7 January 2021 Research Foundation

Cryptoassets: The Guide to Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrency for Investment Professionals

  1. Matt Hougan
  2. David Lawant

Download the CFA Institute Research Foundation guide to cryptoassets and blockchain to learn about cryptocurrency basics, crypto trading, cryptoasset regulations, and more.

Bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies burst onto the world stage in 2008, when the online posting of a pseudonymous white paper provided a vision of a new way to transfer value over the internet.

In the decade-plus since, the cryptoasset market has gone through all the classic phases of a disruptive technology: massive bull markets and crushing pullbacks, periods of euphoria and moments of despair, FOMO (fear of missing out), fear, and everything in between.

As the cryptomarket enters its second decade, one thing is clear: Crypto is not going away. Cryptoasset markets are rallying toward new all-time highs, and many of the world’s largest investors and financial institutions are getting involved.

Investors looking into crypto, however, face significant challenges. The quality of information is poor. Theories about the drivers of cryptoasset valuations are untested and often poorly designed, and they are rarely—if ever—published in peer-reviewed journals. Due diligence efforts from leading consultants are in their infancy, and few people have carefully thought through the role (if any) that cryptoassets should have in a professionally managed portfolio.

More fundamentally, few people even understand what crypto really is or why it might matter. Is it an alternative currency? A technology? A venture capital investment? A specious bubble?

The goal of this document is to provide the inquisitive investor with a clear-eyed guide to crypto and blockchain: what they are, what they are not, and where they might go from here.

This brief covers topics such as:

  • How Crypto Works and Why It Matters
  • Understanding Bitcoin
  • How Bitcoin Transaction Works
  • Why Does More Than One Cryptoasset Exist?
  • Bitcoin vs. Ethereum
  • Bitcoin vs. XRP

...and more.

Cryptoassets: The Guide to Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrency for Investment Professionals Read the full Brief (PDF)

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