In traditional stock analysis, advisors use factors like cashflow generated on per share to value an investment.

In the cryptocurrency world, there is no underlying cash flow, so it doesn’t function like a traditional equity. “That model doesn’t work. The number of people using the crypto increases the value,” Stan DeLaney, disruptive change researcher at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, said during a panel discussion at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago on Tuesday.

Any sort of publicity is good for cryptocurrencies as it creates awareness and more incentive to get in, he said. The more people in a certain cryptocurrency, the better for it because that means there are more people to trade it. “As more adopt it for transactions, it becomes more valuable to other people and there’s a greater potential to force more people into the system,” DeLaney said.

Cryptocurrencies derive value from the network effect, said Sam Lee, investment advisor at SVRN Asset Management.

Volatility works in cryptocurrencies’ favor, Lee said, even as the volatility is what works against cryptocurrencies as a store of value.

“The volatility is what makes it more valuable over time,” he said.

Using bitcoin as an example, he explained what appears to be a conundrum. Looking at bitcoin’s price chart, there are three distinct bubble-and-burst phases, he said. Yet the price settles at a higher level than where it was before the bubble. If there is another potential bubble forming, “the volatility will start again and it will bring more speculators into the system,” he said.

There’s a debate over whether cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are a store of value because the whole ecosystem is so new. Unlike stocks, they are a brand-new asset class that will continue to develop, said Sean Ristau, director of exchange integration and education at Bcause.

“Bitcoin is the tip of the iceberg. People think it went up so fast and came down so fast, but how many times have we seen that with an IPO? As time goes on time will tell if [a cryptocurrency] is worth investing in,” Ristau said.

Cryptocurrencies are becoming more mainstream, with futures markets. Goldman Sachs has a bitcoin trading desk, the panelists noted. Companies like Samsung are looking at solutions to make bitcoin mining more efficient by using less energy, and security companies are looking to get into the cryptocurrency wallet space to prevent stealing of currencies. Institutions are also wanting to get in on cryptocurrencies, but they’re looking for further guidance from regulators, they said.

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