What The Cryptocurrency Crash Can Teach Investors About Risk Management

The cryptocurrency market has long been described as volatile, but this past month has seen crypto reaching new lows.

As the total crypto market cap dropped by $90 billion within 24 hours, the number of searches containing “Bitcoin dead” surged.

While experts are divided on what the plummeting of cryptocurrency means — a temporary setback or signs of a larger recession — it is clear that the increased volatility of the market offers many lessons for investors. Whether you’ve been hesitant to invest in crypto or are second-guessing your choice to do so, here’s how the crypto crash illustrates the risks of cryptocurrency investments and what you can do to manage those risks.

Understanding the risks associated with crypto

The crypto market isn’t a stranger to crashes. Bitcoin alone experienced a major crash in late 2018, followed by significant crashes during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, crypto’s tumble into its lowest levels since 2020 is evidence that holding onto your crypto assets can be a dangerous game in itself. Even Coinbase has laid off 18% of its workforce, and many investors are predicting a long-lasting crypto winter. We’ll explore some of the risks that the current state of the market has unearthed.

Loss of money

One of the core lessons that the crypto crash can teach investors is the fact that cryptocurrency isn’t a reliable investment at all. When you hold onto your crypto assets through a crash — or when you decide to take advantage of low costs to invest — there’s never a guarantee that your assets will bounce back. This is because cryptocurrency like Bitcoin has no intrinsic value.

To manage your risk, it’s important to avoid putting all (or even most) of your eggs in the crypto basket. Crypto should be treated as a gamble. Whether you sell or keep your crypto assets should be a question of how much you’re willing to risk, and perhaps what reward you’re waiting for before you cash out. If you’re looking to increase your profit to reach your long-term financial goals, maintaining safer investments, like high-yield savings accounts and index funds, is ideal.

Reputational harm

If you’ve developed a professional network or gained followers due to your crypto usage, the current crypto crash may have been a blow to your reputation. For many old-school investors and others outside of the investment world, the crash is being viewed as evidence that crypto isn’t a legitimate investment.

One key to risk management for crypto investors is being willing to take ownership. When crypto falls more than you expected, be willing to admit your miscalculations. Continuing to promote crypto as a volatile market can damage your reputation further when the market fails to bounce back quickly.

Cybersecurity threats

The plunge in cryptocurrency value hasn’t deterred blockchain hackers from taking advantage of virtual vulnerabilities. As the market crashed, hackers made off with $100 million in cryptocurrency. Crypto and NFT thefts and fraud are continuing to rise.

Choosing a secure internet and a cold wallet is key to reducing risk when investing in crypto. Cold wallets aren’t connected to the internet — which limits your susceptibility to cyberattacks — and are protected by physical keys that you can store in a secure place. You can even store your assets in multiple wallets to get further protection.

However, it’s always important to keep potential insider threats, which cause over 30% of breaches, in mind. People close to you — and even those inside investment firms — are more easily able to hack crypto wallets and steal funds. Avoid having your entire investment portfolio on a public blockchain, which can make you a greater target for hackers. Ideally, crypto shouldn’t make up more than 5% of your portfolio.

Environmental issues

Cryptocurrency is widely recognised as a threat to the environment due to the large amount of energy needed for mining. Unfortunately, the crypto crash doesn’t have much of a silver lining, as the amount of processing power used for mining isn’t declining. This is an important time for investors to consider the carbon footprint they’re leaving behind, as well as evaluate whether the environmental and financial costs of energy are worth the uncertain earnings.

Stablecoins are not so stable after all

Many crypto investors turn to stablecoins to avoid the volatility of the greater crypto market. Stablecoins, like Tether and Terra, are meant to maintain their value since they’re pegged to real assets, like gold or the U.S. dollar. However, TerraUSD crashed with the rest of the crypto market, leading to disastrous results for its sister token Luna.

Investors must recognise that there isn’t actually a safe way to enter the crypto market. Stablecoins don’t provide the stability they’re meant to, which means they can’t reduce your risk. As international governments discuss the possibility of regulating stablecoins, the future of stablecoins is largely unknown and, once again, a gamble.

Protecting yourself from bad crypto investments

While there isn’t an easy way to protect yourself from bad crypto investments, there are a few ways you can evaluate how reputable a cryptocurrency is. For instance, you can read up on the team behind the cryptocurrency — which should be disclosed and experienced — and read about their roadmap, so you can evaluate their potential for success. Taking a look at a cryptocurrency’s trading history, which should display steady growth, is also key to limiting your risk.

If you’re part of an investment firm — which is likely already taking steps to evaluate crypto — you can still take action to protect your business by keeping your organisation agile. In a volatile market, a firm that learns from failure and eliminates bottlenecks created by silos and hierarchies is best equipped to think on its feet when issues occur.

There’s no telling what’s in store for crypto in the future, so anyone involved in or considering investments must be wary of the market’s volatility and take steps to manage their own risk.

About the author: Adrian Johansen lives and thrives in the Pacific Northwest. She covers topics related to business and tech, especially when they intersect with sustainability and diversity issues. You can follow her on Twitter at @AdrianJohanse18.

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