of stock indices and Bitcoin alike”.

When it comes to the British pound, Mcqueen expects the volatility to calm down under the new government: “The heightened volatility seen in recent weeks for the pound is likely to ease going forward as Rishi Sunak brings relatively more fiscal credibility than his predecessor.

“While this does not detract from the economic damage that has been caused, conventional leadership from Rishi Sunak can provide a period of government stability, something that has been missing in recent years.”

Markets in this article

BTC/USD
Bitcoin / USD
67545.95 USD
-751.65 -1.100%
BTC/EUR
Bitcoin / EUR
62534.50 USD
-399.1 -0.630%
NDAQ
Nasdaq
59.92 USD
-0.35 -0.580%
US500
US 500
5253.9 USD
-54.5 -1.030%

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The difference between trading assets and CFDs
The main difference between CFD trading and trading assets, such as commodities and stocks, is that you don’t own the underlying asset when you trade on a CFD.
You can still benefit if the market moves in your favour, or make a loss if it moves against you. However, with traditional trading you enter a contract to exchange the legal ownership of the individual shares or the commodities for money, and you own this until you sell it again.
CFDs are leveraged products, which means that you only need to deposit a percentage of the full value of the CFD trade in order to open a position. But with traditional trading, you buy the assets for the full amount. In the UK, there is no stamp duty on CFD trading, but there is when you buy stocks, for example.
CFDs attract overnight costs to hold the trades (unless you use 1-1 leverage), which makes them more suited to short-term trading opportunities. Stocks and commodities are more normally bought and held for longer. You might also pay a broker commission or fees when buying and selling assets direct and you’d need somewhere to store them safely.
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