The increasing popularity of crypto assets and the ongoing media coverage of coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum have piqued the interest of many new and experienced investors alike. Whether you’re interested in investing in crypto assets or simply learning more, consider the following before jumping in:
1) Understand your risk tolerance
Crypto assets are high-risk alternative investments that have the potential for high returns. Judging the inherent value in any crypto asset can be difficult, with its values largely determined by its evolving utility, public interest and the current levels of supply and demand. Before investing in any security, a crucial first step is to weigh the risk of the investment against your risk tolerance. Risk tolerance is your ability and willingness to take risks with your money. By recognizing the amount you can afford and are comfortable with potentially losing in a crypto investment, the more likely you are to invest suitably. If you are unsure of your risk tolerance, you can take the risk tolerance quiz at CheckFirst.ca.
2) Be mindful of the crypto asset trading platform you choose to use
The popular way for many investors to buy or trade crypto assets is through a crypto asset trading platform. You should be aware that if you are considering using a trading platform that holds custody of your crypto assets and/or allows for the trading of crypto assets deemed shares or other forms of securities or derivatives, you should choose one that is registered with the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC). By utilizing a registered platform, you are afforded protections intended to address matters such as secure handling of client funds, safekeeping of client assets, protection of personal information, pre-trade disclosures, and measures against market manipulation and/or unfair trading. To check the registration of any crypto asset platform, use the check registration tool on CheckFirst.ca or the list of registered crypto asset trading platforms across Canada on the Ontario Securities Commission website.
3) Be cautious of crypto scams and frauds
Fraudsters are always looking for the next big trend or buzzworthy event to leverage. As crypto assets continue to generate excitement with new and potential investors, fraudsters will continue to take advantage of people's interest to promote crypto scams. Be mindful that many crypto scams involve one or more of the following:
· Unusual requests for payment like wire transfers or the transferring of crypto assets from one platform to another.
· High-pressure sales tactics, confusing jargon and complex documentation regarding an investment opportunity.
· New initial coin offerings with limited or no documentation like whitepapers on the coin or the coin’s founders.
· Promises of high returns with little to no risk.
· Unsolicited crypto investment offers online, over social media and in dating apps.
4) Strengthen your investment literacy and conduct thorough research
Investing wisely in new alternative investments like crypto assets requires you to strengthen your knowledge to ensure that you fully understand the investment opportunity before you hand over your hard-earned money. Before investing in a crypto asset, visit the Innovation in Finance section of the Alberta Securities Commission’s website for important questions you should consider asking.
Crypto assets are high-risk investments that are not suitable for all investors. The nature, longevity and future application of crypto assets are largely unknown and evolving. While the excitement can be overwhelming, taking the time to learn about crypto assets before investing can help you invest suitably and avoid scams. Learn more about crypto assets at CheckFirst.ca.
Author: James MacTavish
Senior Advisor, Investor & Industry Education
Alberta Securities Commission